Letter: Editorial was irresponsible, lazy

By on January 20, 2011

Your editorial about the tax increase was irresponsible, lazy and self-indulgent. Is it responsible journalism to engage in inflammatory writing and call all legislators pigs and drug addicts, especially in light of recent events in Arizona?

What kind of example does this set for someone in middle school or high school? Would you stand in the same room face-to-face with Senator Lauzen and Representative Hatcher and call them pigs and drug addicts? Do you really think they spend the money on themselves in some sort of political orgy?

It is easy journalism to point the finger of blame at someone else. But as the old saying goes, when you point the finger of blame, three fingers are pointing back at you. For decades, we, the citizens, have asked that affordable education be maintained or improved, criminals be sent to prison, highways be maintained, mental health facilities be maintained, highways be patrolled, and on and on. Where should we have spent less? You neglected to say.

At the same time, we have said to our legislators that we do not want to pay for state services. If you ask us to pay, we will vote you out of office. So the legislators have obeyed us. To avoid angering us by raising taxes, they have for years even borrowed money from our pension funds and other places, insuring that matters would become worse down the road (now).

If we had not been so selfish ourselves, we might have allowed a smaller tax increase years ago that would have kept us solvent and even … just maybe … allowed for some property tax relief. Now it’s too late for a small tax increase, and we cannot even get lower property taxes out of the deal.

It’s not the legislators; it’s us. We wanted a free lunch. The only good news is that even at 5 percent, our income tax will still be less than that of most states. And with your future editorials, how about trying to enlighten instead of inflame us? Tell us where money is being wasted instead of insulting all legislators.

Jonathan Berg


  1. RM

    January 20, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    I couldn’t have written a better response. The editorial was nothing but a regurgitation of Tea Party & Republican rhetoric that reflected a total lack of understanding of government or what has happened in this State the past couple decades. People demand services but are clueless about how they are paid for. Clearly the budget deficit needs to be solved by both a tax increase and a reprioritization of where the money needs to be spent. You can’t cut your way to prosperity without hurting something (or someone). A tax increase was long overdue. Had it been done a few years ago, the debt would be a fraction of what it is today.

  2. hellostuman

    January 21, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    I child wants everything. They are selfish. They want to put dirt in their mouths, they want to play next to a boiling pot of water, they want to stick their fingers in outlets. It’s the job of the parent to do what is best for that child and to give them what they need, not just what they want. Only a lousy parent would let a kid play with matches just because they held their breath and turned blue.

    Every single one of us with their hand out asking for the state to give us more is that child. It’s been the lousy politicians who gave instead of saying “No!”. They gave and gave and promised things that future generations had to pay for and couldn’t afford so they would be elected or re-elected. But you insist to tell us that “It’s not the legislators; it’s us” who are to blame. By using your logic, we should spank the kid who ate cake for breakfast and not smack the parent, who gave it to them, upside the head for being irresponsible.

    And speaking of irresponsible… Why would people chose to bury their heads in the sand and to ignore what is obvious issues affecting their state. You ask where cuts can be made? You are insulted by someone referring to an Illinois politician as “piggish” and you ask if we really think they spend taxpayers money on “some sort of political orgy”. If you can’t see the forest for the trees, maybe you should become the role model for the middle school or high school student and do a little homework before your next vote.

    In my lifetime 79 Illinois politicians have been found guilty of a crime while in office, we are spending $1.2 billion on a high speed rail line to go from Chicago to St. Louis that will probably need to use taxpayer subsidies to sell tickets, federal judges in Illinois are paid the most in the country (oh, and also get free room and board), $3 million was paid to train census personal who either quit or was let go before they even worked a day and another $1.5 million to people who only worked 1 day, the Cook County Treasurer pays an assistant to drive her around and run errands $94,000 (taxpayer money) a year, Hastert spent $1 million keeping his Yorkville office going (and look to see who ended up with a good part of that taxpayer money) and a $1.4 million dollar vacation (paid by taxpayers) to Hawaii could be considered by some as a “political orgy”.

