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  • Archive for the 'Illinois Politics' Category

    The Federal Takeover of State Debt is About to Begin…

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 17th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Often people focus on the “loud” items and miss the subtle, important events that really change the world. On the positive side, the 401(k) plan has that obscure name because a financial expert basically “invented” it out of a line in the tax code which enabled tax-deferred savings. And Jack Bogle of Vanguard did the same thing with “passive” investing, which reduced fees and for practical purposes has taken over the investing world (along with ETFs).

    One very subtle item that is about to occur is the nationalization of state debt (and likely debts of individual cities) by the federal government. At the highest level, states and cities have made promises (mainly pensions) to their employees that are un-payable without raising taxes to extortionate rates. Detroit cracked first but since it was a city and there was some state framework they were able to use bankruptcy, but many more are to follow, including Puerto Rico (right now) and soon thereafter likely the City of Chicago or its teachers’ pensions as well as the state of Illinois.

    A very similar event occurred in Europe when the ECB basically put the debts of Greece and Portugal onto the backs of taxpayers in Germany and Holland. The ECB had a moment (several moments, actually) when they could have fundamentally changed how Greece ran their economy, shutting down statist laws and heavy governmental interference in the economy to open up competition and growth, but they blinked and instead just “wired them money in exchange for promises”. The Greeks, of course, haven’t kept their promises, and why should they, given that the ECB continually blinks when the showdown occurs.

    The reason that these states and territories like Puerto Rico are in dire straits is because they

    1. Spend more money than they make every year,
    2. Rely on borrowing to pay for operating expenses,
    3. Have giant, unfunded liabilities on top of this that can never be repaid (pensions, medical bills, etc…).

    This situation is enabled by a governing class that views funds as an opportunity to redistribute wealth to favored constituents and relies on “fairness” as a bedrock of their planning. The apex of this sort of planning can be seen in crony capitalist states like Brazil, where large enterprises like the National Oil Company (partially on the stock market, partially owned by the state) are used to fund politicians and social programs and are systematically diverted away from their core mission (to make money) until the enterprises are bled almost totally dry. Then, ironically, the state has to bail out the very companies that were supposed to provide for the socialistic wealth in the first place.

    The CORE issue is – if you give these sorts of entities money (bailout) without a “root and branch” cleaning of the issues – you will just get more of the same, indefinitely, as their individually painful debts become part of the larger national (or pan-European) debt, which continues the little game of overspending and wasting money on favored political groups for a little longer (maybe a couple years, maybe longer).

    The slippery slope – the trigger – is occurring right now in Puerto Rico. That entire economy is corrupt and ridden with subsidies from electricity to taxes to everything else. For Puerto Rico to thrive, it would need to break down barriers to private enterprise, reduce taxes, levies and bureaucracy, and find some way to bring logical industry into their jurisdiction. However, the more likely course is as follows:

    1. Point out the current individuals suffering from a lack of funding (the poor, kids in school, the elderly),
    2. Note that the debt which was once owned by individuals was bought up by hedge funds for a fraction of its original value – these funds are in a position to fight (legally and politically) for repayment and although they may be termed “vultures” or something else, they really are the last man standing for individuals who lack the means to fight legally for their rights,
    3. Use the political system to “promise” reforms that will never be carried out (because why would you if you can use funds to enable the current system to thrive),
    4. Talk about the retirees, and “promises” made to them over the years that cannot be paid, and how they can’t go back to the work force and earn more money so that they have to be made whole,
    5. Use political or class warfare to point out the groups that run Washington don’t look like the groups that are broke and make it a fairness issue or tied to some century plus grievance.

    It is very likely that these tactics will “work” and that the debts of Puerto Rico will be backstopped by the US government. While this technically isn’t a “bailout”, it absolutely is, because Puerto Rico can’t borrow one dollar on their own anymore (who would lend money to someone who says they won’t pay you back?), and we know that without major reform (which won’t happen) Puerto Rico will just continue to bleed money indefinitely (and fall back on fairness arguments and the above listed tactics to ensure that this keeps happening).

    Then soon after this subtle bailout (and likely before Puerto Rico fails AGAIN, which will happen again as it will with Detroit), entities of Illinois or the state itself will drive straight through this loophole and federalize their debt, too. The state and entities will make lavish promises about change that will never occur, because this is the lifeblood of the Democratic Party (patronage workers and the public sector) and all of the clout / featherbedding / etc… will continue on indefinitely, without any of the sorts of laws that enable competition.

    Watch the headlines… see this occur… it will be seismic in its long-term nature, because it will fundamentally change the nature of the US government, since the debts of the states and cities will become everyone’s debt and we don’t have any “real” tools to govern their behavior or fix the long-term promises that destroy competitiveness and economic growth.

