Too many government school districts begin the year with the threat of teachers’ strikes looming around the corner. Children wonder if they’ll start on time, parents wonder if they’ll need to arrange alternate child care options for a day, a week, even a month. And still such schools don’t lose customers, because it’s “free” – the parents pay for it in their taxes anyway, if they even pay property taxes at all; in any case, they may as well go. So the districts that employ “teachers” who would rather march, chant and yell than do their jobs are never immediately punished by the market through a loss of clients. And they go on.
But here in sunny Chicago, this isn’t the risk as we awaken to the scorching heat of the hottest week of the year. This year, the teachers are at school; it’s the students who are striking.
For, this year, there is an effort by the “community organizer” crowd to stage a walkout on the third day of school. Organizers expect a walkout in some twenty-five cities, enough to be noticed, enough to get press coverage, and sycophantic politicians pleading for their endorsements. The walkout wasn’t nearly as huge as expected; reportedly just in the hundreds, the no-shows for the protest are dwarfed by the usual statistics of no-shows for truancy. But still they get news coverage for their “boycott;” let’s address it head-on.
For what do they strike?
Why are these children and parents walking out? Do they strike in protest against the grotesque Chicago murder rate, against the gangs that control so many schools and playgrounds? Do they strike against the dismal CPS academic standards that – outside the magnet and charter schools – condemn even their graduates to functional illiteracy? Do they strike against the irresponsible teachers’ union that has for decades squandered public funds, and rewarded the mediocre and lousy, instead of the talented and dedicated? No. Just like the teachers, these parents and children strike for money.
“The TIF Money!” they shout, though one can tell that few, if any, of the protesters even know what TIF stands for, or know how much there is, or whether it’s really being mishandled.
“And for an elected school board!” they scream, oblivious to the fact that merely bringing up the issue is sure to make the viewer at home question, for the thousandth time, the wisdom of universal suffrage.
They’re grasping for money and power, in their own small, pathetic way.
They don’t understand that Chicago’s population has plummeted from a high of over three and a half million to a shocking two and half million today… With a million fewer residents, the city simply doesn’t need – and can’t afford – the massive footprint of schools and administration that had served an earlier, much larger population.
They can’t manage to do the math to realize that the city and state are utterly bankrupt, thanks to decades of their antics; they’ve squeezed all the juice out of the onion until there’s nothing left but a dessicated husk.
They don’t appreciate the fact that businesses have fled Chicago for the Cook County suburbs, or fled Cook County for outstate Illinois, or fled Illinois entirely for other states or other countries… or simply been driven out of business entirely. To speak in the only language they understand: lost business means lost tax revenues.
They don’t understand that their taxes and regulations, and the graft and the crime, are what drove the jobs away.
There is only government money in their worldview: government benefits, government jobs, government cash. They agitate for it because that’s all they know to agitate for. Tell them to get a job and they’ll ask which government office to apply to. Tell them to look at the private sector, and they’ll ask What’s that?
What Happened to the Private Sector?
Now we come to the crux of the matter. The parents and children of Chicago are right to be angry, but their fury is misplaced. The route from home to school is more dangerous now; the school itself is more dangerous as well. The path to prosperity upon graduation, with youth unemployment approaching 50%, and minority youth unemployment on the wrong side even of that, is a harder road than ever before. Think this current economy doesn’t count as a depression? Don’t try arguing with an unemployed but willing young person today.
Why haven’t sales tax and income tax receipts climbed? Because big government taxes and regulations have driven out the businesses.
Why haven’t property tax receipts recovered? Because federal programs demolished private home values, and eroding neighborhoods have contributed to that decline.
Why is rampant crime unchecked? Because leftist policies have resulted in a revolving-door criminal justice system that returns rapists, dealers, robbers and killers to their neighborhoods so fast, it’s like they never left.
Why do the schools fail? Because even unlimited money, which we DO NOT HAVE, couldn’t help a teacher convey knowledge to a class when the entire classroom is overwhelmed by fear of the omnipresent gangs of thugs, and by the hopelessness of a nihilistic culture in which even their pastors tell them that demanding handouts is the right way to get ahead in life, not by learning a career and earning prosperity on one’s own.
Oh yes, these parents and students are right to be furious. But shouting at the current Democratic mayor of Chicago isn’t going to accomplish anything. These problems are out of his hands, though they are most certainly of his party’s making. Despite all these media-hogging boycotts of low-level bureaucrats, there’s nothing but blindness to the real causes of their communities’ problems.
The state of Illinois, our labor laws, tax code, and judicial system, are all the products of the same leftist culture that has dominated Illinois and federal politics for much of a century. The result we see is exactly what we expected from it. Nothing in Chicago is any kind of a surprise.
Who should these parents and children be demonstrating against? Outside whose offices should they picket? The judges who release guilty criminals back into their neighborhoods instead of locking them up… the red-tape-spinning bureaucrats who drive employers into the arms of Mexico, China and India… the state and federal legislators, aldermen and school boards, who have spent decades promising the impossible to government employees, creating a powder keg sure to blow as soon as the recession got bad enough.
And oh yes, most important: they should be demonstrating against their own alleged leaders – the self-styled spokesmen of the minority communities, the pompous “ministers” and community organizers who rouse their rabble to demonstrate, but persecute them as soon as they have an individual thought… and who eject them from their downward-spiraling “movement” if they ever ask the most important question of the age:
“With all that the Democrat Party plantation has done to destroy my family, my neighbors, and myself, why on earth are you still telling us all to vote Democrat?”
Copyright 2013 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago based Customs broker and international trade compliance trainer. A former county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has now been a recovering politician for over sixteen years.
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