Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In The Birthplace Of The American Print Industry

Image credit: The Franklin Institute

That rumbling you hear is Ben Franklin turning in his grave. The Free Library of Philadelphia, one of the oldest and biggest in the country, is closing its doors thanks to a budgetary crisis in Pennsylvania:

All Free Library of Philadelphia Customers,

We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries, regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2, 2009.

FLP Closing

Philadelphia's most famous citizen almost started the print and news business in this country singlehandedly, by importing and then selling at rock-bottom prices the printing presses used to publish the colonies' first newspapers and handbills. Now, its public library is closing its doors, because politicians can't seem to do the right thing.

The supplemental budget for states and municipalities in the stimulus bill passed last April was, by any reasonable standard, wholly inadequate. But, as crankylitprof explains, that's not the only level of government that's failing:

Why is it closing? because the douchetards in Harrisburg, PA, led by their miserable, wretched, disingenuous, cheese steak-snarfling fat fuck of a “Governor,” Ed Rendell, can’t manage to pull a budget out of their gaping, wart-raddled, pecker-ridden asses.

Is Ben Franklin Gonna Have To Smack A Bitch?

For those not familiar with Pennsylvania dialects, allow me to interpret. The PA legislature has been avoiding passing a budget for some time. Thanks to their inaction, Philadelphia is having to close the library system, not to mention laying off police and firemen, and setting 1000 traffic signals to flashing (PDF) by mid-October. It can fairly be observed, as crankylitprof does, that the Philadelphia city council and mayor aren't depleting their staff very much, but there's plenty more blame to be spread at the state level.

These disputes nearly always come down to taxes, and this seems to be no exception. Tax revenues are down everywhere, and states have to balance their budgets. PA has a much lower tax rate than Delaware's (about 71% of Delaware's in 2005), New Jersey's (79%), New York's (82%), and Maryland's (92%). Of its neighbors, only Ohio has a (slightly) lower per capita state tax level. There has to be some wiggle room there. Yet the state legislature seems unwilling to bite the bullet.

This economic crisis has been largely due to the federal governments refusal to act when it would have made a difference, and refusing to do enough afterward. I suppose expecting a state legislature, particularly Pennsylvania's, to be any different is unrealistic.

(h/t Earthbound Misfit)


Dana Hunter said...


Cujo359 said...

The sad part is that it's just so typical. California's been having a budget crisis for the same reasons. No one dares raise taxes on the wealthy, who are the very people who have been benefiting from the priorities of the last thirty years.

Unfortunately, the system rewards people like this with political office. Nearly anyone who speaks and acts honestly is punished for it.