Scranton Chamber of Commerce: Helping or Hurting?

The tale of Scranton’s Chamber of Commerce is one of not being much of a chamber of commerce. The people I have spoken to are quite adamant that the Scranton Chamber of Commerce does far more to harm Scranton than to help it.

Chamber of No Commerce

There is this recurring story we keep getting. It goes something like this: The Scranton Chamber of Commerce purposely keeps out good businesses because they do not want to disrupt the ways things are done in Scranton. How are things done in Scranton? You know the nepotism, malfeasance, and corruption, the way that’s done. But this may provoke the question, why would the Scranton Chamber of Commerce want to keep Scranton with low paying jobs? Well, let’s go back in history a bit. During the age of Rome, the Roman people were so technologically advanced that they could build pipes from a water source all the way to the city. Nevertheless, they did not utilize this ability as much as they should. The reason being is because it would create social disruption. The people in power have a stake in the people being deprived and did not want to upset this hierarchy. It is the same thing in Scranton. It is easier for the people in power in Scranton to stay in power if there are no outsiders to challenge their way of doing things. It is the old “We don’t take too kindly to outsiders” mantra.  The creation of good jobs would potentially bring outsiders who will not stand for the “way things are done here” in Scranton.

Keep’em Poor

Thus, the Scranton chamber of Commerce is in essence working to keep the Scranton people poor. Now, a smart person would realize that keeping the people poor is disadvantageous because it makes the area poor. The wealthiest cities, countries and nation, are that way because their citizens are wealthier. But the “powers that be” must have not know much about economics. They fail to realize that by keeping the city poor their tiny base of power will come crumbling because the city is unsustainable. With 400 million of debt to city owes, you cannot expect a city full of poor people to be able to pay that back. In addition, keeping Scrantonians poor may keep them from having time to protest and look into what the government is doing, but it also creates a situation where homes become blighted and property values drop. Again, this is not the smartest way to even rule a city. If you want to rule a city effectively, take some pointers from Dubai. There you have an actual monarchy who still manages to keep their citizens prosperous. Why? Because it makes the kingdom of Dubai even richer. As more people pour into Scranton, the Scranton government and “ole boys network of the incompetent” days are basically numbered. Of course, this is what they fear. So they want to keep the city as unattractive as possible. Thus, the Scranton Chamber of Commerce works more like a chamber of no commerce. And here we are over here thinking capitalism was about competition. Only losers fear competition!

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One thought on “Scranton Chamber of Commerce: Helping or Hurting?

  1. I’ve heard both sides of this argument for year now; like most things in life though, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle (although tilted towards the negative in this particular case).

    Is the Chamber a bastion of insiders and the political/social elite? Sure it is. You could play bingo with the names you see in The Scranton Times that appear in a seemingly wide array of functions, institutions and events. There is no doubt in my mind that personal objectives (mainly for power) do trump the common good. The bigger sin though…at least in my mind…is the fact that the Chamber has been virtually silent for decades about the oppressive tax structure in Scranton and the generally very poor level of governance throughout NEPA.

    On the other hand, the Chamber just doesn’t have a ton of real power. If anything, the only “real” power they have is that of neglect. A business that hires an outside consultant to scope areas for a new operation will look at a variety of factors when considering location. If the facts support expansion/location in NEPA, well then it will happen. Unfortunately, one of those “facts” is business tax structure which, as noted above, the Chamber seems pretty silent on for the most part.

    Would I like a more positively activist Chamber for Scranton? Sure. That’s not likely to happen though. Part of the underlying problem is that voters in NEPA have a habit of voting based upon a perception of personal gain (“If I vote for Fred he will get my kid a teaching job”) and just blind, willful ignorance (“I’m just going to pull the D lever”…note that I am a registered Democrat myself). The real economic solutions in NEPA can be found in the voting booth, not the Chamber’s door step.

    Just my eight sense.

    As always, I enjoy the blog.

    – Steve Albert

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