Sunday, Aug. 6, 2006
of big ideas
SC Statehouse Report
6 , 2006 -- Perhaps the most startling thing about today's
statewide campaigns in the Palmetto State is the utter lack
of big ideas - ideas that would fundamentally start transforming
the state into a competitive player in the global economy.
Instead we hear about small-brain abstractions - "Vote
for me because I'm a better leader," or "Vote for
me because I'll improve (insert issue.)"
Voters expect more than consultant-driven soundbites and
slick campaign snippets. Yes, they'd like leaders. But they'd
like leaders with compelling visions for the state.
Where would we be in America if John F. Kennedy hadn't had
a vision of putting a man on the moon within a decade? There's
no telling how much civil rights strife still would exist
if the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. hadn't dreamed a big dream.
And without Ronald Reagan's vision, isn't it possible the
Berlin Wall would still be intact?
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Today's leaders seem hog-tied when it comes to big ideas
- that if they step out on the limb to support something new,
big and challenging, they'd be skewered by attack TV and political
It's as if the people vying for top leadership jobs in the
state just want to be caretakers. Our people deserve better.
So here are some big ideas. They're not necessarily original
and you might not agree with them at all. But maybe they'll
stretch your brains just a little bit so you'll realize how
limited today's relatively mediocre politicians are challenging
the status quo:
- $100 laptop. In the past, we've highlighted the
idea of the state providing a laptop computer to each of
the 58,000 7th graders in the state. While MIT says a $100
laptop is just around the corner, the state of Maine currently
has a program that provides laptops to 7th graders at a
cost of $289 each. Former Gov. Angus King said in a recent
interview that the program has increased student interest
in school and reduced discipline problems. If South Carolina
were to implement a similar program for 7th graders using
the Maine system, lawmakers would have to appropriate about
$20 million to reach all 7th graders. That doesn't' seem
to be too much for an investment that could open thousands
of minds in new ways.
- Universal health care. Hard to believe, but the
state of Massachusetts recently passed legislation that
essentially gives universal health care to its residents.
Considering the fact that about half of South Carolinians
already have such coverage through Medicare, Medicaid and
other programs, providing universal health care seems like
an idea worth exploring in a place where we're last on a
lot of the health lists that it's not good to be last on.
- Home-grown energy. Seems like the state could figure
out a way to grow energy since the nation seems intent on
weaning itself from oil. Not only do we have a lot of sunshine,
which could spark fields of solar panels to harness energy
as is done in Germany, but South Carolina has a competitive
advantage with fuel cell and hydrogen energy research. State
leaders need to take a serious look at helping to jumpstart
these energy fields, instead of the relatively paltry investments
made to date.
- Quality of life. South Carolina's natural resources
and quality of life are being threatened by big growth and
development. Perhaps state leaders can work on big ideas
to allow development and protection of the state's valued
quality of life to occur in tandem in mutually-beneficial
So South Carolina reader, if you were king or queen for a
day, what big idea would you implement?
Send your ideas to Andy Brack, publisher
of S.C. Statehouse Report, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brack's book of commentary, Bugging
the Palmettos, is available for
here for more.
8/6: A new kind
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
Ahead on House
A look at how you often learn first about things in SC
From Statehouse Report, 7/21/06:
Veteran politician and retiring incumbent
state Rep. John Graham Altman, R-Charleston, sees his
home District 119 as so strangely drawn as to make it
almost impossible for candidates to find their way around.
Not so, perhaps, with Democrat Leon Stavrinakis and
Republican Suzanne Piper, both natives of Charleston
County, both of whom are ready to start campaigning
in earnest for Altman's seat.
From The Post and Courier, 8/3/06
In local politics July and August are
normally the doldrums, a lull between the June primaries
and the buildup to the November general election. That's
not the case in state House District 119. The race between
Leon Stavrinakis and Suzanne Piper is shaping up as
one the Lowcountry's most watched and most competitive
contests, a chance for Charleston County Democrats to
wrest back a state House seat held by the GOP, something
it hasn't done in many years.
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