The Madison County Record Jun. 5, 2014, 1:51pm

Why do some politicians cultivate class consciousness and encourage envy of outstanding citizens whose talent and enterprise earned them material comfort?

For one thing, if they incite anger and resentment in enough people, they can harness it and convert it into political power.

Plus, they can use that hostility to shake down members of the productive class, offering “protection” from the rabble they’ve stirred up themselves.

There’s a simpler reason for engaging in this socially destructive behavior: to divert attention from their selfish efforts to enter the ranks of the wealthy the easy way –  by exploiting a public trust to feather their own nests.

Often the first to express outrage at perks enjoyed by chief executives in the private sector, these same political hacks are perpetually scrambling to secure their own lavish benefits paid for by us.

Consider Gordon Maag.

Maag, you’ll recall, is the disgruntled ex-jurist who filed suit in Sangamon County Circuit Court three years ago, challenging a newly enacted state law that required him and 80,000 other state retirees to start paying premiums for their own health insurance.

In retirement, without so much as lifting a finger, the former judge rakes in $98,696.28 annually. That’s over $8,000 a month, almost $100,000 a year, for doing nothing – more than twice what most of us in the Metro East make working full-time. What’s a full year’s wages for some, he makes in three months sitting on his duff.

Since he retired in 2006, Maag has received $731,997.41 in pension payments.

The tab for Maag and 17 other local jurists who left the bench between 2003 and 2012 already exceeds $12 million.

Last fiscal year, the state (i.e., the taxpayers) contributed about $88 million to the judges’ pension plan, and 962 active judges contributed about $16 million through payroll deduction at 11 percent. With the plan only 28-percent funded, you can bet that we the taxpayers eventually will be left holding the bag.

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