Liberals’ Budgetary Boondoggle
Maybe I should amend my home page about why I became a conservative. See, I was born and raised in Michigan, and its economy has been in the toilet even when the rest of the country was doing well. Then I moved to California, which is now practically bankrupt. Now I live in Illinois, which is even worse than California when it comes to fiscal discipline. All three of these states are democratic hell-holes, and, not coincidentally, entitlement black-holes. Spending on every human interest story and after-school special that held out its hand was able to be ignored when the economy was good. Now that the economy continues to lag, the lunacy of the left is revealed.
A New York Times article today provides a revealing look at just how dependent we have apparently become on those government entitlements. Illinois is currently $5.01 billion in the red. Comptroller Dan Hynes states,
‘This is not some esoteric budget issue; we are not paying bills for absolutely essential services,’ he says. ‘That is obscene.’
Hynes is right–it is obscene. But not because we aren’t paying for “essential services.” The amount of money this state has committed to paying for practically everything is what’s obscene. A goal of government has never been to become a major part of the economy. Many complain about companies being “too big to fail,” but few complain about the government being too big to fail. In addition to its own budgetary boondoggle, Illinois is also a microcosm of the federal government spending too much on too many so-called “essential services.” Make no mistake, there are legitimate governmental functions out there that should be receiving tax dollars…but we’ve moved far past them.
Someone needs to run for office and actually take a stand against run-away government spending, instead of just saying it. Someone needs to say no to the human interest stories. Someone needs to remind this country of what it is, not what it has become. Essential services don’t include public education. They don’t include endless unemployment benefits. They don’t include corporate subsidies. They don’t include housing subsidies. They don’t include this:
The Community Counseling Centers of Chicago is another of those workaday groups that are like the stitches on a baseball, holding together poor and working-class neighborhoods. With an annual budget of $16 million, the agency tends to families torn by crime and violence as well as people who are psychologically stressed and abusing drugs.
‘Two weeks ago, I had days to meet my $420,000 payroll and all I was looking at was a $200,000 line of credit from a bank,’ recalled [Chief Administrative Officer John] Troy.
$16 million a year? For community center? You don’t think that’s being mismanaged at all? There are entire cities that run on that budget. $420,000 in payroll? Again, for a community center? Now I know why our president was a community organizer. Instead of implementing some sort of fiscal restraint years ago on programs like this, Illinois citizens in towns like Carbondale, many of whom have never even been to Chicago, are now having money taken out of their pockets for this $16 million per year monstrosity. Why? Because no one has the guts to stand up to those who spit out the “these people need help” meme.
Legislators this year raised the retirement age and slashed benefits. Though changes apply only to future employees, the legislature claimed immediate savings.
“Savings upfront and reforms down the road,” said Mr. Hynes, the state comptroller. “It’s just bad habits and bad practices.”
I’m not exactly sure what Hynes is trying to say here, but Illinois’ problems go well beyond “bad habits and bad practices.” Illinois, like California and Michigan, has placed an overwhelmingly heavy burden on the majority of the population for the benefit of the “those in need of help” minority. Of course, since no one actually attempts to define who those people are, and what constitutes “need,” the government just throws more and more money at them. Illinois’ budget disaster is largely the result of arbitrary determinations of need, made by those running for office. That’s the exact opposite of good government.
More broadly, Illinois is caught between blue state convictions about social safety nets and a red state aversion to taxes. For years, the Democratic-controlled legislature has passed budgets that are, in effect, in deficit. Lawmakers routinely skip around the state’s balanced-budget law, with few consequences. (Republicans are near monolithic in voting against any tax increases and borrowings. When one broke ranks to try to keep the pension solvent, he was stripped of a committee position, reducing his pay and pension.)
This is where the New York Times goes from reporting the news to offering its opinions. Illinois isn’t “caught between blue state convictions about safety social safety nets and a red state aversion to taxes.” It’s caught between the corrupt political machine in Chicago, which is driven entirely by a small group of liberals, and the rest of the state. And those monolithic Republicans? The article fails to mention that they are in the perpetual minority in the Illinois legislature. The implication that Republicans have some hand in the budget crisis is laughable.
Of course, the response of Mr. Hynes, as it is with all liberals, isn’t to cut spending…it’s to raise taxes.
‘Only the most delusional people think you can solve this without raising taxes,’ he said.
Well Mr. Hynes, and by extension, Mr. Obama, you’re delusional to think that raising taxes will improve anything. We would still have government full of corrupt politicians who vote themselves raises and refuse to cut spending because it might cost them votes. How much in governmental salary are you making Mr. Hynes? How about Mayor Daley? Governor Quinn? Before government employees, who are paid with my taxes, stick their hands in my pockets again, why don’t they do their part?
On this Fourth of July, remember that we don’t depend on the government, but it does depend on us. Even better, remember it in November. In the meantime, I will continue to pressure my wife into a new move…to South Dakota.