South Carolina’s poverty level was 14.1 percent in 2000 and up to 16.4 percent in 2010; the national average is about 10 percent.
That isn’t news, but it’s easy for it to slip below the radar.
Less easy is figuring out what to do about it.
The best advice I’ve ever heard is, “don’t be poor.” It’s great advice — unless your parents were poor and you attended an underfunded school, or unless you hadn’t held a book until you were 5, or unless the mill closed and your dad lost his job, and you had no place to do your homework, and your family car quit. Then go ahead, be poor.
You’ll get used to wearing worn-out clothes and being invisible, being watched by the police and being hungry, and changing addresses every four months, living in a dangerous neighborhood and feeling scared and down.
In 2010 there were 716,537 people in our state like you. The state Supreme Court and the attorney general and the Department of Social Services know about your situation, but the government feels sort of like, well, it has other issues. Sorry.
South Carolina’s economy depends heavily on consumer spending for its health, but the 717,537 poor people spend very little. It’s something worth thinking about.