Monday, June 7, 2010

Pennsylvania Today... You're Next

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

Back in April Pennsylvania's gov. Ed Rendell said "Budget shortfall?  We ain't got no budget shortfall."  Or something along those lines, as I noted HERE and HERE.  

And no way could it be a bil, nosirree.  Why, it was only $700 mil just two months ago.  A BIL by June 30?  Fageddaboutit.

He was kinda right, too.  It ain't gonna be a bil.  Nope, gonna be TWO BIL, is what it's gonna be.  May's tax revenue was short another $125 mil, but who coulda seen THAT coming?  Not Ed, not through his rose-colored glasses and bullet-proof windows.  On Friday he lost another $825 mil outta next year's budget in fedMed extension stimulus funds that the prez had promised.  Next year isn't looking all that good in Penn and it starts in, um, 21 days.

BTW, wasn't the stim supposed to be about the private sector and "Jobs, jobs, jobs!" (thank you NancyP) and not about propping up state and local gummints?  But I digress.

Last month Ed and his budget director told Penns that the deficit was only gonna be maybe $750 mil.  He had previously promised a surplus but chalk that up to political enthusiasm, not real-life lying.  In only 60 days the def went from $700 mil to $2.1 bil.  

What the heck do they pay those guys for?  The deficit TRIPLED in two months!  Thank God for huge pensions.  Ed's gonna need his.  Imagine how bad this woulda been if Ed hadn't been working his tail off.

So what's the cure?  The Penn legislature thinks they have the answer.  Yep, sin taxes... on cigars and chewing tobacco.  Stogies and chew, sure thing, that oughta do it.  

But, you know, what happens if people actually cut back as a result of sin taxes?  Wouldn't that be a problem, with less revenue and all as a result?  

This from, trying to spin the new taxes:  "And, the best news is that a tax on smokeless tobacco and cigars will reduce consumption by younger Pennsylvanians, lowering long term health risks and potentially saving lives."   And, um, lowering that planned revenue?  And say, are you having THAT big a problem with kids smoking all those cigars?  

Sing it again, WilleN: "Run that by me one more time."   

They are HARD pressed for "the best news" in Philly these days.

Course, ArnieS would just pee his workout shorts for that small a deficit.  His is bigger than Ed's.  Deficit, I mean.  By a factor of ten. 

Wait!  Ed!  What about a tax on taking out the garbage?  What?  And put all those cigar-smokin' kids out of work?  How will they afford their smokes and pay all those sin taxes?

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Number one I think we should impose a fee or tax on the transportation of trash per mile.


We've been working our tail off and lead by that example.

both:  Ed Rendell

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Back Page News

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

It was on the back page of our local rag this morning.  You can be forgiven if you overlooked it, it was just an anniversary. OTOH, it was a pretty big event back in the day.  On this date 66 years ago more than 10,000 men died for you.  In one day, on one 50-mile stretch of beach. Think about it.

The anniversary of the invasion of Normandy was still a big event back in 1994, on the 50th.  I remember the allied leaders meeting on the beaches, saluting the vets, promising everlasting gratitude for their sacrifices.  Everlasting doesn't mean much these days.  There was a smaller celebration in 2004 and not much of anything this year.  What's left to say and who is there to say it to?  

Here's what they saw when the ramps dropped:

My friend Ray, gone now, went ashore on Omaha Beach the night before.  He departed a submarine in the English Channel, then he and his men rowed their rubber rafts ashore.  He was a combat engineer, a lieutenant, and his mission was to clear some assault paths between the maze of obstacles that the Germans had placed on the beaches in anticipation of the invasion.  It wasn't his first time on Omaha Beach.  He'd been there before.  

Granted, it was too little and too late to do much but they did their best.  When they were done they dug in  at the base of the cliffs of Pont du Hoc and waited first for the shelling, then for the invasion.  While he was at the base of the cliffs he could look directly behind at scenes like this, and he could help:

Then up the cliffs he went, becoming an ad hoc infantry platoon leader for the next few weeks until he re-joined an engineer unit.  He survived the invasion and the next 11 months of war but many of his men didn't. Here's a detail from a bronze at the National D-Day Memorial.  It's what he did when he climbed the cliff.  Take a good look.  He's doing it for you.

When you look back at Omaha Beach from the Normandy American Cemetery, you get a glimpse of the task that the invading armies faced:

Looking another direction, you can see the price they paid:

Say something to someone about Normandy today.  If you can find a D-Day vet, by all means thank him.  They're hard to find, though, and they don't often make known what they did.  But say something, to a neighbor maybe, or a friend.  Make sure your kids know about it, about them, about worlds that ended and worlds that opened up that day.  It's the least you can do.  We can never repay what we owe them but we can tell their story, the story that my newspaper failed to tell.

That back page article in today's paper?  It wasn't about the invasion, not really.  It was about the crumbling cliffs at Pont du Hoc, the cliffs that Ray hid below, then scaled.  The story?  They're eroding away, as all cliffs must, and the effort being made to restore them.  That was the best the AP could do, a story that could have been written on any other day, a story about eroding cliffs.  

The real story, of course, is of eroding memories, those of the participants and our own.  When we stop remembering events of such colossal world import, who will restore US?

No D-Day editorials today, either.  It has become politically inconvenient to acknowledge American sacrifices.  I could find only one other nod to D-Day in the paper:  Charles Schultz's immortal D-Day tribute, showing a photo of Ike exhorting his 101st Airborne troops on the afternoon of the 5th.  They would jump, and die, in just a few hours.  Snoopy is there, too, as everyman and representing all of us, geared up and looking at Ike.  The simple caption:

June 6, 1944 - To Remember - 

Thank you, Ray.  Thank you to all who served and fought and suffered.  I remember who gave my children their freedom. 

by Graham Nash

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

[Counter Melody To Above Verse:
Can you hear and do you care and
Cant you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in.
Make a world that we can live in.]

Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you. 

I remember the first time I heard that song, in 1970 in Vietnam.  It still affects me the same way it did then.  Click the title and watch the video.  

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