Imagine a drowning man refusing to grab the life preserver thrown to him because he doesn't like the type of rope attached to it, and you get an idea of what S. C. Gov. Mark Sanford's "principled" stand against accepting stimulus package money looks like.
It's a bad idea to take on debt to deal with the financial crisis, the free market should sort it out, he says. Never mind the fact that the governor raised no complaint against running up trillions of dollars in debt fighting the Iraq war or that the lax regulations in place at the time did nothing to stop the free market from spinning out of control.
Thankfully Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) inserted language into the bill that allows municipalities and school districts to tap into some of the money directly. That will ensure at least some of South Carolina's allocation makes its way here.
However, there is another pot of money the states will have to compete for through grants. According to a recent story from The State newspaper, Sanford dodged a question about whether he would tell state agencies not to seek those funds: "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," he said.
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Judging by the infrastructure in this state, that bridge is likely to have collapsed by then.
Refusing to go after available money will not save the taxpayers of this state a single cent. The stimulus money, all $787 billion of it, will be spent.
No matter how much comes to South Carolina, state residents will be on the hook to help pay it off. Yet the governor would rather sit by and watch his four boys and the children of everyone else in this state pay off that vast sum over the coming years while the benefits go elsewhere.
Meanwhile, South Carolina has the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation at 9.5 percent. That figure is expected to hit double digits when the January numbers are released in March. And there are nearly 1,300 bridges in the state with the same "structurally deficient" designation as the one that collapsed in Minneapolis, Minn., in 2007.
The governor's priority should be taking care of the people of this state, not making political points to the detriment of everything else, but we guess that would be asking a politician to behave like a rational human being. Silly us.
The editorial opinion of The Enquirer-Herald is reached by a consensus of a board consisting Community Publications Director Patricia Larson and Editor Jonathan Allen.