Sunday, July 30, 2006
game makes him a real politician
SC Statehouse Report
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
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
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
"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
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.
7/30: Deja vu
-- the Crusades again?
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
Ahead on cigarette
A look at how you often learn first about things in SC
"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."
teen smoking," The Rock Hill Herald,
"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."
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."
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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
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
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