OPINION: What New Jersey Really Should Do to Decrease Smoking

Photograph by ampols/iStock

I used to smoke up until my mid-20s. And then I stopped. Partly because I married a nonsmoker, but also because I started seeing this image of the smoke I inhaled filling up my lungs and infecting my body. That image gave me pause. Would I want my kids one day to be smokers? Of course not. We all know how bad it is. So why kind of example would I be setting if I smoked?

Yet still, lots and lots of people still do it. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 out of every 100 adults in the U.S. are smokers – that’s about 36.5 million adults. Many of these smokers are intelligent, hard-working people who have access to the Internet, are aware of the health risks, read the dire warnings on their cigarette packages, and likely know a relative or friend who has died from something related to the habit. And yet they still spend anywhere from $5 to $13 for a back of Marlboro Reds, depending on where they live. This is not good judgment – and unfortunately it affects me. Read more »

OPINION: Where Are All You “Activists” When We Really Need You?

Behind Closed Doors: Philly police are fighting to preserve the status quo on the third floor of the Sheraton. (Photo by Samantha Holender)

For anyone who professes to care about the issues black people face regarding policing, an important event in the relationship between the public and police is happening right now, and nobody is talking about it. Read more »

Bring Back the Fairmount Park Guard

Stereoscopic image of Fairmount Park guards, circa 1880.

When the neighbors in expensive homes near Fairmount Park’s Devil’s Pool recently complained of trash, debris, and decadent behavior from the many visitors to Philadelphia’s rare geologic wonder, my first thought was, “Bring back the Fairmount Park Guard.”

The Park Guard, an elite troupe of policemen whose job it was to patrol the park on horseback, was subsumed into the Philadelphia Police Department in 1972 by then-Mayor Frank Rizzo. Since then the park has never been the same. Read more »

Seattle Will Now Be Taxing Its Rich. Should Philly Be Doing the Same?

Photo by aiisha5/iStock

Looks like the city of Seattle’s at it again.

Despite a recent independent study conducted by the University of Washington that found that the city’s planned $15-per-hour minimum wage is already driving away small businesses and reducing employment, the town’s elders are still not satisfied. So last week, Seattle’s City Council approved a new measure that would impose a 2.25 percent income tax on the “wealthy” — those making $250,000 per year individually (or $500,000 jointly).

“Seattle is challenging this state’s antiquated and unsustainable tax structure by passing a progressive income tax,” the city’s mayor was reported as saying by Fox Business. “Our goal is to replace our regressive tax system with a new formula for fairness, while ensuring Seattle stands up to President Trump’s austere budget that cuts transportation, affordable housing, healthcare, and social services. This is a fight for economic stability, equity, and justice.”

Ah yes, it’s Trump’s fault. Read more »

OPINION: “Philadelphia Assembled” Is No Template for a Modern City

If the times were a-changing in the 1960s, the cosmic speedometer has so accelerated that the times have already been transformed.

I’m talking about “Philadelphia Assembled,” a two-year “art” project sponsored by the Philadelphia Museum of Art that’s now in its second year, in which Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk’s ideas about community and Philadelphia’s future have been given a world stage — thanks mainly to Carlos Basualdo, curator of contemporary art at PMA, who invited van Heeswijk to Philadelphia. Read more »

It’s Time for Single-Payer Health Care

Photo by courtneyk/iStock

I frequently travel around the country meeting and speaking with business groups about issues affecting their companies. The business groups I speak to are located in places like Montana, Ohio, Nebraska, and Texas. Many of the attendees are farmers, manufacturers, distributors, and service providers. Most of them don’t live in big cities. And yes, like me, the majority of them lean to the right. Some even fall over.

Of course, health care is a major part of those discussions. And you know what I’ve found? We right-leaning conservatives actually have a whole lot in common on that issue with our left-leaning friends. OK, not with Lena Dunham. But more than you may realize. Read more »

OPINION: Pa. Democrats, Quit Blaming Stop-and-Go Stores and Fault Yourselves

Image: Google Maps.

Welcome to Prohibition Philadelphia, 2017: the town where Democrats apparently still believe — almost 90 years after American gangster and black-market-liquor entrepreneur Al Capone did a stint at Eastern State — that booze and speakeasies are to blame for our city’s ills.

Last week, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, along with a cadre of roughly 30 community members armed with folding chairs, decided to take a “stand” against stop-and-go stores — mini-convenience stores, delis, and gas stations that also sell alcohol — in a campaign she’s calling “Fit 30.” Read more »

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