Monday, January 20, 2014

Tribune: Repeat After Me: Pensions Bad; Slavery to Unbridled Business Good.

Repetition:  The Tribune’s Constant Refrain

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

Returned to Chicago the other day and I picked up a copy of the Trib on an empty chair at the airport.  Another editorial warning: Chicago and Detroit are inexorably linked in an economic death spiral if we don’t do something about our pension obligations – like ignore them.

“We’d like to view Illinois’ new pension law as the first in a constellation of policy, tax and spending reforms that would make this state once again attractive to employers” (

Hmmm, sparkling constellation to employers like ADM, Boeing, Caterpillar, CME, Sears, and others in our state?  Think Black Hole for workers in Illinois.

 In the Trib editotial, even the passage of SB1 is treated as a fait accompli; there are no questions as to legality, constitutionality, rationality, logic, or historical explanation.  That would be old-time journalism.  The Tribune does not do journalism. 

On review, the entire piece reads like something crafted by our watch-wearing hedge-fund manager Bruce Rauner.  Pensions and the promises to those who worked their entire lives (even after their monies were diverted [aka stolen]) are characterized as “dead weight.”  Of course, even though teachers went without social security, one imagines that the Tribune would consider even that federal program dead weight, too. 

Says the Trib, what we need to save cities and states like Detroit, Chicago, and Illinois is some kind of deus ex machina.  And the Tribune is quick to find just the appropriate savior to all of our needs.

Enter big business, stage right.

“Business is throwing Detroit a lifeline.”  “…that city hopes to prosper anew by promoting its commercial advantages.”  Detroit’s … business communities certainly are stepping up.”

Sadly for a great many, the Tribune’s faithful idolatry of “Big Business” in Illinois is tainted by the long record of loopholes, TIF’s and tax giveaways which have become part of the state’s operating behaviors.  In fact, the current Governor Quinn warned his business leaders that he would not consider any tax rebates and handouts to major companies until the General Assembly passed some form of pension “reform.”  In Illinois, pension “reform” may actually be throwing Big Business another lifeline…after so, so many. 

Note to self:  If teachers and other public sector workers were to have signs along highways that stated “This highway is provided in the name of John Q. Teacher or Mary P. Firefighter, etc., nearly every major paved road in Illinois would be dedicated to the roads we drive in lieu of taxes not paid by citizens. 

Finally, the puppets for Big Business at the Tribune describe what businesses are really looking for (after they say that business does not look for handouts LOL).  They want a competitive tax structure – this means a flat regressive tax which undermines the very workers they’d employ – responsive agencies – reductions in regulations and oversight that protect workers and citizens against abuses -  and public support systems that can support growing companies – government funded services for workers of our businesses (training, etc).  

I expect the Trib’s refrain will pick up in speed and intensity as we approach the primaries and as our money-funded legislature reconvenes in Springfield.  Already, those many politicians who remarked that we could visit the concept of a progressive tax amendment in Illinois after passage of some pension adjustment have decided not to honor their spoken word. Indeed, others now describe SB1 as a constant work in progress, one that will be adjusted after each and every moment of litigation in order to find something acceptable or some crack in the wording of the Illinois Constitution.

Expect the Tribune’s sound to increase forte accelerando.

“Think of the press as a great keyboard upon which the government can play.”
Joseph Goebbels

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