Guest Post–A Personal Perspective on Algeria

Greg Wrightstone is a petroleum geologist who has worked all over the world, including Algeria. I received Greg’s email only a few days ago, but as we have seen on the nightly news, his prediction has come true.

If you want an inside perspective on the Islamists and Algeria, I am pretty familiar with the issue. The Algerian’s don’t screw around with terrorists, in fact, the way they dealt with them should be a road map for all countries.

I worked on an Algerian project in the north of the country (outside of the military exclusion zone) beginning in 2001 for Gulf Keystone. I spent time in Algiers and traveled with GKP’s COO. We had some more than interesting adventures.

The current hostage situation is located in the southeast part of the country within the Great Sahara Desert and in the “military exclusion zone” where access is restricted to oil field workers and some of the native Bedouin. This must have been a sophisticated well planned operation to have gotten that many militants into the area and they likely came across the Libyan border just east of the site.

But the story is that Algeria had bad problems with what they call the Islamists long before 9-11. Between 1992 and 1999, more than 80,000 people were killed in the Algerian Islamic Civil War. it was a battle against the government of Algeria and the Armed Islamic Group or GIA. In 1998 the country’s leaders had enough and mounted a huge campaign against them. Anyone suspected of being a terrorist was wacked and if Uncle Abdallah spoke up he got wacked too. And you know what? In less than a year they had driven most of the radicals out of the country. Did innocent civilians die? Clearly yes, but in the last year of the conflict more than 20,000 people lost their lives and within 18 months that number had plummeted to near zero.

I am not advocating the killing of innocents, but without the bloody and violent process initiated by the Algerian government, it is likely that many tens of thousands more would have died and the violence might still be going on.

When I was there in 2001 there was still a huge military presence, even in the north and roadblocks manned by scary looking dudes that all had Saddam Hussein moustaches and holding huge nasty German Shepherds that were not happy.

Based on what I know about the Algerians, the radicals that abducted the western gas processing workers yesterday are in for a relatively short period of the rest of their lives. If any survive, it will be because they are needed for information and then will be killed. Just a prediction, but the Algerians have a short fuse and will likely act first and let the chips fall where they may.

January 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm Comments (0)

Guest Post: Democrats Condemn 2011 as “GOP Failure”

Jonathan Humma is a student at American University, and blogs at

Guest Post is a occasional feature at the watercooler… if you’d like to post a piece please email it to me, and I will put post it. Same rules apply as to the cooler contributors. You have to be a real person, no screen names… and it’s got to be watercooler topical. – Ed

Before adjourning for Christmas recess, Democratic leaders issued a press release lambasting Gov. Corbett and the Republican legislature for their “extreme ideological crusade” and “no leadership on jobs.” The scathing critique included overtones of commonplace class warfare rhetoric accusing Republicans of attacking workers’ rights and the middle-class. Representative Dermody, D-Allegheny, went as far as saying that Republicans made Pennsylvania’s job climate worse coupled with failures in transportation and Marcellus Shale tax policy.

Despite Democratic claims, Republicans accomplished several achievements for Pennsylvania’s job climate. The Corbett budget reduced spending and did not raise taxes. The Corbett administration no longer had federal stimulus funds and made substantial cuts. An end to the state’s runaway government spending brought tax stability for job creators and Pennsylvanians. In order to successfully curb Pennsylvania’s onerous tax burden, Republicans passed legislation to reduce loopholes in school district property tax hikes without voter referendum. Republicans refrained from imposing large Marcellus Shale taxes which will keep the industry booming. According to Democratic philosophy, taking action on jobs equates to more government spending. In stark contrast, Republicans are trying to keep spending and taxes low so that the private sector can prosper.

