Sunday, July 10, 2005

29: “Legislation without Representation is Tyranny!”

The Hanover Sun of Friday, July 8, 2005 contained an editorial of some note. In the editor’s own dry manner, the Pennsylvania State Assembly was taken to task for passing a massive pay increase for themselves.

“Lawmakers won't pay for pay raise.
It happened in the middle of the night while most of us slept, as if to drive home their point about working long hours.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly voted themselves a 16-percent pay increase very early Thursday.
Our lawmakers, who now earn $69,647, voted to increase their annual base salary to $81,000.
But you know what? That's OK.
Really, it is.
It's OK because we allow it, time and time again. And because they know that we allow it…”

The editor’s point is that the legislators know their constituents will complain, and then will reelect them in November.

The editor continued in this vein and remarked on Adams County’s two legislators, Representative Steve Maitland, and Senator Terry Punt, both of whom voted for this pay increase.

One of the things the editor did not comment on was the claim made by the legislature in their announcement that they had not voted themselves a pay raise in over ten years. Well, that’s because they had voted once to give themselves automatic pay raises tied to the annual increase in the cost of living (see? no vote required.) They have had pay raises every year since their last money grab. They also had done nothing over the past four years to restore some pay increases to state employees viciously cut by the Governor because they backed his opponent. Fast Eddie Rendell is a virulent anti-Union Democrat.

These are the same ethically challenged people who gave us those two model pieces of ethicless legislation called Act 71 and Act 72. For example, it took the State Supreme Court to knock out the section allowing the State’s new Gaming Commission to place a casino anywhere it wanted regardless of local zoning ordinances (not that Straban Township would object!), and the same people who get to appoint members to that board, voted to allow themselves to own a percentage of a casino. That is a clear conflict of interest.

But Pennsylvania voters tend to be complacently myopic when it comes to their own representatives. “It isn’t my representative who’s doing this, it’s the darned Republicans/Democrats!!!” Then Joe voter will go into the booth in November and pull the party lever.

They almost deserve what the legislators do to them.

This is not a partisan issue. There is a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, and the legislature is comfortably Republican. Yet this kind of negligent legislating borders almost on the criminal. It is bipartisan. In other words, it is done with the full cooperation of both parties. I’ll repeat that: both parties are complicit in their negligent disregard of even the most basic ethics of their jobs.

These people are legislating but not representing, too caught up in the power games of politics. DeWeese, Fumo, and Rendell – they are the power brokers in the state. There are others, too, but these men have accumulated power far beyond what they should safely have.

As this blogger wrote in the previous essay, “Greed knows no limits, and has no character. Greed endures no absolute moral values, and has its own ethics. Greed has no memories but vengeful ones. Greed has no friends, and no family, only partners, and partners are expendable. Greed consumes and corrupts absolutely. Greed is blind to itself.”

Unfortunately, our statewide elected officials, and in many cases, our local elected officials are afflicted with at least five of the “seven deadly sins”. The seven sins are: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, greed, anger and sloth. It will be up to the readers to determine which are the five. One, by itself, should be enough to bounce anyone from office.

A recall movement has the advantage of immediately making the elected official responsive. As long as that petition is out there and gaining signatures, that elected official will finally become responsive to the will of the voters.

Act 71 has to go. It is too corrupt, and too corrupting. It will take Act 72 with it, and good riddance. The Governor must go. Frankly, it is time for the legislators to go, and work for a living instead of legislating for it.

Locally, the Adams County Commissioners must go…if and when they are ever found again. The Straban Township supervisors, and their Zoning Board must go. The Adams County Economic Development Corporation must go. These are all complicit in the runaway development of Adams County symbolized by the proposed casino.

There is a saying in politics, “All politics are local.” It is true. Ultimate political power is local.

Also true is the fact that legislation without representation is tyranny.

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Randy said...

My sense is that few voters notice an impact on their day-to-day status stemming from the actions of the legislators allegedly representing them. Without an immediate tangible consequence, apathy reigns. Since so many disregard how their own actions affect their futures, legislative decisions that impact the years to come likely do not warrant inclusion on the list of personal priorities worthy of attention. Most go about their daily lives oblivious that others reap the benefits of their work. It's sad really. But as you say, we allow it.

Novus Livy said...

Well said. Its a pity that even the placement of a casino in someone's back yard does not rouse them to a sufficient level of anger to take action.

Novus Livy said...

Pennsylvania has no Constitutional provision for a recall of elected officials. The Republicans in the state house tried to mount an effort to amend the state Constitution two years ago, but dropped their effort.

However, many local governments do have recall procedures for their elected officials.

Anonymous said...

People are so numb, they take the news at face value, and do not get worked up over anything! The people I have spoken to about the Casino say "Well, a casino won't change anything, and maybe will get us more money." Invariably there is surprise when I tell them the scope of the plan, how many slots "they" are planning to put in. Then, and only then, do the manniquins show any emotion, so far 100% against. But for people not motivated to seek the truth, we can't force them all to hear all the facts and decide, they decide on shallow knowledge and apathy! The news is correct, by the time elections come up, the voters will not remember who voted for the raises, nor will they care.