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SC Governor Fiddling While State Burns

By Matthew Yglesias  

"SC Governor Fiddling While State Burns"

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South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has emerged as the current economic crisis’s greatest sadist, not just refusing to help victims of economic distress in his state, but going the extra mile to ensure that the federal government can’t help people either. Some say this is just a cynical play for Republican presidential primary votes, but it seems to me to reflect a very authentic strain of Dixie conservatism that simply takes a vindictive attitude toward the poor. You saw a lot of this in the Depression, when the locus of resistance to New Deal programs that transferred wealth from the prosperous northeast to the poor south was actually in the South.

Here’s John O’Connor’s account in The State of anti-Sanford protests and Sanford’s reaction:

“Tent city is obviously people trying to make a political point,” Sanford said. “I get it. But it doesn’t make it true.”

Sanford should know, said Sheheen, adding Sanford has a history of publicity stunts.

“Things like this pale in comparison to bringing pigs to the State House,” as Sanford once did to decry pork-barrel spending, Sheheen said.

According to the latest Center for American Progress analysis of state-by-state unemployment numbers by Heather Boushey and Nayla Kazzi, South Carolina has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation (behind Michigan) at 11 percent. Take a look at the state’s rapidly deteriorating labor market conditions:

scunemployment_1.jpg

Back in 2007, before this spike in the unemployment rate, 15.1 percent of South Carolinians—and 21 percent of South Carolina’s children—were living below the poverty line. That was above a national average of around 13 percent. But, again, the unemployment rate has almost doubled since then so that’s sure to be a serious undercount of how many people in Sanford’s state are facing a dire situation.

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