Sometimes a columnist has a lot on their minds and a column becomes a smorgasbord of thoughts.
Are you as sick of taxes as I am?
We used to say, “a penny for your thoughts.” I’m sure if government could figure out a way, they’d tax you for those thoughts.
When you vote for president in November, you’ll also be voting on a capital project sales tax in Laurens County. The push is called “Penny for Progress,” a grassroots, transparent endeavor to make Laurens County a better place to live.
We don’t know what projects will be up for vote. A Sales Tax Commission is reviewing projects now. Courthouse renovations, a new agricultural center, a new Clinton Library — everything is on the table now. The City of Clinton has requested $4 million in infrastructure. It may or may not make it to the referendum and voters.
Now I am appreciative to our county leadership. They see needs and want to meet them. They want the best for our county.
I’m appreciative of Clinton leadership – Laurens County Council Chairman David Pitts and Sales Tax Commission appointee Walter Hughes Jr.
Still, the sales tax drive is going to have to do a heck of a sales job for this referendum to pass.
Laurens County is a poor county. In 2018, persons in poverty were 19.7 percent. If you ride around the county, you may wonder how that percentage is not higher. Many of our residents live in squalor.
In 2018, median household income was $41,578 and per capita income was $21,743. So if the “regular Joe or Jill” is bringing in around $20,000 and then you factor in income tax, sales tax, property tax and the essential of life, how much do you have left? Not much.
Thirty years ago, I could get a combo at Hardees for $3 or $4, now it’s $7 to $10. I could fill up my gas tank for $20 and now it’s more like $35. I could get out of Ingles without taking out a loan and make a quick Wal-Mart run for $25, instead of now paying over $100.
It all adds up. Inflation keeps on moving up and for most, paychecks stay the same.
If the tax referendum passes, Clinton residents will pay 10-cents tax on the dollar (6 percent state sales tax, 1 percent local option sales tax, 2 percent accommodation tax – local and state, and the 1 percent capital sales tax) every time they go out to eat.
You may say, “That’s not a lot of money.” True, over the course of a year, the burden seems slight. But when a family is living in poverty or close to poverty, every new tax is just one more blow to the gut.
Yes, we need to fix the Courthouse. Yes, Clinton needs a new library. Yes, every town needs help with infrastructure. Yes, a new agricultural center would be a boon for the county.
But here is the thing — when it comes to money, it’s not always that easy.
My Ford Ranger recently died on me. I loved that truck and yes, I need a new or new to me truck. But, my family will remain a one-car family until I can alter my family budget in a way that will make a second vehicle viable.
That means some extra hardship on me, but I’m not going in debt for an inconvenience. We can make it work until we have the money and then we can purchase a truck.
Maybe if our elected officials treated taxpayer money like their own family budgets, our country would not be in debt. Maybe with some hard budgeting, a cut here and a move to there, we’d have the money we need after all.
Are you as sick of impeachment as I am?
This use to be a major historical undertaking and now it’s just a regular political farce. Every president since Bill Clinton has been threatened with impeachment and removal from office — the House impeached Clinton and Donald Trump. George W. Bush and Barack Obama were threatened with impeachment.
Clinton survived removal from office and Trump will also. The impeachment likely will embolden Trump.
Unfortunately, it’s all politics. And the more and more we cry wolf, the more the process is going to lose its teeth for a future fight where it may truly be necessary.
Now Trump has come closer than any of his immediate predecessors to deserving to be removed from office, but Democrats have cried wolf so much since his election, most Americans could care less about his impeachment.
Ultimately, the voters will decide if Trump will be removed from office in November.
“Burden” releases to select theaters on Feb. 28.
It’s the story of the infamous Redneck Shop. It’s a picture of Laurens, South Carolina that most locals would just as soon forget.
I saw an advanced screening of the movie on Jan. 12 in Greenville, invited by Harry Agnew at the behest of Rev. David Kennedy, played by Forest Whitaker in the film.
I enjoyed the movie. It is a story of redemption – a story of faith winning over hate.
Like you’d expect, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture of Laurens County.
But race relations are improving, everyday.
What I would like people to take from the movie: The people of Laurens County are not perfect and we’ve got bad apples like everywhere else, but we never stop striving to be better.
Bottom line: Laurens County is a great place to live and raise a family and nothing in our past can change our bright future.