Seth Wiedman /​Harrisburg

Stocks & Pedestal
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On a pedestal: A student star — Seth Weidman

It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness. That old expression found a disciple during the last school year in Seth Weidman, whose extra efforts have made him the youngest person to be placed on our pedestal.

When he started his senior year at Allderdice High School last fall, Weidman thought the school should offer students an Advanced Placement course in economics. And in the absence of such a class, the 18-​year-​old decided to create one.

He had taken the AP economics test as a junior, teaching himself what he thought he needed and scoring a 5 — the top score — on both the macro– and micro– economics exams.

So Weidman set to work, attracting students and spending up to 12 hours a week preparing for and teaching his class of 18 students. He obtained copies of past tests as well as the college text Principles of Economics. He contacted the author at Harvard and found a way to get Internet access to textbooks.

The class met in various homes, and at the end of the year, half of the students who took the test scored a 5, a feat that fewer than 5 percent of high school students accomplish.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty oftheir dreams.” For Weidman, who is studying at the University of Chicago, the future beckons.

In the stocks:Shenanigans in Harrisburg

It is often lamented that the Pennsylvania legislature tilts to the east, favoring Philadelphia over Pittsburgh. This past summer, however, evidence appears to indicate that many legislators have lost sight of both east and west, focusing instead on spending state dollars to ensure their own security.

Specifically, indictments by grand juries in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg accuse legislators and their staffs of using more than $1 million in state-​paid bonus money for a variety of expenses that veer far from the target of good government. The charges against former state Rep. Mike Veon, current state Rep. Sean Ramaley and various staffers allege they misused public money for political and personal ends, including campaign work, bumping third-​party candidates Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli off state ballots and such things as a mistress and vacations.

The charges are not that interesting, telling an old story of people who have lost their way. Protestations of innocence abound. What is more interesting is why Pennsylvania is shackled with a legislature that does so little for its citizens. And costs so much. With 253 legislators — the most in the nation aside from New Hampshire, where legislators don’t get paid — we’re simply saddled with a lot of dead weight.

Most Pittsburghers don’t pay attention to what goes on in Harrisburg for good reason. It’s a place that has seemed irrelevant and obstructionist so often in our plans to move ahead that Westerners take the attitude that we can do it without them.

We’re putting the Capitol in the stocks this issue as much for its culture of not being helpful as forits apparently blatant disregard for using taxpayers’ money with any sense of responsibility. If we reduced their numbers by half, we’d be better off.

PQ Staff

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