Saturday, September 18, 2010

Both Sides Do It? -OR- I Really Don't Need This Shit

Mayor Daley's calculated, purposeful announcement, that he will not run for another term, amounts to another mission accomplished for his reign. Not one word about the much anticipated budget battle and structural deficit has seeped through the deluge of stupid-wild-ass-guessing and soothsaying about life after Richie. Chicagoans are nothing if not distract-able. The entire 5 county Metro area resides beneath the canopy and influence of Chicago Politics.

I don't live in Delaware or Alaska or Arizona or in the United States of America for that matter. I am, more or less, fully expatriated @ home. Keep in mind that, by choice, I live in a small, inner-ring suburb, due west of Chicago, Crook County, Proviso Township, Illinois. Doing so comes at a price that for me, for now, is worth paying. Overall, the screwing I'm getting is worth the screwing I'm getting.

What it means, politically, is that locally, regionally and nationally, I am subject to public institutions that exist, in perpetuity, without recourse, for the purpose and convenience of various political organizations who have secured their niche, entrenched, locked and loaded. Elections, such as they are conducted here, NEVER approach anything resembling a real choice or decision. Occasionally an upstart will defy the machine's number crunchers, but in the aftermath, they will either be assimilated or isolated. This is the "Chicago Way" and, as such, it has worked well spanning generations. What it would take to "fix" the system amounts to a Hiroshima level event. Actually, the power unleashed by a significant shift in the established power structure would likely dwarf that of an A-Bomb. For all of its superficial warts, boils, unsightly abscesses, open sores and negligence, it is a study in cost-effectiveness and economy of scale.

It is a system held together by control, corruption and self-interest. When any of these elements are threatened, the system does an amazingly good job of correcting itself. Its efficiency in cleansing, if only symbolically, is assured by knowing exactly how to take down its rogues, enemies and scapegoats. If they want or need you gone, they can and do, throw you under the bus with impunity.

What this means, pragmatically, is stability, predictability and some semblance of ORDER. As long as I can operate freely within this environment, the politics don't really affect me. I am not saying that it is Utopia, or at any juncture, optimal, but
its alleged excesses and corruption are WELL within tolerance for the "benefits" derived. The numbers and dollar signs may appear dizzying to outsiders, but as a percentage of the totals? Well within acceptable and far more attractive than ANY of the Pollyanna alternatives suggested by the regions "Reformers" whose only real interest is in acquiring and harnessing the power for themselves and their own.
One need only look to neighboring DuPage county to see that it is merely a choice between cronies, not efficiencies.

There are affordable, world class benefits, attractions and amenities all within easy reach. Somebody's taxes pay for ALL of these, so the pragmatic me chooses to assign my contributions as earmarked solely to these purposes. Somebody else's taxes can pay for the slimy crap and sleaze. Complete rationalization fantasy, but, hey, it works for me.

Of all of the asshats and annoying stuff that come with where I live, who's minding the Big Store in Chicago has never been on the list. Chicago was, is, and with any luck, will continue to be "the city what woiks". It exerts substantial influence over the regional fortunes of a multitude of tiny to burgeoning suburbs and exurbs who owe its pragmatic stability a debt of gratitude.

It's an odd-lot package deal. No substitutions. The odds of improvement through a carpet-bombing sea change are just too impractical to be considered, whereas tactical applications of its influence portends something worth increasing my contributions for the promise of stability and incrementally better, wider amenities.

Update: Even his long-time critics sort of get the premise and want their picture mementos.
Ben Joravsky/Chicago Reader

1 comment:

amber ladeira said...

Just because you're right doesn't mean I'm happy about it, sigh.

I still love Chicago, guess I have
to, most of my loved ones are here
or near, spent most of my life in Chi. Best, A.