Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

By John Ruberry

Now that New York’s Bill De Blasio has been term-limited out of office, America’s worst mayor is Lori Lightfoot of Chicago.

This week Lightfoot will announce she is running for a second term, from an unusual location, Chicago’s West Side, a largely overlooked part of the city, except in regard to violent crime. At her side, according to Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times, will be three West Side aldermen, each of them black. 

Chicago’s candidates for mayor will face off in a late February election. If none of them receives 50 percent of the vote, the two candidates who tallied the most votes face off in an April runoff.

In his most recent Chicago Way podcast, John Kass, as he interviewed former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, spoke of racial politics, which has plagued Americas’ third-largest city for decades. “Lori Lightfoot has gone from presenting herself as an agent of change,” the former Chicago Tribune columnist remarked, “to an able practitioner and player of the race card.”

A year ago, to mark the two-year anniversary of her inauguration, her office sent invitations to reporters for one-on-one interviews with a restriction–only reporters of “color” were requested.

But Lightfoot has another joker card up her long sleeve, the gender card. Last week, in what you would think should been an opportunity to offer a message of healing and unity–kicking off Pride Month–Lightfoot is a lesbian by the way, she and Governor JB Pritzker dedicated Chicago’s AIDS Garden. It was at that event where she dismissed criticism of her turbulent three years as mayor by her opponents.

“Another day, another man who thinks he can do his job better than me,” Lightfoot said.

As America’s worst mayor, there are plenty of men–and women–residing in Chicago who can do better. 

Crime has skyrocketed since Lightfoot moved into the fifth floor of City Hall. In 2019, according to Hey Jackass, there were 603 carjackings reported in Chicago. Last year there were 1,848. In 2021, AP reported, there were 797 homicides, 299 more than in 2019. 

Apologists for Lightfoot will blame the COVID-19 epidemic, but Chicago’s lockdowns were among the nation’s most severe. Infamously, in August of 2020, on the same day Lightfoot cracked down after a large group violated her ridiculous ban on entering the expansive Lincoln Park on Chicago’s beautiful lakefront by dispatching a heavy police presence there, looters that night mowed through the city’s Loop and Magnificent Mile shopping areas downtown. Those areas were still recovering from the late May riots after the murder of George Floyd. This led to a continuing exodus from that area that includes the Gap, Disney, and Macy’s. It will take decades for Chicago to recover from what another blogger, whose name escapes me, called “the Night Chicago Died,” referencing the 1970s pop hit by Paper Lace

The Loop, the Magnificent Mile, and the immediate surrounding area is the driver of Chicago’s economy. The rest of the city is simply along for the ride. 

The retail departure hasn’t escaped Paul Vallas’ attention. “I used to say a number of years ago,” he said in that Kass podcast, “when I ran [for mayor] last time, that Chicago was Detroit with a thriving downtown–now I can’t even say that.”

Back to the lockdowns. Lightfoot all but sanctioned the large outdoor celebrations in Chicago after Joe Biden was declared by the media the winner of the 2020 presidential election, which occurred a few days before she issued new lockdown orders in time for Thanksgiving–on top of the others that were already in place.

I wonder if knowledge that two years later gasoline would double in price would have muted those flash mob gatherings?

To be fair, Chicago and its Cook County suburbs are burdened with a Soros-funded politician, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who is more of a woke social worker than a prosecutor. Lightfoot on occasion has spoken out against Foxx, but her criticism has been guarded. Foxx, a Democrat like Lightfoot, is of course best known for the special treatment she gave since-convicted race-hoaxster Jussie Smollett. Foxx deserves some blame for the fall of Chicago too, as does another wokester, Timothy C. Evans, Cook County’s chief judge.

Will Chicagoans reelect America’s worst mayor?

UPDATE June 7:

In a video that was released today, Lightfoot officially announced her reelection effort.

Yesterday, Lightfoot bizarrely attacked Kim Foxx, who she endorsed for reelection in 2020 in what should have been a tough Democratic primary for the radical prosecutor. “Given the exacting standards that the state’s attorney has for charging a case, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt – when those charges are brought, these people are guilty,” the mayor said, but quickly adding, “and of course they’re entitled to a presumption of innocence.” Some more back story: Foxx is the former chief of staff for Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle was Lightfoot’s runoff opponent in the 2019 mayoral election–she’s a leftist too.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from suburban Cook County at Marathon Pundit.

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.

Reality: I’m going to tear down your safe space, I shall smash it with glee.

Cartman: Who is that?

Reality: You can’t stop me from getting inside. I am cold and dark and my name…is reality!

South Park: Safe space , song: In my safe space 2015

I’m rather amused at the left’s insistence that the primary problem they are having is messaging.

That because there are two primary factors hurting their messaging.

The first is reality.

It doesn’t matter getting a standing O at the Kennedy Center if people are paying twice as much for Gas as there were a few month before and their grocery bills are though the roof even as the supply chain falls apart.

