Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Seeking Inspiration: Or Just Gambling?

Seeking Inspiration: Or Just Gambling?

In the spirit of the New Year and the possibility of renewal, a close friend sent me an e-mail chain letter the other day.  Please send an encouraging quote or verse to the person whose name is in position 1 below (even if you don't know him or her). It should be a favorite motivational poem/prayer/meditation that has lifted you when you were experiencing challenging times. Don't agonize over it--it is one you reach for when you need it or the one that you always turn to…”

I'm a sucker for these things.  I jumped on immediately and sent a quote from Tartt’s The Goldfinch that had been ricocheting in my head the last few months. 

After that, we were asked to blind copy the directions to another 20 friends or acquaintances.  My sister-in-law, who has unnumbered animals running about her house and numerous degrees, responded, “I don’t even have 20 friends or acquaintances, nor would I want to.”  Thanks for the reality, if not inspiration.

Anyway, I in turn started receiving some inspirational lines as well…from people I didn’t know and even some which were more remindful of less-than-motivational perceptions.

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so forget the inspiration…”

Well, Happy New Year to you too…

Adding to that offering of despair, I was watching year-end television the other night, and Chicago Tonight’s Year in Review was discharging predictions for the New Year.  When Eddie Arruza isn’t emceeing, Paris Schutz spends most of his time discussing state politics and the latest pension issues in Springfield.  Paris began enumerating all the additional costs, the loss of the tax increase, the depth of the debts Illinois faces.

Phil Ponce reminded us that in order to make up that debt we each would have to pay $20,000.  Each…includes all family members.

Someone joked, “Get out your checkbook…”  Nervous laughter.  Lots of guffaws, like that would ever happen.

This afternoon, some chain person I don’t even know sent me my inspirational message.  I hesitated before opening, because in reality, this morning was colder than the lower circles of hell, my feet were soaked, and the dog wouldn’t come back in the park, and…well, the last thing I needed was some well-meaning person to tell me life is a gift.

Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

Didn’t expect that.

In my heart, I want that to be a lock.  In my hopeful belief in justice and law, I want the Supreme Court of Illinois to set that timetable on Monday next week and then uphold that promise made by the people of the state to those who toiled for the state – probably sometime in March. 

But I honestly worry about it.

The moment Judge Belz upheld the unconstitutionality of SB1, the Tribune was quick to answer in ink and cartoon the same old falsehood: pensions are the problem, not the enormous debt created by half a century of ignoring the necessary payment ( http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-illinois-budget-met-0104-20141231-story.html - page=1) .

Too many people buy this line...
The consistently simplistic depictions by Scott Stantis illuminates their distaste for pensions, not the dilemma Illinois has got itself into by not paying what was due/promised for half a century. Their latest look at the budgetary crisis facing our new governor, a tax-avoiding venture-capitalist obfuscated by vague promises and ambiguous strategies, identifies “hard costs such as pensions and pension borrowing” the pivotal cause of the state’s fall into the red.

Too many people buy this line.

In addition, the plaintiff theater provided by Rauner – like Claude Raines crying “I’m shocked” in Casablanca – plays smoothly into the Speaker’s Attorney-General daughter’s call for Police Powers to avoid the death spiral that Illinois faces…that Rauner will accelerate?

Even hard-working and seemingly thoughtful Paris Schutz seems suddenly convinced that these factors and this puppetry will have some significant effect upon the Illinois Supreme Court Justices.  This was his end-of-year prediction:

“I want odds on this, Phil.  The Illinois Supreme Court is going to overturn the lower court hearing and uphold the pension reform law.” (http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/video)

I’m getting a few inspirations every hour now, and I kind of hope they stop – for a lot of reasons, and I would imagine you could agree. 

On the other hand, I have to thank the stranger who reminded me of the only promise I can hold onto as we prepare once again to do battle with the thieves that we’ve elected. 

Here's lookin' at us, Kiddo.
Happy New Year.


  1. Indeed, what we will never see published in the jaundiced Chicago Tribune is a full, investigative story regarding the state’s public retirement systems and why public employees are not responsible for the state’s budget deficit or for the underfunding of public sector funds.

    What we will never see published in the jaundiced Chicago Tribune is an investigative story about the state’s underfunding of the pensions for several decades, the exorbitant interest payments for the debts incurred, the resultant tax breaks for the wealthy and the decreasing of state revenues and the increasing of corporate fraud and greed that have largely contributed to the budget problems in Illinois.

    What we will never see published in the jaundiced Chicago Tribune is an editorial about Illinois legislators who diverted the state’s “constitutional and obligatory” contributions to other “operating expenses” and “special” interests for several decades, or an editorial about how the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois has depended mostly upon income from its own investments and contributions from its membership throughout the years.

    What we will never see published and investigated in the jaundiced Chicago Tribune are the avarice, arrogance, irresponsibility, recklessness, corruption, and cronyism of the corporate and financial sector’s chief executives, the benefactors of many of the so-called Illinois policymakers.

    Instead, we get plenty of "simplistic depictions."

  2. P.S. "Happy New Year" to you too.

  3. I recently read how much women are charged for "rape kits" when they file a police report. In some areas, female rape victims are charged thousands of dollars for their required medical exams. Yes, the victims are victimized by the legal system meant to protect them.
    Retirees in Illinois may soon be charged 3% of their non-COLA income by the legal system meant to protect them. Of course, if today's court declares that retirees must not be victimized, the thieves we call lawmakers will make new laws to legally victimize retirees.
    I want very much to believe, “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”
    In spite of my sincere desire to see justice served, I know that we must fight and fight some more and more, and... We are fighting for what we justly deserve. The big money boys who sponsor both political parties simply want whatever we have - one slice at a time.
    I hope you have a healthy new year and enjoy the moments of love and connectedness that make life meaningful.