Saturday, December 10, 2011



Saturday, 12/10/11’s edition of the Chicago Sun-Times contained a page 5 article, complete with a page 1 headline, entitled “From Dumping Ground to City Playground.” The article outlines plans by various government agencies and levels of government to transform 140,000 acres on the southeast side from an environmental dumping ground into a sort of environmental paradise, complete with hiking trails, woodland areas, and habitats for the black crowned night heron. The project was, of course, hailed by the usual suspects (Governor Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader John Cullerton, and Congressman Mike Quigley), and, an even have sentient read would indicate, by the Sun-Times and other media organs, as the type of affirmative, positive government that only the most curmudgeonly among us could oppose. So here goes:

Is this a good project? Being familiar with the area in question, I will easily concede this is a good project; the area in question is beyond bleak and dirty; it reminds one of a kind of moonscape or post-apocalyptic killing field with tons of toxins tossed in for good measure. The area ought to be cleaned up. But is this a vital project? No. The area, the city, and the state have lived with the area as it is for a long time now and surely we can continue to live with it indefinitely or at least until flusher times.

So if it’s not vital, why are we engaging in this project? The aforementioned politicians are always telling us how broke the city, the county, and the state are when they want to increase our taxes, and I believe them; after the number they and their colleagues have done on the finances of every governmental body in this state, who could argue that we aren’t broke? And if we’re broke, why are we about to embark on a project that will cost billions? If anyone tries to tell you that it won’t cost billions to clean up the area in question, he is talking through his hat or hasn’t yet talked to the guys who will win the projects for the clean-up, largely due to their friendship with and willingness to cut in the aforementioned pols and their pals, but I digress.

The governor, the mayor, the senator, and the congressman were quick to come up with anodyne assurances that the money would be no problem, especially, of course, for such a “vital” project. The state, they told us, will come up with $17.9 million in seed money, as if to reassure us that city taxpayers will not be stuck with the bill. But on the page immediately prior to the page containing this article, the Sun-Times reports that Cook County comes up with 40% of the income taxes and 36% of the sales taxes raised in the state of Illinois, so Chicago and Cook County taxpayers surely will come up with a large chunk of the spondulicks necessary to achieve this modern day edenization of an open dump. And even if, by some miracle, Chicago were completely off the hook, would it be such a good thing for the rest of the state, or the rest of the country, to pick up the bill to clean up portions of the southeast side? No wonder downstate lawmakers would like Cook County to secede from the state! (“The Great State of Chicago,” page 4, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/10/11) And even the pols are not so brazen as to label that $17.9 million as anything more than seed money; this is going to get more expensive…a LOT more expensive. But those costs are down the road, don’t you see, and, after all, it’s an “investment” in “our children’s children.”

Anyone who opposes this project will be accused by the likes of Pat Quinn, who, in his whole life, has never has had to deal with any money but other people’s money, of being environmental criminals, pursuing profits over “our children,” or not being focused on the future. Why be concerned about the money when “our planet” and “our children” are at stake? It is this type of thinking that has driven the state, our city, and our country broke, a situation that does not bode well for the environment, the planet, or the children.

Politicians simply cannot stop spending money; even in the worst of fiscal times, they can justify spending your money, and imperiling the economic future of “our children’s children,” by declaring any project, even those projects even more postponable than this one, to be vital, necessary, and morally imperative.

And we continue to elect these clowns.

No comments: