Stupidity isn’t a crime. But neither is it a particularly endearing trait.
Just look at some voter stupidity displayed this past election:
• In Nevada, the people returned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Washington for six more years. Despite being the second most powerful elected official in the country, with sizable Democratic majorities in his chamber and the House, as well as an ally in the White House, Reid has presided over — and directly contributed to — the worst recession in 80 years.
What happens in Nevada stays in Nevada — and given the voters’ choice, they should expect their unemployment rate, the highest in America, to be staying, too.
• California is a on a direct collision with an iceberg — one over a half-TRILLION dollars thick. That’s right. The Golden State’s state pension obligations alone are more than $535 billion. Which, by the way, has contributed mightily to the state being bankrupt. Literally bankrupt.
[SIGNUP]Yet whom did the people choose to lead them to safer waters? Jerry Brown — again. Yes, THAT Jerry Brown, who was governor in 1974, and no, that’s not a typo. Californians decided that the answer to their prayers was a blast from the past … 40 years past, a man who also ran for U.S. Senate, president, mayor and state attorney general. Nothing like going to the well for a creative, innovative leader.
Californians’ collective stupidity will get them exactly what they deserve, and no Hollywood director could have scripted a horror movie any better.
With so many examples of throwing one’s vote down the toilet — and the repercussions of doing so — common sense dictates that others would learn from such mistakes and choose wisely. But don’t count on it.
Take Philadelphia, the fifth largest city in America.
Will its citizens heed the message that sending Old Guard politicians to clean up the very mess that THEY created won’t work?
Specifically, will Philadelphians allow themselves to get hoodwinked by Mayor Michael Nutter — again — as he seeks re-election next spring, pontificating about how great things are, and what a fantastic legacy he has already left on the city?
No to the first, and yes to the second.
And they will get exactly what they deserve, too. So get ready for misery, melancholy, and massive unrest.
During an interview on FOX 29 this week, Nutter, for the first time in his career, actually articulated his vision coherently — that handouts from the state, courtesy of his political pals, are the cornerstone of his administration, and the lifeblood for Philadelphia’s future.
Fortunately for the Mayor, it will be enough to get him re-elected, most likely without even an opponent. Unfortunately for the people, it is a vision that has failed time and again, but this time it will be different. The results will be catastrophically worse. And Philadelphians will have no one to blame but whom they see in the mirror.
Nutter’s huge push this week was for the re-election of Philadelphia State Representative Dwight Evans as appropriations chairman in the Democratic caucus.
Why? Simple: “Any bill that has anything to do with money has to come through the appropriations committee, and that is where Evans … has made sure Philadelphia’s voice and concerns are being addressed,” Nutter said.
Translation: Oh my God! The spigot is about to be turned off by the Republicans, and I might actually have to … (gulp) … govern! What will I do without my bailouts and pet projects from Dwight, courtesy of the 11 million other Pennsylvanians who don’t live in Philadelphia? Does this mean I will actually have to do what I was elected to do … trim the massive fat from city government, fund the pensions (even just a little), make the streets safer and not turn my head away from our deathtrap public schools?
The Mayor has every reason to be concerned, because even if Evans wins, he will only be minority chairman, since the GOP thundered its way into an astounding 10-seat majority in the Statehouse on election day — a 13-seat swing.
And what exactly has Evans done for the city? Well, according to the Mayor, he “delivered” economic development, and funded countless “projects and programs” to maintain Philadelphia’s role in Pennsylvania “time and time again.”
But now, Nutter is at a loss as to how he can “continue the growth and opportunity we’ve seen in Philadelphia” should Evans lose his fight. What he doesn’t understand, and never will, is that the fight is already over, the arena is clearing out, and the lights are flickering.
Growth and opportunity? Granted, we’re heading into a mayoral election year, but isn’t that just a bit over the top?
Here’s the real deal, absent the Mayor’s feel-good but empty rhetoric:
There is ZERO opportunity in the city to live and prosper, because the environment is so hostile to residents, students and businesses — an environment Nutter helped create as both a city councilman and mayor.
As for growth, it must be admitted that Nutter does have a point here in one regard. Taxes have grown at an extraordinary rate, since the Mayor has demanded and/or signed into law the following taxes in just the last three years:
Property tax (a 10-percent hike — but hey, it’s only “temporary!”)
City portion of the state sales tax (a 100-percent hike)
Pipe tobacco tax
Chewing tobacco tax
One has to ask why the need to impose all these taxes in what is already the highest-taxed city in the country, especially if the Mayor had been doing his job. A job which, in his own words, is to increase educational achievement, attract businesses to the city, and to “maintain city finances, get people jobs and make Philadelphia a safer city.”
Here’s the answer: because he hasn’t accomplished any of those things.
The only “shared sacrifice across the board” that has taken place under the Mayor’s reign has been the taxpayers’ backs breaking under the load of an utterly failed Nutter administration.
The city is insolvent because the state bailouts and the federal stimulus are done; the pension will be bankrupt in less than four years (a situation accelerated by Nutter deferring pension payments for two years); the wage tax remains second-highest in the nation; educational attainment is on par with third-world nations, and Philadelphia still has one of highest rates of murder, violence and poverty in America.
But no worries. The Mayor has a solution — the (possible) state minority appropriations chairman will save the day.
And if you believe that, you’re one of those still waiting for Titanic: The Sequel.
Nutter, in begging for more state handouts, explained his rationale: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
For decades, Philadelphia’s mayors, including Nutter, have shown their terrible table manners by pigging out at the public trough.
Finally, that slovenly feast is coming to an end. But if Philadelphia is to ever regain its former glory, if it is to become a lean-and-mean center for innovation and prosperity, then its citizens must first shed their defeatist attitude that an ingrained Business As Usual Mayor can lead them there.
Anything less is just … stupidity.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. 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, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com