City Journal Winter 2016

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Aaron M. Renn
Well-Heeled in the Windy City « Back to Story

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Mr. Renn makes a number of fair points. The health of our cities and the quality of life of all of its residents depend on attention paid to every corner, and there are many corners that need more attention. I would push back, though, on the idea that public projects somehow only benefit the 1%. He mentions the Bloomingdale Trail as an example of this, when in fact over 50% of households residing within a quarter mile of the trail earn less than $40,000. Ultimately, a city that does not engage us emotionally does not feel worth caring about - and emotional engagement comes in large part through places that decrease social isolation and increase social contact. We need more Bloomingdale Trails, not less, and we need them in all 77 community areas. More here:
While it's one thing to point out the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party, I have to agree with some of the other commentators here that for a conservative publication to endorse government spending as a cure for social problems also seems hypocritical. Don't poor blacks deserve some of the blame for buying into the Democratic plantation idea? Does anyone really believe that maintaining spending on libraries will have any effect?
Isn't this a conservative publication?

The goal of any sensible city administration should be to cut services for the "poor" as much as possible in order to drive as many black people out the city--the real problem in Chicago.

Rahm Emmanuel, like many hypocritical Democrats, has grasped this.

I don't approve of his corrupt TIF slush fund practices, but he has accelerated the existing flight of blacks from the city of Chicago (200,000 in the past decade).

It's unfortunate that they'll just ruin some other place, but at least they'll stop rubbishing a world class city.
Tpical biased, half-truth, end of Chicago article by Chicago hater, Arron Renn. I'm just shocked you didn't promote Indy here as the best city in the world. By the way, I enjoy reading your envious posts in the Indianapolis section of Skyscraperpage.

As I always say, Chicago will have the last laugh!
Come on....this is nothing new.

Ride around Hyde Park and your precious Obama's well heeled mansion...the Obama's and all his "compassionate" leftist are there because of the millions upon millions of money they siphoned off of government and charity funds meant to help the poor dupes in the neighborhoods you mentioned.

And yet you people and the dupes HATED GWBush, industry and Republicans when their primary enemies are down the street behind their gates .

My ex recently sold her condo in Museum Park - so she's down to two homes.Money wasn't a factor,but she felt the black urban males (w2ho are unemployed and probably unemployable) would eventually discove rich white people made a better Target
How do you spell Chicago..Detroit!
Awardable housing! The kleptocracy just goes on and on.

One problem you have in Chicago and most other major metropolitan settlements is jurisdictional fragmentation. This is not a problem if you are speaking of services that consume small sums or for which the utility does not vary much over the landscape: a general cross-subsidy of impecunious districts by affluent districts will repair that problem. However, where you have jagged variation over the landscape in the utility of given services, it is a problem. That is true with regard to two major services: police protection and child protective services cum foster care. Greater Chicago would benefit were it reconstituted into a federation of municipalities, with the police department and the child protective service components of the common metropolitan authority rather than the constituent municipal or county units. A consolidated metropolitan department could then pursue policies of optimal deployment with a healthy tax base for added staffing. You could bring some modicum of order to the slums again.
San Francisco is building condos and apartments as fast as they can to house the suburban bred techies that want to live here. Blacks, Latinos, and ethnic whites are moving to outer suburbs like Antioch.
Soon there will be government defined
'Abandoned Areas' and not long after,
citizen organized 'Emergency Measures'
Mayor Emmanuel must pay attention to those who pay the bills. Fair or unfair, it is economic reality.

In NYC, Mayor Bloomberg pointed out that 42,000 taxpayers paid over half the income taxes for the city. When he was criticized for not taxing the high income residents more, he responded he didn't want to drive them out of the City. He said we need more of them, not less. Chicago should heed that lesson.

The gun violence will not be solved by throwing more money at the problem. The problem is gang violence. Unless the police use more aggressive tactics, 1,000 more police won't help. And I don't mean just "stop and frisk." Better ties within the minority community (ministers, NAACP etc.)and reacting quickly and effectively to their tips will help. But so far the reaction is to close the beaches when a "rumble" is about to develop.

