Friday, September 13, 2013

Matt Baker Thinks You Need More of "The Man" In Your Life

You know, I never cease to be amazed at how often Republicans talk about how they want to get government out of our lives and then they propose things like the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.  What is the "Prescription Drug Monitoring Program"?  Well the bare bones of it is that Rep. Matt Baker wants to create a database that holds the records of all the users of prescription drugs in PA and what drugs they're on so that we can stop prescription drug abuse.

Did you all just roll your eyes with me?
Rep. Matt Baker (R-District 68)

How is it that Republicans get to spend all day bloviating about decreasing the scope of government while simultaneously expanding government further and further into our personal lives?  Hey, whatcha doin' with your vagina?  Would I morally disapprove of it?  Maybe you should stop to make me feel more comfortable. Who are you interested in having sex with?  I hope it's someone of the opposite gender!  What prescription drugs are you lawfully taking?  Why do I ask?  Because what if you're abusing your lawfully prescribed medicines?  I need to judge you about it.

And here's just one of the many issues with this "Monitoring Program".  These aren't "drugs", they're medicine.  I know that it's just one little word but the connotation speaks volumes.  Drugs are illegal.  Drugs, as Mr. Mackey of South Park would say, are bad, m'kay?  Medicine, on the other hand, is something that a doctor gives you that is expected to treat an illness or disorder of some kind be it in a curative or maintenance capacity.  It is an important and stark distinction that views people either as potential criminals or as people with medical problems.

Is there prescription drug abuse?  Yes, there absolutely is.  Are we going to stop it by monitoring the medicinal intake of every person in Pennsylvania?  No.

As rules were made to be broken, databases were made to be abused.  I'm not saying that there aren't great and valid reasons to have databases.  Using them to monitor what medicines people are on is not one of them.  Databases like this start from an assumption that because some people are doing something wrong we should monitor everyone.  What that sounds like is that the government assumes that you're guilty and you have to show them that you're innocent...constantly.  Does that sound like the opposite of our justice system to anyone else?  I bet Matt Baker wouldn't support a database for owners of firearms in Pennsylvania, and yet he'd like to pre-criminalize every person in Pennsylvania who is prescribed medication.

I realize that just now I made an argument against a firearms database and know what?  I'm fine with that.  I don't believe any problem has been solved by making an exhaustive, creepy, Big Brother database about it.  People who are legitimately taking Oxycontin right now can back me up when I say that there are already hoops in place for medications that have been deemed as high-risk for possible abuse.  Pennsylvanians do not need a redundant, state-based monitoring system in place.  We do not need more of "The Man" in our lives.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Swing And A Miss For the Corbett Campaign

I like to be up on the latest political...well everything...and I have some specific Google Alerts set up to that end.  Right now I've got separate alerts for all the PA Democratic gubernatorial candidates and today an article about Allyson Schwartz, specifically Tom Corbett's latest attack on her, really caught my eye.

Before I begin, it should be said that I'm still feeling pretty hesitant about Allyson Schwartz.  Her record on the Patriot Act and the recent failed attempt to defund the NSA's domestic metadata collection via the Amash Amendment are everything that I dislike about Bush-era neo-conservatives.  This isn't to say that there's not a lot to like about her.  There are many things to like about her, but the field is still pretty broad and we haven't reached a point when I'm required to weigh the importance of my various policy positions.

The race is getting more serious though, and the Corbett camp has decided to take some test punches at Allyson Schwartz who, realistically, is looking like the strongest candidate.  To this end, the campaign put out a press release that hit two points that are immediately tired, desperate, and stupid.

1. Allyson Schwartz is a "tax and spend" liberal.

Yeah.  She wants to tax the gas industry and then...and here's a shocker...the state would spend the money it receives in taxes.  I know, it's a novel idea for Republicans who'd prefer to just spend money without taxing anybody - you know, except poor people.  I am beyond tired of hearing Republicans insult Democrats (because let's not raise it to the level of actual criticism, it's not) by calling them "tax and spend Democrats."  The whole reason that a government levies taxes is so that they have money to spend.  What was one of the biggest reasons the Articles of Confederation failed?  The federal government had no power to tax.  Without taxes government couldn't function, let's stop knocking them.  It's old, it's tired, and it's not substantive.  In this case particularly, we're not even talking about a proposed tax on the people at large, we're talking about taxing the gas industry which brings us to the second point...

2. If Allyson Schwartz taxes the gas industry Pennsylvanians will lose good jobs because the gas industry will leave us!

Are you kidding me?  Where are they going to go?  Are they going to pick up their gas and leave?  Oh wait, they can't because it's a natural resource.  Unless they can pick up the land and move it somewhere else they aren't taking their jobs anywhere.  There's debate about the number of actual jobs the gas industry is creating and maintaining in Pennsylvania, but refusing to regulate them or make any demands on them isn't helping anyone but Gov. Corbett's campaign fund.

You'd think that as interested as Republicans tend to be in legislating sexual morality that they'd know the age-old cautionary tale of the man who won't buy the cow if he gets the milk for free.  Well guess what?  Pennsylvania is giving the natural gas industry all our milk for free and they aren't going to just offer to put a ring on it out of the goodness of their hearts.  And see, in this situation, it actually matters.

Governor Corbett had better up his game as the election gets into full swing because these attacks are some weak sauce and they're only going to give him ground with people who are already on his side, and the number of people on his side are dwindling.  Nevertheless, let's not take anything for granted, but work harder than ever to make sure that in 2014 Governor Corbett becomes One Term Tom.