TMI Chicago Not Quite Detroit Yet 1Rahm Emanuel is a multimillionaire investment banker and the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois. “Mayor 1%” is indeed a man by, for and of the privileged elite. Emanuel is attempting to bring to fruition the dream of Ronald Reagan. Together they show that irrelevant of partisanship, politicians work towards the same end. The dream is encapsulated in a single quote made by The Gipper himself in 1975: “ … I believe the heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism … ” In keeping with libertarianism, Rahm Emanuel cites “budget shortages and under-enrollment” as reasoning for closing 50 Chicago Public Schools in the poorest and most desperate parts of the city, while, simultaneously, multimillion dollar tax-payer funded subsidies are given to millionaires, private colleges and corporations. Under Mayors Emanuel presently and Daley before him, the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds that accrue via property taxes paid are public funds that should be used for parks, public transportation systems and, most importantly, schools for children. Instead these funds are used to grease the palms of the richest companies in the world, such as Walmart. Rahm Emanuel also recently approved a $500 million dollar request in public funds from the Ricketts family to renovate Wrigley Field (where the Chicago Cubs baseball team plays). In a first wave of closings, 28 schools were permanently shut down on the last day of the 2012-2013 school year, June 19, 2013.

Ronald Reagan’s quote from 1975 about libertarianism was exactly the ideology that drove his systematically dismantling of market-regulatory bodies and opened the floodgates for the astoundingly disproportionate wealth distribution that plagues the United States and around the world today. Rahm Emanuel stated that under-enrollment was a basis for what will have been the largest school closing in Chicago. Ever. The total enrollment at the fifty closing schools was 14,401 students, 1,329 of whom were and probably remain homeless. The demographics statistics were 87.5% Black/10.3% Hispanic (the two largest demographics), and had a proportion of 92.6% low-income students. The total numbers of children affected, however, as a result of Mayor Emanuel’s closures, is in actuality 41,096 students, 3,607 of whom were homeless, whose racial demographics were 78.7% Black/17.6% Hispanic (the two largest demographics).

While Mayor Emanuel cuts public services to children desperately in need of them on one hand, he gives handouts in the form of taxpayer subsidies to some of the richest among us on the other hand: the mayor recommended giving roughly $5 million to Vienna Beef for moving its hot dog factory from one Chicago neighborhood on the North Side to Bridgeport, a South Side neighborhood. Emanuel gave himself a pat on the back, calling it a “shrewd business move” that would keep jobs in the city, at least ” … 250 jobs for the next fifteen years.” Three days later, the mayor’s school board fired 850 Chicago Public School employees, displaced 14,401 African-American and Hispanic youth, 92% of whom were impoverished and otherwise disadvantaged.

In other government subsidies, Governor Pat Quinn recently approved a proposal by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to allocate $300 million in public funds in order for DePaul University to build a new basketball arena for the DePaul Blue Demons. Emanuel is in talks to provide another $500 million to the Ricketts family, the millionaires who own the Chicago Cubs, in order to renovate Wrigley Field. Not only that, but he lavishes around $1.7 billion in property taxes held in TIF accounts on some of the richest corporations in the world, e.g., Walmart, Target and Home Depot. Walmart, in addition to being subsidized in that fashion by Chicago’s government, is also subsidized by the federal government, in that Walmart is permitted to pay poverty wages, and employees are forced to obtain public aid for assistance with food and healthcare.

“I believe the heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” In no sense of the word are these tragic school closings and obscene subsidies democratic. This is much closer to what Ayn Rand’s vision of socioeconomics in America was — a world of rule-by-markets, i.e., rule-by-the-super-rich. Do 14,401 poor and disadvantaged children deserve to live in perpetual and inescapable poverty? Meritocratic Democracy promises that every child will have equal access to the resources necessary to become all that they have it in them to be. It is the demise of cronyism and nepotism, and the end of egregious personal wealth for a few, and poverty for the many.

by Kenneth Hall


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