As we near the end of 2010 -- it's almost unfathomable that a full decade has passed since the momentous millennium celebration -- the economy is still struggling to rebound both nationally and right here in Kershaw County. Many small businesses are just hanging on until things get better; real estate agents are not seeing an anticipated turnaround in home sales; and too many people are out of work. At the same time, there is much to celebrate. The Christmas season is the basis of the Christian faith, and a time of reunion; thousands of Kershaw Countians will join with family ...
• It's been much colder than normal here in Kershaw County and many people are ready for an easing of the temperatures. But one friend suggested recently we should be thankful; he had checked weather information on-line, and for a recent week in Fairbanks, Alaska, the high temperature -- the high -- was negative 28 degrees. The low was negative 51. Those readings make our recent nights in the teens seem absolutely balmy.
As we approach a new year, one of the best presents the State of South Carolina could receive from the General Assembly would be a comprehensive tort reform measure that would make the state's business climate friendlier and would spur economic stability. Texas has been a leader in tort reform, and Gov. Rick Perry is pushing a new proposal that would take that state a step further.
Three situations worth watching:
• We're happy to see Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk selected by her peers to serve as chair of the S.C. General Assembly Women's Caucus. We'll agree with Funderburk when she decries the fact that South Carolina is last in the nation in female elected officials, and we'd like to see more women elected to serve not only in Columbia but throughout the state. We're confident she'll do a great job leading the Women's Caucus at the State House.
Voters in Kershaw County and nationwide have been bombarded with news during the past few days regarding the compromise between the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans on tax policy. Democrats in Washington, who for nearly two years have been accusing the GOP of obstructionism, are the people in this instance who are throwing up roadblocks. To listen to them tell it, lower-income Americans are being saddled with a lion's share of the American tax burden while upper-income citizens walk away on April 15 scot-free. So here are a few facts:
Kershaw County voters, like their counterparts throughout the county, should take heart in the fact that Democrats and Republicans finally came together in Washington Monday to forge what looks to be a workable compromise on economic matters. They came up with a measure that will keep income rates at their current pace for another two years and will also extend unemployment taxes; the measure will also reduce the payroll tax on Social Security, instantly putting money into the pockets of working Americans as the country tries to pull out of its long economic tailspin.
• We're glad to see that the U.S. Congress has passed a bill which will prohibit television networks from jacking up the volume when commercials are shown. For decades, viewers have been forced to reach for the remote control device when the sound spurted during ad pitches. We also propose a tongue-in-cheek amendment to the new law: that whenever politicians appear on TV with too much blathering, the volume gets automatically cut down to zero.
With all the scent of change in the air in Washington, D.C., there's still an unpleasant aroma of business as usual in the nation's capital. Despite all the talk about cutting spending and the profligacy of earmarks, the U. S. Senate refused last week to outlaw them. We don't pretend to say banning earmarks would solve the country's deficit problems, but it would be a symbolic first step; Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has referred to them as "the gateway drug to spending addiction."
Backers of a Kershaw County local-option sales tax which was rejected by voters earlier this month say they aren't giving up and that they will again pursue efforts to get the penny tax passed, perhaps in a scaled-down version. Voters turned the proposal down by a significant margin during the general election, sending officials a message that this isn't the right time to be raising taxes.
* With professional football playoffs set to begin soon, along with college bowl games, there's one statistic that tells the tale as far as how many advertisements and dead time there are during TV game telecasts. A recent examination of one NFL game that took more than four hours to play revealed that the ball was in play less than 11 minutes. That's a lot of time to eat and sip. Watch those calories!
We had hoped, as no doubt all Kershaw County residents had, that the economy during this Thanksgiving season would be more vigorous than it actually is -- that fewer people would be unemployed, that the housing market would have rebounded, that small businesses would be prospering more than they are and that the stress caused by economic turmoil would have eased. But even under present circumstances, we have much to be thankful for.
Today, during the peak of the holiday traveling season, workers employed by the Transportation Security Administration, the agency charged with trying to keep terrorists off airplanes, will endure a great deal of criticism and short tempers from Americans who don't like the new measures effected by the TSA, including full body scanners and pat-down searches for passengers who don't want to be scanned.
• Poor Charles Rangel. Though the 20-term Congressman was found guilty of breaching 11 different ethics rule in the U. S. House of Representatives, including failing to pay taxes on a vacation villa for 17 years, and despite the fact that he will receive a rare U.S. House of Representatives censure, he said last Monday that he wasn't a crooked politician and he wanted to restore his reputation. Rangel is like the other politicians who get caught with their hands in the cookie jar in that he's contrite only after being caught.
It didn't come as a surprise to many people in Kershaw County when former County Administrator Bobby Boland and current Utilities Director Russell Wright filed a federal wrongful arrest lawsuit recently against Kershaw County Sheriff's Office Capt. David Thomley. The resolution of the suit -- whatever that might be -- will bring to an end an unfortunate chapter in Kershaw County politics and law enforcement.
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 ...
Two horrific diseases have been brought into the spotlight recently -- ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, which has caught the public eye through an "ice bucket challenge," and depression, brought into further consciousness through the tragic suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams. Attention in such matters is always beneficial, both in terms of raising money to fight the diseases and in making Americans more aware of the challenges of such maladies.
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