Disgorging in our blue vests

Columnist : Albert Paschall

I got a blue vest for Christmas and it’s really great. It’s sort of a sweater and it really cuts the edge on this bitter winter weather we’ve had, especially in the building I work in. It’s almost 300 years old and when it was renovated last year some idiot made electric heat pumps the primary heating system so the vest comes in handy plus it’s great practice for my next job, working at Wal-Mart.

It seems we’re all heading for a career at Wal-Mart. At the end of 2003 the giant retailer ended up being Pennsylvania’s largest employer. More than 45,000 of our fellow citizens wear blue vests with those smiley faces on them every day.

The phenomenal growth of the retailing giant is probably because nobody can disgorge them.

Disgorging is a time honored tradition in Pennsylvania. It’s the practice of powerful politicians getting money from major employers for their version of good causes. Senator Vince Fumo of Philadelphia has turned it into dark art at its best. He got $17 million from PECO Energy, southeastern Pennsylvania’s largest electric supplier and allegedly tried to get another $15 million from the state’s largest telephone company – Verizon.

But with so many competitors chewing on it, the telephone company wouldn’t, as they say in South Philly, ante up. Seems that with wireless phone companies coming out of the woodwork, the phantom regulations that have cable giant Comcast out of control and the never ending battles with the general assembly over new wires, Verizon wasn’t about to be disgorged.

That probably won’t make Governor Rendell happy. He thinks that disgorging is a great idea. “Take that company and some of its profits and disgorge them for the good of the community” the Governor said, “it’s an effort to do something good for the community, I’m sorry I didn’t think of it first.”

The governor shouldn’t worry others already have. With trial lawyers dictating to the general assembly what malpractice insurance will cost doctors Pennsylvania’s managed to disgorge itself of physicians all over the state. If you plan to have a baby soon you might want to make an appointment in Delaware.

With some of the highest corporate taxes in nation, according to the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association we’ve disgorged at least 70,000 manufacturing jobs in the state in the last two years.

The Rendell administration is at work on a plan to eliminate several hundred family owned businesses from the state’s procurement contracts. It’s good to know that in Pennsylvania we don’t discriminate when it comes to disgorging, the big shall fall with the small.

Someday when we’re done all of this disgorging Wal-Mart will beckon. When Harrisburg has managed to drive the last decent job out of the state we can all don our blue vests. Unless somebody in Harrisburg decides its time to disgorge Wal-Mart.

Albert Paschall
Senior Commentator
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.
[email protected]