Two wealthy white women want the City of Brotherly Love to raise their taxes because, racial justice! From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Hillary Blecker and Sarah Burgess, For The Inquirer | Updated: June 9, 2020 – 6:47 AM
We are two wealthy, white Philadelphians who, from inheritance and salaries, have financial security during this precarious time. Looking at Mayor Kenney’s gutted city budget proposal, we say to the mayor: tax us more.
First, my apologies: this article is hidden behind the Inquirer’s paywall, through which I cannot get on my desktop, but which I could read on my iPhone via Twitter. Any mistakes you might see in the article text are the fault of my transcription, not the original. I haven’t been able to add the internal hyperlinks.
We’ve often heard politicians say that while they support social services, their hands are tied because money is scarce. But when wealth inequality in our country continues to widen, can we really claim scarcity as the problem?
Budgets are moral documents that reflect our values. As wealthy Philadelphians who benefit from an unjust economic system, the moral logic couldn’t be more obvious: those who have more should pay more to meet the needs of all.
There is nothing, of course, which prevents the authors from giving more, giving away every last penny of their salaries and inherited wealth to the city, or directly to whatever social programs they believe would be of the most help. But no, they want to force everybody of means to have to contribute to what they see as socially imperative.
We reject the current budget proposal, which increases spending for the police while severely cutting other services. Our city has continuously disinvested in poor communities, which are, based on racist policies from our past and present, primarily black. This has helped maintain a plurality black city that is still the poorest large city in the nation. And yet wealthy, mostly white people like us are offered tax breaks like the ten year tax abatement.
I would note here that the Democrats have ruled foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadelphia for decades. The last Republican mayor, Bernard Samuel, left office on January 7, 1952, 68½ years ago, before I was born, and while George VI was still King of England.
Racist policies? Prior to Jim Kenney being elected in 2015, three of the previous four mayors, Wilson Goode, John Street and Micheal Nutter, each of whom served two four-year terms, were black. Why would the two wealthy ladies think that they led “racist policies” from the mayor’s office?
The word “taxes” is often thrown around as a dirty word. But we don’t see it that way. We want to live in a vibrant city that meets the needs and celebrates the talents of all of its residents: strong public schools, accessible and responsive health services, active public spaces like libraries, rec centers, pools and parks. We want the city to provide these services. If paying more in taxes helps provide them, why wouldn’t we want to contribute?
Well, that’s just it: they can “contribute,” all that they want, right up to the last euro of their personal wealth. But this is where they have conflated two words, taxes and contributions, as meaning the same thing; they do not.
We know many wealthy people, including ourselves, who give personally or through foundations as a way to distribute money. But this approach is piecemeal and anti-democratic. in contrast, paying taxes shifts power to all city residents to democratically elect officials who will make equitable decisions responsive to residents’ needs, and who can be held accountable if they don’t keep their promises.
With this, the two wealthy women have delved into the silliness of leftist ‘thought.’ It is “anti-democratic” for people of wealth to choose to donate money to whatever worthy causes they support, but somehow democratic to give to “all city residents” the authority to stick their hands more deeply into the pockets of the wealthy, to take the choice of donating more away from those who have the means, and giving it to others who will not personally feel the bite of higher taxes on the well-to-do?
And if Mrs Blecker and Mrs Burgess believe that the city has been under “racist policies” under both “past and present” regimes, why would they believe that turning this wealth over to “democratically elect(ed) officials” will result in “equitable decisions responsible to residents’ needs,” when those same “democratically elect(ed) officials” apparently have not done so in the past, according to the writers’ own claims?
The two affluent Philadelphians have apparently failed to persuade their wealthy friends to contribute enough, contribute as much as Mrs Blecker and Mrs Burgess believe they should, so, in the absence of their personal persuasive power, they would have the city government strong-arm them.
After some proposals on how to tax the top producers, the authors note with approval the proposals of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to cut the police budget, and “challenge (their) city leaders to take similarly bold steps in designing a budget that demonstrates a commitment to justice.”
