PA State budget compromise is going to put a new strain on the arts

Here is Mr. Pf’s recent letter:

Do you take blog request? ‘rantz request? Today I’m worked up about
our balanced budget and thought I should write mpomy, the
Blogerantzer, to ask what he thinks about the PA strategy of
balancing the city budget with new taxes on the arts.

Personally, I think it’s nice the Arts are being recognized as a
source of revenue. And naturally I respect that we won’t be burdening
the common man who requires affordable entertainment from the Phillies
(am I spelling that right? spellcheck says no) and the Eagles and
Hollywood. But if we tax the performing arts, won’t we make it harder
for the arts to generate the tax revenue they’re supposed to generate?
Well, I suppose it’s only the cultural elite who actually pay full
price for the tickets anyhow — and if you’re a member of the elite you
might as well be asking to be slapped with a sin tax. But I just can’t
help thinking that the other group who ought to care about the attax
on the arts — the kids of the Philadelphia School District, since they
are a non-elite beneficiary of the educational programming by a lot of
local arts institutions. Hmm, maybe there’s logic that says they
deserve a sin tax, too, for being low-income city residents getting
mixed up with the activities of the elite?

Anyhow, I’m just trying to be a gadfly to get you to blog about this,
if you’ve got it in you.

Pf, as usual, has hit on something here.  There are two things happening around these parts lately.  The one I’ve been flipping out about has to do with how the City of Philadelphia is going to pay its bills.  That has been worked out, sorta.

The other thing, that I haven’t been sounding off so much about, is that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has failed (up until this weekend) to come up with a deal for the state budget.  That situation is also reaching some kind of resolution, but, as with the city, all is not well.  Mr. Pf notes that a large portion of the burden required to balance the state budget will be placed on the arts.  That’s not good.  the stifling affect will ripple trough our community and we will reap a bitter harvest in the not-too-distant future.  Follow this link to the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance to see what you can do.  Harrisburg needs to hear from all of us.

For a better explanation, I recommend this blog post from Ben Waxman of ‘It’s Our Money’.  If you are not outraged yet, you will be after reading about what’s NOT being taxed.

But there may be some cause for optimism.  Pf points out that the local sports teams are enjoying an exemption under this recent state budget deal.  The Inky is reporting that the one group I love to single out for hate and vitriol (my apologies to Mrs. Pf) is actually ready to step up and help with the bail out – Good for you, Eagles fans!

The sky has cleared, for now…


We’re heading to the Phillies game tonight, and I think it won’t rain.  There had been some worry earlier.  There had also been some worry that about 3,000 city employees would be laid off tomorrow and that half the city’s services, including the Court system, would begin to shut down.  The tug-of-war between this city and the rest of our Commonwealth culminated today in the passage of a Senate resolution that will allow us to raise sales tax (woopty-freakin-do) and defer/restructure pension obligations for city workers (uh-oh).

So we’ll be able to get the ballgame in tonight and the city will wake up tomorrow and feel great about (hopefully the fifth Phillies victory in a row and) the fact that we’ve avoided the doomsday scenario of Plan ‘C’, but the allowances that have come from Harrisburg today do not solve the problem.  Too many city residents fail to grasp this reality.

We have done nothing more than put off paying a big bill.  Invariably, that bill will be even bigger next time, and I fear we will, once again, kick the can down the road.  This is a recipe for disaster.  We came close to feeling some of those effects this week, but the fact that Plan “C” was not implemented  means we can continue to go to Phillies games, watch reality and vampire TV and pretend that nothing is wrong.

The Committee of Seventy is trying to help us get our heads out of the mud, but people don’t want to hear this message.  A lot of residents don’t understand the issues.  The newspapers will only touch on these matters in the most tangential fashion because they are on the auction block.  This fall it will be Eagles football 24/7 in this town and no one will bother to spend a moment thinking about what this town could have looked like.  Even today, on the brink of disaster, the Daily News lead with a story about the impossibly cute Monforto family, instead of the impending doom of our town.

In the coming weeks we will see if people in this city care about where they live.  We will see if politicians can step away from their own greedy tendencies, we will see if city unions can find a way to normalize their demands for retirement that would put them on footing with the rest of humanity, and we will see if the residents can stop paying attention to Michael Vick for just long enough to show some small measure of concern for their fellow citizens.  If not, we are all doomed.

This is what it takes for my local sports section to cover F1


The folks who run Formula One racing are idiots.  I understand that they want to contain costs and make the sport a bit greener, but the ways in which these monied elites go about attempting to achieve that goal are horrendous.  Earlier this year, the sport threatened to self-destruct for next season, with the ‘commissioner’ (FIA President Max Mosley)  going one way and the teams going another.  Then, just when a resolution was reached, Mosley started to send a signal that he was going to back out of the deal.  now, no one knows what’s going to happen.  So, am I going to spend any money on the fancy F1 app at iTunes so I can follow the races on my mobile?  Not until I know there’s is going to be an actual F1 season next year.

Oh, but wait, the insanity continues.  Now Bernie Eccelstone, the guy who basically owns the sport, decided that now would be a good time to talk about what a great leader Hitler was.  Good luck trying to walk that one back.  these people are giving Sarah Palin a run for her moeny.

So after an amazing and competitive championship last year, featuring a young and charismatic driver (Lewis Hamilton) who is also the first black champion (and driver), and after the phoenix-like rebirth of Honda as BraunGP, none of which was covered with any substance by the American media, now my local paper has something to say (scroll half-way down – still no respect).

That’s OK, F1 bigwigs.  We know how you feel.  After all, we threw snowballs at Santa.