Time changes all things. When it comes to cities, migration has been the key driver of how cities rise and fall.
Take Detroit, for example. Detroit was Americas fourth largest city in the 1940s, with a population of approximately 1.8 million. People flocked to the city to take high-paying jobs on the assembly lines of Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. Then, in the 1950s, the automotive companies began moving out of Detroit and into the suburbs, as they closed old, outdated plants, and opened new plants. The middle class followed, and The Motor City began its decline.
Chicago, on the other hand, has simply decided to commit suicide.
In February, Mayor Lori Lightfoot became the first Chicago Mayor to lose re-election in 40 years. The defeat of Lightfoot drove a run-off election between Paul Vallas, a former schools CEO, and Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner.
Mr. Vallas ran on a platform of reducing crime and supporting police, improving the performance of Chicagos public schools, and bringing fiscal responsibility to Chicagos budget.
Mr. Johnson ran on a platform of taxing the wealthy and businesses, a jet fuel tax, reducing fares on public transportation, and increasing the transfer tax on the sales of multi-million-dollar homes. He has also previously called for defunding the police and replacing them with mental health counselors to respond to domestic disputes.
The consensus in Chicago was that, given the failure of Ms. Lightfoot to win re-election, Chicagoans had finally had enough of crime and that Mr. Vallas would walk into the mayors office in a landslide. After all, Mr. Johnson was a candidate who ran to the Left of the mayor.
Then, on April 4, Mr. Johnson became mayor of Chicago in an election that saw only 38% of registered Chicago voters cast a ballot. Mr. Johnsons victory demonstrated the power of unions in Chicago. Mr. Johnson enjoyed the support of both the Chicago Teachers Union and the Service Employees International Union.
CHICAGO, IL FEBRUARY 28: A man casts his ballot in a Citys Mayoral Election on February 28, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images)
Mr. Johnson should reconsider his stance on taxes. Chicago has already lost several businesses who have moved their headquarters due to high crime and high taxes. This includes Tyson Foods, Boeing, Citadel, and Caterpillar although Caterpillar was headquartered in a suburb, many employees lived in Chicago and no longer felt safe nor enjoyed the taxes. Walmart has announced that it is closing half of its stores in the Chicago area. An incremental $800 million in new taxes will not draw new business to Chicago.
It isnt just companies leaving, its people. According to the Illinois Business Journal, in 2022, Illinois saw nearly the equivalent of the population of Rockford, the fifth-biggest city in Illinois, moving away to other states. Cook County, Illinois, where Chicago is located, lost 94,344 residents in 2022.
An Illinois Policy Institute survey found that 34% of Chicagoans would leave the city if given the opportunity, citing taxes and affordability as their two concerns behind crime. 39% of those surveyed cited the citys near-nation leading taxes and the high cost of living as their main reasons for wanting to leave.
The dirty secret is that the most educated, highest potential residents are the ones who leave. The poor cannot afford to leave, and the ultra-wealthy are not impacted by crime and can hire a bevy of attorneys and tax accountants to minimize their tax exposure. This unfairly leaves the tax burden on those who can least afford it.
If Mayor-elect Johnsons tax plan is implemented, we will certainly see another mass exodus of Chicagoans. Something the city cannot afford.
Mayor-elect Johnson should reconsider his tax plan. I do not want to see my city commit suicide.
Jim Nelles is a supply chain consultant based in Chicago, IL. He has served as a Chief Procurement Officer, Chief Supply Chain Officer, and a Chief Operations Officer for multiple companies. Jim served his country as a Naval Officer after attending college on an NROTC scholarship. He has a BA from Northwestern University in Economics and French as well as a Masters in Management from the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Business.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.