Pennsylvania's name game

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a/k/a BE)

JB: Yo, chief, see that Inky story Monday about changing the name of the state Department of Public Welfare?

BE: I did. Seems a good idea.

JB: Which probably dooms it, right? It's before our Legislature.

BE: Yeah, but this appears easy. Not like privatizing booze or fixing roads and bridges or solving the pension crisis or improving public education or....

JB: Whoa, whoa, let's not get ahead of oursleves. If you take on problems like changing the names of state departments and then actually do it, it looks like you're getting something done.

BE: Fair point.

JB: Besides, the Inky piece says the current name can be stigmatizing to many of the folks benefitting from $11 billion worth of social programs.

BE: Maybe so. But if somebody wants to benefit me, they can call it anything they like.

JB: Yeah, but shouldn't we move our state into the present? Only one other state, Idaho, still has the word "welfare" in it human-services agency.

BE: Hey, just like only one other state, Utah, still controls booze at all levels.

JB: One problem at a time.

BE: What about the cost of making the change? That seems to be an issue.

JB: More than that. It seems to be an issue nobody has a handle on. The Inky story says a 2010 legislative estimate put the cost of change at $500,000. But the Welfare Department puts the cost at $7 million to $8 million.

BE: Well, Welfare has a bigger budget than the Legislature. And the way you keep big budgets is spend what you get.

JB: Fair point.

BE: The only real danger I see is setting off a name-changing epidemic. You know, the Department of General Disregard for Taxpayers' Money; the Department of We Can Slow Down Any Application for Anything; the Ministry of Silly Walks, you get the idea.

JB: Well, if starts happening I propose we change the state slogan from "The State of Independence" to "The Land of Ongoing Investigations."