S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, Nov. 13, 2005
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/05.1113.ranks.htm

South Carolina can do better than floundering
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

NOV. 13, 2005 - - There's no telling how many times people have cited statistic after statistic about how poorly South Carolina fares in one area or another. But it's tough to find everything in one place.

So here's an attempt to provide a big list of South Carolina lasts and firsts:

50th in job growth. An October report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said the state had the lowest job growth in the country in the second quarter of 2004.

50th in high school graduation rate. Only 53 percent of high school ninth-graders in South Carolina graduate in four years, according to the Manhattan Institute. While it says the state has the lowest graduation rate in the country, state education officials say the rate actually is higher at 67 percent.

50th in inmate funding. S.C. Corrections Department Director Jon Ozmint wrote in April in The Greenville News that the state had the nation's worst funding per inmate.

49th in average SAT scores. While the state's average SAT score increased by 7 points to 993 in the most recent test results released by The College Board, the state still ranked 49th nationally and 35 points behind the national average.

49th in campaign disclosure. The state does almost the worst job in the country in providing good campaign disclosure information to voters, according to a recent study by the Campaign Disclosure Project.

48th worst in low birthweight babies. Some 10 percent of babies born in South Carolina have low birthweight - more than any other state other than Louisiana and Mississippi, according to the most recent Kids Count survey by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

47th in low infant mortality. With a 9.3 percent infant mortality rate, South Carolina ranks higher in infant mortality than all other states except three. (Kids Count.)

45th in computers. South Carolina is at the bottom of states with households with computers in their homes, according to an October 2003 survey by the U.S. Department of Commerce.


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Now to the other end of the spectrum:

9th in child deaths. The state ranks 42nd in child deaths with 27 per 100,000 children, compared to 12 in New Hampshire, which had the lowest rate. (Kids Count.)

7th in child poverty. The state tied with Texas and Alabama in having a larger percentage of children in poverty (23 percent) than most states. (Kids Count.)

6th worst place for kids. The state ranked 45th out of 50 in being the best place for kids overall. (Kids Count.)

6th in domestic violence. South Carolina ranks sixth in the country in the number of women killed by men, according to the Violence Policy Center.

4th in unemployment. With a 6.6 percent unemployment rate, only Alaska, Mississippi and Louisiana have more jobless people than South Carolina does.

4th in fire deaths. The U.S. Fire Administration says S.C. has the 4th highest rate of deaths from fires in the country, although a 2004 story said the state ranked second.

2nd in mortgage fraud. The state has the second highest mortgage fraud rank in the country, according to the Mortgage Asset Research Institute report.

2nd in violent crime rate. FBI statistics say the state had the nation's second-highest violent crime rate in 2004, while state officials say the high number is because the state does a more accurate job of reporting crime statistics than other states, which inflates the rate. The State Law Enforcement Division said violent crime actually went down in 2004.

Top causes of death. The state had the second highest rate of deaths from stroke and third highest in deaths from obesity, according to data with the S.C. Indicators Project.

First in speeding deaths. South Carolina has more speed-related traffic deaths than any other state, according to a summer report by two federal highway agencies.

First in high college tuition. The state ranks first in the average tuition for state universities compared to per capita income, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Now that you're overwhelmed with numbers and statistics, think back to the movie Animal House and Kent Dorfman, the character nicknamed Flounder. Remember this famous line from Dean Wormer?

"Mr. Dorfman. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life."

Like most of you, I love South Carolina. But I swear, sometimes I feel like we're the Flounder of these United States.

We deserve better. Our leaders need to lead us to be number one in the things that we're at the bottom of the list.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For a full list of sources of the figures listed above, visit S.C. Statehouse Report online at: www.statehousereport.com/statsources. If you want to research more about S.C. statistics, go to the S.C. Indicators Project.


11/13: The meaning of the Nov. 8 national elections

Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:


The best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more. Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less for business subscribers. More: SC Clips.

11/8: Good column on Wilkins

To the editor:

Your interview [Commentary, 11/6] with Ambassador Wilkins was fascinating. Thanks for keeping us informed of how he's doing!

-- Nancy Gilley, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Recent feedback:


Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various political events from the past week:

Thumbs up

Brighter economy. State officials say the state will take in about $467 more than expected in sales and income tax due to a brighter economy. Now, it's time to get to work on high unemployment and low job growth rates.

The State. Hats off to the newspaper for exposing overcharging at the Pentagon, which brought on a congressional inquiry in the last week.

Thumbs down

State schools. Recent below-expected scores on school report cards should serve as a wake-up call to education officials (as some have already said.) Some 25 percent of schools in the state are rated unsatisfactory or below average.

State lawmakers. Most seem hellbent on eroding the property tax, which will have detrimental long-term effects and shows only a short-term vision generated by politics.

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