Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chicago Tribune is outraged by the words it put in the mouths of pols and labor bosses

Posted By on 11.19.13 at 04:35 PM

rsz_1384893580-trib.jpg
If you want to win a debate, frame your argument in the most powerful possible terms—but don't stop there. Frame the other side's argument too. The moment they sound like callous sons of bitches—thanks to the words you put in their mouths—the debate's won.

"A New Plan for Chicago," which is what the Tribune is calling its current "editorial project," threw the book Sunday at local politicians and union leaders who in their greed and cynicism give no thought to tomorrow. The page-one headline neatly captured their indifference to the deluge to come:

'I'll be dead, you'll be dead'

"Altogether," the Trib said scornfully on its front page, "Chicago's vast debts say to future generations: Our priorities are so worthwhile now that you, the yet unborn, must pay for them."

Across the top of the editorial page, the same contemptuous kiss-off appeared again:

'I'll be dead, you'll be dead'

The page-long editorial pounded away at this monstrous disregard:

Pension math is relentless, tyrannical: Chicago pols and union officials knew they were committing tomorrow's taxpayers to pension costs that could grow astronomically over time. But since their pension hikes likely couldn't crush City Hall (or taxpayers) for a few decades, they were protected by the needn't-be-spoken blood oath of IBD, YBD: If pension costs explode, so what? I'll be dead, you'll be dead.

Needn't-be-spoken blood oath! Could the crisis be any more dire? Some sort of secret society is sucking Chicgo dry.

Only the most careful reader is apt to pause here and ask a question: Needn't-be-spoken? Could that be the Tribune's way of acknowledging that, despite the quote marks, nobody has actually said this?

It's not fair to say nobody has. Here, for instance, are these very words in a ditty by French metalcore band Black Bomb A, "Uncivilization":

Who'll be dead? Who'll be safe?
You'll be saved
Who'll be safe? Who'll be dead?
You'll be dead
I'll be saved . . . you'll be saved
I'll be dead . . . you'll be dead

But I don't believe Black Bomb A is a party to the discussion of Chicago's fiscal future.

What the Tribune has done here is raise the heat under the cauldron of civic outrage by making lavish use of an unforgivable sentiment that nobody on the other side of the argument actually expressed, though it's certainly true to the twisted values of the other side as the Tribune wishes us to understand them.

If it's not true to the values of the other side as the other side wishes us to understand them—well, I dunno, then I guess it's up to them to take it back.

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