Washington Week -- Fridays at 8 pm. on SCETV 

Phone: 843.670.3996


2002-2004, South Carolina Statehouse Report. Published weekly during the S.C. legislative session. South Carolina Statehouse Report is a media project of The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.

SCIway -- South Carolina Information Highway



Talk is cheap; action takes courage
By Andy Brack
S.C. Statehouse Report

OCT. 13, 2002 - - There are a lot of people in South Carolina - - Republicans and Democrats - - who know the basic things we need to do to make the state a better place.

They know we need to improve our education system, reform the tax system, and make health care more affordable for working people and seniors. They know we have to preserve our quality of life, conserve our special places and attract better, high-paying jobs.

While they all know what needs to be done, nothing much seems to happen. We keep having the same old, small partisan battles. It's as if the state's leaders and potential leaders enjoy talking about solutions, but never get around to actually doing much of anything.

Now comes yet another report by a think tank that outlines the state's weaknesses and suggests opportunities. Of particular interest are three facts, the Palmetto Institute said:

" South Carolina has a real gross state product per capita that's 20 percent below the national average.

" The state's average manufacturing wage is 24 percent below the national average.

" Less than two thirds of the people who could be working are participating in the labor market.

Each statistic is an indicator that we do things the old way - - that we're not applying 21st century strategies to 21st century problems. As a result, our old-school way of approaching problems means we're not going to be a player in the markets of the future unless we turn around how we approach things.

The Palmetto Institute, led by dynamic businesswoman Darla Moore, suggests the state should concentrate on clusters of things it does well and become a leader in those areas. That makes sense. A similar strategy was suggested last year in a report on the South by the Southern Governor's Association.

"South Carolina does not have to settle for economic mediocrity," Moore said in press conferences around the state. "We are limited only to the extent that we refuse to change."

But change is going to require courage. Lawmakers who go to Columbia to set goals for the state are going to have to stop bickering over small things. They're going to have to band together as South Carolinians, not as Republicans or Democrats, to develop innovative solutions so we can start reaping benefits of knowledge-based markets.

Here's one simple idea that could help decision-makers: required training seminars for all state lawmakers.

Right now, lawyers, doctors and other certified professionals are required to attend yearly continuing education classes. Shouldn't we expect our lawmakers to be educated periodically so they can keep up with major issues?

Our state legislators come from a wide variety of experiences. Many don't understand the intricacies of tough issues, such as paying for Medicaid or why investing in venture capital can spur economic growth. A lot of lawmakers sail through each session without an in-depth understanding of issues. (It may be hard to believe, but it's true.)

If the House and Senate leadership sponsored a required weekly training session for specific issues - - two hours one week on hog farms, three hours the next on nursing shortages - - lawmakers would be better prepared. It wouldn't be a budget buster. More than likely, college professors or professionals would provide the training for free.

If South Carolina is to become an active participant in the knowledge-based economy of the future, it has to concentrate on performing in areas in which it best competes. But it also has to have leaders with the courage to act, not just talk, and put the state on the right path so it can catch up to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

-- 30 --

11/3: Use your vote wisely: a lesson
10/27: SC GOP to keep control of House
10/20: Black voters may be secret weapon
10/13: Talk is cheap; action takes courage
10/6: Creating sunshine to dampen negative ads
9/29: SC Set to be world leader in news research
9/22: SC Senate shift could be around corner
9/15: Gov's race about barbs, ads, not people
9/8: Shorfall may cause look at prison alternatives
9/2: Revitalize your patriotism by participating
8/25: S.C.'s fiscal situation could be a lot worse
8/18: State wetlands policy needed
8/11: The bully vs. the whiner
8/4: Noah's Ark approach to tax reform
7/28: Two-party system could be political outcome
7/21: State budget woes loom for 2 more years
7/14: Agencies can do better job on Internet
7/5: Thank a guardsman today for service
6/28: Hodges-Sanford race will be wild ride
6/21: Sanford-Peeler race's impact on GOP
6/14: Ethics reform needed now

More done than you'd think(1.23)
More education $ also means cuts (1.22)
PSC reform to come, but when?(1.21)



If you've got any suggestions for Statehouse Report, send information to: