Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Forbes: Chicago is #3 Of Ten Most Miserable U.S. Cities

If you're from Chicago, and nobody's political flavor of the month, you probably have a gripe list of your own, but here's some of what Kurt Badenhausen tells us about life in Chi-Town in his article in Forbes: America's Most Miserable Cities:

Lousy weather, long commutes, rising unemployment and the highest sales tax rate in the country are to blame for the Windy City being near the top of our list. High rates of corruption by public officials didn't help either.
[. . .]
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Chicago, has been very busy in recent years. They convicted 385 public officials of crimes over the past decade, a per capita rate that puts it in the bottom third of big U.S. metros.

Residents have been showing their dissatisfaction with Chicago with their feet, perhaps fed up by the average low temperature of 17 degrees in January. There has been a net migration of people out of Chicago for seven straight years, a trend that is expected to continue.
Other than being a little fixated on our weather, I think he hit the mark. Cold and snow, for the people I've talked to, don't top the list of reasons to make an escape. But every one of them has been enraged at incessant corruption, and the financial toll it takes on some of us. That anger is compounded as we hear about millions spent on non-existant services and ghost payrollers, and decades of complete Democrat control have done nothing to make Chicago a business-friendly place (hence, the long commutes). In short, it's just better somewhere else.

Dennis Byrne thinks that Mayor Richard M. Daley should top the list of reasons for the sad state of affairs here, even though the "national media, on the same cycle as the local cicada, can be counted on to regularly rediscover Daley’s existence and bestow upon him honorifics such as “best mayor in America,” and Chicago as the “nation’s best-managed city.” (As we all know by now, the national media can't rediscover their ample backsides with both hands, so that's no surprise.) Byrne can't resist a taking a poke at Chicago voters, too. Many do blame the voters, but few mention that the opposing candidate (never from an opposing party) is at best, more of the same; even fewer mention the election where only Daley's name appeared on the ballot. But Byrne may be right about the moral blindness of some Chicagoans, and he adds them to his causes-of-misery list:
. . . voters who keep electing the likes of Daley because they think that a “little” graft is a good way to run the place. It’s hardly a “little” graft, unless you count, for example, the $40 million tossed to insiders to rent hundreds of trucks that aren’t used as small potatoes."
(The $40 million is, of course, only one example. Dick Simpson recently estimated a taxpayer corruption tab of $300 million, but I'm pretty sure that includes only those who got caught.) I think there are other reasons for voters casting ballots to continue this legacy of sleeze, that I wrote about in this post about Chicago corruption and decline, and one honest working guy's reasons for leaving:
In his article in, Steve Bartin makes the same argument, from a wider perspective - he argues that Chicago itself is in decline. Some may disagree, in part because it's not declining for everyone:
"The largest employer in the city of Chicago is the Federal government. Followed by the City of Chicago public School system. Other major employers are the city of Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority, the Cook County government, and the Chicago Park District. These thousands of government workers provide the backbone of the coalition for higher taxes, generous pensions and “political stability”.
If it's true that you don't get those jobs without "connections", why would one expect those who have them to take a moral stand against corruption at the ballot box? So ordinary (un-connected) citizens will continue to pay for this parasitic form of government. They will continue to be ignored (or insulted) by representatives who have long ago ceased to pretend that they matter.

Other than that, is it a great town? Absolutely. And when I'm living elsewhere, I'll probably come to enjoy the sights, and the food, and of course - just like the national media - I will admire those wonderful flower pots.


Brandon said...

Chicago got voted the 3rd most miserable city in the Country according for forbes! Ive never lived there but here are some reasons I found by someone who has lived before. Pretty interesting.

Pat said...

Hey Brandon. Thanks for the link. I looked at the article and you're right. It's pretty interesting!

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