Friday, April 22, 2011

No Good Friday courage found in SC Tea Party politics

We at VUI made our position about the courage of Jesus Christ quite clear with our post about his courage.  Discussing the courage of Christ is a staple of VUI when Good Friday comes around.  But, politics still abounds in this state.

And, in politics, even so called Tea Party folks lack real courage.  Sure, they go on about so called openness in things like roll call voting for the members of the General Assembly.  Veterans of the legislative process tell VUI that such things will drag out the legislative process even more and cost taxpayers even more money in time spent on legislative pay and per Diem expenses.

Such things are debatable.  What is not debatable is that calling for openness and limiting it to roll call voting does little to really open up what goes on in the South Carolina General Assembly.  If folks really want openness in the General Assembly, they should demand that members of the South Carolina House and South Carolina Senate make public their tax returns.

Members of the United States Congress have do so.  Members of the South Carolina General Assembly do not.  Some folks argue that the wealth or lack of wealth by members should not be considered.  Broke as we at VUI are, we understand some points of that argument.  However, by not having to show their tax returns to the state, members of the South Carolina House and Senate can take “consulting fees” or other types of fees from businesses and other entities who have business with the state and not disclose such.

Governor Nikki Haley provides a great example.  As a member of the South Carolina House, Governor Haley received a rather handsome sum to “consult” for the firm Wilbur Smith.  Fair enough, we suppose. But, Haley’s consulting issue is the tip of the political iceberg, so to speak.  Countless members of the SC House and SC Senate take consulting fees for this and that and do not have to disclose them.  Indeed, in their official biographies, members list themselves as attorneys and businessmen, without having to disclose just who pays them.

Both Republicans and Democrats benefit from not having to disclose who pays them money for whatever.  The people of South Carolina lose.  And, that is where the Tea Party activists are getting rolled.  Sure, some legislators are all too eager to disclose their roll call votes, but not their income tax returns and who pays them. Some of the ones most vocal for the roll call votes are most protective of not disclosing their income sources.

What is frustrating and even irritating is that Tea Party activists, who claim to be for openness, seem to not question the incomes of members of the General Assembly who give them lip service on pet issues that really do not matter.  Even more insulting to South Carolinians who need work is the so called Tea Party activists actually spending money to try to keep thousands of jobs from coming to the Midlands of South Carolina via an Amazon.com distribution center.  Again, just follow the money and the politics.  Never before in any state have so many so called Republicans worked against a big economic investment.  Indeed, had this brand of Republicans been running South Carolina in the late 1980s, they would have told BMW to go elsewhere to be open, all the while not disclosing who got paid what by whomever to keep them out.

If people really want to reform South Carolina politics, then they should demand members of the General Assembly and all Constitutional officers  to make public their tax returns so the people can see who pays them whatever and judge whether or not they do the bidding of narrow interests in exchange for payments for so called services rendered.

Of course, calling for that will tick powerful people off, including those who clamor for so called reform.  Frankly, we at VUI worry a lot less about who votes for what on some roll call record when so many are getting paid consulting fees and other fees by those with vested interests in state government.  Real reform starts with every member of the General Assembly, and every Constitutional officer, including the Governor, disclosing fully who pays them personally and who funds their campaigns and organizations who support them.  If we are to be a truly courageous and open state, then we must open all the books for all to see, and that includes tax returns and opening up to everyone every penny that is paid in consulting fees or campaign contributions to every holder of state office and every entity that tries to influence state politics.

If the Tea Party activists won’t call for that, then all they are is just pawns in the political game and worthless to the people of South Carolina.  

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