Monday, May 30, 2016

Are People Really Leaving Illinois?

If I see disaster, will you vote for me?
Factless Soothsayers: Representative Sandack,  the I.P.I. & Bruce Rauner

My neighbors and their “millennial” children living in the basement are leaving Illinois for Indiana.  They’ve had enough, they tell me.  “The taxes, Madigan, the Obamas…”

They’ll be happier there and better off, they tell me over an afternoon beer.  And almost an hour closer to their slip in Grand Haven where they spend much of their time sailing. 

They’re recently retired (and so are their children – not-so-recently).

So, one more Illinois resident family leaves and becomes another statistic in the ongoing argument that Illinoisans are fleeing the state of Illinois in Biblical proportions.  Look back and turn to salt?

I often drive on the Southside expressways, so I commonly see the signs welcoming all of us to Indiana, and the puffed-up promises of a better life in a state where the median income is 31st as contrasted to Illinois’ 18th position according to U.S. Census’s Bureau reports.  But it is appearances that are dressed as reality that humans swallow in American politics.

I’ve heard first-term governor Rauner’s constant pitches that we are “losin’ people to our neighborin’ states.” 

Are we?  Have we been?  I’ve wondered…

Rauner echoes the arguments of his close allies in the Illinois Policy Institute, and Representative Ron Sandack (81st District) who all follow this line of argument like a phalanx of myrmidons.

“The wealthy will leave, I tell ya!  And then, we’ll be left to pay the increased taxes,” Representative Sandack urged at a recent meeting I attended when he was asked about a graduated tax policy. 

For Representative Sandack and many others like the governor, so many issues will result in people’s mass exodus to other places: pension issues, workman’s comp., union power, local rule, etc.

Yet, new evidence and research from Natalie Davila, Mike Klemens, Robert Ross, and Lyman Stone from KDM Consulting notes quite the opposite of the argumentative positions of the current governor, the I.P.I., and Representative Ron Sandack.

Disaster?  You ain't seen nothin' yet.
In fact, in trying to ascertain whether or not there was some accuracy in the governor’s and his backers’ positions about Illinois citizens’ out-migration, they reviewed the numbers carefully. 

Because of the recently available records of tax information and census information from earlier periods in the previous century, the researchers were able to crunch the numbers of people leaving, the income strata of those who did, and the in-migration to Illinois of those before not calculated in these late arguments.
Significant findings:

1.    Net out-migration for Illinois is not new.  The state has seen net out-migration every year but one since 1925.
2.    Illinois net-migration is overstated if international migration is ignored.  Otherwise migrants from other countries are not counted when they move to Illinois, but are counted when they move out of Illinois to other parts of the country.  Including international migration reduces net migration out of Illinois by one-third.
3.    Both in-migration and out-migration are tied to the economic cycle.  People move when times are good and sit tight when they are bad.  The 2011 income tax rate increases came as Illinois was moving out of a recession, and migration could have been expected to increase.
4.    Many migrants don’t move far.  Illinois’ largest out-migration is to Indiana.  Indiana’s and Wisconsin’s largest out-migration is to Illinois.
5.    Illinois is a big state in terms of population so out-migration in absolute numbers is large.  However, a larger percentage of both Indian’s and Wisconsin’s population moves to Illinois than vice versa.
6.    Net out-migration from Illinois to Indiana and Wisconsin has declined.
7.    Illinois net out-migration rates fell in 2011, the first year of the income tax increase, but increased significantly in 2014.

I’ve bolded these findings because they are SO opposite the constant harangue by Rauner, the I.P.I. or Rep. Sandack.

This new research report indicates that all the arm flailing, screaming, and eye-bulging philippic by Representative Ronald Sandack may be just so much delirium aimed at the masses.  Mass hysteria, if you will.

From Sandack’s website:
“The data reflects a continuation of a trend of out-migration from Illinois that has lasted more than a decade. Between 1995 and 2009, the state lost on a net basis more than 806,000 people to out-migration.
When people leave, they take their income and their talent with them. In 2009 alone, Illinois lost residents who took with them a net of $1.5 billion in taxable income. From 1995 to 2009, Illinois lost out on a net of $26 billion in taxable income to out-migration…” 

I'll be the only one left here…really.
Someone’s wrong.

And the Illinois Policy Institute, always willing to be one more serviceable haruspex when it comes to promising immediate catastrophe for all Illinois’’ citizens unless they stampede to the far right. 

Illinois residents are fleeing the state. When people leave, they take their purchasing power, entrepreneurial activity and taxable income with them. For more than 15 years, residents have left Illinois at a rate of one person every 10 minutes.”
Imagine Indiana’s and Wisconsin’s to Illinois?  I suggest you read the report.  I suggest Representative Sandack read it, too.
Illinois has enough problems and issues.  We, all of us – yes, even state workers – now owe $billions for money that was diverted and used in order to provide all citizens with benefits and services to avoid the true costs.  No gimmicks or film-flams will fix it; instead, the solutions will be found in seriously looking at the state's structural deficit problem and medieval tax policies.  The politicians in Illinois’ General Assembly will try to avoid facing this issue with every breath they have left.  And Rauner, the I.P.I. and Sandack-like characters will try to find some way, any way, to blame a select group for the decades of mismanagement rather than find an honest solution.   

