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Pennsylvania: The Black and Blue State

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With the highest priced government per citizen, Pennsylvania is neither red nor blue any longer, Pennsylvanians are just bruised.

Never in the history of a state government has there been greater justification for rule by referendum. Pennsylvania once described by James Carville as “Philadelphia on one end, Pittsburgh on the other, with Alabama in the middle” is nothing at all like Alabama. Pennsylvania is a state with 253 legislators; Alabama is a state with merely 140.

Pennsylvania is a state vastly over-bloated with both red and blue patronage politics and as a consequence we have far too many legislators being paid far too much money.

Only California pays its legislators more, at around $99,000 per year, but they only have 120 legislators who each serve considerably more constituents than the greedy Pennsylvanian legislators. Each California Senator serves approximately 1 million constituents and each California General Assembly member serves nearly ½ million constituents.

Pennsylvania on the other hand, has 253 legislators who are now each paid at least $81,000. And our State Senators only serve about ¼ million constituents and our General Assembly members only serve (and this is the real theft at hand) 1/17 million constituents. That means Pennsylvanians pay their legislators about four times more per citizen served than do Californians. It also means Pennsylvanians pay their elected officials collectively vastly more than any other state in the entire country.

But to add worse to bad, after our legislators decided they needed two raises in the wee hours of July 7, 2005 (they already knew they would receive a cost of living raise) Governor Rendell decided he would help things by pretending he was our state psychotherapist to boot. On August 10 when the state wide outrage was building, Rendell told us we had a “right to be concerned”.

Yes, he would validate our hurt feelings and still jam it to us. Obviously Rendell does not understand what a “right” really means. No, we did not elect him to serve us psycho-babble about our “right to be concerned” over being robbed by our legislature’s midnight pay grab. No our real rights are very different. For example we have the right to throw Rendell out of office if it is discovered he perpetrated fraud against the very people who elected him. Citizens recently did just that in Connecticut. We have the right to demand that the US Attorney General removes judges like Chief Justice Ralph Cappy from our State Supreme Court if his part in the pay grab is demonstrably unethical. (Remember the impeachment of almost- Pennsylvania Chief Justice drug-addict Rolf Larsen?) We also have a right to a free press that has the courage to tell us when our legislators are stealing from us. Especially when the likes of Rendell call the public outrage a media conspiracy. And most of all, we, the people of Pennsylvania, have the right to demand our elected representatives introduce legislation that vastly reduces the number of legislators in our grossly over-bloated state government.

So when dirty politicians and self serving justices blame the press for their own bad behavior, it is time for us, we the people, to exercise our real rights. It is referendum time in the Keystone State!

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About carmine

  • As a fellow Pennsylvanian, I agree that this time the outrage will prompt us to act. But I’m pessimistic that we will do what is necessary: cutting the legislature in half.

    What will probably happen is that a few legislators will lose their seats, but most of them will save themselves by turning down the pay raise for two years and then accepting it when no one notices.

    Meanwhile, next year’s election season will be dominated by the U.S. Senate race where, if we’re lucky, we will replace Senator Rick Sanctimony (who will then be taken care of nicely by the Bushies). That will take the focus off the greedy, bloated state legislature.

    Meanwhile, I have other concerns that relate to science policy and science education, where the Alabamans you mention are likely to screw things up royally by trying to get elected to school boards, even in the Pittsburgh area (where I live) and perhaps in Philadelphia as well.

    The political skies are gray here in the true blue state of PA!

  • carmine

    I agree with you entirely regarding the lunacy of ultra-religious pseudo-science education in Pennsylvania. Please see my two blogs on the topic in particular, Teaching the Heart of Reason; http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/06/30/165112.php


  • Jim, I think you’ll be interested in reading the upcoming The Republican War on Science, which you probably saw discussed on my blog.

    It’s due out next week, and I hope it stirs the political pot. I’d like it to lead to a few more Democrats in public office, but I’ll be just as satisfied if it energizes moderate, rational Republicans, like our own Senator Specter, to drag the party back to sanity.

  • carmine

    I am a Republican and I am chair of the Philosophy Department at Carlow. I was also the Republican candidate for mayor here in Pittsburgh against Murphy in 2001 and got about 25% of the vote. The point is that Democrats are NOT the progessives in Pittsburgh or even Allegheny. The Democratic party of Pittsburgh is the party of Union racism and patronage wastefulness. Simply look how long it took to consolidate the Row offices, i.e. the patronage offices. Also look at the school board. The worst of them Collnazi and Fink are Democratic endorsed candidates. Murphy $ went into their coffers. So please do not jump to the conclusion that Democrats are somehow more reasonable and cosmopolitan than Republicans. It just ain’t so.

  • I agree about the sad state of the Democratic Party in Pittsburgh. I live in the suburbs, so I don’t follow too closely, but I now recognize your name.

    As a Democrat, I think my party has a better overall approach to science, but that may be by chance. Both parties are dominated by ideologues, and it happens that the ones with anti-science agendas have come together in the national Republican Party.

    My review of The Republican War on Science notes that I’m not sure I buy Chris Mooney’s full theory, although I find that title a useful model to describe the current political situation.

    Mooney himself says that he would be happy if his book moves moderate Republicans to take back their party from the ideological right. So would I.

    I’d even vote for Senator Spector again as I almost always did in previous years. This time, he lost my vote when he had to kowtow to Santorum’s crowd to get nominated. I didn’t feel I could trust him to follow his previous centrist approach.

    Fred, who is wary of ideologues of any party