This article is being published with the kind permission of Chris Freind
By Chris Freind
You have to give credit where it’s due.
Thanks to Mayor Nutter, folks have laughed more over the last two
weeks than at any time in recent memory. If laughing is good for the
soul, Philadelphians are in great shape.
What was so funny?
Watching Nutter keep a straight face while proposing another 10
percent hike in property taxes (which would be in addition to last
year’s “temporary” 10 percent increase and the 100 percent increase in
the city portion of the state sales tax), higher parking fees, and yes,
the resurrected sugary drink “soda” tax, which would impose a two-cents
per ounce tax on sugary drinks.
But Philadelphians’ collective rage at the Mayor’s ideas was downright priceless.
If it wasn’t so funny, it would be pathetic.
The fact that there is any outrage or surprise is inexplicable. What did these people expect?
“These people” being the 80 percent who just voted for Nutter in last month’s primary election.
No, that’s not a typo. A whopping eight of ten Philadelphia voters
ushered Nutter back into the Mayor’s office (a done deal, since he
cannot lose in November), welcoming him back for a second term with open
To those folks, a suggestion: stop doing drugs. They make you hallucinate.
What part of The Nut’s sham did you buy? That he would make the
city’s business climate better so that it could attract more companies,
thus creating more jobs? Freindly Fire is no economist, but it knows
that when you want less of something, you tax it. That’s fact, not
opinion. So based on the crushing levies being proposed, how exactly
the Mayor plans to incentivize companies to stay in the city, much less
locate here, remains a mystery
But how could anyone oppose the soda tax, since its objective is to
combat obesity? Oh wait, that was last year’s pitch, which was so
disingenuous that the proposal landed in the drink.
This time, the Mayor is taking a different tack, presciently pointing
out that no businesses — even the beverage retailers — will really be
harmed by the tax.
“These are individual business people who will make individual business decisions,” Nutter said.
Of course, the Mayor failed to explain how paying a mandated soda tax
— a certifiable job-killer — would be an “individual business
decision,” since failure to comply would unleash the city’s Gestapo Tax
When asked if businesses would leave the city, he stated, “No, that’s
laughable. I mean, that’s just a cruel joke… they’re trying to scare
people with these tactics.”
Spoken like a career politician who has never held a private-sector
job in his life, and has absolutely no clue how devastating the soda tax
would be on the city’s businesses.
Here’s what the Mayor doesn’t want you to know: a soda tax, while a
burden to all, would be especially harmful to the poor, who can least
afford another tax. Remember, these people are already living in what
is, cumulatively, one of the highest-taxed cities in the nation.
More important, there’s no such thing as a “tax on soda.” It’s a tax on people. Period.
Which is why the Mayor is dancing the Philadelphia Two-Step, doing
everything in his power to distract the voters and avoid the real
Mayor Nutter incorrectly believes that government and “government
money” creates jobs and wealth, when in reality, the exact opposite is
Government creates nothing, nor should it. Rather, it’s free people
in a competitive environment who are the engine of a thriving democratic
society. Government should be there to serve the people, not the
other way around. Nowhere is that more apparent than in once-great
cities like Philadelphia, where the economic lights are on their last
Math doesn’t lie. Two plus two will always equal four — whether one
chooses to admit that or not. Out-of-touch politicians like Michael
Nutter can promise an empty bill of goods to our citizens. But just
because he chooses not to acknowledge the real problems doesn’t mean
they’re not there.
The ball is now in City Council’s hands. They have the sole power to
approve or reject the Nutter tax proposals. While conventional wisdom
says the votes aren’t there for passage, nothing is certain, especially
with so many retiring Council members with “nothing to lose” if they
anger the voters.
Sure, the city is facing fiscal problems, but breaking the backs of
citizens to fix problems not of their making is simply wrong. Retiring
or not, what politician really wants his or her only legacy to be a
tax-raiser who presided over a violent, insolvent city with vastly
deteriorated city services?
It is rare that a City Council vote holds so much importance. In
this instance, the significance is not just whether a sugary drink tax
is passed or defeated, but the message behind that vote:
Will Philadelphia continue its decline by engaging in more of the same failed policies?
Or will it finally turn the corner, firmly stating that it will no
longer look to the state and federal governments for bailouts which only
serve to pass the buck on accountability? And that, instead, it will
pull itself up by its own bootstraps, embracing the spirit of its
citizens rather than crushing it?
Here’s the truth. Residents are leaving Philadelphia in droves — some
to make purchases across county or state lines to avoid city taxes, and
hundreds of thousands who are just leaving altogether.
If Philadelphia is to ever put the brakes on this exodus, and begin
the long road back to respectability, it is mandatory for City Council
to step up and resoundingly reject the Mayor’s sugary drink tax
Anything else will just be “sugar” coating a tragic situation — forcing residents to pour a drink much stronger than soda.
City Council, your 15 minutes are upon you.