воскресенье, 23 сентября 2007 г.


Before the Commonwealth was settled, the area was home to the Delaware (also known as Lenni Lenape), Susquehannock, Iroquois, Eriez, Shawnee, and other Native American tribes.

In 1681, Charles II granted a land charter to William Penn, to repay a large debt owed to William's father, Admiral Penn. This was one of the largest land grants to an individual in history. The land included present-day Delaware and Pennsylvania. It was called Pennsylvania, meaning "Penn's Woods", in honor of Admiral Penn.

Penn established a government with two innovations that were much copied in the New World: the county commission, and freedom of religious conviction. Writer Murray Rothbard in his four-volume history of the U.S., Conceived in Liberty, refers to the years of 1681–90 as "Pennsylvania's Anarchist Experiment."

Between 1723 and when it was shut down by Parliament with the Currency Act of 1764, the Pennsylvania Colony made its own paper money to account for the shortage of actual gold and silver. The paper money was called Colonial Scrip. It is generally regarded as the most successful currency experiment by any government that ever existed. The Colony issued "bills of credit" which were as good as gold or silver coins because of their legal tender status. Since they were issued by the government and not a banking institution, it was an interest-free proposition, largely defraying the expense of the government and therefore taxation of the people. It also promoted generally employment and prosperity since the Government used discretion and did not issue too much to inflate the currency. Benjamin Franklin had a hand in creating this currency, of which he said its utility was never to be disputed and it also received the high praise of Adam Smith.

After the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, Delegate John Dickinson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania wrote the Declaration of Rights and Grievances. The Congress was the first meeting of the thirteen colonies, called at the request of the Massachusetts Assembly, but only nine colonies sent delegates. Dickinson then wrote Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, To the Inhabitants of the British Colonies, which were published in the Pennsylvania Chronicle between December 2, 1767, and February 15, 1768.

When the Founding Fathers of the United States were to convene in Philadelphia in 1774, 12 colonies sent representatives to the First Continental Congress. The First Continental Congress drew up and signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, but when that city was captured by the British, the Continental Congress escaped westward, meeting at the Lancaster courthouse on Saturday, September 27, 1777, and then to York. There they drew up the Articles of Confederation that formed 13 independent colonies into a new nation. Later, the Constitution was written, and Philadelphia was once again chosen to be cradle to the new American Nation.

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on December 12, 1787, five days after Delaware became the first.

For half a century, the Commonwealth's legislature met at various places in the general Philadelphia area before starting to meet regularly in Independence Hall in Philadelphia for 63 years. But it needed a more central location, as for example the Paxton Boys massacres of 1763 had made them aware. So, in 1799 the legislature moved to the Lancaster Courthouse, and finally in 1812 to Harrisburg. The legislature met in the old Dauphin County Court House until December 1821, when the Redbrick Capitol was finished. It burned down in 1897, presumably due to a faulty flue. The legislature met at Grace Methodist Church on State Street (still standing), until the present capitol was finished in 1907.

The new state Capitol drew rave reviews. Its dome was inspired by the domes of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the United States Capitol. President Theodore Roosevelt called it the "the most beautiful state Capitol in the nation", and said "It's the handsomest building I ever saw" at the dedication. In 1989, the New York Times praised it as "grand, even awesome at moments, but it is also a working building, accessible to citizens ... a building that connects with the reality of daily life."

James Buchanan, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the only bachelor President of the United States. The Battle of Gettysburg — the major turning point of the Civil War — took place near Gettysburg.


Certainly the capture of Saddam Hussein will prove to be the turning point in the occupation of Iraq: the insurgence will appear more aimless without Saddam’s figure, the interim government will become more legitimate outside the despot's shadow, and some questions that have plagued the occupation can finally be answered. But the overwhelming feeling in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's capture is anticipation. What will this mean for the future of Iraq? Has the country finally been liberated?

While it is too early to tell whether this will lead to the free, democratic state the Bush Administration has promised, policymakers must contemplate what yesterday's events can teach us about fostering democratic governance in once repressive, totalitarian states. Saddam Hussein's fall marks an opportunity that few states are granted: the chance to emerge from years of despotism. While the hacks focus on lauding our accomplishments in a narrow display of self-interest (especially those who promise an early withdraw), we should wonder what yesterday means for other states locked in tyranny.

