Friday, February 28, 2014

Fortunately, we’re not Detroit. But could we have this year’s Tigers team?

I got my kick from reading the Standard & Poor’s study that says Chicago’s financial situation isn’t anywhere near as bad as that of Detroit – which officially qualifies financially as “bankrupt.”

DALEY: Our financial savior?
For among the factors that it says makes Chicago more sound is the long political reign of Richard M. Daley. The study by the financial agency says the fact that Chicago had one leader for 22 years is much different from Detroit’s constantly-changing leadership during that same period.

NOT THAT I’M ready to erect a monument to the memory of Richard M. anytime soon.

But it seems that most of the people who in recent months have been eager to lambast Chicago’s reputation by saying we’re on the verge financially of becoming the next Detroit are doing so for political reasons. They'd have us think that it was having Daley around for so long that put us on this economic path the city is on.

It becomes easy to dismiss their rants against the Second City because they’re so ideologically overloaded.

These kind of people probably want to believe that it was the city administration under Daley that somehow put us on the path to becoming a Detroit – while also dragging Illinois down to the status of another Michigan.

WHICH, BY THE way, seems to be a state that people who were raised there are eager to leave – to come live in Chicago for at least a stint.

That trend is obvious enough. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently tried deriding Chicago as a place for “yuppie(s),” while saying that Michiganders who want to be substantial should stay in Detroit.

SNYDER: Jealous of Chicago?
Which reeks of a sense of desperation from an official who realizes his place has become secondary in the Midwestern U.S. to that of Chicago (which gives Illinois a boost as well). Just as desperate as those Indiana government officials who get all excited whenever an ice cream stand in an Illinois border community moves over one town to the east to be amongst the Hoosiers.

But back to Standard & Poor’s, which said it did the study released Thursday because it heard all the comments coming from politically-partisan people about Chicago becoming Detroit and wanted to figure out for itself whether there was any truth to them.

FOR THE RECORD, the study contends that there are significant differences between Chicago and Detroit, to the point where it’s not really right to say that city number three (in population) is about to become city number 18!

Is the Asian Carp 'invasion' Chicago's fault?
The city has a higher median per-capita income than Detroit, along with higher housing values, less of an unemployment rate and a slower rate of population decline in recent decades.

Although on the latter point, it should be noted that while the city proper has dropped, the overall metro area has grown. Back when Chicago had about 3.5 million people, the entire state of Illinois was about 8 million.

Compared to the current 2.7 million living in the city and another 5.5 million in the Chicago suburbs. The rest of the state remains about the same in the just over 12 million.

NOW I HAVE relatives who live in Detroit and its suburbs (although I personally haven’t visited them on their home turf since nearly 30 years ago). I’m really not up to bashing about Detroit – or any other Great Lakes state. We are a region of the nation in and of itself and ought to be trying to find our commonalities.

It’s just that the rhetoric we often hear becomes so partisan as to be pointless. Just as much of the debate over the Asian Carp getting into the Great Lakes and ruining its ecosystem seems to become a matter of other states wanting to blame Chicago for somehow allowing this to happen.

We get nowhere when we let ourselves get split up. Although I would much prefer to be associated with Chicago than just about anywhere else. The bottom-line when it comes to Standard & Poor’s ratings is that Chicago’s debt is ranked “A+” with a negative outlook, compared to a “D” ranking for Detroit – how clear could that comparison be?

Could this be the Tigers' home for a season?
Except for maybe this particular baseball season, where I have to confess I wouldn’t mind if this year’s version of a Detroit Tigers ball club were based on the Sout’ Side, so as to spare us the mediocrity we’re likely to see this season.


No comments: