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Rauner Flexing His Muscle – to Uncertain Ends PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 15 February 2015 05:10

More than a few Statehouse types have been wondering aloud for weeks what Governor Bruce Rauner is up to with his almost daily attacks on organized labor.

His people say that the governor feels “liberated” since the election to speak his mind about a topic that stirs great personal passion in him. He played up the issue during the Republican primary, then all but ran away from it in the general-election campaign, including just a few weeks before Election Day when he flatly denied that “right to work” or anything like that would be among his top priorities.

Yet there he is day after day, pounding away at unions, demanding right-to-work laws, vilifying public-employee unions as corrupt to the point of issuing an executive order barring the distribution of state-deducted employee “fair share” dues to public-worker unions such as AFSCME. The dues are paid by people who don’t want to pay full union dues.

 
1984 and Counting PDF Print E-mail
Letters to the Editor
Written by Dave Sekharan   
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 08:53

Like most people, I was stunned to hear about the Edward Snowden incident and PRISM. That whole story was like an upside-down Escher painting. Snowden eventually immigrated to one of the most totalitarian, repressive nations on the planet. Isn’t that just the craziest thing?

The disclosure of federal eavesdropping was a revelation that certainly grabbed our attention. Just think: At this very moment my every keystroke is being monitored. And if I get a phone call the NSA might find out that Maria wants to get back together again, but just for tonight.

Seriously? I could give a damn about Big Brother. The government can read my mail for all I care. The Snowden affair was compelling news, yes, but the only people who should really be concerned are terrorists and drug dealers. Possibly the governor of Illinois.

 
Laughter at Rauner Signals Rough Waters PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 08 February 2015 13:12

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a governor openly and loudly laughed at on the House floor. At least not while he was present.

Governor Bruce Rauner was doing pretty well with his legislative audience during his first State of the State address last week, delivering strong applause lines with his refreshing calls for bipartisanship. He even thanked legislators “for your service,” and predicted they would do “great” things together. He warned them that he would say things they liked and didn’t like and urged them to see the “big picture” – which he claimed will “lift up all of the people we’ve been chosen to represent.”

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus were especially receptive to the governor’s attacks on labor-union apprenticeship programs. Rauner claimed about “80 percent of individuals in Illinois apprenticeship programs are white even though Caucasians make up fewer than 63 percent of our population,” and demanded that be addressed with legislation. Black and Latino legislators have tried for years with limited success to break those barriers, and no governor has ever so clearly sided with them.

Legislators erupted in loud applause when the governor proposed raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. But when Rauner added “over seven years,” their laughter was even louder, and longer. Democrats appeared to realize that they might’ve fallen for a bait and switch, and it was mostly downhill from that point on.

 
The Best Defense (for the Welfare State) Is an Expensive Offense PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Thomas L. Knapp   
Friday, 06 February 2015 05:54

In late January, the U.S. military-industrial complex reported results for 2014’s fourth quarter and expectations for 2015. Good times! Northrop Grumman knocked down nearly $6 billion in Q4 2014 and expects 2015 sales of around $23.5 billion. Raytheon did about as well last fall and expects a big radar order from the Air Force this year. Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced a travel upgrade for the president of the United States – a new Air Force One. Base cost for the Boeing 747-8? $368 million, before presidential modifications.

Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock (or whose rock gets bombed periodically) knows that the U.S. government spends more on its military than any other nation-state. A useful way of understanding how much more: If the U.S. “defense” budget were cut by 90 percent, it would remain the first- or second-largest military spender in the world (depending on fluctuations in China’s military expenditures).

That 90 percent – and then some – is the single-largest welfare entitlement program in the U.S. government’s budget, even omitting “emergency supplementals” for the military misadventure of the week and military spending snuck into other budget lines.

 
The Political Class’ War on Immigrants Is a Diversion PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Chad Nelson   
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 05:48

As Loretta Lynch’s U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for the office of Attorney General opened on January 28, Republicans were dying to ask her just how friendly she might be to the class of people government defines as “illegal aliens.” In an exchange with immigration scrooge Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), Sessions wondered who Lynch believes has the right to work in America. Specifically, he asked: Who has “more right” – a lawful immigrant, a citizen, or a person who entered the country unlawfully? Lynch wisely opted to dodge Sessions’ silly multiple-choice question, instead responding that if a person is here unlawfully, she’d prefer it be as a participant in America’s workforce.

Sessions’ line of questioning – and the answer he was fishing for – reveal much about the political class’ warped thinking. The bipartisan immigration-bashing contingent in Washington believes, as Sheldon Richman notes, “permission to work is theirs to bestow.” Unfortunately, that belief is the law of the land. Today, who may work is a question decided largely by Washington bureaucrats and special interests jockeying to buy legal monopolies on their services. While you may think yourself free to pursue work of your choosing, the countless prerequisites and riders imposed by government drastically narrow your choices. If you’re fortunate enough to overcome those obstacles, your ability to remain effective at your craft is often curtailed as you’re forced to wade through a morass of government-mandated compliance.

 
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