Royko's Still Right (or left...depending on which side you're on)

Mike Royko called a spade a spade when, on October 19, 1973, he wrote:

The City Council intends to repeal my favorite old-time ordinance.

The aldermen say the ordinance is cruel and inhuman.

That may be so.  But they are acting hastily.  At least part of the ordinance should be retained because if it were enforced, it would make this a much better place to live.

This is what the ordinance says:

“No person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object or an improper person [is] to be allowed in or on the public ways or other public places, [or] shall therein or thereon expose himself to public view, under a penalty of not less than one dollar nor more than fifty dollars for each offense.”

Obviously, the first part of it – that which bans people who are diseased, maimed, or mutilated—should be repealed.

But the rest of it should be retained.  There has been a crying need to get people off the streets who are “unsightly, “ “improper,” or “disgusting objects.”

I first came across this ordinance several years ago, and I immediately wrote a column demanding the arrest of all the politicians who march at the front of the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Anybody who has seen them come wheezing down the streets, toting their heavy wallets, would agree that many of them are unsightly, some of them are disgusting, and all of them are improper every chance they get.

Many’s the time I’ve stood on the curb and heard citizens remark:

“Look at that improper-looking object—what is it?”  They are amazed when I tell them the object is an elected official.  (Column titled A Law City Should Keep, from For the Love of Mike, More of the Best of Mike Royko, The University of Chicago Press, 2001, 116-120).


It wasn't the first time Royko’s sharp pen lampooned Chicago city officials.  As I read that column in For the Love of Mike, More of the Best of Mike Royko, I imagined his ire extending across decades and miles to indict our current elected officials in Washington.

After all, we’re filthy with politicians who use veterans, non-essential government employees, seniors and children as their very own political chew-toys.

Here we are, forty years after that column was published, watching while a few select officials, controlled by a half-dozen filthy rich puppet-masters, hold the country hostage.  I imagine our elected officials – all of them -- walking into their offices, their pockets heavy with corporate donations, their war chests fat and secure, crying fat crocodile tears as they watch news reports of veterans -- and the long list of nonessential government employees -- revealing the hardships of going without income.

It kind of makes me sick.

So, in effect, a few Republicans have shut down the government to dismantle a health care law they oppose.  And you know the price of that?

It’s a lot.  A whole lot.

The New York Times editorial, The Cost of the Shutdown, estimates that:

The two most recent shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, cost the Treasury $1.4 billion over 26 days, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the equivalent of $2.1 billion in today’s dollars.


I’m unimpressed by most elected officials but Republican freshman senator Ted Cruz might win my ‘I’m really not impressed by you’ prize.  As far as I’m concerned, he could be described as 'unsightly, improper and disgusting.'  Even though his voice is grating, I’ve been listening to him.  And then, when the noise became deafening, I started investigating the hooey he’s been spewing.  Because, well, all of those mad facts floating around in the atmosphere got me all confused.  Things didn’t quite add up.  And, when things don’t add up, I try to get to the bottom of things.

Ol’ Ted is the sweetheart of the Senate Conservatives Fund.  And, if you’re partial to unsightly, improper and disgusting, here’s a link to the Senate Conservatives Fund and Ted’s abbreviated manifesto about the dangers of the Affordable Care Act.

According to Ted, the Affordable Care Act will plunder our economy and swipe the generic drugs right out of seniors’ hands!  Heavens.

But, if you go to, a ‘nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics’ you’ll find some facts.

Ted and his Tea Party cronies insist that the Affordable Care act will be a ‘job-killer.’  It’s a catchy phrase:  job-killer.  It’s scary.  It smacks of layoffs and a plunging economy.

Is it true?

No.  As we’ve said before (a few times), experts project that the law will cause a small loss of low-wage jobs – and also some gains in better-paid jobs in the health care and insurance industries.

Next, Ted and his buddies are convinced that, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, small businesses will be devastated.

Is that true?

No.  Claims about the alleged devastation of small business are also off base. The fact is, businesses with fewer than 50 workers are exempt from the requirement to provide coverage, or pay a penalty to the government. Furthermore, some small businesses with fewer than 25 employees are already getting tax credits under the new law to help defray the cost of providing worker coverage.

Ted has also said, many times, that the Affordable Care Act is ‘government-funded health care.’

Is that true?

No.  …the law greatly expands the private insurance market.  Requiring individuals to have insurance, and providing subsidies to help them pay for it, will add millions to the private insurance rolls, creating business for private companies.  It’s true that the law expands Medicaid, too, but there’s no government takeover of insurance here, much to the chagrin of single-payer advocates who wanted exactly that type of health care system.

Ted’s been whining about the Affordable Care Act for quite some time and, by this time, my ears perk up to the high-pitched sound the way my dog's ears do to my shrill whistle.  But then he went over the line and slaughtered a reading of Dr. Seuss’s beloved Green Eggs and Ham.

As far as I’m concerned, this madness has gone too far.  Someone stop him before he gets his hands on Goodnight Moon.

Because if the lies he’s spewing and the confusion he’s generating hasn’t driven you to madness, that just might be the final unsightly, disgusting and improper straw that breaks the cow-jumping-over-the moon's back.

And that just wouldn't be right.

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