Virtually every American city which has what we euphemistically call an “inner city,” (translation being an area of urban blight and poverty, overcrowding, under-education and where single parent families are the norm), has one thing that provides some constancy. That is that “progressives” (translation Democrats) have been in control for the better part of half a century or longer and have created the perfect conditions for all of this human tragedy. While I can’t personally speak to the conditions throughout the country, after thirty-six years of living in Chicago I do feel qualified to address the disaster that city has become.
Moving from Manhattan at age seventeen was not only a nine hundred mile geographical relocation. I felt as though I had moved back in time by a century. Truly, I had the sense that I was now living in the Wild West – with all the disadvantages that entailed and few of the benefits of modern 1960’s society. Perhaps those feelings came from snobbery. But as involved as I was with classical music, I was shocked that the classical radio station WFMT went off the air at 10:00 p.m., the Chicago Symphony at that time was a mediocre ensemble and Chicago’s “opera scene” was only ten years old.
To usurp a Robert Heinlein title, I felt as though I were A Stranger in a Strange Land.
Well, I adapted. I found a local store that sold used vinyl and the broadcast void was filled with recordings of all the masters, bought on the cheap. I became used to the fact that in Chicago you couldn’t buy meat in the grocery stores after six in the evening, even though it was sitting there pre-cut in the display case. (This was a concession to the butcher’s union). And I later became aware that on “Days when members of the Illinois General Assembly were being elected, it was illegal to buy a drink at a bar or buy a bottle of liquor in a liquor store during the hours that the polls were open.” As I was under the legal age to buy liquor at any time and didn’t drink it, I found that law amusing – because as I later came to view the Chicago political process, it seemed to me that the only conditions under which one would voluntarily vote for the hacks who held office for decades was if the voter were completely inebriated at the time of casting his ballot.
I’m not sure how my thirty-six year long experience with crime compared to that of other Chicago residents. One mugging; one near mugging (rescued by my Irish Setter); one car stolen (twice in six months – the second time permanently); one car vandalized twelve times in sixteen months so the thieves could steal the Blaupunkt radios. As I said, I don’t know how that experience compared to that of your average Chicagoan. Nor was any of this the basis for my reason to move to Nevada.
It occurred to me that I was paying the State of Illiniois three percent of my income (now four and one half per cent) for the privilige of residing in the state. Notwithstanding all the monies that Illinois extracted from its citizens, the state’s budget was completely out of balance, has only gotten worse and Illinois now finds itself right behind Puerto Rico in terms of defaulting on its obligations. But that was not the motivating reason for moving. The City of Chicago was.
I had been giving some thought to relocating and felt that I needed a change. As most of us, myself included, fear change, after thirty-six years this was a big decision. But what decided me was looking at the City of Chicago’s budget for the year 2001. Included in that budget was a line item for five million dollars. The expenditure was for something called an anti-graffitti campaign – to purchase equipment and pay for the manpower to remove the graffitti the city expected would be applied to public buildings in the following year.
Consider the thinking behind this one item. Rather than attack the problem at its source, apprehending people who applied graffitti, the city’s solution was to tolerate the application of paint to its buildings and then return the buildings to their original appearance – at the taxpayer’s expense. This “solution” is so typical of government’s approach to problem solving at all levels. And it is infuriating.
It is akin to a man walking into the Emergency Room of a hospital with a gun shot wound, the bullet still embeded in his abdomen. The attending physician, rather than removing the bullet, gives the man a narcotic based pain killer to remedy his discomfot. If that were to happen, you can bet that the hospital and doctor would be served papers as the defendants in a medical malpractice law suit.
Many who self-apply the misnomer, “progressives” to their political philosophy view government intervention as the first step toward creating a paradise on earth. But with the sort of thinking that treats symptoms rather than addressing the underlying problems, what they and their political minions do is ignore problems to the point that they fester – perhaps beyond repair. And that is precisely what has happened in Chicago and other major cities.
This being the Memorial Day weekend, Chicago started off last Friday with several murders to give us more people to memorialize. The first death was a fifteen year old girl and was what inspired this post.
Veronica Lopez’ was the first of four murders last Friday in the Windy City. She was in a car on Lake Shore Drive and at 1:30 a.m. was gunned down when a car pulled up to the vehicle in which she was riding. Her car was being driven by an unidentified 28 year old male, the presumed target of the attack. Veronica was apparently an unintended victim of what the police believe is a gang related shooting.
Those who believe in the efficacy of “nanny government” should be inspired by how effective this form of overseeing our citizenry proved to be in this case. You see, Chicago, like many other cities passed curfew laws regulating when juveniles might be out on the city’s streets when they are not accompanied by a legal guardian. In Chicago’s case, all juveniles under the age of eighteen are prohibited from being out after 11:00 p.m. on weeknights. That law has been on the books for over seventy years.
Veronica Lopez’ death would have been avoided if she merely had obeyed the law. Her mother, Diana Mercado was understandably distraught at learning of her daughter’s death. “They took my baby,” she said.
Well, fifteen year olds don’t always exhibit the best judgment. But sometimes parents don’t either – as in this case. Ms. Mercado should ask herself, particularly if she has other children at home, if she is enforcing the sort of discipline that a parent has the right to command of her offspring.
Why did she allow her daughter to violate the curfew law? Even more to the point in these days when acts of predatory rape are as common as grains of sand on the beach, why did she allow her daughter to hang out with and go driving with a twenty-eight year old male?
As a kid, I used to resent what I viewed as my parents’ over-protectiveness. If a friend invited me to a party at their apartment, my parents wanted the phone number where I could be reached. And while I could walk there by myself if it were light out, my father would pick me up if it was dark when the party ended. This was back in the fifties when it was considerably safer for children than it is today.
But the important thing was that my parents strictly regulated what I could do. I don’t remember going out more than a few times during my time in grammar and high school years on a school night – and then only after I had completed my homework.
The usual response I received as I requested to go out and asked, “Mother, may I?” was “No.” I wonder if more parents today exercised their authority, laid down rules for their kids and enforced discipline for infractions of those rules, how many more fifteen year olds might be alive in Chicago – and elsewhere.