Archive | August, 2013

Rambling of the Day: Babes in gangland

28 Aug

Here’s the headline that bit me in the butt this morning: Kids brave gangland as Chicago budget cuts redraw route to school. Holy cow. So if you haven’t been paying attention, the word is Chicago is broke and had to close 50 elementary schools and lay off 2,000 teachers last month. The result is that the kids from those schools have to attend different schools this year, many of which are blocks away with walking routes that cut through multiple gang territories.

“Most of Chicago’s cuts have taken place in the predominantly poor, African-American and Latino south and west sides, which is also where the majority of the city’s record 506 murders occurred last year.” Neil Munshi, Financial Times.

So… reading this, I instantly had three big questions come to mind. 1) Why is Chicago so broke? 2) Why is Chicago so dangerous and violent? 3) HOW in the bleepity bleep bleep is hiring a bunch of citizen sentries along so-called “Safe Passage” routes going to keep kids safe?!

So why is Chicago broke? That’s pretty simple: The state of Illinois has basically been run entirely by Democrats since 2003. That’s 10 years of unrelenting progressive abuse. Like they have in Detroit, progressive policies, including an insane amount of welfare programs and unfunded union and government pensions, have left the state devastated. So why do the same people keep get elected to run Chicago? Well, according to NBC Chicago, “Illinois’ GOP has become irrelevant because of its association with the national Republican brand: white and rural, with a desire to bring religion into public life, and a belief that the government has no business telling people how many guns they can own.” Oh, yeah right. It’s amazing how much trouble conservatives get into when they try to stereotype the left, but liberals can call us Bible-thumping, gun-wielding hicks any time and it’s acceptable. Regardless, the fact that Republicans in Illinois are white and religious has nothing to do with them losing elections in the state. That’s nonsense invented to distract people from the truth: that conservatives don’t support the growth and expansion of entitlement programs and other rubbish that keep the impoverished slums of Chicago from ever improving. The same policies that sent Detroit into bankruptcy – despite massive government assistance, including the auto bailout – are plummeting Chicago’s economy to certain ruin.

Why is it so dangerous to live in Chicago? Also a fairly simple answer: Chicago is a war zone. It isn’t just any ordinary war zone, however. It’s one in which the good guys are unarmed.

“Illinois remains the only state in the country where nobody can legally carry a concealed weapon…” Charlie Vidal, policymic.

Chicago has 59 gangs divided up into 625 factions with 125,000 members. Go here to see a map of the gang territories in respect to where schools are located. It is thoroughly disturbing.

Between the unbelievable number of gang members and the drug war that includes ties to a Mexican cartel, essentially the only armed people in Chicago are criminals and police officers. If you go through a complicated process, you can legally keep a gun in your home. However, only three percent of Chicagoans who own a firearm have even completed the city’s required firearm registration. Regardless, it is unlawful for the citizens of Chicago to arm themselves on their war-torn streets. The result is that the dangerous criminals of Chicago have a monopoly on illegal weapons, and, tragically, that Chicago is now the deadliest city in America.

So we have the deadliest city in America closing 50 of its elementary schools, many of which are in the poorest, most gang-ridden and violent areas, and what is the benevolent mayor’s solution? “Safe passage” – routes to the schools manned by adults armed with, what was that again? Oh yeah, walkie talkies. For many families affected by school closings, they will be sending their children through one or more gang territories to reach their destinations. Two people were already shot along the safe passage routes the day before school began. One was a 14-year-old boy who was within a block of an elementary school.

My assessment? Chicago is run by idiots, particularly that idiot Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Emanuel, if your kids had to walk through gang territories to get to their elementary schools, would you still be gung-ho on “Safe Passage?” Would it be good enough that the adults “supervising” their passage were armed only with walkie talkies?

Chicago needs to grow some balls. Get rid of the outrageous pensions that are sucking the economy dry. Make it harder to sit pretty on welfare. Make it better to work than to get a handout. Put the lives of children ahead of stupid policy ideals like gun control. The only guns being controlled are the ones sitting in people’s homes, not being used to save lives. I want our country to look at Chicago, our own personal third world within a first world, and DO SOMETHING about it. Stop focusing on Egypt and Syria. Yes, their problems are bad, but we need to clean up our own damn house before we start interfering with other people’s problems. Obama’s drawn a red line for Syria, but where’s his red line for his own hometown?! Mr. Obama, you are so devastated by the death of one black teenager in the suburbs of Florida, but what about the deaths of countless of innocents in your old stomping grounds? Why aren’t you outraged about that?

Rambling of the Day: What it takes to give

5 Aug

What does it mean to be generous? I think oftentimes we get the concept of generosity confused with the concept of wealth; however, these two are vastly different and in some cases not even related. In fact, arguably the most generous people in history have not been so out of abundant wealth but rather out of abundant compassion and love.

When we think about the generous people of our day, big names come to mind, like Oprah, maybe Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. These people get a lot of media attention for using their wealth and power to help others. They have foundations established in their names, awards on their shelves for their philanthropy – everyone knows that they are charitable.

Which is awesome, don’t get me wrong. They are generous people, and it’s a wonderful thing that they choose to use their wealth for good.

But I think that seeing that Oprah giving away a car to every audience member has somewhat distorted our idea of what it means to be generous. We think, “Oh, that’s so nice that she can do that. It must be great to have money to throw away. If I had that I would be generous, too.”

Let’s be real. Having a lot of money or things is not going to make you a more generous person. I don’t think being overwhelmingly generous is what makes 90 percent of lottery winners spend all their winnings in less than five years. Or why the King of Pop had at least $300 million in debt when he died. In fact…

“One of the most surprising, and perhaps confounding, facts of charity in America is that the people who can least afford to give are the ones who donate the greatest percentage of their income.” Ken SternThe Atlantic

That’s right – in 2011, America’s wealthiest 20 percent of earners donated about 1.3 percent of their income to charity, whereas the bottom 20 percent of earners donated 3.2 percent of their income. That’s not middle of the road earners; we’re talking about bottom of the pyramid earners.

There are a lot of theories as to why that is (you can read some here) but I don’t feel the need to go into that. Being rich doesn’t make you a bad person, and this post isn’t an outcry about the selfishness of the wealthy. I simply bring up these numbers to show you that it’s not about how much money you make. Accruing more wealth won’t make it easier to give to others.

What makes it easier to give to others is having a compassionate spirit and a loving heart. It’s having the insight to realize that life is not about what you can acquire for yourself but rather what you can do to make the world better for others. It’s understanding that life is more meaningful when you live selflessly, give willingly, and walk humbly.

After all, I’d argue the most generous man to live didn’t have a salary at all.
He was a homeless, traveling storyteller with no possessions but the clothes on His back. And He was born in a barn, for goodness sake.

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