Senator Hughes, D-Philadelphia, asserts that budget cuts are “reverse investments at a time when we should be investing more in our roads, bridges, mass transit, and our workers.” Governor Corbett’s transportation report in August agreed that the state of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure is deteriorating. Third party state rankings report that Pennsylvania’s roadways and bridges are amongst the worst in the nation despite being at the top of the leader board in roadway spending per mile. Additionally, fuel taxes, which fund the roadways, are amongst the highest in the nation. Instead of raising fuel taxes which increase the burden for Pennsylvanians at the pump, there must be reforms dedicated toward getting more value for the current funding. Senate Republicans passed SB 344 which established more public-private partnerships in transportation. More efficient infrastructure spending means more projects, more jobs, and better roadways.

Lastly, state Democrats protested against the Republican’s impact fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. Democratic leaders contend that the tax on drilling companies is not high enough for companies to “pay their fair share.” Democratic legislators criticize Pennsylvania for having the lowest tax on natural gas drillers in the nation. For many Democrats, the economic boom associated with the natural gas industry equates to more revenue for government spending. Republicans must proactively highlight the billions of dollars in capital investments, royalties given to local landowners, and taxes generated from the industry. The industry is successfully providing jobs and cheap energy to Pennsylvanians. Taxing the industry will ultimately reduce its investment and growth potential, and impose higher energy costs on already struggling consumers.

Democrats continue to lash out at GOP leadership in an effort to score political points and defer blame of the stagnant, faltering economy. Republicans must keep focused and press forward to reduce the growth of government, provide tax relief, and create a business friendly climate for job creation.

January 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm Comment (1)

Guest Post: GOP Party Boss Tries to Ensure Democratic Victories for Judge

J. Matthew Wolfe is a Republican Ward Leader in West Philadelphia. He can be reached at

Guest Post is a occasional feature at the watercooler… if you’d like to post a piece please email it to me, and I will put post it. Same rules apply as to the cooler contributors. You have to be a real person, no screen names… and it’s got to be watercooler topical. – Ed

Mike Meehan, General Counsel of the Philly GOP, sent an email recently suggesting that vacancies on the Republican ballot for judge be filled with Democrats who are already nominees of the Democratic Party. He asked the chosen recipients to respond “via email communications in a very fast process” as to whether they agreed with his suggestions. His scheme was wrong many different ways.

Nominating Democrats for these positions, especially Democrats who are already Democratic nominees, is no way to build the Republican Party. First and most obviously, the Republican Party should be promoting Republican candidates. Next, by selecting Democrats who are already the Democratic nominees we effectively make those positions uncontested, limiting all voter’s choices. At the very least, a minority party should provide a choice. Finally, we hurt the Republican candidates for judge already on our ballot. Admittedly they face challenges, but filling vacancies on the Republican ballot with candidates already running as Democrats decreases their chances even more.

Meehan’s favored procedure was email polling. Problem. State law requires that these vacancies be filled pursuant to the party bylaws. The bylaws do not say that a group of Republicans email the General Counsel and give him their opinion. The bylaws say that the elected Republican Ward Leaders are to have a meeting with written notice and vote on the nominees. There are good reasons for such a rule. It makes clear who is voting. It is transparent. It enables the parties to interact, negotiate and arrive at a consensus or at least understand who voted how and why. How do we know what individuals say in emails sent to Meehan? Only he knows.

Meehan has a history of ignoring the bylaws. The election for Republican City Committee Chairman was so replete with violations of the bylaws and irregularities that it was overturned by the Republican State Committee. The post remains vacant. “Rules are for fools” seems to be his mantra.

The email was addressed “Dear Ward Leaders,” but the recipient list is problematic. The list should be the ward leaders who have a vote on Republican City Committee. Not Meehan’s list, however. Glaringly missing were several ward leaders who are opposed to Meehan’s leadership. On the list, however, were individuals who claimed election as ward leader but whose elections were contested. These contests have not been heard and pursuant to the bylaws they cannot vote. Others on the list included several who claim to have been appointed to fill vacancies by the chairman. Again, since the chairman’s position is vacant, no appointments can be made. Those pesky bylaws again. Finally, there were people on the list who are not ward leaders and have positions with the courts preventing them by law from participating in politics or holding party office.

