Being from Chicago, I should be used to them. In fact, a couple of years ago, I was getting off the Stevenson Expressway on the exit ramp to Cicero Avenue on the South Side when my car was swarmed by a number of them.
Although these weren’t your typical panhandlers. It was the Squeegee Army.
The incident went down a lot like this (ends at 55:04).
And yes, I did drive away singing “I can dig it, he can dig it, she can dig it, we can dig it, they can dig it, you can dig it, oh let’s dig it, can you dig it baby” like Isaac Hayes.
Anyway, the panhandlers I’m seeing these days aren’t the ones I’ve typically encountered over the years.
They’re young (late teens/twenties). They don’t appear at first glance to have any physical handicap that would prevent them from working. And they’re panhandling at intersections where they didn’t used to before.
First, it was the young girl at Cumberland and Higgins on the Northwest Side by Park Ridge. Then, it was the dude at the corner of Northwest Highway and Devon in the Edison Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side. I only saw him once, and I kind of suspect a Chicago police officer (who probably resides in the area with his family) gave him a mouthful, kindly encouraging him to move his ass along.
And just this Tuesday, at the intersection of North and Harlem on the West Side by Elmwood Park, Oak Park, and River Forest, some young man was walking through traffic begging for money. He was also wearing desert camo pants. Maybe he was trying to get the message across to motorists that he was a vet?
Anyway, the numbers of panhandlers seem to be growing these days around the Chicagoland area. Not exactly the picture of a strengthening, sustainable economic recovery the American public is being sold on.
By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)
There are two real estate reporters I like to follow on a regular basis. CNBC’s Diana Olick and the Chicago Tribune’s Mary Umberger. Why do I like them so much? Because they don’t hold back on reporting the real conditions of the U.S. and Chicago housing markets. I remember them pretty much telling it as it was as the United States went through that housing bubble and subsequent crash- while many of their colleagues assumed the role of self-appointed real estate cheerleaders even as home sales and prices plummeted.
And these days, I’m detecting ‘irrational exuberance’ again in residential real estate. It’s not just me either. Umberger wrote in last weekend’s Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune:
If the Chicago real estate market were a patient recovering from a lingering, debilitating illness, the doctor might be obliged to set the patient’s over-expectant family straight: Yes, your loved one’s symptoms have eased up, says the MD, but, gee, it’s a little too soon to be training for a marathon.
Those are the kinds of expectations that many Chicago-area homeowners seem to harbor these days, according to Naperville appraiser Alvin “Chip” Wagner, whose recent newsletter to members of the local real estate community sought to address a form of irrational exuberance he’s seeing lately: Yes, the market is better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your home is gaining in value — in fact, some prices might fall further.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Umberger interviewed Wagner, who had this to say about Chicagoland homeowners being overly-optimistic. From the piece:
Well, absolutely, the market is improving, but not in the area of pricing, which is what homeowners want to know about. In the third quarter, the average sales price throughout the area was $244,203. One year ago, the average was $258,364. That’s about a 5.5 percent decline.
Yet, I go to people’s houses to do appraisals, and (the homeowners’ expectations are) driven by what they see in the media, and they say to me, the market has picked up, and they expect their house is growing in value. They expect to see a 3 to 5 percent growth. I end up having to tell them, your values aren’t appreciating, they may be flat or even declining.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
I don’t like hearing about the housing market being crummy as much as the next person. But what I do like are people being straight with me. Especially journalists.
“And (the homeowners’ expectations are) driven by what they see in the media.”
See what I mean about those cheerleaders? This is why I like straight-shooting reporters like Olick and Umberger. Wish more of their contemporaries could be like them, instead of barfing up a whole lot of nonsense all over my computer screen.
Umberger, Mary. “A reality check on housing market.” Chicago Tribune. 30 Nov. 2012. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-30/classified/ct-mre-1202-umberger-housing-20121130_1_number-of-active-listings-naperville-appraiser-sales-price). 7 Dec. 2012.
“The U.S. runs out of federal borrowing authority around the end of the year, but the Obama administration can use special measures to extend borrowing through late February or early March. As part of the fiscal cliff negotiations, Obama has proposed effectively ending the need for Congress to periodically raise the debt limit.”
