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 ...
There are lots of Kershaw County residents who no doubt are wondering exactly when "investing" became a synonym for "spending." Politicians -- especially free-spending ones -- no longer want to talk about increasing spending, couching it instead in the "investing" light. President Obama took that tack Tuesday night during his State of the Union speech, advocating a series of spending measures on education, research, transportation and technology.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is one of the few lawmakers in Washington who's willing to forge compromises, and that sometimes lands him in hot water with hard-right conservatives in the Palmetto State. Now, with Graham realistically saying that in order to stem the horrific budget deficits the country is running that we must look at the possibility of changing the Social Security retirement age, he's also catching heat from the left.
• We're glad to see Davis Love III picked as the captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team for the 2012 matches. Love, who grew up the son of a highly regarded teaching pro in Charlotte, is one of the best-liked players on the PGA tour and has won 20 tournaments, including the PGA Championship. The 2012 matches will be played at Medinah Country Club near Chicago, and Love will be trying to stem a tide that has resulted in the Americans losing six of the last eight matches to the Europeans, including last fall's defeat in Wales.
We wrote recently of a change in the way KershawHealth is managing its emergency department, sending seriously threatened patients to one area for immediate, vital care while directing others who are less ill to be treated in a non-emergency system. It's cost-effective, but also provides quality care for both types of patients.
One of the problems with the expense of health care is the fact that many people tend to use a hospital's emergency room as their primary care facility, going there with normal ailments such as flu and severe colds. Emergency room care is expensive -- too costly to be used in that way. KershawHealth is no different than other hospitals in that regard, and the decision to "split" the emergency department there is a sound one.
Today, the Chronicle-Independent begins a series of articles summarizing the candidates and issues that will be on the Nov. 4 ballot, one week from Tuesday. Perhaps the most contentious race isn't between candidates but between "yes" and "no" on two referenda offered by the Kershaw County School District.
We've always believed the United States government works best when power is divided -- that is, with a president from one party and a Congress controlled by the opposite party. As of now, of course, we have a Democratic president and a split Congress, with the House of Representatives controlled by Republicans and the Senate dominated by Democrats. There are multiple forecasting models out there for the upcoming election, with most of them giving the GOP a better-than-even chance of gaining a majority in the Senate while retaining control of the House.
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