Worse Than Detroit? Illinois Facing State-Wide Insolvency

  • Sam Mire
  • Oct 19, 2017 12:23PM

Democratic spending policies and systematic corruption are about to reach a tipping point yet again. But this time, it’s not just a city, as was the case in Detroit, that has been driven into seemingly irreparable financial ruin. It’s an entire state. And, while Chicago is the epicenter of, and likely the driving force behind its state’s financial ruin, it will be the entirety of Illinois’ populace that pays the price for chronically electing self-serving, politically and fiscally corrupted Democrats.

While other primarily Democrat-ruled states like New York are able to keep their employees’ pensions near-completely funded, Chicago typifies the worst of the worst when it comes to Democrat leaders putting themselves before even those who serve directly under them. Plus, the city lacks the sheer wealth of its citizenry that New York has, which makes quite a difference. Still, lumping all Democratic leadership into the Chicago or Detroit school of political and economic ‘management’ would be unfair. That said, the leadership in cities like Chicago and Detroit are more akin to the highest ranks of the Democratic Party than those such as New York, De Blasio aside.

The Chicago School puts the political elites first, second, and third on the rung of who gets paid, with lower-level government employees – including police and firefighters – and the average taxpaying citizen a distant third. If they have to dole out just enough to keep the most impoverished masses at bay, they will, and have. It all works for those who benefit, until you run out of money completely. In Chicago, and Illinois as a whole, they are, or very soon will be, completely out of money.

As we have seen time and again, such persistent, systematic corruption will inevitably result in financial ruin and the social ills that come with such insolvency for most who live under such ‘leadership.' The people who suffer least from the city or state-wide insolvency are those who instituted and engaged in cultures of corruption from the highest ranks of state and local government.

And, it’s fairly easy to understand why states that rank as the most fiscally responsible tend to fall on the conservative side of the political spectrum. They are conservative, with economic policy topping the list of issues to which this conservative mindset is applied. It’s easy to cherry-pick exceptions such as Kentucky, West Virginia, and Mississippi within these rankings as typically Republican-held states that don’t rank particularly high on the fiscal responsibility ratings list. But, in each case, there are extenuating circumstances that explain their exceptional nature. Chronic poverty and extraordinary levels of opiate abuse in each of these states make it difficult for taxpaying citizens to make up for those on the dole, as callous as that may sound. Further, not all states managed by conservatives adhere to the principles of economic conservatism.

But, there’s a reason Democrat strongholds like California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Vermont rank in the bottom-15 of fiscally responsible states, rankings based primarily on a state’s financial solvency, both in the short and long run. Simply, the states which rank the highest pay their bills, and they pay them in a reasonably quick timeframe.

Two states whose largest cities have come to typify financial irresponsibility, Michigan and Illinois, also fall in the bottom-15. Non-coincidentally, their largest, most violent, and systematically corrupt cities, Detroit and Chicago, have been in the hands of Democrats for generations.

The state of Michigan paid the price, with some particularly horrific circumstances typifying the magnitude of misery that systemic political corruption led to. There was Detroit’s forcing of pregnant police officers to take sick leave, temporarily revoking their health coverage. The Flint water crisis, as much as it was painted as a bipartisan issue, was the result of exorbitant, financially irresponsible union contracts handed out by local and state officials in exchange for the union voting bloc’s loyalty. The Motor City’s residents finally turned to Mike Duggan, a registered Democrat but a former CEO of Detroit Medical Center from the private sector. He won consecutive elections in 2013 and 2017. He may be a Democrat, but he’s not a Detroit-icrat, and there is a huge difference.

The entire state of Illinois seems soon to be subjected to a forced, Detroit-like awakening. It seems as if Chicago’s conditions could not get any more hellish. The Economist reported that Chicago alone accounted for 22% of the nationwide rise in murders in 2016, with an unthinkable 765 murders occurring in the city. Unsurprisingly, the notoriously corrupt city lacks the resources to fund an adequate police force to combat this crime. And, the Windy City only serves as the epicenter of, not the exception to, a state where the word ‘bankruptcy’ is becoming increasingly less taboo, according to Crain’s Chicago business.

