Like talking to a machine
I'm handicapped. And so when I could not find a nearby parking spot, I parked illegally across from AKA Music on Second Street, hung my placard, turned on my blinkers, and hobbled into the store to grab some CDs.
At the register I saw the Parking Authority guy approach. I hobbled to the door and yelled that I was coming out, but he had already tapped his little computer one time. When I approached him, he said that he had already tapped in an "F," the first letter of my license, which suggested that the machine, not the human brain, was in control from there on.
To challenge his thinking skills, I asked why people couldn't park there. He said that this was where the tour buses parked. When I asked if he saw any tour buses, he said no, to which I asked why he couldn't have just moved on.
Like most defenseless people, he tried to piece together a counterargument, but couldn't. Like much of Philly, a poor city, he himself earns his living in the "fine-fee-tax" municipal culture that feeds on its own inhabitants; which means the outcome of this encounter would have been the same even if the machines had not been in charge.
Spill changed conservatives' song
While I can understand the frustration of the people of Louisiana over the BP oil spill disaster, I find it remarkable the number of conservatives who are deriding the administration for not doing more and doing it faster. These are the same people who most recently were deriding the administration for too much regulation of industry, and taking over the auto industry and the banks to prevent future financial disasters. Now they want the government to take over responsibility for stopping the leak and cleaning up the mess. I'm sure BP would like nothing better!
What makes these people think the government has access to better experts than the oil companies and drillers? On top of that, these conservatives are blocking legislation that would increase the liability limits on oil companies for this kind of disaster. For all of BP's talk of paying for the mess it made, people should review what Exxon didn't have to pay for the Valdez disaster. In the end, I'm quite sure we will be the ones who get handed the bill.
Redistrict for diversity
The U.S. census is almost over, and Pennsylvania will be getting ready to set new boundaries for our legislative districts. This might be a good time to rethink the desired outcomes of our redistricting process.
In the past, our state has generally established boundaries so that one economic group, or one ethnic group, or one political group is represented. This makes life easy for our legislators - they have to express the prefixed views of only their group; they don't need to be concerned about the views of other people.
Maybe we should try a different approach. Maybe the purpose of redistricting should be to re-create our state's rich diversity in each district. This will make the job of legislators more difficult. However, having gone through this process, our legislators might depend less on ideology and predetermined stances and be in a better position to work for the solutions that represent our diversity.
Menendez serves all
My thanks to The Inquirer for articles like "Voices behind recall try" (Tuesday), which offer balanced analysis of current issues. What struck me most about the anger behind the effort to recall Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) was its "trigger" - a delayed response from staff to an e-mail.
Curious, I called Menendez's office and learned that staffers receive an average of 1,200 phone calls daily and an average of 10,000 to 15,000 e-mails weekly. Granted, in a democracy, each person is important. But I wonder about the stated assumption that our elected officials are supposed to be our servants. Servants? I think not.
Indeed, if our government is to work at all, our elected officials must serve the common good, not specialized interests. Since 2006, when New Jersey citizens elected him to the Senate, Menendez has done just that.
A legacy of anonymity
The writer of the letter "Identify yourselves, cowardly tweeters" on Wednesday, who is an admitted supporter of Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania attorney general and gubernatorial candidate, complains about the anonymous tweeters who have criticized Corbett. The writer says, "The First Amendment suggests that freedom of speech comes with a responsibility to stand behind your words." Really?
I thought all the First Amendment said was that Congress is barred from "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Taylor finds anonymous criticism of public officials villainous. What would he say to Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, or John Adams, who all wrote extensively - anonymously?