Thursday, December 27, 2012

Quite the year for Chicago politics

I did not fully appreciate how eventful of a year this has been Chicago

1. Given the extreme lack of credibility / common sense in the Republican party right now I was glad to see Obama reelected. Plus he's probably further to the right than most would care to admit.

2. The teachers strike really put Chicago front and center in the national debate on pensions and public sector employees. Many people forget that despite a relatively light tax burden at the national level people in high-tax locales such as Chicago, New York and California face overall tax burdens comparable to many European countries. In these cities the non-federal taxes often exceed federal taxes.

3. I was pretty shocked when Jesse Jackson was reelected but I am glad he choose to resign. If he is truly not fit for work then it would be a huge disservice to his constituency to stay in Congress.

4. The pension crisis is one of the biggest reasons I'm hesitant to buy a condo, even if they double property taxes there's still a hole in the state and local pensions. Now the scary part I did a quick back of the envelope calculation suggests that if they double property taxes Chicago home prices will drop by ~20%. Admittedly it wouldn't be an instant drop but rather an "under-performing inflation" type of stagnation. In any case I'd rather not have my money tied up in a Chicago condo right now.

5. Its so strange how for me Chicago feels like a very safe city, but for thousands and thousands of others its not. The murder stats suggest that being in a Chicago gang is more dangerous than being a US soldier in Afghanistan. Crazy. And the worst part is I don't see any solutions, sometimes all we can do is try to make the best of a bad situation.

6. I'm pretty shocked Walsh got as many votes as he did. Demographics alone will end the Republican party as it currently stands. The question is can we last long enough?

7. With their new majority it'll be interesting to see what the Illinois Democrats come up with as solutions to the state's problems. And also what impact those solutions will have on my desire to stay in Chicago.

8. I remember the huge show of police force during the NATO summit, dozens of police officers lining the bridges over the river, it was a very vivid reminder of the tradeoff between safety and freedom.

9. Kirk is one of the few Republicans in Congress who I respect, being from Illinois he is (or at least has to be) liberal on many issues. I voted for him hoping the GOP would move in his direction rather than in the direction of the Tea Party. Perhaps if he and other like-minded (i.e. reasonable) members of the GOP left they could win the support of many independents and centrist Democrats who have left the GOP because of its craziness. I was very sad to hear about his stroke but after a long recovery he appears ready to return to Congress.

10. Blagojevich, good riddance.

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