Thursday, December 22, 2016

Illinois no longer growing ‘too slowly,’ it’s losing a few misguided individuals

I’m never sure just what to make of the Illinois population figures.
Too many view this sign in rear-view mirror

Our state was at an all-time high in this decade – although the recent estimates released this week indicate we’ve dropped a few people during the past two years.

BUT WE’RE ON the decline in terms of political representation, largely because other states can show larger population growths in percentages compared to Illinois. And since the number of members of Congress is a set figure, those states  have to get a larger share of the total.

I take as an example the official Census Bureau population count from 1960, when Illinois had 10.11 million people living here – of which some 3.5 million were residents of Chicago proper.

Compare that to the most recent official population count (taken in 2010) that showed Illinois with 12.83 million people (of which about 2.7 million were city residents, but when the suburbs all get added in put the Chicago metro area somewhere in the area of just over 8 million people.

Of just whom more than half bothered to cram their way into Millennium Park last month for the official Chicago Cubs Finally Won Something in Our Lifetimes celebration (if you believe the Cubbie propaganda).

BUT THE ‘NEWS’ that came up this week was the unofficial estimate the Census Bureau released of the nation’s population – an attempt to reflect on recent changes, even though the next official population count won’t be until 2020.

Illinois, which supposedly peaked at 12.88 million people in mid-2013, has since dropped by some 37,500 people. We now unofficially have 12,801,539 people who live in our state.

It’s no longer a matter of Illinois isn’t growing fast enough compared to southwestern states. We’re actually losing people.
Is this view really more pleasant? My feet were firmly planted on Illinois soil when I took this photograph of Indiana.

Which already has the political geeks out there ranting and raging and trying to assess blame! It’s Madigan’s fault, say the Bruce Rauner people. Because naturally, everything is the fault of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.
They'll miss it after they're gone!

MY GUESS IS that if the Cubs fail to repeat as World Series champions during the upcoming 2017 season, we’ll hear that it’s Madigan’s fault.

While others are equally quick to spew the trash talk that it’s Rauner’s fault. After all, the drop has begun about the time he began his gubernatorial campaign and term.

We’re supposed to believe that the 37,500 former Illinois residents all fled because they’re tired of our partisan political brawls. They want to live in a place where political people behave like grown-ups.

Fat chance finding such a place! My own observation is that political people in general have a touch of ego, mixed with arrogance and seasoned with a lack of intelligence. Illinois isn’t unique in that regard.

PERSONALLY, I’D BE inclined to think the weather is more of a factor in terms of people wanting to leave this state, or the Midwest in general. Except that the weather here during the winter months has always been absurdly cold, and it didn’t stop the growth of the past.

Even if it were, then I’d have to say we’re better off without those so weak-willed that they have to have a perpetual 82-degree and sunshiny temperature in order to survive.
Just think of those people who won't be on hand in that future year when we get an all-Chicago World Series and the White Sox achieve ultimate victory over a certain other ball club.

I know personally, I don’t have any interest in leaving the area – even though I do some work these days that takes me across that not-quite impenetrable barrier known as State Line Road and over into Indiana. Even into what some people regard as the depths of Gary – the one-time Steel City, the City of the Century or the Murder Capital of the Nation (even though it really isn’t).

All I know is that every time I do my business, I always feel a certain twinge of relief every time I drive back along Interstate 80 and see the back of the sign marking the Illinois/Indiana border. Because it means I’ve returned to the Land of Lincoln where things make sense – even if it means some 37,500 people are too clueless to realize that!


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