Employment

Illinois Policy Institute: ‘Illinois Is Exporting Its Higher-Income Earners’

From time to time, I’ll talk about the Illinois Policy Institute, a Chicago-based non-partisan research organization that works “to make Illinois first in economic outlook and job creation.” The last time I blogged about the Institute, they had just released a report about Illinois having the most units of local government of any state in the country.

I happened to stop by their website the other day and something disturbing caught my eye. On March 27, Michael Lucci, the Institute’s Director of Jobs and Growth, talked about the state’s tax structure driving away businesses. He wrote:

There’s no telling how many businesses have left or expanded elsewhere over the years.

Caterpillar Inc. announced this week that it will expand in Georgia, AM manufacturing is leaving for Indiana and OfficeMax Inc. famously decided on Florida over Illinois.

That’s exactly what millions of people are doing. On net, 1.25 million more people have left Illinois than entered since 1985. Not only that: The average taxpayer who leaves Illinois earns $65,400. The average taxpayer who enters Illinois earns $56,700.

It’s clear what is happening. Illinois is exporting its higher-income earners, who are also job creators and investors…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity shouldn’t be too surprised at these findings.

Back on January 9, I talked about a press release associated with United Van Lines’ 37th Annual Migration Study, which found Illinois was the number two outbound state for a second year in a row in 2013.

And on February 27, I discussed a February 14 Crain’s Chicago Business piece that said Cook County lost about 13,000 residents with six-figure household incomes to other places during the Great Recession.

Regrettably, the politicians and their mouthpieces will keep peddling the spin about how individuals and businesses are tripping over themselves to move into the state. Meanwhile, the exodus from the “Land of Lincoln” will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Lucci, Michael. “Illinois’ recipe for exodus: 7 different tax structures proposed for 2015.” Illinois Policy Institute. 27 Mar. 2014. (http://www.illinoispolicy.org/illinois-recipe-for-exodus-7-different-tax-structures-proposed-for-2015/?utm_source=outbrain). 17 Apr. 2014.

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Peter Schiff Predicts Future Fed Moves

Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital released a new entry Monday on The Schiff Report YouTube vlog. The “crash prophet” talked about a number of financial topics, including future activity by the U.S. central bank. Schiff predicted:

I think that with the weakening in the stock market, the softness we’re seeing now in the real estate market- with the fact that we’re going to be getting weaker jobs numbers in the spring that cannot be rationalized away based on the weather- the Fed is going to have come forward at some point and acknowledge which should have already been obvious. That they were mistaken. They were overly-optimistic on their assessment of the economy. That for whatever reason they’ll come up with an excuse to save face- they can blame it on some external factor- but the Fed is going to have to come out and they’re going to have to halt the tapering process, and ultimately reverse it.

How much time there will be between the pause and the reversal?

I don’t know. I don’t think it will be more than a couple of meetings, at best. But that’s what’s coming….

Schiff, who correctly-called the U.S. housing bubble and subsequent burst along with the 2008 global economic crisis, went on to speculate what all this might mean for gold and stocks.


“Warmer Weather’s Failure to Stoke Jobs Chills Stocks”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Where Illinois Ranks In U.S. On Key Indicators In 2014 Compared To 4 Years Ago

“A state of distress”

That’s what the Chicago Tribune had at the top of an opinion piece that was published last Sunday on their website (was also in the Sunday paper too).

And it pretty much sums up what’s going on in Illinois when a comparison of where the state ranks nationally on various indicators is made to just a short four years ago.

From the Tribune on March 30:

Is Illinois better off in 2014 than it was four years ago? In 2010 we pored over a virtual library of statistics to assess where Illinois stood relative to other states and produced a chart much like this one. Today we replicate that exercise as closely as the data permit, with comparisons to Illinois’ national stature in 2010. By economic and jobs measures, Illinois has fallen further. By some education metrics, Illinois has improved. Our kids are still chubby…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Areas looked at included:

• Economy and Jobs
• Governance
• Health
• Education
• State of Mind

The word most often used by the paper to describe how they now stand in comparison to four years ago?

