Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Philadelphia Republicans Need Our Help (Although Greater Knowledge Might Turn Them into Democrats)

There should be a state university in Philadelphia. Philadelphia has many private colleges. Yet, these private colleges all cost more to attend than do state system colleges. Further, the Philadelphia private college all have above average admissions criteria. It is possible that a Philadelphian could apply and qualify for acceptance to a state system college. Yet, for most Philadelphians, this would require residing at the school as there is no state college within Philadelphia, whereupon the added costs of room and board result in making college unaffordable to many.

The result is there is a large underserved market within Philadelphia of people who would like to attend college but either cannot afford to do so. Many of these would be willing to commute to attend college yet cannot either gain admissions or have the resources to so attend our expensive private universities. This explains why Philadelphia is 92nd of the 100 largest cities in percent of residents who are college educated.

This lack of college educated residents creates a long term negative impact to Philadelphia. Only 14% of Philadelphians have a college degree. In addition, there are many Philadelphians who have completed some college, in particular community college, but their education ends there. Many Philadelphians would benefit if they had access to a four year college education. Most college graduates earn significantly more money.

Philadelphia would benefit, as a more skilled labor force would attract more employers. With more people employed at higher wages, and with Philadelphians spending more money, the Philadelphia economy would grow, which would likely create a multiplier effect bringing in still more residents and more employers. This increase in higher waged residents would improve the tax base for Philadelphia and benefit city services.

Except for some rural areas and for Philadelphia, most Pennsylvanians are within commuting distance of a state system college. When it comes to state colleges, Philadelphia is the most neglected section of Pennsylvania. It is time we correct this neglect. We need an affordable state college to be created within Philadelphia that is accessible to commuters. Hopefully, it will soon become a reality.

Hey, Bush Still Would Have Won in 2004 Under this System

When our government assists other countries in developing democracies, our advisors do not recommend that emerging democracies copy our system of using an electoral college to select who will lead the executive branch. Our Electoral College is something that continually confuses high school civics students, people studying for citizenship tests, and just about anyone learning how we elect a President. The reason why so many have trouble understanding our Presidential election system is because the process makes little sense. Indeed, confusion grows when we realize that the Electoral College can even fail to elect a President and pass along the election to Congress, which appears even loss logical a way to choose a President. We should not e choosing the leader of the free world in such a complicated process that alienates voters.

The Electoral College was established as a political compromise during the formation of our country back in the 18th century. The objective then was to hold separate states together in creating a new nation. That objective has been achieved. There is no reason why we need to remain bound to a political compromise that is no longer necessary.

The result of our nation’s continuing experience with the antiquated Electoral College is a distortion of the campaign process for President. The political reality is that many states have a strong majority of their voters so predisposed to vote Democratic or Republican for President that both political parties essentially ignore the voters in those states as it would be a waste of campaign resources to use them in a state where the outcome is fairly certain. Campaign resources of both parties are generally targeted towards undecided and persuadable voters in a few competitive states. It is sad that the President of our entire country may be selected by being the candidate who best addresses issues that appeal to such a small percent of voters.

Pennsylvania has been one of the states where Presidential campaigns have been competitive. Yet, we can no longer assume we will continue being one of the few states that receives additional attention from the Presidential candidates. Pennsylvania was Mondale’s fifth strongest state in terms of percentage of votes for Mondale in 1984, went for Bush in 1988, and has gone Democratic in four Presidential elections since. New York and New England has become increasingly Democratic in Presidential elections and Pennsylvania seems to be falling along with this regional trend. Pennsylvania appears to be trending from being what is called a competitive “purple” state into a “blue” state that will soon be among those states mostly bypassed by the Presidential candidates.

The Electoral College process most hurts Pennsylvanians more than residents of any other state. This is because the Electoral College is based upon population. A state’s population is very different from a state’s number of registered voters. Those who do not vote, especially non-citizens and children, count towards the population count that determines the number of Electoral votes a state receives. Pennsylvania, with the second largest percentage of elderly voters, has relatively fewer children compared to other states. In addition, we have a lower proportion of non-citizens as has most other states. What results is that Pennsylvania is the state with the highest proportion of its population who are voters. Thus, Pennsylvania is the state that is least represented by Elector per voter. Our votes are diluted and ill-served by the Electoral College.

The best process to elect a President is a simple one. The candidate who gets the most votes wins. That is how most every other democracy works. There are two ways to change how we elect our President to achieve this sensible method of electing a President. One method is by amending the Constitution, which is a long process. The other process, which is more easily attained, is for Pennsylvania to join a compact of states that will pledge to create a direct election. Once enough states representing a majority of the Electoral College join this compact, all compact member states will assign their Electoral votes to the winner of the popular election. This will thus create a national election for President where the Presidential candidates will concentrate more on addressing issues of concern to the entire nation.

The bill creating this compact achieves an important principle. The person who gets the most votes should be who wins. I urge passage of my bill so we may leave an 18th century political compromise method of selecting our President and enter a common sense era where the person who actually wins the election is the person who becomes President.