More Need, Less Help
For more than a year, Sanford has had a public spat with the commission. The governor contends that unemployment is not as severe as the official statistics show. He says the commission has refused to examine questions he has raised: the impact on the figures, for instance, of retirees who work part-time. "Do you guys," he said rhetorically of the commission, "have any clue of what your numbers are?"
Still, Sanford said that, in his state, "there absolutely are people in pain, and absolutely empathy with those people." To help them, he said, "there ought to be a social compact" that is defined "more broadly than simply government."
It is that view that guided his decision to ask the White House to use $700 million of the state's federal stimulus money to retire debt rather than on fortifying social programs or on other state spending -- and, if the administration refuses, to reject the money altogether. "We believe it is . . . financially reckless," he said in announcing his decision, "to borrow from future generations to attempt to address today's economic problems."
Not all state legislators like what South Carolina is doing. "Nonprofits have felt the hammer, because we do not have the money to give them," said Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D), a social worker by profession who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee. "The private sector can't do it. In a lot of cases they are suffering as well."
The current climate for charity can be glimpsed in the largest annual fundraiser of the Central Carolina Community Foundation, its International Festival of Wines and Food. Last year, attendees bought all but one of about 350 bottles of donated wine, commanding prices as high as $400. This time, 200 bottles were donated, and more than two dozen were left at the end of the night.