Orangeburg County: Not the poorest in America (but darn close to it)

Last Sunday's Post and Courier included an excellent article from James Scott, which discusses the dismal situation faced by Orangeburg County, ranked as the tenth-poorest county in the United States:

Robinson's struggle is mirrored by nearly one out of every three people who call Orangeburg County home. An hour west of Charleston's mushrooming suburbs, the county of 90,000 is 10th in the nation for the percentage of people living in poverty, based on the latest U.S. Census figures for counties 65,000 and larger. Poverty is defined as a family of four having an income of $20,614 or less or individuals making $10,294 or less a year.

Compounding Orangeburg's struggle is a lack of an educated work force — only one out of 7 people have at least a bachelor's degree — and a soaring unemployment rate of 10 percent, a figure higher than Argentina's rate.

... and it's also fueled, even if nobody will admit it, by community leadership which is far more concerned about their own enrichment than serving their community, as indicated by the staggering number of government figures who have been indicted and convicted in recent years, including:
  • Two members of County Council, including their last Chairman,
  • the last Sheriff,
  • a municipal Treasurer for Orangeburg, and
  • a Police Chief and Town Clerk in Santee.
That's a lot of political jailbirds from just one county.

It can't be easy to recruit good-paying jobs to a county whose last County Council Chairman pled guilty to offering a no-bid opportunity to buy the county hospital.

All the federal pork money intended to "prime the pump" won't help a community that doesn't want to clean up it's act first, and who has a number of key public officials that are out for their own benefit, instead of that of their community. We shouldn't be surprised to find that public corruption and governmental incompetence is far more prevalent in many impoverished communities.

While there are many problems confronting poor rural areas like Orangeburg County, few of them can be addressed as easily as public corruption. Working to stomp out corruption and help make sure their public servants are looking to put public service ahead of personal enrichment is a good first step.

Taking that first step is, in part a responsibility of watchful state and federal officials, who have done an admirable and patient job weeding the county of its crooked officials. But it's also the responsibility of the people of the county, who largely give incumbents a free pass at the polls in one of the state's most one-party counties (which hasn't elected a Republican to any office since 1992).

While this is not to say one party has a monopoly on virtue (we know that's not the case), the lack of effective political competition, both inside and between political parties, isn't healthy for any community. In the case of Orangeburg County, the willingness of voters to accept the status quo been a recipe for disaster.

11 Response to "Orangeburg County: Not the poorest in America (but darn close to it)"

  1. Ryan 24/9/07 21:13
    Earl,
    Off subject, but I was wondering when your going to start seeking the Dorchester County auditor appointment or is that job beneath a former state treasurer candidate?
  2. SC Sailor 25/9/07 15:03
    Thanks to the Blogland for shedding so much light on this very important topic.

    As is typically the case, you heard it here first.
  3. Marshall Minnesota Moye 25/9/07 22:57
    Wait until Clyburn gets his bridge and then they can commute to Sumter and get a job.
  4. Anonymous 26/9/07 02:54
    To understand Orangeburg, remember Jim Self and Greenwood Mills. It was over thirty years ago, but Greenwood Mills was a giant in business and built a huge plant in Orangeburg County.

    It became known as the "sinkhole" to management in Greenwood Mills. Self named it after his best friend and tried and tried to keep in operating.

    But, no amount of money could overcome the culture of failure that is Orangeburg.

    The mill now sits empty between Orangeburg and BRanchville, along with other empty plants along fine roads, rails, and sewer and water.

    A client of mine was interested in the importing business and thought of old Greenwood Mills site as a potential warehouse. I visited the site with a real estate guy. What we both found was a building about waist high in bat dung.

    The place is a Superfund site waiting to happen.

    Sort of sums Orangeburg county up.
  5. Anonymous 26/9/07 02:57
    Governor Mark Sanford announced today that he will not appoint Earl Capps to the position becuase Mr. Capps has the audacity to think for himself and not be hamstrung by out of state bigwigs who pay his way.

    Earl, the Governor said, takes the money and then says "screw you." That to the Governor, "is not something Jenny and I want our boys to embrace. If you get bought, stay paid for."
  6. Earl Capps 26/9/07 08:21
    Sorry guys, I don't want that job. I'd have to turn around and get re-elected to it next year, and frankly I'm just not that motivated.
  7. Anonymous 30/9/07 06:50
    Orangeburg a supefund site? Come on. Just one cracker talking to another. Fee, fii, Foe fom, I hate a cracker.

    What you crackers do not realize is the the Big O burg is the black capital of South Carolina.

    The Dems running to replace Cracker Bush got it, why can't you crackers get it?

    Ty
  8. richie 30/9/07 11:58
    ty, orangeburg county is a cesspool of humanity that is so backwards and depressed that it looks like a rotting dump even in the best of economic times.

    if you cared more about people than your crotch and your big mouth (any connection there?), you'd shut up and work with people like earl who aren't afraid to call it like they see it.
  9. williamsburg county moye 30/9/07 13:55
    Be nice to Ty he is a good man or woman or whatever
  10. Anonymous 30/9/07 16:53
    moye, i think ty needs to shut up and go away. i get tired of his drivel on these blogs that are trying to have serious discussions.
  11. hope mills nc moye 30/9/07 21:22
    but is ty really ty

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