A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Corbett in Their Pocket

The state of Pennsylvania is in the throes of a very nasty campaign for governor at the moment. The governor’s mansion has been occupied for the last eight years by Ed Rendell, a fellow who rose up through the ranks of Philadelphia’s district attorney office and mayor before winning the Pennsylvania governorship. Until recently — before he halved his daily appetite — Rendell was both figuratively and literally one of those fat cat politicians that presided over state politics much to the consternation of his political enemies (i.e., the Republican Party).

As his term winds down, so does southeastern Pennsylvania’s influence over the rest of the state. This is doubly true as both candidates to be the next governor are from western Pennsylvania, more specifically from Pittsburgh. The Democratic nominee, Dan Onorato, served as Allegheny County executive, and is virtually unknown in the heavily Democratic populous area of Philadelphia and environs. Then there is the Republican nominee, Tom Corbett, who has shown much promise in ferreting out corruption in Harrisburg and, like many of his GOP counterparts at the national level, has displayed a remarkable talent for putting his foot in his mouth.

I previously wrote about Corbett’s faux pas regarding the state’s unemployed.* At that time, he attempted to justify his party’s blocking of unemployment benefit extensions because it encouraged people to keep collecting until their benefits were exhausted while employers had open positions that remained unfilled. He had a valid point, although the words he chose offended many unemployed Pennsylvanians, and even worse, when called upon to name his source, Corbett clammed up! His silence prevented the unemployed from finding the prospective employer, thereby perpetuating the dismal economic situation he is so fond of denigrating.

Corbett gave an encore performance a few weeks later. This time, Corbett proclaimed that there were hundreds of job openings advertised in a newspaper somewhere in the state, and therefore an extension of jobless benefits were not needed. What newspaper? True to form, he didn’t reveal his source and everyone in the media figured it was pointless to demand that he furnish proof of his declaration.

His information could very well have been correct. Many newspapers will advertise an abundance of job openings, but there are several caveats. Are all the jobs within their subscription area, or were many of these job openings listed in any number of Internet job sites linked to the paper (example, for areas from around the country? Are the unemployed in the subscription area skilled for the work being advertised, or are they able to readily relocate for one of the “hundreds” of positions Corbett claimed exist? Again, we will never know because Corbett kept mum on his information.

The other big issue associated with Corbett is his stand on natural gas drilling from the Marcellus shale deposit underneath most of the state. The GOP nominee has accepted mucho bucks from the drilling industry, and this fact is reflected in his position on a proposed tax for the drillers. Naturally, being Republican, Corbett is against the tax, which he claims will discourage drillers from coming to the state and hiring Pennsylvanians (unemployed and otherwise) to man the rigs.

Make no mistake: the state of Pennsylvania desperately needs industry, any industry, and the natural gas drillers are exactly the type of economic development the doctor has ordered. Unfortunately, natural gas drilling is a high maintenance child. Drilling techniques have been widely reported to have an adverse effect on the state environment and, more specifically, the drinking water supplies for the state’s residents (again unemployed and otherwise). The state would need revenue to clean up any environmental calamities and infrastructure damage caused by the drilling companies. Currently, the state is cash-strapped, thus the validity of the tax proposal.

In his campaign ads, Corbett explains that he’s against the tax because it would discourage development, employment, blah blah blah, and put the tax revenue into the hands of Harrisburg bureaucrats. Harrisburg could mismanage the revenue, which is a point on which even I agree. Corbett further claims that he would “make the oil drillers understand” that they would be liable for any damage to the state’s environment.

Make them understand? Oooooh, I bet the oil drilling industry is trembling at this idea! The tax could supply a steady revenue source of money to clean up the environment in a timely manner. Liability suits, after the fact, could be more costly and time-consuming if the industry’s lawyers have anything to say about it. Economic justice for Pennsylvania residents could come 10, 20, or 30 years after said residents have died from drinking poisoned water. Corbett has somehow forgotten how slowly the wheels of justice grind forward.

Tom Corbett makes a nice fit inside the driller’s pockets. As a recent victim of American big business mocking the Protestant work ethic, I’m not prepared to spread any sugar their way at the moment. Pennsylvanians deserve good, long term economic opportunity. Pennsylvania taxpayers also deserve to drink a glass of clean water once in a while. Everyone — private citizens and big business — should be prepared to chip in their fair share to have both.

*The Whole Story, Part One: The Opaque Tom Corbett (July 27, 2010).

(Thank you for reading. Please remember it is not impossible to live prosperously and healthy within the same lifetime. Seriously, it can happen...)


Anonymous Easily Amused said...

I suspect that Tom Corbett and the actor Leslie Nielsen are twins separated at birth. Nielsen plays an inept bumbler, and Corbett is a prime example of the Peter Principle. On a serious note, the drilling companies do not generate that many jobs, because they often bring their own crews into an area and then move on. It defies the imagination that our legislature believes that if a tax is imposed the drillers and distributors will go somewhere else. There are valid concerns about environmental impact, but shouldn't we also get to share the wealth? The people in Alaska share in profits from the pipeline----

October 19, 2010 at 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Janey said...

VOTE for Onorato!!!! Keep Pennsylvania's leadership in the hands of a Democrat (even if he is from the western part of the state).

October 20, 2010 at 7:04 AM  

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