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MISSING CHRISTINA? Editor Andy Brack took this shot of a crumbling farmhouse on a hill near Gasburg, Va., on a photo shoot last week for the Center for a Better South's Southern Crescent project. Several folks on Facebook have commented that the photo reminds them of the house in Andrew Wyeth's famous painting "Christina's World."
More pictures: If you'd like to see a fresh photo of the rural South every other day, check out our sister site, SouthernCrescent.org. You can sign up to get the photo delivered automatically by email.

Issue 5.39 | Monday, July 29, 2013
Broaden your perspective: Get out of town some

FOCUS Poverty grows, who cares?
BRACK New report on poverty
GOOD NEWS Blue tape, marker, new street
HISTORY Heath Charter
SPOTLIGHT Florence Crittenton Program
FEEDBACK Wants more made in U.S.
GREENER Benefit corporation
BROADUS Big, bright moon
THE LIST Beer shakes honored
QUOTE Big shots, little shots
CALENDAR This week ... and next

Poverty grows, but does anybody care?
Special to Charleston Currents

EDITOR'S NOTE: Writer Allan Sheahen prepared this commentary specially for South Carolina audiences at our request.

JULY 26, 2013 -- America is awash with money. Yet poverty continues to grow. Does anybody care?

The latest government figures show that 46 million Americans live in poverty, more than in any other time in our nation's history. That's 15.1 percent of our population. One in five children live below the poverty line of $22,314 for a family of four, compared to one in twelve in France and one in 38 in Sweden. [Note: South Carolina has the nation's third highest rate of poverty at more than 19 percent, according to Census statistics.]

Yet whenever elected officials ask their constituents what issues are most important to them, poverty isn't even on the list. The economy, jobs, Afghanistan, the environment, health care, and education always show up. But not poverty.

Accordingly, Congress is now debating not whether to cut food stamps for the poorest Americans, but by how much. The Senate is proposing $4 billion in cuts. The House wants to cut $20 billion,. Many Democrats are supporting the Senate version. Many South Carolinians depend on food stamps, even though the average monthly benefit is only $141.70 in Lexington County, $145.24 in Pickens County, and $155.36 in York County. South Carolina's successful Head Start program is also in danger of being cut.

More than a half-million people are homeless in America. Food banks and homeless shelters are serving more people now than a year ago. Unemployment is at 7.6 percent.

The problem is that all the private charities in America can't end hunger and poverty. Ending poverty demands government programs, such as Social Security, unemployment compensation, Medicare, welfare, food stamps, child care and more.

The 1996 Welfare Reform Act was sold to us as a way to get people off welfare, and it did. Welfare rolls in the United States are down more than 50 percent. But it didn't reduce poverty. That's because welfare reform dumped many recipients into low-paying jobs -- with no benefits or ability to move up.

Does anybody care?

Maybe we care, but we don't know what to do about it. So we shrug, say the poor will always be with us, and forget about it.

In 1969, a Presidential Commission recommended we establish a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) at the poverty level for all Americans.

On that Commission, the chairmen of IBM, Westinghouse and Rand, former California Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown and 17 others unanimously agreed with economist Milton Friedman that: "We should replace the ragbag of welfare programs with a single, comprehensive program of income supplements in cash -- a negative income tax. It would provide an assured minimum to all persons in need, regardless of the reasons for their need."

Fast-forward 44 years, and we find that welfare has failed because it has destroyed people's ability to take control of their own lives and make their own decisions. We assume the poor are incapable of making sound decisions; that they can't be trusted with cash and have to be protected from themselves. It's as if your employer thought you so irresponsible that he sent part of your paycheck to your landlord, another part to your grocer, another to the bank that provided your car loan, another to your doctor.

There are more than 300 income-tested social programs costing more than $400 billion a year. Much of that money goes for administrative expenses, not to the needy.

