The website rollout of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, is almost a parody of all that is wrong with government and the way it functions in too many cases. We're not referring here to the bill itself; certainly there are those in Kershaw County who think the concept of Obamacare is a wonderful thing and there are others who see it as a poorly conceived, overly expensive plan that the country can't afford.
There are undoubtedly many Kershaw County residents fed up with the gridlock in politics. The recent government shutdown was unnecessary and avoidable, and it represented all that is bad about Washington and the way our country is run. While Congress itself gets single-digit approval ratings from the public, people across the country seem to like their own representatives, and they return them to office again and again. Part of that is because redistricting in most states -- drawing the lines that make up congressional districts -- is done by the party in charge, which tends to create safe havens for members of ...
• During her years in Camden, Karen Eckford has taken on numerous civic responsibilities, donating countless hours to various causes. She now faces her most challenging assignment as she assumes the chairmanship of the KershawHealth Board of Trustees. The hospital is at a critical juncture and the next couple of years will go far in determining whether it remains independent or is taken over by a larger institution. We wish her well in her duties.
Members of the Lake Wateree Association, voicing the sentiments of many lake residents as well as people who live in other rural areas of the county, say more cell phone towers are needed to improve communication. The association urged people to attend a Monday night meeting of the county's planning and zoning commission to make their voices heard and they're also asking citizens to show up at the next county council meeting. Council had passed on two readings a measure that would have made it more feasible to increase the number of cell towers, but suddenly tabled that ...
History hasn't been kind to third-party movements in this country, but that's not deterring two South Carolinians -- one with Democratic roots and the other with a Republican background -- from trying to launch the American Party, which they contend can be a viable alternative to the two majority parties. Jim Rex, who was superintendent of education in this state, and Oscar Loveless, a physician who once ran for governor, think voters need another option. In light of the gridlock in which our Congress has become mired, that's not a bad idea. The odds are long against the success ...
• Technology is wonderful, but there are a few things in the world that should remain the way they've always been. One is a gondola ride on the canals of Venice, Italy, but it appears that, too, is giving in to modernity. GPS will be introduced, along with an electronic traffic control system. In fairness, there have been severe accidents lately in which gondolas have been hit by larger boats, but this change makes us a bit wistful.
It's no secret that American young people are lagging their counterparts in many other countries in academic performance. For several years, we've been bombarded with news stories about the problems kids are facing in a competitive world. Now comes word that it's not only American youths who aren't able to compete, but adults in the workplace, too. And it's disturbing.
If the initial days of government healthcare enrollment are any indication of the quality of care that people are going to receive, there are going to be a lot of very ill people in this country. The healthcare.gov web site was beset by technological glitches that left people frustrated and angry, and the explanation provided by the person in charge was pitiful. When the site failed to work because lots of people tried to access it, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park said, "These bugs were functions of volume. Take away the volume and it works." That's ...
• We offer a tip of the Chronicle-Independent hat to Bill Byars of Camden, who's stepping down as director of the S.C. Department of Corrections, one in a string of government jobs he's held. Byars practiced law for many years in Camden before being elected a family court judge and then moving to the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, a troubled agency which he helped turn around. He's "retired" several times but don't bet on his sitting on the sidelines even after this one.
It's good to see that Camden High School is teaming with an organization called Arrive Alive, sponsored by UNITE International, to graphically demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving, whether it involves drinking, texting or talking on a cell phone. Using high-tech screens and simulators, Arrive Alive allows students to experience what it's like when their reactions are slowed through alcohol use, or how many distractions they are subjecting themselves to when they drive while talking on their phones -- or even worse -- texting. We'll add, by the way, that South Carolina is one of the few states that ...
It has been a frustrating year for all Kershaw Countians and Americans who believe that compromise is the building block of decent government, as our divided officials in Washington have had blinders on and have refused to acknowledge any position but their own. And now we find ourselves in a government shutdown that benefits nobody. (By the time you read this, perhaps the stalemate will have been broken, but it could go on for an extended period of time.)
• President Obama's approval rating is at its lowest point since he took office, and positive public opinion of Congress is barely a blip on the screen, yet Democrats and Republicans continue to hold the country hostage in their political game of one-upsmanship. The term "crying shame" isn't used much anymore but is appropriate in this case.
Insurance companies in the United States are, in increasing numbers, cancelling the homeowners' policies of people who keep aggressive breeds of dogs. Industry statistics say that about one-third of insurance claims arise from dog bites, and companies are starting to tell people they won't insure them if they insist on having breeds that are known for their volatile nature. We don't blame the companies.
We have lost count now of the number of times Congress has come to the brink of shutting the government down. We now find ourselves in the same situation we have on other occasions, with dysfunctional Republicans and incompetent Democrats heaving insults back and forth at each other in Washington while American voters shake their heads in dismay.
• Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State pedophile who was found guilty of molesting many boys who were under his care in various programs, has never admitted guilt despite overwhelming evidence and the unanimous guilty verdict of a jury. His lawyer continues to ask for a new trial for the former coach. Sandusky is serving up to 60 years after losing on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Behind bars is exactly where he needs to be unless a bombshell of new evidence turns up.
Tomorrow is Independence Day, the Fourth of July, when this country celebrates its birthday. This year, July 4 marks the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence -- the document which signaled to the world the original 13 British colonies were breaking away from Mother England.
During the last week, we have published two reports on KershawHealth. The first, growing out of the hospital's most recent board of trustees meeting, focused on its market share. It is relatively healthy, thanks to KershawHealth's being the only hospital in all of Kershaw County. More people living in the county turn to KershawHealth for emergency care than anywhere else. However, the report -- broadly speaking -- noted a decrease in market share in outpatient services and only slight increases for inpatient services.
Kudos to our various law enforcement agencies for working together to get some folks off our streets who needed to be stopped. At the top of our list are Bethune Police Chief Joey Cobb, Kershaw County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) and U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for arresting two people (and there may be more to come) for the June 23 armed robbery of Sandhills Bank in Bethune.
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