By: Mark Glennon*

Why exactly doesn’t Illinois’ political establishment recognize that only drastic policy changes will reverse the population outflow crippling the state? That was the subject of our monthly Crain’s article. A new meme is afoot providing one answer, started by Richard Porter, a Chicago lawyer and GOP national committeeman.

First, a little science lesson. Throw a frog into boiling water and he’ll scramble out, but do they really stay put if you start with a comfortable temperature and gradually raise it until boiling?

Nope. Scientists have shown they’ll jump out as the water gets warmer. Researchers had to remove their brain to get them to stay as they raised the temperature, even though they remain functional enough to show discomfort.

In other words, only brainless frogs stay put as the temperature becomes deadly. That’s Porter’s point. The establishment expects you to be brainless frogs.

The establishment surely knows the real science, since they routinely call everybody else “science haters.” So, surely they don’t believe the mythical version and think everybody will stay if they just gradually raise taxes, incur more debt and ignore reforms.

They must know the real science, and are betting that everybody will stay because they’re brainless frogs. How else could Gov. J.B. Pritzker expect us to accept his explanation for the state’s population loss, now five years running. He says it’s stability Illinoisans want—the fiscal stability he says they will get from tax increases.

Chicago’s African Americans with lower incomes may be the most rational part of the exodus. Their flight accounts for almost all of Chicago’s population loss, as Crain’s, the Metropolitan Planning Council and many others have documented. Three-fourths of them left for other states, according to the council.

That’s smart. For the underprivileged, moving is a ticket to upward mobility. Moving is the simplest and wisest solution for many.

That may sound harsh, but research is proving it’s true. That research is detailed in a Vox article this month on families reliant on housing assistance. The economic consequences of moving to places with more opportunity could be massive, says one researcher the article quoted, who estimates that the lifetime benefit to a newborn child of moving from a low- to high-opportunity neighborhood is about $210,000 in additional income, or an 8.1 percent increase in lifetime earnings.

Seattle recently put that research to work by providing information and counseling encouraging housing voucher recipients to move to better places. It worked. “This is the largest effect I’ve ever seen in a social science intervention,” another researcher told Vox.

Statewide, however, all demographic groups are part of the exodus, and it’s costing us dearly. On that, see the detailed, three-part series just completed by my colleagues Ted and John, linked here, here and here.

Illinois’ collapse won’t be reversed unless it’s exodus is reversed. Nothing could be clearer. So far, it’s difficult to find a word from leading officeholders even acknowledging the problem.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

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Richard Brobnerg
1 year ago

They know Illinois will get a bailout from the Feds. Unfortunately Illinois probably will.

JR Wirth
1 year ago

Go to Phoenix and other sunbelt places. You see a lot of people “from” IL. The Phoenix area has Lou Malnatis, Portillos and Cubs Spring Training. It sells itself. All these ghost white Chicago people get off the plane, warm up, play golf, start getting a tan, it’s the new Chicago. The Chicago people who used to wear brown socks with their shorts are now mostly deceased.

JR Wirth
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Wirth

I forgot to mention that it has the Mayo Clinic when you have your hearrtt attakk (Chicago accent).

mike Williams
1 year ago

Dems won’t acknowledge the reasons for the exodus…..but have no problem assigning blame to others. It’s easy to envision the Dems blaming Trump’s trade war for a drop in stock prices and pension funds. The media will then say, “Well it is true the trade war has caused funds to loose money.” Many under informed, under educated Illinois residents will accept the grossly flawed explanation. They may even leave Illinois thinking the state is a mess because of Trump. I’ve been following Wirepoints for over a year. They will present the data and attempt to make it meaningful to it’s… Read more »

1 year ago

From the moment they are born, some govt workers spend every day of their entire working life womdering about two things… 1 “is it 5:00 yet?” Or 2 “is it retirement time yet?’ You can’t pry a pension fix out of that mindset. Talent and creativity and ambition are not something govt servants are known for. Including the judges. Pensions are a religion.

1 year ago

Hopefully Illinois loses its Statehood status when it goes BK and becomes a US Territory.

1 year ago
Reply to  DOUG

States as sovereign entities can’t go Chapter 9 BK.

1 year ago
Reply to  debtsor

You are correct on that

Platinum Goose
1 year ago

“So far, it’s difficult to find a word from leading officeholders even acknowledging the problem.” They acknowledge it’s a problem, claim it was caused by Rauner, but fixable if they pass the graduated income tax.

Cass Andra
1 year ago

Dumb as a newt or smart as a fox? I’m guessing they want to keep it going until the trusts run out of money (some of which they expect to get) and while doing that getting highly compensated and accruing more benefits and COLA adjustments. At the final reckoning, their claims will be among the largest and courts have treated them better than bondholders thus far. The haircut will be applied against a greater accrued benefit and with cooperation from friendly actuaries, the municipalities will make dollar denominated promises. Projected forward 10 or 20 years, they rake in that compensation… Read more »

E-IL Resident
1 year ago

The reptile class could care less about the hard working tax payer. It is all about protecting the pension scam that is enforced by corrupt judges on pensions themselves …..that is all that matters and that is all that will ever matter period end of story. The taxes will never ever stop. They are right now thinking of more tax after tax to confiscate what is left of any equity that is left (which is describing every month and year from property losses and taxes) Therefore, if you are upset by this massive scale theft and fraud… then do the… Read more »