    The above items took Google and about 10 minutes to look up. If you’d like I can spend a few more minutes and give you some additional examples of wasteful spending/ areas to spend less?

    As another old saying goes, “Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.”

    P.S. RM, since the article talked about all Illinois elected officials, I’m not sure how you came to the “Tea Party and Republican rhetoric” conclusion??? Oh, and as proven above, clearly there are other solutions to solve the deficit problem than only “a tax increase and a reprioritization of where the money should be spent”.

  3. RM

    January 21, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    Stuman – your response is a bit schizophrenic. Not sure where the child bit fits in since the voters and the politicans are all supposed to be adults. A big part of the problem is voters vote for who brings home the bacon to their district. They also vote the party instead of the candidate. If the politician is irresponsible, they should be voted out. Yet they’re returned over and over. If you’re expecting the politician to be the parent – that just isn’t going to happen even though that’s what we expect. We give them money and power and expect them to make the best choices. Sometimes that works, most times not so much.

    There is no doubt that millions are wasted in this state (and across the country) and millions more in cuts can be made. But that will NEVER add up to $15 billion. Government has responsibilities they must fund. You’re certainly right about government always finding a need for whatever money it gets.

    My reference to Republicans and Tea Party rhetoric is based on the facts. Lest you forgot – neither group supported a tax increase. They also have absolutely no solutions that add up to a $15 billion dollar bailout. This isn’t a problem that can be solved only with cuts and it won’t be quickly resolved with a tax increase either but they’re both steps in the right direction.

  4. hellostuman

    January 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Really RM, still on the tax the people more train. I listed a handful of items above that added up to over 1 Billion of your 15 Billion debt. That’s just scratching the surface. Instead of spending 2% more this year, how about no increase? Maybe a decrease? Or, let’s work on the pensions plans that the politicians have given in the hopes of being re-elected. Did you see how much of the new tax is going to education? Maybe a big thank you to the teachers union for helping someone get elected? I know the pensions are a sacred cow and touching them will bring down a fire storm, but if you don’t want to address the problem now, then wait until the state files bankruptcy, then they will have no choice.

    What do you think drives companies out of Illinois? Higher taxes? Corruption? The massive kick backs demanded on businesses? Did you notice CAT is building a new plant in IN? You want to get rid of the debt? Attract more business (and you don’t do that by raising the corporate taxes!) which will put more people to work and then watch the taxes dollars pour into the state and erode the debt. Instead we are chasing out businesses creating higher un-employment (resulting in more tax dollars needed to support a bunch of out of work people) and asking the remaining chumps businesses to pick up the pieces.

    When does common sense start to kick in around here?

  5. RM

    January 23, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    Common sense kicks in when you realize that giving all the tax breaks in the world to business will never accomplish your goal. Common sense kicks in when you realize that the State has obligations it has to pay. Common sense kicks in when you see that all your cuts don’t add up to $15 billion. Common sense kicks in when the State declares bankruptcy because there was no tax increase and the debt increases a few billion more. Common sense has 20-20 hindsight because common sense isn’t really that common. That’s why we have a problem.

    Reducing taxes for business is great but it’s only a temporary measure. You can give tax incentives to draw business but you have to continue with the handouts or they leave. What many businesses want is no taxes, low wages, no benefits and zero regulation. They want to be allowed to pollute the air, ground and water because it costs money to haul away their toxic byproducts. They want to put their money into foreign banks to avoid all US taxes.

    The problem with giving taxes breaks to bring in business is that small businesses that were started with no help at all other than sweat, hard work and the investment of the owners are destroyed by those that move in after being offered every break imagineable. Nobody can compete with that. Then the tax breaks go away and so does the business leaving the community devastated.