Yesterday morning's media reports were plagued by much grandstanding but with little focus. Did the political implications in the United States really outweigh Iraq's benefit? At one point, I wondered if Howard Dean was found in a hole outside of Tikrit, peacefully surrendering to the Bush Administration. Most of the leading Democratic candidates were given adequate opportunity to respond, but only with the same reassurances any figure in Washington could give. Other reports promised a sooner withdraw and a victory in the war on terror—not as much a victory for the people of Iraq. Few seemed to realize that Saddam’s capture presented an opportunity, not a conclusion.

The rebuilding of Iraq can finally take place; the republic of fear that Fareed Zakaria describes in Newsweek is dead. But much work is left to be done; many open sores in Iraq need to be healed first. Hopefully Saddam Hussein's capture can foster a more constructive debate on the future of Iraq now that some closure has finally arrived.

The far-reaching implications of Saddam Hussein’s capture must be realized as well. A unilateral war against Iraq proved to be a price too high for much of the left; even ardent hawks rule out regime change in other states that been stabilized by fear and tyrannical rule. How can the free world foster the end of tyrannical regimes ignorant of the international community's will and their own domestic needs? How can yesterday’s events arrive to states such as North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe? The hacks will offer their most patriotic display in the coming days, which they do deserve thanks to great benefit the US military brought to the people of Iraq, but this question will remain the most poignant.

Permalink | Copyright Pennsylvania Gazette

Saturday, December 13, 2003

The traditional small-state/big-state rift in the EU was the culprit again. A summit in Brussels scheduled to quell disagreement over the EU Constitution fell apart without any headway made on the important issue of voting rights. Tony Blair proclaimed progress in reaching Britain's objectives at the summit (veto power on the key issues of taxation, defense, and foreign policy); France and Germany were disappointed smaller states--lead by Spain and Poland--wanted greater voting power.

The impasse at the EU summit is easy to explain; the larger, traditional states of the IGO, particularly Germany and France, want to fortify their power within the organization. A weaker role would endanger their role in a potentially powerful organization, which they help found after WWII. Smaller states do not want to see the continued favoritism of the larger states--particularly France and Germany.

Darkness continues hangs over the proceedings stemming from the lack of interest in reaching a deal sooner than later. Without any sense of urgency, these failings will do little to articulate the interest of Europeans who would like to bridge the distance between the populace of Europe and the EU.

The papers in Britain are sure to barely carry a front-page story on yesterday's fruitless proceedings. Apathy continues to reign in.

Permalink | Copyright Pennsylvania Gazette

Defying common sense, an early winter flu outbreak is news. A media firestorm over the diminishing stores of flu vaccine has sent frenzied people to the doctor. Meanwhile those in need of the vaccine are going to be shut out unless a mass influx of the vaccine becomes readily available.

Doctors claim that more people are going to the emergency room with the flu this year as opposed to others, but can this just be a result of the media's priming in the aftermath of last spring’s SARS outbreak? In addition, a cold start to the winter in the Northeast and Midwest has taken its toll. The fact is that the flu is common this time of the year and the media has been making a mountain of a molehill. Television news broadcasts here in New York City have been leading with the flu vaccine situation every night this week.

The tragedy of this story is the fact that flu vaccinations should be reserved for those at risk--small children, people with lung and heart conditions, and the elderly. As the flu vaccine becomes more scarce and expensive, these are the people that will feel its toll—those for whom the flu is fatal. All the while healthy, able people line up for a scarce vaccine that they do not need.

Permalink | Copyright Pennsylvania Gazette

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The papers have analyzed Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean ad nauseam. I agree with the quotidian commentary on the endorsement; it does bolster the candidacy of Howard Dean and solidifies him as the front-runner. But a few things need to be cleared up: Al Gore made the endorsement for no one else other than himself and the party, and there is no massive conspiracy or rift between the Gores and Clintons.

Al Gore, despite a good lot of negative press, has elevated himself from a position of obscurity--a ritual of his. While this act alone will not save his political career, it does put him in concert with a candidate who the Democrats think can win this election and will undoubtedly be the winner of the Democratic Primary. A future Cabinet position withstanding, Al Gore is the man who stood for president in 2000 and carries some sway in the party.

