By Aaron Krager
Activists surrounded multiple banking locations yesterday demanding jobs in the culmination of Take Back Chicago’s week of events and protests. For their final display, the coalition group staged a casino at the Chicago Board of Trade plaza depicting the high-risk speculation of the financial markets and the gambling being done the country’s economy.
All the actions and events the past week pointed to the economic crisis hurting every day Chicagoans’ jobs, schools and homes. The attention garnered during the week expressed the urgency people feel in the current economic climate. In front of the Chicago Board of Trade, representatives from Stand Up Chicago introduced a proposal for a speculation tax on trades conducted at the two downtown exchanges. At a quarter per trade, the organization believes Chicago could potentially raise $1.4 billion to fund 40,000 jobs.
Two members of the Chicago Political Economy Group, Dr. William Barclay and Dr. Ron Baiman, contributed to the proposal. Hong Kong and other countries already utilize such a tax while New York’s is still on the books but is rebated, according to the group.
“I worked for 22 years at the exchange down here, said Dr. Barclay. “This high speed trading doesn’t contribute to economic growth. It just supports resources and in the case of the Great Recession it actually destroyed economic resources.”
The proposal looks to restore those resources through the Chicago Community Jobs Fund in order to address social and physical infrastructure needs around the city. Ideally, the fund breaks down into five corps: Community Schools, Community Health, Child Care, Youth Corps, and Neighborhood Improvements, with hiring to be targeted exclusively to the unemployed.
A demographic analysis conducted for the proposal reveals that more than 20 percent of the city’s unemployed come from skilled trade industries such as construction and production trades. Several alderman have expressed interest in the proposal, but none have come out in direct support. Finding such support is Stand Up Chicago’s next step.
The noise from the drums and whistles bombarded onlookers, many of them CME or CBOE employees. One passerby commented, “What took the city of Chicago so damn long?” Others were not so supportive.
“They don’t have a unified or coherent message,” said Paul, a CME employee who refused to give his last name. “It’s everyone’s fault they’ve shifted jobs to China and India. Everything we want is cheap. Not really corporate fault because we want cheaper goods.”
Englewood resident Brenda Alexander participated in yesterday’s events because of her four nieces and nephews, ages ranging from 11 to 16. As their legal guardian, she has raised them their whole lives.
“They are trying to take jobs away,” said Alexander. “Taking money way from kids and the schools.”