From Chicago Magazine, December 2010 (source):
Because Chicago’s economists have suggestions for our most pressing civic dilemmas. Now if only they could agree…
Robert Kaestner, June Lapidus, and Deirdre McCloskey debate topics such as privatizing parking meters, selling naming rights to Soldier Field, and building a third local airport in Peotone.
By Debra Pickett
professor, Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Chicago
associate professor of economics, Roosevelt University
distinguished professor of economics, history, English, and communication, University of Illinois at Chicago
PRIVATIZING CITY PARKING METERS: Smart move or disaster?
[ROBERT KAESTNER] "Smart move, although the bidding process may have been faulty. Paying the true market value for parking spaces will help people make better decisions regarding transportation choices.â€
[JUNE LAPIDUS] "Not smart. Takes control from the city and residents, as well as money.â€
[DEIRDRE MCCLOSKEY] "Smart. Very smart. Notice how easy it is to get a space now? Parking spaces downtown are prime real estate. They should be priced to match.â€
BIG TAX INCENTIVES TO GET MOVIES FILMED HERE: Silly or hurrah?
[ROBERT KAESTNER] "Silly giveaway to Hollywood filmmakers and studios and the few local workers employed by those filmmakers.â€
[JUNE LAPIDUS] "It depends on whether there is anything left to benefit the city after the incentives. A 20 percent tax break on $100,000 means the city still gets $80,000, plus any revenue generated, so it could be a good idea.â€
[DEIRDRE MCCLOSKEY] "The economist in me comes down hard on â€˜silly.' The Chicagoan says â€˜hurrah.' All things considered, the economist wins: Transformers 3 is six notches below the Chicago-pumping standard of The Fugitive or The Blues Brothers.â€
MILLENNIUM PARK: Jewel in our crown or overpriced folly?
[ROBERT KAESTNER] "Jewel in city's crown. A lasting monument that will bring tourists for decades and that makes life more pleasant for all citizens.â€
[JUNE LAPIDUS] "It's a great park, but whether it's a good idea depends on what else could have been done with the money.â€
[DEIRDRE MCCLOSKEY] "Jewelry-like folly. Considering that most of the Loop is one big bridge, it was not outrageous to finish the job. A lot of private money helped. But what else could we have done with the public money? A lot.â€
BUILDING A THIRD LOCAL AIRPORT IN PEOTONE: Good planning or dumb idea?
[ROBERT KAESTNER] "Dumb idea. Better to use public money to improve rail transportation for commercial goods and mass transportation for local commuting.â€
[JUNE LAPIDUS] "Good planning. It allows for expansion in a part of the region that would benefit greatly from increased economic development.â€
[DEIRDRE MCCLOSKEY] "Dumb. Gary Airport was logical, extensible to the lake, with ready-made rail links to downtown Chicago. Hmm. Wonder why a location like Garyâ€”outside Illinois and outside the district of a certain politicianâ€”wasn't chosen.â€
SELLING NAMING RIGHTS TO SOLDIER FIELD: Important moneymaker or travesty?
[ROBERT KAESTNER] "Important moneymaker. If they can change the name of Marshall Field's and Sears Tower without the sky falling, we can accommodate Soldier Field by Boeing.â€
[JUNE LAPIDUS] "I hate the whole naming-rights thing, but since it's already everywhere, no harm in adding Soldier Field to the mix.â€
[DEIRDRE MCCLOSKEY] "Unimportant moneymaker. A few million dollars isn't going to solve the city's problems, which run into the hundreds of millions. Why not sell the name of the city? BillGatesville. Now you're talkin'.â€