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What A “State Of The State” Address Should Be

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NUMBERS AND IDEAS … NOT RHETORIC AND POLITICS

S.C. governor Nikki Haley delivered her 2016 “State of the State” speech last night – and S.C. Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell delivered the rebuttal on behalf of the Democratic Party.

You can read Haley’s remarks here and Norrell’s response here.

As we perused the texts of both speeches, we noticed pretty quickly that neither document was anything resembling a real update on South Carolina’s current situation.

Haley’s speech was an attempt to highlight her latest status quo big government proposals and pretend that implementing them will lead to the betterment of the state … while Norrell’s speech was an attempt to blame Haley’s policies for things not being better.

We side with Norrell on that count … at least up to the point when she suggested more status quo big government as the answer.

Seriously … have “Republicans” under Haley not grown government enough?

Once, just once, we’d like to dispense with all the theatrics and political spin of these dueling addresses.  After all, working people don’t have time to sit and listen to politicians tug at their heartstrings with emotional stories or talk in highfalutin prose about their promises or reference dozens of people with “shout-outs.”

Once, just once, we’d like an honest-to-God update on the state of our state – an annual report that cuts through the rhetoric and politics to the real numbers.

For example, we’d like to see questions like these answered honestly …

How many South Carolinians are there?  Are there more or less of us than last year?

What percentage of  working age South Carolinians are in the labor force?  Is that number up or down?  And how does it compare to the national average?

How much are those workers earning?  Is that number up or down from last year after adjusting for inflation?  How does that increase or decrease compare nationally?

How are our students performing on apples-to-apples national tests?  Are those numbers up or down?  And if so, what is the breakdown between private/ parochial and government-run schools?  And how do those breakdowns compare nationally?

Is crime up or down? How do those numbers compare nationally?

What about our Medicaid population as a percentage of the state’s population?  Is it going up or down?  How do those numbers compare?

What about the percentage of our population currently on food stamps or other government programs?  Is it going up or down?  And how does it compare?

Where are we on health and wellness indicators?  

Did the cost of health insurance go up or down last year?

What percentage of our roads and bridges are structurally deficient?

These and other similar questions intend to coerce critical metrics: Numbers that matter.  And of course to all of the questions above (by no means an exhaustive list) we would add the following three questions – a.k.a. the only three questions that really need answering when it comes to assessing the performance of an elected official.

How much of the taxpayers’ money do you plan on collecting (or borrowing) in the coming year?  Will it be more or less than the previous year?

Where do you propose to collect or borrow this money from? 

Where – and how – do you intend to spend the money you collect or borrow?   

Naturally, we didn’t get those kinds of specifics from Haley’s speech.  Nor did we get them from the speeches of her predecessor, Mark Sanford (a few of which were written by the founding editor of this website).

Nor did we get those kinds of specifics at the national level from president Barack Obama – or from Haley, who delivered the GOP establishment’s response to his final State of the Union speech this year.

That’s a shame … but not a surprise.

Political speeches aren’t intended to inform or answer questions – they are intended to advance agendas by invoking emotions and leveling accusations.  They aren’t about setting forth ideas – they are about claiming credit or assigning blame.

South Carolinians deserve better than that.  They deserve a thorough recapitulation of the true “State of the State” – number by number, no matter how painful.  They also deserve a transparent accounting of how their money was spend on government’s efforts to improve those numbers … an accounting which would undoubtedly show the abject failure of government across the boards.

(As if that’s a mystery ….)

Above all, South Carolinians deserve real solutions … not more of the same perpetual government growth from both major parties with little to nothing to show for it.

Of course don’t expect to hear such a “State of the State” address anytime soon.

Why not?  Because if you heard a speech that actually told it like it was, you’d probably overthrow your government …

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