    This is the real story, it is happening under our noses, and instead of paying attention we are following these idiotic presidential campaigns of pure vapor.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Big Government, Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, Illinois Politics | 13 Comments »

    My Pathetic Vote in Illinois Is Now the Hottest Ticket in Town

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 27th February 2016 (All posts by )

    Due to the fact that I live in Illinois which has been carved into districts to ensure Democratic majorities, my vote is mostly useless or a protest vote at best. I wrote about gerrymandering here and the fact that perhaps I live in the most ruthlessly gerrymandered district in the nation (and that is no small feat), the fifth Illinois house district, with our current representative, Ken Dunkin.

    Recently I have been receiving a series of mailings for Ken Dunkin’s re-election, which is hotly contested. Currently in Illinois, the Democrats technically have a super-majority, meaning that they can unilaterally issue a budget (more or less) and raise taxes. However, not every Democrat “falls into line” with Mike Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois house, who is the true leader of the Democratic party in Illinois. Rauner is looking for Democrats who might listen to his message of reform or for some reason or another be amenable to working constructively with him (don’t want to speculate too long on why this might be, but you can probably jump to your own conclusion). Dunkin refused to show up for a vote that Madigan thought was crucial in September and conspiracy theories have him aligned with Rauner.

    Per this article from the Chicago Tribune:

    More than $2 million, an unprecedented sum for a legislative primary contest, could be spent between Dunkin, who has allied himself with Rauner against Madigan, and Stratton, who is backed by organized labor.

    This is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a primary race for a house seat for the Illinois legislature. Given the Democratic machines’ hold on this part of the city, it is accepted as a “given” that the Democratic candidate will win so all of the efforts go into the primary.

    Thus my vote is now a precious commodity. Seemingly every day I get a giant, colorful, nearly insane flyer in the mail with the two candidates attacking each other. Here is a flyer stating that Ken Dunkin was convicted of abusing women and is unfit for office.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Illinois Politics, Politics | 12 Comments »

    The other state without a budget

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 24th October 2015 (All posts by )

    The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article (behind paywall) by Andrew Staub on the budget stalemate in Pennsylvania. While the overall fiscal situation is less dire than Illinois (lottery winners are still being paid), the personalities less dramatic and the politics more genteel, the problems both states are confronting are ones the Federal government is ignoring courtesy of the Federal Reserve and central bankers world wide who tolerate the expansion of American debt.

    One interesting aspect of the situation Staub passes over is the split in the Republican party. While the Republicans hold a majority in both houses, they are really composed of two factions, liberal leaning Rockefeller Republicans from the eastern side of the state and more conservative members from the west. They are not so far apart that they could be described as RINOs and Tea Partiers, but their inability to consistently act in concert has weakened their numerical majority in the past. However, they recently united to pass a sure to be vetoed paycheck protection bill that had foundered under the previous Republican governor because of resistance from the easterners. This is an indication that, at least in opposition to a Democrat governor the Westerners are starting to prevail.

    On the other hand, Governor Wolf sent a tax increase bill to the House, forcing Democrat members to vote on it and the Republicans were happy to accommodate him. 73 Democrats walked the plank for their leader and 9 refused, creating division in the usually solid Democrat ranks. It will be interesting to see the electoral consequences for them.

    But there is insufficient power on either side to prevail in the budget impasse. Until the schools start closing, probably after Christmas, there is little pressure on either side to move.

    In addition to all this, Kathleen Kane, the Commonwealth’s attorney general has lost her law license as a result of her actions in disclosing sealed information from an investigation into pornographic emails circulating among, allegedly, PA Supreme Court staff and personnel in the AG’s department. She then accused a member of the court of sending and receiving racial, misogynistic pornography. She is under investigation for releasing the materials and the Supreme Court has suspended her license to practice law. The post of AG is frequently a stepping stone to the governorship in PA and the Democrats have lost an attractive potential candidate and leader.

    Pennsylvania has been a solid Democrat state in presidential elections. But with the party torn apart, the deceased in Philadelphia may not be able to turn out in sufficient numbers next November to assure the result, if the Republicans can provide an acceptable alternative to HRM. But then PA always finds a way to leave the Republican candidate standing alone at the altar.

    Posted in Humor, Illinois Politics, Miscellaneous, Politics, Predictions | 2 Comments »

    Is Obama Our Punishment?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 3rd October 2015 (All posts by )

    Obama was an unusual candidate for president in 2008. I had serious questions in 2008.

    One criticism of Obama is that his portfolio is mighty thin. He has no record. Well, he actually does and and here it is. Pretty interesting.

    It’s a lengthy record filled with core liberal issues. But what’s interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year.

