Some of the findings in the 3-inch stack of papers were astounding and shocking — especially for those who have to work hard for their money.
For example, the report states:
-The former administrator seemed to have “sole discretion” over several county contracts for services. Some of these contracts are rather vague, but expensive. For example, C&S Consulting Group, Inc. received $374,000 in six years, although the report points out that the “purpose of the contract was vague.” John Scott, a state senator in Richland County, owns the company. His pay: $135 an hour, according to the report.
-The former administrator spent about $180,000 in travel and other expenses in less than six years.
-Most of those expenses had no documentation, according to the report.
Unfortunately, the political divide in this county seems even wider now. On the one hand, supporters of the report say this shows how corrupt the county has been in the past few years.
The other side refers to the investigation as a witch-hunt that was too expensive and that’s wasting more taxpayer money in trying to recoup the severance agreement that Preston received last year.
Most will agree that waste in government is a reality — not just in Washington, but also exists in Anderson County, South Carolina — supposedly one of the most conservative places in the nation.
But the fact that waste and corruption exists isn’t something to shrug off nonchalantly as a fact that will never change. Nor is it something that we should allow to keep going on. We must stop it.
The assumption behind capitalism is that individuals will do what is best for themselves. No economic system is perfect, and one weakness of capitalism is at times society doesn’t benefit, or basic needs of the masses are not fulfilled.
For example, most of us would never build an interstate highway system, so we need government to do it. To do this, the government levies taxes on the masses and government leaders spend the money and build the highway system that benefits society as a whole. That, like government raising money for defense or public schools is a form of socialism that would not occur in a pure capitalistic society.
No doubt we need government to raise taxes and build roads, run public schools and pay a police force. Unfortunately, those in government are still individuals who are motivated by self-interest, not just what is best for society. Often times in the name of what is best for society, they use some of the money for their own interest by awarding themselves big salaries and expensive travel accounts or by hiring friends and family.
This audit exposes that. The result would be similar in almost any other government entity. That kind of waste in government is everywhere.
The only way to limit the waste that is inherent in government is to follow what the founding fathers said — to keep government limited. If government is limited, its inherent waste will be limited. That’s the only solution.
We applaud council’s decision to thoroughly investigate the county’s finances in recent years, and we believe it would be a good idea for every local government in South Carolina to follow suit.
However, the council needs to go a step further and look to cut the size of the county government where it is too big and where it does something that the private sector could better handle.