VIDEO Did “socialism” save this US town?


Town hall building in Linden, Tennessee

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US election 2016: Did “socialism” save this US town?

24 February 2016 Last updated at 10:47 GMT

Americans are deeply divided about the role government should play in their lives – but events can sometimes force people to think beyond their traditional political beliefs.

Take Linden, a small town in rural Tennessee. It”s a staunchly conservative place that at the height of the Great Recession took part in a rare US experiment in state intervention.

Facing an unemployment rate of 27%, the county used stimulus money from the federal government to directly pay the wages of almost 300 workers at private companies.

Back in 2009, the BBC”s Katty Kay reported on the scheme – which critics warned was a step towards “socialism”. Locals told her that desperate times called for desperate measures.

Today, the jobless rate is down to 6.7%. The stimulus cash only guaranteed those jobs for a just over a year, however, so there”s a debate over what helped save the town – and what has made it flourish since.

As part of the BBC”s week-long Divided America series in America”s South, Franz Strasser went to Tennessee to find out more.

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