Free Markets, Free People

Illinois


Damned “Southernomics”

In light of Michal Lind’s fantasy about the South, another indicator of how wrong he is:

State Farm, the nationally-known insurance chain headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois, has apparently had its fill of “The Land of Lincoln’s” confiscatory taxes.  The 800 million dollar company is reported to have purchased “substantial workspace” in the Dallas, Texas area. The giant insurance firm’s workers are being kept in the dark reportedly to avoid “alarming them”; but is it their workers or the State of Illinois they would like to keep in the dark about this move? If this doesn’t signal State Farm’s coming dash out of Illinois’s clutches, what could it mean?

A knowledgeable Dallas real estate insider has called this impending move “a major business relocation” of record-breaking proportions. The numbers involved are approximately 2.5 million square feet of workspace and thousands of workers. No company in Dallas’ history has made a move this large.

Texas isn’t the only state State Farm is running to. There has also been a report that it has leased office space in Atlanta. The combined amount of both new locations roughly equals the 3.5 million square feet it has in Bloomington.

Why?

These moves should come as no surprise to anyone.  In spite of (or maybe because of) raising its corporate and personal income tax rate by 67% in 2010, Illinois has seen its credit rating fall and its deficit raise.  A review of the tax structure in Georgia shows the personal and corporate income tax is 4% as compared to Illinois’ 6.25%.

Texas has no personal or corporate income tax.

But, you know, the South has just replaced physical slavery with economic slavery – and all those Texans and Georgians who will benefit from employment with State Farm after the move know that only too well, don’t they? /sarc

I’m sure the taxes are just part of the reason.  Most likely the complete business atmosphere in the South is more likely the draw.  A welcome mat instead of a outstretched hand have to be appealing.  The same thing is happening in a number of northern states – the difference being the fiscal mess of today coupled with the difference in Blue state remedies vs. Red state remedies has started to turn a trickle exiting Blue states into a flood.

~McQ


Who is robbing whom here?

We’ve been treated to stories of “greed” and supposed corporate misbehavior by the OWS crowd, but here’s a story that ought to make you furious, especially if you’re an Illinois taxpayer:

Two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees toward a state teacher pension once they served a single day of subbing in 2007, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found.

Steven Preckwinkle, the political director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and fellow union lobbyist David Piccioli were the only people who took advantage of a small window opened by lawmakers a few months earlier.

Obviously any number of people are culpable.  The lawmakers, of course.  But the two who took advantage of this legal loophole are simply morally reprehensible people who took advantage of the system for personal gain without earning what they will receive.

The legislation enabled union officials to get into the state teachers pension fund and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. They just had to do it before the bill was signed into law.

So seeing an opportunity to cash in without actually having to do any real teaching, they quickly got teaching certificates and substitute taught for one day.   One day.  They were paid $93 for the day.

The result from that day?  Probably over $100,000 a year in pension payments:

Preckwinkle’s one day of subbing qualified him to become a participant in the state teachers pension fund, allowing him to pick up 16 years of previous union work and nearly five more years since he joined. He’s 59, and at age 60 he’ll be eligible for a state pension based on the four-highest consecutive years of his last 10 years of work.

His paycheck fluctuates as a union lobbyist, but pension records show his earnings in the last school year were at least $245,000. Based on his salary history so far, he could earn a pension of about $108,000 a year, more than double what the average teacher receives.

Meanwhile, as you might guess, the pension fund is horribly underfunded and teachers who’ve spent a career in the classroom stand to get less than half what these two will get.

The union finds no real problem with what its two paid lobbyists did:

A spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers emphasized that the lobbyists’ actions were legal and that they made "individual decisions."

Even so, union President Dan Montgomery said the deal Preckwinkle and Piccioli landed "should never be allowed again." But the union, which provides its employees with a private 401(k)-type plan, is standing by the lobbyists’ right to have access to the public pension.

"They entered TRS under the law and are participating members of TRS. As a TRS employer, the IFT is required to make the payments to TRS," the union said in a statement.

