Red v. Blue: “Crony Capitalism”

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A weekly column where Gettysburg’s College Republicans and Democrats debate topics in the news. This week College Democrats respond to: “Crony Capitalism” 

By Luke Frigon and Jake Ecke, College Democrats

For most Pennsylvanians, January 20th was just another winter day. Plenty of hard-working citizens of this state went about their day just as they would any other.

However, for the State of Pennsylvania as a whole, January 20th was an extraordinary day. The state saw its 47th Governor Tom Wolf take the oath of office, inspiring optimism and instilling a feeling of hope throughout the common- wealth. As Tom Wolf stated throughout his campaign, he offers a fresh start for this state.

Pennsylvania has been suffering from a sluggish economy, one that hasn’t benefitted the hardworking members of the middle class. Not only has PA’s economy struggled to assist members of the middle class, but it has also been un- able to help those that are un- employed and looking for work within the borders of the state. This is because over the last three years, the commonwealth has witnessed a shockingly low 1.7 percent job growth rate, ranking it 46th out of 50 states. This 1.7 percent job growth rate is less than half the national average, proving that Pennsylvania has struggled to create jobs for those in our state currently looking for work.

Tom Wolf and the incoming administration will focus a large portion of their effort on creating jobs and revitalizing the economy as well as strengthening the middle class. He will provide equal access in the workforce and support workers’ rights. He will focus this state’s government on preparing people for 21st century jobs. One of the many ways to do this is to make sure that they have the access they deserve as citizens of this great nation to properly funded public education. In order to make sure that students have this access right from the very start, Tom Wolf has committed himself and the full effort of his administration to expanding access to early education. As Governor, he has pledged to use both public and private dollars to expand Pennsylvania’s “Pre-K Counts” program, which will ensure that every child, regardless of where he or she lives, will have the skills necessary to be successful throughout their educational endeavors. Additionally, Wolf has pledged to issue a five million dollar challenge grant to certain municipalities. These funds will be used to help municipalities develop a plan to increase the number of pre-k programs. Tom Wolf’s evident and forward-thinking commitment to educating Pennsylvania’s youth will ensure a better-educated workforce for years to come.

Republicans have chosen to ignore the exciting undertakings of the new administration and have instead attacked one small aspect of the inaugural festivities. This only proves their commitment to partisan political attacks and pessimism. In doing so, they are overlooking and failing to acknowledge the exciting new chapter of the future of this commonwealth. They’ve attempted to turn an exciting day into another opportunity to score political points. Rather than being encouraging to, and optimistic about, our new Governor, the Republicans have chosen to ridicule him for the absence of one Pennsylvania-brewed beer at his inaugural ball. They’ve criticized Wolf for not serving Yuengling Lager during the evening’s festivities, citing CEO Richard Yuengling’s republican and anti-union ideologies as the main reason for doing so. Even if this was the reason Yuengling was turned away (which it was not), would it be such a bad thing?

Tom Wolf believes that unions are beneficial to their workers and that every worker should have the ability to join a union if he or she so chooses. This move in favor of unions could be a valuable lesson for anti-union business owners across the state. While Republicans love giving unions a bad name, there is more than enough evidence to suggest that unions are extremely beneficial to their members. They provide a wide array of important and vital benefits to those who join them. According to the Economic Policy Institute, unions raise the wages of un-unionized workers by roughly 20 percent.

Clearly unions provide economic benefits to their members, something that the residents of Pennsylvania have desperately needed for the past four years. Similarly, unions reduce wage inequality due to the fact that they raise wages more often for low and middle class workers than for higher- paid ones. The wage increase can help to shrink the income inequality gap that undoubt- edly exists in our present society. Unionized workers also receive more generous health benefits than those that are not unionized. Throughout retirement, unionized workers are 24 percent more likely to be covered by health insurance paid for by their employers.

Without unions, it is possible that people would still be working twelve-hour days seven days a week without paid leave. Child labor could still be practiced. Americans would still be subject to shoddy labor laws, if any at all. It is apparent that unions do a lot of good for their members, and have even done good things for workers in the United States who do not belong to them. While it is also conceivable to think that “right to work” laws can benefit employees, it is hard to imagine that they can be as positively impactful as unions have already proven to be.

The inauguration of a new Governor of Pennsylvania marks a new era of hope and optimism across the largest cities and the smallest towns of this state. People from all corners of Pennsylvania are excited, and for good reason. Tom Wolf’s commitment to the people of this state and their overall well-being was the reason he entered the gubernatorial race. People have placed their trust, confidence and highest hopes in the capable hands of the new Governor. Despite the excitement and energy that surrounds this new administration, there are still those among us who choose to focus on the petty things, the partisan attacks and the smallest of details in order to score political points, rather than acknowledging an invigorating and much-needed fresh start for the great State of Pennsylvania.

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Author: Isabel Gibson Penrose

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