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About That SC Legislative State Story …




“Big and bold above our fold” today is a 1,000-word editorial from contributor Jimmy G. Wiles of Myrtle Beach, S.C. – the first of what we hope will be many guest submissions published on this website in 2013.

Missed it?  Click here …

Wiles’ longish piece explores the origins of South Carolina’s legislatively-dominated state – as well as roadblocks to undoing it (and its damaging hold over our economy).  We received an earlier draft of this piece prior to the Christmas holidays but declined to run it because we didn’t think it aligned with our own particular …(idiom, sir?)…  idiom.

Wiles submitted an edited piece this month, though, and doggedly insisted that our founding editor publish it – which he did.

Why did he do that? Well thankfully it wasn’t because Wiles’ caved to the all-consuming desire of Sic Willie’s borderline unethical shoe fetish (which would have just been weird). No, we published the piece because we realized our initial objections to Wiles’ incredibly thoughtful analysis were more personal than ideological.  Specifically, we viewed it as an effort to exonerate S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley from the fallout from several of her most colossal 2012 pooch-screws.

“Almost everything which embarrassed, enraged or alienated South Carolina voters in 2012 was both perfectly legal and business-as-usual,” Wiles wrote. “And the rule book on what’s legal and business-as-usual is the Constitution of 1895.”

That’s not accurate.  Several of the biggest clusterfucks in state government last year took place in S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s cabinet – which was empowered with new responsibilities under the administrations of former governors Carroll A. Campbell Jr. and, to a lesser extent, Mark Sanford.

Blaming those screw-ups on the “legislative state” is totally disingenuous.

Having said that, Wiles’ broader indictment of our legislatively controlled banana republic is dead-on … and the historical context he provides for it is most illuminating.

While Nikki Haley has utterly dropped the ball when it comes to pushing for a more modern form of government – and utterly dropped the ball when it comes to governing – the more we think about it she has inadvertently demonstrated the efficacy of executive accountability.  What do we mean by that?  Well, the scandals we’ve witnessed at the S.C. Department of Revenue, S.C. Department of Social Services, S.C. Department of Health and Human Services, S.C. Department of Probation Parole and Pardon Services, S.C. Department of Transportation and S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce all belong exclusively to her.

Those are her agencies – run by people she appointed.  Which means we know exactly who to blame.

Accordingly, Wiles piece makes a lot of sense.

Haley’s incompetence and repeated attempts to cut insider deals with legislative leaders may have doomed any shot at real government restructuring in South Carolina for the foreseeable future – but that doesn’t mean shifting more executive functions to the executive branch of government is a bad idea.  In fact in her own bumbling, fumbling and stumbling way Haley has demonstrated why it’s so important.

Government needs to confine itself to core functions and hold an executive accountable for performing those functions.  Accordingly, Wiles’ contention that the legislative state moves us further from that objective is a valid one.