-Washington Post website, December 5, 2012
Peter Schiff, President and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, talked about the looming U.S. “fiscal cliff” and a White House proposal to give the President the power to raise the nation’s debt “ceiling” as needed in his December 3 entry on The Schiff Report YouTube video blog. Schiff, who correctly-predicted the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble and 2008 global economic crisis, zeroed in on the debt limit proposal:
This could be a moment where our creditors maybe get shocked into reality. To understand the situation that they are in, that we are in. That there is no limit. That we will borrow money until we can’t do it anymore. That we’re not going to do anything about this crisis. We’re not going to do anything to diffuse this ticking bomb. It’s simply going to go off. And I think our creditors are going to want to put as much distance as they can between themselves and the explosion. They’re going to want to sell dollars. They’re going to want to sell debt denominated in dollars. What is that going to mean? A weaker dollar and higher consumer prices for Americans. It ultimately means higher interest rates for Americans. It means the rug is going to be pulled out from the slowing economy. It means we’re going to go over the Mother of All Fiscal Cliffs, and one that is impossible to avoid.
So, my advice is don’t wait for that. Get out of your dollars. I’ve been saying this for a while, but I think the urgency, and the time with which to do it, is going to be running out. So you get out of your dollars. Get out of any debt denominated in any dollars. Because we’re not going to pay our bills, we’re going to inflate them away, which is the same thing as default. So you don’t want to ride out that inflation. You want to get out of U.S. currency. You want to look at foreign currencies where the governments are much less irresponsible. Look at real money. Look at gold and silver. Look at foreign stocks if they’re suitable that pay dividends. Do whatever you can to get out of Dodge, because just when the government assures you that there’s nothing to worry about, that’s the time where you need to worry the most.
“Debt Ceiling & the Fiscal Cliff”
(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)
Trying to get a clear picture of Hurricane Sandy’s effects on New York City and the rest of the East Coast has been challenging.
If I rely on what the mainstream media has been showing and telling Americans, then I might be under the impression that U.S. President Barack Obama is masterfully-coordinating government assets in the clean-up of the region.
How did I get this impression? Well, there’s plenty of photos and video going around the Internet and on TV of the President looking all authoritative and on top of things these past couple of days, whether he’s in the White House “Situation Room” or with government officials from devastated areas.
Maybe he did take away something from the Benghazi terrorist attack (in addition to a guilty conscience, as a growing number of voices suggest he should have).
In fact, I might be convinced the recovery after Hurricane Sandy is doing just fine since New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to let the City’s famous marathon take place as planned this coming Sunday.
The thing is, I’m not convinced.
First off, it’s the more-often-than-not liberal-leaning mainstream media we’re talking about here.
As much as I hate to say it, many journalists realize President Obama doesn’t have much of a record to run on, so they’ll do anything they can to paint him and his administration in a positive light in the run-up to Election Day.
Don’t believe me? Observe how many media outlets are wording the increase in the U.S. unemployment rate today.
Thankfully, the rest of America is catching on, albeit slowly.
That Jay Leno. What a funny guy. Even he gets what’s going on.
Whatever happened to watchdog journalism?
Maybe it never existed in the first place.
Second, when I see run-of-the-mill New Yorkers getting food out of a dumpster behind a supermarket, I know for a fact the MSM is not telling the whole story.
“Hungry New Yorkers Eating Out Of Dumpsters After Hurricane Sandy”
Looting, violence, flooding, power outages, food/water/fuel shortages, now dumpster diving for food. I’ve seen enough now to realize this recovery is not as smooth as it’s being portrayed.
That being said, I know a lot of people are working their butts off trying to help those poor individuals on the East Coast- President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg included. I respect that and thank them for their efforts.
But enough spin already. Show us what the hurdles actually are- one might think listening to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell the other day that donated clothes or canned goods aren’t needed for the massive relief effort- so we can get this part of America truly back on its feet again.
And fast, since a nor’easter looks to be headed their way.
Here in Chicago, residents have been told for some time now there is no manpower shortage in the Chicago Police Department.
According to Hal Dardick and Jeremy Gorner on the Chicago Tribune website this morning, City Hall says the police department has 12,282 officers, including 194 still in training.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police points out “hundreds” of officers who are on disability or leave are included in this calculation. And from the Tribune piece:
They point out the number of officers in Chicago has dropped by about 1,000 over the past six years.
