Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Matt Rosenberg – Chicago's Drift Toward Dystopia

Matt Rosenberg – Chicago's Drift Toward Dystopia


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This week I welcome journalist Matt Rosenberg back to The Glenn Show. Matt is the senior editor of Wirepoints, a news site that covers politics and economics in Illinois, and author of What Next, Chicago?: Notes of a Pissed-Off Native Son. As a veteran reporter and fellow native Chicagoan, Matt has a deep, street-level knowledge of the city that informs his work and attitude, as you’ll see in this conversation.

We begin by discussing Matt’s profile of the Chicago artist Rahmaan (Statik) Barnes, who Matt discovered after happening across one of his stunning murals. Matt talks about Rahmaan’s insight into the attitudes and culture that contribute to the violent crime currently plaguing the city. Matt sees the recent massive increase in shootings, assaults, carjackings, and other crimes as part of what he calls Chicago’s “Great Unraveling,” in which the city’s “progressive” criminal justice policies actually exacerbate crime in the name of racial justice. A new law that will eliminate cash bail for most accused offenders will only make things worse, according to Matt. But what is causing this crime in the first place? Matt points to several problems, including failures in child-rearing, a newly aggressive attitude toward the police, and new forms of criminal behavior, like lightning-fast robbery sprees and coordinated retail theft. Out-of-wedlock birthrates are also a problem. While there are higher rates of out-of-wedlock birth among black mothers than white mothers, Matt points out that socioeconomic status, rather than race, is a better predictor of the problem. Finally, I ask Matt to give me his perspective on Chicago’s upcoming mayoral race, and he relays some of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s startling public comments.

I love the city of Chicago dearly. Though I haven’t lived there in decades, I still consider it my home. Seeing what’s happening to it now breaks my heart, and I worry that we may now be too late to reverse its decline. We need journalists like Matt who are following the truth wherever it leads, but we’ll need much more than that to avert permanent disaster.

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0:00 Matt’s profile of the artist Rahmaan Statik

11:26 Chicago’s “Great Unraveling” 

20:41 Is Chicago slouching toward dystopia? 

29:50 How will the near-end of cash bail affect crime in Chicago?

33:24 The responsibilities of teachers, parents, and the police

46:59 A snapshot of crime in Chicago

52:26 Matt runs the numbers on Illinois’s out-of-wedlock births

1:02:44 Lori Lightfoot’s prospects for reelection

Links and Readings

Matt’s book, What Next, Chicago?: Notes of a Pissed-Off Native Son


Matt’s profile with artist Rahmaan Barnes

Rahmaan Barnes’s art

University of Chicago Crime Lab’s Becoming a Man program


Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Race, inequality, and economics in the US and throughout the world from Glenn Loury, Professor of Economics at Brown University and Paulson Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute