Tags: Financial Markets | Money | bezos | philadelphia | rendell

Message for Amazon: Only Private Enterprise Reforms Corruption

Message for Amazon: Only Private Enterprise Reforms Corruption
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Wednesday, 24 January 2018 01:42 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Dear Mr. Bezos:

The short list for Amazon.com's second headquarters is down to 20. Among them is my hometown of Philadelphia. Given that competitors ratchet up fluff and ignore less-than-noble truths, it is only fair that you fully understand the lay of the land before making your decision. Therefore, following are some Pennsylvania movers and shakers with whom you should be familiar:

Seth Williams, Philadelphia district attorney (newest member to "the club")

Kathleen Kane, attorney general

Ernie Preate, attorney general

Chaka Fattah, U.S. Congressman

Rob McCord, state treasurer

Budd Dwyer, state treasurer

Jane Orie, Senate majority leader (highest ranking female legislator)

Joan Orie, Supreme Court Justice (sister of Jane)

Vince Fumo, senator and powerbroker

John Perzel, speaker of the House

Bill DeWeese, speaker of the House

Brett Feese, majority whip, State House (former district attorney)

Mike Veon, minority whip, State House

Joe Loeper, Senate majority leader

Bob Mellow, Senate minority leader

J.P. Miranda, state representative (Philadelphia)

Michelle Brownlee, state representative (Philadelphia)

Harold James, state representative (Philadelphia)

Ronald Waters, state representative (Philadelphia)

Louise Bishop, state representative (Philadelphia)

Frank Serafini, state representative

Bob Asher, Republican national committeemen, powerbroker, businessman

John Estey, chief of staff to former Gov. Ed Rendell, powerbroker, Port Authority chairman

Rick Mariano, Philadelphia councilman

Corey Kemp, Philadelphia treasurer

Joe Waters, Philadelphia judge

Group of Nine, Philadelphia judges

What do these people have in common? All were politicians convicted of corruption, and nearly all served (or are still serving) prison time. At least when it comes to abusing public office and committing crimes, Pennsylvania is bi-partisan.

The American Society for Public Administration ranked the Keystone State in the top five of the most corrupt states. So, Amazon, welcome to Pennsylvania, where "if you’re not cheatin’, you’re not tryin.'"

Why would I offer such information when it surely casts a pall over the state, and, in particular, the City of Brotherly Love? Because it’s the right thing to do.

Some media colleagues prefer the motto "fair and balanced," but that’s a misguided philosophy. Instead, we should strive for truth and accuracy, for, quite simply, if one tells the whole truth — and does so accurately, without spin and manipulation — good things will result. It isn’t the easy path, since it requires difficult introspection, but just as sunshine is the best antiseptic, telling the truth is the only way we can begin to solve decades-old problems.

Let’s look at the real Philadelphia. In doing so, it is our collective hope that such truths don’t eliminate the city, but instead, illustrate its unlimited potential should one of the world’s most dynamic companies makes it a second home.

Philly has a long history of corruption, from union intimidation, to bribes and kickbacks, to so-called "legalized extortion" by city agencies squeezing every last dollar out of companies as a "cost of doing business." The result has been a significant exodus of business and residents, with city government viewed as an impediment to, rather than a facilitator of, growth.

Worse, Philadelphia is the nation’s highest-taxed city (cumulatively), and its substantial levies on nearly everything are anathema to business success.

Mr. Bezos, it seems safe to assume that you did not become the most successful businessman in the world without an innate understanding that high taxes result in fewer residents, businesses, and jobs, and, therefore, produce less revenue. In turn, that leads to diminished city services — the last thing your Amazon employees want.

Since city budgets must still be funded, those who remain are forced to pay an ever-higher share of the pie. This has become a vicious cycle from which Philadelphia has been unable to escape: the higher the taxes, the fewer businesses. And the fewer businesses, the higher the taxes.

Philadelphia owns the highest or near-highest rates of poverty, homelessness, violence, and murder; its education system produces abysmal results; its city pension is catastrophically underfunded; and opening a business is fraught with bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, rather than embarking on a course that would revive the city, Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council instead advance social engineering policies that continue to backfire. Consider these recent doozies:

The mayor has continually flaunted the federal government by refusing to comply with immigration regulations, placing critical federal funding in jeopardy and worse, sending the message that it’s acceptable to pick and choose what laws to follow.

The city council passed a bill requiring bulletproof glass be removed from certain city stores under the rationale that they are an affront to the "dignity" of shoppers, a classic example of Big Brother dictating that it knows best.

The city prohibits a prospective employer from asking an applicant his or her salary history.

The new district attorney’s first move was to fire over 30 career prosecutors, ostensibly because he favors selective values of the extreme left over prosecuting criminals.

And just last week, Philadelphia announced its plan to sue pharmaceutical companies, blaming them — not overprescribing doctors and drug-stealing criminals — for the city’s opioid crisis. Once again, Philly’s cowardly leaders cast blame on everyone except themselves for the city’s problems.

That pass-the-buck mentality has ruled the day for far too long, which is why the schools are still dysfunctional at best (and deathtraps at worst); why over 300,000 residents have left over the last 25 years; why the city has done virtually nothing with two major rivers (compared to development on much smaller rivers elsewhere); and, sadly, why we are always a longshot to land the world’s premier companies.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell criticized similar sentiments this author made last year. The only problem was that he failed to actually rebut the facts, preferring inaccurate rhetoric which sounded good but accomplished nothing. So what to do?

Counterintuitive as it may seem, come, Mr. Bezos. Come to Philadelphia. We need you, but not just because Amazon brings with it billions in investment and 50,000 jobs. Philadelphia needs you because you are an innovator. A creator. A doer. A visionary who not just talks the talk, but walks the walk. Philadelphia’s systemic shortcomings result from decades of impotent leaders — the result of a one-party system — that has resigned many to complacency. But that in no way means we are not ready to meet the challenge.

Our flame may have dimmed, but it has never been extinguished.  On the contrary, Philadelphians are desperately seeking a hero who will inspire, motivate, and most of all, lead, so that the culture of corruption can be forever broken. Mr. Bezos, you have shown that the free market is the best answer to solving problems. Private enterprise with a social conscience is the way forward.

Government reform will never come from government itself; only the people can instill that change. And that is precisely why Amazon’s opportunity in Philadelphia would be infinitely more than just improving the nation’s business climate; it has the chance to reject patronage and mediocrity and build a real, true shining city upon a hill.

Just as Philadelphians are flying high on the wings of their beloved Eagles, so too are they eager to win with a championship-caliber company.

It’s a jungle out there, Amazon, where the spoils go to those most hungry. More than anyone in America, Philadelphians are ready to feast.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

 

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Freind
Just as Philadelphians are flying high on the wings of their beloved Eagles, so too are they eager to win with a championship-caliber company. It’s a jungle out there, Amazon, where the spoils go to those most hungry. More than anyone in America, Philadelphians are ready to feast.
bezos, philadelphia, rendell
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2018-42-24
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 01:42 PM
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