Charles Murray, whose 1984 book: Losing Ground claimed that welfare was doing more harm than good, has seemingly done a 180 and now agrees with the BIG approach.

"America's population is wealthier than any in history," Murray writes in his new book, "In Our Hands:"

"Every year, the American government redistributes more than a trillion dollars of that wealth to provide for retirements, health care, and the alleviation of poverty. We still have millions of people without comfortable retirements, without adequate health care, and living in poverty. Only a government can spend so much money so ineffectually. The solution is to give the money to the people."

Murray calls for giving an annual cash grant of $10,000 -- with no work requirements -- to every adult over age 21.

Indeed, the U.S. is a wealthy nation. Our 2011 Gross Domestic Product was $14.4 trillion. That's an average of $46,000 for each man, woman and child in the country. It's an average of $61,000 per adult. It's more than enough to end poverty.

Poverty is wrong. A Basic Income Guarantee would establish economic security as a universal right. It gives each of us the assurance that, no matter what happens, we won't go hungry.

Allan Sheahen is the author of the new book, "Basic Income Guarantee: Your Right to Economic Security." More: http://www.basicincomeguarantee.com.


New study challenges assumptions about poverty
By ANDY BRACK, editor and publisher

JULY 29, 2013 - For Americans trying to escape poverty, location matters - just like in real estate. And if you live in the Deep South, it's harder to escape than about anywhere else in the country, just as generations of us have known.

Throughout every area of South Carolina, jumping from the bottom quintile of income to the middle class or beyond is tough, according to a new Harvard study making waves in policy circles.

In the Columbia area, for example, a child has a 36.6 percent chance of rising out of the bottom quintile of income and a 4.2 percent chance of leaping from the bottom to the top quintile. Those probabilities are among the lowest in the nation and not much different from the number for Greenville, where kids have a 37.7 percent chance to escape poverty and a 4.9 percent chance to be among the nation's highest earners. Researchers found similar low numbers for Memphis, Charlotte, Atlanta and Raleigh.

"Where you grow up matters," Harvard economist and researcher Nathaniel Hendren told The New York Times. "There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty."

The new study is drawing attention for what it found, but also for what it didn't find. Researchers crafted the study by analyzing millions of anonymous earnings records to measure intergenerational mobility, or how children move across income levels compared to their parents.

The research team was interested in whether tax breaks and credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, were correlated to high mobility, or the ability of kids to move out of poverty. They found some correlation between local tax rates and mobility, but a weaker correlation between state EITC policies and mobility.

So they looked for other factors to explain why some areas had high mobility out of poverty and others, like Southern states, had low mobility. They identified four correlations, but emphasized they were not causes:

  • Family structure. "The share of households with kids that are headed by a single mother is a very strong predictor of mobility," research associate Alex Olssen told Statehouse Report. The study indicated income mobility was higher in areas with more two-parent households.

  • Local middle class. The density that poor families are dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods appear to be correlated. "Areas in which low income individuals were residentially segregated from middle-income individuals were also particularly likely to have low rates of upward mobility," according to the study.

  • Better schools. Income mobility is higher when a metro area has better primary and secondary schools. Having an array of colleges and their tuition rates don't appear to be as significant, according to study's results.

  • Civic engagement. The more chances for civic engagement, including with religious and community groups, the better the upward mobility.

While these factors appear to contribute to upward mobility, the study also found geography didn't impact income mobility in children born in richer households. In other words, richer children tended to remain richer, regardless of where they grow up.

From a public policy perspective, the study includes notions that fly in the face of traditional thought. First, it suggests that engineering tax policies to help people in poverty might help, but not as much as anticipated. Keep in mind, however, that Southern states tend to not have full earned income tax credits similar to the federal credit. Other implications:

  • Zoning. Perhaps sticking housing projects in separate areas of a community instead of blending them in (as is done increasingly in Charleston) is not the best public policy.

