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FLOWERS: PA Voters Pick Nihilism Over Compassion

I’ve been told abortion was the deciding factor in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.  I myself have written about the importance of abortion in the grand scheme of things, the measure and metric by which we determine our collective humanity. And if abortion really was the thing that motivated women and the men who loved (or at least wanted to date) them, we have our answer about that collective humanity: It’s missing in action.

When I think that a majority of voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania chose to align themselves with someone who has such a radical view of abortion rights as John Fetterman, and to a slightly lesser extent Josh Shapiro, whose Twitter feed kept sending out inane messages about “a woman’s right to choose” as if it had Tourette Syndrome, then the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade revealed a very deep schism in modern society and in this state in particular.

You might think the word “eugenicist” is a bit much, given its overtones of the Holocaust and Mengele.  The doctor who performed horrific experiments in the concentration camps was attempting to design a society where only perfect Aryan creatures existed and reproduced with each other. But the pseudo “science” of eugenics has existed for generations and was embraced by exalted historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt, Oliver Wendell Homes, and Margaret Sanger. That brings me to the point of calling abortion supporters “amoral eugenicists.”

Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, championed abortion as a form of extreme birth control.  Despite an attempt at whitewashing by the PP crowd, Sanger never actually disavowed her enthusiastic support for sterilizing immigrants, people of color, poor people, and all those others who did not rise to the level of what she considered a valuable and contributing member of society. She did not use terms like “Aryan.” She simply wanted to improve society by weeding out the less desirables. Generations later, Hillary Clinton echoed that philosophy when she talked about the basket of “deplorables,” and it is clear that from a progressive standpoint, eugenics was at the very least a nuanced issue. To them, it had some value.

Abortion is an extension of eugenics. It permits people to make judgments about the value of other people, other human beings. The terminology is carefully curated so that we stop talking about “people” and shift towards a focus on “fetus.” Some have even used the term “opportunistic parasite.” Those of us who are pro-life and follow the actual science are content to settle for the universal term “human being.”  But that is something that encourages compassion and reflection on the exact nature of the act of aborting. And to those who support abortion, like John Fetterman, reflection is a dangerous and counterproductive thing.

When I think that a majority of voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania chose to align themselves with someone who has such a radical view of abortion rights, I realize the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade revealed a very deep schism in modern society, and in this state in particular. While Roe was still in place, the abortion supporters were marginally pacified. They were not on the defensive, the law was on their side, and they could complain about conservative pro-lifers, safe in the knowledge that a half-century of creative precedent was on their side.  Then came Dobbs, and the tectonic plates shifted to create a social earthquake. Pro “choice” women saw their choice reduced to a state-by-state determination, panicked, and looked for people to blame.

The target was easy: Conservatives in general, Republicans in particular.

The method was easier: Elect the man who said he’d protect their right to abort whenever and however they wanted.

The reckoning came on Tuesday night, and I have to congratulate the sisters for their determination, organization, and motivation in making sure that they were still able to advance Margaret Sanger’s mission of selecting human value by calling it “autonomy.”

The nihilism vote won.

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HOLY COW! HISTORY: America’s Other Independence Day

On a hot, muggy Thursday in early July 1776, a handful of men got together in Pennsylvania and declared their independence from Great Britain. But they weren’t meeting in Independence Hall and Messrs. Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson weren’t there. At least, not at this meeting.

Yet on the very same day some 100 miles away, another group met and did the very same thing. Maybe it was an incredible coincidence; perhaps the historical facts were fudged a little to make a good story even better; or perhaps it was just one of those odd things that happen from time to time. Whatever the reason, it’s an interesting tale that’s largely forgotten today.

This is the story of America’s other Independence Day.

It all started a decade earlier. Britain bought a bunch of land from the Iroquois Indians, opening big chunks of Pennsylvania and New York to settlement. There was considerable haziness about the purchase area’s exact boundary. Squatters moved into disputed territory in the West Branch Susquehanna River valley.

Because they were living in the area illegally, those settlers had no voice in Pennsylvania’s colonial government. So, they created one for themselves.

They established what they called a “Fair Play System” in 1773. Three commissioners were elected and charged with making sure everyone was treated fairly. (Thus, the name.) They spent most of their time addressing property headaches arising from faulty deeds and land claims. But they also handled criminal cases that arose, and when they did so the commissioners didn’t mess around. They had the authority to expel anyone found guilty by setting them adrift in a canoe. Say what you may about the system, at least it wasn’t soft on crime.

The arrangement seemed to more or less work to everyone’s satisfaction. Until the colonies decided to go to war with the mother country in 1775.

Because they weren’t included in Pennsylvania’s legislature, the settlers had no voice in the momentous events being debated just then. The folks living in the West Branch Susquehanna River valley were Patriots, too, and resented being left out.

They once again took matters into their own hands. And they did it in a big way.

The Fair Play Men got together in early July on the west bank of Pine Creek. Since it was blazing hot, they met under the shade of the “Tiadaghton Elm” tree. After talking it over, the Fair Play System declared its independence from England.

And it did so on July 4, 1776.

Little did the Fair Play Men know that at that precise moment some 100 miles away in Philadelphia, the Second Continental Congress was voting to do the exact same thing.

At this point, details get very murky very fast. Two men were dispatched to inform colonial officials what the group had done. The pair were ambushed and robbed on the way by Pro-British Indians, jailed by pro-British Loyalists, later escaped, and finally arrived in Philly only to find the Continental Congress had stolen their thunder a week earlier.

The Fair Play Men didn’t put their declaration in writing the way John Hancock did his. That has historians divided over just what happened. Some say records were destroyed in a later fire. Or maybe nothing was put in writing at all to avoid being discovered by the British (who took a harshly dim view of rebelling against the Crown’s authority).

Others claim the two riders may have carried a copy of their declaration with them, but it was stolen when they were waylaid.

Still others doubt whether the meeting occurred on July 4, suspecting later generations may have stretched the date a little to create a cool coincidence.

For two centuries the “Tiadaghton Elm” was a local landmark until advanced age finally claimed it in the 1970s. A marker stands at the site today as a reminder.

While we will never know the full story, it’s fairly certain something significant happened there in July 1776. Whether it was on the Fourth or another day doesn’t matter. Because it showed American independence was more than just a fantasy held by a handful of political idealists hunkered down in sweltering Philadelphia. It was a dream, a vision of a different kind of country where a man could live the life he chose in freedom. And people in even the most remote backwater parts of this land were willing to stand up and declare it for themselves.

That’s worth celebrating today.

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PODCAST: PA’s Energy Abundance Is Good for U.S. Why Does Biden Treat It So Badly?

On this edition of the Delaware Valley Journal podcast, David Callahan, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition talks about the benefits Pennsylvania and America get from the abundant, clean natural gas found in the Keystone State. DVJournal News Editor Linda Stein asked about PA’s different system of taxing natural gas compared to other states, and the revenue benefits from the energy sector for local governments.

And if you’re looking for a good-paying job in Pennsylvania — some with a six-figure salary — David Callahan knows who you should call!

Hosted by Michael Graham.

 

 

 

 

First Post-Primary Poll Shows Shapiro, Fetterman Leading Top PA Races

If the latest polls are any indication, Republicans Doug Mastriano and Dr. Mehmet Oz have their work cut out for them.

A USA Today/Suffolk poll released Wednesday showed they are trailing Democrats Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman in the race for Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Senator.

In the poll of 500 likely voters, Attorney General Shapiro led Mastriano, a state senator from Franklin County, 44 to 40 percent. Minor party candidates totaled 3 percent and 13 percent were undecided. The poll has a 4.4 margin of error.

Oz tallied at 37 percent and Fetterman, now serving as lieutenant governor, at 46 percent.  Minor party candidates came in at 16 percent and 13 percent were undecided.

And 26 percent of the voters thought the economy was the most important issue, followed by gun control. And just as in the rest of the country, President Joe Biden’s approval rating is underwater in Pennsylvania.

Some 38 percent approved Biden’s job performance while 54 percent disapproved.

