Sunday, Oct. 14, 2007
what's right instead of doing what you can
OCT. 12, 2007 - - Everybody knows you don't yell "Fire"
in a crowded theater if there is no fire. Similarly, you don't
phone in a pizza to be delivered to someone else when they
don't want it.
Yes, we can actually yell "Fire" or order the pizza
- - we have the ability and means to do so - but we don't.
Why? Because it's not the right thing to do.
This week, let's take a look at things done in state government
through an analogous ethical lens:
Jumpsuits. Sex creeps in prison may be forced
to wear pink jumpsuits if they misbehave sexually, according
to state Department of Corrections policy. Such a policy
has been deemed to pass judicial muster. But just because
the Department can discipline prisoners who commit sexual
misconduct by making them wear pink jumpsuits, is it the
right thing to do? Isn't it similar to behavior by Nazis
more than 70 years ago when they forced gay men to wear
pink triangles, Jews to wear yellow double triangles and
gypsies to wear black triangles?
- Food as discipline. The Corrections Department
says it doesn't have a policy to withhold food from prisoners.
But if a prisoner shows up at a meal dressed inappropriately,
a Corrections officer will ask the inmate to dress properly
or return to the cell. So while the policy doesn't say food
can be withheld, food certainly seems to be part of a disciplinary
process. Yes, the department can do it. But is it right?
- Power plant. The state has granted a draft permit
to allow Santee Cooper, a state-backed utility, to build
a new coal-fired power plant in the Pee Dee. Unlike private
power companies like Duke Power, Progress Energy or SCE&G,
Santee Cooper doesn't have as many regulatory hoops to jump
through. And at a time that the Electric Cooperatives of
South Carolina will invest $10 million a year in renewable
energy and energy efficiencies because it believes South
Carolinians can conserve, is it right for Santee Cooper
to move forward - - even though it can?
Nuclear waste. Is it right to keep storing nuclear
waste in South Carolina, especially in light of recent leakage
stories at a low-level facility in Barnwell County (the
state now says the water is safe) and reports of tritium
in wells near a York County nuclear power plant? Yes, the
law allows it to be done. But should we be doing it?
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- Education. In the modern age of computers, some
poor schools in South Carolina, particularly those along
the Interstate 95 corridor, still make do with old school
books, inadequate facilities and a host of other problems.
A state judge has ruled that the state should do more, but
what has been done is a drop in the bucket. Is it right
that there are huge inequities in public education across
the state and lawmakers aren't attacking it with the zeal
they have for tax cuts?
- Training. The State newspaper recently pointed
out that people who cut hair or color wigs must get 1,500
hours of state-certified training to be able to do their
job. Police officers have to have 349 hours of training,
the second lowest number in the nation. Yes, we can get
more cops on the street with almost one-fifth of the training
as beauticians. But is it right?
Policymakers face decisions every day on how to handle various
issues. Many times, it seems they do what is politically expedient
to be in a good position for the next election. Hence the
focus on hot-button issues (abortion, gay marriage, tax cuts
for rich folks) that really don't matter as much in the larger
scheme of people's lives.
Hard decisions on things that really matter to people - -
reducing poverty, increasing per capita wages, improving health
care, bettering education so we're not at the bottom - - seem
to be brushed over year after year.
Yes, our leaders can continue business as usual. They can
force prisoners to wear pink jumpsuits or inadequately fund
poor schools or fiddle with the tax code. But should they?
Or should they do what leaders are supposed to do: lead and
do what's right.
Andy Brack, publisher of Statehouse Report,
can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to find sources for the statistics above, click
de terre, or rammed earth, is an ancient form of
building construction. Clay is the basic material in rammed
earth buildings. After laying a foundation of brick or stone,
clay is poured into wooden molds and then tamped until solid.
Additional layers are added until the walls reach the desired
height, and the finished walls are coated with stucco.
construction used in SC
The Church of the Holy Cross in Stateburg is
built of "rammed earth" construction.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Dr. William W. Anderson,
a Maryland native who settled in Stateburg in 1810, used
it to create two of South Carolinas most distinctive
works of architecture: the Borough House and the Church
of the Holy Cross. He was influenced by S. W. Johnson, who
introduced methods of rammed earth construction to America
through his book Rural Economy (1806). In 1821, Anderson
used the technique to rebuild the wings of the Borough House,
the main building at his Hill Crest Plantation, and several
Statehouse Report has partnered with USC
Press to provide readers with an interesting
weekly historical excerpt about the state. Each
excerpt, which is used with permission and not for
republication, is taken from The
South Carolina Encyclopedia, a 1,077-page
book published in 2006 with entries by almost 600
contributors and edited by noted historian Walter
Edgar. We hope you enjoy this new feature.
In 1850, Anderson persuaded the Episcopal
congregation of Stateburg to use pisé de terre in
constructing the Church of the Holy Cross, a Gothic Revival
structure designed by Charleston architect Edward C. Jones.
The Borough House and its outbuildings constitute the largest
complex of pisé de terre buildings in the United
States. The U.S. Department of the Interior designated the
Church of the Holy Cross and the Borough House as National
Historic Landmarks in 1973 and 1978, respectively.
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
Solar power makes sense
To Statehouse Report:
of the problems SC has, the use of solar power seems unimportant.
However, what better place for the use of solar panels to
save energy? If the legislature would increase the tax credits
to something substantial, maybe we could get some businesses
that produce or install solar panels to come here.
-- Barbara Measter, Seabrook Island, SC
for tax breaks, Bob Logan, Little River, SC
needs affordable medical help, birth control, Roxanne
Walker, Greenville, SC
good points in sex Ed column, Anne Badgley, Charleston,
insurance companies want to cancel policies, Dan
Norfleet, Summerville, SC
is tip of iceberg, John P. Ford, Sumter, S.C.
have grown apathetic, David Whetsell, Lexington,
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