Joel Lourie: What we need in SC is jobs

In a more serious vein, I thought I’d share with you more of what Joel Lourie had to say at Rotary today.

I realize when you read that headline, you’ll think, “So? Everybody knows that, and all politicians say it.”

But Joel said it better than most.

One thing he did was share the numbers above — which I scanned directly from the sheet he shared with me afterward. (To read it better, click on it.) The numbers provide statistical snapshots of South Carolina before and after the Great Recession hit.

What Joel had to say about that was not — as you’d expect in a lesser politician — to complain about those awful Republicans (which in a Democrat in SC these days shows remarkable restraint), and blame it on them. It was more to say look, here’s the situation we have, and this is what we must deal with.

And to him, the way out is not to pass this or that particular piece of legislation (although he did make an able case for comprehensive tax reform), or to embrace this political ideology or reject that one. Nor does he see our state’s salvation in anything that government might do, because government can only do so much. All government can do is pursue whatever policies it can that encourage our economy to come back.

As an example of how lawmakers should work together to allow jobs to emerge in our state, he told the story of how Democrats and Republicans worked together to make sure Amazon didn’t take its 2,000-plus jobs and leave this year, how they worked together to turn a 2-1 “no” vote into a 2-1 “yes” vote for the sake of the Midlands, and of South Carolina. In that ecumenical spirit, he particularly praised his old USC classmate, House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham.

I never was as wholeheartedly for the Amazon deal as Joel was, but I certainly appreciate his point, just as I appreciate the motivation that he and Kenny and so many others had to turn that around for the sake of their community.

For Joel, that sort of service to the whole community is what it’s about, just as it was for his father before him. And because he delivers that service so earnestly and ably, I’m proud to know him. I didn’t tell him that at Rotary today. You don’t want stuff like that to go to people’s heads, you know.

32 thoughts on “Joel Lourie: What we need in SC is jobs

  1. Doug Ross

    What jobs can high school dropouts do? And what percentage of those out of work for an extended period of time do not have diplomas?

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    His big applause line was right out of your play book, Brad. He said politicians needed to stop worrying about re-election and do the right thing regardless of party orthodoxy or pledges. I’m no good at retaining the actual words….

  3. Phillip

    @Doug, you continually return to this theme of high-school dropouts, and no can can argue that these make up a significant chunk of the unemployed. But what makes this economic downtown even more pronounced is the number of people WITH not only HS diplomas, but college degrees, even graduate degrees, people who HAD decent or even good jobs, and especially people 50 and over, unable to find work, sometimes even unable to find relatively menial work. (I can attest to this firsthand).

    Even if we could wave a magic wand and turn all the HS dropouts into HS grads overnight, there still are not jobs for everybody out there.

  4. Lynn

    The US lost a decade (2000 to 2010) and SC lost even more. Standing still is not an option if we truly want a better SC for our children/ grands we need to do better than the last 10 years.

    In inflation adjusted terms, the typical SC workers is right back where he/she was 30 years ago.

  5. Patrick Cleary

    While I often disagree with Doug, he brings up an unfortunate reality in South Carolina. Did Sen. Lourie discuss adult education/technical training spending? I’m interested to see how SC’s funding of adult education compares to our peer states.

  6. JoanneH

    Doug, if a student doesn’t graduate now with the way the standards have dropped in the schools, with the many opportunities they are given, that student was unconscious.

    Dropouts at least are honest about not wanting to be in formal education, and a lot of dropouts do go on to get their GED and/or have jobs already. It’s the ones that dribble through 4 or 5 years doing nothing but getting the same diploma the kids who are working hard get that burns me.

    And don’t just think it’s public schools. I know of a couple of teachers not asked to return to private schools because they had standards that didn’t allow some of the students to make all A’s.

    As for Joel, he’s one of the good guys up there.

  7. Doug Ross


    But I keep going back to what jobs do you think will be created in SC? Innovista blew through tens of millions of dollars with no payback in terms of jobs. They bet on a horse that was lame coming out of the gate. We have a very low skilled workforce, no track record for high tech, no desire to change the status quo, no leadership from the Legislature… There is a better chance of a magic wand being waved than fixing this situation. And whatever the government MIGHT do is held back by a corrupt group of people who will only pursue a path that helps them personally.

