Miss South Carolina exposes state government’s problem

The media often asks me if the state of South Carolina has had its business recruitment harmed by the massive hacking of almost every personal and business tax return from our Department of Revenue.  My answer is that as long as out-of-state corporations feel that Governor Haley and her cabinet have fixed the problem going forward then the situation shouldn’t an issue unless…..

And here is the big caveat to my answer.  If big businesses think that the Department of Revenue hacking reflects an underlying issue with our state government’s competence or refusal to proactively solve problems, then there might be some concern by those businesses we are trying to recruit. 
Corporations don’t necessarily like to invest in a state failing to be a good steward of the public’s money or generally not pursuing an agenda to improve the lives of its citizens.

That is the real embarrassment about Brooke Mostellar’s comment last night as she was introduced as South Carolina’s representative in the Miss America Pageant.

“I’m from the state where 20 percent of our homes are mobile because that’s how we roll,” she told an international TV audience.

The Twitter world lit up with mostly negative reactions to Mostellar’s comment.

Embarrassing?  Yes.  Inappropriate?  Yes. Turned the judges off?  Yes. 

But what was the probable reaction by any prospective corporate executive who might have watched the program and will certainly read about it? 

I’m afraid that the message that came through loud and clear was that not only do we have a low-income state where the best housing too many of our citizens can afford is a mobile home…but we’re dog gone proud of that. 

That message reinforces the other negative national news stories about South Carolina.  Our state government can’t be trusted to guard corporate financial documentation.  Our state government fails to protect our children from contracting TB.  Our state government refuses to accept federal dollars to provide healthcare to hundreds of thousands of our low-income residents.  Etc., etc. etc.

Having a lot of poor residents is one thing as long as we’re taking positive steps to change the situation.  That is marginally acceptable.

But being proud of having too many poor citizens and having no serious plan to improve their opportunity to have a better quality of life reflects a government out-of-touch with the best interests of its citizens.  That is not a good long-term business environment in which to invest.

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