Commentary: Sanford's solution lacks long-term thinking

If your doctor said you had two years to live, would you reply, "Just shoot me now"?

Outlandish question? OK. If your boss told you she would have to lay you off in two years, would you pack up your things and walk out the door?

You've no doubt figured out by now where I'm going, but the analogy is still not quite right. Try this: Would you quit on the spot if your boss said he would have to lay you off in two years unless the economy really picked up between now and then?

Of course not. You'd start searching for another job, perhaps, or taking some college courses, or look into starting your own business. But unless or until you found something else, you would keep your job, because being able to put food on the table and pay the mortgage for a couple of more years is pretty valuable to most of us.

Not to Mr. Sanford, who noted the other week that all those teachers who are complaining that they're going to be laid off in a few weeks if he doesn't request federal stimulus funds would just get laid off two years from now anyway when that money runs out if he did.

On the facing page, Mr. Sanford charges that House Speaker Bobby Harrell – and by implication nearly every elected Republican in the state and, as far as I can tell, every newspaper, most of the independents who are essential to putting Republicans into office and a growing number of rank-and-file Republicans – just doesn't understand the danger of spending money that the federal government is borrowing in an attempt to stimulate the economy.

But we do understand that – quite well.

Most of us have serious qualms about the stimulus package, but we understand that the Congress has already made the decision to borrow money to try to revive the economy. We understand that South Carolinians will have to help repay the ever-growing federal deficit, whether we get one penny of the borrowed money or not. We understand that, contrary to Mr. Sanford's assurances, the money designated for our state will in fact go elsewhere if Mr. Sanford does not request it. Perhaps not today, or even this year, but eventually.

It is Mr. Sanford who does not understand. Either that – and I hesitate even to bring up this possibility because the idea is so horrid – or he does not care. He doesn't understand, or care, that our economy is in a self-perpetuating downward spiral that will continue either until some outside force breaks the fall or it hits a bottom much lower than we can imagine. He doesn't understand, or care, that receiving a paycheck for the next two years is a big deal for a lot of South Carolinians – and that whether those South Carolinians continue to receive those paychecks and spend the money in their communities is a big deal for our economy.

To read the complete column, visit www.thestate.com.