  • Schools. Instead of giving tax credits, it might be better to spend more tax dollars on creating better schools throughout school districts. Also, lift up all schools instead of pouring resources into specialty schools (charters, magnets and more).

  • Family. Figure out ways to craft public policy so there are fewer single-parent households. More sex education in high school? More free condoms? More abstinence?

  • Involvement. Perhaps more community organizations should get involved in local schools to engage children in their communities at earlier age. More quality after-school programs? More Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts?

Location matters. We need to remember this when crafting public policy.

Andy Brack is publisher of Charleston Currents and Statehouse Report, where this commentary first appeared. He can be reached at: publisher@charlestoncurrents.com.


Wants more made in America

To the editor:

Your article [7/22: "Let's engage in the trade war"] was excellent! I agree with you totally. Wal-Mart used to advertise "Made in America." Now, just try to find something "Made in America" there. I spoke to the manager recently and he said that subject had been discussed in the managers meeting. However, they aren't the buyers so there is little they can do.

Also, have you noticed the quality is poorer? I would be glad to pay more to get better quality and keep jobs in America. For years, when we call tech support for computer problems, we usually have to talk to someone speaking broken English in India.

I remember Senator Fritz Hollings. In fact I was born in 1924 just two years later than he. Most of our representatives in Washington obviously do not understand basic math, to say the least and have not had a successful business. Just look at our current president for a classic example.

Keep writing your thought-provoking articles and hopefully someone will listen.

-- Gladys Ward, Florence, S.C.

Send your letter. If you have an opinion on something we've offered or on a subject related to the Lowcountry, please send your letters of 150 words or less to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com. Please include your name, address and phone number for verification purposes. We look forward to hearing from you!


Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Charleston Currents to you at no cost. This week, we welcome our nonprofit partner for the coming year, the Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina. The organization, which got its start in Charleston in 1897, provides young, at-risk pregnant and parenting women with comprehensive services to help them become self-sufficient and responsible mothers. Its residential program is for pregnant girls and young women from 10 to 21 from anywhere in South Carolina. Its family development program provides home-based support services to at-risk, low-income single parents with children ages 5 and under throughout the Tri-County area.


Company becomes state's first benefit corporation
By GREG GARVAN, contributing editor

JULY 29, 2013 -- Earlier this month, South Carolina took an important step forward. In early July, Money With A Mission, of which I am the president, became the first registered Benefit Corporation (B Corp) in South Carolina.

Last year, South Carolina passed cutting-edge legislation allowing mission-based companies to register as Benefit Corporations. This allows companies like Money With A Mission to operate as a for-profit business but ensures that their mission-driven agenda is an integral part of their business plan and daily operations. More.

Benefit corporations have three essential components:

1) They must have a corporate purpose to create a material positive impact on society and the environment.

2) They are required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on shareholders, but also on workers, community and the environment.

3) They are required to make available to the public an annual benefit report that assesses their overall social and environmental performance against a third party standard.

When asked about the importance of becoming a benefit corporation, Brady Quirk-Garvan, business development associate for Money With A Mission, said "We've always believed that if you are intentional about who you vote for, where you donate money, where you buy your food, shouldn't you bring that same intentionality to your financial life? This new benefit corporation designation ensures that this will be our mission for decades to come."

While Money With A Mission is the first benefit corporation in South Carolina I certainly believe there will be many others to follow.

Greg Garvan of James Island is president of Money with a Mission, an 18-year-old, fee-only financial planning firm that specializes in socially responsible/ 'green' asset management. On the Web: moneywithamission.com.


Group promotes blue tape on buildings to show water line

Small businesses along the coast are being asked to use blue tape to mark on their buildings where water would rise in 2100 in the event of a six-foot sea level rise.

The new project, called South Carolina Businesses Acting on Rising Seas, is an effort to protect the state's small business tourism industry from the coming impact of rising seas due to climate change.