In 2018, 48 percent of Pennsylvania voters were registered as Democrats and 40 percent were Republicans. Today, the Democratic Party registration advantage has been reduced to 45 percent-41 percent among active voters, said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

“Even with Democratic party registration dwindling in Pennsylvania, both Fetterman and Shapiro are adopting a more populist approach to midterm voters and winning independents,” Paleologos said. “Voters say they are unhappy with the economy in Pennsylvania and President Biden’s job approval, yet these particular Democrats are threading the needle thus far.”

Robin Kolodny, chair of the political science department at Temple University, thinks voters have a lot of information about the candidates already.

“What these polls show is that most Pennsylvanians are already familiar with the candidates and have formed opinions about them,” she said.  “The campaigns still have months to go to try to change voters’ minds, but these early polls underscore how competitive both races will be.”

However, Liz Preate Havey, who chairs the Montgomery County Republicans, believes the Republicans will prevail this year.

“I think people will vote their pocketbook,” said Havey. “There’s a lot of energy upset and anger against the Democrats in general and, according to polls, independents are dramatically breaking for Republicans two and three to one at this point.”

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GARRITY: Saving for a Rainy Day Makes Good Fiscal Sense

Pennsylvania’s General Fund has a balance of $16 billion. That’s a lot of money, and there are two ways to look at it.

The first, which is tempting, is to find ways to spend it. There’s no shortage of programs to choose from, and many interest groups are working overtime to convince the General Assembly that there’s money to burn.

The second, which is far more prudent, is to view that balance through a long-term lens and acknowledge that it is, in many ways, a mirage. A number of one-time factors, including billions of dollars sent to Pennsylvania by the federal government, have created the current large balance.

To be sure, although one-time revenues should not be used to cover ongoing expenses, there are some legitimate uses that deserve consideration. School safety and public infrastructure are at the top of that list.

But we know that a fiscal cliff is coming soon – a fact confirmed by a recent report from The Volcker Alliance, a nonprofit founded by former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker. And if we spend the entire General Fund balance now, as some are advocating, that cliff will be unmanageable. The same people trying to spend everything today will be calling for new taxes tomorrow.

The Independent Fiscal Office, widely respected for its nonpartisan reports, projects a huge drop in revenue to the General Fund in the coming fiscal year – nearly $5.8 billion, or 11.5 percent. Such a dramatic decrease can’t be ignored. If you knew that your pay was being cut nearly 12 percent, you wouldn’t add expenses – you’d look for things to eliminate from your family budget, and you would save as much as possible.

The state should do the same. We have surplus funds now, and we know that less money will be coming in future years. The logical conclusion is that we should make a big deposit to the Rainy Day Fund while we have the chance.

Formally known as the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund, the Rainy Day Fund exists to help Pennsylvania weather economic downturns. Think of it as our state’s emergency savings account. We don’t want to use it, but it’s good – and responsible – to have it on hand just in case.

For most of the past decade, the balance in Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund was $0. It didn’t have a penny in it. Modest deposits were made in 2019 and 2020 before a small withdrawal in 2021. A significant deposit, $2.6 billion, was made last year. I applaud the General Assembly and the governor for making that decision. Today, the Rainy Day Fund balance is $2.87 billion.

But when considering the Rainy Day Fund, it’s far more useful to look at it in terms of the calendar: How many days can the Rainy Day Fund cover state expenses?

Using that analysis has two key benefits. First, because it’s difficult for most of us to truly comprehend amounts of money in the billions, the calendar analysis allows us to understand and discuss the size of the Rainy Day Fund in a meaningful way.

The second benefit is that it makes it simple to compare Pennsylvania’s savings level to other states.

Right now, Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund can cover about 25 days’ worth of expenses. That’s far better than zero days, of course, but it’s barely three and a half weeks. And Pennsylvania lags far behind other states: Across the nation, the median Rainy Day Fund balance includes enough savings to cover more than 43 days’ worth of expenses.

Being responsible isn’t flashy, and it rarely grabs headlines. But we know exactly what lies ahead. Inflation and an increasingly likely recession will bring serious budget challenges to Pennsylvania for years to come.

The good news is that we can make the approaching fiscal cliff a lot smaller – and the future stress on the state’s finances far less – simply by making another significant contribution to our Rainy Day Fund this year. It’s the right thing to do.

