Selling The Greatness Of South Carolina
While her administration has been a parade of major missteps, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has certainly done her best to assume the role of South Carolina’s No. 1 cheerleader.
Every job announcement is a “celebration” (often accompanied with uplifting theme music), and Haley’s giddy social media feeds are replete with references to her boundless “excitement” for her job.
Not only that, the governor has taken to task those who aren’t on board with her “Up With People” rhetoric.
“Times are good and what I want people to understand is – when we talk about South Carolina, now we talk about it with a sense of pride,” Haley said earlier this year in Rock Hill, S.C. “It’s important and it’s the responsibility of every person in the state to do it because you never know when you are standing next to someone that’s thinking about moving a business here. So if you talk about how challenged we are, if you talk about the things that maybe aren’t right yet – you might be keeping a company from coming here.”
Fast forward to this Thursday, when Haley delivered a speech to the Lexington, S.C. Rotary Club in which she reiterated her support for a law that would permit the state to drug test recipients of unemployment benefits (a.k.a. what passes for employment “reform” in this state).
“I so want drug testing. I so want it,” Haley told the crowd.
Okay … we’ve heard that sense of urgency coming from Haley before, but that doesn’t change the fact that drug testing is an insignificant reform in light of the ongoing financial mess at the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (which has been doing a piss poor job of administersing jobless benefits in South Carolina for years). It’s also a very costly reform.
But drug references do grab headlines and rile up intellectually incurious conservatives, which is why Haley keeps making them. Of course Haley was about to make an even bigger headline … albeit a damaging one that flies squarely in the face of her previous exhortations to sell the greatness of South Carolina.
By way of justifying her position on drug testing Haley offered up an anecdote to the crowd regarding the Savannah River Site (SRS), the U.S. Department of Energy complex located along the South Carolina-Georgia border.
“Down on River Site, they were hiring a few hundred people, and when we sat down and talked to them – this was back before the campaign – when we sat down and talked to them, they said of everybody they interviewed, half of them failed a drug test, and of the half that was left, of that 50 percent, the other half couldn’t read and write properly,” Haley said.
Ummm … what?
Half of South Carolina’s workforce is high? And the other half is illiterate?
“That’s what we have in South Carolina,” Haley added, underscoring her point. “We don’t have an unemployment problem. We have an education and poverty problem.”
Okay … but if that’s true, then why has Haley abandoned her prior support for universal tax credits and individual income tax relief – a pair of proven reforms that would boost academic achievement and permit the private sector to create jobs in our state? Seems like endorsing those plans would do much more for South Carolina’s competitiveness than Haley’s command economic boondoggling and underwhelming education agenda (the latter of which she hasn’t even lifted a finger on since winning election last November).
Given our prior commentary on the subject, we’re not going to argue with Haley’s contention that South Carolinians are dumb. That’s just what happens when a corrupt “one size fits all” taxpayer-funded monopoly is tasked with enforcing “accountability” rather than letting the free market do it.
But what about Haley’s specific claims regarding the Savannah River Site? Where did she get that information from? And is drug use in the Palmetto state really so “chronic?”
Prepare to be amazed (editor’s note: sarcasm) but Haley was once again talking completely out of her ass.
“”Half the people who applied for a job last year or year 2009 did not fail the drug test,” an SRS spokesman told The Huffington Post. “At the peak of hiring under the Recovery Act we had less than 1 percent of those hired test positive.”
Not only that, the spokesman added that SRS only performs drug tests on people that it actually hires – not job applicants.
Surely Haley had a quick retort to this statement, though … right? Perhaps a fact-filled rejoinder from a local employment agency … or at the very least the name of a credible official at SRS who provided her with this information?
Again, prepare to be amazed (editor’s note: sarcasm) - but Haley offered up absolutely nothing by way of supporting her claims. In fact, according to The Huffington Post, “a spokesman for Gov. Haley did not respond to requests for comment.”
Sheesh … and they say blogs pull things out of thin air.
Look, we’re libertarians who support the legalization of marijuana and other drugs. Always have, always will. And we oppose the perpetual extension of unemployment benefits – even to sober people – on the grounds that it incentivizes joblessness. Finally, while it’s one thing to permit the state to deny benefits in the event an employee fails an employer-administered drug test – it’s another thing entirely to ask the federal government to pay for the tests.
We just can’t afford that, people.
Of course this story isn’t about the merits of drug testing the unemployed, it’s about a governor who has consistently chided the press for making negative comments about South Carolina announcing to the world that half of our workers are stoned and the other half can’t read.
Way to sell the greatness of South Carolina, governor.