Public Services and the Gentry: The Rahm Emanuel Edition

Maria Moser asks a good question:

How on earth could something as silly as neighborhood public schools bedevil Rahm Emanuel right out of his incumbent throne as mayor of Chicago?

The answer (boldface mine):

Here’s what happened: Rahm systematically attacked nearly every city service through a neoliberal privatization plan. As a friend put it, *Rahm’s not so much the mayor as the guy auctioning off what’s left of our public goods.* And public goods have a disproportionate value to middle class and poor people in our city. Your library is open less and has less staff. There are fewer lifeguards on our beaches in the summer. Or you spent hours on the phone trying to activate your new Ventra [transit] card only to be disconnected. We’ve taken notice as these things have happened because they affect our lives.

Put another way, Emanuel is the mayor of the gentry*. His ‘reforms’, educational and otherwise, don’t really harm that social class. In fact, between potential cost savings (which may or may not exist), along with the psychological benefits of moralizing (“You’re gonna respect me!”**), Emanuel has done right by that class. The rest of Chicago, maybe not so much.

As we like to say here, people have to like this crap. Including the hoi polloi.

*Of course, he’s also the mayor of the rich, but he made $16.2 million as an investment banker in two-and-half years, so that’s kinda obvious.

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