Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Answer: The Complete Breakdown of Anything Resembling Civilization

Q&A: What’s Behind Chicago’s Homicide Spike? | FRONTLINE | PBS You see, murders in Chicago are up 60% this year, compared with the first quarter of last year. Non-fatal shootings are up as well. (Murders are more an indication of how far you are from a certified Trauma Center than the number of shootings...)

I am almost surprised to see PBS covering this subject. It casts Chicago in a bad light. Chicago was the home of Dear Leader, where among other gigs, he was a Community Organizer. (The community he worked in was the one that saw Derrion Albert beaten to death, a death that was captured on numerous cell-phones.) Still, Obama hasn't been around for a while, what with part of a term in the Senate, and his time in the Illinois legislature.

As Arne Duncan said, after the Derrion Albert killing, "it is about our values." He also said that money will never stop this problem. It won't. Money - the money from prohibition (not of alcohol, but of drugs) - drives it. It hasn't changed in a 100 years. What is funding the gangsters have changed. And they have changed from being mostly white and associated with The Outfit, to what we have today. But it is still The Chicago Way. (See the video below, if you aren't familiar with that phrase)
There’s also a real serious spirit of revenge in the air in Chicago. People have been killed over the years and a lot of guys are trying to avenge the death of their fallen comrades. So the spirit of revenge is really deep. The only way to effective stop a guy from killing someone is to have boots on the ground with those young guys so you can intervene.
There is, to use the term coined by Thomas Hobbes, a state of war in Chicago. "Bellum omnium contra omnes." (The War of every man against all men.) That life is "nasty, brutish and short" is also an observation made by Hobbes. (Note: Leviathan, the source for these quotes, was published in 1651.) Civilization relies on the rule of law, and in Chicago, vendetta has replaced the rule of law.

Not that the whole city of Chicago is falling apart. Certain areas are still getting better. Operation Cease Fire has had some good effects, but they aren't active everywhere. And there aren't large groups that can negotiate to solve problems.
Also, the gang dynamics have actually been broken down in Chicago. You have more factions and cliques … because no one wants to listen to any leaders, so everyone is pretty much trying to fend for themselves.
One of the other terms Hobbes used to describe the state of war was "solitary."
In the Latino communities in Chicago you have dividing lines. And if you’re on the other side of the line, just like Aliyah Shell, the six-year-old girl who was shot and killed a few weeks ago — she happened to live on one side of Little Village, and the guys from the other side, they don’t care who they shoot over there… There’s been a 30-year war in Little Village between particular rival organizations. …
They don't care for anyone outside their group. They don't care who they hurt or kill. Sounds just like the Huns under Attila. Barbaric.

30 years. Generations have grown up in this war. Funny, isn't it that "Just Say No" is about 30 years old. I'm sure that's just a coincidence. I mean the War on (Some) Drugs™ couldn't be responsible for the breakdown of civilization in Chicago (or Mexico, or anywhere else in Latin America) could it? No. Mr. Obama just said, we only need better enforcement. (I'm sure Chicago will be thrilled by his observations.)

So how can this be turned around? I don't know. I do know it probably isn't a government program, or more aid to the folks in the city. And the political caste is too married to the War on (Some) Drugs™ to even consider changing it. Doing the same thing, and expecting a different result is one sign of insanity. We have been doing the same thing for 30 years, and hoping for a different outcome. No doubt, we will keep hoping. Keep insisting that if we "just do it better" we will win this war on drugs.

It would help if there were jobs in Chicago. But to say the climate is tough is an understatement. Sales tax is 9.5% in the city. (It decreased on Jan. 1! It is still the higher than anywhere else in the country.) Parking is $3.50 per hour in "central business district" and $5.75 in the Loop. There used to be a $4 per month "head tax," a per employee tax, on businesses with more than 60 employees in the city. That's been cut to $2 per month (I think). So, economic development would help, but doesn't seem likely. Anyone who can get out of the city to buy stuff is. From paper for your printer to HDTVs, it only makes sense to get out of the city (and Cook county as well).

But I don't know how you rebuild civilization once it has been torn down. I received my instruction as a child. Right from wrong. "Sticks and stones ..." Sharing. Caring. Worrying about someone other than yourself. Work. You know, family.

1 comment:

Graybeard said...

Heat wrenching stuff, Deb. I'm afraid Chicago is what they want to bring to all of us, even here in small city America. The Chicago way has overtaken DC, and the epic corruption is just spreading.

Welcome back. Excellent post.