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Update: Trump Endorses Dr. Oz, Shakes Up PA Senate Campaign

In a potentially game-changing move in Pennsylvania’s crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary, former President Donald Trump endorsed reality TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz Saturday.

“This is all about winning elections in order to stop the Radical Left maniacs from destroying our country,” Trump said in his statement. Oz is “pro-life, very strong on crime, the border, election fraud, our great military and our vets, tax cuts and will always fight for and support our under-siege Second Amendment,” Trump added.

“Dr. Oz is smart, tough and will never let you down, therefore he has my complete and total endorsement.”

Oz is engaged in a high-profile campaign ad war with former hedge fund exec David McCormick, who has his own connections to Trump and had clearly hoped he would get the former president’s backing. McCormick’s wife, Dina Powell, served as a deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration.

But it may have been Trump’s wife, Melania, who had the most influence. A source close to Trump told NBC News, “The first lady has let the president know that she likes Dr. Oz. And that matters.”

Oz thanked Trump for his support.

“Everyone, especially David McCormick – a pro-China, Wall Street insider, wanted this endorsement. But President Trump wisely endorsed me because I’m a conservative who will stand up to Joe Biden and the woke left,” Oz said in a statement.

“As Pennsylvania’s next senator, I will defend America First policies,” said Oz. “I will fight to unleash American energy, protect our Second Amendment, and drain the swamp of Washington insiders. I will be a powerful pro-life voice in the Senate, and I will protect our children from harmful woke indoctrination. And no one will fight harder against the radical policies of Joe Biden that are causing inflation, creating a crisis at our border, and weakening our position around the world.

“President Trump knows how critical it is to change the kinds of people we send to Washington. I’m ready to fight. I thank him for that, and I am proud to receive his endorsement,” Oz concluded.

GOP political strategists say it’s good news, but the race is hardly over.

“The Trump endorsement absolutely helps the undecided crowd who wanted Trump’s opinion before making their decision,” said Pennsylvania-based GOP strategist Charlie O’Neill. “However, I wouldn’t call the race yet. With five weeks to go, anything can happen. Oz and McCormick have spent millions defining each other, which has certainly had an effect on polling. Trump’s endorsement adds a new line of messaging for Oz he hopes will be a final blow. However, I don’t anticipate any of McCormick’s endorsements from former Trump officials to go anywhere, and he’ll continue to lean on them.

Bottom line: It’s a great day for Dr. Oz, but I don’t see McCormick going anywhere,” O’Neill said.

Not everyone in Trumpworld is happy with the president’s decision. Steve Bannon, who served as Trump’s White House chief strategist, is no fan of Dr. Oz, as he expressed in a recent podcast: “How does Dr. Oz, probably the most anti-MAGA guy, and you got Fox nonstop pimping this guy out and Newsmax pimping this guy out, and that’s what it is — how does Dr. Oz, from New Jersey, [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s buddy, floating in from Jersey, how does he become a factor in a Senate race in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?”

And conservative columnist Kurt Schlicter called Oz “a squish at best.”

“In the off chance he gets elected, he would make Mitt Romney seem like Lauren Boebert.”

In his announcement Saturday, Trump repeated a theme he has mentioned several times regarding Oz’s candidacy: His appeal to women voters thanks to his TV persona. “Women, in particular, are drawn to Dr. Oz for his advice and counsel. I have seen this many times over the years. They know him, believe in him, and trust him.”

McCormick’s campaign responded to the Delaware Valley Journal’s request for a comment with a link to a from Jeff Roe tweet: “@DaveMcCormickPA is going to be the next Senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

In response, Jon Cooper @joncoopertweets said, “Florida man endorses New Jersey man for Pennsylvania Senate seat.”

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CASTOR: The Key to Unlocking Our Country’s Energy Bounty Can be Found in the Keystone State

While Texas and the other Gulf States often dominate the narrative around energy production, one of the most vital locations for domestic energy production lies in the mid-Atlantic region. Pennsylvania is home to an enormous amount of natural resources that are integral to the energy supply of our country. Despite being one of the top 10 states in natural gas, petroleum and electricity consumption, Pennsylvania is the third-largest net exporter of energy in the country. The Keystone State has also seen its gas reserves quadruple in the last 10 years, thanks to the increased development of the largest natural gas field in the U.S., the incredible wonder, Marcellus Shale.

