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The Mechanics
« Mechanics & Progress Illinois on the Radio Harris and The Hair Do »

Illinois Wed Jul 08 2009

Political Maneuvering & Human Lives

It'd be great if there was one person or group of people we could blame for the budget impasse (I guess, on a grander scale, the people to blame would be our legislators--but then again, we elect them, so there you go), but the problem is more with the system that creates disincentives for political courage. Paul Simon wrote about this in his book Our Culture of Pandering, a great book with an unfortunate cover (no better way to say "cutting edge solutions" than a bow tie and a rocking chair). But while legislators jockey to avoid being the first ones to plunge into the abyss of a tax hike, our communities face serious disruptions.

Yes government creates many stupid programs; but by far the vast majority of things we spend our money on we spend our money on because there is some direct or indirect benefit to the entire community. Unemployment benefits keep people spending money and keeps them off the street. Substance abuse programs and clinics keep drug addicts from descending into criminality. And programs like CeaseFire keep people alive.

Right now bullets are flying fast on the South and West sides, where a majority of this city's black and brown populations live. This weekend, depending upon whose numbers you listened to, there were somewhere between 22 and 63 observed incidents of gunfire ripping through parts of Little Village, Englewood, North Lawndale, Austin, Bethany Yards and Brighton Park.

This isn't "throwing money at deadbeats". When violence explodes in a neighborhood, that affects the entire city. We can't keep pretending we live in vacuums where as long as we're doing okay, nothing else matters. The individual only makes sense as part of a community that sustains them. Understanding that as a first step may make it easier for people to stop posturing about "cutting spending" as though that's a solution to every problem.

This is why stuff like the Progress Illinois crowdsourcing project are so important. Seeing where services are falling apart might make it more clear just how fragile the social fabric can be.

 
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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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