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1.5 billion.  Dollars.

That's how much money is owed to the city of Chicago in unpaid parking and traffic tickets. Imagine one and half BILLION dollars!

A recent article in Chicago Magazine spelled out exactly what that kind of cash will buy. A creative number crunch suggests that 1.5 billion dollars is enough to buy 545.5 million Chicago style hotdogs (nearly two for every American). 

Those unpaid tickets could purchase 5,117 years' worth of school supplies for Chicago's kids.  Sick of potholes?  That money could also resurface 2,497 miles of Chicago's streets—about two thirds of all its streets!  Or if you'd rather, you could reconstruct 3.5 CTA rail lines.

But if you prefer to think big—really big—1.5 billion dollars would also buy you the 110 story Willis Tower--plus a 590,000 square-foot addition. 

All of this because people refuse to pay their tickets. The Pharisee-in-me is inclined to simultaneously label and lambaste these scofflaws.  How dare they cheat the government? But in pointing at others, we must beware the proverbial four fingers pointing back at ourselves:

  • Do you and I pay our parking tickets?
  • What about filing permits for home improvements?
  • Do we get creative with numbers when filing our income tax?
  • Do we dabble in deceit of any kind?

Amazing how comfortable I am pondering the scofflaws “out there” that owe a billion and a half, while overlooking my own moral debts.  I wonder if God were to actually show me the ledger how horrified I would be.

Romans 14:12, “Each one of us will give account of himself to God.”



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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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Jon Gauger Media 2016