5.9.08

SOMEWHERE IN ILLINOIS, A COMMUNITY IS MISSING ITS ORGANIZER. Earlier in the week, I noted the recent death toll among Chicago schoolchildren. A Chicago television station has tracked the summer murders. Their comparison is with the military death toll in Iraq, which is probably not the best metric. (Gang murders here, sectarian murders there strike me as a better comparison.)

Thomas Lifson notes that one Chicago precinct with a large death toll is Woodlawn, the poor neighborhood adjacent to Hyde Park in which one Barack Obama attempted to ameliorate the condition of steel workers rendered unemployable by the obsolescence of their factories. A companion piece by Russ Vaughn suggests that it's all that Democratic fighting for the working class that has left Woodlawn so desperate.
What the O's minions are failing to take into consideration is that much of the economic hardship brought upon his unfortunate constituents was the consequence of actions by two other major Democrat Party constituencies, Big Labor and environmentalists, both over-empowered by an over-regulating federal government.
Yes, culpable steel industry executives were too slow to recognize the new foreign competition that was developing and adapt accordingly, but it was the greedy unions, the hyper-vigilant EPA and the U.S. Labor Department's newly released pit bull, OSHA, hungry for regulatory red meat, which made the needed adaptation impossible to attain.
Too-high wages with too-cushy benefits, too-extreme environmental demands and harassing over-regulation by big government drove the steel industry from America and straight into the hands of growing Asian economies, leaving those unfortunates in South Chicago to wonder just what the hell had happened to their high-paying jobs and the rosy retirements their union-backed, Democratic political machine had promised them.
That's at best a partial picture. Richard Longworth's work, which I discuss here, (that was in January of this year -- it feels like a lot longer ago) points out additional forces at work, some of which implicate the Republican brand of populism in the economic difficulties of the midwest, and the willingness of established U.S. businesses to ignore domestic competitors has contributed in particular to the closure of steel mills in southeastern Chicago.

What's more cautionary has been the failure of Democratic-dominated government in Illinois to do the people's business. The state Republican party has abdicated to prison or to true believers, and the Democratic governor engages in continual squabbles with the Democratic speaker of the House and the Democratic president of the Senate. The prospect of a Democratic president of the United States dealing with a Democratic speaker of the House from a district not likely to reflect the median voter and a Democratic majority leader in a Senate with Senator McCain and Senator Clinton both having motive and opportunity to block the president's legislative proposals ought give pause to Democratic voters hoping for a united government.

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