Courier Letters to the Editor 2-26-14

Balance is necessary

Dear Editor,

Contrary to a local newspaper’s Feb. 5 editorial, fiscal responsibility cannot always continue to be relegated to the backseat.

Our schools, our children and our education system represent a massive investment in our future, so it is in everyone’s best interest to always be fiscally responsible, especially considering we spend more than $12,000 a year per student, not including building costs. Pushing fiscal responsibility to the back seat is what has gotten the education system in this country into the situation it is in — costing more per pupil than all other developed countries while in far too many instances returning inferior and diminishing results.

We deserve better and we should demand better — it’s just common sense to demand accountability and results for our huge investment. After decades of the same rhetoric, when are we going to realize that simply throwing money at our education problems is not the solution.

We in the Pickens County Taxpayers Association are not against taxes; we recognize that this is the price of a civilized society, but we, as should all citizens, expect accountability and results for the hard-earned money we hand over to those who are charged with administering it. While the Pickens County Taxpayers Association strongly supports our educators and believes in providing them with the tools they require, we also recognize the debt we accumulate through poor fiscal responsibility is passed on, our graduation gift, to those very children we strive to educate.

Balance between the students and the ability of the citizens to pay are both equally important, best accomplished with a balanced school board. History has taught us that while those who have spent their lives in academia have a good grasp of what is necessary to educate the children, they do not always make the best stewards of the taxpayers’ money.

In order to best serve the citizens, the board must be balanced with some from the general civilian workforce as well, those who can better understand life in the private sector, the impact increasing taxes have on all those who don’t get raises, are losing benefits and hours, have to worry about losing their jobs or are on very limited fixed incomes.

We all know, or should, that high property taxes are just as much a deterrent to growth and attracting business as is a poorly educated work force, are a deterrent to people wanting to move here, and can be a negative factor in whether those we graduate will decide to stay here after school.

Balance is the key to everything in our lives, why should we not need it in our school board representation also?

Dennis G. Reinert

                                                                                      President, Pickens County Taxpayers Association


Encouraging scrutiny in board vote

Dear Editor,

I’d like to counter what a writer said recently about Pickens County schools. The accreditation agency AdvancEd’s job is to identify issues within school systems — not just teachers and administrators, but the board as well.

You’d have to be a hermit not to see the dysfunction on the school board. With only six members, some appear to be there solely to remind us that they opposed the previous building program. Votes resulting in a 3-3 tie mean no action taken. Not maintaining the older schools is indefensible. Like it or not, the new schools are built, and they are an asset.

We in the Liberty area now have the opportunity to elect a new board member. I think every concerned parent and voter should seriously scrutinize the candidates. We need a progressive-minded, educated, experienced and compassionate representative — a proven leader who is fiscally responsible and has experience in budgeting and funding education. We need someone whose heart is with our children and their future to help us move beyond our past.

Tom O’Hanlan



Apathy an illustration of motives

Dear Editor:

This past weekend I had one of the mountaintop experiences in my teaching career; I was fortunate enough to chaperone a fantastic group of students from Pickens High School at the South Carolina School Board Association Convention in Myrtle Beach.

The students are members of the Pickens High Blue Flame Bluegrass Band, and they performed at the convention. The band was exceptional, receiving two standing ovations at the convention and several promises of future bookings. School district officials Dr. Kelly Pew, Sharon Huff and Barbara Nesbitt were most supportive and enthusiastic about this performing arts experience for our students. Jim Shelton was the only member of our SDPC School Board of Trustees to attend the convention and to watch our students as they put into practice what they have learned in the classroom; his pride in our students was evident in his broad smile.

What baffles me is that, at a time when the SDPC School Board of Trustees is under fire for accreditation issues, only one member cared enough to attend this convention. For the board, it would have been a good learning experience, as well as a fortuitous opportunity to foster good public relations, and that would have enhanced our district. Unfortunately, this apathetic attitude further illustrates that the majority of our school board’s emphasis is not on our students and their educational experiences but on their own interests.

Dr. Ginger Hicks


History of  national debt

Dear Editor,

This is a study of the national debt. Debt is adjusted to 2010 dollars; ARC is annual rate of change.

The nation’s debt fluctuated around $2.5 trillion from 1950 to 1980 while the Democrats had control of Congress (except for 1953-54) and with either a Democrat or Republican president. Congress members were mostly Democrats during those years, 67 percent to 53 percent. If there were such a thing as tax-and-spend liberals, then they at least kept the debt from growing.

It was 1982-83 when the debt started to rise. From 1981 to 1986, Republicans had the presidency and Senate with Democrats the majority in the House and Congress (53.8 to 58.9 percent). The debt rose at a rate of 9.2 percent per year, from $2.5 trillion to $3.9 trillion. I suppose the “cut taxes and keep on spending” principle kicked it.

The Democrats had both houses of Congress from 1987 to 1992, with about 59 percent majority, and the Republicans had the presidency. The debt continued with a 9.2 percent ARC and was at $6 trillion by 1990. Another trillion was added at 3.1 percent ARC during the 1990-1995 years when the presidency changed from Republican to Democrat and Congress was still Democrat.

From 1993 to 2000, it was a Democrat president with a Republican Congress by about 3 percent. Remarkably, the debt didn’t grow much. It started and ended at about $7 trillion. Maybe, sometimes, the Rs and Ds can work together to get something good done.

The 2001 to 2008 years had a Republican president with a mostly Republican Congress. The senate was equally Rs and Ds two years and the House was Democrat one year. Congress had about 52 to 53 percent Republicans overall. The debt increased from $7 trillion to $9 trillion at a 3.2 percent ARC.

It was a Democrat president with a Democrat congress for 2009-10 and a split Congress for 2011-13 when the Republicans had the House and Democrats the Senate. Congress membership changed from 58.5 percent Democrat the first session to 54-52 percent Republican the second session.

The debt increased by $5 trillion in the 2009-10 years, from $9 trillion to $14 trillion. That financial institution collapse thing happened, and there were lots of corporate bailouts. along with increases in unemployment, welfare and other kinds of payouts. That’s a 24.7 percent ARC for two years, an exceptionally odd data point. Curiously. that was about the rate during the World War II years from 1941-45.

There was another $2 trillion added to the debt in 2012-2013, a 4.6 percent ARC, which brought it up to $16 trillion.

Maybe our current senators, representatives and president need to study what their predecessors were doing during the 1950-80 years to keep the debt from increasing. I suspect they were mostly moderates on both the R and D sides who knew how to work together for a common good. Many were leaders who experienced the Depression and World War II years and knew the value of saving and spending wisely.

I suppose much can be made out of the numbers when one tries to spin the cause of rising debt onto either the Rs or Ds. That might be the mistake which was made back in the early 1980s, when the “us” versus “them” generations became the leaders.

Jerry Hughes