Next, there is no evidence that this is a scheme concocted by Al Gore to cater the support of the Deanies for a future presidential run in 2008. By no means does Al Gore propel or counter the interests of the Clintons either. If anyone orchestrated this event it’s the DNC. The party would love to see a candidate achieve electoral supremacy sooner than later. Isn't this the product of the early primary schedule anyway? Isn’t it time for the Democrats to start channeling their money into one candidate?

In short, do not listen to the pundits or self-loathing Democrats, like Zell Miller, and follow your common sense. Mr. Dean is more than the apparent winner of the Primary and it's time to move on. This is about winning elections, not perpetuating internecine feuds. The crescendo of Clinton's eventual endorsement of Howard Dean is rising.

Permalink | Copyright Pennsylvania Gazette

Saturday, December 06, 2003

As a resident of Pennsylvania I understood the rationale for tariffs against steel imports. Towns such as Allentown and Coatesville lie empty shells where a thriving steel industry reigned for two generations. Now the mills are closed or on limited production; unemployment surges above the national average and people trickle out of the region continuously.

Unfortunately there is no panacea for Pennsylvania's pain. Perhaps the government could become aggressive supporters of the steel industry--and its great labor organizations--by practicing strong protectionist policies, but only at the expense of foreign economies needing to diversify into manufacturing. It's clear that this policy would only prolong the deterioration of the American steel industry, not end it. Meanwhile other facets of the economy would suffer from higher input costs while cheaper sources of steel are closed off.

Even Republicans can agree that President Bush's policy on steel tariffs was a crude pander to Pennsylvania and other steel producing states. This is a state where the Electoral College cast its votes for Al Gore in 2000; where a Democratic governor is struggling to solve the state's dismal economic condition and the Republicans have dominated in the past. Pennsylvania is a must for Republicans in 2004 and it’s winnable.

So, the Democrats won a major victory today with the steel tariff reversal, right? Well, not exactly.

Dick Gephardt's pro-protectionism strain of the party would do well here—so candidates such as Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Wesley Clark are pumping up the protectionist rhetoric in their campaigns. These are darling issues of the old left, but do they resonate with American voters today? Is this just the Democratic Party pandering to their old base? Are the candidates squashing the headway President Clinton made in making the party for new left ideals—free global trade included?

This controversy brings to mind the New Labour/Old Labour split in Britain. In the end, it has been proven that the new left wins the day because people view it as competent, while the socialists are left with the rhetorical flourishes and lost causes. Despite warnings that Prime Minister Tony Blair is on the brink of falling out with Labour, he remains strong and popular with the people, so he will remain Prime Minister.

Saving Pennsylvania steel workers will sound great on the campaign trail, but it will not make the Democrats more desirable in 2004. People respect a politician that can make difficult decisions.

Permalink | Copyright Pennsylvania Gazette

Monday, December 01, 2003

Mike Allen of The Washington Post is the first to report that the Bush Administration has signaled that it will end a 20-month run of steel tariffs against European trading partners. The tariffs were aimed as a protectionist policy to aid the US's fledging steel industry, particularly in important swing states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The EU threatened to impose selective tariffs against numerous American exports in response to the steel tariffs; especially after the WTO sided with the lobbying of the EU to call for the US to end the steel tariffs. Now the Bush Administration is faced with a dilemma: either it can bow to the WTO and end the tariffs or face political repercussions in states it hopes to win in 2004.

After good news has emerged regarding the economy and unemployment, President Bush appears to be ready to swallow a bitter pill.

Permalink | Copyright Pennsylvania Gazette

The British tabloid, The Sun, obtained a copy of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's resume as submitted to the Labour Party. The CV dates back to 1983 and compelled the Labour Party to select him to run for the Sedgefied constituency he now represents as Prime Minister. However, the CV is riddled with spelling errors where the Prime Minister even spells his name wrong--"Tony Glair".

Tony Blair went on to bring the Labour Party back to power in 1997 after two decades of Tory dominance. He is also an Oxford graduate.

Hypocritically, The Sun, a newspaper that hosts its own variety of grammatical and spelling errors, pointed out the flaws in Tony Blair's CV.

