Pay for Play Opinion

I occasionally submit letters to the editor to various local newspapers.  As a person active in politics, it’s a thing that I do.  Sometimes I write them because I’m personally inspired, sometimes it’s because a particular political campaign has asked me to do so.  Just for the sake of context here is the letter that I submitted to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat:

I’d say that I’m disappointed in Sen. Pat Toomey for his hypocritical positions on job creation in America and Pennsylvania in particular, but at this point I expect nothing less of him. One minute, he’s wearing a hard hat for a self-congratulatory photo op at a factory, taking credit for bringing jobs back to America, the next he’s voting down the very policies that would accelerate the return of jobs to this country.

For years, this country has made it easy and profitable for corporations to send their jobs overseas, putting millions of Americans out of work. Cheaper labor in other countries is out of our control, but the U.S. Tax Code plays a huge role in outsourcing. By allowing companies to write off moving expenses associated with outsourcing, and not taxing companies’ foreign income, outsourcing has become an incredibly lucrative business.

Toomey has had many chances to stand with American workers, but he has always stood with corporations that outsource. He has voted against the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would have done away with outrageous tax breaks for outsourcing companies, and given tax breaks instead to businesses that bring jobs home from abroad.

Toomey needs to stop putting his anti-government ideology in the way of American job growth. Pennsylvania deserves better than Pat Toomey.

I received a call from the Trib-Dem during which a woman told me that if I wanted to run my letter to the editor as an ad that I could for $49.  When I expressed my totally reasonable and utter confusion, she responded by telling me that they were “trying something new” and that endorsements were to be run as ads.

“Um…okay.” I said. “Nevermind then, I guess.”

And I sat down on my bed because I was like…what?  Like any modern-day social-media maven I jumped directly on my Facebook page to say “Whaaaaaat?”  My friends were of a largely “WTF” sort of opinion.

By and large when people cry “freedom of speech” it’s largely because they don’t like the consequences of their free speech rather than because their speech has actually been abridged.  If they had declined to print the letter, that would have been one thing.  If they had said – as did my most nearby paper – that their policy for letters related to elections (which technically this wasn’t but whatever) is that they can only be 150 words I would have cut it down.

The print news business isn’t what it used to be.  I get it.  Subscriptions are down.  Ad sales are down.  That’s unfortunate.  I don’t know the answer to your problems.  Know what the answer isn’t?  Trying to sell me some line of bullshit about how endorsements are now ads and they cost $49.