    Why was that ? In 2002, the Democrats took over the Illinois legislature, not because of Bush as the reporter says, but because the Republican governor got caught selling drivers’ licenses to truckers with bad driving records. A disastrous truck accident splashed the whole story across the newspapers and the Democrats took over in the next election.

    The white, race-baiting, hard-right Republican Illinois Senate Majority Leader James “Pate” Philip was replaced by Emil Jones Jr., a gravel-voiced, dark-skinned African-American known for chain-smoking cigarettes on the Senate floor.

    Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama’s. He became Obama’s ­kingmaker.

    Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio ­program.

    I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

    “He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.’”

    “Oh, you are? Who might that be?”

    “Barack Obama.”

    Obama ended up in the US Senate because the GOP Senator, Peter Fitzgerald, did not run for re-election. Why ?

    While State Senator he was a member of a group of conservative state senators elected in 1992 who often challenged the leadership of the Illinois Republican Party and were dubbed the “Fab Five”, the group also included, Steve Rauschenberger, Dave Syverson, Patrick O’Malley and Chris Lauzen.

    After a hard-fought primary victory against Illinois Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, in which the latter had the support of most national and state-level Republican leaders, Fitzgerald defeated first-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun in 1998, and served for one term in the U.S. Senate. He was the first Republican in Illinois to win a U.S. Senate race in 20 years, and the only Republican challenger in the country to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator in the 1998 election cycle. Although Moseley Braun was dogged by negative publicity of corruption charges, Fitzgerald defeated her by only 2.9%.

    Fitzgerald is a staunch conservative on such issues as opposition to abortion (except to save the life of the mother), gun control, gay marriage and taxes, but on some issues, particularly environmental issues — he opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge throughout his tenure in the US Senate — he broke with conservative colleagues. He was one of only a handful of GOP Senators to support the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.

    He was a “maverick” and was not supported by “the Illinois Combine,” a term coined by columnist John Kass to describe the bipartisan corruption in Illinois politics that has brought the state to bankruptcy.

    I called former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican maverick from Illinois who tried to fight political corruption and paid for it. For this sin, he was driven out of Illinois politics by political bosses, by their spinners and media mouthpieces, who ridiculed him mercilessly.

    Senator, what do you call that connection that Stuart Levine describes from the witness stand, you know that arrangement across party lines, with politically powerful men leveraging government to make money — what do you call it?

    “What do you call that Illinois political class that’s not committed to any party, they simply want to make money off the taxpayers?” Fitzgerald said. “You know what to call them.”

    What?

    “The Illinois Combine,” Fitzgerald said. “The bipartisan Illinois political combine. And all these guys being mentioned, they’re part of it.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Illinois Politics, Islam, Leftism, Middle East | 80 Comments »

    “The Courage of a Reformer”

    Posted by Lexington Green on 27th July 2015 (All posts by )

    I recently had a guest post entitled The Courage of a Reformer at the blog of the Illinois Opportunity Project. My post was in responses to an earlier post by Matt Besler of IOP about Illinois State Rep. Jeanne Ives.

    My post included this passage:

    the Goal

    This highlights an under-appreciated reality. You do not just need candidates with good values and good ideas. You do not just need candidates who can also win elections. You need these candidates to stay true to their commitments, which will impose a personal cost, once they are in office.

    In our book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century–—Why America’’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come, we discuss the decline and dissolution of the economic and political institutions of industrial-era America, which we call America 2.0. We describe a different and better America 3.0 which we expect and hope will replace it. But as we make clear, this process will not be pleasant. The transition from agricultural to industrial America was hard. The change to a world dominated by emerging technology, post-industrial, networked America 3.0, will be every bit as hard, and will happen much faster.

    Illinois is a specific case, and an especially difficult one, of the transition from America 2.0 to America 3.0. The Establishment here, consisting of politicians from both parties, is referred to without affection as The Combine. Despite the state’s many inherent strengths, The Combine has “governed” Illinois the verge of ruin. Illinois is the worst-run state in the nation.

    America 3.0 is a long book, and we could not put everything into it.

    One topic which we hope to write about more in the future is the steps that will have to be taken to make the transition. We got into some of this in the later chapters of the book, but there is a lot more that needs to researched and developed.

    One area which we barely touched on, but which is critically important, is the personal character which will be called for from a generation which will in effect be a new “founding generation.” The old order will have many defenders, many of them with good motivations, many with not-so-good motives. There will be unrelenting efforts to prop up the world everyone is used to, and to crush any person, group or business trying to make serious innovations and necessary reforms.

    As I said in my IOP post:

    To really matter, to really do something, to really change the direction of our state, means that there will be hardship, rejection, unpopularity, vilification, rejection of material benefits, making people mad by refusing to do what “everybody does,” attacks by the people who benefit from the status quo, not many pats on the back, and incomprehension even from good people.
     
