“If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”

-Neil Gaiman

By: Mark Glennon*

A short article titled “The importance of being scared” tells us much about why today’s young people are such pussies, intellectually — muzzling speech they deem offensive and protecting themselves with trigger warnings and safe spaces.

It wasn’t meant to be about Illinoisans of all generations, but it sure applies.

The prevailing narrative in Illinois evolved in recent years, but the underlying denial remained consistent. Our problems first were dismissed as mostly a PR issue stoked by a few misguided pessimists. Nothing an overdue tax increase won’t fix, we were assured. Then it became a budget crises — just do you’re job and pass a budget. Now that it’s clear the budget fixed little, “irrevocable damage” from the period before the new tax increases seems to be the theme taking hold, as if there were nothing prior. Voices like ours continue to be dismissed as scare mongering.

It’s all a variation of “don’t scare the children,” as we called it long ago.

But denial begets inaction. It refuses the challenge. The article put it beautifully:

that the terrible and the terrific spring from the same source, and that what grants life its beauty and magic is not the absence of terror and tumult but the grace and elegance with which we navigate the gauntlet.

Most of Illinois still doesn’t see that our model of government is fundamentally broken. We simply aren’t generating the growth, jobs and revenue we need to meet promises made. The math has long been irrefutable.

Now, it must be fixed. Drastic reform is essential. If fear helps inspire the “grace and elegance” needed to “navigate the gauntlet,” so be it.

Hans Christian Andersen, according to an author quoted in the article, believed “evil stems from intellectual and emotional stuntedness and is the one form of poverty that should be shunned.”

Shun it.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.

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3 years ago

Illinois has been running a massive pension racket for decades. The racket includes state and local pols including school boards, the public sector unions esp. the teachers union, the pension boards who are beholden to the unions and the corrupted actuaries who help cook the books. Glad I voted with my feet 20 years ago. Best financial decision I ever made!!

j.a. herzrent
3 years ago

In the city where I grew up, the most effective collective bargaining strategy for public safety workers was to point out (but never on the record) how fast the citizens would burn down the city if the dedication of police and firefighters to their jobs were to wane. Teachers unions (sub silentio) used the same arguments about urban teenagers running wild during the daytime if not confined to schools. Voters are asked to approve tax increases for “education” — not for teacher raises and pension COLAs. Those who speak plainly about public employees’ disruptive actions are racists or worse. Those… Read more »

Jeff Carter
3 years ago
Reply to  j.a. herzrent

@j.a. Rauner can use YouTube Twitter etc to talk over the press. All sane politicians should use social media to talk around the news media. LinkedIN might also be another platform. Business leaders need to throw the gauntlet down now.

erik
3 years ago

I think the vast majority of Illinoisans would be scared to death if they were properly informed. The press by and large is reluctant to do it. Rauner, a man I deeply admire, must now step up to the bully pulpit and tell Illinoisans and the nation how grave the situation truly is. The time has passed for speaking in generalities and pulling punches. He must be blunt and alarmist. He must let the Illinois electorate know they’ve been lied to, manipulated, and sold into debt slavery. The time is now. Illinois pending financial failure, and all the ruin that… Read more »

Doug
3 years ago

How this all ends, no one really knows. Could either be:
– death spiral (riots, societal breakdown) continually raising taxes with negative economical effects.
– simply screw the pensioners and let those pension funds go broke without massive tax increases
– US congress approved bankruptcy and get a fresh start
– State constitutional convention shift burden to municipalities which can declare bankruptcy and fresh
start

Advocate
3 years ago
Reply to  Doug

You forgot amortization, Tier 1 attrition, as Tier 2 weans the pension liabilities for current and future hires. Economic growth. Inflation outpacing existing cola’s. Creative revenue and fiscal managerial approaches and privitization of goverment assests, Amongst others are tools in the toolbox, they can all be used. Its the simple MATH. We have heard it over and over again. Its one thing to say you cannot afford an item, Its another thing to say I dont WANT to pay that cost. Just do the math. Take me for instance….dreaming of that BMW 750. My wife said I cannot afford a… Read more »

Advocate
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

Thanks Mark for your artical and pensmanship, your thoughts as usual have provoked some healthy responses. Ok I try and tackle your thoughts one sentence at a time. My math is not wrong. Impossible. I presented no numbers. Simple economics and logic I presented. Maybe my logic is disagreeable to you. True, substantial unfunded pension liabilities are for work allready performed, allthesame; State debt is debt weather its from pensions or huricane cleanup or civil war. Its debt over time all the same. Inflation is not outpacing cola. True again, FOR NOW…. but how bout in 5 years? Or ten… Read more »

Doug
3 years ago
Reply to  Advocate

Advocate, well ya more people can afford a house with a 150 year mortgage than a 10yr. I think your talking about borrowing 150 year bonds to pay off current pension obligations. No one will lend Illinois like that, no chance. So much has to change, pension benefits, lower taxes (not increases via creative revenue), right to work state, workers comp, ect. ect. just to stay competitive with Indian, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky. With the Democrats in firm iron fist control, there is no hope.

nixit
3 years ago
Reply to  Advocate

Amortization of a loan on a repossessable and depreciable asset with a specific price over a definite period is probably not the best comparison for pensions. That’s like saying I could afford to pay your pension if I paid you a lower pension over a longer period. We can’t defer deferred compensation.

Mike
3 years ago
Reply to  Advocate

Interest is the reason amortizing the existing unfunded liability over a longer period of time is not as a sure fire solution as it initially seems. The unfunded liability represents money not in the pension fund. Money not present results in a 100% guaranteed investment return of zero. Because the pensions are defined benefit, actuaries add interest to that unfunded liability, to compensate for the lack of investment return, and the taxpayers (employer) picks up 100% of that interest. Paying back over a longer period of time may initially lower the payment, but results in more interest over the period… Read more »

Mike
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

OK so the interest goes into the formula with normal costs, state contribution, employee contribution, investment returns, cost to operate the pension and whatever else might be in that formula.
Whatever shortfall remains gets spread out through 2045?
Is amortized not the right word for spreading out the payment through 2045?

Mike
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

COGFA projected the annual unfunded liability on the 5 state pension funds from 2017 – 2045 in its November 2016 Special Pension Briefing.
Using 7% interest, the cumulative interest on that unfunded liability is $252 billion dollars.