After trying to tax Illinois to governmental solvency and economic dynamism, Pat Quinn, a Democrat who has been governor since 2009, now says “our rendezvous with reality has arrived.” Actually, Illinois is still reality-averse, so Americans may soon learn the importance of the freedom to fail in a system of competitive federalism.
Illinois was more heavily taxed than the five contiguous states (Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin) even before January 2011, when Quinn got a lame-duck legislature (its successor has fewer Democrats) to raise corporate taxes 30 percent (from 7.3 percent to 9.5 percent), giving Illinois one of the highest state corporate taxes and the fourth-highest combination of national and local corporate taxation in the industrialized world. Since 2009, Quinn has spent more than $500 million in corporate welfare to bribe companies not to flee the tax environment he has created.
Quinn raised personal income taxes 67 percent (from 3 percent to 5 percent), adding about $1,040 to the tax burden of a family of four earning $60,000. Illinois’ unemployment rate increased faster than any other state’s in 2011. Its pension system is the nation’s most underfunded, and the state has floated bond issues to finance pension contributions — borrowing money that someday must be repaid, to replace what should have been pension money that it spent on immediate gratifications.
Quinn’s recent flirtation with realism — a plan to raise the retirement age to 67 and cap pension cost-of-living adjustments — is less significant than the continuing unrealistic expectation that some of Illinois’ pension investments will grow 8.5 percent annually. Although the state Constitution mandates balancing the budget, this is almost meaningless while the state sells bonds to pay for operating expenses (in just 10 years the state’s bonded debt has increased from $9.4 billion to $30 billion), underfunds pensions and other liabilities, and makes vendors wait (they are owed $5.6 billion).
The Illinois Policy Institute, a limited-government think tank, in a report cheekily titled “Another $54 Billion!?” argues that in addition to the $83 billion in pension underfunding the state acknowledges, there is $54 billion in unfunded retiree health liabilities over the next 30 years. Illinois, a stronghold of public-employees unions, “is on pace to spend nearly $1 billion on retiree health care benefits in fiscal year 2013, more than double what it spent in 2003. Worse yet, these liabilities are growing more than twice as fast as tax revenues.”
To prepare for Illinois’ probable plunge into insolvency, read “Freedom to Fail: The Keystone of American Federalism” by Paul E. Peterson and Daniel Nadler in the University of Chicago Law Review. They note that only 25 of the world’s 193 nations have federal systems, and in most of the 25 the freedom of the lower tiers of government is more circumscribed by the central government than American state governments are by the federal government. American states’ greater freedom — autonomy under America’s system of dual sovereignty — from the central government’s supervision requires that they be disciplined instead by the market for government bonds, and by the real possibility of default.
Peterson, a professor of government at Harvard, and Nadler, a doctoral candidate also at Harvard, say that collective bargaining rights for government employees pose “a dramatically new challenge to the viability” of American federalism. They cite studies demonstrating that investors’ perceptions of risk of default are correlated with the rate of unionization among government employees. Higher percentages of government employees who are unionized, and larger Democratic shares of state legislative seats, correlate with increases in state borrowing costs.
At least 12 percent of Americans change their residences each year, often moving to more hospitable economic environments. In a system of competitive federalism, Peterson and Nadler write, “If states and localities attempt in a serious way to tax the rich and give to the poor, the rich will depart while the poor will be attracted.” And government revenues and expenditures vary inversely.
From September through December 2008, the premium that investors demanded before they would buy California debt rather than U.S. Treasurys jumped from 24 to 271 basis points (100 points equals 1 percent). The bond market, the only remaining reality check for state politicians, must be allowed to work.
Constitutional jurisprudence affirms that states exercising substantial autonomous powers thereby assume concomitant risks. Federal loans or other bailouts of misgoverned states would remove bond market discipline, the only inhibition on the alliance between the Democratic portion of the political class and unionized public employees.
This from the folks over at FreeMarketAmerica:
What would you do if you were trying to destroy America; its prosperity and confidence as a nation? Pretty much what we are seeing done, now and for the last couple of decades…
EPA Expands Its Mission To Crucifixion
Finally, someone within the regulatory machine states candidly what many of us have known all along: the EPA sees its mission as beating-up on American business!
By Charles C. W. Cooke
Free nations that respect the rule of law tend not to make examples of their citizens, much less crucify them. This rule of thumb, however, seems to have been lost on the EPA, an official from which had an interesting analogy to share in a video that has just surfaced:
“I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said:
“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.
“Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.”
Note that the speaker, Region VI administrator Al Armendariz, considered his words not to be inappropriate for a government agency to think or do but to say at a “meeting”.
(Go Here to continue reading article)
Is there anyone who still thinks that this Administration is pro-business? Or supports traditional, affordable energy sources?
Perhaps someone should alert the Administration and its EPA that the way to grow jobs and produce affordable energy solutions is to stop driving business out business; and to stop “crucifying” energy producers with increasingly unreasonable regulatory demands!
UPDATE: Over at the Temple, the Goddess weighs in with a terrific insight into this issue! Go here and wallow in her wisdom.
Remember when conservative news commentators condemned Catholic presidential candidate, John Kerry, for his pro-abortion stance; one that contradicts the teachings of his own faith, and is by the Church’s teachings a damnable sin?
Maybe because it didn’t happen.
Because there are some levels of discourse that should, even in politics, be off-limits.
Progressive Catholic politicians, such as Nancy Pelosi, the late Ted Kennedy, and Kerry take pro-abortion stances that are in direct conflict with their faith. No one on the Right uses this as a rhetorical club to beat them with; because matters of faith are deeply personal, between each of us and our Church and God.
Except when it comes to Mitt Romney, and the execrable MSNBC; the septic tank of News Media outlets.
On Thursday NBC commentator Martin Bashir went on MSNBC to warn Mitt Romney that, according to the Book of Mormon, he is in peril of eternal damnation for lying about President Obama.
In a segment called “Clear the Air,” Bashir took umbrage at Mitt often pointing out Obama’s promise that, if his near-trillion dollar stimulus bill was passed in 2009, that unemployment would remain below 8 percent.
Wagging his rhetorical finger from MSNBC’s pulpit, Bashir preached his warning to the candidate:
“‘Mitt the Mendacious’, knows full well that the president never, ever said such a thing. It is something that the president has never written nor said… it doesn’t matter how many times he hears the truth, Mitt Romney prefers to tell lies.”
Bashir went on to cite passages from the book of Mormon predicting hell for liars; including a verse that reads: “Wo unto the liar for he shall be thrust down to hell.”
“Given what the book of Mormon is clearly saying, Mr. Romney has but two choices: He can either keep lying and potentially win the White House but bring eternal damnation upon himself. Or, he can start telling the truth. The question for him, I guess, is which is more important?” Bashir said.
Ignoring the accuracy of Obama promising (or not) a lower-than-eight percent unemployment rate: Where do liberal/progressives get off bringing religion into the public forum, and using it as a club?? When it is the Left that rises to condemn the slightest perceived intrusion of Christianity into the public sphere; and would howl with deafening outrage if it were, say, Fox News promising hell fire and brimstone for obvious religious hypocrisies on the part of liberal politicians, such as Pelosi or Kerry.
Just when you thought MSNBC couldn’t sink lower….
Bashir and his friends at NBC should leave the preaching to those who get paid to do so; and stick to objective reporting. That is, if they can remember how to do so.
It takes guts to go to the moon, in a space ship smaller than Donald Trump’s master bathroom; relying on less computing power than is found in a standard pocket calculator!
But in today’s highly charged political climate, it takes more guts to challenge the global climate change orthodoxy.
That’s what 50 former astronauts and scientists have chosen to do, in calling upon NASA to stop its unhesitating acceptance of “unproven” theories of man-made global warming. In a letter addressed to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) director James Hansen, the group requested that both NASA and GISS refrain from making “unproven remarks in public releases and websites” on the subject of Global warming.
For those who have only followed this argument peripherally, let me state that the argument is not over whether the planet’s climate is changing. The argument is over:
1. Are these changes man-made, as opposed to a natural-occuring phenomenon?
2. Is it something that can be “fixed” by drastically altering our lifestyle; spending trillions of dollars to do so?
3. Will the rising of global temperatures by a few degrees be more harmful or beneficial, on the balance?
NASA, takes (arguably) the most alarmist viewpoint: the orthodox Man-Made Global Warming Catastrophe position. That global disaster will ensue if we don’t do something drastic now to alter our current trajectory.
This is a controversial position, as are all on this highly politicized subject. What the group of astronauts and scientists take issue with is NASA and GISS’s full-throated support of one side of this issue; one not yet proven or accepted by many in the scientific community; and by so doing damaging the NASA brand-name.
“We feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate,” they wrote. “At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.”
