Framing the Dialogue

It’ll Help Seniors

There once was a story about a Gov. named Ed, poor Philadelphia man, mostly kept his state in red, then one day he was spendin’ out his a#%, and out from the ground game a hissin gas…Marcellus that is, natural gas, Pennsylvania cash…

If it helps that introduction sort of goes with the Beverly Hillbillies theme song [a show on TV Land for those of you under forty]. 

I have not seen this much excitement in Harrisburg ever.  Partisanship has stopped, mostly, as both sides of the aisle have agreed to fleece another industry.  Polls show that a high percentage of Pennsylvanians think that there should be a tax [fee if you are a politician] on drilling for natural gas in the Keystone State.  The Republicans talked a good game for a while about no taxes [fees may be different] on this vast source of gas deep below the surface.  They have changed their tune and now are leading the charge for a fee [tax if you want to know the truth] on gas drilling.  Perhaps they already have thier next campaign ad written and they can still say that they opposed new taxes [not “fees” however] and are still staunch conservatives.  The Democrats have an easier time as they are always for tax [or fees] increases and increased spending.

An article in our local newspaper announced that,

Seniors to benefit from Pa. tax on drillers

Well you just have to agree to the tax [or is it a fee?] since it will help seniors pay their real estate taxes.  Seems like we had this debate about seven years ago when the legislature was trying to protect the citizens against the evils of gambling.  Many were against allowing slot machines into our pristine state, but polls showed that most Pennsylvanians were not against gambling.  I believe that gambling proceeds [taxes or fees] were supposed to go to ease real estate taxes.  Alas revenues never quite reached their projected levels so we had to add table games to increase revenue.  It also seems like a similar debate decades ago when we were contemplating a state lottery where the proceed would benefit older Pennsylvanians. 

Perhaps many in the electorate believe the hype again, but I really don’t.  I wished that I had saved every article or statement from people advocating the tax increase [yes if there is no tax and they add a new one it is an increase even if they call it a fee], but here is a list from my memory of the things the new Marcellus Shale Gas TAX will:

  • Provide funding for real estate taxes for senior citizens [they vote…they get the money]
  • Provide funding for public schools [because we know that spending more improves education]
  • Provide funding for higher education [how else will they be able to maintain annual tuition increases at 7%]
  • Provide funding for Environmental Stewardship Fund (grants for environmental projects) [they can steal this money later as they have in the past for pet projects]
  • Provide funding for local governments [throw them a bone too]
  • Provide funding for road repairs [always popular in Pa]
  • Provide funding for water and sewers [down the drain – since municipalities have ignored their buried infrastructure for decades]
  • Provide funding for “emergency programs” [very broad, knid of “slushy” funding]
  • Provide funding for elected officials to WAM (Walking Around Money) so that they get votes and remain in office.
  • Provide funding for lollipops and gumdrops for everyone

Okay I, perhaps, made up the last one, but you get my drift.  There is almost too much here to take in.  First the “polls” and how Pennsylvanians are all for a tax/fee increase.  I don’ t know what the questions were, but I would be willing to bet that they didn’t ask it like this…

Q:  Would you rather have cheaper energy available for yourself and industries to use and create jobs or have a tax/fee on driller collected in Harrisburg to be distributed to whom they please and subsequently increasing your energy costs?

As I scanned the local articles about the shale tax [or fee if you are a Republican] this quote from Rep. Kate Harper (D – Montgomery County) sums it up nicely,

“”Everybody wants fair taxation, and everybody understands that if you let one group off, somebody else has to pick it up.  The industry, by the way, is paying this tax in every other state, and I think they’re expecting it” [emphasis added]

So according to our elected officials not imposing a tax/fee is letting someone off.  As if taxation is expected.  No mention of cutting spending so no one “else has to pick it up.”  And truth be told the industry is probably expecting it.  I expect to die, but I don’t want to.  The only certainties I guess are still DEATH and TAXES [or FEES].

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