Archive for April 20, 2022

Blogger in Big Bend Ranch State Park last week

By John Ruberry

After a ten-day vacation I’ve returned home to Illinois, which should be renamed ILL-inois.

Since I was born–let’s just say for the same of humility it was a really long time ago–Illinois and Texas had roughly the same population. The Land of Lincoln had slightly more than 10 million residents then, while the Lone Star State had about half-a-million fewer people. According to the 2020 Census, Texas was the home of 29 million people, with Illinois at just under 13 million. Overall, in the same time period the overall US population soared from 179 million to 329 million. 

Texas has prospered and continues to do so; Illinois has gone from stagnation to decline. The Prairie State has been losing population every year since 2014.

I know of many Illinoisans who have bailed on this state and moved to Texas. The most noted departure was that of Roger Keats, a former Republican state senator and onetime candidate for Crook County–oops I meant Cook County–board president. In his 2011 farewell letter to suckers like my wife and I, who remain here, titled “Goodbye and Good Luck,” Keats wrote, “I am tired of subsidizing crooks.”

Since I was born four Illinois governors, three Democrats and one Republican, have served time in federal prison. No Texas governors have suffered that indignity. Last month, Michael Madigan, who was Illinois’ most powerful politician until he was ousted as Illinois speaker of the House in 2021, was indicted on a whole slew of racketeering charges. Madigan, except for two years in the 1990s, served as House speaker beginning in 1981. From 1998 until 2021 Madigan was also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Overlooked in the rundown of Boss Madigan’s career by journalists after his indictment is this ironic nugget: his predecessor as speaker was George H. Ryan, a Republican, who is one of Illinois’ felon governors. 

While the numbers might be slightly different today, here are more highlights from Keats’ Parthian shot: 

Illinois is ranked 50th for fiscal policy; 47th in job creation; first in unfunded pension liabilities; second largest budget deficit; first in failing schools; first in bonded indebtedness; highest sales tax in the nation; most judges indicted; and five of our last nine elected governors have been indicted. That is more than the other 49 states added together!… “We are moving to Texas where there is no income tax while Illinois’ just went up 67%. Texas’ sales tax is half of ours, which is the highest in the nation. Southern states are supportive of job producers, taxpayers and folks who offer opportunities to their residents. Illinois shakes them down for every penny that can be extorted from them.

While flying into Dallas Fort-Worth Airport I saw numerous suburban subdivisions under construction. I remember those halcyon home building days in Illinois. But the biggest boom I saw was in the oil industry towns of Odessa and Midland on the Permian Basin. Homes, office buildings, and hotels are popping up there like dandelions in spring. Or like Illinois politicians in prison.

Southern Illinois could be a lucrative area for oil fracking. But our state’s Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, says he supports “clean energy” and it’s believed he opposes fracking. He’s up for reelection this year. Why aren’t his Republican opponents calling for fracking in Illinois?

No place is perfect, not even Texas. It has its own power grid, heavily dependent on wind power, which works great, until it doesn’t, as was the case after a large ice storm last year. Millions of Texans were without power for several days after that storm. But twice in the last decade, I was without electricity for several days, as were hundreds-of-thousands of others in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Unlike the Texas outages in 2021, this was not a national news story. My provider for electricity is Commonwealth Edison, which has been implicated in the Michael Madigan scandals.

Illinois is misruled by con-artists like Professor Henry Hill, the scoundrel from the play and the movie The Music Man, only our grifters are bereft of Hill’s charm.

We may not end up relocating in Texas, but Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I will leave Illinois. My family roots here reach back to 1850. When my great-great grandfather, another John Ruberry, arrived in Illinois from Ireland, this state was the land of opportunity. Illinois is now the land of corruption, high taxes, and decline. 

Like Keats, my wife and I are sick of subsidizing these crooks.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Morton Grove, Illinois at Marathon Pundit.