griftopia (Photo credit: cdrummbks)

In Griftopia, Matt Taibbi tells how Mayor Daley sold the rights to Chicago’s parking meter revenues for 75 years for $1 billion when the estimate was that the revenue was worth $5 billion. Sara Paretsky, resident of Chicago and author of the V. I. Warshawski detective novels, has this to say about the deal in her novel Body Works:

“Parking has also become a source of bitterness in the city–the mayor suddenly sold street parking to a private firm, which had quadrupled the rates overnight. We all had to carry bags of quarters everywhere we went, as if we were heading for slot machines, which I guess the pay stations had become. Slot machines completely and permanently skewed in the house’s favor.”

Please keep this in mind when someone tells you that free enterprise is more efficient than government. Another target of potential profit that the corporate disciples of Adam Smith’s invisible hand have in their near-term sights is our drinking water. Not only will the big oil companies profit from fracking, their chemical discharges into the ground will eventually pollute our drinking water, driving up the price and their ultimate profits. Thus they will profit from supplying energy and decreasing the supply of potable water.

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Sara Paretsky

Cover of "Hard Time: A V.I. Warshawski No...

Cover of Hard Time: A V.I. Warshawski Novel

Hard Time by Sara Paretsky is my first V. I. Warshawski mystery. Set in the Chicago that I remember so fondly, Warshawski is a tough talking, hard-bitten female private detective. I am not going to spoil the story for you by describing the plot. I f you love Chicago, you will identify with the story, and Paretsky is an easy writer to like.

In fact, she will be appearing at an event in Elmhurst, Illinois on Thursday evening April 26, 2012 at 7pm. The venue is Hammerschmidt Chapel at Elmhurst College, 190 Prospect Avenue. If I didn’t live so far away, 3200 miles round-trip, I would consider attending. I grew up in Elmhurst, and as a youngster I spent many happy days and evenings across the street in Wilder Park. The Wilder Mansion contained our library at the time. Elmhurst has a new library in the park to the north of the Wilder Mansion. In the winter, there was free ice skating in Wilder Park in a depressed oval that was flooded and allowed to freeze. From looking at Google earth, I see the rink is no longer there. As a youth, I raced my bicycle up and down the walking paths playing tag with my friends. Not the safest thing to do, but the paths were usually deserted. Haven’t visited since the late 1970s.

P. S. I didn’t plan it this way, but this post is number 606 on this blog. 606 is Chicago’s zip code.

P. P. S. Just returned from the local branch of Barnes and Noble. Some Sara Paretsky books are still priced at $7.99, but some are listed at $9.99. That is a 25% price increase. Inflation hits hard.

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