Why Philly Teachers Should Support Reopening Pennsylvania

by Christopher Paslay

School funding greatly depends on money from the state, and the state greatly depends on a functioning economy.

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that overrode Governor Wolf’s lockdown order, which if signed, would allow all businesses to reopen within federal safety parameters.

According to The Hill, Senate Bill 613 “would require the governor’s office to align with federal guidelines in determining which businesses will be allowed to reopen during the pandemic, allowing all those that can safely operate with mitigation strategies under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines.”

As Jan Murphy reported on Penn Live:

Republican senators who supported the bill argued it would provide transparency and clarity in determining which businesses can be open and require them to operate in a safe manner. They said Wolf’s list of life-sustaining businesses and accompanying waiver process was confusing, chaotic and showed favoritism.

Senate Bill 613, coupled with Senate Bill 327, would give county officials the power to decide when businesses in their county would reopen. A look at coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania shows that the outbreak in the state resembles the outbreak in the nation, and that the “coasts”— Pittsburgh on the west and Philadelphia on the east—are serving to handcuff the entire state, much the same way New York and Washington are handcuffing the entire country.

In fact, the entire middle region of Pennsylvania has been minimally affect by COVID-19, yet the businesses in these 50 counties are being suffocated because of the outbreaks in a handful of “coastal” counties. Obviously, life is precious and even a single death is one too many, and any reopening of a business should be done safely and with caution. (With that said, there’s no direct evidence that lockdowns are definitively working, and government lab tests show that coronavirus is destroyed by sunlight and high humidity, which could make the virus a thing of the past very soon.)

Still, Governor Wolf plans to veto Senate Bill 613, holding firm to his lockdown order. State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine wrote in a letter, “While the governor and I are as eager as anyone to begin getting people back to work, doing so prematurely will only increase the spread of the virus, further lengthening associated economic challenges, while also placing more lives at risk.”

But the businesses in the 50 counties between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are not at risk, as the data shows. COVID-19 cases are minimal here, and deaths are almost nonexistent. What is on the rise, however, are depressionsuicideopioid abuse, and the life crushing realities of losing everything through the closing of businesses (there have been 1.2 million unemployment claims in PA since March 14), and loss of all income. People are losing their livelihoods, and can no longer feed their families.

Unfortunately, the issue of reopening the economy has broken along political lines, with free-market conservatives calling for a safe yet expedited lifting of the lockdown, and more socialist-minded liberals advocating a prolonged closure, insisting that, as one Facebook meme read, If you prioritize the economy over saving people’s lives, then you never get to call yourself ‘pro-life’ ever again.

This crisis doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all, and you needn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, to use a cliché. Opening the economy is also saving lives, as noted above, yet to do so recklessly doesn’t help anyone. Going back to business as usual overnight isn’t advisable, but neither is cancelling all festivals and large events for the remainder of 2020, as New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell recommends.

Which is why Philadelphia schoolteachers should support reopening Pennsylvania safely yet expeditiously, and why they should call for Governor Wolf to sign Senate Bill 613. This isn’t putting profit over people’s lives, but striking a balance between a suffocating total state lockdown and a willy-nilly return to business as usual. The Philadelphia School District will undoubtedly be hurt financially by the crumbling economy, and as Dr. Hite has acknowledged in his April 13th“Message from the Superintendent,” there is the potential to lose significant funding in the coming school year, which is why he’s already put a hiring freeze on central office positions.

The contract between the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Philadelphia School District is up on August 31, 2020, and the longer Pennsylvania remains locked down, the tighter finances will be four months from now. This doesn’t only affect things like teacher salary and benefits—which will undoubtedly be impacted by the prolonged shutdown—but will also affect our education community for the coming school year, and the availability of funds for things like lower class sizes, books and technology, building renovations, and other important resources.

Philadelphia School District funding greatly depends on money from the state, and the state greatly depends on a functioning economy. When the economy tanks, we all tank, which is why the squabbling between political parties must end, and a common goal of safely opening Pennsylvania must become the priority—and it must happen sooner rather than later.


Trump is Still Odds-On Favorite to Win Re-Election. Wall Street Agrees.

by Christopher Paslay

Fake news stories and threats of impeachment have had minimal impact on President Trump’s chances of re-election in 2020.    

As the old saying goes, money talks, and B.S. walks.  And despite the bovine excrement pouring out of Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and all the pundits, politicians, and swamp creatures who have done their damndest to lie, spy, twist, and sling mud at President Trump in order to destroy his chances at re-election, Vegas odds-makers and Wall Street power brokers know the truth: Trump is still the prohibitive favorite to win in 2020.

