Regressive ‘progressivism’ & Fox Chapel secrets

Regressive ‘progressivism’ & Fox Chapel secrets

A new Brookings Institution report says Pennsylvania’s “innovation policy” is lagging behind other states.

The commonwealth scores below average nationally for industry research and development and it has experienced a decline in venture capital and state aid for startup companies, the think tank says.

And, Brookings suggests, this “innovation economy … has gone flat at the wrong time.”

But one of Brookings’ nubs of the rub, so to speak, can be found on Page 12 of the report:

“Continuing disagreement over the state’s role in economic development remains a major reason why state public support for innovation initiatives remains below pre-recession levels.”

Ah, if only those old-think folks who eschew the “progressive” theology that government should and can command the economy could get with the program, Pennsylvania would be at the top of the “innovation economy” heap, eh?

Sadly, tragically, government interventionism long has been one of the or the baseline(s) for those promoting/measuring “progress.”

But the road to innovation is not found in any or, good grief, more government direction but less. Government’s recidivist attempted to pick winners and losers through its “economic development” schemes — and by draining the private investment pools through onerous taxation, regulation and other compliance costs — is a recipe for failure, not success.

Government that exercises universal interference is Orwellian government that has the hubris to think the populace is so stupid as to believe regressivism is “progressive.”

That this lesson refuses to be learned by generation after generation suggests an intellectual deficit whose odds of ever being overcome grow greater with every taxpayer-underwritten government intervention.

Sound public policy demands government transparency, of course. But the Fox Chapel Area School District certainly has an Orwellian view of that concept.

As PublicSource reports it, the district hired a law firm to conduct an investigation that it won’t tell the public about. Only when the news outlet received an inquiry from the law firm about what it knew, did the public have any inkling.

The exercise in opaqueness goes back to a PublicSource story in July reporting that bins of school district documents had been sent for shredding on June 18 — a day after the news outlet filed four Right-to-Know open records requests.

PublicSource has been reporting on resident concerns about what they call the district’s lack of transparency.

When PublicSource sought a record of what was shredded, a district official said there was “no public record” of items sent for destruction. The Fox Chapel superintendent later said the documents were “confidential.”

That said, the district still hasn’t told Fox Chapel taxpayers directly what’s going on or, as PublicSource notes, even how much the law firm is being paid.

Perhaps the Fox Chapel School District believes its bosses – taxpayers – are the proverbial “scurvy master. Or that it has, as Oscar Wilde once wrote, “an insatiable curiosity to know everything,” except what the district determines “what is worth knowing.”

But whatever the district believes, it has an obligation to be transparent in its dealings. Thus far, as PublicSource has reported, it hasn’t been.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).