Ryan Briggs Ryan Briggs is a staff writer and connoisseur of City Hall intrigue, business dealings, neighborhood gossip and local lore. Ryan has studied, worked and resided in Philadelphia since 2004, covering politics and development issues for Hidden City, Next City and Metropolis, amongst other fine publications.
Last week, Joel Mathis at Philadelphia magazine wrote an opinion piece advocating in favor of Philadelphia's secession from the rest of Pennsylvania. That treatise garnered a significant number of negative commentators, railing on Mathis for not considering constitutionality issues and the fact that Southeastern Pennsylvania's wealth is buoyed by rich counties surrounding a relatively impoverished and corrupt city that might not go along with a secession plan.
One commentator blasted Mathis, insinuating that his plan was absurd and that he was simply writing the article for "entertainment and musing." "Where would you go," pondered the very cool and smart person who spent his afternoon replying to something on the Internet that he suspected was a joke, "New Jersey?"
Yes. That's exactly where we should go.
Now, hold on a second, I know what you're thinking: "What about their property taxes and all of the stink pits? And aren't all their cities a mess?"
I hear you. I'm a red-blooded Pennsylvanian, and I was born hating New Jersey, too. But I've also lived in Philadelphia long enough to know that when you seen a good opportunity, you take it.
Think about it: What did Harrisburg deny us in the still-ongoing budget fiasco? More transit funding, school funding and liquor-sales reform. I mean, come on, getting drunk on a bus while you're on the way to pick up your kids from a crumbling school is all we have left. Harrisburg can't be bothered to help us make sure the bus is on time or that there's a conveniently located place to buy liquor next to the bus stop — and now they're going to let the school close down? Come on, we have to sit there and take it while some jihadist calls us welfare queens for even taking the bus?
Now look at our neighbors: New Jersey Transit has nearly three times the budget of SEPTA and serves roughly the same number of riders — around 900,000 — each day. The school district in Camden — yes, the Camden — gets about $6,000 more per student, per year, than Philadelphia. And they already have privately run liquor stores.
It's a no-brainer, and I really mean that: I have barely put any thought into this. Now, if my University of Phoenix degree in constitutional law & slip-and-fall claims taught me anything, it's that everyone else is wrong and counties are like Lego pieces that can clip on to different states at will. So while we could just go on our own, we could also combine with the rich counties and move as a giant, golden Lego piece, taking that 35.8 percent of the state's GDP with us. That would make Jerseydelphia the fifth most populous state and economy in the United States, with the eighth highest per capita income.
Meanwhile, the rump state of Whateversylvania would drop to 40th in terms of per capita income. If Allegheny County bailed with us, Daryl Metcalfe could be left in peace to run the rest of the state, keeping taxes lower by encouraging gun owners to form voucher-funded militias, or whatever it is he wants.
Look, I'm just spitballing. Delaware seceded from Pennsylvania, so why can't we do it again? Or maybe we could merge with them again, become the world's largest tax haven and get rid of that pesky sales tax.
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