opinion   |  column

COLUMN: Hoosiers, drop the love affair with Chicago



The Chicago Tribune published an editorial last month titled “What’s so great about the Hoosier state? It’s not Illinois.” In the piece, the Tribune's Editorial Board cited a company, HMD Trucking, moving from south Chicago Ridge to Gary, Indiana, because the cost of doing business was so much more manageable. 

Between oppressive tax rates, corrupt politicians and a police force completely unconcerned with the Constitution, Chicago deserves no special place in Americans’ hearts. Unfortunately, however, many Hoosiers are wrongfully enamored with the city. 

It is not just companies like HMD and manufacturing companies leaving Chicago. The city is experiencing an exodus of technology workers because of a lack of sufficient entrepreneurial infrastructure. 

Wealthy, successful individuals are also fleeing the city in droves. 

With ridiculous tax rates that punish personal success, Chicago guarantees that people with money will want to move to cities where a large chunk of their wealth will not just funnel into a failing, debt-laden public education system that disproportionately funds schools in higher-income areas.

These schools need funding the least. The schools in areas with the highest poverty rates receive almost 20 percent less funding than those in the richest areas, according to the Washington Post. 

These school districts are millions of dollars in debt, and no comprehensive plan has been proposed to pull the system out the gutter.

Beyond economic concerns, Chicago is remarkably politically corrupt. Both the Chicago Tribune and former Chicago alderman Dick W. Simpson, now head of the political science department at University of Illinois at Chicago, call the city “the capital of corruption” in the United States.

The city is nearing its 30th alderman, or elected municipal representative, convicted of crimes related to political duties since 1972. No city with this level of corruption can provide a sustainable economic or social boon to the country.

This corruption and political discord has been so arduous for so long that in 2011, Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, proposed that Cook County, which contains Chicago, secede from the state of Illinois. 

Not only are the politicians shady, but the police are overwhelmingly predatory. 

In January, the Justice Department found that the Chicago Police Department has “violated the constitutional rights of residents for years, permitting racial bias against blacks” and cultivating a culture of unchecked, excessive force.

More recently, 15 people spoke against Sgt. Ronald Watts, a Chicago police officer, for detaining them, planting drugs on them and subsequently charging them for drug possession. Watts and his team have been involved in more than 500 convictions.

All cities have unique economic struggles, combat corruption and manage tenuous relationships between citizens and police, but the disastrous state of all three issues in Chicago is too troublesome to ignore. 

Yes, the Shedd Aquarium is wonderful, and everyone loves the giant bean. The Cubs even won their first World Series title since the Ottoman Empire fell. But Hoosiers’ seemingly blind love for a city that creates as many problems as it solves supports the failing status quo. 

Chicago will be slower to fix its slew of foundational problems if people continue to mistakenly view it as the Midwest’s city on the hill.   

dylmoore@indiana.edu
@d_v_moore

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