    The committed reformer has to be willing to go up against all that.
     
    What is the reformer’s motivation, then?
     
    If it is not money, prestige, popularity, an easy life, what is it?
     
    Faith is part of it. Patriotism is part of it. Moral principles are part of it. A sense of duty is part of it. Gratitude for what we have been given is part of it. A commitment to a better future for ourselves, our families, and our children is part of it.
     
    A hopeful vision of how things could be, should be, must be, will be better if we change course in Illinois, that is also part of it.

    Substitute “America” for “Illinois” and it still works.

    This challenge is going to require a lot of effort, from a lot of people. We need to be realists about that. But we must not be cynical. With a hopeful and realistic picture of the future to inspire us, there will be enough people, enough talent, enough drive, enough fortitude, to build America 3.0.

    We plan to say much more about this.

    Stand by … .

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Illinois Politics | 3 Comments »

    Make Them Own It

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 20th April 2015 (All posts by )

    Today we see that the latest bond offering from the Chicago Board of Education will be priced at over twice what a BBB offering demands. That is brutal. I still won’t touch that with a ten foot pole.

    It is inevitable that the State of Illinois and City of Chicago and their organs will be having major financial issues, to say the least, within a year or two. It could be Detroit on an inter-galactic scale.

    My question is this – why don’t the Republicans make the Democrats own these massive boondoggles? I understand that in Illinois, many of them are in on the fun – however, the State of Illinois, City of Chicago and Detroit have all been essentially run by Democrats for literally generations – and it is all blowing up.

    Is the issue too complex for Joe Six Pack to understand or care about? Are the Republicans afraid to be held to a higher standard? I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t shout from the mountain tops at how much graft, corruption and incompetence it takes to completely tank a city with as much potential as Chicago and a State with so many potential positives as Illinois.

    Posted in Big Government, Chicagoania, Illinois Politics, Politics | 36 Comments »

    Rauner’s budget-Is any of this going to happen ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th February 2015 (All posts by )

    An interesting take on the new Illinois governor’s shot across the bow.

    The Sun-Times doesn’t like it.

    If we thought Gov. Bruce Rauner’s first proposed state budget stood a chance of becoming reality, we would be appalled.

    Talk about cold. Rauner wants to eviscerate dozens of programs that serve the poorest and most defenseless among us.

    C’mon, cutting tuition aid to orphans?

    If the Sun-Times is anything like it was the last time I lived in Chicago, a long time ago, this is no surprise. It defined limousine liberal then with Marshall Field the owner.

    Marshall Field III (September 28, 1893 – November 8, 1956) was an American investment banker, publisher, racehorse owner/breeder, philanthropist, heir to the Marshall Field department store fortune and a leading financial supporter and founding board member of Saul Alinsky’s community organizing network Industrial Areas Foundation.

    I don’t know if things have changed the last 50 years.

    But the governor’s fiscal year 2016 budget has zero chance of being passed into law by the Illinois General Assembly, as he well knows. Its real value then, which we’d like to believe is by design, is to sound the alarm like never before that Illinois is sliding fast toward becoming an economic backwater, a failed state among the 50 states. Time is running out. Hard and painful measures must be taken now.

    If Rauner’s draconian plan has achieved that much, we’d say it’s about time.

    That sounds promising. Maybe 50 years of economic stagnation has made a difference. Chicago is doing fine as far as the “Near North” part of it although a woman was raped in broad daylight across the street from my niece’s apartment two weeks ago. She is a nurse on the transplant team at Rush Medical Center and should carry a gun but we all know about Chicago and guns. Only gangsters are allowed guns.

    Following that, we would expect to see a hard but healthy give-and-take, like nothing we have seen in decades, between the executive and legislative branches. And, in the end, Illinois might finally settle on a long-term spending and revenue plan that puts the state on a path toward solvency and growth for decades to come.

    Hey, we can hope.

    This sounds more realistic than I have ever heard from the Sun-Times. Is this progress? The little I know about the Tribune these days is not any more promising.

    And Wisconsin lefties thought Walker was bad !

    I’m sitting out here in La La land with Jerry Brown and 1/3 of the illegal immigrants in the US watching Los Angeles implode.

    My wife needed to renew her drivers’ license on her birthday, January 13. Unfortunately, January 1, was the day that illegal aliens were eligible for drivers’ licenses. As a result, the first day she could get an appointment, as opposed to waiting all day in line, was today more than a month later. Unfortunately, she had pneumonia last week and came home Sunday. Today she felt too weak to go to her DMV office and called to reschedule. The next date she could get an appointment was in April.

    I’m not sure Illinois is any better but at least somebody is trying to do something about it.

