By Barney Blakeney
I like to keep things simple. Although we live in a complicated world, I’m convinced most things really aren’t that complicated. People make stuff more complicated than they are because, as my dear departed brother Ellis Mack used to say, “Everybody’s got an agenda.”
So I’m looking at this whole SCANA/SCE&G mess and thinking I know just how this story is going to end – SCANA and Santee Cooper have gotten us invested in a financial boondoggle in which some people are going to make a whole lot of money that we the consumers will pay, we’ll get nothing for our investment and business will go on as usual. The scenario is so familiar, it ain’t even déjà vu, it’s just business as usual.
As a starving artist trying to be a writer, I’ve got to watch my spending. I’m on a fixed income – fixed at the poverty level. Every penny counts so I watch my light bills. I grew up in a household where my parents constantly yelled at us kids to turn stuff off that wasn’t in use. The electricity bill always has been a big issue in my life. And after 45 years of paying electricity bills, $20-$30 still makes a difference in my budget. Ain’t no shame in my game. My position is why should I pay SCE&G more than I have to when the company has more money than I do. SCE&G don’t need my money!
As an American consumer I get ticked off that I’m paying up the ying yang for stuff we all should be getting for free in the first place. It’s got nothing to do with entitlements or any of that rhetoric. We live in one of the wealthiest, most technologically advanced countries in the world. I can’t think of any good reasons why electricity or medical care is dispensed based on the ability to pay.
Ya’ll, we got this thing backwards. That’s why some fool can go to an expensive hotel in one of our nation’s gambling centers, set up shop and kill 50 people. While I’m at it – why is it that people all over Charleston are praying for the dead in Las Vegas and so few are raising hell over the 31 who have been killed in North Charleston this year? What are we thinking?
But back to SCANA, our legislature is studying what happened. Dang all the studying. Ain’t nothing to study. The same folks doing the studying enabled the culprits to charge us for something that never could come to fruition, failed or refused to monitor the construction although we pay public service commissioners to do just that, took campaign donations in the meantime, sat back as industry officials took the money and ran and now they’re wasting our time studying the issue? Are you crazy??? Hold up! We’re the ones who are crazy. We’re letting them get away with it!!!
This ain’t rocket science, ya’ll. If you charge me for something I never get, I should get my money back. It ain’t that hard, people. But that’s not going to happen. That’s not the way the game is played. All them people at the top, including legislators, are going to get paid and those of us at the bottom – consumers – are going to pay. Fast forward, no matter how this thing is decided, the cost of doing business always is passed on to the consumer in a capitalistic society. It’s inescapable. That’s the way the system works.
That’s why I get so upset with Black elected officials. Our forebears didn’t suffer degradation, fire hoses, dogs, lynchings and death so the people we elect to public office can go join the game. They made those sacrifices so our representatives would change the game!
Closer to home, the same scenario is being played out in North Charleston with the old naval hospital. I figured something was afoot in 2011 when North Charleston bought the building on Rivers Avenue then flipped it for twice what they paid. The idea that the building would become a one stop shop for public services was a good idea. As my partner, Big Dog would say, that was the ‘throw ‘em off the trail trick’. I guess we all took that bait.
Well, the blasted renovations never got done and the house of cards just kept stacking up. So now here we are, no public service building although all kinds of deals have been made, everybody and their mama’s getting’ paid, and we consumers are left holding the bag. Again, business as usual. Everybody’s sloppin’ at the public trough because the public trough never empties. It perpetually is replenished with public tax dollars. And the beat goes on. Can you say mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money?
I want to think there’s one saving grace in the naval hospital deal – there’s a lot of valuable land coming with the deal. But as sure as I’m Black, them sapsuckers are going to find ways to capitalize on that as well. Just wait and see!
Folks, we just gotta make better choices. We keep electing these shysters into public office and allowing them to retire from those offices after getting rich at our expense. Adding insult to injury, they retire to public positions and continue to make money off us. At some point we must say enough is enough and make the hard choices that change our government so our children and grandchildren will have a better world. This just ain’t cuttin’ it, ya’ll. In the meantime, we’re all going to hell in a handbasket.