According to the website “The Lines” which tracks the American sports betting industry:

Donald Trump opened at even odds of +100, or even money. This means you would need to wager $100 to win $100 (and $10 to win $10). Since the Democratic debates have begun, Trump’s odds have improved as high as -120. This means you would need to wager $120 to win $100.

As of September 25th, with the launch of Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry and all the negative news coverage surrounding Trump’s Ukraine phone call, betting odds have barely moved.  The popular Bet365 and Betway both have Donald Trump at +110 to win re-election, and Odds Shark lists Trump at +120.  In contrast, major sports betting sites list Elizabeth Warren between +275 and +300, and Joe Biden between +550 and +650.  

Not that odds-makers are perfect.  In 2016, Trump was listed by most betting sites at 500/1. According to “The Lines”:

When Donald Trump declared for President, he was priced at 500/1, or +50000 on betting sites. This means that the implied odds gave Trump a 0.2% chance of winning the presidency.

So, if you saw Donald Trump listed as 500/1, a moneyline wager of $1 winning would return $500. If you see it priced at +50000, then a $100 bet would return $50,000 profit.

For the 2020 Presidential election, Donald Trump is the “odds-on” favorite on some sports betting sites, where he’s priced at 1/1 or +100.

Financial investors are confident in Trump as well. In March, a poll of Wall Street insiders showed that over 70 percent expect him to win re-election in 2020. As stated by CNBC:

“Most expect Trump to win in 2020, but there’s still some nervousness around the event,” Lori Calvasina, RBC’s head of U.S. equity strategy, wrote to clients. Sixty-seven percent “of our March 2019 survey respondents believe that Joe Biden is seen as the most acceptable Democratic candidate by the stock market for the White House. No other candidate got a significant number of votes.” . . .

Presidential elections can have important implications for financial markets based on what traders believe the elected candidate will prioritize while in office. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied more than 450 points in the two days following Trump’s election in 2016 and jumped nearly 8 percent into year-end as investors grew confident in future corporate tax reform and big spending.

Currently, even after the launch of the impeachment inquiry by Democrats and the horrendously biased coverage by the mainstream press, Wall Street still believes Trump is safe.  As reported by CNBC on September 25th:

Investors shouldn’t worry about what a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump could mean for his current term or even his reelection chances, Wall Street investment banks advised clients.

But what they really should be worried about, Washington policy analysts said, is what the impeachment inquiry means for a potential trade deal with China and an already agreed-upon deal with Canada and Mexico. Investors also can forget about any new legislation like a drug prescription policy, they said.

Although Democrats are willing to both cripple Americans financially and hinder their health insurance as a means of hurting Trump, it appears this strategy isn’t working.  In fact, it may be having the opposite effect: Trump’s re-election is now more important than ever, especially if Americans want to steady the economy, keep and reform private health insurance, and engage in fair trade with China and North America.  

But money does have a way of talking.  And right now, most of the cash is coming in on Trump.       

Consumer Confidence Still High As Trump’s Economy Remains Stable

by Christopher Paslay

Despite recession hysteria from the left, Trump’s economy continues to chug along. 

The left’s attempt to push the three R’s – Russia, racism, and recession – has some financial talking heads wondering if Trump’s strong economy may be showing signs of weakness.  But the Consumer Confidence Index tells a different story.  According to the Conservative Treehouse:

The efforts of the Wall Street pundits and financial class to talk the American consumer into creating a recession is failing. The Consumer Confidence Index remains at historic highs as U.S. workers/consumers are confident in their economic position. Yes, Main Street USA is optimistic about current and future expectations.

The Consumer Assessment Index, a measure of the percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are “good”, increased from 39.9 percent to 42.0; and the Present Situation Index is now at its highest level in nearly 19 years (Nov. 2000, 179.7).

These are all key indicators because the U.S. consumer is the engine of our economy.  The U.S. consumer generates over two-thirds of our GDP activity through purchases.  One of the strengths of the U.S. economy is our internal self-sufficiency; approximately 80 percent of all consumer goods created in the U.S. are purchased in the U.S. by U.S. consumers [we are not reliant on exports to sustain growth].

A strong jobs market means higher wages and benefits; those higher wages lead to more purchasing…. the purchasing demand leads to more manufacturing, competition and innovative product creation… which leads to more job openings, which creates upward pressure on wages.

The U.S. economic growth is a strongly self-sustaining process so long as the consumer is optimistic about the future.

In short, Americans should remain positive about the economy, which is stronger than the left wants you to believe.  

Ironically, Trump’s ‘Opportunity Zones’ Are Helping Save Baltimore

by Christopher Paslay

A recent study ranks Baltimore a “Top Opportunity Zone for Smart Growth Potential.”

