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If you’re a follower of Wirepoints, you’ll note the sense of urgency in the work we do. Our straight-talk about Illinois’ steep decline may be unsettling at times, but we’re passionate about turning things around. 

Underlying our efforts is a deep gratitude for Illinois and its people, its natural assets, and most of all, its mighty potential. For decades, Illinois was a beacon of economic opportunity and freedom for people around the world and we’re fervent believers it can be a destination state once again.

My parents were just two of the many immigrants attracted to Illinois decades ago. 

My father, Tadeusz Dąbrowski, a young Polish merchant marine, escaped communism in 1952 when he jumped ship in Malmo, Sweden. 

He came to America by way of Canada, where he worked tough jobs that many would scorn. When he finally made it to Illinois in the late 1950s, he still carried the scars from his time as a young messenger during the Warsaw Uprising. But nothing could ever rob him of his rugged individualism and his love for freedom. Chicago became his launching pad and he would graduate from Northwestern University in 1964.

My mother, Blanca Lopez, arrived in Chicago from Ecuador just a couple of years after my father did. She knew she’d arrived to a place where hard work and hunger for knowledge had guaranteed rewards. The seed for becoming a valuable American was planted in her when she took her first job at a cardboard factory downtown. She wanted to improve her English fast and she, too, enrolled in classes at Northwestern.

A serendipitous meeting on Chicago’s “L” eventually led to their shared dream of building a family in the country they believed had the best the world had to offer. They faced considerable obstacles, though. The consolidation of three languages, work and school. The creation of a new family without the support of their original ones. And the embrace of American culture and tradition, while de-emphasizing their own, for the sake of their three children.

My parents had a real shot at the American Dream and the rest, as they say, is history.

I’m thankful for the opportunity they got, even though life for them was never easy. The ups and downs were many and real. But Illinois was the place where with deep faith and a strong work ethic, anyone could grit it out.

Today, Illinois is no longer that beacon. Residents are fleeing the state in record numbers. In some places, they’re being forced to abandon their homes and their memories. Bad politics, failed policies and rampant corruption are destroying opportunity and repelling Illinois’ most important asset – its people. Too many families don’t feel they can make it here anymore.

At Wirepoints, we’re fighting for Illinois because most of its great elements are still in place – the universities, Lake Michigan, the vast farmland, the nation’s transportation hub and Chicago’s economic might. Illinois sits in the center of the greatest country in the world. It has natural assets that many countries and states can only dream about. 

It’s the politics that need to be gutted.

For sure, there are many who’ve already given up on Illinois. After all, there are many great places to work and raise a family in America. And things in Illinois are likely to get worse before they get better. But at Wirepoints, we know that what can’t go on forever, won’t. The path to fixing Illinois will be long and painful, but we’ll be ready with the solutions the state needs when fiscal reality finally catches up with its poor decisions. It’s only a matter of time.

We’re thankful for the freedom to counterbalance the forces that are driving this great state’s decay. And we’re thankful for our followers who share in our passion to remake Illinois into the beacon it once was. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!

Ted Dabrowski

P.S. If you’ve given up hope on Illinois, check out Poland some 30 years after the collapse of communism. After all that country went through – the destruction of individual rights, the suppression of private property and the crippling of the economy – it’s now one of the most dynamic economies in the world.

 

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Ted, I already know your story, but enjoyed reading it anyway. Let me add a small correction. I left Poland for the same reason as your father did. It was not communism, it was just ordinary socialism, the same kind that so many people in the United States see now as a valid option. I explain the difference in this essay: https://medium.com/discourse/capitalism-socialism-and-communism-db09ad64b81d?source=friends_link&sk=edaee85049208a48a9e1a90bd2dc062c To your defense, most people in Poland also call the system we had there as communism, understanding by that the Soviet version of socialism. I left Poland about 30 years later than your father did. At that time… Read more »

FL resident

Don;t take this as a personal attack, as it is in reality a generic comment. The real issue is, hanger-ons like you are part of the problem. Your mere existence in this state perpetuates the fraud and prolongs the agony. It really is as simple as that. I could wax on about why, but it should be obvious enough. The more people who flee the greater the downward pressure on housing value and the greater the tax burden not only per household but per residence, to the point taxes would have to be raised so high no one would be… Read more »

debtsor

The crazy thing is that IL’s problems are all man made. We have lake Michigan for water (at least within the watershed), A LOT of rain, great soil, great location; but the people who’ve chosen to live and vote here over the last 40 years have utterly destroyed it. We aren’t dry and barren Sicily that has been farmed into dust, or Oklahoma that is dry as a bone most of the time, or MN that is cold 9 months of the year and full of mosquitos the rest of the time. We are also so far inland that we… Read more »

You seem to be influenced by the Master of Deception,
https://medium.com/discourse/roy-beck-the-accomplished-master-of-deception-b6f1baf1bf99?source=friends_link&sk=2507da57ea3cb4c66b9ac5ebe4ad248d
Please notice, China has more than 4 times more people on the similar territory as the United States does. When they allowed at least a little bit of the free market, within about 30 years they became an major economic power. We stay behind because we do not have enough people.

debtsor

Stay behind? what are you talking about? China is a demographic nightmare and no one, not even the government, trusts their own economic numbers. Their environment is destroyed, the Party social culture enforcement is truly dystopian, and the wealth disparty is a nightmare. Literally no one wants to move to China; and anyone with any money in China gets the heck out as quickly as possible – there is ‘birth tourism’ all over the west coast to get citizenship for children of rich pregnant chinese. We have a billionaire president (allegedly) and plenty of millionaires in Congress. But they are… Read more »

There is a lot of truth in what you wrote. In particular, that they have limited democracy and limited capitalism. My point is that they have just enough of it to advance the country economically.

