Chicago Tuesdays: Why Local?

Tonight a few thousand Chicagoans are going to be grilling mayoral candidates about issues of local interest at UIC. While most of the world is interested in Rahm “Hammer” Emanuel, this forum excites me with the possibility of introducing Miguel del Valle to these entrenched citizens. Community activists of the most pure type, they are here to fight for the rights of their families and their neighbors. And I love them for that. (Suck on that, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin)

Speaking of Beck and Palin (and…. SUCK IT!), I realize that they are the big names. That if I want traffic to my site, all I need to do is talk about them – or some other big national name, but the KKKlowns tend to be the biggest draw – and then post a link on some sort of (usually left-leaning) political-interest/humor site. But the problem is, as much as I can’t stand those ignorant racists and the profit-induced lies they spew, they really don’t have much to do with the everyday mechanisms of our daily worlds (well, maybe they helped destroy true health care reform. Thanks for letting my extended family members suffer, a**holes!).

Although all politics ain’t local, much of it is. The groundwork sure is. It seems obvious that most of the concern for politics in this nation only occurs every four years, at the election of a president. But of course, with the division of power in this country, and with its immense size, the president really only has so much power (though executive orders and the scope of the military industrial complex and ‘homeland security’ industrial complex, etc., have enlarged it in scary proportions lately). Localized communities, however, have more access to their local pols and policies.

Take, for instance, two issues we’ve been dealing with at this site for a while: health care access and affordable housing. Both issues could use some national help, for sure (creating laws that recognize health care and housing as a fundamental human right issue could be one such way, for starters), but, if we’re honest, the work to accomplish such practicalities is local. Even if nationally we were to establish, say, Single Payer Health Care, we must acknowledge that that only changes the way hospitals and hcp’s are paid, and the way that we – as a collective society – pay for our care. It can’t, however, make sure that the hospitals, techs, nurses, and doctors provide equitable care to Black and Latino populations. And their neighborhoods.

Housing is also very local. Of course this only makes sense – after all, prices for a place in Manhattan are going to wildly vary from the same space in Aurora, Cleveland, Chicago, LA, Oak Lawn, Boston, or Seattle. In fact, in Chicago, it should become even more localized. The rubric for measuring what housing is “affordable” in this area is based on not just what the median payment is for a rental in the city, but in the surrounding collar counties – which includes the super-affluent North Shore. So, someone paying $600 for a three-bedroom in Garfield Park (ok, I totally made that up) is not going to be considered as weighty because someone is paying four times as much for something like that in Wicker Park, six times as much in Lincoln Park, and eight times as much in Wilmette. The result is that what is deemed as “affordable” in Chicago is not affordable for the typical working class family. People who typically make $20,000 a year between two jobs shouldn’t have to pay half or more than that just to keep their families indoors.

Having said all of that, I’m going to try to maintain Chicago Tuesdays and ask my blogging friends to also have periodical local features (if not local blogs). I’m also in the process of adding a blogroll of Chicago interests. If you know of any worthwhile Chicago-area sites, please keep me informed. Thanks!

* Chicago and suburbs neighborhoods map courtesy of http://www.wildonions.org/Neighborhoods-Suburbs.htm

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