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My father-in-law;s family emigrated from Poland to end up working in the coal mines of Scranton, PA (really Dickson City).  Here is the home he grew up in:

Just wanted to share a few things about his life not so long ago. Just northwest of this house up the hill was one of very many coal mines that sustained, and paradoxically destroyed, these communities. The mine up the hill from here, once the easily accessible underground seams ran out, started strip mining. Among the fun things that resulted from that strip mine (and the regular mine) were large open water ponds of mine drainage that made their way into local water sources. Legend has it that the mine owners had very little problem obtaining environmental “permits” to engage in these practices, as Scranton then, as now it seems, was not unusual in its degree of corruption. Not only as these drainage pits harmful (indeed probably still the biggest threats to water in PA) they provide a lovely glimpse into the nature of the corruption in American cities all over the place.

Scranton was “famously” run by the Irish as the legend has it. When my father-in-law returned from military service in the late 1950s and sought a teaching position at the local school, at the interview once he said his name was “Carl Racibor” and when asked to repeat it, he knew he had no chance to earn that spot. The spoils system operated all over the city. This is what happens in an identitarian world. A world where merit is discarded and positions of all types are allocated based on some immutable characteristic of a person.

Despite reforms being made to the system back in the 60s, a good number of people live with the legacy of such “spoils” and of course trust in the current system is no higher than it was back then. And in case any of you have not been to Scranton lately, I highly recommend it.

 

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