Chicago and NYC are near the tipping point of driving the financial base from the city and turning into another Detroit. Chicago's taxes are already obscenely high -- the highest gas taxes (and prices) and the highest sales taxes in the country. All a prescription for disaster.

And it might help to clean up the corrupt political system of the Windy City.

Democrat and hypocrite are synonymous.
Closing libraries is sensible policy. As libraries are digitized, physical libraries are becoming obsolete. Not only that, the target audience for public libraries is largely illiterate. Rich people buy their own books on kindle, and the urban poor don't read.

I would really like to know how the City painting bike lanes all over the place is a gift to the wealthy. I'm not doing badly, and I consider the bike lanes to be a total nuisance and a gift to liberals at the expense of taxpayers (bikes, like liberals, pay no taxes).

Finally, why hire more police when all they do now is hand out tickets and cart themselves around in huge gas guzzlers?
"Safety levels in Chicago can no longer be plotted on a single bell-shaped curve for the entire city. Today, that curve is split into two—one distribution for the wealthy neighborhoods and one for the poor ones."

Not true. I live next to Wrigley Field, and crime here has exploded. Police are being attacked on their way to work.

See this website

to learn about not only the crime problem, but that the fact that many crimes never get recorded in official police reports. Crime is MUCH WORSE than statistics show ...
It's really quite simple.

Not many opportunities for graft in funding libraries or mental health clinics.

Hundreds on millions in TIF money?

Let's make a deal!

This is the Hope&Change! that the gentry liberals voted for.
Typical Leftist Politics. Next is to blame others for their polices and actions. #Democrats
Well said, Aaron. I did not expect Emanuel – known as the "godfather of NAFTA" and faithful practitioner of neoliberal economics – to play to the masses, especially those with lower incomes. I expect the quality of life in great swaths of the city to get much worse.
The inner city African-American underclass in Chicago and everywhere else votes heavily if not exclusively for the Democrat Party. Force them to send their children to violent, failing schools, and they continue to vote Democrat. Do nothing to bring jobs into their neighborhood, and they continue to vote Democrat. Lay off police or move them out of the most violent black neighborhoods and into the areas where the most white people either work or live, and they continue to vote Democrat. Fail to build, or even close senior centers and libraries in their neighborhood and they continue to vote Democrat.
So why, I ask, and racist, cynical politicians like Emanuel and Obama ask, why bother doing anything for these people? Keep them comfortable living on the dole, food stamps, welfare, WIC, public housing. That's all the urban black poor want. That and winning scratch-off lottery tickets.
Now that was easy, wasn't it?
Aaron, thanks for this article that clearly points out the "two worlds" of Chicago (and America, for that matter). I work for an organization that is thinking strategically and long-term about how to transform communities on the West Side of Chicago. We know this is a complex and difficult undertaking but we continue to see the alternative. I look forward to continuing to following your work and the discussions we will have in the future.
Adam, commenting below, easily summarized the problem and doesn’t bore us with absurd solutions to a problem which can never be fixed. But this author’s cheating the poor rhetoric was a little stressed, “painful cuts” to the poor by closing the libraries – c’mon, no mature adult believes Chicago’s poor were flocking to the city libraries and are now reduced to fishing scholarly articles out of the trash for their reading pleasure.

And what can the so-called poor do about the situation in any event? Are they going to retaliate by going to night school, then on to college to earn electrical engineering degrees and then take all the jobs from the middle class? Secure in their abject and permanent helplessness, Chicago’s poor know they will always get a piece of the action – as political pawns they’re too valuable to ignore – they realize it and the politicians know they realize it.

Is it because Rahm is a Democrat and President Obama crony that he was targeted – no one is simple minded enough to believe Chicago voters would elect a dour, fiscally conservative Republican as mayor. Without the small numbers of the wealthy, who would invest in our cities, furnish local politicians with a comfortable lifestyle and support the illusion of a dynamic urban area with much to offer?

