Column III: Kevin Bryant takes destructive approach, offers reader no way out but rage

Talk about your basic destructive nihilism.

Sen. Kevin Bryant offers nothing positive, but simply gives us a Sanfordesque trashing of USC, in his column today in The State.

Go ahead and read it, and tell me where he offers any kind of solution. Show me where he suggests how we might see to it that the university become a better steward of our money. He does not. When he complains that “USC, like much of higher education, sees itself as a sovereign empire,” does he offer a remedy?

No, he does not. He does not, for instance, offer the solution I have offered for 20 years — likely long before Kevin Bryant was thinking about such things — for the fact that our respective universities are, indeed, too autonomous: A state board of regents, answerable to the governor, that would govern the entire system of public higher education.

Or if he has some other idea (which I doubt), he could offer that.

But he doesn’t. Why not? I fear that this is the reason: He’s not sufficiently interested in solutions. What he’s interest in doing, it seems to me, is further eroding the already pathetically feeble public will to support higher education in our state.

As things stand, do you know how much of USC’s operating funds come from state taxes? 9 percent. The state general fund is like the university’s 5th source of funding in order of magnitude. When I was in school, it was closer to 90 percent. So yeah, the university does tend to act rather independently of state government as it seeks to serve our state.

I don’t think it should be that way. I think USC should be clearly a state institution — adequately funded by the state, and held accountable to the state. But I’m not holding my breath, not when our state is run by people like Kevin Bryant.

His column presents no proposals, no arguments, but merely regurgitates what has been reported in news media, only with scornful modifiers added.

His aim, or what I take to be his aim, is best expressed in his trite, hyperbolic conclusion:

The giant sucking sound that you hear is the siphon running from your wallet into the tank at USC. You might want to let your politicians know that enough is enough.

The only point to be gained from this is that he wants us all to be angry. And since he offers no program or solution to address that anger, we can only suppose that said anger is for him an end in itself, as long as you see the university as something that exists purely to waste your money (an impression he creates by ignoring how little of the taxpayers’ money the institution gets), and that you let your lawmakers know that you don’t want them ever spending another dime on that bunch over there.

Never mind that North Carolina has adequately funded its higher education system as an economic development engine (just what the senator despises), leading to the result of having a wealthier and better-educated citizenry. Every word in Sen. Bryant’s column is well designed to make sure that, if there is even a scintilla of desire remaining in the heart of the electorate to invest in public higher system in this state, it gets drowned in the proverbial bathtub.

If he had a different aim, he would offer a solution to the problems he cites. Instead, he urges us to get mad, and be more alienated.

7 thoughts on “Column III: Kevin Bryant takes destructive approach, offers reader no way out but rage

  1. Burl Burlingame

    I’m guessing that Sen. Bryant is a conservative of the Republican type. In which case, Brad, you’re missing the bigger picture. Their solution IS destruction. The 30-year plan of demonizing the media has paid off handsomely in de-educating the populace, the targets now are health and education, because a healthy, educated population are poor consumers of privately run medical and educational facilities.

  2. `Kathryn Fenner

    The Biomass cost nothing–JCI has reimbursed the presumed cost savings every year. it was supposed t save USC oney–is it not supposed to try to save money?

    Today’s paper is full of nuttiness–the woman who called the governor’s office because she saw several city workers watching one use a shovel–like maybe that was all that was required for the job before technical skills to be provided by the others were needed–srsly, folks. Get a life!

  3. KP

    If you have the patience to wait out the obnoxious ads on The State’s online editorial page, Kevin Bryant shouldn’t be your reward.

  4. Ralph Hightower

    Kevin Bryant is stoking the fires and passions of the Tea Baggers.

    Let’s wait until we get a reasonable governor before we start handing control of state agencies and universities over to the governor.

    SC Governot Nikki Haley is the best example of why control should not be taken from the General Assembly and given to the governor. She wants control of administering the state with her proposed Department of Administration and also keeping the Budget and Control Board, which has South Carolina’s Information Technology. It was revealed that Haley and staff are deleting their emails that should be kepts. Now imagine the power she would have to wipe out records if she controlled the Information Technology department.

  5. Mark Stewart

    I disagree with Ralph here. The fact that Nikki is Nikki is exactly why agencies should be consolidated under the Governor.

    Ultimately the voters have to be responsible for the government that they elect. Fragmentation is actually just an abdication of that civic responsibility. Lets give her what she should have – and then vote for the candidate best able to show real leadership.

  6. Kevin

    Here, Brad is responding to a different opinion column, not the one written by Kevin Bryant.

    Senator Bryant’s column is more narrowly focused on the use of tax dollars by USC to fund projects like Innovista and a biomass plant. It does not lend itself to the discussion of a state board of regents – which would be a fine topic to discuss in another guest column.

    A critical reader can realize that Senator Bryant is actually presenting a solution to his perceived problem with USC: don’t gamble money on wasteful economic development projects or failed green energy initiatives when you really exist to simply educate students – especially when you are also making it harder and harder for students to afford that education.

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