John Stossel / March 18, 2015

Chicago Fray

Rahm Emanuel, current mayor of my old hometown, Chicago, is not a gentle soul. But he’s smarter than his big-spending predecessor, Richard M. Daley, and the union pawn, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who becomes the new mayor if he beats Emanuel in a run-off election April 7. Emanuel was the tough Obama chief of staff who reportedly stabbed a table with a steak knife as he listed political enemies. He relishes conflict and famously said that in politics, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” That comment scared libertarians and conservatives, who know that government usually uses crises as excuses to increase its power. But here’s the surprise: Emanuel has been in crisis mode for four years now, and sometimes he made the right decisions as a result.

Rahm Emanuel, current mayor of my old hometown, Chicago, is not a gentle soul. But he’s smarter than his big-spending predecessor, Richard M. Daley, and the union pawn, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who becomes the new mayor if he beats Emanuel in a run-off election April 7.

Emanuel was the tough Obama chief of staff who reportedly stabbed a table with a steak knife as he listed political enemies.

He relishes conflict and famously said that in politics, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” That comment scared libertarians and conservatives, who know that government usually uses crises as excuses to increase its power.

But here’s the surprise: Emanuel has been in crisis mode for four years now, and sometimes he made the right decisions as a result.

“Crisis” is not just political rhetoric. Mayor Daley and his predecessors pandered to a shallow public and gullible media by spending, borrowing and refinancing. Borrowing helped Daley stay in office for 12 years, but cities can’t keep borrowing the way Chicago has.

Moody’s downgraded Chicago’s credit rating almost to junk-bond level last year because the city promised to pay billions of dollars in pensions to city workers but doesn’t have the money.

Chicago is the next Detroit.

Emanuel tried to do some sensible things. He privatized some jobs, giving private contractors a chance to prove that they do city work better than city workers do it. He closed 50 of the city’s worst schools. But he made little progress in addressing the immense pension liability.

Maybe it would have been politically impossible. The pensions are owed mostly to union teachers, cops and firemen, and none will give an inch. Teachers union protests roused the public against Emanuel’s school closings.

“That school was the center of our neighborhood!” goes the refrain from the anti-Emanuel voters. “It provided good jobs.”

That’s probably why Emanuel was forced into a run-off election.

But bad schools should close. And some union schools were really bad.

Emanuel’s opponent in the run-off, Garcia, vocally supports the unions and joins them in opposing both pension reform and competition from charter schools at all costs.

Garcia also wants a “moratorium on charter schools.” But charters are a rare bright spot in the failing city.

I suppose union manipulators like Garcia worry that if more parents see how much better schools get without unions in charge, they might get other dangerous ideas. They might demand flexibility and market-based solutions in other areas.

One of my favorite things about Chicago is the so-called “Chicago school” of economics – free market advocates such as the late Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman.

Friedman said, “a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it … gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

Chicago’s corrupt political culture has little interest in letting ordinary people experience real freedom.

Have you heard of “pay to play”? It’s when politicians award contracts to businesses that pay bribes. Bribery is illegal, but clever political manipulators reframe it in ways their lawyers can call legal. It happens everywhere, but Chicago has been famous for it. Emanuel continued the tradition – one of the things he hasn’t gotten right.

Somehow, investment firms that give money to Emanuel’s campaign win fees to manage the city’s money. Somehow, lawyers who give the right politicians money get lucrative contracts from the city. What a coincidence!

It’s as if Chicago voters face a painful choice: waste or corruption. Day by day, the political class milks taxpayers dry.

Once Chicago goes bankrupt, though, a judge will presumably force the city to stop throwing money to cronies, whether unions or businessmen. Pensions will have to be trimmed so that they are sustainable.

Then the rest of America will learn from Chicago’s and Detroit’s failures. Maybe.

I’m doubtful, though, because so far, the political class didn’t learn much from Detroit, Stockton, Greece, Cuba, Venezuela or the Soviet Union.

Maybe these are people who will never learn.

COPYRIGHT 2015 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.