Of America’s largest cities only Chicago has a declining population. So far this year–as it was for all 2016–more people were murdered in Chicago than in New York City and Los Angeles.
On the surface it seems that Chicago has the best government that money can buy. The Watchdogs of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that one-third of municipal workers of America’s third-largest city banked over $100,000 last year. Meanwhile, just 11 percent of Cook County workers–Chicago is the county seat–earn more than $100K. The numbers are similar for state of Illinois employees.
Thirty-six Chicago payrollers collected more than Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year.
Overtime run amok partially explains the problem. Generous campaign contributions from public-sector unions to politicians explains much more of it.
The median income for Chicagoans according to the US Census Bureau in 2015–the most recent year that is available–$63,153.
In Chicago it’s great to be part of the ruling class. But Chicago’s roads are crumbling, barely one out of four of its students in its government schools read at grade level, its bond rating is the lowest among major cities, and businesses lack confidence in Chicago and Illinois as a whole. If you are part of Chicago’s ruling class you might view high taxes as a downpayment on your next paycheck or your retirement, but Chicagoans endure the nation’s highest sales tax rate and they were slugged with the highest property tax increase in the city’s history to fund public-worker pensions.
Yet Chicago’s public pensions are the worst-funded among America’s biggest cities--at a rate of just 25 percent of its obligations. But the cruel joke may be on these well-compensated public-servants. Despite the strong pension protection clause in the Illinois constitution, a pension “haircut” seems unavoidable for retirees. Michigan has similar wording it its constitution, yet Detroit municipal retirees saw their pension checks cut after the Motor City declared bankruptcy.
Chicago’s decline and fall continues. But hey, at least some people for now are making a good buck off of the rotting corpse. Let the good times roll.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.