Idiocracy of Scranton

It’s here:


and I don’t mean only the accounting practice of overestimating asset returns in order to undervalue current pension liabilities. It’s worse than that in Scranton, Pa:

I went fishing yesterday in Beltzville State Park and picked up the local paper because of the front-page headline:

Scranton to court hedge funds

about how Scranotn, Pa needs to go to legal loan sharks to pay their bills.  Dumb enough but there was a secondary story:

Math professor: City deceptive on tax hike

which detailed how Scranton officials are preparing taxpayers for a 68.56% tax hike over the next three years (12% in 2013, 44.32% in 2014, and 12.24% in 2014.   The headline didn’t read:

Third grader: City deceptive on tax hike

It took Jakub Jasinski, Ph.D., the chairman of he University of Scranton’s mathematics department, to convince city officials and the Times-Tribune that you need to multiply percentage increases instead of add them.  Are we here yet?



15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tough Love on August 22, 2012 at 11:36 am

    No doubt one of the Public Sector’s …….”best and Brightest”.


    • This isn’t really about any public sector employee. It may be some public relations backroom guy who unthinkingly tossed out a number. It’s about the newspaper that saw fit to recruit the head of the university mathematics department to state what, in moderately educated societies, should be the obvious.

      It’s as if everyone believes without question numbers in a government press release over their own common sense. I had this in Union County where they refinanced incinerator debt and claimed it saved taxpayers $276 million:
      when they completely ignored the additional payments from extending the repayment period. This was on my blog:
      but nobody else picked up on it, possibly because professor Jasinski wasn’t reachable.


      • Posted by Anonymous on August 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

        John, its no use trying to explain this to TL. If Mickey D’s raises the price of the Big Mac, she will blame the Public Sector. She is like broken record. Even a parrot has more variety in its though processes.


        • Posted by Tough Love on August 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm

          Anonymous, When (not IF) your pension fails (i.e., zero or VERY big haircut), I’ll explain it to you …. no charge.


      • Posted by Tough Love on August 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm

        John I looked at it as likely the official who said the tax increase would be 68.56% knew that (under proper mathematics) it would be over 81%, but felt it more palatable to say the lower figue (and felt he would get away with it).

        The fact that he said the dollar amount would be the same suggests either way suggests he is mathematically incompetent and seems unfit for the job he is in …. hence my comment on the “best and brightest”.


  2. Posted by Eric on August 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    It’s too bad that Bernie’s hedge fund is not still in operation. The feds would still say it is fine for Scranton to invest its remaining money into it as they also renewed Mohamed Atta’s visa AFTER 911.
    When I told a government official about the renewal,the question posed to me was: Who is Mohamed Atta?


  3. Posted by eatingdogfood on August 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    It is long overdo for a REVOLT! Noting can be done til all the Democrats are gone and Unions are made Illegal!


  4. Posted by Eric on August 22, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Eating Dog Food:
    As Jim Rogers says “a pox on both of their houses” meaning Democrats and Republicans alike. Both parties are to blame for the result of once what was a great and a proud nation and, there really is not much difference between either political party. Both should be blamed for this disgusting smoldering mess which is left for us now in the present when others wrongfully refer to the next generation as the victim.
    The unpayable national debt meaning that Ryan’s plan will not work either, the printing of countless dollars by a corrupt Federal Reserve and its minions at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, the artificial interest rate held at about zero which destroys capital, the “rigged” stock market with the President’s Plunge Protection Team in full regalia, the gutting of the nation’s industrial base which has long ago been dispatched to Asia, the dumbing down of the school system, the loss of any culture, the inability of the population to think or to read, the widespread dishonesty etc. have already doomed this nation regardless if a republican or if a democrat wins an election which may also be rigged for that matter.


  5. Posted by Eric on August 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I am not as optimistic as you people. I hope you are correct and there is real change, however, I believe this to be a mere wishful thought. Many very bright people insist that even if the “correct” people were in office, it is simply too late in that the insolvency crisis cannot be averted. The bankruptcy die has been cast. The crisis does not mean that Uncle Sam will not pay, he will, just with worthless paper.
    Merely printing more money, which is all Ben Bernanke knows to do, is beyond idiocy. Talk about watering down the soup!
    I am reminded about the watering down of my dollar bills every time I fill up the tank or purchase food. Thanks Uncle Ben. (Bernanke)


  6. Posted by TREEeditor2 on August 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    eric, one correction to your post-leave out the item about filling up your tank, yes there is an inflation factor involved in gasoline cost, but the driver is more commoditized and in fact if favorable conditions ever return gasoline could actually go below $2/gal and if the stars align right could actually approach $1 but thats all wishful thinking. examples are that we saw this same gas cost in the 80’s and this past decade gas had hit around $5.50/gal. Plus i think around 2002 it was below $2 bux for a short time. (if my memory serves me right) Even with oil traded in dollars, thats the true action of a commodity not an inflationary spiral.


  7. Posted by MJ on August 25, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Sounds like Scranton will be hitting up the taxpayers for increases to cover the cost of the officials irresponsible folly. Hmmm, will be interesting to see how the taxpayers respond to this brilliant plan.


  8. Posted by Buy 3 tax increases get the 4th free on August 26, 2012 at 12:11 am

    Hey John I can explain the discrepancy between the first three tax increases of 68.56% and the final 81.4%, when a city imposes three tax increases they get the fourth tax increase free. That’s the best punch line I can come up with, I hope somebody finds it funny. Damn funnier than that Polish math Prof’s punch line, “you must multiply percents not add them”, the Polish just aren’t funny. In fact I can’t think of one funny Polish joke. Hey, how many Polish math professors does it take to calculate the total percent change in taxes after 3 … Oh, how many Scranton city councilmen does it take to calculate the total percent change in taxes after 3 … I’m on a roll.

    BTW, the steamtown train museum in Scranton is worth seeing. Go see it while there is still funding.

    The Lackawanna Cut Off is Scranton’s last hope for salvation.


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