Here's an idea: Lower Chicago's tax rate for the holidays

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

Chicago is the largest city in the Midwest. We're no longer the second city (in the country), but we still hold our own. Cook County is the second most populated county in the country. So one would think the biggest bully in the region with the most people in the Midwest would use that bully position to make this city the place where everyone would want to come shop and spend their tax dollars. Unfortunately, those in charge only know how to raise taxes when revenue is needed as opposed to enticing more people to come here to willingly spend their money so that the additional tax revenue needed is not placed solely on the city's residents.

For example, the current tax rate in Chicago is 10.25%. The suburban tax rate in Cook County varies up to a maximum 11%. But travel further out to the collar counties and the maximum rates drop to 8.75% in Lake, 9.75% in DuPage, 8.75% in Will, 8.25% in Kankakee, and a pittance of 6.25% in Grundy. 

Yes, those lower tax rates look great. But those areas don't have a downtown Chicago, Lakefront or Michigan Avenue. Chicago does, and all roads lead to her. So to entice people to come here and shop like they've never shopped before, Chicago should drop her tax rate to 5% beginning on Black Friday and ending on New Year's Day. 

If human nature has any guaranteed traits, it is that people want a bargain. Every year when the holiday shopping season starts, people line up for the bargains they can get on televisions, electronics and every kind of toy imaginable. Can you imagine the stampeded to come into Chicago if our tax rate were a nickel on every dollar? Why, people would flock here. Even the shopping areas away from downtown would see a tremendous increase in customer traffic as people made their way to, say, the Home Depot or Lowe's to make their major home improvement purchases. Those stores in turn would be hiring like crazy to handle the increased customer flow. The hotels, of course, would also be filled to capacity. They too would need additional help. 

O'Hare, Midway and even the Greyhound bus terminal would see increased traffic as folks made their way here to spend money. Anybody involved in the transportation, hospitality, and other kinds of industry would feel the effect of more people coming here with the expressed desire to spend their money freely. Even Chicago's crime rate would take a dive as opportunities opened up for legitimate methods of making money. A lowered tax rate and the ensuing camaraderie that brings would make us one Chicago, seeking to better ourselves through shared opportunities. 

It takes a visionary to propose and sell such an idea. So to our visionless electorate, take my idea and run with it!

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