Health and Economics
In 2020, Chicago will mark the 25th anniversary of one of the deadliest events in our history, the Chicago Heat Wave, which killed more than 700 people in a single week.1 Due to the failure of our local politicians, the neighborhood that had the largest loss of life during the wave was right in our district, Archer Heights.2 Scientists estimate that in the future, due to increasing carbon emissions, Chicago will face more frequent and deadlier heat waves.3 Are we better able to face these events today than we were 25 years ago? Has our political leadership acted to prevent the next catastrophe?
The answer is a resounding: NO! The same people who were in power 25 years ago (and spent the heat wave at their beach house out of state,4 while we suffered at home), are still in power today, and they have not changed the problems that led to the preventable losses of life in 1995. Indeed, today we are still: becoming more divided,5 less likely to know our neighbors,6 feeling less safe in our public spaces,7 increasing our carbon emissions,8 reducing our green spaces, and struggling to afford our increasing healthcare costs.9 Altogether, it is not surprising that our life expectancy is actually falling.10
We cannot afford to keep doing the same thing, so we are pioneering a broad array of public health policies that will make our community safer, healthier and ready for the climate changes that are to come.
- Social networks, voluntary activity, and other sources of social capital are positively correlated with a wide range of vital goods, such as better health, less crime, better jobs, more happiness, more effective schools, and more productivity. We support policies that nurture a sense of duty to the community, like loan forgiveness for college students who commit to public service after graduation. We also recognize that concerns about public health can bring communities together, and we hope to nurture social bonds through the lens of health by re-imagine our public libraries in the 21st century as community health centers.
- We support public health policies that involve interventions in alcohol, tobacco, nutrition, infectious diseases and environmental health. Over the next months, we will release detailed white papers on how to tackle the most important health issues in our district.
- We support using the state's healthcare purchasing power to set prices on pharmaceuticals to the levels seen in other developed nations. There is no reason that Americans should pay double the cost of a medication as Canadians. Unlike my opponent, who takes large campaign donations from big Pharmaceutical companies,21 we believe that we should not put the profits of Bayer over the pocketbooks of Illinoisans.
- Unlike my opponent, who takes large campaign contributions from fossil fuels companies,22 we believe that we need to purse serious policies that reduce our state's carbon footprint because we should not put the profits of BP over the future of our Earth and our health. To this end, we should provide homeowners assistance to build "cool roofs" that increase energy efficiency, turn empty concrete lots into green communal spaces.
My generation of young Millenials faces a crisis: we are more likely to die prematurely from suicide or drug overdose than previous generations,11 and we are the first modern generation that is likely to earn less than their parents.12
Sadly, no state has forgotten its young people, more than Illinois -- where economic mobility has had the greatest decline.13 Those who were born in the state during the 1940's had a 97% likelihood of earning more than their parents. Meanwhile, the generation born in the 1980's and 90's has a less than 50% chance of achieving the 'American Dream.' This situation has resulted in an exodus of young people from our state, because they no longer see a future for themselves in our community.14
Waiting for innovation and action from the same leaders who oversaw the creation of this mess is not a luxury that my generation can afford. We need changes that make economic mobility and opportunity available to all people in our state and in our district.
In the Midway area, we face two looming problems. First, one of our greatest resources, Midway Airport (the 20th busiest airport in the country15), is underutilized as an engine of economic development in our backyard. Instead of encouraging visitors to stay in our community, we ship them off to other parts of the city. Second, Ford City Mall, is facing a collapse.16 As store after store shutters its doors, we have to confront the fact that the future of our economy is unlikely to consist of brick and mortar malls. So, how will we put this area to productive use, and create more jobs? Our plan is threefold:
- Develop a convention center at the Ford City Mall site. Every other busy airport in the country has a convention center nearby, and so should Midway. A convention center on the southwest side (akin to Rosemont by O'Hare Aiprort) would draw visitors to our area and encourage them to stay and support local business. A convention center on the southwest side could also take advantage of the state's new rules regarding gambling to establish an entertainment complex that keeps the building running during periods of the year when conventions slow down.
- Expand the Orange Line to the Ford City Mall, creating a quick and affordable form of transportation from the airport to the convention center and hotels. The CTA already has a plan for an Orange Line extension, projected to cost $200 million.17
- To pay for these projects, we should stop the proposed $600 million expansion of McCormick Place18 (already the largest convention center in the country), and divert the money to the southwest side.
Moreover, we aim to encourage the beautification of public spaces by encouraging art installations that leverage characteristics unique to our area. One particular project would commission the creation of "Big People" statues akin to the West Lawn Indian on 61st and Pulaski. Such pieces used to be more common in the Chicago area,19 and revitalizing this tradition could encourage more cultural life in our community and bring more customers to our restaurants and shops.
Another crucial problem in our state, is our reliance on regressive property and sales taxes, rather than income taxes to generate government revenue. Nationwide, Illinois has had the biggest funding gap between its high-poverty-concentration school districts and districts with low concentrations of poverty for years because it relies primarily on local property taxes and property wealth to finance schools.20 Reliance on property taxes has only served the rich and powerful politicians, like Mike Madigan, who personally profit from representing wealthy property owners in property tax reassessments. Moving to a progressive income tax and ending the reliance of public school funding on local property taxes are moral imperatives.
The average income tax of the 5 states surrounding Illinois is 6.4% (our income tax is 3.75%).
The average property tax of the 5 states surrounding Illinois is 1.2% (our property tax is 2.32%).
- U.S. Global Change Research Program. 2009. Global climate change impacts in the United States. Edited by T.R. Karl, J.M. Melillo, and T.C. Peterson. Cambridge University Press. Graphic: Union of Concerned Scientists, Climate Hot Map 2010
- Klinenberg, E. (1999). Denaturalizing Disaster: A Social Autopsy of the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave. Theory and Society, 28(2), 239-295. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3108472
- Putnam RD. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster; 2000.
- https://illinoissunshine.org/committees/friends-of-michael-j-madigan-665/ (Takeda Pharma, Monsanto, Bayer, Astra Zeneca, Merck, etc)
- https://illinoissunshine.org/committees/friends-of-michael-j-madigan-665/ (Phillips 66, Vistra Energy, Black Dog Petroleum LLC, Exxon Mobile, etc)