Of course we all know that legal and moral are only the same by coincidence.  These two scoundrels knew precisely what they were doing and did what they did with malice aforethought.  This was a bid to cash in while doing nothing.  And of course, cheats like them are more than happy – along with the union – to stand behind the façade of legality.

And oh, by the way, it should never happen again because the law was changed after these two grifters cashed in.

Always looking out for the little guy and making sure he gets a square deal, those union guys.

HT: Duane Lester

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


All the trappings of a police state

Imagine living in a place where the authorities can record everything you say or do without your consent, however if you do the same – for your own protection – that’s a felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

Sound like a place you’d want to live?

In fact, that’s precisely the case in Illinois. Watch this illuminating 15 minute video. If it doesn’t make you furious, then you simply don’t care about your Constitutionally guaranteed rights. And you’re perfectly fine with the creeping fascism that seems to be infecting parts of our country:

 

Recording conversations and events pertinent to your legal situation, standing and rights, especially when dealing with public officials in their official capacity, should not be in question.  Ever.  Wanting a record makes perfect sense and, as you might imagine, has a tendency to keep conversations and actions in line with the law and on a much more polite and civil level.

Most importantly, it is something you must have every a right to do.  Why is it they get a legal right to privacy (i.e. can deny consent) when the citizen doesn’t enjoy the same right?   That’s not how I understand the purpose of the Constitution and the rights it guarantees the citizens.  It is government it prohibits from violating the rights of citizens not the other way around.

I can certainly understand the law saying one must inform a public official that he or she is being recorded (a simple, “hey, I’m recording this” would suffice), but beyond that, I see no requirement that they give obtain consent for that recording to continue, especially while the public official is acting within their official capacity and executing the duties of their office. 

What this gentleman is going through is simply an exercise in raw power designed to intimidate.  Obviously the law needs to be changed and changed expeditiously.  But if that doesn’t happen – and it appears it won’t – his best chance is a jury trial.   Most people with any sense are going to reject the government’s case as overbearing, a violation of a citizen’s rights and just plain old un-American.  And as you can see in the video, any attempt to solicit information about the case from public officials was ignored.  That should tell you a lot about how confident they are about the case.

Bottom line: This is an example of the creeping fascism that is infecting our country.  This is “let me see your papers” territory.   And it needs to be firmly and swiftly nipped in the bud.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Illinois–dear tax payer we wasted all your money, now pay up!

Just phenomenal.  The state of Illinois – which spent itself into fiscal oblivion – has decided the way to make up the huge shortfall they’ve run up is to increase taxes for state taxpayers by 66%:

Democrats in the Illinois Legislature on Wednesday approved a 66 percent income-tax increase in a desperate and politically risky effort to end the state’s crippling budget crisis.

The increase now goes to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who supports the plan to temporarily raise the personal tax rate to 5 percent, a two-thirds increase from the current 3 percent rate. Corporate taxes also would climb as part of the effort to close a budget hole that could hit $15 billion this year.

Wonderful.  If I lived there, I’d certainly be considering a new state – border states must be happy as they can be over this.  And, of course, same with corporations.  But as grim as that is, here’s the laugh line:

It will be coupled with strict 2 percent limits on spending growth. If officials violate those limits, the tax increase will automatically be canceled. The plan’s supporters warned that rising pension and health care costs probably will eat up all the spending allowed by the caps, forcing cuts in other areas of government.

Question: why, in an era of little to no inflation is there any spending growth when you have a budget shortfall like that in IL?  The state shouldn’t be increasing spending  by even a single penny, for heaven sake.

In fact, it would make much more sense to keep it flat or, better yet, have it actual cuts (not “cut” in the sense politicians usually use the word) in spending by 2%?  Pensions?  Cut ‘em.  Health care costs?  Cut ‘em? Government employees?  Let ‘em go or furlough them.  You politicians got the state in the mess it’s in, now live with the consequences and face the music.

