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Harrisburg and Divine Intervention–Commentary by Sanjay Paul

Jul 15th, 2011 | By | Category: Features, Lead Article

In June, seeking divine wisdom to solve Harrisburg’s problems, Mayor Linda Thompson announced three days of prayer and fasting. The announcement was treated with skepticism in some quarters–did even God have sufficient powers to deal with the city’s financial woes? Could even He stare down the bondholders? Others upbraided the mayor for breaching the wall of separation between church and state, although those who doubted that the founding fathers ever intended to erect such a wall were not particularly displeased with the mayor’s action.

And now look! The prayer thing has gone national! Rick Perry, governor of Texas, has announced a day of prayer. We have been insufficiently thankful to God, says Perry, suggesting that this is what has landed the nation in its current predicament. Now, he says, we must right this wrong, and seek God’s guidance with humility. The solution to our nation’s most pressing problems–high unemployment, large budget deficits–will then become clear.

Perhaps so, but why does one have the nagging feeling that God’s solution will consist of a mixture of tax cuts, reduction in spending on social programs and a dismantling of government regulations? We will wait with bated breath to hear from Mr Perry.

In the meantime, how about Harrisburg? Have the mayor’s days of prayer and fasting provided divine guidance on dealing with the twin crises facing the city–the incinerator’s debt burden and the debilitating state of city finances?

The city will soon have to decide what to do with the proposed Act 47 plan. Perhaps we will then learn whether the hand of God had anything to do with it. But one thing is clear. The hand of the bondholder surely will.

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