The Chicago FOP has argued for the past couple years that the Chicago Police Department should return to its previously budgeted strength of 13,500 officers.
Recently, Mayor Rahm Emanuel presented his 2013 budget to the Chicago City Council. Under “Investing to Enhance Public Safety,” the Mayor called for, “Funding for CPD to hire officers to remain at full strength at all times.”
I blogged back on October 12:
The Chicago Police Department to finally be at “full strength?”
That I’ve got to see.
Why do I suspect the goal posts are going to be moved here?
I was thinking of that 13,500 number when I wrote that.
Apparently, Mayor Emanuel and Superintendent McCarthy were thinking more along the lines of a thousand cops less. Dardick and Gorner added:
Before year’s end, the city plans to hire 263 more officers, city officials said. And the mayor’s proposed 2013 budget calls for hiring an additional 500 officers — four quarterly classes of 125. The goal is to keep the total number of officers at about 12,500.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Goal posts moved?
Using this new benchmark, City Hall will probably tell residents the CPD is down only 218 officers.
“Okay, so there’s a tiny manpower shortage.”
However, if there’s one thing I took away from working in public safety administration for a number of years, it’s you don’t ignore what the men and women in the trenches repeatedly tell you. And the street cops seem adamant about there being a manpower shortage in the Chicago Police Department. From the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop early this morning:
The city is already hiring back between 300 and 500 cops most nights to do “violence reduction.” That by itself shows were shorthanded in the extreme.
“Officially” down 218 officers (not counting “hundreds more” on disability/leave). Hirebacks numbering between 300 and 500 cops “most nights.”
In the interests of public safety, employee well-being, and quite frankly, the city’s floundering reputation lately (“deadliest global city”) and the negative impact it’s having on revenue (“I’m staying away from Chicago because of all the crime” is something I encounter with increasing regularity), it sure sounds to me like Chicago needs more police officers. And fast.
Dardick, Hal and Gorner, Jeremy. “Aldermen want Emanuel to hire more cops.” Chicago Tribune. 24 Oct. 2012. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-24/news/ct-met-chicago-police-manpower-1024-20121024_1_police-officers-aldermen-high-crime-areas). 26 Oct. 2012.
SCC. “Hey Look- Side Jobs.” Second City Cop. 26 Oct. 2012. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2012/10/hey-look-side-jobs.html). 26 Oct. 2012.
Boom2Bust.com is an independent financial blog that seeks to warn and educate its readers about the coming U.S. financial crash.
-From “About” page on Survival And Prosperity’s predecessor blog, Boom2Bust.com, which debuted on Memorial Day Weekend 2007
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has weighed-in on the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the running-mate of Mitt Romney in this November’s presidential election. Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter, wrote on the newspaper’s website this morning:
Emanuel, the former White House chief-of-staff now co-chairing the president’s re-election campaign, took his first shot at Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s chosen running-mate.
The mayor said he served with Ryan on the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Budget Committee and believes Ryan’s budget-cutting ideas do not chart the right course for the nation or the middle class.
“A lot of independent economists say his budget would lead to a recession,” Emanuel said. “I don’t think a recession is a pro-growth strategy.”
A lot of economists- independent and otherwise- didn’t see the recent housing crash, global economic crisis, and “Great Recession” coming either.
And these days, most economists are predicting a subdued-yet-steady recovery for the U.S. economy with no hint of recession on the horizon.
Based on their prior missed calls, why would anyone believe them?
Now, I’m not writing this post in support of Congressman Ryan and the Republicans’ budget.
Nor do I agree with these “independent economists” Mayor Emanuel speaks of.
However, it’s my view and that of this blog that at this point in the game- where a financial crash has been temporarily averted by drastic monetary/fiscal measures taken by Washington and the Fed circa 2008- when it comes to the U.S. economy and larger financial system it really doesn’t matter which political party controls the reigns now and after November.
We have a spending problem. And both the Republicans and Democrats have clearly demonstrated they are not serious about curtailing it.
But what about the Republican budget-cutting Mayor Emanuel just alluded to above?
Well, what about it?