To have submitted these Democrats to the Department of State to fill vacancies using Meehan’s procedure and tallying the votes on Meehan’s list would have been a clear violation of the state election law and might have been a criminal violation. Two years ago, Meehan and his allies are alleged to have pressured Republican nominees to withdraw and replaced them with the Democratic nominees, so there were NO contests for any local judicial position that year. The procedure followed? Three Republican ward leaders lied under oath and submitted a notarized affidavit to the Department of State falsely stating that a meeting took place where the ward leaders voted on the replacements. A complete fabrication. The nominees were just selected without a vote. This is now rumored to be part of a Grand Jury investigation by the District Attorney, the scope of which may include inquiries into forgeries in nomination petitions, forgeries on documents attached to lawsuits in Common Pleas Court, fraud by notaries and Republican activity at the Parking Authority.

Meehan did not fill the positions, representing that he did not get enough responses from the people he emailed. He complained “I get grief if I do it and I get grief if I don’t do it.” Sorry Mike. You get grief when you try and do things that are not in the best interests of the Republican Party and the City of Philadelphia and when you try and do things that are illegal.

October 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm Comment (1)

Guest Post: Stop the Jobs-Killing Regulations on Career Colleges

Jack McCartan serves on the board of Pittsburgh Technical Institute board member and is a member of the Student Access Student Choice Coalition.

Guest Post is a occasional feature at the watercooler… if you’d like to post a piece please email it to me, and I will put post it. Same rules apply as to the cooler contributors. You have to be a real person, no screen names… and it’s got to be watercooler topical. – Ed

Here is a message for Senator Tom Harkin and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP): Put an end to the senseless “kangaroo courts” on private sector colleges and universities, and start focusing on creating jobs so that our graduates have a place to flourish once they complete school.

Indeed, the very institutions that this committee has spent the last several months burdening with unrealistic and job-killing regulations are the same institutions that are preparing thousands of qualified graduates to fill openings in high demand career fields nationwide.

This predicament begs a very simple and serious question. Why not abandon these counterproductive hearings and start focusing on how Washington is going to work with the private sector to create jobs?

Today’s hearing, disguised as a “roundtable discussion,” serves no other purpose than to cast private sector colleges and universities in a negative light, and will undoubtedly feature the greatest hits of faulty and one-sided criticisms on these vital vocations schools and degree programs.

For example, one of the participants in the discussion, Robert Shireman, former deputy undersecretary at the Department of Education, is afounder of the Institute for College Access and Success, a group opposed toprivate sector colleges and universities.

Even more troubling, Shireman met with the infamous Wall Street short-seller Steve Eisman less than two months before the Education Department issued its first round of rules on private sector schools. And Eisman’s intentions couldn’t be any more dubious, hoping to persuade the Department of Education to single out these private sector schools with harmful and burdensome regulations, thus profiting off of the resulting decline of these institutions in the marketplace.

Maybe the committee should ask Mr. Shireman to what degree he has allowed Wall Street short-sellers to mold or influence policy for the U.S. Department of Education. In fact, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has already begun investigating other examples of the unseemly process upon which the new regulations were based.

The fact is that private sector colleges and universities play a vital role in training America’s current and future generations for the specialized jobs of the 21st Century. Additionally, these schools focus most on the job sectors that the economy happens to be adding most inthis difficult economic environment – areas such as health care, high-tech manufacturing, information technology and business management.

These schools also provide comprehensive online degree programs that allow working adults, parents and other nontraditional students the opportunity to advance their skills without having to sacrifice work or family obligations.

So instead of spending valuable time airing the concerns of only one side of an already slanted debate on private sector schools, lawmakers should take a look at the value these institutions bring to everyday Americans seeking career advancement and a brighter future which oftentimes, starts with a job.

August 10, 2011 at 10:40 am Comments (0)

Guest Post: Voter ID Laws

Heather Heidelbaugh is a shareholder in the Litigation Services Group of Babst, Calland, Clements and Zomnir, P.C. Her practice primarily focuses on complex litigation, products liability, intellectual property and election law.

