Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Springfield, Capital of Illinois - operating on the backs of the poor.

De-industrialized and with a large income disparity, Springfield, Illinois has some people who have enough money and enough time on their hands to get involved in politics.

The rest are too busy living paycheck to paycheck saving nothing, living on borrowed money and borrowed time until they declare bankruptcy, were never taught how their own lives are effected by politics, or never see any significant political change to their own lives and don't bother to get involved.

Local political candidates go for votes they know they can get so they campaign on the platforms of yard waste pickup, fly-dumping, taxes, government waste, potholes, business related fees, and other topics of interest to local property owners.

Absentee landlords don't care because they can't vote in local elections, so the upkeep on their property is deplorable. The problem is that most absentee landlords started in Springfield then moved away as soon as they could afford it, to communities beyond the reach of the city taxes, utility costs and other fees.

So Springfield is mostly blighted. The illusion that it has nice neighborhoods is created by separate villages that are interwoven like an oddly shaped quilt. Leland Grove, Jerome, Southern View, are a few villages that actually do everything to contribute to themselves, but very little if anything to Springfield except the downtown public spaces and "cultural" centers, and even then it's the bare minimum.

Springfield is riddled with neighborhoods full of dilapidated old buildings, many of them abandoned and boarded up.

These distressed neighborhoods line every major thoroughfare into the city center where the Abraham Lincoln historic sites are located, and contribute nothing to the idea of starting a new business in town or even an inkling of a notion to live here.

Surrounding the historic sites are a few knickknack shops, bars, restaurants, banks, offices, hotels and a convention center. There are some residents who live around the downtown area, but the downtown grocery store that once served them has long ago departed.

The Illinois governor's mansion has been vacant for the last few terms. The majority of the population of Illinois resides in the Chicago area, so we get Governors from northern Illinois who prefer to do most of their business outside of Springfield as often as humanly possible.

The city struggles to recruit and retain the high level professionals needed to maintain a functioning local economy. Salaries for engineers, professors, lawyers, doctors and basically anyone who can be marginally successful in larger more popular metropolitan areas must be exceedingly high in Springfield.

Springfield's economy is supported by some higher wage and salaried employees: State, county and municipal employees, Memorial Hospital, St. Johns Hospital, Springfield Clinic, Horace Mann Insurance Company, Southern Illinois School of Medicine, The University of Illinois at Springfield, Lincoln Land Community College, and a few lesser known companies that pay above minimum wage which is currently $8.25 per hour. These people can afford to live outside of Springfield. They pay county property taxes, shop for groceries and pay sales taxes near their homes in Jacksonville, Chatham, Rochester, Sherman, New Berlin or other bedroom commmunity. Rents are usually $500 or above for these communities, you know, to keep out the "unwashed."

The other economy consists of disabled and elderly on fixed incomes, retail and food service workers, and other workers paid no more than what is legally required, minus the payroll tax-withholding of course. These are the people who can't afford to live outside of Springfield. These people can't afford to support a political candidate, nor can they afford to run for office. They are therefore ignored.

This society is under a structure called "political Darwinism." Springfield, Illinois clearly demonstrates political Darwinism by its obviously distinguishable geographic boundaries between the rich, working class, and poor.

The 2000 Census data showed that one third of the population of Sangamon County earned under $10 per hour. Since then, the population of Springfield alone rose nearly 5000 residents. Let me repeat, five thousand new residents in ten years.

Springfield, being the capital city, is the main hub for processing more Public Aid recipients, who often arrive from Chicago, get their paperwork processed, and then head back north, so I've been told. Some choose to stay.

Politics requires money, and the monied get what they want from their elected officials. Plain and simple political Darwinism. Not Democracy.

So we have higher utility fees, higher local sales taxes, higher cigarette taxes, so the local property owners can have yard waste on their rental properties hauled away by the city, instead of hiring private haulers.

There is a whole lot more to this than I can cover here. More later.

Friday, April 01, 2011

GPS Inside Deal

Once upon a time there was a GPS navigator that gave directions to drivers very efficiently, saving the drivers time and fuel.

One day an executive at the GPS company had a brilliant marketing plan. He called up his contact over at the big oil company and the two of them hatched a scheme that would be unprecedented in human history.

The GPS executive proposed to the big oil company that the big oil company's logo could appear on the GPS navigator device when ever the driver came close to one of the oil company's gas service stations.

The big oil company executive thought that was a pretty good idea and he would agree to buy the advertising space under one condition: that the big oil company have editing rights to the driving route software.

The GPS executive though that was crazy, but then came back with "you can have editing rights so long as you don't make it so obvious that your competitors file a lawsuit against us. Why would you want to control where our drivers go?"

Big oil replied: "We want people to buy more of our gas, but if you insist on limiting our control, then we agree to make only minor changes."

From that day forward, drivers saw the one gas station's logo among the generic logos of gas pumps on their GPS navigator devices, and the drivers found themselves taking inexplicably longer routes with turns that seemed to lead them more frequently to stop signs.

The end.

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