“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” — Louis Brandeis
Leave it to that hard working public servant Susan Sandberg to perform, well…, yet another public service. The At-large Bloomington City Council member has coined the term pencillistas for the growing number of slavish daily readers of this column.
Power To The Pencil!
For all you right wing spies and moles who are monitoring these precincts for the inevitable terrorist atrocities that liberalism engenders, we’re gonna save you some time and shoe-leather. Here is a laundry list of our recent activities:
- We’re drawing up a list of all people who earn more than $500 a week so we can disembowel them when we take over
- We’re stuffing envelopes full of nuclear secrets and addressing them to the various mullahs of Iran
- We’re creating a database of kindly old grandmas and grandpas so we can drag them all before our health care death panels
- We’re establishing a dating registry for all innocent, caucasian, blonde, female high school seniors to connect with black men serving hard time in selected Midwest state prisons
- We’re working on drafting legislation that would require each woman in the state to undergo at least two abortions by the age of 21
- We’re lobbying for changing our national anthem from “The Star-Spangled Banner” to “L’Internationale“
- And, finally, we’re extremely busy exchanging recipes for scrumptious oatmeal cookies, you know, the ones that aren’t all mushy like store-bought cookies, but sort of crisp and crunchy?
So, if you want to be a Pencillista, sharpen your knives, bone up on your gas centrifuge knowledge, and bring out your best recipe. Welcome one and all!
PIMP MY RIDE OR TWEET MY MIND
Our latest Pencil Poll asked “If you were forced to choose, would you give up your car or your connectivity?”
Our results as of 9:00 this morning indicate the car is still king in these Great United States, Inc.
Fully 46.15 percent of Americans (based on our findings) would give up their connectivity while 30.77 percent would give up their car. Fewer than eight percent of respondents say they have no car and no respondents say they have no connectivity.
(Our crack team of IT experts cautions that many respondents who lack internet connectivity may have mailed in their votes. We’ll have further results next Monday.)
Finally, 15.38 percent say they have no hope.
WHO NEEDS BRAINS?
Now that Indiana statehouse Republicans have squashed those pesky labor unions, they’ve turned their beady, bloodshot eyes toward the even more dire threat of intelligence.
The Indiana Senate Education Committee overwhelmingly approved sending a bill to the full Senate that would allow the teaching of “creation science” in our public schools.
Stop Pulling Out Your Hair — The Indiana Legislature’s Got Your Back
In other education news, Munster high school junior Brittni Pinkston won the regional science fair competition with her project “Angels in Mom’s Attic.” And Gosport eighth-grader Zach St. Peter’s song, “Science: What Is It Good For?” was awarded the Governor’s Medal for Obedient Creativity.
Keep up the great work kids! And remember, a mind is a terrible thing to have.
YOU TWO STOP FIGHTING OR I’M TELLING!
So, the candidates hoping to challenge President Obama in November got together again to tell the world how horrifying things in this holy land would be if certain GOP-ers won the nomination.
And you should have heard them talk about each other.
Newt: “Am Not.” Mitt: “Are Too.”
The Closet Candidate stomped his foot and demanded that his playmates get along. Or else, I suppose, he’d tell Mom.
In the midst of all the sniping and the holdings-of breath, two or three actual issues were raised: space exploration, for one; and immigration, for another. Perhaps it was the introduction of actual topics that set Santorum off.
“I’m Not Fighting.”
Anyway, here’s what he said, after being asked about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and telling the questioner and Florida Republican voters what a stand-up guy he is.
“The bigger issue here is, these two gentlemen, who are out distracting from the most important issues we have, have been playing petty, personal politics. Can we set aside that Newt was a member of Congress and used the skills that he developed as a member of Congress to go out and advise companies? And that’s not the worst thing in the world? And that Mitt Romney is a wealthy guy because he worked hard and he’s going out and working hard? And you guys should leave that alone and focus on the issues.”
Oh, how the crowd cheered our little Pennsylvania queen of the May.
Problem is, those are precisely the most important issues we face in this holy land.
Elected representatives who take their hefty Congressional pensions and then go out and shill and pimp for corporations that have no more concern for you and me than if we were ants on the sidewalk — that’s pressing!
