Rahm Is Not The Problem, Progressive Ideas Are…

Background Reading


Jim Young/Reuters

Jim Young/Reuters


Progressives as lost in a world created by their ‘sugar daddy‘. And when your allowance gets cut you tend to have to do without. That is what is happening right here in Chicago and elsewhere around the world. We are attempting to deal with two worlds colliding and have no idea how to undue the carnage.

On the one hand we have schools in poorer neighborhoods that are failing. We have largely exacerbated this problem by trying to siphon off the best students (no matter where they live) into charter schools. What remains are schools with under-achieving students who have to deal with the thuggish element that becomes the ruling social class.

Meanwhile the mayor is trying to keep the steady stream of ‘young elites‘ flooding into the city to help prop up the tax base. But the places they can afford are often in need of rehabbing so the inevitable gentrification occurs. The monies for housing starts (especially large complexes) is wary of having a too large accommodation for lower income residents.

People with money want to have their clientele feel safe. You really cannot imagine that something like Trump Tower would do very well if a third of it were turned over to ‘subsidized housing‘ for CHA residents. Slowly but surely it is becoming clear that the amount of money we require to keep our nails done and hair and teeth shiny is enormous. Add into the mix the fact that the ‘other party‘ is not willing to support our habits and you have the makings of a ‘bad hair day‘ for Progressives.

Union workers once made up the bulk of Middle Class home owners in many Chicago neighborhoods. Unions are all but defunct. The folks who work in such jobs are nearing retirement age and are no longer able to attract younger membership into their organizations. That is why Right to Work will pass and even thrive in Wisconsin. And it will largely be because the ‘hipster population‘ is unlikely to find unions an attract place to be.

Cities Are The Wrong Format

Let’s face it ‘big cities‘ are the problem that cannot really be solved. The pace of gentrification is not rapid enough to transform cities into viable places where ‘elites‘ can raise families where personal safety is not a concern. There is no amount of Slow Roll Bicycle Riding that can ‘fix‘ that problem. It can help, but the problems are far too deeply embedded in the society.

We are going to be losing most of what was the Black Middle Class in cities like Chicago to death. They are simply old enough now that they will die and someone white will move in and soon the entirety of the South and West Sides of the city will have changed complexion, literally.

But it is schools that are the real Achilles Heel for Rahm and other big city mayors. Cities used to be those dirty smelly places where manufacturing filled the air with smoke and soot. And while these things do not bring ‘tree huggers‘ any joy, they put food on the table and roofs over the heads of thousands of workers all over Gary and the Northeast.

Unions got greedy and owners left their factories to rust away. Entire sections of homes in places like Gary are boarded up now. That money is never going to return. It has followed cheap labor pools to places like China and Malaysia.

We Cannot Fix The Problem Without Non-Governmental Investment

Like it or not the reason that the Pullman National Park is now a reality is because personal private capital was once thriving there. That place was a model community. It was part of the era when owners provided living places for their workers. That does not happen anymore.

Government funds today are either in the hands of the military or being shredded on their way to various regions of the country because there is simply not enough to go around. The current obsession of the Progressives is the inequity represented by the rise of the 1%. Frankly this is more about envy than anything else. We need them more now than at any time in the past. And that is probably why we resent them so.

In lieu of having unions that are effective we now have photo-ops where people working in low wage jobs are demanding $15/hour. That idea is ‘going nowhere‘. Americans are far too cheap to pay for services that they deem non-essential. And flipping burgers is certainly that sort of service. Right now the smart money on low wage jobs is where health services are happening. Crane High School is going to be the model for what we once thought of as an outlet for low wage earners.

But even then the Baby Boomer generation is not going to last long enough to make those jobs permanent. We are going to have to bite the bullet and return to heavy manufacturing and we will only be able to do that in a competitive way if the pay scale is non-Union. What is more the size of such companies will have to remain small for a while.

Our air quality will have to take a hit and our water supply will be degraded in some ways to accommodate the kinds of manufacturing that has always kept us viable. Tree huggers and the One Percent are going to have to have a ‘Come to Jesus‘ meeting. Otherwise we will simply have to try and learn to live in tiny houses, drinking home brewed beer distilled from urine and have our kids learn to speak Cantonese in order to be suitable for employment overseas.

Bike Lanes Are Fine But Not Essential

Progressives as a rule live with their heads in the clouds. That needs to stop. Rahm is a One Percenter. But even his buddies cannot bail our society out of commitments we made to workers when times we better. And yet we cannot fail to unburden ourselves if we plan to be able to thrive.

Installing bike lanes is not how you grow an economy. It is a way to lessen the financial pressures on a city to keep repairing its streets. But they do not grow an economy. In fact the only places that seem to thrive with bicycles in abundance are European cities that have basically weathered the financial storms of the past few decades.

In less affluent cities it is nice to not have to order more buses or light rail to get people back and forth to work. But it is jobs that make an economy grow. Unless you can find a direct link between job creation and bike lanes, then I would suggest focusing on getting jobs before putting in lanes.

And yes hipsters fill the job market levels where high-tech startups are concerned. But that does not put food on the tables of the folks without college degrees or technical training. That is where manufacturing used to be the answer. Without heavy manufacturing and all the dirtiness it brings you really cannot thrive. We need to have the challenge of smog that China is dealing with.

I know this sounds absurd but England would never have been a super power had it not (like the United States) endured those years of nasty smelly nearly unbreathable air quality. We of course have the capacity these days to make things cleaner in terms of air quality. But first we need to have jobs that put food on the table for unskilled workers.

And again this is going to mean that Progressive will have to hold their noses and realize that the Stock Yards for all the bad smells they produced had one smell that everyone understood, the smell of money. You simply will not be able to Social Engineer your way out of this mess until the Economic Engine has been primed. Wisconsin has undertaken to get there sooner than we have in Chicago.

 Oddly Enough Automobiles Will Be Our Salvation

One thing we know how to build and the world has an appetite for are cars. We know how to design them and are the one group on the planet with the expertise to make them smart enough to save lives. We can both build great cars and engineer collision-avoidance systems with the best of the competition. We are in fact uniquely qualified to lead the industrial world out of recession on the backs of the automobile.

We just need to get Progressive our of their insane fixation against cars. That one factor is why I label the Urban Cycling Movement as what it truly is a gathering of Luddites. In one people we have the most prolific users of smartphones on the planet. And at the same time we have a group that seems incapable of wanting to design its way out of its terror of cars on the roadway.

That madness has to change. The Great Lakes region is tailor made to allow us to build automobiles and ship them overseas by water. All we need to do is restore steel production and bring the techies into alignment with the idea of collision-avoidance and autonomous vehicles and we can make money all night long.

And into the bargain we can re-invent the bicycle to provide a far superior product than it currently represents. We can make the bicycle a hybrid vehicle that supplies an opportunity to get exercise while traveling but is able to do this in inhospitable environments where snow and cold are to be expected. We can in essence create a new category of automobile. A hybrid that can be pedaled as well as provide assistance to those who are either infirm or are passengers with unequal physical attributes. Either way we can do this and succeed.

We just have to drop our paranoid tendencies and embrace the future. We cannot thrive and be Luddites simultaneously.