Sunday, Nov. 13, 2005
can do better than floundering
SC Statehouse Report
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
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
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
11/13: The meaning
of the Nov. 8 national elections
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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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.
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
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.
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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