The tone of Lauren Sausser's April 13 article, "S.C. Medicaid tracks chatter on social media," makes it seem as if the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services is engaging in nefarious "Big Brother" activity by monitoring social media to find out what taxpayers are saying about their health services.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the agency is simply doing what smart companies have been doing for years - monitoring public discussions about their brands so they can serve them better. In this respect, social media can serve as a real-time focus group in which companies and organizations can learn what people like - and what they don't like.

As we tell the clients of my digital marketing company: Social media isn't just about broadcasting and selling - it is about listening, engaging, and providing customer service.

Here is a quick example: A few years ago, while on a Southwest Airlines flight, I posted on Twitter about my poor in-flight WiFi connection.

By the time my flight landed, I was "tweeted" an apology by a Southwest Airlines representative and given a refund for my WiFi pass. Southwest monitors for mentions of its brand on Twitter, saw my complaint, and used the situation as an opportunity to rectify the problem.

What the Department of Health and Human Services is doing is essentially the same thing.

For example, Sausser notes (toward the bottom of the article) that the agency was able to help a woman who was complaining on Twitter about her problems with a Medicaid application. They would never have found this woman without the ability to monitor social media.

They listened. They engaged. They helped their "customer."

That's how social media is supposed to work.

Kudos to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Curt Mercadante

Gravina Online Strategies, LLC

Honeysuckle Lane


In the April 12 editorial about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, you questioned whether anyone believed anything President Obama says.

Here's my answer: I have more faith in what President Obama says than anything you say in your editorials about him.

You have made it clear from the beginning that you do not support President Obama's efforts to ensure that every American has access to affordable health care or anything else that he proposes.

Notwithstanding, your agenda comes as no surprise to those of us who understand Southern politics.

Yes, the rollout of Obama-care was a disaster; no truly objective person could dispute this, but this does not obscure the fact that millions of Americans are benefiting from this program.

In the not too distant future, people will not remember how this program rolled out, but for years to come they will remember it was President Obama who made it possible for them to have affordable health care.

Ask the individual with cancer who no insurance company would cover because of the cancer, who now has health coverage through Obamacare. Like it or not, history will record this as one of President Obama's greatest achievements, an achievement beyond the reach of former presidents. That's a legacy worth all the problems he has encountered.

It is comical how on Martin Luther King's birthday - one day of the year - the editorial staffs of newspapers such as yours fall all over themselves praising the contributions and achievements of Martin Luther King; and on 364 days of the year they do everything within their power to prevent implementation of policies and programs he would have supported.

It is indeed a mystery, or is it?

Bonnie Leazer

Certificate Court


I've finally figured out television's "breaking news."

It goes something like this: Something happened, we don't know what, we don't know where, but we have our ace reporter, in constant contact with our newsroom on his hand held smart phone racing to the unknown location.

Stay tuned at 6 p.m. for more details on this "breaking news."

Meanwhile go to our app store and download our "breaking news app." Then log onto our website and like us on Facebook.

It is pathetic when you must beg people to like you.

William Grimsley

Roselle Avenue

Goose Creek

Your editorial of March 22 was spot on regarding oil and Russia's dependence on it to fund its incursions.

I would like to remind your readers of the "Star Wars" speech by President Ronald Reagan 31 years ago, which broke the back of the Soviet Union, with Mikhail Gorbachev being forced to throw in the towel.

At the time of this speech the United States and the Soviet Union had been in an unprecedented arms race, with the Soviets matching the U.S. dollar for dollar to ensure mutually assured nuclear destruction of both countries.

Reagan realized this could not continue and developed the idea of an American impregnable shield against nuclear incoming. He also figured out how to ensure the Soviet Union could not compete in such a race.

He went to Saudi Arabia and in return for our defense of that nation convinced them to steeply drop the world price of oil. That seriously damaged the Soviets' ability to fund the arms race with their oil profits.

On almost the next day, Reagan gave the "Star Wars" speech, convincing the American people that it could be done and would be done. He was a master at understanding our history, our American mythology and politics.

I suggest for those interested that they call up the text of the speech and read it word for word.

It may be one of the most compelling leadership talks to a nation of all time.

I quote the last line: "My fellow Americans, tonight we are launching an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history. There will be risks and results take time. But I believe we can do it. As we cross that threshold, I ask for your prayers and your support. Thank you, good night and God Bless America."

I was present in the White House that night as a volunteer taking calls. The switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree with a huge outpouring of support, and the rest is history.

Gorbachev heard the speech loud and clear, too. It signaled the end of the Soviet Union and led directly to its collapse.

It is clear that whoever controls energy controls the world.

Ernest J. Berger

Deer Point Drive

Seabrook Island

To our leaders in Washington, D.C. - elected or appointed; Democrat or Republican; conservative, liberal, or other; executive, legislative or judicial:

It's not about you.

It's about America.

Ted W. Jones

Popular Ridge Road

North Charleston

I recently saw the "Gala of the Royal Horses" at the North Charleston Coliseum. It was a good show and the horses were beautiful, and so was the Spanish singer. The entertainers were from Spain and Argentina.

I have one question: Where were the flamenco dancers and music? I really bought a ticket to see that.

Why didn't they show? I was disappointed.

Diny Adkins

Lake Hunter Circle

Mount Pleasant

If the school superintendents, principals and classroom teachers believe in Common Core being taught in S.C. schools then they should agree to have their paychecks calculated using Common Core math.

Dennis L. Compton

Filly Court

North Charleston