    Perhaps we should be offering tax breaks to businesses for each new job they add and subtracting incentives for those that cut jobs. Businesses have learned to work leaner. Government needs to do the same. But in order to get government to work smarter and leaner, you have to elect better people. Stop electing fat cats who are there just to feed from the trough and aren’t doing anything to make government work better.

  6. hellostuman

    January 24, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    Well I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, but since history proves me right and you wrong, I’ll continue to fight the good fight and speak out against corruption, poor government decisions and the misuse of taxpayer’s money.

    Others can continue to keep their head in the sand.

  7. RM

    January 24, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Not sure what history you’re referring to Stuman unless you wrote a book. The abandoned big box stores and vacant mom and pop stores across the country tell the real story. There are books out there about it if you care to avail yourself of the truth. It’s the right thing to speak out against corruption, poor government and waste of taxpayer’s money. However, you need the right information to fight the right fight.

  8. hellostuman

    January 25, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    So we agree after all? If you actually read what I said, then you would see I called for better government decisions, less corruption and an end to wasteful spending of taxpayer money. I also called on politicians to stop promising things to the unions that future generations cannot finance. I demanded more accountability from the people spending my money before they come asking everyone in the state (people and businesses alike) for more of it.

    I’d like to first, fix these problems,and then determine what the debt is and go from there.

    Not once did I say the words “tax breaks” or “zero regulation” that was you. If you want to debate me, at least do it based on the words I type and not the words that you place into my mouth.

    Signed, Mr.schizophrenic.

  9. RM

    January 25, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    Sure we agree on some points. The route is the argument. However, we already know what the debt is (ballpark figure) and it won’t get smaller without urgent action. We both know there will be no urgent action in making any cuts. Government only makes urgent expenditures – not urgent cuts! Wouldn’t it be interesting if instead of earmarks slipped into unrelated spending bills we saw little cuts (reverse earmarks?) here and there?

    Wasn’t putting words in your mouth – just answering your question.

  10. outdoor1

    January 25, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    Hey RM,

    Maybe if all the tax and spend liberals left the state for a few years we would see this turn around. I am middle aged and this state has been run by one party (the left) my whole life. All they know how to do is tax, spend, and pander to people for votes. IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP AND SEE WHAT IS GOING ON HERE!! Maybe when nobody gets anything they will get the hint. Bankruptcy here we come…

  11. RM

    January 27, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    I’m a bit beyond middle aged and I can tell you that Republicans spend money just as well as “tax and spend” liberals. Maybe the word shouldn’t be “well” because that’s always the cause of the debate. It seems when Republicans spend money that’s just fine with folks but when Democrats do it, they’re referred to as “tax and spend.” The reality is that they are all spending taxpayer money unless they’re spending borrowed funds (taxpayer money plus interest). Unfortunately taxes are necessary to provide services we expect and government chooses to also use the money to buy favors and fill their trough. There will always be some folks who get everything at the expense of the rest.

  12. outdoor1

    February 1, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Ok RM, Republicans spend money too. But have you looked at our state? Who runs the state RM??? That’s right, the liberals. They have always run it at least in the last 50 years for the most part. I don’t agree with any party and their wasteful spending. Republicans are at fault too. But this state has had one party rule for decades and look what we have now. We rely on vendors and banks to give us loans to make our payments (which are 6 months behind). What does that mean? If the loans stop this state goes under, simple as that. However, everything seems good to you when your liberal party is running things into the ground. Why is that RM? When are you going to stand up and recognize the magnitude of our problem in Illinois? I know it’s hard to come to terms with. If we don’t have MAJOR cuts across the board then maybe no one gets anything. So who defaults first? Illinois or California?