Ms. Heidelbaugh received her B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she also earned her J.D. She was a member of the Order of Barristers, the winner of the law school’s National Moot Court competition, a member and finalist of the Regional Moot Court Team and elected Best Oral Advocate.

Guest Post is a occasional feature at the watercooler… if you’d like to post a piece please email it to me, and I will put post it. Same rules apply as to the cooler contributors. You have to be a real person, no screen names… and it’s got to be watercooler topical. – Ed

A woman who was registered to vote in two states came forward to vote in November 2006, but poll workers would not permit her to proceed. Why? Voter ID. This individual tried to use her Florida driver’s license to vote in Indiana. This same woman had presented herself as a resident in Florida to receive a homestead exemption, and now claimed to be a resident of another state by seeking to vote in Indiana. Thanks to Indiana’s voter ID law, an attempt at voter fraud was averted.

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita said, “This shows that the Indiana ID law worked here.” Voter ID prevents voting by individuals registered in more than one state as well as from impersonation, voting under fictitious names and voting by non-citizens.

Unfortunately, this incident of attempted voter fraud in Indiana is not an isolated occurrence. 17 percent of individuals in an American University study had seen or heard of fraud at their polling places while 60 percent had seen or heard of fraud at other polling places.

Voter ID laws have not been shown to actually prevent legitimate voters from casting ballots. Take for instance, Crawford v.Marion County Election Board, the challenge to Indiana’s voter ID law. The woman who was registered to vote in Florida and Indiana was actually a plaintiff in that case. When that case came before the Seventh Circuit, the Court emphasized that petitioners were unable to introduce evidence of “a single, individual Indiana resident who will be unable to vote as a result of [the voter ID law] or who will have his or her right to voteunduly burdened by its requirements.” Opponents do not have the evidence of disenfranchisement nationwide either. Dr. Stephen Ansolabehere’s study of voting across the country in the 2006 election found that almost no one is prevented from voting because of voter ID requirements.

Requiring a photo ID is not a burden that will stop anyone from voting. American University’s Center for Democracy and Election Management’s survey of the states with voter ID laws found that more than 99% of all voters already possess the proper photo identification required by voter ID laws. In Indiana specifically, only 0.3% of voters did not have the requisite ID. As long as procedures are in place to ensure that these voters can acquire IDs, each voter should be able to be confident they will be able to vote if they have a right to do so.
While voter ID laws are not burdensome, they are also considerably beneficial. The United States Supreme Court, in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, found that voter ID serves a variety of state interests, such as deterrence and detection of voter fraud, participating in a nationwide effort to improve and modernize election procedures and preventing voter fraud in part that results from maladministration of voter registration rolls that still include a significant number of voters that no longer live in the state or are deceased.

As the 2005 bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform noted, when photo identification is needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings and cash checks, shouldn’t elections deserve similar protections? This commission, chaired by former President Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, issued areport that declared, “The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters.” Voter ID helps ensure that citizens’ most basic right is preserved.

Like Indiana, Pennsylvania can better ensure the integrity of elections by passing voter ID legislation. Representative Metcalfe’s bill (HB 934) would require that photographic proof of identification be presented when voting. Representative Cruz’s bill (HB 647) would ensure that election boards keep photos to identify registered voters. Both bills would help prevent voter fraud and protect the integrity of elections in the eyes of the voting electorate.

June 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm Comment (1)

Guest Post: Angel Investors are not Wall Street Bankers

Editor’s Note: Steve Welch is a Southeastern Pa entrepreneur. You can reach out to him at his blog:, on Facebook: or on Twitter:

Guest Post is a occasional feature at the watercooler… if you’d like to post a piece please email it to me, and I will put post it. Same rules apply as to the cooler contributors. You have to be a real person, no screen names… and it’s got to be watercooler topical. – Ed

Angel investors and entrepreneurs are not Wall Street bankers. This distinction is obvious to you and me, but apparently not to Washington. The new Senate Financial Reform Bill, which is likely to be voted on this week, lumps the two together as one group. If allowed to pass in its current form, this bill will destroy the way in which our society helps entrepreneurs turn their crazy innovative ideas into viable job creating businesses.

