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Illinois Supreme Court Sinks Pension-Reform Law PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 06 July 2014 05:30

In a 6-1 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court last week struck down an attempt to force government retirees to pay more for their subsidized state health insurance. And while nothing is ever certain when it comes to the judiciary, the court made it pretty darned clear that Illinois’ new pension-reform law is going to have real trouble passing constitutional review.

The court, led by Justice Charles Freeman, did not specifically rule on the pension-reform law, but declared “it is clear” that all pension benefits – including health insurance – are untouchable.

“We may not rewrite the pension-protection clause to include restrictions and limitations that the drafters did not express and the citizens of Illinois did not approve,” the court ruled.

If that isn’t a direct-enough message to lawmakers, the governor, and everybody else, I don’t know what is. Pension benefits “shall not be diminished or impaired,” the Constitution says, and the court said those words have a “plain and ordinary” meaning that does not allow them to be cut.

Poll Shows How Rauner Risks Being Trump-ed by Quinn PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 29 June 2014 10:03

It occurred to me when I was recently in Chicago that the media furor about Donald Trump’s insistence that he be allowed to hang 20-foot-high letters spelling out his name on his new skyscraper is pretty much the mindset behind Governor Pat Quinn’s campaign to tag “Billionaire Bruce Rauner” as a rich, out-of-touch, right-wing white guy.

So I commissioned a poll. While a majority actually agree that Trump had the right to hang his letters, he’s not popular here and voters don’t think that people like him can understand regular folks.

The Libertarian and Catholic Social Teachings PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by David S. D’Amato   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 13:13

Roman Catholic leaders from Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga to Pope Francis himself have made news this year in their criticisms of supposed free-market economies, likening them to a form of idolatry that exploits and denies access to the poor. Because Catholic social teachings emphasize stewardship and aid to the less fortunate, clergymen such as Maradiaga have taken aim at perceived “structural causes for poverty.”

It is in identifying these causes that the cardinal’s fulminations against free markets become problematic. While he can hardly be blamed for supposing that something in relations between rich and poor is amiss, it is his faith in the positive interventions of the state that is the “deception.” Ironically, the “free market” that Maradiaga so sincerely denounces is itself a product of deep and sustained state coercion on a scale not often recognized for what it is. We must therefore distinguish between two ways of employing the phrase “free market,” lest we fall into the trap that caught Maradiaga – the trap of opposing libertarianism in principle without actually understanding the economic system it prescribes.

Media Ignore Real Problems with Remap-Reform Petition PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 22 June 2014 05:59

Almost 90 percent of the Yes for Independent Maps petition entries tossed as invalid by the Illinois State Board of Elections this month were for people who were either not registered to vote or weren’t registered to vote at the address shown on the petitions, official documents show. The group is attempting to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to reform the state’s indisputably hyper-partisan legislative-redistricting process.

Yet the state’s media, led by the Chicago Tribune editorial page, have focused on problems with signatures that don’t match up to voter-registration cards. It’s either a gross misunderstanding of the situation or a deliberate deception.

Has the Department of Homeland Security Become America’s Standing Army? PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 13:32

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty.” – James Madison

Here [in New Mexico], we are moving more toward a national police force. Homeland Security is involved with a lot of little things around town. Somebody in Washington needs to call a timeout.” – Dan Klein, retired Albuquerque Police Department sergeant

If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude, and corruption such a role implies. In fact, although the DHS’s governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most – a standing army on American soil.

The third largest federal agency behind the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, the DHS – with its 240,000 full-time workers, $61-billion budget, and sub-agencies that include the Coast Guard, Customs & Border Protection, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency – has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”

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