Friday, January 22, 2016

Rauner: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Rauner: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves
 (from The Mutiny on The Bounty – Captain Bligh)

It’s been a rough start to 2016.  We’re nearly one month in and already I am awash in all the media’s anger and warnings.

A possibly certifiably deranged lady wearing some kind of chain mail is shouting, “We’re gonna kick ass; no more pussy footin’ around,” to the cheers of an equally unhinged crowd.  A carny barker with cotton candy hair in a $5000 suit looks on approvingly with pursed lips.

When it comes to collective bargaining, my possibly certifiably deranged Governor in Illinois, “a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun” is warning that our state is “gettin’ our tail kicked,” and the General Assembly should endorse his new pension plan and ignore the Illinois Supreme Court unanimous decision protecting pension benefits of state employees.

Usually sensible people in suits sit on a panel for Chicago Tonight and wring their hands while projecting no likely change in the budget impasse for up to another year.  Perhaps not even “four years,” says one of the state congressmen.  Each blames the other “full of passionate intensity.”

Bernie Sanders is gathering steam and votes in Iowa, and although his anger is totally comprehensible to me, it seems we are dangerously diverging as a nation of what was once moderate neighbors and friends.

“Things fall apart.”

Reprise: from October this last year with only a continued pain for the marginalized in our society and a long-term disaster for the state’s finances. 

King “Trickle Down” Rauner and the New Feudalism

“Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall

And down will come baby, cradle and all”

My mother used to sing lullabies to me when I was just a wee lad, but she never really took much time to explain them.  After all, I was drowsy, in all likelihood she was busy, and neither of us actually understood the sinister political messages of these little back yard commercials of the post-medieval period.  No Television, no Twitter, no Facebook.  Why not send innocent children out into the world with ditties composed to undermine the wealthy and the powerful?  Or record the horrors of a world controlled by the elite?

One of Governor Rauner’s chief demands before he will begin to entertain the current budget offered up by the Democratically-controlled General Assembly in Springfield is that they (the General Assembly) sign on to his Turnaround Agenda, showing fealty by passing some laws which indicate an unswerving acceptance of at least a few of his priorities:  right to work, reduced workers’ compensation, local controls, a freeze on property taxes.

In other words – no, in Rauner’s words – “if you accept my demands, I might deal with your oversized budget which will cost us a bit less than what was lost when we rescinded the last tax on income.” 

Madigan’s argument:  Rauner’s agenda has nothing to do with a budget.  He is trying to force a personal agenda which has nothing to do with making numbers work.  He stresses the need to undercut the middle class before he will accept a budget that will provide support for the marginalized and the middle class. 

Rauner’s argument:  I am for the middle class, but I need these requests for anti-union, anti-workers’ compensation, and property tax relief to be done first to provide a business-friendly climate for growing the middle class. 

Hauntingly, Rauner’s argument is another version, one presented in the midst of fiscal crisis for Illinois, that trickle-down economics works…and although Rauner has nothing to back that up in any substantive or empirical research, he is hoping that we will all swallow, just as we did when he ran the idea during his successful purchase of the governorship. 

None of us who worked for the state of Illinois are friends of Speaker Michael Madigan or his Attorney-General daughter Lisa Madigan.  We have seen and suffered the anxieties and anger of their illegal attempts to take our promised and paid for pensions from all of us.  Yet, in the most outrageous of absurdities, here is this same Speaker, arguing that he is trying to respect the rights of the middle class to be safe from persecution.

In fact, Lou Lang and Elaine Nekritz were political chameleons trying to explain their evolving acceptance of the Pension Protection Clause on Chicago Tonight on January 20th for Matt Murphy, Jeannie Ives, and the WTTW reporter.

Only in Illinois, my friends. 

And if Rauner were to get his way before the budget could be entertained by his new governorship?  Premier would be local control, along with local property tax freezes.  Each local village or city enjoying their own specific processes on union contracting, educational funding, workers compensation, educational mandating, etc. , like smaller individual governments acting sovereignly within their own areas. 

During Medieval periods, individuals walking from one small town to another faced a surrounding wall and doorway though which they needed ask permission to enter, after declaring allegiance to all the laws within that particular village/city. 

“Who knocks there?”

“A carpenter, Joshua Jordenson.”

“Are you a trained union carpenter?”

“Never mind.  I’ll be moving on…”

Now that Springfield is in a budget stalemate, Rauner is taking his argument  once again on the road (instead of sitting down to hammer out the fiscal issues).  He will be the advance guy for the nearly $20 million he has to spend on commercials decrying the evils of those in Springfield who have some concerns accepting what he would do to the mentally ill, the homeless, the educationally needy, etc. 

And, now that we enter the New Year with no concessions given. Rauner has decided to double down.  Let’s target pensions, the CPS system, Rahm, collective bargaining, re-districting, etc., all at once. 

This is a Governor who had nothing more than an angry agenda to be elected, no real plan to govern, only a platform from which to argue. 

Back to my Mom’s sweet poem.  I am reminded once again of the wealthy and elite – royalty actually – visiting the various villages during Medieval times, especially when the needed servants for their castles.  They’d send their lackeys out into the various peasant hovels to find babies to take for use as servants in their own castles.  The peasant, in order to save their children from being taken into a life of servitude, would tie the babies into the tree boughs in the evenings, hoping that the winds would rock the kids to sleep, and the strong-armed visitors at the doors would never find them.

If that worked, thank God, the Lord’s desperate servants left.  But if the wind blew too hard and the bough broke? 

They’d not want either “slouching beast” to get to them. 

With apologies to W. B. Yeats

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