Monday, August 15, 2011

South Carolina accepts $125M in federal funding -- for sand

If anyone still labors under the misimpression that South Carolina has a state Superintendent of Education, their delusion shall have no leg to support it past midnight tonight, the deadline for General Mick Zais to request our waiver for $144 million in federal funds -- South Carolinians' own tax money, set aside by Congress for South Carolinians to spend on saving teachers' jobs.

Zais, supported by Her Excellency Nikki Haley, has decried the federal funding as "intrusion" into the state's affairs. Such federal "intrusion" must be repelled.

And he's had aid and comfort from South Carolina's two meager contributions to the U.S. Senate, Jim DeMint and Lindsay Graham, neither of which has lifted a finger -- in public, Senator Graham, in public -- to support the state's beleaguered schoolchildren and their educators against the despot occupying the Rutledge Building.

DeMint, in particular, has sharpened his teeth on the topic of Congressional earmarks -- those damnable set-asides of funding for goody-goody purposes by members of Congress who would rather not hear their pet project debated aloud on the floor for all to hear. Of course, in the case of the education jobs bill, there was plenty of open debate on the floor; no earmark was this appropriation. It got the full treatment.

But hark! Word comes from Washington that SOMEone allowed a little funding to slip through, SOMEone whistled and looked the other way while a whole hundred and twenty-five millions dollars in federal funds -- government intrusion, I swear it -- has come creeping into the state to pay for -- wait for it... wait for it... -- SAND.

Sand. Sand that will be poured onto our beaches and washed away by the tides. Sand, and $125 million worth of it.

The incapable ideologues warming our state's seats in Congress cannot be bothered to shake Zais or Haley into agreement over saving South Carolina jobs, but they're of one accord on the importance of trucking $125 million worth of sand into a state that sits on the Atlantic coast.

MULTI-MILLION-dollar bridges to nowhere — whether they’re in Alaska or South Carolina’s Pee Dee — make easy, and appropriate, examples of wasteful federal spending. But how much do we gain when we eliminate such boondoggles in order to spend millions of dollars throwing sand into the ocean?

The Associated Press reports that the moratorium on congressional earmarks has freed up so much money that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be able to spend $125 million this year on beach renourishment — about $25 million more than in recent years.

We understand why the state of South Carolina and coastal communities would spend money pouring sand on the beach: Tourism is our state’s top industry, our main draw is white, sandy beaches, and so an argument can be made that artificially maintaining those beaches is simply a smart investment, even though the physics of coastal islands means that the process must be repeated every decade or so.
It’s particularly galling that federal tax money would be spent on beach renourishment when our government is borrowing 39 cents out of every dollar and necessary programs face the possibility of deep cuts to reduce that number.

Yes, and when our own leaders refuse $144 million that would actually result in jobs.

Next time you go to the beach, build a little sandcastle in honor of the veteran educators in your community. Make sure you stay long enough to watch the tide roll in and take the little castle away, just as South Carolina's leaders have taken away vital careers from veteran classroom educators and left them to count in the unemployment figures.

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