Sunday’s editorial continues the newspaper's annual tradition of listing our goals as an editorial board at the outset of every new year.
Exactly a year ago, the
Amid that landscape, instead of unveiling our usual list of local issues to advocate, The Sun News editorial board opted to promote “only one overarching issue … survival in the face of extreme economic challenges.” Under that heading, we noted several general strategies we would promote: for government, avoiding tax hikes while creating stimulus projects, and for individuals, supporting local charities and employers.
While some economic indicators are still trending the wrong direction (such as unemployment, the slowest to right itself), they are now not so uniformly pointed downward. The last year undeniably battered the Grand Strand, but for the most part, we are at least still here. We hope 2010 will be a time to come out of our bomb shelters and begin taking a broad view of how best to rebuild our communities, and to that end, The Sun News editorial board will this year focus on four broad principles.
Transparency | After the previous year's recession-fighting
strategies, unprecedented levels of taxpayer money are now at stake in all
levels of government. Part of what makes
Opportunities to further open
government to the people abound. Several local governments have begun putting
their spending records online each month, and we will continue to advocate this
becoming the norm for all government, rather than the exception, including in
Good works | Charitable giving was in 2009 the top anti-recession strategy we encouraged, largely because recession-stricken local governments (such as Horry County) were cutting back on social services at a time when those services were needed more than ever. With little economic recovery to speak of so far, public support of these agencies is unlikely to return this year, meaning private generosity will be just as important again in 2010. But more than just passing the hat, we'll use the space on our editorial page to highlight whenever possible acts of kindness or goodwill on behalf of the community at large.
Sustainability | While the term “sustainability” has greatest currency in environmental circles, we see a broader application for the principle: We should strive to adopt policies that promote the long-term health of our communities. If anything, the behaviors that led us into the recession were unsustainable ones: a flippers' property market based on the myth of ever-escalating real estate prices, for example, or creating financial instruments with massive near-term returns and disastrous long-term consequences.
Economic sustainability, then, is a
combination of generally conservative taxation, but enough to support important
services. Taxes should not be raised unless absolutely necessary – especially
not in an economic moment so fragile – but when that necessity does arise, the
public should be afforded a clear understanding of what those additional tax
dollars will be buying. Locally, we should continue pursuing an economy
diversified beyond tourism, one not so dependent on consumer spending. Our
state should increase its exploration of wind energy off the
Transportation and energy needs
should be balanced with environmental concerns, but neither should those needs
go unmet. We'll continue to push for both the Interstate 73 project and vast
improvements to our public transportation system, including The Coast RTA. We'll
continue advocating for definite action on the
Accountability | Finally, our editorial board will remain a watchdog on account of our readers. Where we perceive malfeasance or misdeeds by our government, our elected officials, or even by private corporations or individuals, we will continue to give it the criticism it deserves. We'll continue pointing out, for example, the injustice of denying college admission to hard-working, tuition-paying students based on their citizenship. An injust system is ultimately an unsustainable system.
We won't always get it right, and
we invite your input when you think we've gotten it wrong. Our contact
information is, as always, printed along the left side of this column, and we
welcome your letters for publication. In the long run, we suspect we all share
the same goal: making Horry,