‘As Illinois' fiscal crisis deepens, the word "bankruptcy" is creeping more and more into the public discourse.

"We would like all the stakeholders of Illinois to recognize how close the state is to bankruptcy or insolvency," says Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a fiscal watchdog in Chicago.

"Bankruptcy is the reality that looms out there," Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew McKenna Jr. says.’

In other words, the state has virtually run out of money. The word virtually may not even be necessary at this point. Pensions gone. Taxpayer money spent, with crime and other issues in the state reaching crisis levels. Some of the tangible results, murders due to lack of police funding already considered, are sobering.

‘State employees, even legislators, are forced to pay their medical bills upfront because some doctors are tired of waiting to be paid by the state. The University of Illinois, owed $400 million, recently instituted furloughs, and there are fears it may not make payroll in March if the shortfall continues.’ (Crain’s)

And yet, according to Crain’s, legislators are still unwilling to cut spending. While cities are subject to federal bankruptcy protection, entire states are not. The Chicago Tribune cited Moody’s in a 2015 warning that serious, structural changes to the Chicago political mentality were needed, or that it would be headed on a path to Detroit-ification.

‘"In our opinion, the pursuit of bankruptcy is not on the near-term horizon for Chicago," Moody's offered Friday in an eight-page jeremiad. "If Chicago's pension funds continue toward insolvency, however, our opinion may change."

You've read these broad strokes before. What's new, and useful, is the credit rating agency's mathematical vision of a Chicago that can't or won't curb its pension debacle, slash its spending, or substantially raise its taxes. In other words, if Chicago doesn't take one or more of those off-ramps, it will glide down Interstate 94 toward Detroit.’

The unwillingness to change, even in the face of these dire warnings, has put not only Chicago, but the entire state, in imminent peril of becoming the next Detroit. And still, legislatures resist changing their ways.

The entire nation got a taste of the Chicago mentality when it elected its proudest son, Barack Obama, twice. Eventually, the nation recoiled, electing a man with zero political experience to rectify out of control spending and an unprecedented slew of scandals, just as Detroit eventually did. For Detroit, this awakening happened only after it was too late. For America, there is still hope that the Chicago-mentality did not do irreparable harm. This remains to be seen.

It appears Illinois has waited far too long for its awakening.

Even if it means cops going unpaid, homicide skyrocketing as a result, and certain financial disaster befalling the state, career politicians of the Chicago and Detroit ilk won’t change their self-serving ways. Even if that means taking an entire state’s population down, they know that they have the ark of pockets lined by taxpayer dollars to sail away upon.

It’s a shame Chicago and Illinois did not wake up sooner, though who is to say that the reach of corruption in the nation’s most corrupt city does not extend to the ballot booth? Though not through traditional means, the Chicago Tribune has admitted as much.

‘Illinois politicians in power write laws to keep themselves in power. Just getting on the ballot is a challenge — by design. The Democrats, because they're in charge, oversee the election code and insert plenty of tripwires that disqualify challengers. Even candidates who follow the rules with precision can get tossed from the ballot if attorneys get involved and the goal is exhaustion: Exhaust the time, money and resources of opponents before the campaign even begins.’

This systematic ‘exhaustion’ of those who attempt to inject change into the political system comes at the cost of the taxpayer. No doubt, such political warfare is the siphon much of Chicago and Illinois’ money has disappeared into.

Those who recognized this pattern of power-grabbing by any means, and the destructive policies that followed, moved away long ago. Those who were too blind to see, especially government employees, now see their financial life’s work – let alone their tax dollars – dwindling away. And the decision-makers in local and state government could apparently care less.

Some of life’s best lessons are learned the hard way. In Illinois, it is not a matter of ‘if’ they will face the misery of unprecedented state bankruptcy. It’s a matter of ‘when’ and just how nasty and horrifying the fallout from chronic, Democrat-implemented corruption will be. If you thought life in Chicago could not get any more chaotic, just wait.

Hopefully, this impending financial and likely social ruin will allow for fundamental changes in Chicago and the state legislature. Hopefully, there is a silver lining to all this corruption.