Let America’s decaying cities house a permanent underclass with the wealthy exiting their limousines to attend charity galas as a public tribute to their personal compassion. The lesson of these two tier urban plantations is that the rest of us are safe from the unrelenting and often depressing decay and should be grateful the rich/poor balancing act of a Chicago, New York City and even a Detroit will not impact our daily lives.
I commented on Aaron Renn's last article on Chicago, where he correctly opined that Chicago has lost its "second city" status and that indeed is becoming a troubled regional city.

I remember certain people really taking issue with my comments, with a defensive and dissonance which was striking.

Chicago is headed the way of Detroit. There is really no comparison anywhere to the South and West sides of Chicago, where a very dysfunctional, negative and violent ghetto reigns over a 20 mile long, relentless depressing swath. With its high taxes, finances mortgaged for the future, unfriendly unions, crime, public corruption, and awful racial politics (this killed Detroit), there simply will not be enough yuppies in Wrigleyville to pay for it all going forward. And crime will accelerate Chicago's demise faster than we would like to think.

Throw into the mix that these factors are turning Chicago into a regional economic city rather than a national or global one, where the economic rents from assets and people are much lower than with national and global cities like New York and DC, and well, the collapse will even happen faster.

I see no reason to think Adam's implied predictions below will not be accurate.

To stave off those poised to respond to me with ad hominem attacks, it is important to note I left Chicago years ago as it started to "turn", and see no reason to come back. And Chicago for me was starting life on third base. My family is well entrenched in the city, with about as many connections and advantages as possible. They still employ lots of people and generate lots of taxes. But nothing about Chicago makes sense for me, economically, culturally, and safety-wise. I am not alone. Rahm is not stupid; he has to know what the city is facing, and heck, using TIF funds is something that can show tangible results. The awful problems on the South and West sides are permanently intractable. This article is a window on a city soon to be in intensive care.
1. No one in the DNC cares about poor people.
2. The DNC understands the poor can be fooled all the time, they've been doing it for at least 30 years.
3. The DNC enriches it's elite off the backs of the poor.

Who other than the "Mainstream" media is surprised by this? The poor.
Please help spread the word about NAZI TACTICS used by CHICAGO MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL including UNLAWFUL EVICTION to stifle dissent from Occupy Wall Street.

Matthew Libman worked with civil rights leaders to push for the Volcker Rule implementation (forcing banks to stop gambling and resume lending). Jesse Jackson Sr. and Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, leaned on Sanford Weil (Citigroup Chairman) and Barack Obama, and they won.

Later in 2012 Matt Libman hosted some out of state NATO campers -- legally and permitted in his own back yard with permission of neighbor, slumlords Jason Ticus and his father Gary Ticus. He also scheduled to release a documentary film about Jesse Jackson's 1984 presidential bid, and had him scheduled to attend a panel discussion with campers and protesters -- for free in his backyard -- during the NATO summit.

Full uncut video:

His lease:

Instead of having a great event paying homage to his friend and mentor, Rahm Emanuel forced a condemnation of Matt Libman's home. Matt returned home the evening before his documentary premier to find his windows boarded, doors and gates chained, and a parking ticket in his windshield wiper -- while parked in his regular space. With zero notice.

"After" photo (boarded up with ZERO NOTICE):
The irnony here is just too much. Chicago is a Democratic paradise - of all things, a SEGREGATED Democratic paradise. Lots of poor, a few wealthy, with the party apparatchiks most likely unable to afford the "nice" parts of Chicago. I have a friend who lives out there, who says even the police are afraid to go into the crime ridden areas - so who knows what the real statistics are on crime?

But, no matter how bad it gets for the "poor" residents they continue to vote for the very people responsible for their poverty. The reason for that is a combination of Democratic conditioning and Republican haplessness as a result of being bullied for years into going along with Democratic media standards of political correctness.

The worst thing about this is the permenece of the misery is for those who live in the poor areas - there is no solution being sought, as the Democrats simply use the poor as a means of squeezing money from anyone who will pony up, whether it be other residents, the state, or the feds. Democrats fully understand by now (probably understood all along) that money will solve nothing, but it is all about money. Democrats are well satisfied with the way things are - after all these are the conditions under which power is preserved. As candidly put by a Democratic leader who sat in my kitchen some years ago - politics is about having the power to control the money - to dispense the patronage, as it was quaintly put.