Poor Taxpayer

Illinois is gone, DOA. Run for your economic life. Sad but true. Greedy cops, firemen and teachers have destroyed the quality of life for the honest hard working man or woman.
Leave and be happy or stay and pay, pay, and more pay.

debtsor

You’re missing the point. The progressives in control of the state WANT you to leave. They don’t want you here. They hate you – they hate middle class conservatives and Republicans – they hate your ancestors; they hate your traditional family; they hate your religion; they hate your entertainment, they hate your entire belief system. They want to destroy what’s left of you and force you participate in their hedonism. That’s why they make abortion on demand, tax you out of your home and farm, confiscate income from you every chance they can get, gerrymander your vote into irrelevancy and… Read more »

NB-Chicago

My parents came to Chicago in the 50’s from hardscrabble rural/ immigrant backgrounds as well. They believed in the future possibilities and believed they were building a better Chicago. Its no longer a city of dreams, or possibilities. For me in my 60s, im just trying to hang onto what little i have. But how to recreate a city of possibilites for my kids is the challage..or just be cynical and leave. Thank you Ted, Mark & John for all you do.

debtsor

Chicago is a great city for union workers, illegal immigrants, machine politics, gang bangers and hedonists. Not so good for regular folk.

Define regular folks.

Cass Andra

Those not yet overtaken by “groupthink” — defined as the idea that people should adhere to the ideas of a group that insists it knows what’s best and demands unremitting loyalty. Debtsor has named a few but they are legion and may be growing in number. Those who believe that people are species of fruit or vegetables growing on an unconscious plant, to be nourished (or destroyed) based on what the gardeners of governance choose to cultivate or destroy. Illinois is headed for the Last Roundup.

I do not get it.

Cass Andra

Sort of like Uber: “Uber, cherished as the greatest success of the gig economy WILL EVENTUALLY RUN OUT OF MONEY that is needed for trying new things. As it is with new ideas, only very few of them work, and it usually takes more time and money than expected to get there. Uber has a shot at reaching a plateau of financial stability by becoming steadily profitable at least in a few areas of operations. So far it is not profitable, and profits are not on the near horizon. Hence, we cannot dismiss the possibility that, once an amazing triumph,… Read more »

debtsor

Uber will never be profitable unless they perfect self-driving vehicles. They’ve admitted as much in public filings, investor disclosures and other discussions. The amount of money they take from riders does not offset the cost to operate the platform, train and vet drivers (high turnover), handle regulatory concerns and settle liability claims.

https://news.crunchbase.com/news/understanding-uber-loses-money/

It is very, very unprofitable. Higher fares are necessary and this $3.00 surcharge is brutal; riders may return back to taxis to save a few bucks in Chicago.

Poor Taxpayer

The best day of your life is the day you move out of Illinois. A U-Haul will solve the problem. Call a mover today and start a better life for you and your family. Illinois is DOA, no hope. Even the cops, firemen and teachers with the HUGE PENSIONS are running out of Illinois.
Last man standing will be a dead man. 83 Degrees and Sunny in South Florida, NO state income taxes. Freeze you a$$ of in poverty or start a great new life.

I’m thankful for the honor of working with Ted and our research director, John Klingner.

Wally Konstanty

Thank you for that wonderful story.
Is Illinois like Bedford Falls before good men and women take action.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story!

Barbara Costas

Thank you, Mr. D, for the pointing out the parallels between Poland 30 years ago and current Illinois. I have often thought of leaving Illinois, but the reminder you provide of what my Greek immigrant grandparents came here for and settled in East Moline in 1912- I think of what would they do in the face of such forces that we citizens face today- and I think that they would stay and fight for their American home. They were tough and courageous people, like your parents. Like many Illinois’ citizens’ parents and grandparents. Thank you for reminding me that I… Read more »

DantheMan

Sure, stay and fight. That’s what the Liberal Illinois leaders want you to do. Then they can continue to tax you to death. Sometimes the best way to fight is to leave. If things do get better some day, you can always come back.

debtsor

I agree with you, IL is not worth fighting for. Just as NJ and CT are already lost too. Too many better opportunities elsewhere. As a side note, the only Polish returning to Poland these days are the ones who left without visas or work permits in the first place. 1 in 10 Poles in the US (mostly in Chicago) are illegals who overstayed their tourist visas.

Mike Williams

When only one side has the ability to make laws and take away your money, it’s hardly a fair fight. It’s more like being on the wrong side of a blitzkrieg.

mqyl

“If things do get better some day, you can always come back.”

Many of us hope that things will get better some day to the point of a significantly less tax and user fee burden on the IL resident. However, there are things in place now in IL that will likely be in place many years from now that will prevent this phenomenon from occurring, such as Democratic leadership, strong public unions, and inappropriately high teacher salaries.

Governor of Alderaan

Your grandparents left their Greek home for greener pastures, I doubt they’d begrudge you for leaving your Illinois home for greener pastures. You’d be doing the same thing they did

Barbara Costas

I hear you. I just feel like a quitter. Plus I love Lake Michigan…

DantheMan

I understand Barbara. Its human nature to want to fight back. In the end you just have to keep a calm head and determine what are your chances of success. Yes, the lakefront is beautiful, but luckily you live in a country full of beauty.