    Posted in Big Government, Chicagoania, Current Events, Illinois Politics | 12 Comments »

    Liberty Rising — In Illinois

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th January 2015 (All posts by )

    Matt Besler

    Great post entitled Liberty Rising by Matt Besler of the Illinois Opportunity Project.

    Matt is talking about the newly elected reform-minded Republicans in Springfield, Illinois.

    They are currently a minority within a minority. That is a start. It’s a beachhead.

    It took decades to wreck Illinois. It will take a long time to turn it around. There is no quick fix.

    There is a danger that people elected with great aspirations will get coopted, lose their way, forget what they wanted to do when they got involved in politics.

    So, to our political leaders: Ask yourself why you ran for office. Know your own values and principles. State them. Lead with them. Apply your principles at every decision point. Knowing exactly who you are and who you represent will allow you to lead with a clear vision and strong voice on any issue.

    Yes.

    As I recently said to my pal C. Steven Tucker (literally the world’s foremost expert on Obamacare and real health care reform), some politicians who are supposedly on our side are like the guy in the Matrix who ratted out the revolution because he wanted to eat the steak again.

    They can’t — we can’t — let that happen.

    To be elected as a reform politician at this critical time cannot be about a cozy job, or even an assuredly steady job.

    It is — it must be — about changing our state and our country for the better.

    It is about confronting serious opposition to make that happen. That opposition offers the allure of various “carrots”, and wields the threat of various “sticks”, to try to compel assent to the current, supposedly “normal” state of affairs. We need leaders who disdain the carrots, don’t flinch from the sticks, and who do not forget why they sought and won office.

    Our politicians need an internal compass, as Matt calls for here.

    And they need external accountability, as Matt also calls for in this article.

    Also, when they do the right thing, they need approbation and encouragement.

    We can all help, especially with the latter.

    This is a protracted struggle. Be prepared for the long slog.

    But the future for Illinois can be — will be — great.

    And the future for America will be very great indeed.

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Conservatism, Elections, Illinois Politics, Politics | 1 Comment »

    Illinois Government, Broadly Defined, Will Have A Major Crisis by 2017

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 19th January 2015 (All posts by )

    The fact that the State of Illinois has dire fiscal problems is well documented. If you just type in headlines like “Illinois is broke” into your web browser and you can spend hours reading. One of the best is Illinois Policy.org which brings together articles from various news sources into a coherent theme. We have a new governor, Bruce Rauner, who is wealthy and thus unlikely to be entangled in corruption, who is pledging to take on this giant mess, which is a cause for optimism.

    The issues, however, are much larger. It isn’t just the state of Illinois which is in deep crisis – we have an interconnected set of entities all of which are on the verge of facing fiscal woes, who in turn can tip other entities off the fiscal cliff. The city of Chicago also has very significant financial problems, mostly from pensions as well, which it has been papering over for many years with debt and by allowing its unfunded pension issue to get ever larger. Cook County, too, which is one of the largest governmental counties and entities of its nature in the USA, is also facing dire challenges.

    Once you get beyond the state, the city of Chicago, and Cook County, you encounter myriad minefields from our plethora of governmental units. Illinois has more governmental entities than any other state, 8400, as you can see from this article. Most of them have various taxing powers, debt they’ve raised, and liabilities like pensions and health care for workers that are not funded. Look near O’Hare, where the (tiny) city of Rosemont has funded huge shopping malls, convention centers, and even a casino by floating debt. In the end this debt is substantially backed by the state whether that guarantee is implicit or explicit; a city of a few thousand residents can’t normally fund this sort of largess.

    But the challenges are much deeper than this. These entities, much of which are overseen on a local level, invite vast opportunities for institutional corruption. We saw this on Metra, where the scandals caused the prior president to commit suicide (by standing in the way of a train, no less) and cast a light on the squalid pay-for-play decisionmaking process of a typical entity in our state.

    The situation has become so bad that even in a time of record low interest rates, when there are many buyers of debt with any sort of return, that Illinois and the city of Chicago often cannot take advantage of municipally funded debt (which carries a lower interest rate because individuals are not subject to Federal taxes on the interest) because this debt has to be used for capital purposes and can’t just be used to pay day-to-day bills. Thus they are forced to issue “taxable” debt, and pay a higher interest rate. Many of the issues are essentially “scoop and toss” where we just take the entire principal and interest of expiring debt, refinance the whole thing, and just throw it out into the future, growing ever more indebted.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Chicagoania, Illinois Politics | 11 Comments »

    Election Day

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th November 2014 (All posts by )

    Election Day in California is pretty dull because California is a one party state with Democrats and their illegal alien voters running things.

    ya vote

    “We don’t need no stinkin’ voter IDs !”

    Elsewhere there is excitement. Voting machines in multiple states are changing GOP votes to Democrat.