    There is no solution that will come from the government. Jobs are created by people with ideas and ambition who are willing to take risks and invest capital.

  8. Rose

    No, no, no! You’ve got it all wrong Brad! What we need is for all state employees to answer the phone, “Hello! It’s a great day in South Carolina! How can I help you?”
    Per WIS, our idiot governor issued the directive at a Cabinet meeting today (Tuesday). Seriously. Her own staff is actually saying it when you call the governor’s office.

    So anyone calling about their unemployment, job hunt, Medicare or Medicaid, or worse, to report something horrible like child or elder abuse will hear what a great day it is.

  9. Steven Davis

    @Phillip – There was a piece on NBC Nightly News a couple weeks ago where they talked to Siemens up in Charlotte. Their problem was finding qualified employees. They didn’t need people with a PhD in Fine Arts or Sociology and they didn’t need people who’s only work experience was working at Starbucks.

    What this country needs is to start pushing high school students to trade schools again. How many auto mechanics or HVAC people do you know who can’t find work these days? Several that I’ve dealt with are making really decent livings and are turning down work.

  10. Doug Ross


    In addition to the adult training you mentioned (assuming people will take advantage of it), we as a state should be looking at revamping our entire high school curriculum to be centered around job readiness instead of college readiness. So much class time is wasted on areas that hold little value to many future workers. We need more vocational options especially in high tech areas. We need to allow students the opportunity to choose a track that best prepares them for success in the world not a track that meets some cookie cutter vision of what a “well rounded” education should include. The majority of students don’t need math beyond algebra (if at all), nor a force-fed “appreciation” for Shakespeare, Chaucer, etc.

  11. Doug Ross


    “His big applause line was right out of your play book, Brad. He said politicians needed to stop worrying about re-election and do the right thing regardless of party orthodoxy or pledges. ”

    Since all of the above bad news occured during his tenure, maybe he should step aside and give someone else a chance. Or do we just reward talking about fixing things over actually getting something done?

  12. Brad

    Good Lord.

    You know what, Doug? You need to meet some of these people you dismiss so readily and eagerly. Talk to Joel Lourie sometime for a few minutes, about any issue you like, and you will be impressed with his intelligence, dedication, seriousness, and complete and utter lack of B.S.

    What South Carolina needs is 170 Joel Louries in the General Assembly, not to replace the only one we have with some joker to be named later.

  13. Doug Ross


    Tell me what he’s done, not what he’s said. I don’t need to talk to him. If he tells me he wants to do X, Y, and Z and that doesn’t happen, what difference did he make? You are impressed by talk, I’m not.

    When we start rewarding results over rhetoric, we’ll see a change in South Carolina.

  14. Brad

    Nope, you’ve got that wrong. This is a guy who works his butt off for South Carolina. And as I say, what this state needs is more like him.

    He is the opposite of, say, someone who sits on the sidelines and criticizes. You know, like people in the media. And… other people I could mention.

  15. Doug Ross


    You mean people who don’t run for school boards, serve as PTO Presidents, volunteer at schools, volunteer at feedings for the homeless, coach youth teams, donate lots of money to social causes, etc. You mean those people, right?

    I’ll put my list of actual things I’ve DONE up against any list of words any day of the week.

  16. Doug Ross

    Here’s a little anecdote for you… I was driving with my son downtown last week and when we were stopped at a light, a man and a woman crossed in front of us. They were obviously homeless. But then I had a moment of recognition and told my son, “hey, that’s the guy I gave $40 to two years ago so he wouldn’t have to sell his blood at the plasma center… and then I gave him some more money last year when we crossed paths on my way to jury duty.”

    You got any stories like that?

  17. bud

    Didn’t Brad help out a college girl a while back who seemed lost. I don’t remember the details but it seems to qualify for a good deed done.

