Who Are We?
A NEW KIND OF ‘THINK TANK’
The South Carolina Policy Council was founded in 1986 by the late Thomas Roe of Greenville as a traditional think tank. The organization’s purpose was – and still is – to publish research and analysis showing the relevance of the American republic’s founding principles: limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty and responsibility.
But while our principles haven’t changed – nor will they ever – the times have. The internet allows groups like ours to publish new analysis immediately, and social media enable us to reach a wide audience of citizens and public officials as events are happening. Gone are the days when a research organization could publish the occasional lengthy white paper full of dense analysis and remain effective.
We keep our eyes on those who run state government, we try to understand exactly what they’re doing – for good and ill – and we communicate what we find to a wide array of engaged citizens.
What makes us different?
The Policy Council exists to identify barriers to freedom — and empower citizens to remove them.
It’s that simple.
Equally simple is our view of government. We don’t think of it as some impersonal force. It’s a real factor in all of our lives, and its value or intrusiveness is determined by the real people who lead it: politicians.
Accordingly, we don’t believe South Carolina’s economy will be unleashed through the implementation of complicated “policy solutions.” The problems created by an overbearing and expensive government may be complicated, but their remedies are not. Those remedies are: lower taxes and fewer regulations for all, not just for those with effective lobbyists; separation of powers and clear lines of accountability; independence from federal money and micromanagement; and the expansion of individual choice.
It’s the nature of our mission that we’ll spend a lot of time exposing bad ideas and standing in the way of new efforts to expand government’s role. Yet we’re not content to simply say “No.” There is a way forward, and that way is toward freedom in every sphere touched by government.
We aim to make South Carolina the freest state in the nation. That means . . .
. . . the most accountable and least powerful politicians. When citizens can’t hold their elected officials accountable for those officials’ decisions, the founders’ ideal of self-governance is at an end. We’ve outlined eight ways by which South Carolinians can regain self-governance: judicial independence, an executive branch accountable to the governor, shorter legislative sessions, an end to the secretive incentives process, an end to legislators’ self-policing privileges, full income source disclosure, an abolition of legislators’ exemption from the state’s FOIA law, and an open (and legal) state budget process.
. . . the most protected constitutional rights. In recent decades the state has chipped away at individual liberties. Proponents of these infringements have justified them with a variety of quasi-meaningless terms, especially “economic development” and “safety.” But the economy won’t “develop” when the state can take your land, and there’s no “safety” where government officials have the power to know everything about you. Preserving freedom means rolling back these laws.
. . . the most opportunity to prosper. Through corporate welfare and a state-driven “economic development” machine that costs South Carolina more than $300 million every year, elected officials are trying to run the state’s economy – and succeeding all too well. The result is that South Carolina remains at or near the bottom of every relevant economic ranking. What’s needed isn’t further government “management” or more bright ideas from politicians and their consultants, but the dismantling of the entire government-run machine.
. . . the most independent from federal control and the freest from debt. Our state is living on unpaid-for promises. Our debt, when you include unfunded liabilities and bond debt, comes to tens of billions. That money will have to be paid back, with interest, by our children and grandchildren. That’s not freedom — it’s bondage; and it can only change when we begin to pay for what we have when we have it. Similarly, well over a third of South Carolina’s state budget consists of federal money. All that money comes with strings attached. So when it comes to artifact museums and artist development and tourism marketing, South Carolina makes its own decisions. But when it comes to educating our children and maintaining our roads and bridges, many of the key decisions are made in Washington. That can change only when state politicians learn how to say “No” to Washington’s welfare.
. . . the most choice in education and health care. State government actively limits individual choices in an array of areas. In health care, the consequence of burdensome regulations mean you only have a handful of health insurance providers to choose from. In education, the public education system effectively forces taxpayers to pay for a product that is oftentimes mediocre or poor or simply unreflective of parents’ wishes for their children. Government has neither the wisdom nor the right to limit individual choices in these ways, and we believe ending these limits will encourage prosperity and a higher quality of life.