Angel investors are individuals that invest in early stage businesses that often consist of not much more than a folding table, a couple of computers and lofty aspirations. However, it is these early stage investors that often invest in companies five years or younger and help get high growth business off the ground. Apple, Google, Facebook and a thousand other high growth businesses you have never heard of, all got their start because angel investors took a risk along side entrepreneurs.

It is these types of business that lead in both innovation and job creation. In fact a recent Kauffman foundation study found that between 1980 and 2005 every single net new job created in the United States came from a company 5 years old or less. It is clear that one of the keys to job creation in our country is to ensure that early stage entrepreneurs have access to capital. This is why many of our political leaders and candidates are trying to craft policies that support angel investors. In fact, gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is proposing an angel tax credit for Pennsylvania angel investors.

With such clear understanding that entrepreneurs and angel investing are critical to economic growth and job creation, you would think our leaders in Washington would be doing everything possible to promote this type of bottom up economic development. Unfortunately, we are seeing another example of top down Washington economic policy.

In its current state, Senator Dodd’s Financial Reform Bill would make two sweeping changes to the way in which angel investors and entrepreneurs can operate. First, the bill would redefine who would be qualified to be an angel investor. Currently individuals with either $1 million in investable assets or $250,000 in income qualify as accredited investors. The new bill would change this to individuals with $2.3 million in assets or $450,000 in income. According to the Kauffman Foundation, this would eliminate 77% of accredited investors. This single handedly would reduce the amount of capital available to early stage businesses and stunt our much needed job creation.

In addition, the new bill would require any company attempting to raise angel investment to seek SEC approval, which would take up to 4 months. As an active angel investor myself, I can say with certain that companies in this stage can rarely wait four months for funding. They will simply be forced to close up shop. Yet again this is another example of government bureaucracies getting in the way of the thriving entrepreneurs that this country needs to unleash, not restrict.

Angel investors and entrepreneurs had absolutely nothing to do with the financial meltdown of 2008, and no one believes they pose a systemic risk, so why are they being lumped together with Wall Street Bankers? Proponents of the bill say that Washington is trying to protect people from risky investments.

Yes, angel investing is risky, and starting a business from scratch is even more risky. However, it is this calculated risk taking that has allowed the United States to be the most innovative society in the world and has provided us a standard of living the world has never seen before. If Washington insists on completely eliminating risk from the marketplace they will also eliminate entrepreneurship and innovation and this, in turn, will eliminate job creation in the process.

As a society we need to be looking for ways to increase capital to early stage businesses. We need to be trying to find ways to lower the bureaucratic burdens place on our entrepreneurs. The Financial Reform Bill goes against both of these principals, and punishes us all by restricting our entrepreneurial spirit as a society.

April 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm Comments (0)

O’Reilly, Conservatives Wrong in Supporting Lawsuit Against Military Funeral Protestors

O’Reilly, Conservatives Wrong in Supporting Lawsuit Against Military Funeral Protestors

A frequent target of “Freindly Fire’s” wrath is frivolous lawsuits — the kinds that make healthcare costs skyrocket, put manufacturers out of business, dissolve personal responsibility, and yes, those that eat away at our most basic freedoms.

Worst of all, many of these lawsuits erode the very foundation that makes America unique — freedom of speech.

A case that has garnered national headlines recently is that of Albert Snyder of York, Pennsylvania, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq. Snyder brought suit against the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church in 2006 after some church members staged a demonstration at the funeral of his son, Matthew.

The reason for suing? The demonstrators inflicted emotional distress on the family and invaded their privacy. Additionally, the plaintiffs stated that the church members sought to attack the memory of their departed hero, to strip their loved one of dignity, and to use abuse and intimidation as a tool for preventing surviving family members from reaching closure over their loss.

In 2007, in an act of pure insanity, a federal jury awarded Snyder $11 million in damages.

