Scrapping over bones

By: - July 3, 2005 9:42 am

The Pilot

By Tom Campbell: N.C. Spin

If you’ve ever watched two dogs fight over a bone, you can understand much of what is taking place in North Carolina.

Our leaders are scrapping over bones. Let’s take stock of where we are as a state.

There isn’t a single sector of our society without crisis. We have children going hungry and without medical care. We’re told over one million of our residents have no health insurance. Our health-care delivery system is on the brink. Mental health care is making a perilous and uncertain transition. Medicaid is out of control.

We could recite at length the problems of our education system. Our school populations are growing so rapidly we can’t build buildings fast enough to house them. Children in lower wealth counties are not getting adequate education, but there’s evidence many of the urban counties also have serious problems. Our dropout rate (when our educators are honest) is completely unacceptable. Practically no one has confidence in our testing programs.

Our state economy is fragile. We are creating jobs, but only because we pay companies to bring their plants here. Taxpayers pay the bill. There are clearly two North Carolinas, the have-nots east of I-95 and in our mountains, and those that have along the I-40, I-85 corridor. We are transitioning away from agriculture and manufacturing to a new economy, but we don’t know what.

Our highway system, once the envy of the nation, is full of potholes and badly in need of repairs.

We have lost confidence in political leadership that increasingly chooses the voters rather than having voters select them. All decisions are based on who gave money and how a decision helps re-election. Special interests are running the show, contributing huge sums to legislative leaders who then pick and choose to whom the money will be distributed, in essence deciding the elections.

Even worse, a growing number of our citizens are convinced we are heading in the wrong directions and have become pessimistic that we don’t have the will or integrity to right the ship. Our media appear asleep to most of these issues.

Our politicians fight over the bones. There are large, juicy, important issues waiting to be debated and resolved, but for five years running, our legislature can’t even fix the budget deficit. They obviously don’t have any new ideas or solutions because they keep applying the same ones. They scrap, often over issues that really aren’t important, because they will not and cannot face the real problems.

It is time to quit scrapping over the bones and start moving this state ahead.

Tom Campbell is former assistant North Carolina state treasurer and is creator/host of “N.C. Spin,” a weekly statewide television discussion.

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066