Nor does it help when people you have cheered as heroes just a year or two ago (Cuomo) end up either resigning or being fired for offences against decency.

Furthermore it’s hard to ignore rampant crime to the point where local TV stations are giving advice on how not to be carjacked.

All of these things are being actually experienced by actual voters, primarally in actual blue cities. The reality is so pronounced that it’s very hard to spin it away.

And I’ve not even mentioned Afghanistan or even Joe Biden’s inability to speak or move without constant supervision.

But that’s only one component of the problem. The 2nd is almost as deadly.

For a long time the primary MO of the left and their media allies was to avoid talking about their actual beliefs and goal.

Now we have members of the left openly calling for no bail for criminals.

We have people openly supporting socialism and communism

We have an AG calling parents attending school board meetings domestic terrorists

And most important we have Democrat governors and mayors openly pushing mandates at work at school and even at home that are not working while at the same time the primary non-trump villain in your drama (DeSantis in Florida) is doing the exact opposite with a wide degree of success.

While this stuff might play inside the Democrat media bubbles of academia and media outside of those safe spaces they just don’t advance the cause.

Now given the methods used to win the last national election it may well be that it doesn’t matter what the voters think but in midterm elections at a time of heightened scrutiny this is a danger.

The Democrats, the media and reality have come out as what they are, alas for them it’s unlikely that they can be fit back into their bottle.

By John Ruberry

“He crossed state lines with an AR-15” is a typical bellyache from leftist pontificators about Kyle Rittenhouse traveling from his home in Antioch, Illinois to help protect a business in Kenosha, Wisconsin during the riots (oops civil unrest) there last summer. 

The northern city limits of Antioch end at the Wisconsin state line. So for many people, including for Kyle Rittenhouse, travelling to Wisconsin is a daily trip. He worked in Pleasant Prairie, which is sandwiched between the Illinois state line and Kenosha. And Rittenhouse’s father and other relatives of his live in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse of course was found not guilty–and it was the correct verdict–of charges surrounding the self-defense shootings of three rioters (oops mostly peaceful protesters) in Kenosha last summer.

Do you need to fill up your gas tank? Only naive fools top off their vehicles in Illinois when there is a Wisconsin choice a short drive away. For instance, last month Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I visited Illinois Beach State Park in Zion. On our way out of the park I told Mrs. Marathon Pundit, “Let’s head up Sheridan Road and fill up our car.” And so we did. At the BP station there–which is just 50 yards north of the Illinois border, we paid 40 cents less per gallon than we would have south of the Cheese Curtain. The BP station is a large one–there were about ten vehicles filling up. And each one had Illinois license plates.

What about permanent moves to America’s Dairyland?

Just north of that border you see many manufacturing facilities and warehouses, most of them are newly built. Many of them are businesses that formerly called Illinois home. U-Line has a massive warehouse in Pleasant Prairie, they moved there, bringing 1,000 jobs, from Waukegan, Illinois in 2008. That facility has many neighbors that are equally massive. But on the Illinois side you see farms and some small scale businesses.

Why are they leaving?

Writing for the Badger Institute in 2019, Mark J. Perry said, “On 14 different measures of labor market dynamism, economic growth, various tax burdens, business climate and fiscal health, Wisconsin comes out ahead of neighboring Illinois on all but one of those measures — state individual income tax rate.” Perry added, “On net, Wisconsin has gained 116,000 Illinois residents between 2006 and 2017, an average of nearly 40 residents every day from 2014-’17.” 

Illinois has other substantial problems. Its public pension system is the second-worst funded of the 50 states–at just 39 percent–while Wisconsin’s public worker pensions are the best-funded at over 100 percent. Only an amendment to the Illinois constitution to eliminate the pension guarantee clause, a default, or hyper-inflation can solve the pension crisis. Illinois regularly contends for the title of most-corrupt state. Since I was born four Illinois governors have served time in federal prison. No governors of Wisconsin from that period have suffered the same disgrace.

Violent crime and robbery is a growing crisis in Chicago and its inner suburbs. Chicago will probably exceed 800 murders this year–numbers that the city hasn’t seen since the crack-fueled street gang wars of the mid-1990s. According to Hey Jackass there have already been over 1,400 carjackings in Chicago–nearly double than the yearly total of 2009. Flash mob robberies are occurring not just in Chicago but also the suburbs, such as this outrage where a gang of thieves on Wednesday filched over $100,000 in merchandise from a Luis Vuitton store in DuPage County. Two days later in Chicago’s downsized Magnificent Mile a flash mob of shoplifters struck Neiman Marcus–filling up three cars of merchandise. Wow, up until recently finding even an illegal parking spot was nearly impossible on the Mag Mile. Of course no one has been charged in these flash mob thefts. 

So crossing the Illinois state line into Wisconsin isn’t just a common occurrence. It’s the safe and smart move for people and businesses. 

Who knows? Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I might make that migration north too. Without a rifle. We only own a handgun.

John Ruberry regularly blogs just forty miles south of the Wisconsin border at Marathon Pundit.