When I was invited to write for the City Paper two years ago, I knew that I would be subject to criticism and what was printed would be a matter of my public record. In writing for the “What’s Your Beef?” issue, I’m certain the comment section will be filled with criticism and words that will be used against me in the future. So be it.

Since there is not enough room to neither bring up every topic nor explain in detail what will be discussed, I’ll keep my gripes to a minimum.

I have a beef with people who do not vote but complain about what government and elected and appointed officials are not doing and how they hate the way this country functions. While government cannot solve all problems and behavior cannot be legislated, those who can but do not vote have no room to complain. If you hate the free world, move. Go to another country or go into the middle of the Atlantic and start your own country. For those who love to complain and do not vote, the freedom, rights, and privileges you have should be taken away from you for not voting.

It is known, in certain cases, that the best candidate does not always win the race. We don’t have to look far to shake our heads. My beef is wondering why it is that we vote for people who lack the capacity to do anything of substance. In essence, voters vote against individuals who can think for themselves and who are actually capable of providing tangible solutions to problems and creating meaningful opportunities for others with no strings attached.

I have a beef with people who let others think for them and then use them for their own gain. When someone says they want to take back America, cut taxes, and end all entitlements, we should ask ourselves what does that really mean? Take America back from what? To what point in history should America go back, and is that realistic? Lower taxes are good, but at what expense? Less revenue to the government means less services to the people. I like my garbage pickup and police and fire protection provided by the city. I like having public education and the technical college system in this state. I’m grateful that national security and military protection are provided with my tax dollars. What entitlements should really cease to exist? Veterans’ benefits, Social Security, or Medicare? It would be refreshing if the pundits actually provided specifics. Then again, why should they when their audiences do not care about fair and balanced information?

Sensationalism in the media is a double-edged sword. I understand the game and what the intentions are. The issue is when a reporter runs with a story before checking the facts or, worse, ignoring them altogether. I hope that the Civil War celebrations that have and will continue to take place are not reported in an attempt to rewrite history, but rather provide all sides of what happened and why. How can we expect to move forward, openly recognize our differences, and work on common issues when we play games with history and realities?

I have a beef with the segregation and plantation mentality still evident in Charleston and most parts of South Carolina. While everything is not always a racial issue, until we consistently and constructively talk about race in a diverse setting and as a Charleston community, we will not reach our full potential. For those who think everything is fine, you are fooling yourself. For those who recognize that differences can be used for greater opportunities to educate and empower people for the good, get others to join your cause.

Will anything be different in 2011?