Somebody call 9-1-1, I'm getting gored by Rahm (again)

As I predicted in my blog post of August 13, if you live in Chicago your phone taxes are going up again. Mayor Emmanuel announced earlier this week that his 2018 budget includes a $1.10 per-phone-line tax increase, ostensibly to support 9-1-1 emergency services but in reality to feed the Laborers Pension Fund, according to the Sun-Times.

As you may recall, Rahm raised phone taxes on us just a couple years ago, purportedly to pay for police and firefighters pensions. Less than a decade ago, the 9-1-1 tax in Chicago was $2.50. Now it will be double that. The General Assembly cleared the way for this in its budget vote this summer, although it received no media coverage at the time.

Do you ever feel like you’re funding everyone’s retirement but your own? After we’re done paying our monthly housing, utility, grocery, commuting, and other non-discretionary expenses, many of us don’t even have five bucks to throw into an IRA, if we even have one.

Meanwhile, another story this week in the Sun-Times reported allegations that employees of the city’s 911 emergency center routinely abuse Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits by, among other things, taking days off on Fridays, Saturdays, and around holidays and “major sporting events.”

Better hope you don’t have a heart attack or a home invasion around one of those times.

Doesn’t this make you feel better about forking over five bucks a month just for the privilege of owning a phone? Little wonder that everyone is ditching their landlines and going exclusively with cell phones; who wants to pay a redundant set of taxes?

The current taxes and fees I pay on my mobile phone already amount to nearly 20 percent of the provider’s charge.

Also getting flak is the proposed 15-cent per ride increase in the city surcharge for ride-hailing services like Uber, in order to offset loss of ridership on the CTA. But that seems trivial compared with the 28-percent increase for phone service, which will hit families especially hard. Uber is a convenience, but you’ve got to have a phone.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this. According to an Aug. 26 Sun-Times report, more than one-third of workers on the city of Chicago payroll earned over $100,000 in 2016. The average income for city workers, including police and fire personnel, was $87,090. This makes working for the Windy City more lucrative than working for the state or Cook County.

Name any industry in the private sector (outside of professional sports teams and the like), with this kind of compensation. Can’t think of one? Neither can I.

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