"Our goal is to turn the tourists into an army of advocates for protecting our coast by asking them to go to SCBARS.org," according to Frank Knapp, president and CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce. "From the website, people can send letters to their congressional delegation and president calling on them to take action to reduce carbon pollution and transition the U.S. to a clean energy economy."

Civil rights marker to be unveiled Aug. 4 at Kress building

Two Burke High School students who were arrested in 1960 after participating in a civil rights protest at the Kress lunch counter will be on hand 3 p.m. Aug. 4 when a new historic marker is unveiled at the corner of King and Wentworth streets.

Minerva Brown King and Cecelia Gordon Rogers will speak at the unveiling of the marker placed by the Preservation Society of Charleston. The installation is part of the society's 2011 "Seven to Save" listing of significant local civil rights era sites.

"Charleston, often recognized as one of the South's most historic cities, is often overlooked as a center of the modern civil rights movement," according to a society press release. "Research and public awareness of these sites is needed to preserve them.

"Once a five and dime store owned by S.H. Kress & Co., this 1930 Art Deco King Street landmark was selected because it once featured a lunch counter that became the target of Charleston's first civil rights 'sit-in.'"

A reception hosted by the Moore & Van Allen law firm will follow the unveiling.

North Charleston street to become Darius Rucker Boulevard

WEZL radio station and the city of North Charleston will host a ceremony Aug. 12 to officially change the name of Coliseum Drive to Darius Rucker Boulevard in honor of the Charleston native who has worldwide music fame.

"The WEZL Crew is humbled by the fact that we have incredible listeners which includes North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey," said WEZL morning radio personality Ric Rush. "He heard us talking about this idea on the air and teamed with WEZL to make the naming of Darius Rucker Boulevard a reality. We are proud that we had a small part in making this happen."

The ceremony will take place in the radio room of the North Charleston Coliseum during the 8 a.m. hour of the morning show. It will be broadcast live, exclusively on 103.5 WEZL, according to a press release. More.


The Humans
By Matt Haig

I started reading "The Humans" by Matt Haig and I literally had trouble putting it down. One night, about 2:30 a.m., I actually considered getting up and reading more of it.

Something about this book touched me. It really made me do a quick check of myself, my humanness. It loosened many thoughts about us humans, concepts that are in the back of your mind that should be moved to the front. This novel cleared out a few cobwebs and hopefully will remind me to be a better human.

A prominent mathematician, Prof. Andrew Martin, has proven the Riemann Hypothesis (the most important unsolved problem in mathematics). Solving this problem would revolutionize applications of mathematical analysis in unknowable ways that would transform human life and the lives of future generations.

The novel is narrated by an unnamed alien who is sent to planet Earth on a mission to destroy knowledge that would help the humans advance. He is from a utopian world where everyone enjoys immortality and infinite knowledge. He is disgusted by the way humans look, the food they eat and their capacity for violence.

As he goes about his task he learns about poetry, music and peanut butter. He begins to feel human emotions and slowly starts to change. I don't want to give away all of the book but I will share a quote by his alien "leaders" who have their own opinion of humans:

"The humans are an arrogant species, defined by violence and greed. They have taken their home planet, the only one they currently have access to, and placed it on the road to destruction. They have created a world of divisions and categories and have continually failed to see the similarities among themselves.They have developed technology at a rate too fast for human psychology to keep up with, and yet they still pursue advancement for advancement's sake, and for the pursuit of money and fame they all crave too much."

Reading this book has really made me think about a lot of the "values" we humans cherish. Read this novel. If it doesn't speak to you, you just might not be human.

-- Michael Kaynard, West Ashley

An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us a short paragraph review of why you liked a recent visit to a restaurant or a book that you recenly read. Send to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com


Heath Charter

King Charles I of England granted a proprietary charter on October 30, 1629, to his attorney general Sir Robert Heath. The colony, named "Carolana" in honor of the king, included the territory between 31 and 36 north latitude and west to the edge of the continent. This vast region stretched from Albemarle Sound, North Carolina, to the northern boundary of Florida and west to the Pacific Ocean.

