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The Chicago Blues

Mises Daily: Tuesday, July 10, 2001 by

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The city of Chicago has a long, notorious history of corrupt and intrusive politicians who care nothing about personal freedom.  I did not realize how bad it truly was until I moved to Chicago a little over two years ago.  It is difficult to pick a starting subject when talking about the destruction of lives and erosion of personal liberty that the local and federal governments have caused in this city.  

However, there is one massive government disaster that almost nobody can miss.  I’m talking about the multi-billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded towns of crime and sloth called housing projects.  The housing projects of Chicago are towering testaments to how the government destroys lives and wealth, not only of the people inside these projects, but also of the residents nearby.  

The destruction the government causes with these projects is fourfold: 1) They confiscate taxpayer money to pay for their construction and upkeep, 2) property values within the general vicinity of a housing project immediately plummet, 3) criminal activity in the general area skyrockets, and 4) the people living in this "free" housing are doomed to a life of constant handouts, unbelievable crime, and a general feeling of worthlessness.  

Add to this the fact that this vicious cycle of crime and general irresponsibility continues on for generation after generation as the children in these projects know nothing else but government handouts.

Even the city had to finally admit that its housing projects were a complete and total failure.  Currently, many of the projects in the Chicago area are being totally demolished.  Even the infamous Cabrini Green is being slowly torn down, making way for some of the most valuable real estate in the city.  Most Chicago residents cheered at the site of the horrific buildings of Cabrini Green being bulldozed.  However, most failed to ask themselves what the city is doing with the people who lived there.  

I took it upon myself to find this out.  Once I did, I almost wished I hadn’t.  It turns out that the government thinks it has figured out why their housing projects failed so miserably.  Their answer is that the residents were too segregated from the rest of society.  They need to be integrated more with the common man.  Therefore, the city has decreed that any resident forced out of a housing project will be moved to upscale, extremely expensive housing in urban neighborhoods and will pay a fraction of the cost of the true rent.  

Not only will they be moving ex-project dwellers into the more well-to-do neighborhoods, but they are doing it in absolute secrecy.  In fact, it is an explicit goal of the plan to not let anybody in these neighborhoods know that the government will be moving jobless welfare recipients next door, many of whom know nothing more than a life of crime and living off of other people.  Supposedly, it will help integrate the different people and cultures better if we’re all ignorant of who is living next to us.  

Now, some will say that it is wrong to judge these people who once lived in the projects and that there are plenty of decent people who live there and who actually work for a living.  

I have no doubt this is true, but this is not the point.  Many people pay a lot of hard-earned money to live in what they think is a safe neighborhood.  They do not expect that their tax money will be used to move people, some of which will no doubt commit crimes in their new neighborhood, next to them in secrecy.  To the people who say this is being too judgmental, then I say walk down to your nearest housing project at night and just hang out for a few hours.  I doubt you’ll leave without a few judgments of your own.    

To further their cause against "rampant discrimination," Mayor Richard Daley, who defines the totally ingrained-for-life local politician, and the city council decided a new law was needed for the taxicab industry.  There already exists a law on Chicago’s books that prevents "discrimination" by cab drivers.  The law states that anybody hailing a cab, no matter what sort of state they are in or what the cab driver’s instincts tell him, must be picked up by that cab.  Of course, this is supposed to stop cab drivers from discriminating against minorities, or to be more precise, black people.  

According to the logic of our honorable mayor and the city council, cab drivers, who desperately search out riders during all hours of the day in order to make a meager living at best, are so racist that they will simply pass up the opportunity to make money because of the color of somebody’s skin.  Accordingly, the mayor and city council must believe that these cab drivers, most of whom are foreign minorities themselves and clearly do not have any ingrained racism against black people to begin with, dislike only black people since they are the part of society that is deemed to be underserved by cab drivers.  

Apparently this law to combat discrimination was not good enough, as the city has now forced all cab companies who wish to operate in Chicago to make at least one pickup a day from "underserved" areas.  Of course, these so-called underserved areas are that way for a reason.  They are ripe with crime, drugs, and gangs.  However, the clear risk to these cab drivers’ safety, not to mention the personal liberty of the cab companies, means nothing to the city council and the mayor as they sit in their pristine offices downtown, far away from the crime and violence.  

 The cab companies should make a counter-proposal.  If the mayor and city council agree to conduct their business outdoors in these same "underserved" areas for one hour a day with no bodyguards or police, just as the cab drivers are being forced to do, then the cab companies will go into these same areas.  I’ll bet all of my wealth that not one of these politicians would do it.

Because of these contemptible laws, the city’s cab drivers called a general strike on what is normally one of the busiest days of the year for cab companies, July 3.  We can only hope that as the citizens of Chicago waited and waited for a cab on that day, only to find out that there were no cabs running, they find out the true reason and put the blame squarely where it belongs at election time.

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Douglas Carey is editor of The Burden. See his archive and send him MAIL.