Ernesto Ratings: Welcome to (south) America
Ernesto, a gentleman from a Latin country who is a good friend of the family, often schools me about the strange and mistaken notions of middle class Americans like myself. Many servants raised Ernesto south of the equator with his wealthy family in the hills overlooking the multi-colored roofs of the crowded city below. There were no confusions in Ernesto’s world. There were classes, classes that were clearly delineated not only by the clothing one might wear but also the future one could expect to have. Things were clear.
“Here,” he would remind me in carefully selected words, “people do not respect or understand the nature of and the need for classes. This is a problem, and it breeds distrust and frustration. Ironically, you pseudo-intellectuals actually believe you can make things work differently here, but of course you cannot. Once you accept this truism, the frustration that comes of false expectations will cease and life can go on peacefully.”
For Ernesto, social contracts (like pensions, Medicare, Social Security, public schooling, etc.) are merely mistaken promises that assuage the needy and undeserving. But Ernesto is also quick to remind me, he does not need any of my middle-class offerings.
“Why should I pay for your pensions? Or anything else for that matter? I do not need your schools – my children are educated privately. I do not need your medical or retirement programs, because I have taken care of my family and myself in far better fashion. I don’t need anything you might provide.
“Fire Department?” I counter.
“I have a superior sprinkler system.”
“We have our own security systems, safe rooms, and private officers on the grounds of our gated community Diamond Arbor.”
And when it comes to government by the people for the people, Ernesto can bring the pain.
“You think the next governor of Illinois will care about you, your pensions, those who need medical assistance, public education, or anything else I consider welfare? Think again”
Dan Rutherford, a business executive and one-term treasurer for the State of Illinois has thrown his hat into the ring for 2014. By the way, Mr. Rutherford is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (a.k.a. ALEC). Also, according to Project Vote Smart, Rutherford is keen on Right to Life groups and the Illinois Policy Institute is very keen on Dan, giving him a 100% score for following their positions. Think beyond a 401(k), and you’ll lose Dan in any discussion of pensions. Ernesto Rating A.
Bruce Rauner, a self-made millionaire (unlike Ernesto), is a Tea Party favorite, or at least he is very generous to those who are. He has financially supported prospective legislators like Susan Sweeney and others endorsed by Illinois Crossroads, the Tea Party organization in Illinois. In fact, Rauner financially has supported gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard in the past, but probably not this time around. On a recent WTTW interview, Rauner was reticent to discuss his actual positions regarding issues like abortion or same-sex marriage; this after saying he was a candidate who would speak openly and honestly. He also preferred a broad brush 401 (k) for all public workers. He never discussed whether Social Security would be a problem. Ernesto Rating A+.
To say Kirk Dillard is appreciated would be an understatement when it comes to the NRA, Chamber of Commerce, American Conservative Union, Illinois Manufacturers Associaition, Illinois Policy Institute, and Illinois Churches Association. Kirk does not fare so well with union organizations, independent voters groups, Planned Parenthood, or the Illinois Environmental Council (Project Vote Smart). On the other hand, long time assistant to BIG Jim Thompson and leader of the American Legislative Exchange Council in Illinois, Kirk earned Ernesto’s A+ rating. (Why would IEA give this guy $35,000?)
Senator Bill Brady is owner of a home construction outfit who promised last time to “cut a dime from every dollar of the state budget” (ballotpedia). Last run at Governor was marred by the information that Senator Brady endorsed a bill allowing euthanizing multiple animals in one area (box). The Illinois Policy Institute is enamored of Brady, giving his a 100% endorsement on Project Vote Smart. He is also revered by Illinois Gun Owners Organization, the Illinois Manufacturers Association, the NRA, and the American Conservative Union. Ernesto Rating A+.
William Daley, a failure in multiple areas on the Federal level (Gore’s unsuccessful bid for the Presidency, Chief of Staff for Obama after Emanuel) was truly what big business needed when Clinton was in office, and he spearheaded the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which has done so much to those with so little in our country. Success for Daley has come in his financial affiliations depite the hard times following the 2007-08 collapse of housing markets. “A longtime banker and businessman, Daley headed the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago, served as president of SBC and later held top positions at JPMorgan Chase….On pension reform, Daley favors a proposal that would require workers to pay more toward their retirement, scale back the automatic annual 3 percent compounded increase in retiree checks and raise the retirement age” (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-11/news/ct-met-illinois-governor-race-0611-20130611_1_pension-reform-bill-daley-income-tax-rate ). Ernesto Rating A++.
Lisa Madigan was a senator in Illinois and is daughter of Speaker Mike Madigan. Ernesto does not expect her to win. “She’s a woman for God’s sake.” He also feels past associations with Acorn and meager attempts to put bank foreclosures on stall or slow motion will destroy her possibilities with the business community. Ernesto rating: C+.
When I asked why that passing rating, he responded matter-of-factly, “Don’t forget her Dad.”
“By the way, my pseudo-intellectual friend,” Ernesto summarized with a nice sip of Pinot Noir, “if you think any of these American political leaders are interested in those who depend on the social contracts made, you need a nice fitting straight jacket.”