Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

What Occupy Philly could say about city and state government

An IOM editorial in the Daily News:

What Occupy Philly could say about city and state government

An IOM editorial in the Daily News:

OCCUPY PHILLY, we're not going to be hard on you. Yet.

While many are sniping that your message and mission are vague, we think your message is clear: Corporations and the wealthy control the government, and people suffer for it.

But it would further your cause to release a list of specific demands. Demand change from the city officials whose headquarters you're camping at, as well from state officials whose offices (and influence) are blocks away from City Hall.

* Demand that state lawmakers pass campaign-contribution limits. Pennsylvania is one of a few states that has no limits on campaign contributions from individuals or political action committees. Few solutions would so swiftly and singlehandedly lessen the influence of big industry in state politics.

* Demand that City Council enact term limits. On average, Council members are on the job for more than 15 years. That's longer than city lawmakers in all other major U.S. cities. This effectively makes them kings and queens - and renders them barely accountable to the "99 percent" of us. 

* Demand that the city and state put an end to corporate handouts. For example, it wasn't enough that city taxpayers forked over $96 million to build the Eagles' stadium in 2003. They'll also pay the team $7.8 million this year for maintenance costs at Lincoln Financial Field, and that bill will only grow in the future.

* Demand that Council enact business-tax reform. Under the current system, big companies like Home Depot and Wal-Mart can pay little or no business-privilege taxes on their profits, because they're based outside of Philadelphia, and can record profits in other places. The tax on profits applies only to profits earned here. Council has debated reforming this tax in the past. Now is the time to do it.

Like politics, all revolutions are local.

Update: This post has been changed. Read here for more details.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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