City File | City File | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » City File

City File


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


The nonprofit glass--half full or half empty? According to a recent Donors Forum of Chicago report, "A Portrait of the Nonprofit Sector in Illinois," in 1990 in Illinois there were 6,287 nonprofit organizations--hospitals, colleges, universities, service providers. By 2000 there were 9,767, a 55 percent increase. (These figures don't include small nonprofits, just those that were registered as 501(c)(3) organizations and filed form 990 with the IRS.) Nonprofit revenues rose 85 percent in the decade, from $19.5 billion to $36.1 billion, most of that money coming not from grants but from fees nonprofits charge. These figures sound good, but they're actually below the national average; nationwide the number of nonprofits grew 77 percent over the same period, and revenues rose 93 percent.

Strong medicine for greens and libertarians to swallow. From a June 4 speech by U.S. representative Jan Schakowsky, published on "Like it or not, either George W. Bush or the Democratic nominee, whoever he may be, will be our next president....We are going to have to dedicate ourselves to electing the Democrat. To do otherwise is a luxury we cannot afford. I look forward to our campaign for a universal health care plan or a real education bill or labor law reform. We cannot even have that conversation now."

The latest in euphemisms. USDA demographer Calvin Beale, writing in the "Poverty & Race" newsletter (March/April): "Everyone with an interest in rural and small town poverty in the United States is aware that it frequently occurs in an ethno/racial context, just as in cities." Last time I looked, everything by definition occurs in an "ethno/racial context," unless perhaps you think white people have no race.

"At its root, the campaign for parental choice in education is about relying on capitalism to educate our kids," writes Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute ("Heartlander," June). "Many advocates of school choice frame their cases in terms of social justice, fairness, or efficiency instead of profits, prices, and property rights. They can hardly be blamed for this. Every focus group and survey says 'social justice' is more popular than 'profits.' By using slippery values-based language to make the case for vouchers, we gain a momentary boost in public support for 'school choice.' But we pay for this by neglecting to say, or deliberately not saying, we want to replace a government monopoly with private competitive markets for schooling. When our opponents reveal this to be our true agenda, the voting public is surprised and fearful. Support for school choice plummets."

Keep God in her place. "Apatheism"--not caring all that much about one's own religion or anyone else's--is "a major civilizational advance," according to Jonathan Rauch (Atlantic Monthly, May). "Best of all would be a world generously leavened with apatheists: people who feel at ease with religion even if they are irreligious; people who may themselves be members of religious communities, but who are neither controlled by godly passions nor concerned about the (nonviolent, noncoercive) religious beliefs of others."

At this rate, expect to see only one hog farm in the U.S. around the year 2006. A February 11 Census Bureau press release on the publication of the 2002 Statistical Abstract notes that the country had 168,000 farms with hogs and pigs in 1995--and just 81,000 in 2001.

"American constitutional law could easily have come to recognize social and economic rights," argues University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein in "Chicago Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper No. 36" (January). Some cases in the 1960s were heading in that direction. "In retrospect, the crucial event was the election of President Nixon in 1968, and his four appointments to the [Supreme] Court: Warren Burger in 1969, Harry Blackmun in 1970, and Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist in 1972. These appointees proved decisive to a series of decisions [1970-'73], issued in rapid succession, limiting the reach of Warren Court decisions and eventually making clear that social and economic rights do not have constitutional status outside of certain restricted domains."

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment