Opinion

Commentary: South Carolina should consider dissolving

Shortly after the beginning of the Civil War, Judge James L. Petigru observed, "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum."

A century and a half later, Palmetto State politicians are still trying to prove him wrong on both counts.

Consider:

The House of Representatives last week approved a tax exemption for Amazon, reversing an earlier decision, which itself had revoked a promise made by Gov. Sanford. Sanford's successor, Gov. Haley, said the Amazon tax deal was unfair even though, as a legislator, she and 30 colleagues opposing the Amazon incentives had voted FOR a similar deal for online retailer QVC six years earlier.

When it appeared that the Amazon deal was dead, Haley called a press conference to announce that Walmart, which lobbied against the plan, would build more stores in the state -- as if more low-paying jobs were something to crow about.

Last week, Haley signed into law a bill requiring people to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote, despite that no cases of voter fraud have been made in years and that it could cost as much as $1.5 million to issue photo IDs. Critics say the law is intended to keep the poor and elderly -- many of whom are suspected Democrats -- from voting.

Other constitutionally dubious measures making their way through the Legislature include an Arizona-inspired bill to require police officers to challenge the immigration status of people they suspect to be aliens and to create an agency to enforce immigration laws.

Lawmakers decided recently to reduce medical and subsistence payments to the state's poorest while granting $100 million in tax breaks to businesses complaining about high unemployment insurance costs. A major reason South Carolina had to borrow millions from the federal government to cover jobless compensation is that the General Assembly slashed fees, ignoring warnings that it would deplete the rainy day fund.

I could go on, but my case has been made: The Palmetto State has become the domestic equivalent of a banana republic, misled by politicians devoid of either shame or compassion.

The decent thing for South Carolina to do is to dissolve.

I'm not recommending secession, mind you (we tried that once and found it didn't work). Constitutional scholars would have to figure out details, but voters would vote on a amendment requesting that South Carolina be deleted from the 50 states.

Everything below I-26 would become part of Georgia; the area above that highway -- with one notable exception -- would be absorbed by North Carolina.

Georgians would love the idea. They finally could claim to be the Peach State without risk of embarrassment (we produce more peaches).

Better yet, Georgia would pick up the Upstate manufacturing and financial center of Greenville and the tourism magnets of Hilton Head and Beaufort. It also would obtain such choice military installations as Parris Island and the Beaufort Naval Air Station.

Disputes with South Carolina concerning the Savannah River would be ended forever.

The Tar Heel State would lay claim to Rock Hill, Spartanburg and BMW. It would also get Fort Jackson, Shaw AFB, the Third Army HQ and the Grand Strand.

Columbia would be taken by North Carolina, which means the state Capitol might be put to productive use -- finally.

USC would become part of the UNC system, while Clemson would join Georgia. That way, both states might be able to field a winning football team for a change.

The only obvious flaw is that dropping one state would force the United States to buy new 49-star flags. To avoid that expense, I propose swapping Charleston for Puerto Rico. The latter becomes a state, and the Holy City gains territory status.

Charleston never has fit in with the rest of South Carolina. This way, Charlestonians could continue to talk funny and wear seersucker suits without fear of ridicule.

If anything, Charleston would become an even bigger tourism Mecca. Confederate re-enactors could fire mock rounds at Fort Sumter to their hearts' content, and city fathers could legalize casinos, dance halls and other naughty pastimes to entice visitors.

Anyone want to buy a "Resolve to Dissolve" T-shirt?

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