Permalink | Copyright Pennsylvania Gazette

Thursday, November 20, 2003

The common wisdom on universal health care is that is just too expensive and ineffective. Horror stories are rampant on national health systems inability to cope with special procedures and the limitation of new research and techniques. But these numbers released by Brian Weatherspoon of Brown University act as a pretty convincing endorsement of the competence of national health services.

Not only is the US spending more per capita on health care than any other country in the world; European countries with national health services are picking up more of the bill (70%-85% of all health expenditures to our 44%) and spending less per capita! Couple this with a lower life expectancy in the US and a higher infant mortality. Sure, life expectancy and the infant mortality may not be the best indicators of competency in a health service (awareness of pre-natal care and lifestyle sure have a factor); but this survey offers some pretty counterintuitive findings across the board. Check it out as Congress fiddles more with Medicare.

Permalink | Copyright Pennsylvania Gazette

Nearly a week after al-Qaeda bombs killed dozens outside a Turkish synagogue, a string of suicide bombings struck British interests in Istanbul today, killing 27, injuring hundreds. Both Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush condemned the terrorist bombings that struck a branch of the London-based HSBC (The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited) and the British Consulate in Istanbul. George Scott, the Consulate-General in Istanbul, was among those killed in the bombings. The coincidence of the attack on British targets in Turkey during the state visit of President Bush cannot be denied.

No one has taken responsibility for the bombings so far, but they appear to be related to the earlier attacks against Jews in Istanbul; both were caused by multiple suicide bombings. The British intend to investigate the bombings targeted at the London-based bank and their Foreign Service, according to The Guardian. The Press Association claims that Turkish officials have the suicide bomber's identity from a CCTV-tape at the attack scene.

Meanwhile close to seventy thousand people protested the state visit in central London. Protesters converged on Trafalgar Square where speeches were given and effigies of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair were toppled a la Saddam Hussein's statue in central Baghdad. The protests included a peace march through Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. The Met police reported an orderly atmosphere and no major problems.

A scheduled joint press conference between Messrs. Blair and Bush was dominated by news emerging from Turkey on the terrorist bombings.

Permalink | Copyright Pennsylvania Gazette

Monday, November 17, 2003

President Bush will commence a state visit to the United Kingdom during what will be a period of turmoil for London. In preparation for wide protests of the American president's war policy and threats from al-Qaeda, tens of thousands of police officers will shut down much of Westminster. Subway lines will be cancelled and mobile phone service will be blacked out in Central London.

President Bush is the first president to visit Britain in an official state visit, which obliges him to stay with the Queen at Buckingham Palace in Westminster. The BBC reports this is not the first time President Bush met the Queen:

The last time Mr Bush dined with the Queen was at the White House when his father was president. According to Time magazine, he wore cowboy boots emblazoned with "God Save The Queen" on them, and asked Her Majesty if she had any black sheep in her family. In a bid to avoid embarrassment, Barbara Bush apparently told the Queen she need not answer.

Of course the President's visit could not have come at a more tumultuous time. The anti-war movement is as vocal as ever, using the event to re-polarize the opposition of the war, even if tensions have been tempered over time. The European Union has won support of the World Trade Organization in stopping US steel tariffs against European states. While the tariffs have been supported by unions in American rust-belt states, such as important swing states as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan; Europe has been appalled by what it sees as unfair trade practices. Prime Minister Tony Blair will be forced to confront President Bush on EU-US trade policy with the US's compliance with WTO order pending.

Today shocking news came out of the Commission on British Industry's annual conference as Digby Jones, the CBI head, alleged that the American government has urged firms operating in the United Kingdom to pack up and come home. Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered an address at the conference, which was already politically sensitive for the Labour prime minister. The CBI has pressed for Blair to confront President Bush's protectionist policies in a harshly rhetorical manner.

The clamor in London due to an enormous protest and terrorist threats to the President has dampened the state visit to say the least. All Britons can be appalled by the multi-million pound price tag for security alone, aside from the inconveniences of the Metropolitan Police's London shut down. However, these factors may be rendered trivial in light of the political implications of this visit for Tony Blair. It is time for the Prime Minister to show his mettle.