“F” is for Fireworks

[A timely repeat from August 17, 2014]  Every Independence Day, I am embarrassed that Illinois is one of the few states in the Union that disallows any and all kinds of fireworks for private use. This Fourth of July I heard a few neighborhood “pops.”  And saw a few puffs of light.   And I can just imagine police SWAT teams barreling down on the offenders.

I continue to believe that people of Illinois should descend on Springfield and demand equality for buying and using fireworks. As I reported earlier (10/10/12; 10/15/12; and 10/30/13), many kids – like me – grew up with fireworks.  And it was a hoot.  Don’t give me the “oooh oooh – you can get hurt” business.  It does not happen.  And you know it.  Your child has a greater chance of being seriously injured playing soccer than by a firework. 

And while we’re in Springfield asking those who run this state for equality for buying, selling and using fireworks – we might create some fireworks of our own demanding honest government and fiscal responsibility.  Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation.  And according to a new Thumbtack.com and Kaufmann Foundation survey, Illinois is the worst for business (okay, California tied us).  Illinois got an “F.”  Companies are leaving in droves to the tune of 1,000+ jobs a day.  Illinois is one of the most heavily-taxed states.   Yet new taxes, fines, regulations and penalties appear daily.  Did you know Chicago’s population today is less than it was in 1920?  Illinois leadership has ruined our State.   Yet they keep getting voted in.  Who votes for these people?  How’s that for a segue?     

Don’t Mess with Texas

Texas. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that in 2014 the Texas economy grew by a sizzling 5.2%. That’s second only to North Dakota (6.3%). Texas is creating large numbers of jobs and unemployment (4.3%) is below the national average. Texas is now America’s top technology exporter. In short, Texas is in the business of creating wealth for all. Not redistributing what is there.  Governor Greg Abbott has just signed into law tax cuts amounting to $4 billion. 

And then we have Illinois.  The worst bond rating of the 50 states.  The highest pension deficit of the 50 states ($111 billion).  Massive budget deficits.  Jobs leaving Illinois at the rate of 1,000 per day.  Citizens moving away.  Chicago’s population is today less than it was in 1920.  Up until last November’s election, Illinois had the worst Governor in the 50 states (Pat Quinn) according to the Wall Street Journal.  The state is run by unions and Speaker Mike Madigan — a man who should probably be in prison for what he has done to the State.   Unlike Texas – where citizens are getting a tax break – Illinois taxes are going up on the diminishing number of taxpayers who are footing the bill.   The new Governor – Rauner – is trying to improve things but the unions and Mike Madigan refuse to cooperate.  They insist on killing Illinois once and for all.     

There Goes the Neighborhood

You live in a neighborhood where every time you step out the door, a group of thugs grabs you and take your money. They leave you a few bucks but they take much of it.  The same thugs dictate where you can go, what you can do, who you can hang out with and how you may spend your life. They are on top of you. Always.  Jamming new rules and demands down your throat.

And then someone from the neighborhood says “I moved to a new neighborhood. There are thugs but they’re not so bad.” And so what do you do? What would you do? Move?  Hmmm?   And so we have “inversions.”

The United States is one of the most heavily-taxed and heavily-regulated countries in the world (if you disagree – try Google).  The corporate tax rate is now the highest in the world.  And we punish and demonize the shrinking number of businesses and individuals who actually pay taxes (think Pareto’s Principle).  We are lurching toward the insidious social system that has wrecked Europe’s economy.   So you tell me — what is corporate America supposed to do?  American businesses are under siege.  Regulatory walls are closing in.  Roofs are collapsing.  The smart move is to get out of town.  So some do.  Moving operating headquarters overseas or at least to states which are conducive to business.   After all – why stay in a neighborhood that hates you?    

There’s a big difference between evading taxes and avoiding taxes.  The ignorant say that corporations (and individuals) are evading taxes.  That’s a lie.  Businesses take advantage of legal exemptions (do you cheat because you take a mortgage deduction?).  And they avoid taxes.  Legally.  If those in Washington were smart, they would revise the punishing tax code and make America competitive with the rest of the world.   But that’s expecting way too much.  Ideology and politics get in the way.  Great. 

All Noise

Kevin Peraino’s recent book Lincoln in the World has a wonderful quote on page 44: 

The curmudgeonly former president [John Quincy Adams, then serving in the House of Representatives] had little patience for the rowdy new brand of expansionism embodied in ‘Mr. Polk’s War.’  In the House chamber one day, legislators cheerfully debated among themselves about the correct pronunciation of the word ‘Illinois.’  Overhearing the conversation, Adams snapped that judging ‘from the character of the representatives in this congress from that state, I should decide unhesitatingly that the proper pronunciation was ‘All Noise.'” 

Things have not changed much since JQ’s time.  Today, Illinois is dead last of all states in recovering from the Great Recession.  Illinois has the worst unfunded pension debt ($110 billion) of any state.  The worst S&P bond rating of any state ($187 billion shortfall).  The highest borrowing cost of any state.  The most unpaid bills.  The only state – with California – that gets an “F” for being business friendly.  It has among the highest state taxes (which are going up).  Jobs are leaving Illinois at the rate of a thousand a day.  Businesses are leaving in droves.  As are citizens.  Food stamp growth has outpaced new jobs 2 to 1 in the last four years.  Chicago’s population today is less than it was in 1920.  Regulations are suffocating and inconsistent.  The State has been run by a buffoon and some hoodlums.  On Election Day, a new Governor was elected.  A glimmer of hope for Illinois?  Not if Mike Madigan can help it. . . .

  

“F” is for “Fireworks”

Every Independence Day, I am embarrassed that Illinois is one of the few states in the Union that disallows any and all kinds of fireworks for private use. This Fourth of July I heard a few neighborhood “pops.”  And saw a few puffs of light.   And I can just imagine police SWAT teams barreling down on the offenders.

I continue to believe that people of Illinois should descend on Springfield and demand equality for buying and using fireworks. As I reported earlier (10/10/12; 10/15/12; and 10/30/13), many kids – like me – grew up with fireworks.  And it was a hoot.  Don’t give me the “oooh oooh – you can get hurt” business.  It does not happen.  And you know it.  Your child has a greater chance of being seriously injured playing soccer than by a firework. 

And while we’re in Springfield asking those who run this state for equality for buying, selling and using fireworks – we might create some fireworks of our own demanding honest government and fiscal responsibility.  Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation.  And according to a new Thumbtack.com and Kaufmann Foundation survey, Illinois is the worst for business (okay, California tied us).  Illinois got an “F.”  Companies are leaving in droves to the tune of 1,000+ jobs a day.  Illinois is one of the most heavily-taxed states.   Yet new taxes, fines, regulations and penalties appear daily.  Did you know Chicago’s population today is less than it was in 1920?  Illinois leadership has ruined our State.   Yet they keep getting voted in.  Who votes for these people?  How’s that for a segue?