Now, when most Americans think about corrupt states, I doubt that North Carolina would be the first one to come to their minds. I, however, beg to differ. This, it has always seemed to me, is one of the most socially and economically backwards states in the union. Let me explain why.
This state houses the city of Charlotte, where I was born, and where I currently take up residence. Charlotte has been a rat’s nest of problems for at least the last decade, and possibly longer (since I wasn’t paying attention to all of it until about a decade ago). First, there’s the ongoing, painfully slow road construction. It never seems to finish, making an already-congested city clog up even worse. And what’s more, they do all the road construction on the best roads. It seems to me that they should do something about the roads where the pavement has had to be replaced so many times that the asphalt has become three-colored. Or the roads that have had all their lane markings worn off. Or the ones that are so warped that driving on them is reminiscent of being in a small boat in a hurricane.
Next comes the arena scandal. Many years ago, a select group of high-powered executives decided that they wanted a basketball arena. The only problem was, the people voted it down. So the city council lumped the arena into a package with Discovery Place, a cool childrens’ science museum (trips to which were the highlights of my youth), so that we couldn’t vote down the arena without voting down funding for Discovery Place. So, in a nutshell, this is what happened. They wanted an arena. The citizens didn’t want it. So they built an arena…
And finally, in ascending order of severity, comes the current scandal. It seems that some of North Carolina’s corruption has leaked across the border into South Carolina. There, Duke Power (the Haliburton or Blackwater of the North Carolina power industry), asked for funding to build a new nuclear power plant. That’s all well and good; I’m not terribly fond of nuclear power, but at least they didn’t get the coal power stations they wanted. But then comes the corruption. Apparently, in order to “protect their financial interests”, they’d like to be able to recover $125,000,000 in planning money if the project doesn’t go forward. Where is that recovery money going to come from? They want to take it out of the taxpayers’ hides! They actually want the people to pay them for something they didn’t build. The main problem (one of many, of course): the government funds the plant, but the people pay for not building it. It’s been called “An open-ended nuclear spending account.” How stupid does Duke Power really think we are?
And to my fellow North Carolinians who may be reading this: move now! Save yourself while you still can!