To the Contrary

Violent crime rampant

South Carolina ranks at the top of the nation in violent crime, according to the FBI. Spartanburg Solicitor Trey Gowdy is right that greater public outrage is the appropriate response. South Carolinians must demand more aggressive law enforcement and a more effective justice system.

The causes are many: Officials point to a sinking economy, budget cuts, easy access to guns and a populace too accustomed to solving problems with knives and bullets. South Carolinians do need to raise their voices against violence. We should require, for instance, that city and county councils make sure police departments and sheriff's offices are fully staffed. The same goes for state law enforcement agencies.

The state, unfortunately, is going in the opposite direction. Recent budget cuts have reduced funding for the State Law Enforcement Division by 14 percent and the Department of Public Safety by 10 percent. State prosecutors were cut by 13 percent while the state's judiciary system was slashed by 14 percent. ...

Certainly, it's penny-wise and pound-foolish to cut local and state public safety agencies when the economy is weakening.

Recorded voting

The support for recorded voting by the Legislature continues to build with the endorsement of Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom. Advocates of recorded voting recognize that putting legislators on the record is essential to public accountability.

Eckstrom knows the stakes better than most. As the state's fiscal watchdog, he has broadly supported greater transparency on spending issues. Mr. Eckstrom joins the governor, the lieutenant governor, the Senate majority leader and 18 House members who have signed on as co-sponsors to the recorded voting measure, offered by Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington. Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell says he will endorse a similar bill in the Senate. The legislation would exempt recorded votes on frivolous legislation. ...

As Mr. Eckstrom writes, "Elected representatives who truly vote in their constituents' best interests should welcome this change."

The bailout

Federal authorities should follow the advice of Gov. Mark Sanford and investigate the way a South Carolina bank will use federal money from the bailout of financial institutions.

Sanford said that South Financial Group chief executive Mack Whittle may be getting an $18 million retirement package funded by federal bailout money.

South Financial and Whittle are not alone. The investment banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions being bailed out with taxpayers' money are coming under new scrutiny to make sure the money isn't used for generous bonuses or severance packages. ...

It makes sense to reward executives within reason and as the market dictates when they lead their companies to success, when they make money for stockholders and build a solid future for their firms. It makes no sense to reward them for failure.

It makes even less sense to confiscate funds from taxpayers to reward them for failure.