To start with, six of the top 10 worst places to live in Pennsylvania are in Northeastern Pennsylvania.They are in bold.
- New Castle
- Dickson City
Usually the most crime ridden areas in the United States are places where large numbers of poor blacks live. For example, the top 5 in 2013 were East St. Louis, IL; Camden, NJ; Gary, IN; Chester, PA; and Saginaw, MI which are 97%, 48%, 85%, 75%, 46% black, respectively. Even though Wilkes-Barre is only 11% black, its crime rate was still incredibly high, leading it to be 18th most dangerous city in the entire country in 2013. The setting for much of the crime is Sherman Hills, a series of run-down section eight apartments allegedly run by neglectful orthodox Jews from New York. Murder is largely relegated to the warring factions of gangs who infest these projects and nearby localities of the city, but should you be an over-active critic of crime, you may find yourself dead like Donald Bachman or Michael Onley. In Scranton the situation is a little better, but you may want to hesitate in participating in Uber in certain areas.
Wilkes-Barre may not have the charms of many big cities, but it has big city levels of beggars. Walk through Public Square in Wilkes-Barre and you'll be asked for money. At times it seems like the homeless capital of the world, with various vagabonds laying about on benches. Bathrooms in the vicinity are tightly monitored, and the Barnes and Noble's bathrooms are often closed because bums wipe themselves down in them.
Normally pan handlers ask for a dollar or a quarter, but if someone claims to have suffered an auto accident and urgently needs a large sum of money for their car, try asking them to call the police for help. If they immediately dismiss the idea and become tight lipped, then you've got a scam artist in your midst.
8. Prevailing Misery
According to a study in 2014, Northeast Pennsylvania was rated #1 out of 177 metro areas in unhappiness. Few people below retirement age live in the region because they want to. Usually some health problem or family issue keeps them around.
It used to be said that "there's a church and a bar on every block" in Northeast PA. Drinking culture dates back to coal mining days when men soothed their aching bodies with various spirits. These corner bars are becoming less common however and have been replaced by cliche ones that blast music to make conversation difficult and drinking easier. According to one survey, the area checked in at 4 out of 105 metro areas for alcohol and cigarette consumption. Alternative environments like vaping lounges and coffee shops are few and far between but do exist. However, the crowd in such places is usually composed of aloof cliques of college students.
If you end up working for a family-owned business in NEPA, you'll end up doing all the work while the better paid family members order you around. It's a quasi feudal system as good-paying positions are doled out to family members in a system of patronage. These people are often incompetent and seldom held liable for their actions. Just to get a job you have to be the friend of someone, but unless you're related to people you'll be stuck at the bottom.
5. A High Boy-Girl Ratio
According to the 2010 census, the ratio of men to women among 25-29 somethings in Luzerne County is the same as it is in China, 93 girls to 100 boys. The situation in China has been recognized as a crisis by major news outlets, but Luzerne County's remains unrecognized.
But women aren't just scarce numerically. Qualitatively speaking, secondary sexual characteristics seem more often like an inarticulate afterthought than well articulated feature.
4. Brain Drain
Good things start out in NEPA but seldom remain. Poor students do well in climbing the achievement ladder in NEPA. But they don't stay. Only 27% of area college students plan to seek employment in the region following graduation. The result of this is that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton/Hazleton area ranks in the bottom quintile in educational attainment, specifically, 124 out of 150 regions in the country. Interactions with remaining inhabitants will confirm these results.
3. Bad Job Selection
Let's look at the top ten occupation categories in NEPA:
Rank/ Job / Salary
1 Retail Salespersons $21,630
2 Cashiers $18,530
3 Combined Food Preparation and Fast Food $17,990
4 Office Clerks, General $26,480
5 Waiters and Waitresses $18,060
6 Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers $37,540
7 Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $29,780
8 Registered Nurses $64,380
9 Stock Clerks $20,200
10 Freight, Stock, and Material Movers $28,780
Only one of these categories requires a college degree.
Furthermore, the average salary in NEPA is $30,890, which is lower than the Pennsylvania state average of $35,640.
The last three people who asked to meet up with this author live at least two hours away. Two of them aren't from the region and the third attends graduate school in the mid west. The only person in their 20s who asks to hang out was born outside NEPA. In contrast, there's a fellow who lives in Ashley, PA, born and raised there, who this author has been trying to meet for the past three years who is always too tired to meet up. Another friend relates that he tried to start a band but had trouble holding band practice because other members couldn't get transportation. The band dissolved.
The ambitious, outgoing, lively young people move to urban hubs or developing areas around them, and those who remain are hostile, cliquish, and live in a semi-comatose manner. They don't have conversations, they don't have hobbies, they don't have sex. Vegetating in front of television is their preferred pastime. When they do go out, it's in cliques, and they seldom interact with strangers. The females adopt pets as a outlet for their motherly energies until their wombs go barren, and if they do have a boyfriend, they avoid all contact with other men. Sexual restraint among the women seems stronger than in tribal Saudi Arabia.
1. Predatory Corruption
Prison is frequently retirement home for NEPA elected officials, viz Ray Musto, Bob Mellow, Greg Skrepenak, possibly Bob Cordaro and his cohort AJ Munchak, and judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan. While prison may be an eventuality for many, the actions of the former two Conanhan and Civarella, are particularly disturbing. The two sentenced children who misbehaved in school to a private for-profit prison in return for kickbacks. The scheme was dubbed the Kids for Cash, and made national news. It's one thing if a rep like Paul Kanjorski skims off tax payer funds to direct money to a phony family owned business, but it's quite another if someone steals your child. The children of poor people were the most victimized by Kids for Cash, but that didn't stop the NEPA elite at Wyoming Seminary from attempting to name their athletic field after real estate mogul Robert Mericle, owner of the for profit prison, who allegedly issued the kickbacks to the judges. That describes the hostile mentality many of the NEPA elite have for the poor and middle class. This too dates back to the coal mining days, when the descendants of 18th century immigrants from Connecticut known as the Connecticut Yankees lorded over the poor Catholic coal miners, making them indebted to the company store, and paying them as little as possible.
Mark Robbins exposed another such predatory scandal known as Cars for Cash. Leo Glodzik, a heavily tattooed truck operator working for Wilkes-Barre City, charged exorbitant impounding fees to the people whose cars he towed during much of Tom Leighton's administration. Glodzik was connected with city attorney Bill Vinsko. The $600 a night impounding fees Glodzik charged prevented poor people from getting their cars back and amounted to de facto theft. He was stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Wilkes-Barre police looked the other way along with the majority of city council members. Mayor-elect Tony George was the only one to speak out against it. After failing to persuade the other Wilkes-Barre City officials, activist and Glodzik victim Mark Robbins petitioned County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis to do something about it, but she had someone on her staff who was related to then Wilkes-Barre city police chief Gerald Dessoye, so she declined. Not until the feds planted $1,000 in a car that Glodzik stole did a full investigation take place. No local authorities ever investigated Glodzik. His accuser Mark Robbins is one of few rich people who seek justice for the poor and unconnected.