As the FOX News website pointed out today:
Here are a few little-known facts about Paul Ryan’s supposedly slash-and-burn budget plan.
• Government spending increases almost every year over the next decade.
• Tax and other revenue rises year after year.
• The 10-year deficit is still $3 trillion.
The fact that Ryan’s spending plans grow the federal budget over the long term is one that could easily be lost in the political melee underway in the wake of his selection as Mitt Romney’s running mate.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Not only is our financial “day of reckoning” still on its way, but it will most likely be a lot more painful due to actions (mountains of new debt accrued in the name of stimulus) taken to delay what to me looks inevitable.
And it’s not just this blogger who envisions a truly disturbing outcome. A number of those very few economists and other financial types that correctly-called the housing collapse, the 2008 economic crisis, and the “Great Recession” are once again sounding the alarm.
And once again, most Americans- with assistance gladly provided by the mainstream media and numerous Pollyannas throughout society- marginalize the warnings of these “crash prophets.”
Ignore at your own peril, I say. Or rather, many of their track records say.
Republican. Democrat. The economy’s still toast, from where I stand.
Ignore all the political rhetoric, the propaganda, the intellectual masturbation. A quick look below the surface of our financial system and it becomes readily-apparent the patient is gravely-ill.
Just like that depiction of Uncle Sam on this blog’s “About” page.
Hopefully, I’m wrong about all this.
Chris looks forward to retiring the blog one day, as such an activity will signal his belief that the worst of the crash is over with a sustainable economic recovery now at hand.
-Boom2Bust.com, Memorial Day Weekend 2007
Spielman, Fran. “Emanuel: Paul Ryan budget plan could trigger recession.” Chicago Sun-Times. 14 Aug. 2012. (http://www.suntimes.com/14480460-761/emanuel-paul-ryan-budget-plan-could-trigger-recession.html). 14 Aug. 2012.
“Fact Check: Ryan budget plan doesn’t actually slash the budget.” FOX News. 14 Aug. 2012. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/14/fact-check-ryan-budget-plan-doesnt-actually-slash-budget/). 14 Aug. 2012.
It appears at least one member of the Chicago news media isn’t pushing gun control these days. Columnist and editorial writer Steve Chapman wrote on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:
The assault weapons myth
Gov. Quinn wants to outlaw the sale and possession of “assault weapons,” insisting that “there is no place in Illinois for weapons designed to fire rapidly at human targets at close range.” He doesn’t mention that even if his ban were to pass, there would be plenty of other legal firearms that can be used to fire rapidly at human targets at close range — or long range, for that matter.
Assault weapons are just ordinary guns dressed up to look scary. Quinn is making a mistake to buy the ruse…
It’s kind of weird seeing this from someone so high up the food chain in a major Chicago news outlet. Let’s see. Steve Chapman. Lives in the Chicago suburbs. Attended Harvard. Born in Brady, Texas, and grew up in Midland and Austin.
There you go.
You can read the rest of Chapman’s piece, in which he also challenged a pro-”assault weapons” ban claim by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, on the Tribune website here.
Speaking of the “lamestream media,” does anyone get PARADE in their Sunday newspaper? Do any readers even get the Sunday paper anymore? Well, in Walter Scott’s “Personality” section, journalist and former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather was asked about the state of nightly newscasts since he retired in 2005. Rather, who’s now managing editor and anchor of the television news magazine Dan Rather Reports on the cable channel HDNet (watched DRR the other week- informative, gritty, very promising from what I saw) told PARADE readers:
A lot of it is too polarized. We’ve become too politically correct and basically too afraid. Journalism at its best has guts.
You mean, it’s not meant to be an opinion platform or propaganda for the journalist/media outlet/powers-that-be?
The brief segment can be read in its entirety on the PARADE website here.
The private sector is doing fine.
-U.S. President Barack Obama, at a White House press conference last Friday, June 8, 2012
The “official” unemployment rate recently rose to 8.2%.
John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics-fame calculates U.S. unemployment (SGS Alternate) has climbed to around 22.5%.
Yup, the private sector is doing “fine.”
The war on terror is over.
-Unnamed senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues, per Michael Hirsh in an April 23 piece on the website of the weekly Washington insider magazine National Journal
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