So Phil Noble and the College of Charleston had this idea to ask some really smart, successful people how to fix the state.
Because, despite what you've heard, it's not a great day in South Carolina for everybody.
The result is a series of video interviews with historians, novelists, a NASA administrator, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve and a few really innovative entrepreneurs. They call it Envision South Carolina. As in, envision South Carolina as a place where we didn't have to say, “Thank God for Mississippi.”
These folks say all the right things — that fixing education and improving health care and quality of life would help the state's economy by attracting more business. They talk about the lofty notion of investing in people.
Well, they can talk all they want, and now some of these folks even have the preposterous notion that the state might actually implement some of their ideas.
That's not going to happen, because our state officials don't care what a bunch of progressive Democrats say.
In fact, they plain ol' just don't care.
We're No. 49!
Noble had the idea of doing this project as a way to “energize people.”
Maybe, he thought, all this would turn into a book — a blueprint for the state's future. But now, many of the people he interviewed, as well as his audience, are asking the same question: How do we actually do something?
Good question. Noble is not na´ve enough to think they could actually change the world, or even the state.
“We know what to do, we know what the problems are,” he says. “The politicians keep it from happening.”
This is the same problem underscored in the “Forgotten South Carolina” series published by The Post and Courier. Everyone knows what needs to be done, but no one has the, uh, brass to do it.
See, it is much easier to get elected by telling gullible voters that the solution to every problem — be it recruiting business or lowering homeowners' insurance — is cutting taxes on the rich.
How's that working out for you, South Carolina?
If it's broke ...
Some people might think it's a bit harsh, or cynical, to say that our state's elected leaders don't care about our most pressing problems.
Maybe they do — they just don't care enough to expend any political capital to fix it.
Because truth is, the average low-information voter doesn't care about “investing in our future” or want to hear a lot of hooey about how a rising tide lifts all boats. They just want to hear that their property taxes aren't going up $50 a year.
And that's the problem.
The solution here is not to let our best and brightest ramble on about our problems, but to let them run the state.
But that's not going to happen. Unfortunately, South Carolina's biggest problem is not education or health care — it's a bunch of people who don't care enough about the state or its residents to make unpopular decisions. Our voters elect enablers, not leaders. Somebody should talk about how to fix that.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.