Since drilling for petroleum off South Carolina’s shores is clearly risky business, and since the pro-drilling arguments are so transparently self-serving, there can be only one reason it has received high-level political support. Politicians who base their re-election on never raising taxes are desperate to find sources of revenue for expenditures that even they admit are required. By pandering for so long to no-tax free loaders, they have nurtured the adolescent attitude that South Carolina can have something for nothing.
But there’s no manna from heaven. There’s no free lunch. Boeing and BMW are not riding to the rescue. There’s only tax revenue to maintain and improve our communities and our state.
Nothing dooms South Carolina to 49th place in everything that matters except its unwillingness to part with money for anything but guns and football. One of the secrets of highly successful states is that they are run by adults who convince constituents that support systems work best when all are willing to pay — and, yes, sometimes sacrifice. Education, health care, infrastructure, public safety, assistance to the disabled and dozens of other concerns require thoughtful and adequate budgeting.
Government is evil only if it neglects the needs of its citizens. Let me amend that: Government is evil if it proposes revenue sources that risk greater harm than benefit to those it governs.
Rational people don’t needlessly put at risk the things they value most. Drilling offshore violates that rule. Offshore drilling is not a method for raising revenue. It is a tax-evasion scheme morphed into a campaign strategy. Regarding taxes, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. observed that “With them, I buy civilization.” That could turn out to be a good investment for all of us who love living in South Carolina.