Chamber Minute

June 2018

Hi, I’m Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber.

Welcome to this month’s Pennsylvania Chamber Minute.

2018 is a busy election year at both the state and federal level, as Pennsylvania’s  governor, half the state Senate, all of the state House, the Congressional delegation and a U.S. Senate seat will all be on the ballot this fall.

But right beneath the surface of these typical election year races lays an undercurrent of extremism.  What makes last month’s Primary Election different from previous elections is that four candidates on the ballot for state House seats were either endorsed by or claim membership in the Democratic Socialists of America – two in Pittsburgh, one in Philly and another in suburban Philadelphia. And of those four, three of the candidates are almost certain to win their General Election races in November.

According to its bylaws, Philadelphia’s local branch of the DSA envisions a “humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning and equitable distribution,” that wholeheartedly rejects private sector ideals.  The seriousness of this cannot be overlooked.   Socialism is the antithesis to what American democracy is rooted in – the belief that everyone has the freedom to pursue the happiness they desire without oppressive government overreach.  Unfortunately, a divided political climate has allowed the far right and far left wings of our two party system to become more normalized; the consequences of which could be dire for all of us who want to see our elected officials get things done for the betterment of the people they are fortunate enough to represent.

Our job at the Pennsylvania Chamber is to advocate for public policies that will move the Commonwealth toward a brighter future, with vast economic opportunities that will set the state apart as a hub for job growth.  Socialism presents a stark contrast to this philosophy and has been met with dire results each time nations have embraced it.  We only need to study the economic history of countries like Cuba to see the financially devastating impact of socialist policies – or more recently, socialism in Venezuela – a country that is expected to lose 15 percent of its GDP this year and is now rated as one of the most economically repressed countries in the world, next to only North Korea.   As Winston Churchill put it, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance … its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”   That’s why it’s particularly disturbing that the co-chair of the Pittsburgh DSA chapter was quoted as saying on Primary Election night, “we’re turning the state the right shade of red tonight.” 

Although our civil discourse is facing unprecedented challenges, America cannot afford to turn toward this disastrous form of rule as we navigate our changing political landscape.  Regardless of our party affiliation, we should all embrace democratic values that move us closer to freedom – not further away from it.

Thanks for spending a minute of your time with the Pennsylvania Chamber, the statewide voice of business.