I concluded my last blog by stating that debt and financial hardship makes slaves of us all. No one proves my point any better than Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
The linked story from Fox Chicago tells of how Governor Quinn has threatened to withhold money from municipalities unless he can borrow $4.75 billion dollars to pay the state’s bills. The idea is that with the prospect of each city losing money that they were counting on from the state, mayors (regardless of party, but each according to his need) will urge their legislators to approve the borrowing. Many have criticized Quinn for this tactic and have likened it to extortion.
Yes, Governor Quinn’s tactics are borderline tyrannical, but we need to also look in the mirror, see how we got ourselves in this position, and act to get ourselves out of it. The governor has the ability to make such a threat because we have allowed our local governments to contract the same spending disease that plagues Springfield, IL and Washington DC. Our city governments are running deficits so great that they depend on state aid just like each state is clamoring for federal assistance. This insanity has to stop. This is why local elections matter. We need to put people in place that will put policies in place to get our spending under control. Imagine for a moment that you live in a town that doesn’t receive dollars from Springfield because you don’t need it. Your town has sufficient revenues to cover its expenses on its own. How do you view Pat Quinn’s threat then? You laugh it off.
On the other side of the coin, if your city is dependent on the state sending back tax dollars, like Chicago ($208 million) for instance, then you don’t have much of a choice. This is what I mean by debt making us slaves. If you have no options, then you aren’t really free. Debt takes away the partisan arguments. When money and livelihoods are at stake, we find ourselves in the same foxhole. Consequently, a lot of good well-meaning people will be forced into some bad decisions by previous bad decisions that got us into this mess. We have to watch our local officials and make them accountable for the way they spend our dollars.