Just because something’s unimaginable today doesn’t mean we won’t be living with it tomorrow. The Tribune’s editorial page pleaded this week for City Hall to economize by placing more jobs “under control of private businesses, which would reduce the weight of traditional pension obligations.” “There’s no outsourcing police work,” said the Tribune, but the city should consider everyone else on its payroll.

Why not the police? We’ve privatized public education with all those charter schools—once upon a time who could have imagined that? We’ve privatized our parking meters. We’ve privatized the Skyway out of town. One of these days we’ll privatize Midway Airport. And event planners hire private cops to handle security all the time.

It hasn’t happened here yet, but there are plenty of private prisons in America. We had private armies fighting in Iraq. “Whether the need is for solutions in logistics, aviation, training, security, program and risk management, or operations and maintenance,” advertises DynCorp International, a firm that provided one of those armies and claims to have its forces in at least 36 countries, “we bring DI’s proven results to customers in every corner of the globe.”

Why not make the next corner Englewood?

That the idea is profoundly offensive is no reason not to think about it. Chicago’s broke, so everything needs to be on the table. Including mercenaries. How much more time has to go by before they start to make a certain kind of sense?