Friday, November 15, 2013

Perfect Storm: Unwitting Meteorologists and Witless Predictions.

Perfect Storm: Unwitting Meteorologists & Witless Predictions.

Perfect Storm:  (Noun)  A critical or disastrous situation created by a concurrence of factors (

Like many other legislators’ latest email correspondences, Senator Jason Barickman’s November 15th announcement of an upcoming return to Springfield for “pension reform” sounds like a desperate call to heroism for the historically uninformed. 

The Senator from Streator, like many of his Springfield colleagues, eagerly anticipates something very different happening in the December call-up to action by Speaker Madigan and Senate Leader Cullerton.  In the kind of clipped and terse language usually found in orders to report to the front, Senator Barickman’s review of recent battle and his anticipation of upcoming action sounds almost exciting.

“Illinois’ four legislative leaders may be drawing closer on an agreement that could address Illinois’ massive public pension debt.  The House Speaker, Senate President and the Republican Leaders in each chamber have told us to be prepared to return to Springfield the first week of December for a possible vote.

“In June, pension reform negotiations were handed over to a bipartisan Conference Committee, which worked for months exploring details and seeking common ground. Now, those discussions have been handed back to the state’s four legislative leaders.
I’ll do my best to keep you up on the latest…”

Meanwhile, as Senator Barickman and his Capitol crewmates feverishly prepare, a confluence of dangerous fronts appear ready to bear down upon the public sector workers in Illinois, and help Barickman and others move into deep, unconstitutional waters without reservations. 

Storms to the East: Bond and credit ratings agencies are warning that further down grades can be expected if there is nothing done about the debt issues in Illinois.  By the way, as Ralph Martire of the CTBA would point out, the rating companies do NOT call for the raiding or impairment of pensioners promised and earned benefits to improve credit ratings in Illinois.  They are describing a lack of revenue to fix a serious debt problem that has become systemic.  Fix the revenue stream, not by stealing money from someone else. 

Strong winds to the South: The erroneous concept (as per Barickman)
 “Illinois holds the record for the worst-funded public pension system in the nation. A system that is about $100 billion in debt and only has assets to cover less than 40% of the debt the state owes. The state’s poor pension funding has been a major contributor to Illinois having the worst credit rating in the nation.” 

In fact, the reasons for this are many, but none are more significant than the theft or nearly $32 billion over decades from the pension funds by the General Assembly.  And let’s not forget that Senator Barickman’s (and many others’) insistence to hold to the feckless RAMP pay-back scheme of 1995 has made it impossible if not improbably that they can escape the debt they’ve built themselves into through theft of public worker funds.  Fix the debt problem by amortizing the debt, and pay back the fully due amount, not the lesser interest.  The end result in two years will be no different than if Illinois stayed on the “ramp,” and it will diminish from there.

High seas to the North:  The cold, clinical argument that there is strength in numbers. Senator Barickman proceeds; “Although there appears to be progress toward a proposal that all four legislative leaders can urge their members to support, no final decision can be made until the ideas under discussion are “scored” by financial experts. That’s a painstaking process that relies on complex financial projections as to what the impact of each individual component may be on the retirement systems over the coming decades. Those calculations are then used to arrive at an estimated overall savings. Senator Barickman makes it all sound like a clean surgical strike, not a decimation of families or futures or their dreams.  Remember that whatever their take from the public workers’ promised futures (from which they’ve already stolen), the amount will never be enough to prevent their return for more, according to Ralph Martire and earlier actuaries who have determined that even the most draconian of cuts will fall short of Illinois’ structural revenue deficit…and they still have not dealt with the unfunded liability of nearly $100 billion. Fix the revenue stream and work slowly back to fiscal health.

Crazed Captain on Deck:  Stumping about on deck like an Ahab on a mission from a deranged God, Governor Quinn has taken on Paul Vallas for his First Mate, which leaves little hope for anyone expecting a life raft later.  Vallas is an expert on Disaster Capitalism, a man who literally rode the waves into New Orleans to create one of the greatest Charter School exploitations of an impoverished and decimated land area in our country.  Even today, his New York successor is dealing with the struggling public school systems and miserable scores after the business model’s culling of the cream into specialty schools for the Recovery School District.  Quinn has ostracized the very people who put him into office, Vallas vilifies the very people who put Quinn into office, and Rauner/Brady/Dillard (sorry, mixing metaphors here) are the Tinker, Evers, & Chance of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.  And don't forget, the Governor's eventual need to come clean on a permanent 2% tax increase, and his fears of an Illinois Is Broke mutiny. Fix it by running an independent against the paid for or disguised politicians in Illinois.  Fix it by moving to a progressive income tax.  Fix it by never pretending that we don’t know what is really going on here: the scapegoating of public employees for the burglary of their hard earned earnings by politicians.

Call your Representative and Senator.  Tell them to fix it the right way, the moral way, the constitutional way.  1-888-412-6570.


  1. It's way to late for a political solution. The democrats are going to go along with the cuts. If they don't, the republicans will win the election(s), with the battle cry "the democrats won't fix it, we will."
    Now is the time for the unions to put their big gun labor lawyers on alert. The unions offered compromise, and we saw what happened. The legislators are demanding MORE, MORE, MORE. This is proof that if the unions compromise, the state will come back year after year demanding more cuts to the pensions.
    The only thing that can be done when/if any cuts are passed, is to fight it in court with everything we got, try to get some help from the national unions if possible. Don't skimp on it, we have to fight this unconstitutional action down to the wire! Just because something is unconstitutional does not mean the case is automatically won. The other side is trying to steal 150 BILLION from retirees and future retirees. You can bet they will not hesitate to spend millions in (taxpayer money) legal fees to win their case.
    A similar case in Arizona went to their SC a few years ago. The unions vehemently fought the cuts, and won. The state then gave up trying to steal Arizona public pensions, and moved on. We must be sure that no " legal trickery" by the state of Illinois is used to cheat retirees of their earned pensions! We can be sure they will try!

  2. And all of this as the storms of healthcare changes swirl about us. It is indeed the worst of times.