Business is a "special" interest, indeed

By The Madison County Record | Sep 11, 2005

Judges like St. Clair County’s John Baricevic would have you think barbarians pound at the gates of their chambers, insidious forces of evil trying to undermine our justice system and pillage the people of Illinois.

Really, it’s just a group of businesses trying to get a fair shake in our county courtrooms.

They do it because they want to keep operating; to stay open and grow, employing more Illinois residents. For that, they’re attacked as ill-willed “special interests.”

We’re referring to Baricevic’s candid remarks in a Q & A with our editor Ann Knef, published in this week’s edition of The Record. The newly elected member of the Twentieth Circuit bench and former St. Clair County Board Chairman seized the opportunity to take a shot at Illinois’ largest business association, suggesting it “(places) its interests ahead of the common good.”

Separating fact from fiction in the great debate over the state of Illinois’ civil justice system, it helps to know who’s doing the shooting.

Baricevic’s resume goes lawyer, politician, and now judge. Honorable, to be sure, but consider that he’s spent the past twenty-six years of his career on the public payroll, collecting a guaranteed, taxpayer-funded paycheck.

The entrepreneurs among us might say he has some nerve criticizing business owners—the real risk-takers whose optimism and investments employ the bulk of us.

For John Baricevic has never created a job. He’s never made a payroll. He’s never endured a sleepless night wishing that a deal would close, or said a prayer en route to the mailbox, hoping that a customer check had arrived.

Not that we expect a lifetime public official to understand this, but in a capitalist democracy like ours, business is the engine that makes everything else possible. It’s not just the golden goose, it’s the only goose.

Without local business investment, there’s no economic growth or new local jobs. Which means there’s no money for those “essentials”—schools, police, or donations to our churches—-we all take for granted.

Ironically, here in the Metro East we have a near and dear example of what a world without business might look like. It’s called East St. Louis.

Judge Baricevic has avoided the private sector, and that’s his prerogative.

But he should respect the right of business owners to voice their opinions on matters of great import to all Madison and St. Clair County residents, taking an old adage to heart:

Don’t knock it ‘till you try it.

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