    The Cook County Board of Elections Deputy Communications Director Jim Scalzitti said the machine’s failure was “a calibration error of the touch-screen on the machine,” and that Moynihan’s votes were not actually registered. Scalzitti said that voters are always asked to double-check their votes before they’re counted.

    The same “error” is occurring in North Carolina and Maryland, the latter a state where the Democrat governor is in trouble with a GOP challenger close in polls.

    Naturally, that is where voting machine “errors” will cluster.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Chicagoania, Elections, History, Illinois Politics, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics | 28 Comments »

    The Comeback: Illinois, A Great Future

    Posted by Lexington Green on 2nd November 2014 (All posts by )

    A Great Future

    Good post from Matt Besler of the Illinois Opportunity Project.

    Illinois has tremendous strengths. We are a state rich in agriculture, mineral resources and manufacturing. With road, rail and air, Illinois is a transportation hub. The state boasts outstanding universities and one of the world’s most vibrant cities. We are only held back by our public policies and the antiquated political processes through which they are instituted
     
    The good news is Illinois’ problems are man-made. The damage can be undone by changing public policy, and returning checks and balances to state government. With independent, principled policymakers, Illinois can implement reform-focused legislation that will limit government and the power of special interests; legislation that will give individuals dominion over their own lives, and reduce burdens on businesses.
     
    We advocate for such policies because we believe in the power of the individual to create opportunity and to overcome obstacles – even obstacles as great as those Illinois currently faces.

    Matt links to the Amazon page for a booklet called Illinois, A Great Future.

    It is hard to imagine that Illinois can, and should, and will have a great future.

    The booklet lays out some of the reasons why we should hope for, believe in, and work for, a better future in Illinois.

    But is is a marathon, not a sprint. And, to mix up the metaphor, whatever happens on Tuesday, it is just one round in a multi-round slug-fest.

    [Full disclosure: I was the lead drafter on the booklet.]

    [Jonathan adds: The pop-up that appears when you mouse over the “Illinois, A Great Future” link incorrectly states that the booklet is unavailable.]

    Posted in Illinois Politics, Politics | 16 Comments »

    Thank you to the Chicago Young Republicans

    Posted by Lexington Green on 9th October 2014 (All posts by )

    MJL at CYR

    (That is me on the far right, where I belong!)

    My thanks to the Chicago Young Republicans, who invited me to speak to them last night at their monthly meeting. It was an enjoyable and educational event.

    I was on a panel with the very distinguished Dan Proft of, inter alia, 89 WLS and Jonathan Greenberg of the Illinois Policy Institute.

    The topic of discussion was the upcoming election. One theme was the concern that Bruce Rauner may end up losing to Pat Quinn, despite Quinn being an unmitigated disaster. Polls show Rauner slightly ahead, but the trends are bad. Rauner has not yet closed the deal with Illinois voters, who are upset and concerned about the direction the state is going, but who are not yet convinced that Rauner is the guy who can fix the problems. I hope Rauner manages to make that connection with voters before election day.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in America 3.0, Chicagoania, Illinois Politics, Politics | 9 Comments »

    Hope for Illinois?

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 26th July 2014 (All posts by )

    My mother, who still lives in Rockford, Illinois, sent me a link today that was pretty surprising. It says that the Republican candidate for governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, has an actual shot at winning, and it appears that he isn’t insane. I am going to do a mini-fisking of the article and ask some questions along the way that I hope that some of our Chicago/Illinois based readers can answer.

    Why are the stakes so huge? Because Illinois is arguably the worst-run state in America.

    I don’t think there is really any question that Illinois is THE worst-run state in America, hands down.

    Illinois could become a laboratory experiment about whether conservative ideas can work in a state that has been ruled by teachers’ unions and a self-serving political machine in Springfield and Chicago.

    How could this experiment possibly happen with a solid majority in the Illinois House and Senate? I guess Rauner could slag them unmercifully in the press when they don’t change anything, but I am not sure how that will work.

    I caught up with Mr. Rauner in Chicago last week. He’s ruffling liberal feathers by going into black inner-city schools and Hispanic neighborhoods and talking about school choice, economic opportunity, family stability, and jobs. “I’m getting standing ovations when I go to black churches and talk about school choice,” he says. “Parents understand it is their kids that are victimized by lousy public schools in Chicago.”

    This seems like very good politics to me. The Chicago Public School System is a disgrace.

    He’s running as a non-politician who has the business experience to turn around the state’s finances. He won his five-person primary by telling voters, “I’m the only one up here who isn’t a professional politician. These are the people who created the problems in Springfield.” In this era of rage against the political class, the message (and the millions of dollars he poured into his campaign) carried the day.

    Sounds like he has money and is sincere. This may be an appealing choice to the people of Illinois.

