An Ill Wind

Like many, I’m concerned about the constant and continual poor performance of South Carolina’s schools, industry, governance, health, crime, employment … In these and far too many other categories of measurement, the Palmetto State doesn’t show well compared to other states in the country and certainly not as honorably as this former titan of liberty deserves.

“Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places” is a cute advertising line that can’t obscure the realities that plague this great piece of American real estate.

Why?

South Carolina is not a stupid state, no matter how she is portrayed in pop culture (and by self-loathing southerners).  Sure, there are some whose words or actions are contrary to that point, but every state and region has its village idiot.   Neither is South Carolina a poor state, nor a backwater of 19th century proportions.

There are a number of quantifiable excuses that might explain why she isn’t progressing and prospering to her potential, but I don’t think they apply; not when looking at the scale and range of failures.

For instance, the amount of public funding reaching – actually reaching – students in public schools is criminal.  With $12,000 per pupil allocated, you would think performance would be better.  Yet, furloughs and budget cuts are expected for this school year and the next while school districts across the state have a combined SURPLUS of “reserve funds” totaling nearly $714 million.

The General Assembly allocates $10 million for a golf tournament on Hilton Head Island.

There’s the $150 million rat-hole called “Innovista.”

Lawyers, lobbyists and “consultants” break in line ahead of and push citizens out of the way in determining the laws and regulations of the state – of their lives.

Unemployment skyrockets while government spends and spends and spends on political pet projects that benefit few at the expense of many.

There is no collegiality in the state’s system of higher education.  South Carolina desperately needs an authoritative Board of Regents to streamline and regulate public college and university operations.

Why?

Is it because state “leadership” is uninformed?  Is it handcuffed by outdated rules or mandatory edicts? 

No.  Sadly, is answer is as revealing as it is unfortunate.

Corruption.

You don’t have to see air to know the wind is blowing just as you need only to see the results to realize that there are nefarious forces at work in state government.  There is an ill wind crossing South Carolina from the Up State to the Low Country; a nasty gust of greed and exploitation powered by soul-less mercenaries and traitorous pols.

A corruption of trust would be sin enough, but it’s more and more tangible than that.  When things go wrong (and there is no argument that MANY things in South Carolina have gone wrong) those in charge should be held accountable.  South Carolina’s politicians don’t like being held accountable.  They don’t even like having their votes made public, but were recently forced to do so.

The South Carolina state constitution is a racist relic that puts power in the hands of the legislature and intentionally marginalizes the executive branch.  The Budget and Control Board is an odd and ineffective mechanism encrusted with back-room fiscal machinations and legislative burden.

Billions of dollars slide through the greasy hands of legislators every year, and still, likewise every year, the state of South Carolina remains in the desperate vacuum of under achievement.  I can’t point to categorical acts of malfeasance by or at the behest of specific individuals, but, as I’ve said before, there is no coincidence in politics.  Like wind, the effects are there even if the cause is not visible. 

There can be few, if any, other reasons for the Palmetto State’s dismal condition.  Beyond excuses and faux outrage, there is no challenging explanation why this jewel of the South has become so sullied, its value diminished.

And there’s the disrespect.  State legislators – far too many of them, anyway – DO believe the citizenry is stupid, nothing more than a population of four million plus “smiling faces” yokels who aren’t smart enough to catch on to governmental chicanery; dimwits who don’t know which way the wind is blowing, or that it’s blowing at all.

Corruption is a serious charge, but the damage it has caused is far more sobering and ugly.  This great state of patriotism and principle has become a laughing-stock of desperation and failure.  It did not become so because of some cataclysmic natural or national disaster, nor is South Carolina the victim of a global financial crisis or massive shift in various markets.  The decline has been far too long in the making to blame on current or recent circumstances.  Her demise is the result of long-standing and intentional neglect.

The suborned despise – fear – the sunlight of transparency and citizen awareness.  The clammy shadiness in which they operate depends on keeping people in the dark.  Sadly, far too many of those people prefer the darkness.  Like an abused spouse in denial, the voters of South Carolina know there is wrong in their midst, but are either too lazy or cowardly to do anything about it.  So, the wolves of exploitation feast on the carrion of the self-sacrificing, leaving the bones of a once-great state to blanche on the side of the road to progress.

In this election year, there will be opportunities to “throw the bums out,” but too many will remain.  They’ll smile their charming smile, promise candy and sunshine, slap folks on the back and remind voters of what they’ve done for them, all the while pompously pretending to be shocked at the condition of things and pledge to “set things right.”  They are the serpent in the Tree of Life, wooing people to their doom – and the people allow them to do so.

In the end, who is the most corrupt?  Those who take advantage of the people who select, or the voters who make those selections?

Either way, South Carolina continues to corrode like a neglected tractor in a kudzu-covered field.  Once proud, once productive, but now outdated and ignored – and dying.

Dum Spiro Spero.

~ CS

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5 thoughts on “An Ill Wind

  1. Excellent points. South Carolina has the capability to be so much better, but because of the reasons you touched upon we are not progressing. Sometimes I wonder if the lack of progress is intentional because some people are scared to move forward? Change can be scary but change is what is needed.

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  2. That was a much more eloquent way of putting it than my usual rant of, “THE FASCIST CROOKS ARE STEALING US BLIND!”

    I used to wonder how South Carolina could remain so influential with a disproportionately high number of individuals from our state attaining high national offices and party positions.

    It finally occurred to me that South Carolina politicians have been bred from one of the most corrupt state governments in the Union. They’ve learned to work harder to become a crook here AND survive against the other crooks than they’d ever have to work to achieve the same at the federal level.

    Now, speaking of crooks, let’s watch Glenn McConnell to see if he allows the state senate to be shamed into having to unanimously vote for Nikki Haley’s on-the-record voting bill as the house has just had to do.

    What do you think the odds of the house leadership having allowed it to come to the floor for a vote without having first been reassured that the senate would never let it come up for a vote?

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  3. Excellent, excellent piece. This explains when Governor Sanford during his first term stood on the steps of the State House with 2 piglets named “Pork and Barrel”, that the members in both parties went ballistic. Neither party wanted the truth be exposed.

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  4. @WorkingTommyC You hit the nail on the head. I know this is slightly off topic, but you are dead-on when you say that the house had to be assured that the Senate would not let H3047 come up for a vote. The Reps need political cover going into elections and the Senate doesn’t mind giving it to them.

    Dig deeper and I promise you that you’ll find Jake Knotts and Andre Bauer at the center of any backroom deals struck to ensure H3047 gets buried in the Senate. The house would not have unanimously voted for it after trying to bury it themselves without complete and reliable assurance by the key Senators that it would die there. Knotts is a key player because he could care less what anyone thinks and has been very outwardly vocal in his opposition to H3047/S11. Bauer had to be in on it so they could be assured it would be sent to the same subcommittee that was in the process of slowly murdering S11.

    The problem is finding the evidence of this scam. It is probably no matter because we’re going to get it recalled from subcommittee or I will personally go for the figurative throats of Bauer, Knotts, McConnell and Martin. It is really not that hard to make a politician’s life a living hell, especially one who is running for office like Bauer.

    Sorry for going off topic.

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