PublicK NuisancE: When Teapublicans Attack

Posted by By at 29 April, at 08 : 03 AM Print

“First, do no harm.” It’s not exactly what you’d hope to see in a frame on the wall behind the desk of your state senator, but I’d take it. I wouldn’t complain about it.

But what I’d really like to see is something like, “First, don’t let the corporate greedheads who are sucking natural gas profits from our soil contaminate all our drinking water from Warren to West Chester.”

And then, “Second, tax them. Make them pay. Don’t give away Marcellus Shale resources or the bigger layer that’s deeper down. Make sure We The People get paid before the Texas investors do.”

A possible, I don’t know, maybe third … “Third, don’t let the natural gas companies get the kind of power that coal companies did 150 years ago. Don’t stack the Marcellus Shale Advisory Committee with industry stooges.”

Oh, wait. I forgot. It’s over. We’re screwed. The natural gas industry picked our governor for us, and he’ll take care of their interests.

And in 20 years, my grandkids will be getting their drinking water in bottles from New York, which was smart enough to stop all the fracking extraction until safe and prudent procedures were developed. Pennsylvania, on the other hand, being the most ethically casual of all the Northeastern states, chose to do what’s best for business.

Just as his fellow Teapublicans are doing across the nation, Governor General Tom Corbett is dismantling the bureaucratic safety net that has kept us viable since the middle of the 20th century.

Do you think it was independent thinking that led the new DEP secretary to forbid any citations for natural gas firms without his approval? Probably not. Probably it was some quiet administration riff on the general theme of doing what’s best for business and letting the streams and rivers and forests and birds and deer shift for themselves.

Do you think that redirecting all the Big Tobacco settlement money into the general fund – and away from health care for the working poor – was a non-partisan idea? Well yeah, okay, in the sense that Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell started siphoning off funds in 2005. But even Rendell didn’t take ALL the money, leaving 41,000 poor people with jobs holding the bag. Half a million more people just wish they were holding it – they were still on the waiting list for AdultBasic, the health care program begun by Gov. Tom Ridge in 2001 with the Big Tobacco money.

Corbett is also working his magic with education. At the moment, he’s trying to put a bullet into the brain of the massive, sprawling, sickly Pennsylvania education system. As in: It doesn’t work, so why pay for it?

(Full disclosure: I have labored beside graduates of the State System of Higher Education. So I know it doesn’t work.)

But before Corbett arrived at the sickbed, the Really Honorable Gov. Rendell was already cutting back the life support system for our schools, public libraries. Libraries, Gentle Reader, are the basis of good homework and quiet study away from the chaos of homelife. I don’t know how you got your education, but a lot of mine came from the public library. (Eventually, I married a librarian.)

Here is the pattern … Public libraries? Don’t care. Public schools? Don’t care. See the similarity? It’s the word public, which apparently is now a very, very, very bad word. Think I’m wrong? Tell a Teapublican you like public transportation.

When every last one of these public thingies is killed off, the world will be much more profitable.

Now that’s something to frame and put on your governor’s wall.


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Pat Carroll has worked as a writer and editor for newspapers and television for three decades. His checkered career path also included gigs as a personal chef, iron pourer, dishwasher and commercial real estate appraiser. He writes now only to finance his golf addiction. - Email Patt Carroll

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