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liberalism didn't put deep water ports in place and liberalism didn't put Chicago at the end of the major trade corridor to the Midwest. Geography did. liberalism also didn't decide to place major trading and financial centers in those locations either. That sprang up as money sought to co-locate with trade.

Chicago is at the end of a major trade corridor largely due to the EERIE CANAL (cue Goofyhoofy).
The north/south split in regard to infrastructure goes back to pre-civil war times.
The northern states invested large amounts in infrastructure and education, the southern states didn't. Unfortunately, the ideology that the rural life/slavery society had spawned and that rejects government infrastructure and education investments persisted through the civil war and right up to the present day, and so the vast majority of the south never caught up.
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