Sunday, November 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Corbett, jobs and drug tests: What is he smoking?

Gov. Corbett claims that one reason for slow job growth is that too many Pennsylvanians are on drugs. Is he stoned?

Corbett, jobs and drug tests: What is he smoking?

Hundreds of pot smokers gathered at Independence Mall outside of the Liberty Bell to celebrate the marijuana holiday, "420". (Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com)
Hundreds of pot smokers gathered at Independence Mall outside of the Liberty Bell to celebrate the marijuana holiday, "420". (Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com) Colin Kerrigan

Dude! It looks like Pennsylvania is going to need to have an intervention...because we have a governor with a severe case of denial.

Last week, we learned that that Pennsylvania -- which had long been doing better than the national average when it came to jobs when Tom Corbett became governor in 2011, but now trails the U.S. unemployment rate -- lost more people from its labor force than any time in the last 30 years, and that it ranked 49th in job growth (ahead of only Wyoming) in March.

Yesterday, Corbett made his regular appearance on a radio show called "Ask the Governor," and so it seemed entirely appropriate to ask the governor: What the hay...? So he gave his usual riff on net private sector job gains since early 2011 (a world where those 20,000 public school teachers and employees laid off in the face of Corbett budget cuts magically don't exist) and then, unprovoked, he added this:

"The other area is, there are many employers that say we’re looking for people but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test, a lot of them. And that’s a concern for me because we’re having a serious problem with that."

OK, maybe he saw news accounts of that spirited 4/20 celebration on the Independence Mall, (pictured at top) but here are the facts. In 2011, the year Corbett took office, just 1.8 percent of workers in federally regulated industries failed drug tests. In spite of that, as noted by the blog Think Progress, Pennsylvania has been running a pilot project where folks seeking public assistance in 19 counties -- and who have past felony narcotics conviction -- must pass a drug test to get their check. Only two people have failed.

Instead of drug-testing poor people who need money for food and shelter, maybe we should move that pilot project to the state capital. I know, I know -- Tom Corbett is an upstanding citizen in his personal life (sure, he was born in 1949. but he's a child of the '60s in the same sense that Up With People is a musical group of the '60s), and there's a greater chance that Andrew Bynum would throw his crutches in the Schuylkill River and lead the 76ers to the 2014 NBA title than that our clean-living governor would fail a drug test.

And yet, I Googled some of the symptoms of excessive marijuana toking, and I have to confess I started getting concerned.

Slowed reflexes: Remember that time that then-attorney general Corbett learned that a Penn State football coaching legend might be a pedophile, and he only assigned one or two agents to the case while it sat in limbo for nearly two years. I would call that the ultimate case of slow reflexes.

Blurred vision. In March of 2011, Corbett peered out into the future and insisted he saw a future in which Pennsylvania would become "the Texas of natural gas." Already, though, there are signs that the natural-gas boom is already turning a bust in some counties, so maybe he should get his long-range vision checked out, at least.

Paranoia: In 2012, Corbett -- perhaps hearing voices on his AM radio frequency --  became so convinced that there was a massive conspiracy out there of so many people voting fraudulently that he signed a restrictive voter-ID law that would have actually thwarted thousands of legal voters instead. In the real world, a grand total of four people had been nabbed for real voter fraud in the four years before he signed his bill.

But Corbett's biggest problem is that, when it comes to jobs, the man is clearly delusional. Instead of investing in the things that would actually create jobs today and also down the road -- improving education and upgrading our lousy roads -- the governor is still stoned on the notion that more and more business tax cuts will lead to more hiring, despite three decades of proof that such corporate giveaways only leader to higher CEO pay and a few happy shareholders.

And now, confronted with the reality of his 27 months of economic abuse, he has the nerve to lash out and imply that his constituents are on drugs

But when it comes to his record on jobs, Gov. Corbett is the one who has got to be smoking something...if he's not huffing fracking fluids instead.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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