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Sound Off: April letters to the editor

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A typically busy parking lot in Five Points, seen as the COVID-19 slowdown began to grip Columbia in March.

Government Should Embrace Privatized Unemployment Insurance

In this time of crisis, government response and support are at an unprecedented level. This situation provides an opportunity to examine where bureaucracy functions well, and where it does not.

A glaring issue is unemployment insurance. Overwhelmed by the large number of Americans facing layoffs and furloughs, the system struggles to respond across the nation and here in South Carolina. Millions who pay into unemployment insurance struggle to get in touch with their state office, much less receive the payments they need to survive.

This Depression-era system is outdated and showing the strain it places on state government and workers. It was built for a different American economy in a time of extreme unemployment. We find ourselves facing similar levels of people out of work now. Instead of adapting, unemployment insurance offered through the government has done little to change with the employees it was built to serve.

American workers need choice with their income as it relates to potential unemployment. Privatized unemployment insurance would allow employees to choose how to save. That could be through their own investments, or through a traditional insurance option. Individuals rarely have a say in when they are affected by job loss or reduction. But they should have the option of how to manage their wage replacement. The government needs to give control back to the employees and allow the private sector to offer a creative and effective solution to unemployment. Instead of backlogged bureaucracy, let American ingenuity solve the problem.

BENJAMIN CULBRETH

West Columbia

April 24

Lexington-Richland School District 5 needs to be transparent

Our governor issued an emergency resolution re: COVID-19. Then the Lexington-Richland School District 5 board voted on April 6 to make Chairman Michael Cates and Superintendent Dr. Christina Melton lone decision makers for that board, effectively furloughing six other members. Then the board voted to shut down public participation.

[Beaufort County School District]’s board challenged such thought, requesting an Attorney General opinion. The AG replied promptly April 10 via Matthew D. Houck, assistant AG, that any emergency resolution can NOT remove the need for a board quorum, which [is contrary to] District 5’s move. Cates and Melton have taken no steps to undo what’s been done.

As if taking advantage to gain untethered power, decisions can now be made behind backs of voted board members. The chair might argue his intention, but power is tempting and appearances matter.

With only two in power, without the accountability a full board offers, public information is unreliable if not nonexistent. This board controls a $200 million budget with a $32 million school under construction. We need answerability in a big way.

District 5 implemented an information shutdown. Voters elected seven members because diversity on an elected board provides scrutiny. An authoritarian move is leadership devoid of oversight. In this case the voters nor the sidelined elected can do a thing. This is how people take advantage during inopportune times.

CYNTHIA HOPE CLARK

Chapin

April 15

Once a month, Free Times sets aside its column space in print to publish letters to the editor. To have something considered for the May edition, send it to editor@free-times.com by 5 p.m. on May 22. JORDAN LAWRENCE, MANAGING EDITOR

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