Robin Hood has Nothing on Rahm Emmanuel


A recently published map from KIG Analytics says it all. The mayor’s proposed property tax increase could not be more blatant.  For the benefit of those from out of town: affluent areas of the city are getting property tax increases, everyone else is not.

The less fortunate of Chicago do not deserve to be turned into some sort of privileged underclass.  There are responsibilities that come with buying a home. One of them is being prepared for possible future tax increases. Buying a home without being prepared means you may lose it. If a tax increase puts you in dire straits, even a large tax increase, it is possible that you bought more house than you really should have.  I know what that is like.  Right after college I bought a new car before I could really support the payments.  A couple years later I had to sell it and downsize.

Shortly after that car situation someone tried to sell me a condo.  I was living in a studio apartment at the time.  The condo was a newly renovated one bedroom with a large living room, dining area and kitchen.  I liked it.  But the payment would have taken just about every last free penny in the budget.  I had learned my lesson and declined the deal.  Doing so meant sidestepping problems that hit many people as the Financial Crisis unfolded a few years later.

I do sympathize with the Mayor’s predicament.  He is dealing with a lot of problems he did not create.  Without analysis it is hard to say exactly who deserves the blame.  But Richard Daley seems like a pretty good  candidate.  It seems he spent years spending money with little long-term planning.  Leasing the city’s parking meters to a private company for seventy-five years is an example most can relate to.  I personally would not want the hassles of holding any public office.  So I am grateful anybody capable wanted to be Mayor of Chicago at this particular time.

Most residents probably are not going to leave the city.  People protest whenever something like this happens at the top of their lungs.  But usually they settle down and realize it is not worth the trouble to move.  Anyone with significant political experience must realize this.

But there are limits.  Remember when a fleet of SUV drivers ruled Chicago?  Back around the year 2000, when regular gas was roughly $1.50 a gallon, driving a standard size car felt like traveling through a canyon.  Once gas prices doubled many of those SUVs disappeared.  Where the limits of pain are in any situation can only be estimated.  But we have been under pressure lately.  The other day I bought an $11.00 item at Home Depot.  It was shocking to see the price shoot over twelve dollars after tax was added in.  At some point people will start to leave the city if things get too difficult.

In the end this proposal probably comes down to political gamesmanship.  Governor Bruce Rauner has come out against the plan, which seemingly guarantees it is dead in the water.  If the plan does get struck down in Springfield Rahm Emmanuel can say to the less fortunate, “see I tried to protect you.  Now we have to raise your taxes too.”  If this is the case I understand the necessity of such action in politics.  I even respect it, at least to some extent, as a good move.

On the other hand he may seriously believe in this plan.  In that case I suggest the decision-making paradigm seriously needs to be re-examined.

© 2015


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