The war in Ukraine has highlighted in neon the danger of reliance on foreign—and often hostile—nations for energy production and delivery. The Biden administration’s embargo on Russian oil, coal, and natural gas was a necessary decision in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The administration’s recent announcement that it wants to send more U.S. natural gas to Europe is the next logical step, but because of longstanding and misguided opposition to energy exports, that entire effort could be hampered by the lack of terminals for shipping the gas.

European Union leaders backed plans to buy gas jointly if the United States supplies it, but the lack of immediate infrastructure capacity (frankly, the ability) to fulfill our promise makes it all largely symbolic, unless we act now.

There is good news, however.  Learning of this strategic deficiency provides an opportunity to reinvest in America’s energy sector we should not waste. The legacy of pushing aside the oil and gas sector while simultaneously talking about the need for energy independence is inconsistent and doesn’t work.  We must seize the opportunity to strengthen our country’s economy and energy security.  Placing faith in Saudi Arabia or the UAE will not solve our energy dependence, but domestic production and infrastructure can do so.

Pennsylvania is poised for this chance. The Mariner East pipeline system currently transports natural gas liquids across the state, delivering energy across Pennsylvania and throughout the southeast. As of February 2022, Mariner East 2 and its parallel counterpart Mariner East 2x have completed the final step in the construction process and is now awaiting commissioning. These pipelines generated 9,500 construction related jobs per year over six years, as well as $122 millionin generated taxes for the commonwealth. Continued reliance on foreign energy resources going forward could never come close to producing the same amount of economic benefits as these domestically produced resources and pipelines have already proven attainable.

Pipelines are shown to be the safest, most technologically advanced method of transportation for petroleum and natural gas liquids. In order to continually verify the Mariner East pipeline system, there are certified controllers who monitor the pipeline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to these precautions, an automated system is also detects potential leaks and can shut down the pipeline automatically.

In January, two protesters temporarily halted the construction of the new pipelines when they trespassed on the property and locked themselves onto the equipment. Not only have the systems been proven to operate safely but trespassing on an active construction site increases the very risks these protestors want to limit. As foolish as these acts were then, they seem even more foolish now given the state of domestic and global affairs making increased production a strategic national security issue for all Americans and our allies.

Now is the time to invest in Pennsylvania’s natural resources and encourage new infrastructure projects as the Keystone State continued to be a driving force in our nation’s domestic energy production. The solution to our country’s energy crisis is not turning to adversarial nations abroad, nor in letting our allies rely on countries that oppose us. The answer is at home, and Pennsylvania should lead the way.

 

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Pennsylvania Picked as a Top State for Singles

Pennsylvania is one of the best states in the country for single people, according to a WalletHub report.

The state ranked fifth, behind California, New York, Florida, and Texas. Among the worst states for singles were West Virginia, Arkansas, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Mississippi.

“[Pennsylvania] ranked high for online dating participation and openness to relationships,” Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at communications director at WalletHub, told the Delaware Valley Journal. “It also scored very well in terms of romance and fun, due to the large number of restaurants, nature parks, and other similar institutions, fitness and recreational facilities, movie theaters and amusement parks, as well as bar accessibility.”

WalletHub has published its Best & Worst States for Singles report annually ahead of Valentine’s Day since 2017, updating its methodology each year. It was prompted to complete the report since the average cost of going on a date now approaches $100, according to Gonzalez.

“It’s no surprise to us that Pennsylvania ranks as one of the best places to be single because our commonwealth offers an amazing range of activities year-round that can help you meet that special someone or just enjoy time on your own,” said Carrie Fischer Lepore, Deputy Secretary of Marketing, Tourism, and Film at the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

In addition to ranking states overall using three key metrics (dating economics, dating opportunities, and romance and fun), researchers also broke out the best and worst states for other areas of interest. For example, Louisiana has the highest share of single adults while Maine has the best “gender balance.” For online dating, Washington State leads the way.

Conversely, Utah, North Dakota, and Mississippi scored the worst in those categories.

Because of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, this year WalletHub also looked at mobile dating opportunities, with Hawaii ranked the best and West Virginia the worst.

“The pandemic has definitely had a negative impact on dating friendliness in each state, though some were more affected than others,” Gonzalez said. “Because of lockdowns and social distancing, in-person dating was almost impossible. Though virtual dates have risen in popularity as a safer alternative to going out, an increase in vaccination rates should bring more opportunities for dating in person across the country.”

In addition, researchers looked at median annual household income, adjusted for cost of living, restaurants per capita, movie theaters per capita, and crime rate. While Pennsylvania did not score among the top five states for any of those categories, the state also did not score within the worst five states.

And, according to the Census Bureau, Keystone State couples who get together tend to stay together. Pennsylvania has one of the lowest divorce rates in the U.S. as well.

“We did this analysis to help unattached Americans find love,” Gonzalez said. “We believe location is very important and can lower or increase one’s odds to find a romantic partner.”

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McGILLIS: California Has It Wrong on EV Mandate; Pennsylvania Shouldn’t Follow Suit

Notorious for its crime and its outrageous cost of living, California seems an odd choice for Pennsylvania to mimic. And yet, with the adoption of California’s onerous electric vehicle rules, the commonwealth would be doing just that.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has submitted a proposal for wholesale adoption of the California Air Resources Board’s electric vehicle (EV) program. The California rules import would impose new requirements on automakers and dealerships to stock lots with EVs.

In essence, the combined California-Pennsylvania mandate would command automakers to deliver increasing numbers of EVs for sale in Pennsylvania each year. Should they fail to meet the quotas, automakers will be required to buy credits from others that have banked them, like EV-only Tesla. There’s little doubt that adopting the California program would result in more EV proliferation. In the most recent data year, more than 7 percent of the new cars sold in California were EVs, leading the nation as a percentage of sales and pushing the cumulative number of EVs on the state’s roads to nearly half a million. But does the value-add of the program exceed the additional costs to the auto industry that eventually filter down to all of us? The evidence says no.

One commonly peddled myth about California’s EV program is that it increases consumer choice. The truth is there’s no barrier to EV purchases as it is and EV sales are already growing. In the last three years, the number of EV registrations in Pennsylvania has tripled.

While for some families, especially those with smaller budgets or more kids, EVs make little sense; for others, EVs are a smart choice, particularly if they have the luxury of another longer-ranger vehicle for road trips. In the open market, EVs have already earned a significant share of sales and are here to stay. They don’t need more help.

The great irony is the world’s leading electric vehicle mogul, Elon Musk, agrees. According to Musk, the government should “get out of the way and not impede progress,” serving more as a “referee” and less as a “player on the field.”

Of course, Pennsylvania’s adoption of California’s rules would be just one small part of a larger government push for EVs. Other parts of this agenda include the existing $7,500 tax credit for the wealthy car buyers who choose to go electric and the proposed $7.5 billion of spending on subsidized EV charging stations.

“Rules and regulations are immortal,” Musk said at The Wall Street Journal’s December CEO Council event. “They don’t die. The vast majority of rules and regulations live forever … there’s not really an effective garbage collection system for removing rules and regulations, so this hardens the arteries of civilization where you are able to do less and less over time.”

Convoluted programs like California’s EV rules are prime exhibits of this odious phenomenon, clogging our economy with red tape that only drives up costs.

No state shows the harms of government tangles like California. Ranking 48th in the Cato Institute’s state economic freedom list, California also has the highest poverty rate in the country and is among the states with the highest levels of income inequality.

EV subsidies and requirements do nothing to resolve these issues, and likely make them worse. With its requirements on automakers and dealers and its extensive state subsidies for buyers, California policy is shifting the cost of expensive EVs onto the general public, despite the fact that EV buyers are far richer than average.

While just over 30 percent of U.S. households have an annual income in excess of $100,000, more than 55 percent of new EV buyers do. Even looking at the used car market, the EV purchases skew severely towards the rich. In California for example, the average income of a used EV buyer is 66 percent higher than the average income of someone buying a conventional used car.

