Don’t get hungry in 2143. The Illinois Natural History Survey Reports (January-February): “Illinois has enough coal to satisfy its present rate of consumption for 1,000 years, enough oil to meet its own demand for only 1 year, and enough topsoil to last 150 years at the present rate of erosion.”
The Municipal Reference Library closed? Did I read that in Zippy the Pinhead? One of Sheri Reda’s suggestions for coping with information overload (Conscious Choice, March-April): “Read only comics. Good comics deal with the important issues of the day. If no one’s thought enough about it to make a joke, it can’t be that important.”
Species whose restoration doesn’t seem necessary. “About half an inch long, with a brown body, green head and clear wings, they would rise from the prairie grass in great numbers ahead of grazing stock or horses on a trail and descend on them….The pain they caused as they bit and obtained their blood meal could stampede animals–and took so much blood from some that they died,” writes John Schwegman of the state Department of Conservation. These green-headed horseflies “have greatly declined in numbers today due to the drainage and destruction of the wetlands and wet prairies where their larvae live.”
Not ready for the personals. David Hershey in The Illinois Georgist (Winter): “Leza a can vouch for my assertion that nothing quickens my pulse more than the hope provided by the free market system. Probably to her consternation that is what excites me most. She’s somewhat perplexed to find herself…with a partner whose driving passion is political economy.”
Do religions seem more fun if you didn’t have to practice them as a kid? “Some day someone should tell us why all religious traditions of the world–Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Zoroastrian, and so on–are rich in potential, while the Judeo-Christian tradition is broken down or needs to be broken down,” complains Martin Marty in his newsletter “Context” (March 15) in a report on new-age publishing fashions. “Is the fact that 1.7 billion people somehow are identified with it no indicator to metaphysical-spiritual marketers that something in it is not broken down…? Is there something here about cultural self hate? an unwillingness to deal with the ordinary and the close to home? a romanticism about the remote?”
“The least mentally healthy members of U.S. families are employed mothers who have trouble finding child care and who handle most of their family’s child-care responsibilities,” according to U. of I. sociologist Catherine Ross, who notes that it costs about the same to treat their depression as it would to provide child care.
What happened while it was “morning” in America. Between 1979 and 1987-’89, the average family income (in constant dollars) of the bottom fifth of Illinois families dropped from $12,256 to $10,345, while the average family income of the top fifth rose from $93,131 to $101,645. The figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau as interpreted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Illinois “Comptroller’s Monthly Fiscal Report” (February). Both numbers are probably understated: they do not include food stamps, subsidized housing benefits, capital gains, or salaries over $100,000.
“I would be more positive about [property tax] caps if state government hadn’t been so irresponsible of late,” reflects Jim Nowlan, president of the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois, in Tax Facts, (February). “In 1985 the legislature…put increased responsibilities on local schools, but lawmakers failed to provide funding for the reforms, leaving it up to the locals and the property tax…The state has regularly increased pension benefits for local government employees, and you know who gets the bills: local governments. The state shouldn’t have it both ways. It’s wrong to dump new responsibilities on the locals without helping pay the bills, and then to play Big Brother by slapping on tax caps, which makes state officials look good at no cost to themselves.”
Least successful attempt to change the subject. Wood Dale city clerk Gerry Jacobs, quoted in Illinois Issues (March): “People hear the words ‘Du Page County’ and immediately think that’s where all the rich people are. But the people here have the feeling that the money they pay should stay right here.” Sounds like rich people to me, all right.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.