Illinois Policy Institute’s Poster Child: Detroit
Oh, By the Way Send Money…
I just received my important message and survey from the Illinois Policy Institute. Did you get yours?
The “call-to-arms” page is in cyan blue with a bold black frame along the outside borders. The headline trumpets
Don’t Let Illinois Suffer Detroit’s Fate
in a fiercely double bold font across the top.
I’m pumped, but there’s even more really serious stuff inside that.
Whoa! There’s a nine-page white paper report included in the official packet, but for those without the time, inclination or ability to read, a carefully bolded question holds center court on page one:
Haven’t the liberals learned anything from Detroit’s bankruptcy?
It doesn’t take an Einstein (or even a last-chapter Charly* like me) to deduce the I.P.I.’s warning that the State of Illinois is facing possible bankruptcy – at any moment. I’d better act quickly.
But why stop there? The Illinois Policy Institute is also firing off an email campaign to persuade the willing and credulous that the State is quickly going down the tubes due to its wandering astray of free-market principles and refusal to reign in unions and their scandalous collective bargaining.
In fact, an acquaintance of mine recently forwarded me a similar email of their Compass publication from I.P.I.’s forward observer in bankruptcy-torn Detroit, Ted Dabrowski. Thank goodness, Ted was with a Detroiter who was able to get him through the debris and carnage unscathed: “I wasn’t prepared for what I saw...razed lot(s) and burnt out home(s)…130 square miles of sadness…I’ve seen destitution in many years of living in and traveling the developing world, but it was surreal to see it in America.” Of course, back when it was time to pony up to save Detroit’s auto industry, the Illinois Policy Institute was right there to decry the city as “a victim of its own vices.” Those vices would mostly be a labor force demanding a living wage…but that’s for later.
After reading the I.P.I’s comparisons, my acquaintance feared that we were “approaching a tipping point” in Illinois. I’m glad he didn’t get the official letter like I had from I.P.I. CEO John Tillman. They’d have had to lock up the razors around his home.
If you’re looking for connections between Detroit and Chicago in the former’s bankruptcy, there’s some sizeable room for serious doubt. If you’re seeking a connection between Detroit’s bankruptcy and a similar not-too-distant insolvency in the State of Illinois, then you need to start reading your federal and state constitutions or take a quick refresher course in Glen Brown’s blog on the subject. The State of Illinois cannot declare insolvency for several state and federal constitutional reasons, despite what CEO John Tillman or any of the other Tea Party organizers threaten (or want?).
So, let’s get back to the two cities, Detroit and Chicago, and whether they are the same or different according to other wiser individuals, who are not asking me to send them up to $25,000 or more. By the way, make the check payable to the Illinois Policy Institute, not to CEO John Tillman. He already makes approximately a quarter of a million dollars annually (that was back in 2010) for circulating this kind of scare-tactic, and that’s for his non-profit and non-partisan work. Almost makes one cynical.
Reading through a couple of analyses in Crain’s and the Sun-times, one finds little to compare, except the blatant commonality of pension debt. Of course, after 2007-08, that becomes a pretty common denominator for many states, cities, villages, and local districts. On the other hand, in most states the General Assemblies did not steal the pension funds for decades in order to provide services at no cost to taxpayers. Illinois is so special.
Crains warned that Chicago is NOT Detroit, reminding the reader that the Windy City’s GDP in 2011 was the third largest in the nation behind New York and Los Angeles. Beyond being three times larger than a struggling Detroit, Chicago is a more diverse and robust economy – one not centered in a single area of economic manufacturing (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130726/OPINION/130729849/calm-down-chicago-is-not-detroit ).
Remember also, the city’s bleak self-immolation that was center-stage in Michael Moore’s Roger and Me captured the flight of nearly 60% of Detroit’s population during the 20th Century since its peak in the 1950’s. Chicago, enduring the same blighted center of the city, one now rebuilding, only faced a 25% loss and continues to see better numbers of population remaining during the opening decade of the 21st Century
Now, as I review John Tillman’s blue flyer, I’m perplexed. Tillman says that we are about to go down the road to bankruptcy and Suffer Detroit’s Fate. Yet, his white paper report and his flyer vault to a remarkably disconnected request. He wants money to stop taxes from providing the services that were being paid for by stolen pension monies. Tillman underscores his ultimate goal in his white paper: “The organization I head – the Illinois Policy Institute – is going all out to defeat the progressive income tax. In fact, our ultimate goal is to abolish the state income tax completely!”
But nearly 37% of the state’s income is derived from the state income tax, and, well, wouldn’t that place the state and city even deeper into crises with far fewer finances for roads, education, protective services, etc.? With that I.P.I. goal, wouldn’t the city of Chicago and Illinois quickly become the very image that our I.P.I. forward observer Ted witnessed in Detroit – in fact, wasn’t tax delinquency another cause on top of so many others - for Detroit’s going bust?
Be back in a bit. I need to reread that white paper.
*Charly – the character in Flowers for Algernon who achieves brilliance after experimental treatment and later falls back into mental vacuity.