Quite an editorial, from Chi-Trib, about the state of the Illinois economy. Check it here.
Excerpt: Few of us, or our ancestors, gravitated to this state for its prairie scenery or bipolar climate. Illinois instead promised near-unrivaled opportunity: its rich soil, its wealth of industries, its human hustle frenetic to make a buck.
Today, though, we are losing employers. Nearly half a million of our jobs are gone. We export many of our educated young people to futures out of state.
We can wait, paralyzed, and hope that economic recovery eventually means full employment recovery. Or we can make structural changes now that would welcome the makers of jobs.
We need to lower costs. Our governance infrastructure has become overgrown and overpriced. We have 7,000 often redundant governments, far more than any other state. We populate those governments with armies of employees, and give them duties — some essential, some make-work. Many politicians of both parties enlist these workers as their allies in a cozy paradigm: If you help us win re-election, we will reward you with adequate salaries today — and fabulous retirement benefits tomorrow.
Those pols treat the public sector with fawning reverence while ignoring, or even scorning, a private sector that supplies their lifeblood revenues. Why so? Because the pols and their allies have a good thing going, and no incentive to disrupt it. So, unlike in scrappier states, there is precious little talk in Illinois of curtailing teacher tenure, or reducing benefits for current public employees, or capping government expenditures, or exterminating townships and other costly relics, or demolishing obsolete institutions, or ...
Recession, though, has forced a reckoning: Our shrinking and salary-squeezed private sector work force cannot adequately support many of our state's households — let alone sustain our antiquated overlays of taxing bodies.
This should be a time of tremendous opportunity for leaders who, rather than hiding from recession, exploit it to reinvent Illinois. To radically reshape the state's present and its future. To capitalize on employers' problems in other high-cost states by making Illinois their low-cost place to do business. To grow jobs.
Instead, our Statehouse brims with defensive, small-think pols hoping to survive another election.
(Nod to the NCM)