It’s common knowledge that state and local budgets around the country are deep in the red. States, cities, and towns are looking at massive deficits, which they then cite to justify cuts from everything to mental health clinics to the post office.
But when these budgets are discussed, whether by pundits on television or average citizens, deficits are usually talked about like one might talk about a tornado or a flood. Yes, it’s so sad we’ve been unlucky enough to have this devastation fall upon us, but what can we do about our misfortune?
It turns out there is plenty that can be done. Because there’s nothing natural about these budget crises. They are entirely created by people—specifically, people sitting on gigantic piles of money, who have used their financial and political muscle to keep more of it.
This is particularly stark in the case of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois, on the one hand, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on the other.
The basic facts of the exchange’s demands on the state of Illinois over the past year despite the deep financial crisis the state is in—and the suffering ordinary Illinoisans have endured because of it—grate against anyone’s basic sense of fair and morally-upright behavior.
As Stand Up! Chicago policy analyst Elizabeth Parisian pointed out in the Huffington Post recently, the CME took in nearly $2 billion in profits last year. With a profit margin of over 30 percent, it is Chicago’s most profitable corporation.
Whatever one’s religious background or set of ethical principles, it’s clear that a company that rakes in such astronomical amounts of money has a moral imperative to give a small part of that money towards the greater good of society. This is accomplished by paying taxes.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has reached new levels of audacity in its brazen disregard for the basic well-being of the Illinoisans who depend on the state’s public services. Its aggressive and eventually successful lobbying for massive tax breaks over the next ten years is indicative of a single-minded pursuit of profits that is corrosive to our democracy, damaging to vulnerable citizen, and generally makes our world a worse place to live in.
Companies that are as wealthy as the CME have some very basic responsibilities to the rest of our society. One of those responsibilities is to pay their fair share, which is why Chicagoans are calling on the company to do so today.
Join Arise Chicago, Stand Up! Chicago, and a slew of other community groups, unions, and religious organizations in calling on the CME to pay its fair share today. Details about today’s action can be found here: