Sunday, July 3, 2005
by poverty than you may realize
SC Statehouse Report
3, 2005 - - Imagine you had $1,612.50 per month - - just $58
per day - - to spend on your family of four for everything
- - housing, child care, transportation, health care, food
Could you make it? Consider the following:
- Housing. The state median on rental housing is
$510 per month, according to figures in an April 2005 report
on the working poor by the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice
- Child care. Budget about $100 per week for child
care costs. While the average was $325 in 1999, costs have
risen to as much as $600 per month in some areas, the report
- Transportation. The average monthly cost to have
an inexpensive car and pay for insurance, gas and associated
expenses is $490 per month.
- Health care. The average Southern household (2.5
people per family) spends $203 per month on health insurance,
medical services, drugs and other supplies, according to
a federal consumer survey.
If you spend the average on those four categories, you're
left with a whopping $8.50 for food and clothing - - for the
But for about one in four South Carolinians, the daily struggle
with money isn't an intellectual exercise. Some 14 percent
of the people in the state - - about 563,000 South Carolinians
- - live in families with less money available than the monthly
poverty level of $1,612.50 for a family of four. Another 400,000
families are considered "working poor" because they
earn less than two times the poverty level, according to the
Appleseed Center. (For a family of four, that's less than
$38,700 per year.)
"Wages earned by many South Carolinians are simply inadequate
to cover these necessities," according to the report,
"The Working Poor of South Carolina: Poverty Despite
The challenges that face South Carolina policy makers on
poverty issues are daunting, as reflected in these statistics:
- Hunger. 14.5 percent of children and 7.6 percent
of workers in the state live in households considered to
be "food insecure," which means they might not
avoid hunger without emergency help.
- Children. Some 421,310 of South Carolina's children
live between 100 percent and 200 percent of poverty, according
to the 2000 S.C. Kids Count report. That means 46 percent
of the state's kids live at near-poverty levels, the Appleseed
- Racial divide. About 31 percent of the state's
working poor families are white, compared to 67 percent
that are black, according to federal numbers.
- Health care. About one in five South Carolinians
don't have health insurance, despite public programs for
those at the bottom.
Through the years, improvements have been made. People at
the bottom are able to get food stamps and free or reduced
lunches for kids at school. Children in poverty get medical
care through Medicaid. Third-world diseases, such as pellagra,
seem to be a thing of the past in pockets of South Carolina.
The conservative Heritage Foundation says half of poor Americans
own their households and at least two TVs, three-quarters
have air-conditioning and own a car, and the typical poor
American has more living space than the poor in Paris, London
and other European cities.
WORLD: Be careful over holiday
Good column on rural challenges
TRACK: Right on structural deficits
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But despite those numbers, everything in South Carolina isn't
rosy, says Bernie Wright, executive director of the Penn Center
on St. Helena Island. Most people in South Carolina don't
realize there's poverty around them, he says.
"The establishment has to come to grips that there is
a problem," Wright says. "The guy who is leaving
home at 5:30 in the morning and driving 70 miles to work at
Hilton Head Island for $6.00 or $6.50 an hour isn't much better
off than his father, who was picking tomatoes years ago."
Concludes the Appleseed report: "South Carolina's impoverished
households are challenged despite working. Economics have
kept them impoverished - - they are not poor because they
are not trying to work and escape poverty. They are not poor
due to a lack of trying to not be poor."
NOTE: This is part one of a three-part
series on South Carolina poverty. Next week: A more personal
look at poverty. Week Three: Policy options.
7/2: Be careful
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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Rural residents need equal representation
To the editor:
Once again the subject of rural representation has reared
its ugly head. (Commentary,
How many times does this subject have to be dissected before
the public starts asking the same question I've asked time
and time again in my letters to the editor both in this newspaper
The rural areas of South Carolina, as well as those in all
50 states, will continue to suffer financially as long as
we continue to ignore one basic fact - the election of proper
representation in our General Assembly. A quick read of the
South Carolina State Constitution clearly states in Section
6 of Article lll, that 'The Senate shall be composed of one
member from each county, etc.'
Where we go from here will only be determined by you, the
public, if and when you decide to ask some questions. Until
-- Gene Deragon, Lamar, S.C.
6/27: Beaufort, Jasper working together
To the editor:
Good column. (Commentary,
6/26). As you may know, Beaufort and Jasper Counties
are a model of areas working together. We are attracting high
tec jobs in Beaufort with complimentary industry in Jasper
County. The Jasper County Port is a concerted effort. (Rep.)
Thayer Rivers and I have worked together for three years as
have the Town Councils and County Councils.
-- Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, S.C.
tax system needs to change, Hedy Williams, Beaufort,
won't go away,
Jerry Ausband, Garden City Beach, SC
deserts the governor, Rose
Condon, Charleston, S.C.
on doctors is bad legislation, Stephen A Imbeau,
MD, Florence, S.C.
is wrong for SC, Sandy Gibson, Lexington, SC
doesn't care for Average Joes, Sandy Gibson, Lexington,
with what passes as a Republican, Janet Upshaw,
on Sanford is liberal hogwash, Lew Richards, Manning,
This section tracks past forecasts by Statehouse Report
with other media reports:
In Statehouse Report:
has a long way to go on solid budgeting:
"A new report says South
Carolina is among 11 of the states in the nation that
face the highest risk of not having enough money down
the road to pay for its current level of programs and
services. Because of the way the state's tax system
is set up, its shrinking tax bases will grow at a smaller
rate than the costs to maintain government programs
at current levels."
In The State:
Report warns of dangers without smart reform to taxes.
"The report suggests several ways to modernize
a tax system to keep up with economic and population
changes, among them extending the sales tax to cover
more services, reducing or eliminating age-based tax
breaks, strengthening the administration of property
taxes and reducing property tax exemptions. Along with
that, other taxes can be reduced or eliminated."
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
State GOP. The state Republican Party's Howard Dean
Scream contest, a creative event organized to make fun of
the Democratic National Chairman's planned visit during the
week to SC, raised more money ($22,000) than the Democrats
expected to raise ($20,000), according to published reports.
Too bad Dean had to postpone the visit due to bad weather.
Mike Campbell. The son of former Gov. Carroll Campbell
seems to be running a campaign based almost solely on his
dad's good name. This week, a story about possible trademark
infringement surfaced on WSPA
as the son uses his father's old campaign logo -- a knock-off
of Campbell's Soup. The company says it will honor an old
agreement and let Campbell use the old logo.
DOT. Highway Department lobbyist Mike Covington shouldn't
have been demoted for a parody song criticizing the governor.
Hate groups. SC leads the nation in the number (47)
of active hate groups it is home to, according to the Southern
Poverty Law Center. More: Charleston
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