Chicago’s ruling class thrives amid city’s decline

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Chicago's ruling class thrives amid city's decline

By John Ruberry

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.

Com­bined.

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.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_100335” align=“alignleft” width=“300”] Blog­ger on Chicago’s North­west Side[/caption]

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.

By John Ruberry

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.

Combined.

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.

Blogger on Chicago’s Northwest Side

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.