    He’s promised to take a jackhammer to the bloated state budget. The Left is already rolling off the shelf the anti–Mitt Romney campaign — i.e., rich people like Rauner don’t care about people like you.

    “The Left” won’t vote for him anyways. But again, I don’t see how effective the “jackhammer” will be without help from the House and Senate.

    Some skeptics say that even if Mr. Rauner wins, he won’t be able to overturn the corrupt machine in Springfield. Don’t be sure about that. If Rauner makes it to the governor’s mansion, he will have a gigantic mandate from voters to turn Springfield upside down and get the finances in order. The big losers will be the teachers’ unions, whose clout will be greatly diminished — it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people.

    I hope he wins, and I hope this last paragraph is right. Maybe, perhaps, finally, the people of Illinois have had enough of the nonsense. At least this might be a start.

    Posted in Chicagoania, Illinois Politics | 16 Comments »

    Adding to Illinois’ Debacle

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 17th July 2014 (All posts by )

    This billboard is in my River North neighborhood in Chicago. It is an advertisement for a mall and entertainment location in Rosemont, a small city near O’Hare airport.

    Rosemont was profiled by the Chicago Tribune in this excellent article. A single family has run Rosemont for generations, and they benefit from a levy on taxi rides from O’Hare and spend this money on no-bid contracts for friends, family and politicians as well as large entertainment complexes underwritten by large amounts of debt.

    The suburb is digging itself deeper into debt to subsidize a new bar district, professional softball stadium and outlet mall. With $370 million in taxpayer-backed loans outstanding, Rosemont has one of the top debt loads in the Chicago region.

    Another Chicago suburb, Bridgeview, hosts a stadium for the Chicago Fire, a major-league soccer team. Their debacle is chronicled here, in a typically great Bloomberg article.

    The mayor of Bridgeview, Illinois, said building a taxpayer-financed arena for the billionaire owner of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire would bring hotels and restaurants to his suburb. Instead, the town has more than doubled property taxes and may raise them again to pay more than $200 million in stadium debt.

    One of the big problems in Illinois is that we have so many various overlapping public bodies, many with the ability to issue debt and all of whom have expensive board members, employees, and often public contracts doled out to associated cronies. This article, from the “Illinois Policy” web site, describes the myriad overlapping public entities in the State of Illinois and how we dwarf ALL states and especially neighboring (and much better managed) states like Indiana.

    Illinoisans suffer from the second-highest property tax rates in the nation.

    Their state is the third most corrupt in the nation.

    And driving this expensive and corrupt reality on the local level is the fact that Illinois has more units of local government than any other state in the nation. With 6,963 units of local government, Illinois beats its nearest competitor by more than 1,800.

    When Illinois finally hits the wall, and we won’t be able to issue new debt (and thus an immediate fiscal crisis will occur), we will have to have a reckoning with all of these various entities, each of whom has their own debt problems and the ability to create NEW problems by issuing MORE debt. On one hand, the market will constrain their ability to sell debt by the fact that these insolvent entities survive through the “implied” promise that they will be bailed out by some higher power, whether that is a county, state, or Federal government.

    The act of unwinding all of the problems of the inter-related corrupt and insolvent entities will be a herculean task, made even more difficult by the fact that there will be little incentive for the politicians to solve the crisis if the end result is that they won’t have these same public entities for no-bid contracts, jobs for themselves, and their campaign workers and donors once the clean-up is complete.
    The only thing for certain is that the lawyers in the state will feast at the trough of lawsuits from all parties. They just need to make sure that they find a way to get paid themselves on a timely basis…

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Chicagoania, Illinois Politics | 11 Comments »

    2014 Midwest Business & Markets Conference

    Posted by Zenpundit on 9th March 2014 (All posts by )

    cross-posted to zenpundit.com

    The Union League Club of Chicago Building

    Yesterday, I attended the 2014 Midwest Business & Markets Conference at the historic Union League Club of Chicago. While business conferences are far afield from my usual interests, the main draw for me was seeing Lexington Green speak about the book he co-authored with James C. Bennett, America 3.0

     

    Michael J. Lotus (“Lex”)                       His book

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Business, Chicagoania, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Economics & Finance, Education, Entrepreneurship, Illinois Politics, Internet, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, The Press, USA | 9 Comments »

    NY Times Admits Illinois Gerrymandering

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 26th January 2014 (All posts by )

    The NY Times today had an article called “Don’t Blame the Maps” which discusses the fact that, even though the Democrats won the popular vote, the Republicans still won the majority of votes in the House of Representatives. For most Democrats, this majority is viewed as an artifact of Republican gerrymandering, and the article points out that this isn’t true. As someone who lives in Illinois, a state that works hard to saddle the Republicans with no voice in their one-party rule, it is nice to see that “ensuring my vote doesn’t count” is mentioned, even in passing.

