mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Blue Model Crisis
The Illinois Meltdown

Years of cascading fiscal crisis and insoluble political gridlock have driven the Land of Lincoln to the edge of the abyss. Politico reports:

Illinois has compiled $14.6 billion in unpaid bills. It’s running a deficit of $6 billion, and its pension liability has soared to $130 billion.

That’s not the worst of it. The state’s nearly two-year failure to pass a budget has sent its bond ratings careening toward junk level, downgraded a staggering eight notches below most other states.

With university enrollments plummeting, large-scale social service agencies shuttering and the Chicago Public Schools forced to borrow just to stay open through the end of this school year, Illinois is beginning to devolve into something like a banana republic — and it’s about to have the most expensive election the state has ever seen.

The collapse of governance in America’s fifth-largest state is on a different scale from the problems (and there are many) in other indebted state capitals. But it may not stay that way. Mismanaged pension funds, bloated bureaucracies and special interest carveouts are endemic to blue model governance, especially in big blue cities like Chicago. As the fiscal vise tightens, these institutional failures stand to spill over into the political system, generating vicious fights over resources that bring governance to a standstill.

There is plenty of blame to go around in the Illinois political class—including for Democrats who are circling the wagons around a failed status quo, and for Republicans, who have not produced sustainable fixes beyond holding the line and starving the beast. Meanwhile, the people at the bottom, who rely most on the state’s decaying services, will bear the brunt of the impact from the meltdown.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • lord acton

    “Meanwhile, the people at the bottom, who rely most on the state’s decaying services, will bear the brunt of the impact from the meltdown.”

    And the people in the middle and at the top will row off (to healthier states) in the lifeboats…..further worsening the states financial woes.

    • LarryD

      Learning a harsh lesson. You cannot rely on government to support you.

      • Boritz

        They will keep you alive to vote just as the Romans kept Ben Hur alive to row.

        • Texas_Accountant

          In Chicago, you don’t need to be alive to vote.

      • Thomas Hazlewood

        The lesson is ‘You get the government you vote for, good and hard!’

    • And some will never row into that stagnant pool.

      All my children and grandchildren live in IL … it would be logical for me to retire there (in about 12 years or so) but I question the prudence of settling there vs. in an adjacent state, with respect to preventing significant portions of my retirement funds from being siphoned off to cover the mess.

      My daughter is a school nurse in a down-state city, and she just informed me that they are considering moving her into the teachers’ retirement system … I strongly recommended that she also finds ways to save for retirement over-and-above that if the move comes to pass … for what can’t go on, won’t.

  • Dale Fayda

    The collapse of Social Democracy continues apace. Good.

    There is no painless (or even only moderately painful) way to unwind this financial mess. Its roots are in the way Illinois has been governed for decades. A partial (at the very least) collapse is pretty much inevitable at this point – Chicago, other municipalities, pension funds, etc. The sooner it happens; the better. At least then the work of reforming and rebuilding may begin (maybe).

    • LarryD

      Cities can go bankrupt. States can only become insolvent. That’s going to have to change, but the escape has to involve purging the entire political class and culture. Perhaps a reversion to territorial status? The process for graduating from Territory to State is already well established.

  • ——————————

    Let them eat cake….

  • seattleoutcast

    Here is an excellent rundown of the problem:

    https://mishtalk.com/2017/06/14/unable-to-pay-bills-illinois-sends-dear-contractor-letter-telling-firms-to-halt-road-work-on-july-1/

    Naturally, there will be a few here who will still blame conservatives and consider this link “not genuine research.”

  • Lonestar78730

    IL shuts down all non-safety related road work – they’re out of money…..

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-15/

  • Los Deplorables

    “Meanwhile, the people at the bottom, who rely most on the state’s decaying services, will bear the brunt of the impact from the meltdown.

    You must mean the ingrate Black Democrat useful idiot non-productive government cheese-eating parasites that bear the entire brunt of responsibility. They are the enablers here.

    • Wrong.

      The fundamental flaw of the Blue Model is that it suppresses the initiative needed to protect oneself, in favor of dependence upon “experts” and “leaders” to solve one’s problems FOR them.

      That extends well beyond the demographic you describe; many who consider themselves “hard workers” (and some who even voted for Mr. Trump) have made themselves just as vulnerable to “what can’t go on, won’t” by remaining dependent upon things government promises to do for them, what union leaders promise to do for them, what academics and activists tell them is “fair” … instead of savoring the secret sauce of all human advancement short of Divine intervention: the responsible exercise of indivdiual initiative.

      https://www.facebook.com/notes/ritchie-the-riveter/outsourcing-is-the-problem-but-not-the-way-you-might-think/416571378389947/

  • Edgar Boswell Simpson III

    it almost seems like the author doesn’t know the gop works hand in glove with the democrats — all the time. bizzarre. perhaps the author was writing while drunk…

  • South of Reality

    So … the Democrats are responsible for causing the problem and the Republicans are responsible for not fixing the problem. Yeah.

  • Bobcat

    “…Republicans, who have not produced sustainable fixes”

    How in Holy Hell can they be expected to overcome the Jabba the Hutt Demoklepticrats?

  • Bobcat

    “..,. Republicans, who have not produced sustainable fixes”

    How in Holy Hell can Illinois Republicans overcome Jabba the Hutt Demoklepticrats???

    “Starve the beast”?

    They can’t be expected to do more than deprive it of a few spoonfuls of taxpayer-funded caviar.

    • Boritz

      Don’t you know it is the job of Republicans to endlessly reinvent the wheels that liberals have tossed on the cave fire.

  • InklingBooks

    A family from Illinois recently rented one side a duplex near me for a week while in town for their daughter’s sports training. From all the questions they asked me about living here (Auburn, Alabama), I strongly suspect they’re considering a move out of their doomed state.

    They are solidly responsible, hard-working members of the middle-class, precisely the people a state needs to ensure a sound economy. If they’re looking to move, many others are too. The result will be a death spiral as the best leave and the least productive stay. Eventually, there will be a collapse that’ll lead even the unproductive to flee.

    More and more, I’m sensing what it must have been like to live in the early fourth-century Roman empire. Can we turn our country around? I don’t know.

  • DudeAbiding

    Placing blame on Republicans for the mess in Illinois is like blaming Hawaiians for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

  • Terenc Blakely

    “There is plenty of blame to go around in the Illinois political class—including for Democrats who are circling the wagons around a failed status quo, and for Republicans, who have not produced sustainable fixes beyond holding the line and starving the beast.”

    Ultimately the blame lies with the voters who elected these tools. In a democracy, when things go in the crapper because of political mismanagement the citizens are always responsible for the mess that their poor judgement enabled.

  • Josephbleau

    What few people understand is that Illinois has a secret power, the Madigan Family. Without this power Illinois would be nowhere near as corrupt, indebted and debased as it is. No one understands how this power functions but it is incredibly persistent.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service