The trial of Illinois politicians we should be having

Dan Proft Jul. 25, 2010, 3:25am


Illinoisans are getting a real education in what happens when politicians flout the laws.

I am not talking about the laws that govern public corruption and Rod Blagojevich's various schemes to secure cash and prizes as parting gifts for his two terms as governor.

No, I am talking about the laws of economics that govern Illinois' fiscal vitality and the politicians who have been violating those laws for generations.

Thanks to a decade's worth of phony balanced budgets and very real spending sprees, Illinois has surpassed California as the worst credit risk of the 50 states and one of the worst sovereign credit risks in the entire world.

According to CMA, a credit information specialist, Illinois' debt is just a pinch less risky than Iraq's. Regime change, anyone?

To put this in some context, investors are better off putting their money into alpaca farms or responding to e-solicitations from the spouse of a deposed sub-Saharan dictator then they are betting on Illinois.

On a scale from zero to Greece, Illinois is Broadway Bank.

It is not only the rating agencies and bond markets sending up flares. We should take heed that Illinois may be experiencing the greatest exodus of industrious people fleeing hardship since the Israelites were led out of Egypt.

Individuals with good sense and options will not stay, much less invest, in a place that has neither.

It's not just the $13 billion state budget deficit and the $6 billion in unpaid state bills.

It's not just the prospect of state pension funds running out of cash before the next decade is out.

It's not just the high tax burdens, hostile regulatory agencies, and rigged courts.

It's not just our failing schools and urban shooting galleries.

It's that no one in charge is chastened by any of it. As Josh Barro, a policy wonk from the Manhattan Institute, observed, "Illinois' crisis is unique in that is it is purely a creature of mismanagement by elected officials."

When do they go on trial for their crimes of wealth destruction and opportunity deprivation?

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