The letter was signed by seven Apollo astronauts, a deputy associate administrator, several scientists, and even the deputy director of the space shuttle program.
NASA had no immediate comment.
What is unfortunate is this Administation’s intrusion of politics into everything it touches; including space exploration.
Apollo Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, one of the signatories to the letter.
This ad, for the up coming 3 Stooges film, was rejected by CBS. Why? Because it “made fun of a serious subject”; in this case, prescription drug ads!
And Liberals say we Conservatives don’t have a sense of humor! Who’s being a Stooge now, CBS?
Here at Word Warrior, a P.C. Free Zone, WE aren’t afraid of a little Stooge Mania! Here is what CBS didn’t want you to see:
FILM CARRIES AN INTERESTING (AND UNINTENDED) MESSAGE
2010’s “Clash of Titans”, based on the 1981 film (itself loosely based on an ancient Greek myth), created a world in which the Greeks had forsaken the worship of their gods. Man would do without gods or myths, to stand or fall on his own merits. In so doing, they began to unravel the order that sustained their world. In this week’s sequel, “Wrath of the Titans”, the destructive consequences to a world untethered from its traditional moorings becomes manifest.
To paraphrase Napoleon, myth is the story men tell of themselves and agree to believe. Our myths define us: they illustrate and enforce our values and virtues. They trumpet to the world that which we wish to be believed of ourselves. Our collective myths, like our history, serve as the glue that binds any nation together as one people.
Nobody understood the value of mythology better than the Greeks.
They created a rich tapestry of mythological stories that explained the world in which they lived, the supernatural dangers that threatened, and the heroic acts of Greek men and women that altered the fate of mankind and saved humanity. They worshipped gods and goddesses that resembled man, reflecting our best and worst nature; who rewarded the virtuous and punished evil-doers. Fear of their gods and of divine retribution helped maintain a moral society. Even after exploration and scientific advancement had rendered absurd the suggestion that a race of immortals dwelt atop cloud-covered Olympus; the anything-if-not-rational ancient Greeks still maintained the public fiction of believing in their ancestral religion.
Wrath of the Titans expands upon the original premise: that mankind has abandoned the gods; and by denying them the vital sustenance of their prayers, threaten the god’s very existence. As the movie opens, all are already gone, faded away apparently. All except for Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades (reprised by Liam Neeson, Danny Huston, and Ralph Fiennes), hanging-on in much diminished capacity; and Ares, the savage god of war, who seems uniquely unaffected by the affliction of impiety.
Equally unaffected by man’s belief (or lack-thereof) are the Titans; the monstrous giants commanded by Chronos, father of Zeus and his brother Olympians. Chronos has been long imprisoned by Zeus in the labyrinth of Tartarus. But with the restraining power of the gods fading, Chronos threatens to escape his bonds.
Man’s belief is necessary to sustain the god’s existence, but apparently not that of their rivals and enemies, the Titans. These, representatives of chaos and destruction, thrive in a world without gods.
That is perhaps the unintended, underlying message of Wrath of the Titans: that order is maintained by traditional values, personified by the gods; and that without these, chaos is unleashed. That man in his arrogance chooses to stand alone at his own peril. I doubt the filmmakers had this message in mind, but it is there nevertheless.
In Wrath, stolid Sam Worthington returns as Perseus, the “go-it-alone” son of Zeus. He is a serviceable hero, willing to take-a-licking-and-keep-on-ticking to achieve victory. In this go around, the licks are mostly imposed by his evil brother Ares, traitor who has thrown his lot in with Chronos. Venezuelan Édgar Ramírez lends the role of Ares a vicious and brooding brutality; his underlying motivation seems to be revenge upon an unaffectionate father! (Nothing gains a father’s love faster than betraying said father, right?!)
The film is already a commercial success, gleaning worldwide box-office receipts of $112,200,000 in its first weekend. If one liked the “Clash of Titans” a few years ago, you will likely enjoy even more this big-budget sequel, which is arguably a better film in many ways. It brings a bevy of mythological monsters to bear, which will excite the young male audience, no doubt. But, as one friend and her young son noted, it suffers from a notable lack of goddesses! Apparently the lady deities suffered more acutely from a lack of worshiper’s love than their male counterparts, fading away all the quicker. Come to think of it that is perhaps the one thing in this film that rings the truest!
If you are looking for a movie faithful (or even similar) to a ancient Greek myth, you will be disappointed: the only thing this has in common with anything found in Hesiod or Homer is that it shares characters with the same names!