(That award was overturned on appeal last year, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.)
Recently, a Court of Appeals ordered Snyder to pay $16,510 in legal fees to the Church’s leader, Fred Phelps.

That caused an outpouring of national support for Snyder, including FOX commentator Bill O’Reilly, who offered to pay the legal fees owed to the Church.

While a nice gesture by Bill, he has, unfortunately, completely missed the point.

By supporting Snyder’s lawsuit, he and many conservatives who love to bandy around words like “freedom” and “liberty” are, ironically, contributing to the loss of both.

Are we in third grade? Should attacking someone’s memory be a crime?

What am I missing?

READ THE REST AT PHILLY POST— Philadelphia Magazine’s new online endeavour:

Chris Freind is an independent columnist and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau,
Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”
Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on the Philadelphia-area talk radio show, Political Talk (WCHE 1520), and makes numerous other television and radio appearances. He can be reached at

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April 13, 2010 at 3:13 pm Comments (5)

Guest Post: Pennsylvania Voters Should Stand Together to Help Fire Nancy Pelosi

Editor’s Note: Michael Steele is the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Prior to chairing the RNC, he was the Lt Governor of Maryland.

Guest Post is a occasional feature at the watercooler… if you’d like to post a piece please email it to me, and I will put post it. Same rules apply as to the cooler contributors. You have to be a real person, no screen names… and it’s got to be watercooler topical. – Ed

On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earned the distinction of masterminding one of the most egregious assaults on Democracy in our nation’s history. After months of Cornhusker Kickbacks and other backroom deals, voters were astonished to hear her claim “that [Congress] needed to pass the bill in order to learn what was in it.” If that wasn’t enough, she even devised a means of passing a bill that Americans overwhelmingly opposed without even having a vote on it!

Enough is enough! It is clear that accountability has become a meaningless term in Pelosi’s House of Representatives. Thousands upon thousands of Pennsylvanians expressed to their elected leaders, through any means necessary, that this health care bill was fundamentally flawed. Rather than listening to their constituents, a majority of Democrats buckled under Speaker Pelosi’s strong-arm tactics.

Clearly Nancy Pelosi has no regard for the views of average citizens in towns such as Scranton, Lancaster and Erie. Even after successive victories by the Republican Party, in no small part attributable to the Democrats’ blatant overreach, she continued to push forward with a health care experiment that Pennsylvanians don’t want and can’t afford. Even in the final days when it required tearing our Constitution to shreds and employing dubious threats against her own members, she continued to move forward, stopping at nothing.

Pennsylvania looks to be a central player as we work to retake our country, one race at a time, from Nancy Pelosi and those who refuse to stand up to her. With no less than eight vulnerable Democratic seats at play, I am committed to making Pennsylvania a key front in our efforts to wrest power from Pelosi’s reach and return it to the American people.

Its time for Americans to stand up! From Delaware County to Erie, voters want to see a government that works for them. One that will reject the backroom deal-making and arm-twisting that has defined the Pelosi-Reid Congress. We need to put the focus back on the individuals, whether it be restoring their right to make their own medical decisions or something as simple as ensuring that their voices are heard by their elected officials. America is on the wrong track. But with your support we can set her right again.

Join me in our effort to fire Nancy Pelosi.

March 22, 2010 at 12:26 am Comments (7)

GuestPost: Change We Can Believe In?

Editor’s Note: Susan Staub is President of Pennsylvanians for Right to Work, Inc.
You can email her at, or visit, or link up on Facebook.

Guest Post is a occasional feature at the watercooler… if you’d like to post a piece please email it to me, and I will put post it. Same rules apply as to the cooler contributors. You have to be a real person, no screen names… and it’s got to be watercooler topical. – Ed

So far, that theme has failed miserably on both the national and the state scene, but that is not surprising.

The policies and programs being promulgated are nothing more than the same old anti-jobs, anti-freedom plans of Great Society days. They all begin and end with government expansion or interference at the expense of private sector growth and expansion. They’ve never worked and they won’t now for several reasons.