A “commitment to justice”? Since 2016, the City of Brotherly Love has seen a steady rise in murders, something which had been declining under Mayor Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey — both of whom are black — from 277 in 2016 to 356 last year, a 28.5% increase, and this current year has seen 176 homicides¹, a 26.6% increase over the same day in 2019, and if the racial makeup of the victims is similar to past years, the vast majority of the victims and their killers are black. In 2019, 85% of the murder victims were black, even though only 41.5% of the city’s population are black. Reducing law enforcement, which is what cutting the police budget means, can only result in further carnage among the black population of Philadelphia, and more murders who get away with their crimes. Should there be reduced justice for the victims of killers?
This is where there is a total disconnect between liberal and rational thought. The left appear to believe, in the wake of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, that police departments are all loaded with racists, and that the only solution to ‘racial injustice’ is to reduce, or even dismantle police departments. But lax policing, in Chicago, in Baltimore, in St Louis and in Philadelphia, has created far higher murder rates, with the majority of victims being black, than in stricter and larger New York City and the ‘broken windows‘ policing which began under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.² Philadelphia needs more police, not fewer, and stricter law enforcement, not easier. It should not be forgotten that the easier-going policies of the past led to chaos:
- In 2007, Philadelphia Police Office Charles Cassidy was gunned down by Lewis Jordan, a.k.a. John Lewis, when the officer interrupted Mr Jordan attempting to rob a Dunkin’ Donuts. Mr Jordan had been treated leniently by then District Attorney Lynne Abraham’s department; he should have been in jail on a drug charge, but was allowed to live at home, with his mother, who was an armed corrections officer with a firearm at home.
- On May 8, 2008, Officer Stephen Liczbinski was murdered by Howard Cain, as Mr Cain and his two accomplices were fleeing a bank robbery. Mr Cain had a long list of priors, and should have been in jail at the time.
- On September 8, 2008, Officer Patrick McDonald was killed by Daniel Giddings, a felon who had been recently paroled early from prison, despite several prison discipline violations and a long list of prior offenses. He had been given half the sentence recommended by a prosecutor who said that it would never be safe to release Mr Giddings, and was released early from that.
Between 2007 and 2009, six Philadelphia Police officers were murdered in the line of duty, and every last one of them was killed by a criminal who had been treated leniently by the system. And just last year, six Philly police officers were wounded by career criminal Maurice Hill, who could, and should, have been in jail at the time, had soft-hearted and soft-headed Common Pleas Court Judge Rayford Means revoked his probation when brought before him thrice for probation violations.
The only way to seek real #RacialJustice is to take action to protect not only minority communities but all neighborhoods from being preyed on by criminals. Since the problems are more acute in heavily minority neighborhoods, this is where the emphasis should be; the problems should be addressed by police officers who know the neighborhoods, with police stations closer to, not further from, the areas with the greatest problems. Police officers patrolling Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill at the same rates as Strawberry Mansion would be a waste of time and resources.
The authors are hardly alone in this, but are symbolic of the disconnect from reality that embodies leftist thought today. The left appear to believe that all people are inherently good, and everything would be just peaches and cream if only the police weren’t such bad guys. In reality, a lack of law enforcement simply means that men who think that they can just take what they want, who believe that they can just impose their will on weaker people, will be freer to do so . . . and they will. Officers like Derek Chauvin need to be weeded out, and far more quickly than the Minneapolis Police Department did with him, but that does not mean that most police officers are bad ones or that our communities would somehow be safer with fewer cops.
Mrs Blecker and Mrs Burgess are perfectly free to give more and more of their money to whatever civic causes they like, and free to ask others to do the same. They are even free to ask the city government to impose higher taxes; that’s part of freedom of speech and of the press. But, as demonstrated above, their thinking is wholly misguided, and sensible people ought to reject it.
¹ – As of 11:59 PM on June 8th.
² – I noted yesterday how Kentucky’s lax parole system allowed Cody Alan Arnett to be released early, despite a history of violent crimes, and how he (allegedly) forcibly raped a Georgetown College coed after less than two months on the streets. Stricter sentencing and parole judgement would have saved that young woman from a horrible ordeal.
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