The state got itself in this mess by over promising and over committing.  Now the state should work itself out of the mess without again tapping taxpayers.  Instead, it chooses to take more money from its citizens to pay for its profligacy.   It penalizes them for something the state’s politicians willingly, irresponsibly and thoughtlessly did. 

And I’m sure the jobs picture is wonderful in IL.  It must be if the state can afford to throw some higher taxation at corporations there.

Because, you see, saying “no” to government employee unions and the like is much harder than slapping higher taxes on the masses and business.

However, all things considered, most should know that if you want to live in a blue state, these sorts of things are what you’re most likely going to have to suffer. 

The increase means an Illinois resident who now owes $1,000 in state income taxes will pay $1,666 at the new rate. After four years, the rate drops to 4 percent and that same taxpayer will then owe $1,333.

Any bets that before the 4 years are up the new rate becomes permanent?

"Based on this particular legislation the only businesses that will benefit are the moving companies that will be helping many of my members move out of this particular state," said Gregory Baise, head of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

"This is the nuclear bomb of jobs bills," said Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Lake Barrington.

Timing is everything, isn’t it?  So much for hiring that new employee on the margin.  He or she now has been replaced – before they were ever hired – with new taxes.

The usual Democrat answer?

Democrats countered that even with the increase, Illinois’ tax rate will be lower than in many neighboring states — Iowa’s top rate is 8.98 percent, Wisconsin’s is 7.75 percent. They also maintain that without more money, state government may not be able to pay employees by the end of the year. Major government services might have to be halted, they warn, and groups waiting for state payments will go under.

That’s right – scare tactics and the usual “our taxes still aren’t as high as others”.  Well here’s a clue IL Dems – nothing says they have to move to “neighboring states” does it?

~McQ

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It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool …

Here is an amazing letter to the editor at a college newspaper from a person who gives himself the title of "academic professional". I’ve looked at it off and on for a couple of days trying to figure out how to excerpt it and talk about this, well, fool. As it turns out, the best way to present it is to present it whole since excerpting it only takes away from the totality of the nonsense this "academic professional" is spouting.

In fact, as I read it, I have to tell you that it immediately reminded me of another “academic professional” that visits the comment section of our blog fairly regularly.  The only difference I can see is the “academic professional” I quote below actually is a part of a major university instead of some backwoods school.  Other than that, either could have written this:

The vast majority of 9/11 observances in this country cannot be seen as politically neutral events. Implicit in their nature are the notions that lives lost at the World Trade Center are more valuable than lives lost in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere; that the motives of the 9/11 attackers had nothing to do with genuine grievances in the Islamic world regarding American imperialism; and that the U.S. has been justified in the subsequent killing of hundreds of thousands in so-called retaliation.

The observance at Saturday’s football game was no different. A moment of silence was followed by a military airplane flyover; in between, Block-I students chanted “USA, USA.” This was neither patriotism nor remembrance in any justifiable sense, but politicization, militarism, propaganda and bellicosity. The University is a public institution that encompasses the political views of all, not just the most (falsely) “patriotic.” Athletic planners should cease such exploitation for political purposes. They might at least consider how most Muslim students, American or otherwise, would respond to this nativist display; or better, Muslims and others that live their lives under the threat of our planes, drones and soldiers.

The overwhelmingly white, privileged, Block-I students should be ashamed of their obnoxious, fake-macho, chicken-hawk chant, while poverty-drafted members of their cohort fight and die in illegal and immoral wars for the control of oil. University administrators need to eliminate from all events such “patriotic” observances, which in this country cannot be separated from implicit justifications for state-sponsored killing.

David Green,

University Academic Professional

You can dissect that to your heart’s content, and it is still, on whole, some of the most misguided stupidity you’re likely to see this side of Maine. 

Of course 9.11 observances aren’t politically neutral.  That neutrality died the day we lost 3,000 people to Islamic jihadist extremists who had been at war with us for years.  How did this yahoo get stuck in time on September 10th, 2001 for heaven sake? 

