Most can remember the turbulent days of the democrat national convention in
1968 where the Mayor dealt a heavy-handed response to the demonstrators.
Even now with the President claiming Chicago has his home, having been in
the State General Assembly prior to his Presidency, there are jokes spouted
everywhere about doing business the "Chicago way."
Of course we all know what the "Chicago way" infers when precinct chairmen
ask their favorite politician, "How many votes do you need to win?" Scandal,
crisis, mayhem and deceit seem to be the order of the day when it comes to
"politics as usual" in Illinois. With such colorful background and the
accepted reputation of Illinois politics, one would think the Illinois
gubernatorial race should be about ethics reform. For years politicians in
Illinois have been branded with unethical conduct; including former
governors and representatives elected to do the state's business. Today's
issues include the deficit, pension reform, business flight from the state,
high taxes, building massive government bureaucracies, spending over the
top; but still having a tinge of ethical issues.
The last time the current governor ran for office he had taken over from the
governor who had been found guilty of law-breaking that landed him in prison
for years. The current governor ran on the "economy" citing the state was in
debt over $13 billion dollars. Today as the new cycle of gubernatorial
continues to November, the debt outlined from the Comptroller, Judy Baar
Topinka reported the state has a deficit at nearly $45 billion dollars. She
attributed that to the increased growth liability caused by the obligations
to the state pension system. Ms. Topinka reported the state has a $100
billion dollar shortfall in its five pension systems. Therefore, the
accounting system used to show this amount of debt was to show what funding
should have been set aside to keep pace with the obligations that included
the pensions. The actual general revenue spending account showed a 19
percent reduction that yielded a $7.3 billion dollar deficit.
The total projected spending over a three year period for 2013, 2014 and
2014 was reported at $128.6 billion dollars, $131.2 billion dollars and
$139.2 billion dollars represents the spending spree continues in spite of
the fact the taxing structure in Illinois remains among the highest in the
land. Projected for the year 2014 from the total of $131.2 is $15.4 billion
for pensions; $17.2 billion for health care; $38.3 billion for education;
$8.8 billion for welfare; $9.6 billion for protection and $12.3 billion for
For Illinois politics stewardship seems scarce. Stewardship is a
responsibility; more than that, however, stewardship is a privilege.
Stewardship is service carried out by a person who is responsible for
possessions belonging to another. The steward is responsible to carry out
the owner's instructions regarding that property. Elected officials become
the stewards of the people's resources.
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Governments may levy taxes, but everything collected is subject
to appropriate use. When the framers of our form of government put
quill pen to parchment and wrote those enduring words, "We the
people...," the values changed from feudal lords, monarchy and
privilege, to individuals with freedom.
Each individual living in a stable society must strive toward
maintaining integrity, high moral values and trust. More
importantly, the person who is thrust by "we the people" to be an
official is even more obligated to take on a lifestyle of the
highest character. To marginalize the need for ethics is to abrogate
that responsibility of stewardship. It is shameful that Illinois
politicians have spent to a deficit that continues to run into the
billions of dollars. There is not a family in Illinois that could
maintain that proportion of deficit spending and expect to prosper.
Clearly, those responsible for this deficit have been poor
stewards of the people's resources. It resulted in money being spent
for "bridges to nowhere" and projects that benefit only a few.
Meanwhile, communities read about local school programs being
eliminated due to limited resources.
The plight of Illinois is not unlike the circumstances we are
experiencing throughout the United States. We are bombarded from the
policy wonks and the news reporters about our debt climbing into the
trillions of dollars. “Generational debt” it is being called;
borrowing from our children and grandchildren to pay off our current
debt. As individual states and the federal government collectively
continue to fashion our national economy upon a foundation of deceit
and shadow truth, the integrity of our way of life will continue to
In the leadership role of a public office, no matter what level, the
foundational strength is the individual's moral character, along
with practiced ethics and values of good stewardship. The voter has
a responsibility to examine the past practices of those who
currently hold the public trust. Have they spent wisely? Have they
examined their spending practices and ensured the funding provided
to other agencies, both public and private, have been accounted for
and spent wisely with minimal waste? Have they held those recipients
accountable for their moral behavior regarding stewardship of the
taxpayer's money? If the mantra for the current politicians
continues to be increasing taxes, building government, creating more
bureaucracy and spending well beyond the taxpayers' ability to pay
the debt, those politicians should be relieved of their
responsibility and replaced with those who are promising to be
better stewards. They, in turn, should be tested for their moral
behavior as well as they take on their new positions of trust.
Is this not among the most important requisites for holding any
[By JIM KILLEBREW]
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