S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, July 30, 2006
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/06.0730.sanford.htm

Sanford's waiting game makes him a real politician
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

JULY 30, 2006 -- Boy, isn't it great that Gov. Mark Sanford is so concerned about the state's high jobless rate that he's going to wait until after the November elections to ask for a study?

Yep, that's what we've come to expect from this fellow who has the word "leadership" carved on his bumper stickers. We expect this kind of swift, decisive action.

Sanford's words this week that he saw a "disconnect" between how the state can have good job growth numbers and tax collections but continuing high unemployment show just how disconnected he is from the reality lived by most South Carolinians.


Most people don't own plantations. Most people don't have beach houses worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most people live paycheck to paycheck.

But not Sanford and his buddies. So it really should come as no real surprise that this Governor Dolittle doesn't understand applied economics.

"There isn't necessarily a connection between the unemployment rate and how the economy is doing," said recently retired Clemson economist Bruce Yandle.

The state's unemployment rate is 6.7 percent - - second highest in the country. While some areas of the state - - particularly the more urban areas and coast - - are experiencing growth, plant closings of traditional manufacturing jobs continue to hammer the state's jobless rate. Just go to Graniteville or parts of the Pee Dee. All you have to do is drive a county away from an Interstate highway and you'll see how tough it is for people in large parts of the state.

"I don't think our state economy is booming," said Yandle, a former member of the state Board of Economic Advisers. Instead, he said it's a mixed bag because the state is undergoing a fundamental transformation from a goods and manufacturing economy to a knowledge and service economy.

"We've got prosperity [in some areas] and we need to celebrate and open the door wider for other areas," he said. "South Carolina is a small but complex economy with some parts of the state that are not doing well and have not done well for a long time. Half of the counties are lifting the performance of the troubled counties."


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In fact, new figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show average pay dropped in more than half of the state's counties last year after inflation. The average South Carolinian earned $32,916 in 2005, slightly less than 2004 after adjusting for inflation. Furthermore, South Carolina slipped to 12th lowest nationally - - down from 14th lowest in 2002 and 2004 - in average pay.

Another reason unemployment here could be staying high is more people appear to be re-entering the work force looking for work. But because they're not yet getting work, the rate remains high. Again, that's part of the economic transformation the state is continuing to undergo.

Meanwhile, state tax collections can go up as unemployment remains high. They're likely up because of the growing income inequality in the state and nation. While many don't want to admit it, study after study shows the rich are, in fact, getting richer and the poor are struggling more every day. With more wealth at the top, more taxes are being paid on capital gains and other investment income.

So yes, things are going well for some people in the state. But for millions of others, Sanford's suggestion to wait until after the November elections to seek a study because to do that now would seem political seems … well, political.

In politics, perception is everything. Sanford now seems like he doesn't want to talk about the very things that are impacting people's lives because he's concerned about his political hide, even though he's got millions of campaign cash in the bank compared to relatively paltry amounts by challenger Tommy Moore.

By not addressing what is worrisome to so many people might just be the start of Sanford's undoing - - because acting more like a politician is just what people don't want in the head of state.

Andy Brack's book of commentary, Bugging the Palmettos, is available for $15.00. Click here for more.

Recent commentary

lighter side
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Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:

Ahead on cigarette taxes

A look at how you often learn first about things in SC Statehouse Report:

From Statehouse Report, 5/14/06:

"If the state were to raise these taxes to $1 per pack, it would realize more than $220 million annually and curb smoking. Eventually that would cause the amount of revenue to decline, but fewer people would be smoking, which would save billions in future health care costs."



From "Battling teen smoking," The Rock Hill Herald, 7/28/06:

"And as long as state lawmakers are looking for smoking deterrents, why not raise the lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax? This not only would raise needed revenues, which could be applied to the state's share of Medicaid expenses, but also would give people one more reason not to smoke."

From "Fining teen smokers," Greenville News, 7/24/06

"It's past time for legislators to pass a substantive cigarette tax increase in an earnest attempt to combat youth smoking."

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.

Recent feedback


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

Good schools: The anti-public school folks, seeming centered in Murrells Inlet and in New York City, haven't passed this note along, for what appears good reason from their perspective: It was good news, published on July 15 by The New York Times. The story from the US Department of Education: In a study of 4th and 8th-grade students in private, church and public schools, conservative Christian school kids lagged way behind in 8th grade math and, in most instances, behind in reading except in the 8th grade. Where are all those glossy, colorful mailed flyers attacking public schools and praising private schools?

Predators: Perhaps Attorney General Henry McMaster does have his eye on the 2010 gubernatorial election, but, no matter, the publicity he and his statewide Internet predator task force to catch and prosecute online sex perverts is worth the publicity for McMaster. He is doing in South Carolina at least part of what President Bush and the Congress, along with luminary John Walsh, are doing nationally. Since April 2004, 33 suspected predators (24 this year alone) have been arrested in the state, five have pleaded guilty, 17 are indicted, and 11 more cases are pending. And some folks thought we were too nice in the Palmetto State to have such things.

Hate crimes: S.C. is one of only a few states that does not think racial crimes should be considered "hate crimes" with attendant additional sentencing. Some anti-hate fans argue all crime is hate, but they may well wish to consider the large number of KKK-style burnings flaming up all over the South, two Clarendon County assaults on African American women and a meeting this weekend in Lexington County by admitted hate-baiters. When did "hate" become "no hate"?

No prosecution: Charleston prosecutor Ralph Hoisington may not have let his GOP mask get in his way, but it seemed that way when he refused to prosecute Rep. Wallace Scarborough, R-Charleston, for allowing his pistol to go off ( as he put it) or for shooting at two electric company servicemen checking on power outages (as they put it). Either way, a gun was fired.
Do them all: As Publisher Andy Brack notes in today's column, the governor has again pushed his foot easily into his mouth with a call to determine whether the state's unemployment statistics are accurate. That came after his cabinet literally banged the drum otherwise on the state's economy. The only thing the public didn't hear was the governor asking for an accuracy check on all the good stats, too, along with the unemployment figures.

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Just a quick note to let you know how you missed out this week. If you were a subscriber to the paid edition of Statehouse Report, you would have received the information below on Friday AND you would have gotten other special features:

  • NUMBER OF THE WEEK: 1 for Richland County
  • HOT RACE: Editor Jerry Ausband says the race for House 60 should be close
  • RADAR SCREEN: Keeping it simple
  • KEEPING TRACK: Ahead on cigarette taxes
  • BLOGROLL: Not much out there
  • MEGAPHONE: The boondoggle shepherd

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AVAILABLE NOW: Furman University's Don Gordon has great things to say about Andy Brack's new book of commentaries, "Bugging the Palmettos." Click here to learn more and buy the book -- only $15.00!

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