TERM LIMITS and age limits are not reliable anti-corruption measures. Scandal-ridden figures such as Auditor General Al Benedict, Attorney General Ernie Preate, State Treasurer Rob McCord and Attorney General Kathleen Kane were all term-limited. Legally implicated Supreme Court Judges Rolf Larson, Joan Orie-Melvin and Seamus McCaffery were all age-limited, as was the entire Philadelphia Traffic Court and the judges in the infamous Luzerne County "Cash-for-Kids" scandal.
What is needed is better selection of candidates by party organizations and citizens' groups, and better training for elected officials of all kinds. The one-hour annual ethics training for state representatives now in effect is only the start of the kinds of training elected officials need to recognize illegal and legally dangerous ideas when they are suggested by others or self-conceived.
There is no shortage of young people in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Philadelphia's youngest legislator is in her 20s and at least six others are in their 30s. After the 2016 legislative elections, the average Philadelphia state representative will have first been elected in 2012 or thereafter. Extensive experience is far rarer than youth in the halls of the Pennsylvania House.
State representative, 202nd District
Don't diminish terror
Ronnie Polaneczky argues that, based on the number of victims, we should be more worried about furniture tipping over or salmonella poisoning than we are about jihadist terrorism. I thought I had seen just about everything in the moral relativism racket, and then I read her column.
There are some logical problems in comparing accidental deaths with intentional acts such as murder. First of all, is Ms. Polaneczky really suggesting that the numbers are the only thing that matter? If so, I suppose all of us should stop worrying about unprovoked police shootings of unarmed civilians. They are extremely rare events, and you are much more likely to drown in a backyard swimming pool, so what the heck are these Black Lives Matter people complaining about, eh, Ronnie? Then there are those occasional shocking stories we read of mothers who kill their own children. It doesn't happen very often, so Ms. Polaneczky would presumably urge us to ignore them as well. The rape and murder of a 90-year-old woman? Why should we be concerned about these crimes when we are far more likely to slip on a loose board?
What a strange view of life she is proposing! All life is a crapshoot, of course, and any of us may find ourselves under a trolley tomorrow, but does this mean we are somehow illogical if we disapprove of murder?
There is a more basic flaw in her line of thinking, also based in the difference between accidents and intentional acts. There is a limit, statistically, in the number of people who will ever be killed by vicious dogs who somehow get loose on the street. Accidents happen at a certain rate but they don't happen all the time and they don't happen to everyone. On the other hand, there is no practical limit on the number of Americans who can be dispatched by the Islamists. If ISIS could figure out a way to level New York and kill 15 million, is there any doubt they would do so? I guess only then would Ronnie Polaneczky admit terrorism is a problem.
Since President Obama refuses to take the threat of jihadist terror seriously, these arguments are being presented to get us all to accept a certain level of terrorist killing in America as the new normal. Well, I won't do it.