As proprietor, Heath was expected to settle and develop his domain with the same broad governing authority as the Bishop of Durham, feudal ruler of the County Palatine of Durham in England. The charter also authorized the proprietor to make laws with "the counsel, assent, and approbation of the Freeholders or the Major part of them."

Heath initially sought settlers from the numerous Huguenots who had taken refuge in England during religious conflicts in France. He soon lost interest when several of these projects failed, and he thereafter restricted his colonists to communicants of the Church of England. A Puritan merchant of Huguenot ancestry, Samuel Vassall, sponsored a coastal exploration to locate settlement sites, but the colonists that followed in 1633 were stranded in Virginia.

By 1638 Heath had assigned his proprietary rights to Henry Frederick Howard, Lord Maltravers, who established the County of Norfolk in Carolana but was no more successful than Heath in settling the region. The Heath Charter is important because it was the model for the successful 1663 Carolina Charter, and it was the first colonial charter that included the area of modern South Carolina.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Lindley S. Butler. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)


Big, bright moon

Contributing photographer Michael Kaynard snapped this shot of a big, bright moon last week. Just look at all of the craters you can see. Nice shot! More of Michael's photos: Kaynard Photography.

Stump us. If you have a picture that you took that you think will stump people, send it along and we'll publish it as a mystery picture. Send to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com. Make sure to include your name and a description of the photo (in case we're not good enough to guess.)


We encourage you to check out our sister publications:

Statehouse Report -- a weekly legislative forecast that keeps you a step ahead of what happens at the Statehouse. It's free.

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TravelOrMove.com -- a fun, interactive site where you can input your travel or retirement preferences and find places you might not have considered.

Georgia Clips offers a similar daily news compilation for the scores of newspapers in Georgia's 159 counties.

GwinnettForum -- an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.


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RiverDogs' beer shakes honored nationally

Venues Today, a trade magazine for sporting and entertainment arenas, has awarded the 2013 Silver Spoon Award for "Best New Menu Item" to the beer shakes, which debuted in April in chocolate, caramel and strawberry flavors.

Honorable mention was "Kuku Paka," a chili-rubbed chicken sewer with hazelnut crust on spiced rice offered at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Other categories:

  • Best sustainability initiative for 2013: "Roots for the Hometeam," a program to get young people into gardening at Minnesota's Target Field. Greens that are grown are used in salads at the stadium. Honorable mention: Vancouver Convention Centre's program to donate all recyclables to a local charity.

  • Best new concept in food and drink for 2013: The Kitchen Experience -- bringing Ovation's chefs to the floor at the Sioux Falls, S.D., convention center. Honorable mention: Edgar's Cantina, a new restaurant at the Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field.


On big shots

"Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting."

-- Christopher Morley



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Vocal auditions: 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Aug. 3, Second Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 342 Meeting Street, Charleston. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra Gospel Choir and CSO Spiritual Ensemble will hold voice auditions for new volunteer singers, who are asked to prepare a solo of their choosing and vocalize in a choral setting. More.

Gardening galore: Aug. 5-8, 46 Windermere Boulevard, Charleston. Charleston Horticulture Society will offer Lowcountry Gardening 101 Summer School, a four-day extravaganza of 10 assorted gardening classes, each of which cost $10 for members or $15 for non-members. Lots to choose from. More.

(NEW) Chamber legislative reception: 6 p.m., Aug. 6, Founders Hall, Charles Towne Landing, Charleston. The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce will have its annual Legislative Appreciation Reception to celebrate legislative wins in the area. State Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island, will receive a leadership award. More.

(NEW) Make a sweetgrass basket: 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Aug. 10, Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St., Charleston. You can learn to make a traditional sweetgrass basket with Sara Edwards-Hammond in this four-hours workshop. No experience required for this program for adults. $40 for members; $45 for non-members. Advance registration is required by going online or by calling 843.722.2996, ext. 235.

