by Don Washington on 2011/12/13
Mayor Rahm Emanuel does not think like we do. He’s not burdened with the need to have government services help anyone he knows and he is not concerned about what the people he is not serving are going to do. Basically he has decided that he will savagely ignore and attack the poor, while reducing services to the middle class and opening opportunities for wealthy and powerful to get wealthier as he wields power as their agent and lobbyist. This demands a new kind of political machine; one that does not need nor want a patronage army or depends on contractors who might lead to embarrassing scandals. This new machine runs on money, depends on the privatization of public entities and the use of public assets and money to expand the power and reach of private, corporate interests.
Last week Mayor Emanuel trotted out a new feature on his machine when he welcomed Sara Lee into the city by throwing $6.5 million dollars at them. To be absolutely clear, this does not add one new job to Chicago. These people are already employed they will just be commuting here. Perhaps some of them will move here and maybe not. To be even more clear a TIF, by definition is a tax break, meaning that by coming here Sara Lee will be paying the city LESS than what they should be to be taking advantage of being in Chicago proper. To be crystal clear these high income, motivated workers are not going to be creating jobs in neighborhoods or sustaining living wage jobs around them. The impoverished Canal-Congress tax-increment-financing (TIF) district will have more people buying lattes in the morning. I can feel the economic engines of the city roaring to life… can’t you? To be so clear that you can see into the future expect more of this.
What is happening is simple and just a little distressing. Major corporations are coming to the city; the is public paying for them to be in places where they will pay less taxes than they should for the benefits they get and they are not only, not adding a single high wage job to Chicago but are adding to the net tax burden on middle class citizens. It’s corporate welfare on a massive scale for a city that is busily doing real damage to its public sector and the lives of those who depend on those services. You know; us the ordinary people who make Sara Lee in America possible. So when the Mayor says something like this:
“I want a highly educated, highly-motivated work force. I want us to invest in our infrastructure so we can move people and goods quickly. I want to make sure our schools are top of the line. I want to show ’em . . . we can put our budget in order. I wanted to tell them we were gonna cut the employee head tax. Every one of these things [is] part of our economic tool box. Not one of ’em — all of ’em.”
You need to do the translation work and hear: “I want to bring powerful corporations to Chicago and use public money to pay for their physical plants. I am opening up a charter school market and we have great schools for the wealthy already. We are shifting public money into the more productive private sector, just look at our budget and we will be giving you as much corporate welfare as we can. Now, support me and Aldermen who help me and we’ll not only keep this gravy train going we’ll grow it because our economic toolbox is at your service. Now, where is my bag of investment capital?”
So next time you see the standard Mayor Emanuel stand up presser, where he’s standing around shaking hands with the CEO of some entity and they announce that they are bringing a few hundred jobs to the city remember that he’s just building his political machine and he’s using your tax dollars to do it. Also, if you haven’t been overcome with rage at the fact that every time one of these deals gets struck it both further erodes the tax revenues the city should be getting and adds to the financial base that will make Mayor Emanuel even more of a super villain than he already is, remember that there is every reason to believe that the Mayor is just getting started. It’s been a year and already your teachers are getting paid less, working more and losing benefits, your 9-11 service is less dependable, your homeless people are still more likely to freeze to death and your water is one step closer to being privatized but G.E. Motorola, the CME Group and Sara Lee and a number of other major corporations are paying a few million dollars apiece less in taxes. It’s good to see the new reality is working out for someone.