“Worse”

It’s an insightful- yet disturbing- read, which you can find here on the Tribune website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Friday, April 4th, 2014 Education, Employment, Government, Health No Comments

Peter Schiff: No Recovery, Just An Illusion Of Prosperity

I first started paying attention to Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff just prior to picking up his book Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse (now Crash Proof 2.0, second edition) shortly after its early 2007 release. While some of the calls he made in that controversial text are still playing out, others have already come to fruition.

Subsequently, Schiff has been given credit for correctly-calling the U.S. housing bubble and its burst, and the 2008 global economic crisis.

Being one of Survival And Prosperity’s “crash prophets,” his latest investment recommendations are chronicled on this blog. As are his economic analyses and forecasts as well.

Here’s a recent breakdown of what Schiff sees going on with the U.S. economy and larger financial system, courtesy of a March 21 commentary entitled “Debt and Taxes” that’s posted on his Euro Pacific Capital website:

The last few years have proven that there is no line Washington will not cross in order to keep bubbles from popping. Just 10 years ago many of the analysts now crowing about the perfect conditions would have been appalled by policies that have been implemented to create them. The Fed has held interest rates at zero for five consecutive years, it has purchased trillions of dollars of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, and the Federal government has stimulated the economy through four consecutive trillion-dollar annual deficits. While these moves may once have been looked on as something shocking…now anything goes.

But the new monetary morality has nothing to do with virtue, and everything to do with necessity. It is no accident that the concept of “inflation” has experienced a dramatic makeover during the past few years. Traditionally, mainstream discussion treated inflation as a pestilence best vanquished by a strong economy and prudent bankers. Now it is widely seen as a pre-condition to economic health. Economists are making this bizarre argument not because it makes any sense, but because they have no other choice.

America is trying to borrow its way out of recession. We are creating debt now in order to push up prices and create the illusion of prosperity. To do this you must convince people that inflation is a good thing…even while they instinctively prefer low prices to high. But rising asset prices do little to help the underlying economy. That is why we have been stuck in what some economists are calling a “jobless recovery.” The real reason it’s jobless is because it’s not a real recovery! So while the current booms in stocks and condominiums have been gifts to financial speculators and the corporate elite, average Americans can only watch from the sidewalks as the parade passes them by. That’s why sales of Mercedes and Maseratis are setting record highs while Fords and Chevrolets sit on showroom floors. Rising prices to do not create jobs, increase savings or expand production. Instead all we get is debt, which at some point in the future must be repaid

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Which at some point in the future must be repaid”

Good luck trying to get your average American in 2014 to wrap their head around that crucial concept.

Once again, I agree with Schiff’s observation of what is going on all around us.

“Illusion of prosperity” is a fine choice of words here, and makes sense that I find a fine economic blog by the same name good reading.

As certain as the “Big One” will eventually hit California, so must our nation’s “financial reckoning day” arrive for all this debt we’ve accrued for some short-term “prosperity.”

You can read Schiff’s entire commentary on the Euro Pacific Capital website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Milestone: Survival And Prosperity Reaches 2,000 Posts

Yesterday was a milestone for Survival And Prosperity:

2,000 posts have now been published on the blog

Not bad considering the weblog was started a little less than three-and-a-half years ago.

My previous flagship blog, Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street,” only reached around 1,500 posts.

I think a little celebration is called for, don’t you?


“Clerks Dance”
YouTube Video

There’s lots more blogging to be done. Washington and the Fed has managed to “kick the can down the road” this far, and while the economic picture might look rosy to many for a bit longer, I’m still not deviating from that prediction I made back on Memorial Day Weekend 2007 about a U.S. financial crash.

In fact, I believe we’ve already started into the descent. And gradually, the U.S. economy and larger financial system that is weighed down by tremendous debt and steered by greed, arrogance, and incompetence will eventually crash hard.

