Scranton, Pennsylvania: An Example of Failed Liberty
Libertarians often seem a bit obsessive when they appear to hark on the importance of liberty and how disastrous it is for society when liberty dissolves. For Americans, the notion of the lost of liberty seems like a quaint idea. The reason for this is because most Americans live in urban areas and suburbs where blatant examples of abuse of liberty are seldom observable. Furthermore, many Americans are not quite informed. Therefore, if something doesn’t have widespread news coverage, it basically doesn’t exist, even if it is occurring in their backyard. Case in point would be Scranton, Pennsylvania! If the average American knew what was going on here in this city, they would all become libertarians overnight. So what is exactly going on in Scranton?
A Libertarian’s Worst Nightmare
I am not from the area. I am originally from New York City and came to Scranton for work and study. While here, I was confronted with something I never thought was possible in America. I was well aware of certain gross miscarriages of justice and usurpations on liberties that occur across this nation, but I never thought it could be so pervasive as to resemble a third world country. In other words, the people of Scranton live more like they are in North Korea than anything resembling a 1st world democratic nation. Now, before I put forth my evidence, I want to implore my readers that everything I am about to say is true. I am well aware that sensationalism is rampant on the internet, and that anyone will say anything for intention, but rest assured this is not the case with this article; I will provide as much evidence as possible. The reason for this admonishing is due to the fact that what goes on Scranton is so unbelievable that if you do not witness it first hand, it is almost impossible to believe.
A Land Without Liberty
Scranton used to be the center of the industrial revolution because of its coal mineral deposits. During the late 1800s and early 1900s Scranton was a bustling city, up until the collapse of the coal industry. The collapse caused a chasm of economic activity and a suitable replacement to fill this hole was not readily available. The city since then has lost 50% of its population but maintains the same amount of government services for a population of 140,000. Because of its strong union tradition, the unions literally run the entire city, with devastating consequences for all Scrantonians. If we fast forward today, we witness a city that is rife with government overreach, corruption, malfeasance, nepotism, extortion, theft, seizure of private property and all sorts of criminal acts, all perpetuated by the local Scranton government. After all, this is the area where the infamous “Kids for Cash” Scandal took place. For those who do not know, “kids for cash” was a scandal involving two judges who were purposely sending kids to detention centers in order to receive kickbacks. Amazingly, that was just the tip of the iceberg for all the things that go on in Scranton and surrounding areas. To keep this article brief, I will give a rundown off some of the most salient examples of the sort of corruption that is common place in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Here’s the run down:
- 1/3 of the Scranton population lives in poverty (here)
- Most of the lucrative jobs in the city have some affiliation to the government (here)
- The Scranton government is tittering toward bankruptcy with over a 300 million dollars in debt (here)
- There are hardly any jobs in the area that pay a living wage (here)
- The Scranton government routinely attacks residents, so much so that they are now in court for such abuses (here)
- The city is falling apart with blighted houses and boarded up business everywhere (here, here)
- Did I forget to mention that it is the unhappiest city in America? (here)
- The local mall is a ghost town (here)
- The local government spends upwards of 80% of the budget on government employee compensation (here)
- And they are planning to sell public assets in order to pocket to proceeds (here)
- The local government will use intimidation tactics to silence anyone who opposes the status quo (here)
- The current debt rating for Scranton is below Junk Status (here)
- The fire fighters pension is only 17 percent funded, the non-uniformed fund is 23 percent funded and the police fund is at 29 percent (here)
- 50% of retired police officers and 56% of the firemen in Scranton are currently on disability and receiving disability payments. The highest rate in the entire state of Pennsylvania! (here)
- Being on disability in Scranton does not disbar these people from getting jobs elsewhere. One source is quoted saying “There are actually some people in Scranton, some retired police officers who are now working as prison guards.” (here)
- But the police cars, fire engines, headquarters and government buildings are absolutely luxurious! In fact, government buildings account for the most tax-exempt property in the city (here)
- Corruption runs deep in the area (here)
- Residents pleads with the government to stop the tax increases and file for bankruptcy but the City refuses (here)
- It is not possible to tax your way out of this crisis by raising taxes but the City of Scranton tries anyway (here)
- In the neighboring town Police cars, Fire Engines and Headquarters were purchased through private dollars and offered as “gifts” (here)
- Eleven officers in Scranton earned six figure Salaries when most Scrantonians live in poverty and the city government is bankrupt! (here)
- One in three children live in poverty in Scranton, Pennsylvania! (here)
- The Scranton government permits the contamination of the city’s water (here)
- Scranton has a lead problem as bad as flints (here)
- Police officers and Firemen make 100k when the median salary is 40k (here)
- Scranton sold its sewer authority to a private company and intends to pocket the money (here)
- Scranton “leased” its parking meters and public garage to dubious firms who intend to raise fees (here)
- Scranton has a mercantile tax that is 3% of gross sales just to do business in Scranton (here)
- Scranton has a Heroin problem (here)
- Scranton gave away its public garage for a dollar (here)
- Scranton refuses to go bankrupt despite having no money (here)
- Scranton is in desperate need of federal investigation (here)
- Scranton government is going to tax rain (here)
- Scranton residents live in fear of Scranton government (here)
- People who oppose the Scranton government die mysteriously (here)
What can be done?
Libertarians are not often known for their hopefulness, or being solution oriented. Often times, a libertarian’s response to statist creep is to say “Statists are going to state”. This nihilistic proposition denies the reality that if nothing is done about the usurpation of liberty, the state eventually comes for your own personal liberties. With this in mind, I have begun diligently working to combat and expose the corruption in Scranton. I have gotten local business to boycott the Scranton government’s mercantile tax. This is stunning victory in a city where everyone is afraid to even say something bad about the local government. I have grown a base of support and actively working on putting forth campaigns to expose the Scranton government and force it into Federal courts. I have had threats made against me and attempts made on my life because of this. Nevertheless, I remain resolute in my position that corrupt governments should not be obeyed. Of course, more help is needed, and I would recommend all current readers to share this story with as many people as possible. The number one way to defeat corruption is to expose it. I sincerely believe that if enough people know what is going on in Scranton, it will only be a matter of time before the corrupt dealings of the Scranton government is exposed and it comes falling down like a house of cards.
* 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.