Baer: Time to change Pa.'s symbols

Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol building along with roses in Harrisburg on May 23, 2017.

Since the annual state budget process makes it clear that Pennsylvania government has no intention of changing its evil ways, it’s time to change official symbols, slogans, and such to better reflect the state of the state.

Say what?

That’s right. As lawmakers and Gov. Wolf appear ready to enact yet another (late), backed-by-borrowing, kick-our-problems-down-the-road budget, we need at least a little truth in advertising.

Let’s start with some official state symbols.

The state ship (yes, we have one) is the brig Niagara (War of 1812; Battle of Lake Erie), docked in Erie. Historically significant. Impressive vessel. Just doesn’t tell the state’s story.

Because of Harrisburg’s refusal to honestly balance a budget (which just drew warnings of another bond rating downgrade) and its simply shifting deck chairs on our ship of state, the official state ship ought to be the Titanic.

Somebody lower the lifeboats.

The official state insect (yes, we have one, and it’s not whichever elected official just crossed your mind) is the firefly, a.k.a. the lightning bug. Cute. Summery. But no longer appropriate.

A better choice, reflecting how our state’s financial follies burden our long-suffering taxpayers, would be the deer tick. Firmly attaches itself. Sucks your blood. Remind you of any particular legislative body?

Should Pennsylvania’s official insect be changed to the deer tick? This is a collection by South Street Veterinary Services in Pittsfield, Mass.

There’s more.

The official state dog (yes, we have one) is the Great Dane, also known as “the Apollo of all dogs” for its strength, stature and smarts.

Think Pennsylvania’s political/governmental culture fits that mold? Known for strength, stature and smarts? Sorry. That dog don’t hunt.

But with our penchant for paying for what Pennsylvania needs with ever-expanding gambling, I’m thinking the best canine choice going forward is the greyhound – coming to a dog-racing track opening near you soon.

And speaking of ways to raise more money, we should rethink the state drink.

The official state beverage (yes, we have one) is milk. You know, does a body good, nature’s perfect food.

A Pennsylvania punch of wine, beer, and spirits should replace the current state drink produced by these creatures.

Hah! New and growing access to wine, beer, and spirits – a booze-fueled state revenue-raiser — suggests the state’s beverage should be a mind-numbing Pennsylvania punch.

I suggest a mix of geographically representative ingredients, say, equal parts Presque Isle cabernet (Erie County), Yuengling lager (Schuylkill County), and Bluecoat gin (Philly). Yum. Have a statewide contest to name it.

Now, in fairness, some state symbols seem perfect. Take the state tree. It’s the hemlock. Not the poisonous plant, the coniferous tree. Though on second thought. …

Or how about the state bird? The ruffed grouse. Plenty to grouse about in Pa., eh? Then again, given our long-term debt, maybe a better feathered symbol would be the vulture. OK, the ruffed vulture.

I think I see some circling now.

Finally, we need a new state tourism slogan. Currently, it’s “Pennsylvania. Pursue Your Happiness.”

What is that? A directive? Suggestion? Encouragement to move someplace else?

Don’t these clodhoppers know the pursuit of happiness is a constitutional right?

Oh, wait, they pay no attention to the state constitution. If they did, they wouldn’t get per diems, pensions, or health care, since Article II, Section 8, of the Pennsylvania Constitution (you could look it up) says legislators shall get “salary and mileage” and “no other compensation whatever.”

Of course, they argue that not getting perks would violate their right to pursue happiness.

Anyway, a new slogan’s in order.

I’ve long suggested one based on political performance: “Pennsylvania. Land of Low Expectations.”

But given our business climate (we were just ranked one of the worst states for business starts) and proposed fiscal fixes, maybe something more immediately descriptive: “Pennsylvania. Come for the Borrowing. Stay for the Bankruptcy.”

Hey, at least we’d attract more bond lawyers.