Sooner or later, if you drive in Chicago you will have to park, and chances are, you'll park in a spot that is metered.
It's not just in the Loop, but all over the city. Prime spots, those precious few square feet near your favorite bar, all require payment if you don't want your car towed.
Prices vary, with some locations more expensive than others. Free market economics works at many levels.
If you weren't happy about the cost of parking on a busy street, you could always call your alderman and voice a complaint. Not that it did any good, but the venting was free which is more than you could say about the parking spot.
When you discover that the meter is eating more of your coins than ever before, don't even waste your breath on your elected officials. Mayor Richard Daley has struck a deal with a private firm, which will pour $150 million into the city's coffers in exchange for any and all revenues generated by parking meters.
That means that this unnamed private firm gets to set the rates. If you want to park in a certain spot, you'll pay what they demand or go elsewhere. Monopolies work at many levels.
Midway Airport's been leased, the Skyway is operated by a for-profit corporation, and now the city will give up the steady income from the parking meters in favor of a lump sum. There's a huge budget deficit to deal with, and Mayor Daley is not one to cut a budget that is filled with patronage jobs and sweetheart deals. As long as he can keep his seat, why worry about the little people?
But what happens when there's nothing left? Where's the money to come from when private firms are running everything that creates a revenue stream?
As we have all seen recently, you can't keep spending money you don't have with an expectation that more will magically appear to keep you afloat.
Of course, there is that potential for a huge tourist trade. The Barack Obama Heritage Tour kicks off here. Don't forget to tip your servers. They're paying astronomically high taxes in Chicago and every penny counts.