With each day that passes there are more and more jobs being cut out due to the economic wreck we have created. I say we because in South Carolina we elected for a second term a governor who proposes outcomes that only the rich can survive. I think every elected official goes into office wanting to make a difference; however, the ones that become political all-stars are those officials who find resolutions without career moves and financial incentive as the motivator.
Think about the single parents of this state. It is very tough for a one-income family to make ends meet. Single parents with below average incomes face the nightmare of living paycheck to paycheck. In our state, we tell these parents, if you need help with your child care, we will help you. This is wonderful because it means that the parent is working, paying taxes (i.e. contributing to society), which, in turn, means less government help. Wait, I forgot to mention that two years from the start of helping these parents, we cut those benefits. In some cases, this gives the parent only one option: stop working and collect welfare, food stamps, etc. Now, not only have we hurt ourselves by increasing the amount of government benefits, we have decreased the confidence of that parent. We also create a cycle. The child sees the parent not working and accepts this as the norm. In reality, these parents want to work and contribute to society. Sometimes giving just a little help makes all the difference and benefits everyone.
Recently, state Rep. Kenny Bingham, R-Cayce, proposed that a person working at a seasonal plant should not receive unemployment benefits during the off season. How does this benefit the state? Proposals such as Bingham's do nothing but scare citizens. Has he ever stopped to think that just maybe the unemployment check is going to put food in a child's mouth? These workers are not asking the plants to lay them off for weeks or months at a time, but these plants are forced to. Punishing either is a disgrace and a downright slap in the face.
These plants must do this to stay profitable so that they can continue to provide jobs even if the work is temporary. Instead of wasting energy and taxpayer money threatening those who are less fortunate, he should be using that time to provide solutions to a dead economy. Twenty years ago, many predicted that our mills would become nonexistent. Our leaders should be recruiting industry to this great state instead of scaring them away with tactics that are downright absurd. I am sure it is a great recruiting tool to tell an industry if you have seasonal work, your employees will not be eligible for state benefits.
Which brings me to my last issue. Why is it that Gov. Mark Sanford refuses to participate in the Child Health Insurance Plan better known as CHIP? This plan could potentially save South Carolina millions of dollars. CHIP is insurance for children of working families who cannot afford premiums or co-pays. The state's cost is 20 percent of the total.
It's not economical
Let me break this down. Let's say a child has a chronic disease such as asthma. The family cannot afford regular visits to the pediatrician. So, when the condition gets so bad the mother has no choice but to take her child to the emergency room. An average ER visit may cost around $500. If a family cannot afford a regular doctor visit, they certainly cannot afford an ER visit. Therefore, hospitals are forced to eat the cost. Hospitals have two choices: cut staff (raising liability) or, if you are a county hospital, ask for more revenue to keep the hospital going. Giving more revenue means more taxes for the local citizens. I am not an economist but it looks like the 20 percent is a bargain.
It's the simple things that could make South Carolina a better place to live for all. To hear some politicians talk, giving equals more taxes, but the opposite can be true. We must move from a time where we care more about low cigarette tax than citizens who have made South Carolina such a wonderful place to live. God did not say love thy neighbor when beneficial or convenient. He said love thy neighbor because we are all his children and all should look after the well being of each other no matter what party or economic "status" we are associated with. I challenge the governor in his last term to put 2012 aside and take care of the people he took an oath for.
This weekly column features opposing views from readers. These opinions are contrary to those expressed on this page or which otherwise take issue with something that appears in The Herald. All commentaries submitted become the property of The Herald and may be republished in any format.
Eddie Black, PharmD, is a resident of Rock Hill