In two words, for Chicago residents living under the Democratic boot heel (and in other places as well), there is "no future." As I've stated over and over again in other comments, and still worth repeating,the Democrats have had 50 years of unwavering loyalty, and in return what they have done is awful: import immigrants who took jobs in fields that African Americans had been dominant (and in a tight labor market would have paid far better wages), they have induced dependence on government at the cost of destroying the black family, resulting in criminalized communities, sapping the will to be educated,etc. And Democratic media adopted a political correctness standard equating telling the truth about what has happened with racism. And every election, the Democrats wave the flag of racism as a way of cementing loyalty from this oppressed group. Shameful doesn't begin to describe what has been done.

It IS a deeply shameful record for an organization with a terrible past (the analogy - or is it metaphor? - to cancer by another commentator, is a good one), but as long as the Democrats retain control over the media none of this ever becomes common knowledge.

Chicago is a living example of what the country would look like under Democratic control. I am afraid that it is, absent some miracle of realization, where we are all headed.
City Journal ought to forward copy of this article to Chicago Tribune which is soliciting RFPs on "New City Plan". Editor's could benefit from outside contributors analysis.
Ah, the bourgeoisie, Karl would be proud.
Democrats are a huge cancerous tumor in the American body politic. But by buying off the poor, voters seem to want more, rather than less, cancer. Go figure.
The article in the current issue of New Scientist about the work of Peter Turchin and how societal conflict escalates as the fraction of a society's population that deems itself credentialed members of the elite grows is relevant. Too many chiefs, too few Indians, and there is endless strife over which of the swarming lawyers, lobbyists, and university graduates get jobs befitting their status.

City amenities befitting the 1 percent that burgeons to 10% are a drain on the pockets of the middle class, but they are merely lumpenbourgeois, unworthy of public money. Or so the thinking seems to go.
I voted with Harold Washington, I knew Harold Washington, I used to eat with Harold Washington at the Hyde Park Coffee shop and the buffet at Valois see your food and Harold's Fried Chicken, and Mayor Emanuel you're no Harold Washington.
Pete From Baltimore October 16, 2013 at 5:20 PM
I visited Chicago for ten days,back in 2009. I thought that It was a wonderful city.And i myself liked it better than NYC.But it did strike me as an extremely segregated city.

In my home city of Baltimore, you do have some well off neighborhoods. But they are never more than a ten minute walk from a poor neighborhood. The same is true of Washington DC.And Philadelphia seemed to be the same way.
Whereas Chicago struck me as a city where a well off person could be forgiven for not even knowing that there are any poor people in Chicago

I liked the Chicago residents that i met.They were extremely friendly. But most people that i meet tend to speak of the good and the bad aspects of thier cities. For instance, pretty much every resident of Baltimore will readily admit that we have huge amounts of poverty in our city. Ive found that to be the cae with most residents of most cities. Chicago residents though seemed to be the most "Boosterish" of any people that i have known. They have lots to be proud of.But the ones that i met seemed blissfully unaware that there were any problems in Chicago

Maybe i didnt meet the right people.And this is entirly anectdotal on my part. But i have heard other people that i know mention the same thing
I am no fan of Rahm but I think it is important to keep 3 things in mind. 1) No one can fix the social and economic problems on the South and West sides except the people living there. They are living with their own bad choices and throwing money at them won't help. 2) If the money isn't spent on the elites and the tourists then the city will quickly turn into something like Detroit. Especially if 3) Rahm's opponent in the next election is able to defeat him. His opponent will certainly be black and if he wins, it will be the beginning of an era of corruption and pork that the city will never bounce back from. It will finally be the minority community's turn to "gitsummadat" and we all know how well that worked in Detroit. So, Rahm is no prize but he is certainly better than the alternative.
Obama writ small. Rhams don't fall far from the tree.
Taking after his former boss....