Free skin cancer screenings: 9 a.m. to noon, Aug. 10, outside Splash Zone Waterpark, James Island County Park. MUSC dermatologists will offer free screenings on the MUSC Mobile Health Unit. No appointment necessary. More: Phone 843.792.0878.

Stomp some grapes: Noon to 5 p.m., Aug. 24, Irvin-House Vineyards, Wadmalaw Island. You can celebrate the annual grape harvest and get some purple feet at the 10th Annual Grape Stomping Festival. Admission is $10 per car, with part of the proceeds going to Frierson Elementary School. On hand will be music, family fun, great food -- and adult beverages. More.

Great watercolors: Through Sept 15, Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston. In conjunction with Spoleto Festival USA, the Gibbes will present watercolors created in Charleston in the early 1990s by celebrated contemporary artists Stephen Mueller and Carl Palazzolo, who will give an opening day gallery talk at 2:30 p.m. at the museum. Art is from the collection David and Carol Rawle. More: GibbesMuseum.org

Coastal Living's 2013 Showhouse: Open at various times now through Oct. 20. The magazine's newly-constructed home along the Wando River on Daniel Island is open for tours with a portion of the $15 ticket proceeds to charity. More info and times here.

Bird walks: 8:30 a.m. to noon, every Wednesday and Saturday. This is the time of year that a great variety of migrating birds fly through the Lowcountry so what better time to take part in one of the regular early morning bird walks at Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel. Pre-registration is suggested. Cost is $5. Walks also are conducted on James Island and Folly Beach.Learn more online.


8/26: Ringler: Chasing after a cure
Sabine: Kids giving back
Frazier: Bat lab
Hathorne: Kudzu bugs

7/29: Sheahen: Poverty grows
Ferguson: Plate at the table
Kaynard: Mepkin Abbey
McCandless: At-risk youths
McGee: Monroe's new book

Williams: Avoiding foreclosure
Dewey: Preventing suicide
Hoover: Clean kitchens
Kulp: On breathalyzers


8/5: The Angel of Death
Assault on Battery Wagner
"A furious barbarian"
Recovery of Keokuk guns
"Turrets are coming!"
Preparing to attack
Blockade is broken
Stono Rebellion


8/26: What would Dr. King say?
Wool over our eyes
Essays on ordinary summer
Ford needs to get out of the way

7/29: New poverty study
Engage in trade war
Give brand to government
S.C. keeps treading water
Brad Taylor's new thriller

Brookgreen Gardens
New fee bring us closer?
Great new library service
On Robert Ford


7/1: Estate planning myths
Pensions for wartime vets
Revocable Living Trusts
Resources to help seniors cope
On life estates
Next step in health care


7/29: B Corps
GoodBiz Summit
Getting ready to evacuate
Tax policies
On good policy
Heirs' property
1/28: Two conferences


7/15: Childrens' museums
Interactive adventures
Birds, bees, butterflies
Signs of spring abound
Great local parks
What's new in Charleston is old
1/21: Blaze a trail in 2013
12/10: Great holiday adventure


8/26: Citadel records
Tops in ice cream
Free computer classes
Hall of Famers

Beer shakes
Tall buildings
Keep pets safe
List recalibration
Mosquito facts

Curbing mosquitoes
Twitter tips
Help for job applicants
Summer projects

5/27: Hurricane tips
Cleaning up rooms
Traveling with friends
5 on melanoma

4/29: 5 on Cinco de Mayo
Best in Charleston
Generous cities
Spring cleaning tips
Vacation ID tips

3/25: Park and play
On the menu
Still no response
No response

2/25: Five on storytelling
Earth Day duties
For the heart
Home energy tips

Cold water boating
On Ted Stern
SMART goals
Dealing with email



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