In December of 2018, George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis helped publish a study titled, “National Opportunity Zones Ranking Report.”  It’s executive summary began by stating:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included a new powerful economic development tax incentive — Opportunity Zones — designed to encourage long-term private capital investment in America’s low-income communities. With over 8,700 Opportunity Zones — spanning the entire continental US, the District of Columbia and US territories — now eligible to tap into over $6 trillion dollars of unrealized capital gains to support redevelopment projects and new businesses, there’s enormous excitement amongst investors and local policymakers. Equally, there’s enormous concern among local policymakers and community groups who are afraid that this tax incentive will crowdsource unmanaged gentrification and displacement or accelerate climate change. 

To weigh the good against the bad, the report calculated which Opportunity Zones in which areas not only had the greatest potential for success, but also which areas had the most social equity — the highest access for the poor to participate and benefit. 

Ironically, Baltimore was listed #5 in the nation for Smart Growth Potential, behind only Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland.  This not only means the city is a wise choice for investors, but also that this investment has the best opportunity to directly benefit local residents who are struggling with quality of life issues.  

These findings are important, especially when critics of “opportunity zones” say gentrification is harmful to residents, and that the poor get displaced while wealthy investors get tax breaks and enjoy the benefits.  But this is not necessarily the case.  In fact, a recent working paper from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve sheds new light on the issue.  As reported by the City Journal:

Several previous studies have already cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that gentrification causes widespread displacement of poor, longtime residents. “The Effects of Gentrification on Well Being and Opportunity of Original Resident Adults and Their Children” goes further by recasting gentrification as a potential force for income integration and social mobility.

The first thing noted in the study is that gentrification displaces very few people. “An influx of college-educated residents into formerly lower-income neighborhoods—the accepted definition of gentrification—increases the probability that vulnerable, less-educated renters move to another neighborhood by about 3 percentage points,” the City Journal reports.

An even bigger surprise is what happens to low-income residents who stay put compared with those who do move out. “The stayers remain at the same poverty levels as before gentrification, but they see less poverty in their midst,” reports the City Journal.  “Homeowners enjoy a big increase in their home values, enough to offset the inevitable rise in taxes.”

Curiously, gentrification has a positive effect on children.  “Kids living in gentrified neighborhoods see less poverty and more educated neighbors, and they develop more advantageous networks,” writes the City Journal.  “Most strikingly, gentrification increases the probability that children of less educated homeowners will attend and graduate college.”

In short, Trump’s Opportunity Zones are having an impact on urban poor.  In a July 16th cabinet meeting, H.U.D. Secretary Dr. Ben Carson reported additional positives to President Trump.  Here are some highlights Carson mentioned:     

  • Opportunity Zones are home to approximately 35 million Americans — about 10 percent of our population.
  • Over the past year, property sale prices in Opportunity Zones have increased by 20 percent, which is about double the appreciation rate for eligible non-selected areas.
  • The National Council of State Housing Agencies announced that its Opportunity Zone Fund Directory has expanded to nearly $29 billion in anticipated investment.
  • In Salt Lake City, a big multi-family dwelling is being built with a center for helping autistic people enter the workforce. 
  • The Governor of Maryland is spending $56.6 million for training programs to supercharge Opportunity Zones in his state. 
  • In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant has approved a special Opportunity Zones cycle as part of the low-income housing tax credit program offered through the Mississippi Home Corporation. 
  • In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive directive that focuses state procurement practices on businesses located within Opportunity Zones.

“Opportunity has no color, but it colors everything,” Dr. Carson told President Trump. “Opportunity has no creed, but it gives people strength to believe. Opportunity has no religion, yet it gives us each faith. And I want to thank you for the faith that you’ve shown to the Revitalization Council as we have championed this incredible initiative across the country. This is a game changer. Major game changer in this country. And we look forward to building on this exciting momentum.”

“What’s happened with Opportunity Zones is somewhat of a miracle,” Trump said. “Nobody in their wildest imagination thought this could happen.”

July Jobs Report: 164,000 Job Gains, 3.2% Wage Growth, 151 Million Working

by Christopher Paslay

Good news for the economy all around, as Trump’s policies continue to benefit all Americans.  

Although economic growth has cooled some in the past few months, things are still looking up for Americans.  More importantly, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates Wednesday, its first reduction since December 2008.  Although savings accounts may feel the squeeze, lower interest rates will help Americans find affordable mortgages and negotiate auto loans, and will help them pay off their credit cards and student loans.     

According to Markets Insider

US employers added 164,000 jobs to the economy in July, falling in line with analyst estimates and pushing the nation’s labor force to a new record.

