The nation marked a milestone earlier this week when Frank Buckles of West Virginia, the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, died at the age of 110. Buckles passed away peacefully, according to his daughter, and remained until the end somewhat bemused by his singular status as last survivor.
The drama that's been playing out for a couple weeks in Wisconsin over public sector unions has moved to Ohio, and it's almost certain that the issue of public unions isn't going away. While union membership has been declining for years in private business, that hasn't been the case with public unions; in 2009, for the first time in this country's history, a majority of unionized workers were in government jobs rather than private ones. And the percentages are even more striking: while only 7 percent of private workers are unionized, 36 percent of government ...
• We're glad to see Kershaw County Council moving toward a ban on smoking in county-owned vehicles. Employees have the right to smoke if they wish, of course, but the prohibition on puffing in vehicles merely extends the present policy which bans smoking in county buildings. Cigarette smoke odor lingers in vehicles, and non-smoking employees shouldn't have to put up with it.
With April 15 approaching, Kershaw County taxpayers are bundling their records together and preparing to report to Uncle Sam. In most cases, they'll be hiring someone to prepare their tax returns because the tax code in this country is so blindingly complicated that a layman has no chance of understanding it. Many tax professionals can't even understand it. But in Washington, there's finally talk of comprehensive tax reform. That, of course, doesn't mean our elected officials in the nation's capital will accomplish anything, but conditions are ripe. We have a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled ...
Most people here in Kershaw County and across the country believe that despite political differences, there's a sense of fair play that should come into effect when philosophical problems arise in government. We certainly haven't seen much of an atmosphere of compromise in the last few years, but the brouhaha in Wisconsin over the governor's efforts to end a portion of public unions' collective bargaining rights has prompted two actions that we believe most people -- even those who don't agree with Gov. Scott Walker's plan -- will think violate a sense of fair play.
• A simple but efficient system is helping prevent meth production in South Carolina. A computer tracking system that went online in early January monitors purchases of the cold remedy pseudoephedrine -- a key ingredient in meth -- as they are made and thus prevents lawbreakers from going from store to store to buy large supplies of the over-the-counter drug. Nearly 6,000 sales have been prevented in the month since the system went online; some of those certainly would have gone into meth. It's a good system that is apparently doing exactly what it was designed to accomplish.
Camden City Council made the wise move some time ago to prohibit people from sending text messages while they're driving, a practice that is unquestionably dangerous but is common, especially among teenagers. Now it appears that the General Assembly might pass a statewide ban on texting despite the fact that there are still several senators who feel such a prohibition would be an infringement on drivers' rights. But making that argument makes no more sense than saying that speed limits pose a similar danger on the rights of individuals.
With President Obama having come forth with a proposed budget that's big on tax increases and small on spending cuts, political eyes will be turning toward Republicans to see which GOP hopeful will step out and establish a position as a frontrunner. Incumbent presidents have a terrific advantage, but the 2010 Democratic debacle is full indication that Obama won't be a shoo-in for another term in the White House. Kershaw County voters will be keeping their eyes on the race, just as voters across the country will.
• Fie on those who are criticizing First Lady Michelle Obama because she served pizza, sausages and Buffalo wings at the White House Super Bowl viewing. Mrs. Obama has been spearheading an effort to get Americans to eat more healthful fare, but she's right in saying that it isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. People can adopt better diets without completely eliminating those "fun" foods that almost everyone likes. Carping critics need to pipe down.
Republicans gained a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in last November's elections, but the GOP is finding that binding all its members together to produce clear policy isn't an easy task. House Republicans earlier this week proposed cutting about $35 billion in spending, slashing such programs as Americorps, family planning assistance and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But many newly elected members say that's not enough, stressing they were sent to Washington to make even deeper cuts. Complicating the situation is that spending legislation must also pass the Senate, where Democrats still maintain a ...
Recent legislation allowing Sunday alcohol sales in Camden is just one example of how lifestyles are changing across the United States. For many years, alcohol could not be sold in any form on Sunday in South Carolina -- except, of course, in Charleston, which for decades winked slyly not only at state bans on Sunday sales but also at the state's prohibition on mixed drinks, which were officially prohibited across the Palmetto State but readily available in nearly every restaurant in the The Holy City.
• We're glad to see that the Camden Police Department and Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk are both taking part in trying to get alcohol energy drinks outlawed in South Carolina. The beverages, which come in large cans, have high alcohol content along with a significant amount of caffeine, which can be a deadly combination, especially for young drinkers who have had little experience with alcohol. The dangers of these drinks are widely known, and Funderburk is one of several legislators who introduced a bill in the General Assembly. It is now wending its way through the legislative process.
Social Security has been a political football for more years than we care to remember, but there's another institution that will just as quickly engender "don't mess with mine" comments from voters: the post office. More times than we can remember we've watched the U.S. Postal Service (USPO) announce that a small, rural post office would be closed, only to have it kept open under intense political pressure.
First Lady Michelle Obama was in Columbia last week to highlight the problem of childhood obesity and the effect of decreased physical activity on military recruitment; the lack of physical fitness is making it more difficult for the Army and other service branches to fill their ranks at a time when the country needs good soldiers. Her visit was coincidental with a conversation this newspaper's primary editorial writer had with an Army veteran who recently received word that he'll soon be promoted to E-9, the highest enlisted rank in the service, only 18 years after joining.
• President Obama, despite his love of government spending, is making an attempt to drift toward the political center since his party got battered in last November's election, a pragmatic approach yet one some doubted the president would be able to do given his philosophy. His latest appeal to the middle came with his naming of General Electric chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt as chairman of Obama's outside panel of economic advisers. Immelt will give the administration an establishment figure that will signal more openness to business. We do, however, hope Immelt will do a better job of advising ...
One of the things that keeps many people interested in politics is the fact that big decisions can turn on little details. Such is the case with control of the United States Senate in the upcoming election; Republicans want to gain six seats so they'll have a majority in both the Senate and House, while Democrats, even though they understand they probably will lose some seats, want desperately to prevent a GOP majority. The entire deal -- which party, in effect, controls the government in Washington -- could come down to Alaska, the least densely populated state in the nation. With ...
The unemployment rate here in Kershaw County and across South Carolina, as well as the rest of the United States, remains disappointingly high. The economy is still mired in slow growth, and too many people are out of work. Yet a recent study by a national newspaper shows how ineffective government jobs programs can be and points out that many people who have tried to take advantage of them end up worse off than they were before starting them.
• Here in Kershaw County, we don't think about bridges much, unless it's the spans crossing the Lynches and Wateree rivers on U.S. 1, I-20 and other roads. Many bridges in our county are small, made of wood or pipes used as culverts. They cross streams and branches of creeks and -- according to our recent two-part story -- not in the greatest shape. Some state-owned bridges are in the process of being repaired or replaced with state and/or federal funds. But many others are owned by the county. All but two currently open bridges that cross bodies of ...
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