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

More Hysteria from IPI and Chicago Tribune

Illinois Is Burning?  More Hysteria from the I.P.I. (and the Tribune Editorial Board)

Usually it takes at least a couple of days before the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board follows an emotional diatribe by Illinois Policy Institute’s opinion writer Diana Sroka Rickert with an echoing piece re-mastered to smooth some of the hysteria and to borrow some of the arguments. 

Perhaps with Bruce Dold now in charge of the daily, McCormick (the novice Editor) couldn’t wait to follow up.  It was quick, but in keeping with Dold’s models, he and his team elevated Rickert’s rants, cleaned up the innuendos, and thieved her arguments in a more, well, tastefully manner.

But, it’s always wise to remember that the Illinois Policy Institute enjoys a special relationship with the Chicago Tribune, one in which the far-right leaning group gets expansive opportunity to promote their tea-party, state’s rights, free markets, and no taxation policies.  And that relationship is symbiotic, as the Trib can later (usually more than one day) edit and refine the I.P.I.’s latest tirade into something more palatable for their avid readers and corporate elite. 

According to Rickert’s argument, General Assembly legislators – Democrats – are playing at computer games like Candy Crush, while the state budget goes undone.  This is not a new phenomena – legislators of both parties have been caught before doing emails, seeking purchases on E-Bay, even playing Battleship with each other – but this affront by Rep. Cloonen and Rep. Smiddy took place while the debate over the budget took place and was caught on WCIA television.  Heavens!

WCIA has always been receptive to the I.P.I.’s offers to put their own spin on what is happening in Springfield, and as a centrally located television studio in Champaign area, they both have continued to curry this relationship. You’ll find the I.P.I. is often part of their coverage.  

The WCIA helps I.P.I.; and the I.P.I. helps the Chicago Tribune.  Symbiotic.

Bruce Dold with Editorial Board of Tribune
Back to the Rickert article:  while the legislators (2 of them played upon their computers/smartphones) nothing transpired with the 2016 budget.  Then, Rickert chastises the Illinois public for not getting what’s happening: “Many people have oversimplified the budget impasse as a battle between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Madigan.  The fight is so much more than a personality clash between political titans.” 

Ironically, she then reduces the differing positions as black and white: “One side believes our state is in crisis and needs fundamental reforms to grow and prosper…”The other side says things are working just fine, thank you – oh, and let’s raise taxes again.”   

Thanks for explaining the intricacies.

The next day, the McCormick Tribune Editorial Board fired off its own I.P.I. follow-up: “Since last summer, we’ve been writing about Madigan’s refusal to entertain any form of compromise with Republicans or with Rauner to get his state back on track.”

After that, they “borrowed heavily from Rickert’s barney.

Rickert: “State Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie, one of Madigan’s top allies, told a Springfield reporter, ‘It’s entirely possible that we won’t have a budget during the governor’s term of office.’”

Tribune: One of Madigan’s top lieutenants, Rep. Lou Lang, D. – Skokie, told a crowd of union workers last week that it is Rauner who’s not interested in doing the job he was elected to do,  then he added: ‘We may or may not have a budget during the entire term of Bruce Rauner.’”

Rickert: “State workers make up less than 1 percent of Illinois’ workforce.  Yet they think the rest of us – the 99 percent, if you will – want to pay more in taxes so they can get a raise?”

Tribune: And the crowd of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees cheered.  What do they care?  They’re still getting paid.”

Ms. Rickert should certainly be flattered.  Indeed, one hopes (and suspects) that the Editorial Board in their oak-lined meeting room are paying a significant stipend to Ms. Rickert for so helpfully paving the way in ink and anger.

Bottom line  in agreement:  Both the Tribune and the I.P.I. are shocked,…SHOCKED… by the pain placed upon their perceived real victims of the budget impasse:   the taxpayers of Illinois.  Especially, they both exclaim, if nothing is done with the budget for 2016.

But the latest reports from the Moody’s by Mark Zandi indicate the inability for Illinois to secure a budget for this next year – 2016 – will serve to further destroy the already damaged social service network in Illinois:  state spending on social services will end up anywhere from $400 million to $500 million less than last year.”

Taxpayers?  Not really.  Think of the marginalized, the poor, those who have less. 

"There will have to be some pain first…"
So, Rauner’s battle with “the way it has been” vs. “the way I want it” will continue, and the state will continue to lose middle and low-income jobs as a result.  More than 5000-plus jobs for service sector individuals this next year.  And, without those workers who spend everything they earn, Illinois will see a further loss of those who represent nearly 67 to 70% of our economy.

A recent report from the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability is more than sobering.  It is remindful of our responsibilities as humans to one another and to our fellow citizens.  

