If you are from Chicago (and paid attention in history class) the date October 10, 1871 should ring a bell. That is when the cow Mrs. Catherine O’Leary was milking kicked over a lamp and started the Chicago Fire. (Some believe that the fire was started during a botched robbery attempt, others believe it started during a craps game. Some even question the date it started.) The fire burned down damn near the whole city. The city is now as aesthetically pleasing as it has ever been. But if you look past the legendary skyline, the luxuriance of the Loop, the buzz of night time Wrigleyville and the grandeur of the Sears (I mean, Willis) Tower, you will notice that Chicago is still burning from a metaphorical fire.
The war between Chicago and President Donald Trump has been as petty as the war between Kanye West and Taylor Swift. Protesters thwarted numerous campaign appearances during Trump’s run for POTUS, he has had honorary streets signs “vanish” in the night, gotten into a public war of words with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and he has repeatedly compared Chi-City to Afghanistan. Let’s start there.
If us Chicagoans can get our heads out of our asses for a moment, we would realize that some of President Trump’s criticisms hold more weight than Pablo Escobar did. In 2016, Chicago saw 783 homicides, the most since 1996. December of 2016 saw over 2,000 violent crimes. When you compare the crime index of Afghanistan and Chicago, you will notice that they are both staggeringly high and similar.
Young teens and young adults are the main culprits of the violent crimes. Perhaps that is a product of a deteriorating school system. The Chicago Public School system cannot get on the same page with the teachers union. Imminent strikes are on the horizon. The youth is already killing each other and now there is a chance that they will not be in school in some areas. The south and west sides have a number of school closings. It seems like educating the youth should not be so difficult.
OK, so Chicago is a violent place right now, but why else is the city rotting from the inside out? The third most populated city in the country remains one of the most taxed cities in the country. Maybe it is because the city keeps flirting with a woman named Betty Bankruptcy. Property taxes, water taxes, parking taxes, online streaming taxes, sugary drink taxes. Businesses are taking their operations elsewhere to avoid the steep tax hikes. Living in Chicago is becoming as expensive as living in California, without Cali’s weather.
The origins of The Chicago Fire are still questioned, but the fire the city today originates from the politicians. You can trace Chicago’s stench of political corruption all the way back to the 1800s. In a 2015 book titled Corrupt Illinois, Thomas Gradel and Dick Simpson labeled Chicago as “the most corrupt city in our nation”.
Stop trying to light a fire under President Trump. He is merely stating the obvious. The fire needs to go under the powers that be in the higher offices that is burning the city from the inside out.
Photo from Chicago Trubune