What an honor – South Carolina is the “dirtiest state in the nation.”

I’ve lived in 5 states and 4 foreign countries and traveled to many more. I have to agree – South Carolina wins hands down with the notable exception of Vietnam. So, we’re cleaner than a third world country and dirtier than the remaining 49 states. We should be ashamed and embarrassed.

While the amount of trash is quite astounding, even more remarkable is that conditions don’t seem to be improving. Trash abounds.

I agree with Ronald Cooper’s remarks from May 12 – “Report: South Carolina ranked ‘dirtiest’ state in nation” – that fines need to be stiff and need to be strictly enforced.

I don’t agree with Cooper’s comment that “getting the message of littering to young people is key to preventing it.”

Obviously, educational efforts are not working evidenced by simply looking out the window of your automobile. Look in any direction on any road and you see the same thing – trash. I recall reading an article in the Aiken Standard saying Aiken County had two litter enforcement officers. Apparently, that staffing level doesn’t match the enormity of the problem. About half of the article focused on the Adopt-a-Highway program. While I think it’s a worthwhile program, I get the feeling that the primary emphasis of solving the problem focuses on residents volunteering to pick up other’s trash rather than instituting and enforcing laws that provide mandatory high penalties and mandatory community service.

One of the reasons residents pay real estate taxes, income taxes, personal property taxes and sales taxes is to provide funds for services to enhance the community.

I believe if we put increased emphasis on this issue, institute more stringent laws and redirect dollars to enable enforcement of the laws that (hopefully) we will not be anywhere remotely close to the bottom of the heap next year.

Patrick M. Blewett