And guys who make millions by turning over companies — and employees and towns and industries be damned? Yeah. Why do you think thousands of people started occupied financial centers and public spaces in October?
Both charges are at the core of our nation’s rot. The continued ability of a precious few to make scads of dough trumps all human concerns. The spending of millions — and even billions — to sway our elected representatives has turned Congress into a cheap dime store.
Those are the issues, Ricky.
SOME SOCIALISTS ARE JUST BETTER CAPITALISTS
Here’s a tale of two Chicagoans. They bookended the 20th Century. In a lot of ways, they defined it.
Each depended on public and private support for their ambitious plans.
First, Jane Addams.
As a young woman, she traveled to Great Britain and saw the Toynbee Hall settlement house. It inspired to her to return to Chicago and start a similar establishment there. She and Ellen Starr leased Charles Hull’s house just north of the famed Maxwell Street area where many immigrant Italians and Jews made their first homes in America.
Hull House Kids
Those immigrants needed help. They were poor, largely uneducated, and many could hardly speak English, if at all.
Addams and Starr opened up what would become known as Hull House. They raised money, made speeches, called for volunteers, and proceeded to provide human services to the community.
They set up a kindergarten, provided medical service, established a night adult education program, staffed an employment bureau, fed the hungry, encouraged kids and adults to create art, set up a circulating library, and started a day care center.
Addams then branched out into consumer affairs and health and food safety. She agitated for women’s suffrage. She also spoke long and loud against militarism.
Eventually, Jane Addams’ Hull House organizations expanded to branches all over the city. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
That all took place in the early part of the past century.
In the latter part of the century, a fellow named Jerry Reinsdorf made himself a few hundred million dollars creating real estate tax shelters.
There is no record of him starting kindergartens, circulating libraries, soup kitchens, or night adult education programs. His passions, apparently, were limited to accumulating more cash than any human could possibly spend in a lifetime. Maybe two. Or even a hundred.
In 1981, he and his limited partnership purchased the Chicago White Sox for $19 million (using borrowed money, natch). Less than a decade later, Reinsdorf and his fellow mobsters stuck a gun in the ribs of Illinois Governor Jim Thompson and demanded a new stadium.
If Thompson refused, Reinsdorf et al warned, they’d take their White Sox and move to Florida.
So Jim Thompson twisted arms in the Illinois state legislature until that august body approved funding for a $167 million playground. The eventual debt service on the new ballpark reputedly brought the final total bill to somewhere in the vicinity of a half a billion dollars. And, despite the fact that taxpayers were footing the bill for his baseball palace, Reinsdorf and his co-conspirators gained control over the sports authority set up to administer the payout.
It was the sweetest deal of Jerry Reinsdorf’s life.
Suite Luxury At US Cellular Field
In 2003, in exchange for $68 million, Reinsdorf allowed the US Cellular outfit to slap its name all over the park.
In the coming 2012 baseball season, Reinsdorf’s White Sox will draw close to three million fans. Full season ticket plans can cost up to $3439 per seat. If you’d like to park your car in the ballpark’s lot, you’ll have fork over an additional $1568.
And we’re not even talking about skybox deals which can range into the high six figures or even the millions annually.
Here’s another similarity between Jerry Reinsdorf and Jane Addams. Reinsdorf’s White Sox figure to be lousy this year. Addams’ Hull House suffered through such a lousy year in 2011 (as well as 2010 and ’09) that the organization is ceasing operation today at 5:00pm.
By the way, the major reason Hull House had three lousy years in a row? The bursting of the real estate bubble in 2008, leading to near-economic depression and fewer charitable donations. Ironic, huh?
You might wonder if real estate tycoon Jerry Reinsdorf is suffering, too. Nah. He got out of the real estate racket years ago, selling his firm for a hundred million dollars. Oh, and his investment in the White Sox? It’s has grown by 16.5 times since his initial outlay of $19 million 30 years ago. The team is now worth $315 million, according to Forbes magazine.
Jane Addams may have been selfless and smart, but she wasn’t smart enough to parlay real estate tax shelters into a fortune.
War: What Is It Good For?
It ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker. Friend only to the undertaker.