Crowdsourcing Liberty

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I have been bringing attention to the dire financial straits of Scranton, Pennsylvania for almost a year. My efforts have gotten coverage from many outlets.

The next phase of addressing the issue of Scranton’s corruption and economic malaise has arrived. I have decided to put forth a ballot initiative to bankrupt the city of Scranton. I launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money needed to successfully get the bankruptcy on the ballot. The ballot initiative appears to be the first of its kind. It is a direct democratic means for the people of Scranton to tell their local government they are tired of the high taxes, minimal services, excessive regulation, and forfeiture of city assets. Some may consider bankruptcy a drastic step, but the truth is that it is the only step.

Why Bankruptcy?

The city of Scranton has been in Act 47 for distressed cities for a quarter of a century.

The temporary measure was supposed to put Scranton on a path toward rectifying their fiscal issues. Instead, you have a city that has an 85% underfunded pension, mounting debts, and a dwindling tax base. All of the city’s efforts to this point have failed, because they have neglected to do the proper thing. What is that, you may ask.

They have neglected to stem the cost that has been increasing throughout the years: government employee wages/pensions.

The city of Scranton has to renegotiate the government employee contracts. Both reports from Wells Fargo and the Mercatus Research Center say the same thing. Instead, the city was successfully sued by the public unions – an effort that only left the city in worse financial shape than it was already in. Now, the median income of government employees exceeds that of the average Scrantonian by an astonishing amount. A report from the Mercatus  Research Center spelled out that Scranton has been increasing the per capita cost of government employees despite a shrinking population. This means that more cost are being spread over fewer people. Scranton has shrunk from a population of 140,000 to 75,000.

scranton-per-capity-expenditures-1951-to-2005

Nevertheless, the budget has increased from 30 million to 140 million.

scranton-total-revenue-and-expenditures-1951-to-2005

The local government is populated with politicians that are voted in by the unions. The unions fundamentally control the city of Scranton.

Now, the unions have representation that negotiates for them at the table. The unions also vote in the politicians who are at the table. Who negotiates on the behalf of the taxpayer who is fronting the bill? NO ONE!

Is it any reason why the city is in complete financial turmoil? More and more of the budget is spent on employee compensation.

scranton-employee-expenditures-2006-to-2014

The people of Scranton are being made to pay for the local government’s mistakes that are due to politicians voted in by unions.

composition-of-scrantons-pension-contributions-2004-to-2016

A bankruptcy will allow a third party to get involved who will open the books for the world to see just what exactly is going on in this city. The people of Scranton have suffered tremendously, but this is the chance for them to bring leverage to the situation. A bankruptcy on the ballot will mean that the Scranton government will have no choice but to confront the economic realities facing the city. The city’s $500 million debt has no possibility of being paid back. Furthermore, Scranton has run out of the ability to refinance its loans and will be on the hook for $14 million that it will have to pay!

Liberty In Action

Libertarians are always complaining and criticizing government overreach. Nevertheless, there is seldom action on the part of libertarians besides a great deal of writing.

This is an opportunity to truly support a libertarian effort through direct action.

I have already campaigned to boycott local mercantile taxes.

I have gotten the attention of local and national media – WNEP and Bloomberg.

I believe that this ballot initiative will reverberate throughout the country. This is direct blow to government overreach and sends the message to unions everywhere that the people must have a say in how their tax dollars are being sent. Fundamentally, government pensions are not sustainable. Study after study have proven this. This ballot initiative will do what the weak local Scranton government is too spineless to do. Every town hall meeting is punctuated by local citizens begging for tax relief but is given no response. The people of Scranton want a bankruptcy and this is the way they can obtain it.

Thus, I implore all those who love liberty, freedom, and small government to support this campaign. Give any bit you can and rest assured your contribution will not be in vain. To Liberty! Support it here!

This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Gary St. Fleur, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC

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Gary St. Fleur

Gary St. Fleur is the founder of Save Scranton, an organization that campaigns against the corruption and malfeasance in the North Eastern Pennsylvania area, by utilizing grassroots efforts to enact reform.

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