    But keep in mind that Democrats play this came as well. For example, by artfully dividing up Chicago into pie-sliced districts extending from Lake Michigan into the suburbs, the Illinois Democrats have done better for themselves than the outcome of our nonpartisan solutions.

    Here is a post I wrote about the fifth district of Illinois, my district, and a contender for the most Gerrymandered district in the entire country. And our representative, a man so lax in his duties that he couldn’t even be bothered to vote to impeach Blagojevich.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Illinois Politics | 7 Comments »

    Apparently Illinois Vote Rigging Doesn’t Count… and a Glimmer of Hope From California

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 16th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Recently I wrote about how the district I live in is perhaps the most gerrymandered district in the entire country.  Great pains have been taken by the Democrats that run Illinois to ensure that my vote can’t count and the legislator that runs our state district doesn’t even have to bother courting voters like me.  Even among Illinois legislators (not exactly the highest quality bunch) my guy is famous for not even voting to impeach Blago.  Literally we have the worst of the worst representing us, but he is effectively immortal since all he has to do is win the Democratic party primary and he’s in, due to basic mathematics and party-line voting.

    While I know writing posts like this is just like shouting into a toilet Rolling Stone recently came out with an article about Red State gerrymandering.  While my district in the article above was in the state legislature, our Illinois US House of Representatives balance has been similarly adjusted to ensure that a 50/50 or so state leans completely blue.  Of course the entire article acts as if this is a Republican phenomenon, when in fact both parties are equal opportunists at this sad game.

    There is a shred of hopefulness in all of this in some electoral advancements coming out of California, of all places.  They have a system where the two top vote getters in the primary battle it out on election day, even if they are from the same party.  In this sort of system, the Democrat or Republican that reaches out to the constituents in the middle from the other party has a shot at beating a stone ideologue that will generally cruise through the party primary (like my state representative).  This solution was “California Proposition 14“.  In parallel, they also have a citizen’s commission to draw districts so that they make more sense rather than be amazing gerrymander constructions.  It is too soon to tell if California’s results will help that much but it seems like a step in the right direction.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Illinois Politics, Politics | 10 Comments »

    Illinois and the Perfect Democrat

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 3rd November 2013 (All posts by )

    I live in the River North district of Chicago, a vibrant area full of professionals, high rise buildings, and a large service economy.  We are adjacent to the Loop (and many of the people who live here chose this area so that they could walk to work) which employs many of these residents in an internationally competitive group of companies, both public and privately held.

    In my interactions with these residents, few are political, and I would say that most Illinois citizens I’ve met over the year could be considered middle-of-the-road. However, due to factors unique to the state of Illinois, the state is dominated by Democrats who control most of the levers of power at the state, city, county and local levels. As such, a state of mostly moderate individuals is set up, governed, and managed as if it was the most left-leaning state in the country.

    Ken Dunkin is our Illinois State representative for the 5th District, and he helpfully sent me this brochure that outlines his goals and accomplishments as a state legislator. This update provides a great window into the mindset of an Illinois Democrat.

    Ken Dunkin is famous for being the only Illinois legislator to skip Gov Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment hearing, and thus being a de-facto loyalist to the bitter end. It is really hard to add anything more to that sort of fact; even his fellow Democrats finally came to the conclusion that Blago had to go, but not Ken.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Illinois Politics, Politics | 14 Comments »

    Illinois Will End up Like Detroit if It Does Not Change Course

    Posted by Lexington Green on 30th July 2013 (All posts by )

    Detroit was once the greatest city of the modern world. Automobiles were the cutting edge of technology in the first half of the twentieth century. Talent and genius flocked to Detroit. Innovators in engineering, technology, design, finance, marketing, and management created a concentration of economic dynamism and creativity unlike anything the world had yet seen. Detroit was the Silicon Valley of its day, except its products were made of tangible metal, rubber, and glass. The auto industry transformed America into a land of mobility and personal freedom beyond the dreams of earlier generations. Henry Ford said, “History is bunk.” He meant the old limits could be blown away, and ordinary people could have a better life than they had ever dreamed of before.

    (The rest is here.)

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, History, Illinois Politics, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, Taxes, Transportation, Unions, Urban Issues, USA | 22 Comments »

    Illinois: Darkness Before the Dawn

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Dan Proft tells it as ugly as it is:

    “[T]he conspiracy to defraud taxpayers that is Illinois state government in its current form.”

    Word, baby. Great post from Dan.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. And it won’t be forever. The Combine is in its Brezhnev era. It is darkest before the dawn. Blades of grass will come through cracks in a seemingly limitless slab of cement.

    Yes. Believe it. Help make it happen.

    Posted in Big Government, Illinois Politics, Politics | 5 Comments »