That sort of absurdly out-of-touch idiocy permeates the entire little screed.  And if you want to see the definition of “non neutrality” at work, read this “academic professional’s” denigration of his student’s nationalism, patriotism and – yes, wait for it – color.

And then there’s the “stereotypes-r-us” portion.  “Overwhelmingly white, privileged … students”.  Wars fought by “poverty-drafted members of their cohort”.  “Illegal” (authorized by Congress per the Constitution) and “immoral” (yeah, can’t hit back when smacked in the face with a sledge hammer – that’s immoral) and all for oil.

All the leftist canards rolled into one can be found in it – yeah, be ashamed of your country, your military, your patriotism and yourselves you bastards because it makes “David Green, academic professional” uneasy.

How freakin’ ‘60s of the dope.

Tell you what, David Green, academic professional – instead of you telling everyone what they’ve done to offend you, why don’t I tell you what about you offends me.

Your very existence offends me. Your smug but ignorant arrogance offends me.   The fact that you don’t know the difference between grassroots patriotism and “nativism” offends me.  The fact that you have no idea of who makes up our military (although it comes as no surprise, really) offends me.  The fact that you clearly don’t know what the words “illegal” or “immoral” mean, but have no problem throwing them around like you do offends me.

But what offends me most is what you must be doing to the young minds which come under your power while attending your university.  If what you’ve written is any indication of how you teach, then your students or their parents ought to demand an immediate refund.  Because it is not only fact free, but shows absolutely no evidence of critical thinking.

One of the great things about America is everyone is free to express their opinion.  However, doing so is not without consequence, because then those who don’t agree get to express theirs.  My opinion of you, David Green, academic professional, is below that of the Congressional Democratic leadership.  And I provide the bottom side of their 8% popularity rating.

The good news for you is you are precisely where you belong.  Outside the academic ivory tower, facing the reality anyone else does, it’s my guess surviving for 15 minutes would be the high side of an estimate of how long you’d last.

Now, crawl back under your academic rock, where you belong, and hush.

~McQ


Illinois – "let them eat cake"

Illinois seems bound and determined to take the title of "poster child for failed state government" away from basket cases Michigan and California.

Illinois is now billions behind in paying its bills. As Comptroller David Hynes points out:

“This is what the state owes right now to schools, rehabilitation centers, child care, the state university — and it’s getting worse every single day,” he says in his downtown office. Mr. Hynes shakes his head.

“This is not some esoteric budget issue; we are not paying bills for absolutely essential services,” he says. “That is obscene.”

Well not that obscene apparently, to the governor. In the midst of all of this, he’s decided now is a great time to give many on his staff 20% raises.

No, seriously – raises. How freakin’ politically tone deaf can you be?

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has handed out raises—some of more than 20 percent—to his staff while proclaiming a message of "shared sacrifice" and planning spending cuts of $1.4 billion because the state is awash in debt.

The Democrat has given 43 salary increases averaging 11.4 percent to 35 staffers in the past 15 months, according to an Associated Press analysis of records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Remember all the jaw flapping that went on by Democrats about CEOs getting bonuses while their corporations were circling the drain?  Well here’s the governmental equivalent. 

And as if that’s not bad enough, the state is handing out 7% “cost of living” raises to government unions:

On July 1st this year, 40,000 or so AFSCME state employees happily collected a 7% percent “cost of living adjustment”. July 1st next year, they will get another 7%. In short, in 2 years, they will get a 14% raise. Even in good years, 7% is well over inflation.

Almost 6 billion in debt and unable to pay for “absolutely essential services” and yet handing out 7% cost of living raises to government union employees and up to 20% raises to staffers in the governors office?

Given that, how can anyone take Governor Pat Quinn seriously when he yammers on about “shared sacrifice”?  Why should they believe him?  The government aristocracy in Illinois has apparently completely removed itself from any sacrifice whatsoever.  They give new meaning to Marie Antoinette’s famous words – “let them eat cake”.

~McQ

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