South Carolina Cultural Indicators 2019: Introductions

In the year Palmetto Family was founded (1994), former Reagan-Bush administration official William J. Bennett published the first edition of his Index of Leading Cultural Indicators (ILCI). Bennett developed ILCI because he felt social and cultural trends should be monitored carefully just like fiscal trends were being tracked in the Index of Leading Economic Indicators.

Seeing the national conversation that developed around Cultural Indicators, a number of state policy organizations developed their own state-specific ILCI studies. No two state publications have been alike, with each choosing which indicators they wished to highlight. Palmetto Family published its first edition of South Carolina Cultural Indicators in 2011 and was thrilled with the productive conversations centered on the data produced in that first edition.

Though several years later, we believe South Carolina Cultural Indicators 2019 will nurture much-needed further discussions on how to address the difficulties youth and families face in the Palmetto State. We’d like to extend a hearty “thank you” to our partners from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston for their desire to create better lives for families in South Carolina and specifically for helping Palmetto Family produce this publication with their financial support.

In the 2019 edition, we have chosen to follow not only the typical social trends, but several fiscal areas, education and overall cultural developments that impact South Carolina families, as well. The purpose of this extended focus is indicative of Palmetto Family’s desire to show that no one problem is in isolation – in fact, correlations exist between every issue negatively affecting South Carolina families.

Though the picture painted by South Carolina Cultural Indicators isn’t always a pleasant one, we can find hope in the fact that every problem measured in every metric in this publication can be greatly improved with one cultural change: stronger families. In the cold facts of this document, there is no traditional vs. libertarian, secular vs. religious or Democrat vs. Republican divide. All can agree that weak family units lead to social pathologies that are detrimental not only to children and families, but also to the bottom line for government and for business. Strong families are indispensible to a prosperous state.

The document you hold in your hands, or review on your electronic device, is your invitation to enter that conversation with us and join us in developing concrete solutions for reshaping our laws, our attitudes and our culture in a way that will lead to a South Carolina where more families thrive.

Thank you for your service to South Carolina and its families.

 

Joshua Putnam
President, Palmetto Family

 

Joshua Putnam

President, Palmetto Family

This publication has selected a focus: culture. The word culture derives from the Latin cultus, which translates to ‘care,’ and from the French colere which translates ‘to till’ as in ’till the ground.’ These roots further delineate what the focus of this publication is meant to produce: care for the community and healthy dialogue.

As a community of faith, it has long been considered a Catholic virtue to act for justice in the public square always with the marginalized and fragile members of society at the heart of our discussion. 

All of us can reflect on what seems to be a continued breakdown of our culture which usually sparks the question: why does the world seem to be crumbling around us? The straightforward, statistical analyses provided in this updated publication force us to look at our culture in the light of data-driven truth. We hope that uncovering these societal trends spur conversation that will produce strong public policy decisions.

The need for these essential dialogues was highlighted in the Holy Father’s Charlemagne Prize address in 2016 where he stated, “if there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue. Peace will be lasting in the measure that we arm our children with the weapons of dialogue, that we teach them to fight the good fight of encounter and negotiation. In this way, we will bequeath to them a culture capable of devising strategies of life, not death, and of inclusion, not exclusion.”

It is with this goal in mind that we join Palmetto Family in this effort to engage our elected officials in a dialogue to influence change in our state.

These societal trends and cultural indicators, therefore, are our calls to action. They direct where we most need dialogue to build stronger culture and families, and it is our duty to determine what policies will promote the common good. None of the issues facing South Carolina, or even the United States, are issues that stand alone: everything is connected.

As a final reminder, all of those embedded in the work of the legislature must be keenly aware of their witness in their nuclear families. To quote the beloved modern-day saint, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “if you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Let us not forget our calling to love those entrusted to us on this earth and seek all that is good and holy for them as we lead them through the day-to-day in our current culture.

Thank you for your willingness to serve South Carolina Catholics and all families in the Palmetto State.

 

Michael F. Acquilano
Director, South Carolina Catholic Conference

Michael F. Acquilano

Director, South Carolina Catholic Conference