Ask not what your county can do for you

Mark Schenck Contributing columnist

July 11, 2014

Upset with high Scotland County property taxes? We all would like to pay less for county services. We demand our county government provide the maximum efficiency in our public services, and at the minimum amount of tax money. But are Mr. and Mrs. Scotland County doing their part to help attain these goals? It was best said by a great Democrat, President John F. Kennedy, who challenged all American citizens to “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

The historical difference between Democrats and Republicans is literally based on this one statement. When schools have problems with money or performance Democrat policy tends to call out, “What can your country/county do for you?”

A Democratic Monopoly in Scotland County politics has sought to solve problems by throwing more money at them, which results in higher taxes. A conservative Republican would ask “What you can do for your country/county?”

First we would ask Mr. and Mrs. Scotland County, are you asking your schools to raise your child or educate your child? Raising a child is and always has been the responsibility of the parents at home. Ideally your child’s school should only be required to reinforce the parent’s previously established behavioral standards. The primary task of your child’s teacher is to fill your child’s educational requirements and not act as a corrections officer.

If we persist in neglecting our parental duties of instructing our children in public behavior, basic civilized manors, personal hygiene, good sportsmanship, respect for authority and tolerance of others, then please don’t complain about additional taxes needed to make up for your failures as a parent. Your parental failures require extra tax money for hiring teacher’s assistants to help maintain order and discipline; smaller class sizes are required to facilitate stability and avoid dramatically slower educational process due to disruptions.

Is Mr. and Mrs. Scotland County a member of a PTA or PTO? Or is there even any such organization still active in our schools? Note! Being a member and being active have two very different meanings. On many past occasions PTAs have raised funds and donated equipment to schools such as visual aid equipment (movies and cameras), library books, science equipment and playground equipment, etc. — an example of an answer to President Kennedy’s “What you can do for your country/county?”

Next to the cost of our public school system, the county sheriff’s department and county jail together are major consumers of county tax dollars. And the only county expense that could, in theory, be greatly reduced, is if Mr. or Mrs. Scotland County would start living their God-given life as he intended and stop wasting his gift. Not seeing this as a possibility anytime soon, however could we borrow from other areas of the country that have been successful in reducing crime? Example: Those with repeated felony convictions would see lengthening of their future sentences made mandatory with no negotiations. In plain words, do your dirty deeds outside this county and take your chances on getting a soft sentence. Bring your mess home to Scotland County and prepare to get judiciously hammered.

But let’s say those convicted of a first offense had to serve some time. If offered, why couldn’t they consent to paint, clean, do light construction repairs, detail mobile patrol units, upgrade, renovate or perform tasks at the county jail, county facilities or recreation areas? This of course would all be part of a training program that could have several benefits for all concerned including county facility upgrades and maintenance and repairs at less cost to taxpayers. Rehabilitation efforts usually have outside funds available for training programs. Inmates could receive experience in marketable trade skills and provided the inmate did what was expected, could also be released ahead of time as a gratuity, thus saving on the total cost of incarceration.

What you can do for your country/county?

Many businesses have cost-cutting incentive programs. Most of these programs are structured in such a way that if you individually or as a group come up with a way of saving money during a single year or repetitive savings over multiple years a percentage of the savings is given as a bonus. The opportunity could be extended to all Scotland County employees, hourly as well as salaried. Cost reductions could be suggested in areas such as the use of utilities, purchased supplies, time savings and transportation cost. These cost savings should be made public and made to stand out with pride!

Conservative Republicans would ask “What you can do for your country/county?”

Moore County must have asked this question and received the right answers. Scotland County has a property tax rate of $1.03 (all Democrat officials), and Moore County is at .46 cents, (all Republican officials).

Back in the early 1990s Scotland had a mix of Democrats and Republicans running the local politics and most would admit Scotland was riding high with prosperity and security. Now with the single party Monopoly we have, we seem content in becoming just another “Little Detroit.”

Mark Schenck is chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party.