THE FLUB-A-DUB AWARD
June. Rain and heat. The corn is going to be head high by the 4th of July. Thats good. At least we wont have to listen to the farmers cry.
I decided to give Junes Flub to the city of Galesburg, although Knoxville was in at a close second. Galesburg might as well annex Knoxville. Theyre doing everything in their power to mimic us, which I dont think would be a real good idea.
When talking about Galesburg, if reality is pointed out, the good-old-boys immediately want to label you as negative. So at the risk of yet another "negative" assessment of our current situation, we need to look to three key indicators of a dying, or more positively, struggling town: 1. Our population has gone down over the last 40 years. 2. Business is moving out. 3. Our median age is increasing.
Since the census of 1960, our population has been on a steady decline. This was propped up in the 80s by the opening of Henry Hill, which added 900 prisoners to our census count. It was again propped up in the census of 1990, with an increase of the prison population by another 9001200. The latest census shows Galesburgs population at 33,706. Minus the 2000 prisoners, who make no significant contributions to the community, we are at 31,706. Our 1960 census stood at 37,243. We have had a net lose of 5,537 citizens over the last 40 years, with that number destined to go higher.
That business is leaving Galesburg is obvious. We have lost a lot of goodpaying jobs over the last 30 years, replaced by mainly $67 an hour jobs, which the administration in Washington counts as good. It in fact results in people making less money than they did in 1980, while working longer hours, for few, if any, benefits. Unemployment in Galesburg is at least 15 percent, with another 20 percent underemployed. These numbers are going to rise significantly, to probably one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Whos to blame? I suggest the city administration, the city council, the mayor, the Chamber, the good-old-boy network, which includes many of those just mentioned, and the rest of us, who stand idly by as we watch Galesburg go to hell in a hand basket.
The population in Galesburg is getting older. Good evidence of this exists on Main Street, where we have a casket shop and monument business. And there is nothing but old people at church, I suppose cramming for finals. 18.1 percent of our population is over the age of 65. Overall, Illinois is at 12.1 percent, making Galesburg significantly older than the norm. Now, I dont know that there is anything particularly negative about that, other than part of the problem is that young adults are leaving the community due to declining opportunities.
So Galesburg has been in a negative trend over the last 44 years. Its hard to make anything good of this, unless youre looking for a small town with a lot of old people and a casket store. By the 2010 census, Galesburgs population will be below 30,000. The only question left to ask the good-old-boy Flubbers is: When do you think it is we might want to try something different? (I take full responsibility for that being a totally radical question.)