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What would Ben say?

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Letter to the Editor
Friday, April 11, 2014, 8:57 p.m.
 

Recently while reading Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, I became aware of the fact that those things that concern us about our public officials today were a concern of at least one of our Founding Fathers.

As a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, Franklin often had to argue for taxes for various purposes. The proprietaries would permit these while adding the exclusion of their own estates. They would receive credit for their charitable acts and other necessary actions while not expending any of their wealth or resources.

Franklin felt that he would serve the public in various capacities, but he would never accept special privileges nor would he campaign for any public office. He felt that it was wrong for anyone to make a gain from such service, though he had numerous opportunities to do so.

How different this is from today's public servants, who provide themselves with a lucrative salary, many benefits and exemptions to laws that burden the common public (health care).

Though reaching the large number of people over vast distances might require more finances today than it did more than 200 years ago, the source of these finances is troubling. To receive support from sources outside the political district causes that public servant to be indebted to those who hold the purse strings. That could be a big business, union or political party.

I am fearful of a Congress that votes along party lines (Democrat or Republican). It shows more concern for lawmakers' party than for their constituency. I think Benjamin Franklin would see this as a government that no longer speaks for the public.

Edwin Zylka

Bullskin Township

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