Monday, November 9, 2015

Ten Reasons to Leave NEPA

The subject of how bad it is to live in Northeast Pennsylvania or NEPA has been addressed by the Weekender in a column entitled "Nine Reasons why NEPA Sucks" but we thought we'd come up with some new content because our critiques will be a little more comprehensive since we don't rely on advertisers whose profits come from the region.

To start with, six of the top ten worst rated towns in Pennsylvania are located in NEPA.They are in bold.
  1. New Castle
  2. Nanticoke
  3. Johnstown
  4. Wilkes-Barre
  5. Shenandoah
  6. Corry
  7. Hazleton
  8. Dickson City
  9. Tamaqua
  10. Chester
Let's look at specifics as to why NEPA towns ranked so high.

10. Crime
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. It was the 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 areas 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 refrain from participating in Uber in certain areas.

9. Beggars
Wilkes-Barre may not have the charms of big cities, such as sky-scrapers, cultural events, etc, but it has big city levels of beggars. One cannot avoid being asked for money if one walks through Wilkes-Barre's Public Square on a summer day. In all directions various vagabonds lay about on benches. Bathrooms in the vicinity are tightly monitored because bums attempt to wipe themselves down in them. For this reason the Barnes & Noble on the square often has its bathroom closed.

Normally pan handlers ask for a dollar or a quarter, but if someone claims to have suffered an auto accident and to be in urgent need 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 reluctant to speak, then you've got a scam artist in your midst.

8. Prevailing Misery
According to a study in 2014, Northeast Pennsylvania was rated first out of 177 metro areas in unhappiness. Few people below retirement age live in the region because they want to. Usually some health problem keeps them around, be it theirs or that of a sick relative who needs their care.

7. Drinking
It used to be said that "there's a church and a bar on every block" in Northeast PA. However, corner bars are becoming less common and have been replaced by cliche ones that blast music that makes conversation difficult and drinking easier. According to one survey, the area was ranked 4 out of 105 metro areas for alcohol and cigarette consumption. Alternatives to the smoky bar scene exist, such as vaping lounges and coffee shops, but they are few and far between and are mostly frequented by cliques of aloof college students.

6. Nepotism
If you end up working for a family-owned business in NEPA, you'll end up doing all the work while the owner's better-paid family members boss you around. These people are often incompetent and seldom held liable for their actions.

Just to get a job you have to know someone, but unless you're related to them then you'll be stuck at the bottom. The feudal system is alive and well in NEPA, and if you're not of royal blood, you'll be relegated to subsistence wages as a peasant.

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, 100 boys for every 93 girls. This situation in China has been recognized as a crisis by major news outlets, but Luzerne County's situation remains unrecognized.

Moreover, in NEPA women aren't just disappointing numerically. Qualitatively speaking, their secondary sexual characteristics seem more often like an inarticulate afterthought than well articulated feature.

4. Brain Drain 
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. Most people in their mid to late twenties do not have a college degree.

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 yearly salary in NEPA is $30,890, which is considerably lower than the Pennsylvania state average of $35,640.

2. Apathy
One 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.

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, including casual conversation. Sexual restraint among young women seems stronger than in tribal Saudi Arabia.

1. Predatory Corruption
Prison is frequently retirement home for NEPA elected officials, most notably Ray Musto, Bob Mellow, Greg Skrepenak, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conanhan. The crime of the latter two is particularly disturbing. As county judges, they sentenced children who misbehaved in school to a for-profit prison in return for kickbacks. These children all went to public schools and were disproportionately poor and middle class. The scheme was dubbed Kids for Cash and made national news. 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. The hostile mentality that many of the NEPA elite have for the poor and middle class is a legacy of the coal mining days, when the descendants of 18th century immigrants from Connecticut, known as the Connecticut Yankees, oppressed poor Catholic coal miners by attempting to make them indebted to the company store and by conspiring to keep out industries which would compete for their labor so they could be paid as cheaply as possible. In other words, the Connecticut Yankees' descendants wanted a captive, impoverished population from whom they could profit. So did Robert Mericle in the 2000s.

A lesser known but similarly predatory scheme has been dubbed Cars for Cash. Leo Glodzik, a heavily tattooed truck operator, was charging exorbitant impounding fees to the people whose cars he towed as the towing contractor for former mayor Tom Leighton's administration. Glodzik was connected with city attorney Bill Vinsko and Leighton is believed by many to have known about the scheme. The $600 a night impounding fees Glodzik charged people prevented the poor from retrieving their cars and amounted to de facto theft. Several Wilkes-Barre police officers allegedly received discounted cars from Glodzik which had belonged to poor people who couldn't afford to pay to get them back. The majority of city council members looked the other way. Current Mayor Tony George was at the time the only councilman to speak out against it. After failing to persuade other Wilkes-Barre City officials that the tower had to go, community activist Mark Robbins, who had been a victim of Glodzik, 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 Glodzik took the bait of $1,000 that Feds planted in one of the cars he towed, did a full investigation take place. No local authorities ever investigated Glodzik. His accuser Mark Robbins is one of few rich people in the area who seek justice for the poor and unconnected. There are a few good people left in the Valley.

Here's my advice for NEPA life:
  1. Avoid Sherman Hills and Coal Street in Wilkes Barre because they're hot zones for crime.
  2. Avoid Public Square in Wilkes-Barre to avoid being heckled by beggars.
  3. Avoid bars. Patronize coffee shops and restaurants. Try meeting people in Meet-up groups online.
  4. Understand that you will not get a good job as long as you remain in the region.
  5. Understand that you will have to dumb yourself down to get by socially.
  6. Understand that few people are interested in participating in social events and you may have to seek them outside the area.
  7. Understand that you must either live the single life or lower your standards for looks and personality in a potential mate or pray for a miracle.
  8. Understand that you will never reach your fullest potential while living in NEPA.