  13. RM

    February 2, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    MY liberal party? Didn’t know I was in charge of something I’m not even a member of. If I could start my own party, it would be the party of common sense. However, we’d be a minority group and never be in charge of anything because there isn’t much common sense today. I’m one of those rare folks who votes for people based on what they stand for – NOT for the party they represent. I vote against people for pushing their party politics before the needs of the people. I didn’t grow up in this state but the problems have been so obvious for the decade plus years I’ve been here. Most governments (city, county & state) in this state are grossly mismanaged. They rely on nepotism, graft and outright theft. Politicians (Democrats and Republicans) serve themselves and their friends. Taxes are too low to support legitimate needs and the money is wasted on illegitimate or nefarious people and things. This is the fault of each and every voter that returns the same corrupt people to office and fights over party values or lack thereof instead of working to meet the needs of the people. People like to complain but they refuse to step up. It’s not that hard to come to terms with. I’ve watched the same people spew the same nonsense and elect the same talking heads with the same results over and over. Voters just aren’t that smart. There won’t be any reform until we hit bottom.

  14. outdoor1

    February 3, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    1. The way you talk RM you sure sound like a liberal.
    2. Well you should be voting against democrats in this state then because they run everything and pay off their friends.
    3. Seeing that you didn’t grow up in this state it should have given you much more “common sense” as to what is going on here seeing it from the outside in. Why did you move here? Most people are trying to move away. We have one of the worst business climates in the nation.
    4. TAXES are too low??!! Where did you come from RM, San Francisco?!
    Our sales tax in the city of Chicago is the highest in the country at 11.25% There are many states that don’t have any income tax and they seem to manage just fine. Most of our money goes to pensions, medicare, and medicaid right now and we are $60 billion that’s right BILLION in the red without a way to pay it off. Maybe we should have even more liberal entitlements right RM? Small business has the money, just keep soaking them!!
    5. btw- We are the only state in the nation to have raised taxes in this recession. 66% income tax hike not enough for you RM? Maybe YOU should write an extra check to the state seeing that you are so apt to giving your money away to the government. I don’t know about you but I DON’T have that money. Times are TOUGH!!

  15. reader

    February 4, 2011 at 8:29 AM

    RM – I was generally with you until the comment, “Most governments (city, county & state) in this state are grossly mismanaged.” Really? You are going to lump most city and county governments in with the the state? “Grossly mismanaged”? Most city governments are actually managed very well. At least in the western suburbs. Counties typically do a good job overall also. Sure, there are always a few problems, just like in any other entity from businesses to churches to schools to hospitals. To compare them to the state is grossly inaccurate and unfair.

  16. RM

    February 6, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    I came here for work like most folks. Most folks aren’t trying to move away. Individual income tax rates in Wisconsin were triple the Illinois rate 30 years ago. Property tax rates, sales taxes and fees were considerably lower. Just because a state doesn’t have an income tax doesn’t mean you aren’t paying taxes. All states require a revenue stream. Low or no income taxes mean high property taxes, sales taxes and fees. Police, fire, sewer, safe water, decent roads and bridges aren’t liberal entitlements. Neither are access to health care, assisting the poor, the unfortunate or elderly. Mismanagement is relative, not all financial and usually directly related to the number of people involved in sticking their hands in the pie.

  17. RM

    February 6, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    There may not be a long line of states raising income taxes during this time but you can bet nobody has lowered them either. Most people are experiencing an increase in property taxes and fees despite the economy. Government always gets what they need one way or another. Most have made cuts where they could at the expense of not meeting all of taxpayers wants/needs. Either way we lose. Infrastructure continues to decay as it gets pushed to the back burner.

  18. outdoor1

    February 14, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    So you think no states have lowered their taxes RM? Try, Indiana (lowest property taxes nationwide, and 6% income tax, and they are in the black). Try New Jersey. Try Arizona. Try Florida. Try Alaska. They are not raising taxes. They are lowering them. And revelation RM! They all have drivable roads, Police Depts., bridges, etc. Are they hurting? Yes. BUT, the state is not going after its citizens for more and more of what we don’t have. How do they manage RM? Maybe you could explain that.