    All the things Doug mentioned are great and certainly help out a few individuals. But we could do so much more with a properly structured tax system that helps people who help themselves. Not one that merely rewards wealthy folks who sock away millions. In fact so much money is going to bank accounts that some banks are actually refusing to take it.

  18. Brad

    Hang on a minute, before I’m made out to be a knight in shining armor…

    That was my wife. I was just the driver.

    If I had been alone, and I had taken it upon myself to pick up and “help” a shapely blonde college girl in a “sexy nurse” costume as she was teetering drunkenly down the street in her high heels alone, not everyone would have thought I was a great guy.

    I’d like to think I’d have done the right thing, but I don’t think I could have pulled it off the way my wife did. I would have hesitated more to seize control of the situation. My wife got out of the car, went to the girl and essentially said “You’re coming with me,” and the girl recognized the voice of a Mom. That’s why we were able to get her home safely.

    Or sort of safely. We got her back to her dorm (she had been wandering, totally alone, in the opposite direction). But just before we got there, she called a friend on her cell and seemed to be arranging to go out again. At least she wouldn’t have been alone, though.

  19. j

    I’ve known Joel for many years and can attest to his hard work and dedication. We need more like him in public service.

    There are two types who seek elective office. Those who want power and seek to increase their wealth and those few individuals who want to serve their constituents and make a positive difference in their communities.

  20. Brad

    The bad news is, the ransom STILL hasn’t been paid.

    Nobody told me you weren’t supposed to take the kidnapee straight home.

    I just don’t have a head for business, I guess.

    Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. “Steven Davis.” You can always rely on him…

  21. Patrick Cleary


    While I understand your position, I think you’ve got the idea of revamping high school education completely wrong. In particular, revamping the education process seems probable to aim for jobs that will go away.

    If the past three decades have given us any guideposts for the future, it’s that a flexible and adaptive mind is the key. You implicitly sell many people short by saying “job readiness” is the essential goal.

    Would it not be better to educate people with the skills necessary to learn a job or be ready for college, then supplement that system with advanced flexible job-oriented technical schools?

    As to your point about Sen. Lourie, results in a minority position are difficult to achieve.

  22. Steven Davis

    Bradley, are you being “snarky” to use a word I’ve learned here?

    The thing is, your wife demanded the young woman get into your car, a car with two strangers in it. Would you be happy if this girl had been your daughter? I’m sure there are enough middle-aged men/weirdos circling the USC campus to make more than enough parents uneasy.

  23. Steven Davis

    @Patrick – But you realize that there are life skills that everyone must know how to do. How many people don’t know how to change a car tire without calling AAA or a mechanic? How many don’t know how to replace an electrical switch or outlet without calling an electrician? How many don’t know how to unclog a drain without calling a plumber? What is the current state of any vocational education in high school, are there still shop classes to be taken or have they been replaced with SAT Test Prep courses?

    Not everyone is heading to college. When my dad was in high school they had different tracts to choose from whether the student was college bound, agriculture based, or some sort of vocational education. I think moving back to this type of program would reduce the high school drop-out rate considerably. If you’re wanting to be a carpenter when you graduate, sitting in a class memorizing Shakespeare lines isn’t going to be of any interest to you.

  24. j

    Leadership has to start somewhere and it’s starts with one person who understands and has the courage to take the challenge. Joel’s father was an excellent example to all.

    Minority positions are difficult to achieve, but I’ve seen things change over my six decades of life. It takes time and it’s not for the timid. “Where these in no vision the people perish.” I have hope, but given the last decade in SC and national politics, it seems futile at times.

  25. bud

    I reluctantly have to admit that Steven has a point. Brad and his wife were performing an act of kindness. But what if some other couple was kidnapping this girl for some other purpose? Was the girl doing the right thing by getting into Brad’s car? She rolled the dice and ended up with a positive outcome. Others, not so much. Elizabeth Smart comes to mind.

  26. bud

    SusanG, she was. Probably not the best example. But her story is one of a couple who kidnapped a young girl and used and abused her for months. Jaycee Dugard is another example.

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