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Black and blue
Illinois: Greece of the Great Lakes

Regular readers know that Illinois is in serious trouble. It’s a national leader in unemployment, budget deficits, debt, demographic decline, and unfunded pension liabilities. But how is it shaping up compared with its neighbors? The Wall Street Journal takes a look:

Start with Illinois’s 8.7% jobless rate, which is the country’s second highest after Rhode Island’s 9% and has fallen by a mere 0.7 percentage points since Mr. Quinn began his second term in January 2011. That’s when Illinois increased its flat income tax to 5% from 3% and the corporate rate to 9.5% from 7.3%.

The nearby chart shows the jobless-rate trend in five Great Lakes states since 2010. Note the sharp decline in Michigan, where Republican Governor Rick Snyder and a GOP legislature cut corporate taxes. In the last three years, the rate has fallen to 7.7% from 11% in the Wolverine State, to 6.5% from 9.1% in Ohio, to 6.1% from 9% in Indiana, and to 6.1% from 7.7% in Wisconsin. Only Illinois has raised taxes, while Ohio cut taxes, Michigan and Indiana have passed right-to-work laws and Wisconsin famously reformed collective bargaining.

Illinois has also recorded the slowest personal income growth in the Great Lakes. Between 2012 and 2013, personal income rose by 2.1% in Illinois versus 2.7% in Wisconsin, 2.5% in Michigan, and 2.3% in Ohio and Indiana.

Click here to read the whole editorial.

People in the 20th century used to speak of the social and economic experiments conducted in Germany and the Korean peninsula as hard evidence of what happens when both capitalism and communism are tried on the same people. Fortunately in America, we only have capitalism, and our intra-capitalist experiments don’t involve any brutality or dictatorship. But our system of government does allow each state to experiment with its own social and economic preferences, giving citizens choices about where they would rather live and, in an ideal world, giving Washington clues about what works and what doesn’t before federal policy is adopted.

Illinois has had a free hand for some years now to conduct a true blue experiment, with little opposition or obstruction in the way. The experiment is not going well, and its neighbors’ relative success is only accentuating the pattern of serial policy failures in the President’s home state.

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  • lord acton

    Silly WRM, Truth and what works have nothing to do with the blue model.

  • free_agent

    I live in Massachusetts, and I’d say that Mass. is bluer than Illinois, and it’s not doing badly, compared to the rest of the country. But it does seem that Illinois is working on *doing the blue model badly* and the results are quite unpleasant.

    I wonder if the blue model is more subject to disastrous implementation errors than the red model?

  • Ghosts of Benghazi

    Beautiful and not news to those of us non-liberals with a brain….

  • centerroad

    I’m interested in expanding my conservative reading sources, unfortunately American Interest won’t be one of them. Simply put, your articles are so slanted they have only a passing glimpse at the truth, facts are taken out of context then fitted to fit your opinion.

    Some of us are interested in conservative thought, but only when it is truthful and presents a positive way forward, neither of which are represented here.

    • roadgeek

      Perhaps you could point out some errors in this piece. i’ve lived in IL, and I find no fault with any statement in this article. The writer’s thinking is clear and very perceptive. I don’t see any errors at all. Clarify?

      • centerroad

        Very perceptive, lol. Only if you are under educated and exclusively read right wing sites dumbed down to the fourth grade level.

        Other than the WSJ reprint, please point out one fact or statistic by the author.

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