The national average wage rose 3.2% to $27.98 per hour, and the total number of jobs in the US hit 151 million. The unemployment rate remained 3.7%

study conducted by Bloomberg looked at hiring across each industry and organized the July jobs data across those lines. One area it explored was how quickly those industries are adding employees.

The five industries that generated the fastest employment growth in July were:

  • Motor vehicles and parts, which added 7,200 jobs and has a current wage of $23.47
  • Offices of other health practitioners, which added 7,300 jobs and has a current wage of $23.29
  • Child day care serves, which added 8,100 jobs and has a current wage of $14.08
  • Logging, which added 400 jobs and has a current wage of $22.62
  • Couriers and messengers, which added 6,700 jobs and has a current wage of $19.02

Liberals Throw Temper Tantrums; Trump Makes Deals

by Christopher Paslay

As folks like Megan Rapinoe, Colin Kaepernick, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez curse and stomp their feet in the corner, President Trump is reaching across the aisle and getting things done; enacted bills with bipartisan support are at a 20-year high. 

Megan Rapinoe isn’t going to the “f**cking White House.”  Colin Kaepernick, outraged by the hateful symbol otherwise known as the American flag, isn’t going to honor a country that made him a multimillionaire.  And freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, well, she’s going to label everyone on planet earth a racist – including Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and all of the Democrat’s centrist “segregationists” – and when that’s done, she’s going to speak with NASA about looking for some racists on Mars, too.

That’s the behavior of the American Left.  We’ve entered a hyper-politically correct age driven by divisive identity politics – where the content of a person’s character is secondary to their race, gender, and sexuality.  Which means when liberals don’t get their way, they throw a temper tantrum like John McEnroe or Lou Piniella.  They curse, pout, scream and hold their ears until the person they disagree with grows tired of trying to reason with them.  When that doesn’t work, they start using the failsafe words: racist, sexist, homophobe, Islamophobe, xenophobe, and the hottest new phobia, straight out of Frankenstein’s linguistic laboratory, transphobe.    

And what is President Trump doing while all this nonsense is happening?  While AOC is screaming at the border about policies that existed since President Clinton and passing around pictures of caged children taken during Obama’s presidency?  Why, Trump is getting things done, that’s what.  Lots of things, in fact.  And not just ramming legislation down everyone’s throats, either. He’s reaching across the aisle and coming together with his political opponents and finding common ground.  

According to the Pew Research Center, “Between its inception in January 2017 and its final day on Jan. 3, the GOP-led 115th Congress enacted 442 public laws, the most since the 110th Congress (2007-09).” And most notably, almost 70 percent of these bills were bipartisan, the most in 20 years.  As noted by Pew Research: 

Perhaps its most significant law was the $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in December 2017. Besides reducing income taxes on individuals and businesses, the law repealed the tax intended to enforce the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most Americans carry health insurance.

Other major legislation, much of it passed with bipartisan support, included the First Step Act, an overhaul of the federal criminal justice system; a new five-year farm bill; a law intended to address the opioid crisis by, among other things, expanding the availability of addiction treatment; the Music Modernization Act, which rewrote music copyright and royalty rules for the digital age; a sanctions bill targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea; a bill overhauling and extending veterans’ educational benefits; and the first comprehensive NASA authorization bill in more than six years.

On the international front, Trump has also been working his magic on foreign policy.  As reported by The Hill:

On the biggest stage, he excoriates our NATO allies and yet comes home with a larger NATO budget and an unprecedented visit from the European Union (EU) to seriously negotiate a trade deal. He pulls the same stunt with Canada and Mexico, with similar results. But that, of course, is not the trick. The real stunt is that he then begins to negotiate a much more important deal with China without needing to watch his back from Europe, Canada and Mexico.

And the economy, according to the Wall Street Journal:

“The job market doesn’t get much better than this. The U.S. economy has added jobs for 100 consecutive months. Unemployment recently touched its lowest level in 49 years. Workers are so scarce that, in many parts of the country, low-skill jobs are being handed out to pretty much anyone willing to take them—and high-skilled workers are in even shorter supply. All sorts of people who have previously had trouble landing a job are now finding work. Racial minorities, those with less education and people working in the lowest-paying jobs are getting bigger pay raises and, in many cases, experiencing the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for their groups.”

Today, the stock market reached an all-time high, closing above 27,000 for the first time ever.  In short, Trump is getting things done. Ironically, the so-called “divisive” president is making deals and finding common ground.  And he’s doing it despite the histrionics of outraged liberals like Rapinoe, Kaepernick, and the teary-eyed AOC.