To the editors:
I read with interest Ann Markusen's recent article, "City on the Skids" (November 24). Chicago certainly has been growing much more slowly than the U.S. as a whole, and something does need to be done about it. However, Ms. Markusen's solution, corporate welfare/centralized planning, is hardly what we need.
Indeed, it would be a shame to institute centralized economic planning in Chicago just when the concept is being abandoned throughout Eastern Europe. And it is being abandoned for a good reason: it simply doesn't work. Corporate welfare aids the do-haves and the politically-connected at the expense of the don't-haves (cf. the recent Sears and White Sox payoffs). As witnessed throughout the totalitarian world (both Communist and "free"), centralized planning breeds inefficiency, waste, and corruption.
If we want to get Chicago moving again, let's start instead by reducing taxes. The 8% sales tax is a particularly tempting target since sales taxes are some of the most regressive taxes around (i.e. they hit the poor relatively harder than the rich) and our 8% tax is one of the highest in the nation (is it any surprise our growth rate is the lowest?). After that, we might want to abolish the corporate head tax and do something about the ridiculous public school system.
Ann Markusen, your time has come and passed. New times call for new solutions.