A visit back to Illinois this week offered a chance to survey the state’s politics (both through friends and the Chicago press), as well as the still-dismal condition of the state’s finances. One of the GOP hopefuls, Bruce Rauner, made a few ripples with a proposal for term limits (previous governors having been limited merely by federal investigations). I have what I think is a catchier, and more effective, prescription for a winning political platform in 2014: take Illinois straight to bankruptcy.
The state’s politicians are chronically incapable of solving the pension crisis or balancing the budget. Their sole answer so far has been to raise income taxes, which has done little except sink the local economy even further. Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have decided to take on some of the same public sector unions on which Democrats rely for routine, machine support, but they seem unprepared for the kind of fight Gov. Scott Walker put up in Wisconsin to the north.
So–why not take the matter out of politicians’ hands entirely? Send the state to bankruptcy. Let a court reorganize the bad contracts, and send the state legislature home until it does. That’s a radical proposal, and not without some risk, but it’s far more interesting than anything on the table at the moment, and would allow voters to express the ultimate contempt for the self-dealing Springfield careerists who have built their reputations and fortunes by destroying Illinois’ financial future.