Monday, July 4, 2011

From the House

Bluffton Today

Before we get to the statehouse activity of the week, I want to pause for a moment and reflect on the meaning of this Independence Day, the 4th of July on which we celebrate the beginning of our transition from a cluster of colonies in the new world to a new nation destined to reshape the political geography of the entire planet. With a simple declaration, we ultimately went from dependence upon Great Britain and all that implies, to an independent nation ruled only by the will of a people who put together a governmental process so powerful and durable that for over two centuries, we have served as an exemplar of the unlimited potential of self-determination. From every corner of the globe, the American model is lifted as a lantern of freedom by peoples struggling in the dimness of tyranny and oppression. Our Declaration of Independence is no longer only a statement of American values, it has evolved into something akin to a global affirmation of inspiration and aspiration.

By all means, enjoy your day off. Enjoy a day on the river, or at a patriotic celebration, but also give some thought to those ideas that gave us the beginnings of our place as the primary nation among nations. If, however, in the course of our daily political back and forth, we should lose our grasp on these ideas that bind us as a nation, we will in time, lose our place among nations. The necessity has never been more real.

Speaking of political back and forth, the session that seems to never end continued last week with a raft of vetoes from the governor and an almost equally tall pile of overrides. I got a ton of calls from you on the SCETV veto, as did many of my colleagues. While there is a good case to be made for SCETV having the benefit of some level of free-market input, the governor’s veto seemed to ignore the fact that the statewide television network has many functions, such as aiding in evacuations, Amber alerts, Wifi and Internet components, as well as educational and corporate duties. The role of SCETV should be a standalone debate and not simply a feature of the budget process.

Many of you were disappointed that the governor vetoed the funding for the Arts Commission, even after we had moved it over to Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT). The arts are such a well performing part of our tourism and job creation efforts that simply slashing the very modest funding seemed gratuitous and unsound. In addition, such a veto certainly sends a baffling message to companies that might be thinking of moving a component or even a headquarters to our state.

Finally, among the many phone calls we received this week, perhaps the most welcome was from my dear friend of many years and fellow BT columnist Carolyn Bremer. As a warm water swimmer in her precious “River Maye”, Carolyn, among many others, is concerned with the overcrowding and poor stewardship threatening our lovely sandbars. Friends, this is an opportunity for us to step up and take care of what may become an enforcement issue. If we, as locals, don’t set a good example, we really can’t expect others to do the right thing.

(Is it just me, or do the second paragraph and the last paragraph of this piece seem to be about pretty much the same thing?)