The first and most important is that people just don’t believe in them or have lived long enough to recognize them as failures from the past being trotted out in new trappings.

Yet, we’ve been treated to budget messages and commentary suggesting that it’s the sales pitches and not the content that haven’t resonated with citizens – that if we just understood it better, we’d all embrace it.

The first wrong assumption is that people are not intelligent and that we have no idea what is good for us.

The truth is, people have seen programs after programs that have been promulgated to deal with societal ills which haven’t fixed anything. Instead, debt has accumulated far exceeding the tax creator’s ability or desire to pay.

What citizens do want is a return to individual liberty coupled with individual responsibility. It’s not that the vast majority isn’t willing to accept mistakes that some individuals make, it’s just that they are tired of paying for them in a system which doesn’t discourage the irresponsible behavior.

The kind of change we can believe in is getting government off our backs and out of our lives, removing onerous regulatory and tax burdens and bringing in public policies which actually work.

Any form of business and entrepreneurial growth requires that all the laws giving special privileges to certain groups be eliminated.

Coercive unionism falls squarely in that category. Requiring individuals to support these private organizations which they don’t want and didn’t vote for is ludicrous public policy. It has crippled the growth of jobs and produced the exodus of more and more citizens every year the laws have been in place.

It’s time to export coercion and import liberty. It’s time for the repeal of forced dues laws and the passage of Right to Work. The twenty-two Right to Work law states have significant growth. It is not coincidental that Pennsylvania’s jobs have gone to those states by the thousands.

If we want to keep our young people, then we need the jobs back. They’ll return if we pass the Metcalfe/White legislation sponsored by legislators across Pennsylvania and across party lines.

That’s change we can believe in!

February 26, 2010 at 6:11 pm Comments (0)

Guest Post: Tales of the Main Line Spies

Albert Paschall is Senior Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, a non-profit educational foundation with offices in Harrisburg and King Of Prussia

Guest Post is a occasional feature at the watercooler… if you’d like to post a piece please email it to me, and I will put post it. Same rules apply as to the cooler contributors. You have to be a real person, no screen names… and it’s got to be watercooler topical. – Ed

Tales of the Main Line Spies – Albert Paschall

The eyes of Pennsylvania are turned on Philadelphia’s Main Line. The fabled land of mansions, the stuff of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn featuring some of the richest names in real estate: Bryn Mawr, Villanova and Haverford, is apparently laced with spies.

Not the CIA, KGB or James Bond kind of spies, these are the Lower Merion School District kind.

It seems a student, while at home, misbehaved in front of his school issued laptop computer. Confronted in school about the error of his ways by an assistant principal the lad did what teenagers do: he denied the allegations. Supposedly the principal produced a photo of his indiscretion that was taken from his laptop by an installed camera that was remotely activated by the school district. The notion of home schooling can be attractive but who would want 600 teachers to have eyeball access at their fingertips to your bedroom?

The Main Line’s Lower Merion School District in Montgomery County is undoubtedly one of Pennsylvania’s wealthiest. Its proposed budget for next year is on the table at $201 million. Rough equations put that number at about $29,000 per student. In contrast the county seat’s cash strapped Norristown School District can only spend about half that amount.

This leads us to stage two of the tales of the Main Line caper. According to a statement published by the district’s superintendent all 2300 Lower Merion High School students were given laptops fueled by state grants. Why would state grants be given to one of the wealthiest school districts in Pennsylvania when many urban and rural schools have little or no computer access?

The inequities of public education in Pennsylvania are linked to the state’s failure to offer parents any choices, an antiquated, expensive system of property taxes and in Lower Merion’s case seemingly at least one camera spy.

It looks like the camera caper will be sorted out by the Montgomery County District Attorney and the FBI. But the sadder chapter is that Governor Rendell rode into office nearly 8 years ago promising real education reform and real property tax reform. He better get moving on it someday soon, he only has a few months left to honor those commitments.

February 23, 2010 at 10:37 am Comments (0)

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