IRS Story Unravels; Liberty Lost

IRS Story Unravels; Liberty Lost

The initial story from the IRS regarding alleged targeting of conservative groups has fallen apart. These actions go well beyond one or several low level employees acting on their own.

According to a report from the IRS Inspector General’s office, senior officials at the IRS knew about the targeting of conservative groups for over a year without doing anything about it.

Every new revelation makes this whole caper seem more and more politically motivated regardless of what the Obama administration says.

Yesterday we heard that at least one organization in South Carolina, the Laurens County Tea Party, was one of the many organizations having problems with the IRS. The group applied for tax-exempt status in 2010 and still has received no answer.

Yesterday we also heard that the Justice Department had begun an investigation into the actions of the IRS. This would be the same Justice Department that performed warrantless searches on the phone records of several reporters at the Associated Press.

If government officials don’t respect the laws of the United States and the provisions of the Constitution, who will?

The Mark Sanford Comeback

Everybody has an opinion on whether the latest “trespassing” chapter in the ongoing Mark Sanford political resurrection saga will hurt his chances of winning the May 7th special election for the S.C. 1st Congressional District.

Quick answer – No, Mark Sanford will be going back to Washington.

This is not a criminal trespass charge, but, rather, a complaint reportedly filed by Jenny Sanford’s lawyer to be heard in family court two days after the special election.

Reflections on Boston

I was one of the fortunate ones to be born in the City on a Hill, and have never forgotten that Boston was my birth city.

There might be over 900 miles between me and Boston currently, but there is no getting away from the city of your birth, especially when you still have family who reside there.

Especially, on a day like Monday, which was Patriots’ Day in Boston. The holiday commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.

And, unfortunately, it is a day that will forever be linked to tragedy and terrorism as someone thought it would be cute to set up bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

I tried the best I could Monday to ignore news coverage, but there was no getting past the words bomb and Boston, I had to look.

And, I began to cry.

Focusing on Government Spending

I read a statistic recently that startled me. The average pay for federal government employees is nearly $78,500 per year ($78,467).

The number of workers in the pool that determines average wage is 1,850,311 (one worker for every 167 Americans). Of this group, 4,744 more workers are making over $140,000 than at the same time last year.

And these government workers also have rather attractive benefits packages including such things as excellent health insurance coverage; a solid, defined benefit retirement plan, and liberal paid holiday and vacation packages.

None of these numbers includes the workers who are contracted by the government annually, but who are also paid from public tax dollars.

Gable Remembering Thatcher’s Britain

The passing of Margaret Thatcher brings to end the life of one of the remarkable political personalities of my lifetime.

The “Iron Lady” is a sobriquet that was well earned and will always evoke her image. Above all else, she was tough.

The U.S. Navy, in its infinite wisdom, stationed me at a little base in eastern Scotland from 1971-74. I remember “Thatcher the milk snatcher”, as she was called when she was Minister for Education, from first-hand experience.

Flow Control Gloom and Doom

The Horry County Solid Waste Authority staff was crying gloom and doom last week, because of a possible loss of flow control, when it rolled out its projected budget for FY 2014.

The authority projects a loss of $715,000 in landfill revenue if the S.C. General Assembly outlaws the county’s flow control garbage monopoly before the end of this year’s legislative session.

The overall projected budget for disposal and recycling operations is $13.55 million. When Fund 6, the county tax dollars from the unincorporated areas that go directly to the SWA to pay for the convenience centers, is added in, the budget approaches $20 million.

Office of Disciplinary Counsel Failing Citizens

A legal system is only as good as the people charged with overseeing it. In South Carolina that is the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which operates under the auspices of the S.C. Supreme Court and its Chief Justice.

The S.C. Judicial Department apparently agrees. Consider this high sounding statement from the Judicial Department regarding the ODC:

“Regulating the conduct of both judges and lawyers is critical to preserving the integrity of the South Carolina judicial system and to instilling public confidence in the administration of justice. In South Carolina, the task of regulating both judges and lawyers falls to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel,…”

The Independent Socialist Republic of Horry

For years, Horry County prided itself on being known as the “Independent Republic,” but now that name appears to be changing to the “Independent Socialist Republic of Horry.”

The conversion began in early 2009 when Horry County government established a monopoly on solid waste disposal in the county benefitting the government established Horry County Solid Waste Authority and seriously impacting small, private waste hauling companies and their employees.

That issue is now at the state level as legislators attempt to pass the “Business Freedom to Choose Act”, which would make illegal government monopolies in the marketplace.

The act has successfully passed the S.C. House, but appears to be bogged down in the S.C. Senate.

Sunshine Week and Beyond

Recently, media outlets across the country celebrated “Sunshine Week,” a time devoted to the promotion of open government. The cause is noble, and government leaders at all levels should be committed to the goal of daily transparency and not just during an appointed week.

Creating a transparent and accountable government is far more difficult than one may assume. There are many obstacles to granting citizens a look-see into what really happens, not the least of which is the old-fashioned sense of embarrassment. Few of us enjoy someone looking over our shoulders, and even fewer like the entire state peering wide-eyed into our daily work. But good government cannot exist in today’s complicated world without such sunshine.

Equal Marriage Rights

I am going to start today by admitting two things. I am in favor of equal marriage rights for all citizens, regardless of their sexual preference. I do not know all the ins and outs of the Constitution.

I may not be able to tell you word for word what is in Article IV (admission of new states and changing of states), but I do know that the document that some want to trample on and others love to embrace as if it were the Holy Grail guarantees everyone certain rights of equal protection.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say you get those rights ONLY if you are a heterosexual adult. And, during the Civil Rights movement, nowhere did it say you got those rights ONLY if you were a white adult. While I am not in favor of government having any sort of residency inside my house, especially, my bedroom, someone needs to tell the U.S. Supreme Court to get with the times and grant equal marriage rights to every person in this country regardless of sexual preference.