Letters to the Editor

Thursday's letters to the editor

Lottery celebrates eight years of helping S.C.

Today, the S.C. Education Lottery proudly celebrates our eighth anniversary as a major contributor to the enhancement of education in the Palmetto State. Since the sale of the first instant ticket in 2002, the lottery has transferred more than $2.2 billion to the state for appropriation by the General Assembly for educational programs.

Over eight years, almost 800,000 scholarships and grants have been awarded to S.C. students attending state colleges and tech schools - students who may not have obtained a degree without the help of a lottery scholarship.

The Department of Education has received more than $549 million to supplement programs for grades K-12.

More than $53 million has gone to programs such as digitalization of ETV, support for county libraries and the Allied Healthcare Initiative, designed to help address the skilled health care workforce shortage.

The lottery has aided in collecting state and local taxes through its retailer licensure process and has been a conduit for the collection of delinquent child support and state taxes by screening players with winning tickets of more than $5,000.

But our mission is twofold. Yes, we provide lottery games to adults for the purpose of supporting education, but we must do so with the utmost integrity. It is vital that the citizens of our state and our sister lotteries look upon us as an untarnished entity. We need to set the standard for excellence that others emulate, and indeed, we are doing so. We strive to be transparent in our actions, open to any scrutiny and above reproach in our recordkeeping.

In the Education Lottery Act of 2001, we were tasked to urge citizens to "Play Responsibly." Our marketing, point-of-sale ads and Web site remind players that lottery games are just that - games. The S.C. Education Lottery is successful without Keno, without aggressive marketing and without accepting credit cards for payment. Integrity is, indeed, our guiding principle.

We extend our deepest appreciation to the citizens of South Carolina, as well as out-of-state players, who support education by playing our games. Together with our players, retailers and vendors, we've come a long way in eight years. And together we will continue to do what we do well - generate funds to enhance education in South Carolina.

PAULA HARPER BETHEA

Executive Director

S.C. Education Lottery

It's a cold day when Wilson's right

For the past week or so, I thought we were simply experiencing an unusual cold snap. Upon reading Joe Wilson's column in Wednesday's paper, I found out that hell has actually frozen over. I am in full agreement with the sentiment he so eloquently expresses with his question, "Where's the jobs?" Indeed, Joe, where is they?

MARYA BARKER

Columbia

Graham working for good of nation

South Carolina doesn't need another black eye. If Lexington County Republicans think Sen. Lindsey Graham is wrong to work with all political parties in Washington, they are more narrow-minded than I thought. The only way we will ever straighten out the mess that Washington and South Carolina are in is to work together as Americans, not South Carolinians, not Republicans, not Democrats, but as one people united as one nation under God.

BECKY COSTNER

Lexington

Clyburn never met earmark he didn't like

In his Dec. 31 letter, Mayor Bob Coble defends the earmarks Rep. James Clyburn was able to appropriate to further Columbia's growth.

"Earmarks are the only way for many struggling communities to fund critical infrastructure needs," the mayor wrote.

Perhaps there are some instances that warrant the diversion of funds to local needs, but there are many more questionable projects that are a pure waste of money and are completed solely for the benefit of the person demanding the earmark.

Three of the boondoggles come to mind:

The pedestrian bridge spanning I-277 cost a whopping $4 million to build. Has anyone ever been seen using it?

A golf center just off Harden Street extension even boasts a statue of the man who "found" the money to build it.

And the biggest folly of all, millions of dollars for a bridge between Lone Star and Rimini, which would destroy a pristine swamp.

The link between these projects is our congressman, Jim Clyburn, who never saw an earmark he didn't like.

Our elected officials have an obligation to spend our money wisely for the good of all. It's irresponsible for any politician to divert money to build monuments to themselves.

JERRY EMANUEL

Columbia

Policy with Iran is a critical issue

By far the most critical foreign affairs issue facing the administration in conducting foreign affairs is Iran.

The historical significance of the ongoing revolution demands immediate U.S. backing to secure the change from an autocratic theocracy, which preaches and bankrolls terrorism under the guise of Islam, to some semblance of democracy. There is no denying the importance of Iran in the region and globally. The writing is on the wall, and the message is clear. If the United States and its allies stand by and let this opportunity slip through their hands, the consequences are predictable and sure.

With Iran in hot pursuit of nuclear weapons, emboldened by our inaction, it will proceed with hegemony, rounding up the entire Middle East into an intransigent body with global aspirations. The countries of the Middle East are extremely wary and anxious about this looming threat. President Obama must offer meaningful support to the fledgling movement intent on changing Iran to a strong, successful country living in peace and harmony in the region and beyond.

SABA E. DEMIAN

Columbia

Obama should focus on job at home

In his first 11 months in office, President Obama has traveled to more than 20 countries - more than any other president during his first year. So far, he doesn't seem to have accomplished much. Unless you consider running around bowing to other leaders, and apologizing for America, an accomplishment. Of course he gets accolades in other countries for this behavior. However, it does not bode well when it comes to earning the respect of foreign heads of state. North Korea and Iran come to mind.

The presidency of the United States is not an international popularity contest. The latest poll numbers suggest that the bloom may be off the rose here at home. Maybe the president should spend a little less time in Europe and Asia and more time here in America. Unemployment is still at 10 percent. Maybe instead of Copenhagen, Obama could pay a visit to Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland, Philadelphia or any other struggling U.S. city. He can tell the citizens about all of these great "green jobs" or "shovel ready projects" that we keep hearing about.

Mr. Obama should stop trying to be president of the world, stop bowing, stop apologizing and start concentrating on his elected position as president of the United States of America.

LANCE S. STEPHENS

Columbia

Objecting to Obama policies is not racist

Victor Rogers' letter Monday regarding the recent racist graffiti incident at City Hall seems to suggest that President Obama's conservative critics are promoting racism by opposing some of his recent policies.

Mr. Obama is an elected public official. His actions are just as subject to criticism as those of his conservative predecessors. If he cannot stand the heat, he has no business being in the kitchen.

MICHAEL J. WALTER

Cayce

Correction

A column on Tuesday's Opinion page incorrectly said that South Carolina's Medicaid program does not cover physical therapy. The program does not cover treatment at free-standing physical therapy clinics; it does, however, cover physical therapy for some adult hospital patients and for some children.

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