Don't forget middle-class
SC Statehouse Report
OCT. 26, 2003 - - The job numbers haven't been kind to South Carolina
over the last two weeks. Since Oct. 13, manufacturers have announced
job losses affecting more than 2,200 Palmetto State workers:
Power Systems, Greenville: 600 jobs cut;
- Alice Manufacturing, Pickens: 190 jobs cut;
- Kemet Electronics, Mauldin: 650 jobs cut by March 2005;
- Milliken and Company: 240 jobs cut and two S.C. mills closed
in Union and Saluda;
- Georgetown Steel, Georgetown: 541 jobs cut and mill closed.
All totaled, South Carolina has lost about 18,000 manufacturing
and production jobs have been lost over the last year.
Meanwhile, state officials have embarked on a plan to boost the
state's number of knowledge-based jobs to foster a more entrepreneurial
climate. Gov. Mark Sanford has said protecting local manufacturing
jobs can't be the state's top business priority, according to the
Greenville News. The way to spur the economy forward is to boost
small business development and promote knowledge-centered jobs,
a recent story said.
"In large part, the governor's trade mission to China is all
about taking manufacturing's case directly to the Chinese,"
Sanford spokesman Will Folks said in an e-mail. "But whether
it's traditional manufacturing or emerging high tech, the governor's
focus is on making S.C. more competitive from a tax standpoint.
"Short-term, the governor is bringing a message to the Chinese
and looking at synergies in the Chinese-American trade relationship
that could shift more jobs to our side of the ledger. Long-term,
it would be irresponsible for us a state not to engage emerging
industries and stay ahead of the curve in recruiting companies within
those industries to come to South Carolina."
WORLD: The color of money
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So what does that mean? It looks like it means the state's top
business recruiters want South Carolina, long-recognized for having
one of the most competitive and strongest manufacturing bases, to
rely on foreign countries to infuse some new manufacturing jobs.
With a billion people in China, is that likely?
But even more importantly, it appears these leaders no longer want
to focus on our manufacturing or its middle-class workers. Instead,
they want to new small businesses or knowledge-based jobs to pick
up the slack.
Here's a wake-up call state leaders should consider: Everyone can't
be a manager. Everyone can't be a knowledge-based worker. Everyone
can't be retrained as an information technology specialist.
These are messages that are clear to people who have been involved
for years in using South Carolina's manufacturing abilities as a
magnet for state growth.
"We [in South Carolina] have demonstrated competency in manufacturing
that keeps us very, very competitive in any U.S. market and many
foreign countries, unless you're chasing the cheapest dollar, and
we're not interested in that," said Jim Morris, former head
of the state's technical colleges and chief of staff to the state
Commerce Department in the previous administration.
"To walk away from this wonderful track record and success
would be a serious mistake for South Carolina."
Morris agreed the state needed to position itself to take advantage
of knowledge-based jobs, as any smart state would do to maintain
a diversified job recruitment strategy. But these knowledge jobs
tend to cluster close to a major research university, which doesn't
help people who live in rural areas.
And that means the state has got to continue to keep a commitment
to seeking good manufacturing jobs, particularly for folks who live
in rural areas.
"If we don't do that for them, what will be there for them?"
Let's hope the Sanford administration listens and the state's new
recruitment focus doesn't contribute to an erosion of a vital component
of the state's economy. Voters will remember.
The color of money
This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:
10/26: It's our duty to question government
To the editor:
I enjoyed your latest article
on the Government. not being the enemy. As a writer, it is your
job to create thought provoking questions for your readers. This
provocation was accomplished by taking one side of the argument
to the extreme. I do not believe that there are many reasonable
folks out there who believe that all taxes are bad and we should
eliminate them all together.
I also do not believe our founding fathers thought
that an individual who pays 50 percent of his annual income to state
and federal taxes was a good thing. The intent was to get out from
under a Government that taxed us without representation. In actuality,
The fat cats iI believe the founding fathers did not like the Government.
they were under so they decided to fight it instead of roll over
and blindly trust those in power. It is our duty as Americans to
question the role of our Government and to make sure they do as
the folks would have them. It comes down to accountability. n Washington
obviously do not feel accountable to the people they represent or
they would be more concerned about how they spend the folks money.
-- Jay Auld, Bluffton, S.C.