Adding insult to injury, EV evangelists like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tout the savings a household will benefit from in the absence of weekly tank fill-ups, seemingly forgetting that the average household cannot afford the delta in upfront purchase costs between expensive EVs and more affordable, comparable, conventional cars. Compounding this injustice, California taxes gasoline purchases at the highest clip in the nation while giving wealthy EV drivers a free pass to use the same infrastructure shared by everyone.

EV policies are a microcosm of California’s two-tiered society. It’s not a model Pennsylvania should follow.

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LEACH: End Prohibition on ‘Magic Mushrooms’

When I first introduced what eventually became Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law in the Senate, I struggled to find a single co-sponsor. The issue was controversial, not well understood, and my bill was considered extremely unlikely to pass. The Pennsylvania legislature is not typically in the vanguard of social change.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and my medical marijuana bill passed the Senate 43-7 and by a 3-1 margin in the House. It took a great deal of hard work on the part of a lot of people, legislators, advocates, patients, etc., to get us from pipedream to passage. But ultimately, the arguments behind our bill were simply too universal and too compelling to dismiss. The weight of medical evidence strongly indicated that cannabis helped people with a variety of illnesses, and the simple fact is that sick people, regardless of political party or ideology, just want to get better.

Now, six years after medical marijuana became legal, we face a new but related issue. One that is informed by many of the same compelling considerations as the fight for access to marijuana. It is time that we legalize the medical use of what have been called “psychedelics” (and are now referred to as “entheogenic plants and fungi”).

Entheogens that are receiving a good deal of attention from researchers include psilocybin, which is the extract of certain “magic” mushrooms, mescaline, derived from the peyote cactus, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (who names these things?), which is commonly referred to as MDMA or “ecstasy”, and Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, known as LSD.

These substances all have certain things in common. They are psycho-active, meaning they can, to varying degrees, alter your mood, thoughts or perceptions. They are all currently federally illegal (with some exceptions) and illegal in most states. And they have all shown great promise in treating a variety of ailments from depression, pain, and anxiety to PTSD and drug addiction.

The idea that these mind-altering substances can be therapeutic is not new. A lot of research was being done on these drugs in the 1950s and 60s. However, in the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon, for reasons having little to do with the merits of the specific substances involved, committed the nation to an aggressive “war on drugs”.

This war was launched in an effort to demonize and prosecute anti-war and civil rights protesters, and to use the criminal justice system as a means to control minority populations. Because mind-expansion was then (but not now) considered to be an activity of young people and the political left, every substance which could, in any way, alter someone’s consciousness was lumped together into the term “drugs” and labeled “bad” and “dangerous”. Of course, tobacco and alcohol, which were the preferred intoxicants of the ruling class, were exempt from this “war”.

Nixon’s war on drugs, adopted and expanded by Nancy Reagan, ended virtually all medical inquiry into entheogens. Only in the last 10 years did research begin again. But now, there are literally hundreds of ongoing studies and clinical trials, and the early results are extremely promising, often in cases where traditional therapies are ineffective. The results were so drastic that the federal government, always slow to rethink long-standing drug policy, has started to take notice. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration granted psilocybin “breakthrough therapy” status for depression, which will make further research much easier. Just last week, the FDA approved a phase 2 clinical trial to study the effects of LSD on anxiety.

State and local governments have reacted as well. In 2020, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin. In the 2022 election there will be a question on the California ballot to do the same. A number cities around the nation have legalized or decriminalized certain entheogens, including Washington, D.C., Santa Cruz, Denver, and Somerville, Massachusetts. Over 100 other municipalities are considering the same thing.

These drugs are clearly intoxicants, which must be respected with appropriate oversight and regulation. However, the irony is that most of the entheogens being studied are less dangerous and have fewer side effects than the drugs they may replace. The only reason they are stigmatized and prohibited in a way that other medicines are not is because they were deliberately incorporated into the political culture wars of the past. Like marijuana, the disapprobation these drugs have received was never rationally related to the drugs themselves.

What is clearly needed is an educational campaign for psychedelics similar to the one that successfully changed people’s minds about marijuana. As people come to fully understand the potential benefits to be had, outdated stigmas and superstitions will fade, and we will be able to give people access to truly life-changing medications.

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