When – not if – the next state budget does not pass:

And while low-income families of all races suffer when Illinois' poor fiscal policy forces spending cuts, African Americans are hurt disproportionately. Sure, most — 54 percent — poor people in Illinois are white, but that's just because most of the state's population, 77.5 percent, is white. However, as a group, only 11 percent of Illinois whites are poor. Meanwhile African Americans, who represent just 14.5 percent of the state's total population, nonetheless account for 29 percent of its poor folks. Indeed, almost one-third of Illinois' African Americans live in poverty. 
Which is why it's so incredible — as in, lacks credibility — when some politicians and talking heads claim that Illinois' fiscal problems won't be fixed until some "crisis" forces a resolution. Apparently, it isn't a crisis when lousy fiscal policy just harms poor folks generally and African Americans specifically.”

In her opinion, Ms. Rickert declares the state is burning while its poor "taxpayers are crushed."

Those who are truly crushed are already on the ropes and unable to pay taxes, unable to earn enough.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Rauner Rally: The Speaker Speaks 


Although some reports described the crowd at today’s Anti-Rauner Rally in Springfield as “lesser” than last year, one radio station on our way home called the numbers as exceeding 10,000.  Another SJR twitter feed guesstimated 8,000. 

I can easily accept 9,000.

The throngs of laborers kept arriving until well after 11 a.m., marching together down the blocks after walking past the Governor’s mansion, all in various colors – familiar AFSCME green, electrical workers neon yellow, darker green, reds, - a panorama of groups and unions representing the working people and middle classes of Illinois.

Rauner – the same man who ducked and dodged unions and working class people when he traveled the state early in his administration to “sell” his Turnaround Agenda – was missing from the scene.  Away.  Off site.

On the dais of the stage, speakers warmed up and began just as the Senate was being called to session; however, present behind the voices decrying the Governor, many legislators (mostly Democratic and a few Republicans) sat to support the rally and workers they represented.

From the walkways and balustrades of the Capitol, other legislators watched what was an energetic, boisterous, and unified crowd calling for an immediate resolution to the Governor’s unwillingness to compromise.

In the Capitol, service providers for healthcare were meeting under the statue of Lady Illinois and discussing their options for possible employment and projections of future failures for service providers as the budget impasse waxes on.  Senator Dan Biss and other legislators looked on and listened as these health care workers searched for answers to the terrible predicament in which they and their charges now find themselves. 

Outside, speakers came and went – talking to a loudly responding crowd of safety nets stripped away by Rauner, of being dropped from a healthcare position due to cuts and unable to find opportunities due to MAP Grant cuts, of a Governor who promised as he sought office to shut “it” down if that was what it took to get his way.

But the greatest unexpected moment (for me and my companion) came when Speaker Madigan decided to address the crowd after Senate Leader Cullerton’s brief promise to be always on labor’s side. 

If anything, Madigan has always been taciturn and circumspect in his comments regarding the Governor, their political relationship, and the future of budget negotiations.

Not today.

Madigan asked the assembled crowd to provide a strong response for each of the areas that he described as being threatened by our current Governor, which he offered rhetorically by proposing “Would you like…?”

1.     Rauner to change collective bargaining?
2.     Rauner to change workmen’s compensation?
3.     Rauner to change prevailing wage?
4.     Rauner to lower the prevailing wage?
5.     Rauner to lower the standard of living?
6.     Rauner to bring in right to work?

The fa├žade was removed.  The answers of 9,000 workers were clearly heard.


Not today.

Good dog, good dog...
Not tomorrow.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Trump as Father of Our Country?

Donald Trump: Father of Our Country?
Who’s Your Daddy, America?


Shakespeare pointed out it was “a wise father who knows his own children.”  And, as Father Day quickly approaches, it is an astute Father – Founding, patriarchal or otherwise –we need in the White House after this next election cycle. 

That presented; here are some interesting quotes about fatherhood and the responsibility of raising children (especially daughters) that serve as an interesting compilation and serviceable contrasts.

"You have to love your children unselfishly. That is hard. But it is the only way."
  Barbara Bush, Former First Lady of the United States

"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."
  Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

“When I was first elected to this office Malia was 10 and Sasha was just seven. They grow up too fast," he said. "This fall Malia heads off to college... I’m starting to choke up. So I’m going to wind this — it was in my remarks — and I didn’t — I can’t do it. It’s hard.” He continued: “But there is a point to this, though, and that is that we’re not here for power. We’re not here for fame or fortune. We’re here for our kids. We’re here for everybody’s kids — to give our sons and our daughters a better world.”   Obama at State Dinner, 2016
To a father growing old, nothing is dearer than a daughter.”  Euripides
No one is able to make the female a queen except her father… — Arab Proverb
“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” —Harry S. Truman
“During the sole argument we had when [Chelsea] was in high school, the subject of which I don’t even remember, I looked at her and said, ‘As long as you’re in this house, being president is my second most important job'” —Bill Clinton
"Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” —Umberto Eco

“Fathers never have exactly the daughters they want because they invent a notion a them that the daughters have to conform to.”
Simone De Beauvoir

 “Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married, and ya know, her father. …”
— Donald Trump on his daughter, Ivanka Trump, in a September 2015 story in Rolling Stone magazine

More of Trump’s astute insights and witticisms can be yours to cringe at below.