Last year President Obama approved a budget plan that would change the way Social Security increases are calculated, moving them from a process determined by the consumer price index to one set by a process known as chained consumer price index. That was encouraging to the millions of Americans who are concerned about the runaway spending problems that are threatening the nation's economy. Many economists favor the chained concept as being a more accurate way to measure the rate of inflation.
• We commented just last week on the wise decision by Volkswagen workers in Tennessee to turn down unionization with the UAW. But Gov. Nikki Haley's statement that unionized plants aren't welcome at all in South Carolina is off the mark. Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, who's running against Haley, said South Carolina should remain a right-to-work state, where workers have the right to decide whether to join unions. That's a more reasonable position.
The recent union defeat at a Tennessee Volkswagen plant is yet another sign that the United Auto Workers, once an indomitable force in this country, is merely a shell of its former shelf. Where the American economy is concerned, that's a good thing. Employees at the Chattanooga plant turned thumbs down on the union despite a protracted lobbying effort by UAW officials; in fact, Volkswagen itself had been in favor of the union and had allowed organizers nearly unlimited access to its plant while denying that same right to opponents.
Last week's forecasts of an "epic winter storm" in the South had everyone in Kershaw County scurrying around trying to get prepared. Of course, it's an old joke that if a few flakes of snow are forecast, Southerners flood grocery stores to stock up with milk and bread -- we've never quite understood why milk and bread -- and supermarkets in this area were indeed beehives of activity early last week as people prepared for possible power outages and periods of being homebound.
• We note with sadness the recent death of Bill Few of Liberty Hill, one of the great high school football coaches in this state. Few, who attended Clemson on an athletic scholarship, was a no-nonsense coach who instilled discipline in his players and compiled, over his 26-year career, a 221-68-3 record, including three state championships. His last few years on the field were spent at North Central High School.
As a news organization, we at the Chronicle-Independent tend to pay more attention to First Amendment issues than most people, and a new proposal by the Federal Communications Commission threatens to let the government decide what news stories television stations can broadcast. We realize, of course, that many cable stations today lean one way or the other; you need look no further than the two most commonly cited ones, FOX News and MSNBC, both of which might purport to deliver straight-up news but seldom do. But the great thing is that people can tune in to whatever news outlet they ...
Convinced that hard-right policies won't help the party regain the U.S. Senate in this year's mid-term elections, mainstream Republicans are doing everything they can to help moderate candidates who are facing challenges from Tea Party hopefuls and others who hew to hard-right policies. Many say the core principles of the Tea Party -- smaller government and lower taxes -- have been hijacked by candidates who espouse a social agenda that's not acceptable to average Americans. And they want to stop those candidates.
• With the Wichita State Shockers headed into last weekend unbeaten, there are probably a significant number of people in the Palmetto State dismayed by the fact that the South Carolina Gamecocks didn't go after coach Gregg Marshall when he was at Winthrop. USC turned thumbs down on Marshall on a couple occasions, but it's looking now as if hiring him would have been a smart move.
A bill currently before the S.C. General Assembly would provide immunity from lawsuits to medical personnel who are treating people for free. It's an extension of the state's Good Samaritan statute, which protects doctors who stop to help accident victims, and it makes perfect sense. Good Samaritan laws have been passed all over the country, and they allow physicians to provide services at accident scenes without having to worry about being sued for malpractice.
Automakers across the United States and around the world have come up in recent years with innumerable new features -- "bells and whistles" is the popular name for them -- which entice buyers and make driving more pleasurable and convenient. Heated seats and steering wheels are great for those cold mornings; keyless remote entry devices make keys almost obsolete; and navigation systems take the guesswork out of getting to an unknown location.
** Pete Seeger, who died recently at 94, had a profound influence on the American musical scene; the folksinger-songwriter was a catalyst for the folk music revival of the 1960s and he penned some of the great songs of that genre, including If I Had A Hammer, Where Have All The Flowers Gone and Turn, Turn, Turn. He also helped champion social change and was a consistent anti-war voice. Few people in the music world accomplished as much as he did, and he will be missed.
Kershaw County received a significant snowfall Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, an event that doesn't happen very often. It gave local kids an opportunity they relished -- playing outside under conditions they don't normally see. And to the relief of adults, most roads in the county cleared quickly on Wednesday despite temperatures that didn't rise above freezing, coupled with a cloud cover that never dissipated.
President Obama's plan to expand early-childhood education on a massive scale sounds at first blush like a great idea. After all, who can argue with the fact of helping kids -- especially disadvantaged kids -- get a break early in life, thus helping them gain valuable skills and leading productive lives? The only problem is that the government itself -- the Department of Health and Human Services, in particular -- has found that programs such as Head Start don't work on a long-term basis.
• People here in Kershaw County are getting a bit tired of the cold weather, and with good reason. While South Carolina has a mild climate and certainly doesn't experience the extreme cold of New England and the Midwest, it's been much colder than normal this year, and those days when the temps don't rise out of the 30s or 40s have become too common. We find ourselves longing for the blooming of azaleas, and we imagine we're not alone in that.
An interesting and moving project is taking place from Virginia up into Pennsylvania, where 620,000 trees are being planted along roadways to honor those who gave up their lives in the War Between The States, the bloodiest military conflagration in this nation's history. Oaks, maples, cedars and dogwoods are being placed in the median and in groves along the historic highway that links Charlottesville, Va. and Gettysburg, Pa.
Whenever the subject of guns is brought up, it engenders strong opinion on both sides -- from those who believe in absolute Second Amendment rights, and from those who believe that nobody should be allowed to own a gun in any circumstances. Like most people, we fall somewhere in the middle, solidly on the side of Americans to own firearms but a bit dubious about why it makes sense for people to own Uzis and other automatic weapons that are made with the express purpose of killing people.
We comment on sports issues in this space on a regular basis, because athletics are so ingrained into the culture of Kershaw County and South Carolina. This week marks the kick-off of college football season in the Palmetto State, and several developments highlight the changing culture of the pigskin pastime here.
• Every now and then a story just makes you want to puff up with pride. We had one Wednesday, and we'll have another this Wednesday, both on the same subject: the renaming of the I-20 bridge over the Wateree River for Kershaw County's three medal of honor winners. Richmond Hobson Hilton, John C. Villepigue and Donald Leroy Truesdell are heroes out of history in no uncertain terms. In our preview story, readers learned that Hilton charged gunners firing at his squad, firing until his ammunition was spent, killing six enemies and capturing 10, but lost an arm as ...
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