That being said, America has been here before (Great Depression). And I do see the country getting back on firm economic ground again. But only after the excesses off a multi-decade debt binge are effectively purged.

No “doomsday,” but definitely a “financial reckoning day.”

In the meantime, it’s probably wise to take advantage of the present situation to prepare for what I see is in store for the country down the road. Whether that means finding a line of work that’s more stable or acquiring more income to preserve one’s standard of living in hard times, it’s something one may want to look into and take action on while it’s still possible to do so. Of course, individual circumstances vary. Still, improving one’s self-sufficiency- even incrementally- can make a big difference in an emergency or major crisis. It’s something our predecessors in this great nation of ours understood and practiced, but unfortunately has fallen by the wayside in modern times.

Survival and prosperity. That’s what this blog continues to be all about.

Christopher E. Hill
Editor

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Record Net Worth Result Of Fed Blowing Bubbles In Housing, Stocks?

I was surfing the Internet last night when I read something about Americans’ net worth making a comeback. Neil Shah reported on The Wall Street Journal website Thursday:

Americans’ wealth hit the highest level ever last year, according to data released Thursday, reflecting a surge in the value of stocks and homes that has boosted the most affluent U.S. households.

The net worth of U.S. households and nonprofit organizations rose 14% last year, or almost $10 trillion, to $80.7 trillion, the highest on record, according to a Federal Reserve report released Thursday. Even adjusted for inflation using the Fed’s preferred gauge of prices, U.S. household net worth—the value of homes, stocks and other assets minus debts and other liabilities—hit a fresh record…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I can’t say I’m surprised to hear of this rebound in net worth. After all, Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff has been warning for a couple of years now that the Federal Reserve is inflating new asset bubbles via tremendous amounts of stimulus (quantitative easing) to spark some sort of economic recovery in the wake of the bursting of the housing bubble and global financial crisis that reared its head in the fall of 2008. I blogged back on September 18, 2012:

In his September 14 entry on the The Schiff Report YouTube video blog, Schiff, who correctly-predicted the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble and 2008 global economic crisis, explained to viewers what QE3 was really about:

This is the plan that Ben Bernanke has. Ben Bernanke’s plan to revive the U.S. economy, and create jobs, is to inflate another housing bubble. That’s it. That’s what the Fed’s got. That’s what it came up with. As if the last housing bubble worked out so well for the economy, that the Fed wants an encore…

How is another housing bubble going to solve anything. Now one thing that Ben Bernanke hasn’t figured out yet- it ain’t gonna work. No matter how much he tries, no matter how much air he blows in to that housing market, he’s not going to reflate that bubble. There are simply too many holes in it, and there is no precedent for relating a busted bubble. More likely, all that cheap money is going to go someplace else…

Schiff asserted the Federal Reserve was trying to inflate another housing bubble.

Instead, there’s suggestions both housing and the stock market look “frothy” these days.

Suppose the Fed did in fact want to inflate new asset bubbles. If the central bank aimed to spread the wealth around in an attempt to jump-start the economy, it doesn’t seem to be happening. Shah noted in that WSJ article:

But the rebound, while powerful, has been tilted in a way that limits the upside for the broader U.S. economy and is increasingly leaving behind many middle- and lower-income Americans…

That means that even as wealth increases, it’s increasingly going to the affluent.

In addition to the affluent, much of the wealth surge is going to older Americans. Both groups are less likely to spend their gains and more likely to save, Mr. Emmons said. Meanwhile, sheer demographics—the retirement of the baby boomers and America’s aging population—are increasing the ranks of the nation’s savers.

The upshot: While American households overall are getting wealthier, the benefits for the economy may prove limited until such improvements reach more people.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“The benefits for the economy may prove limited until such improvements reach more people.”

I fear another financial crisis will have paid us a visit before such prosperity is achieved.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Shah, Neil “U.S. Household Net Worth Hits Record High.” The Wall Street Journal. 6 Mar. 2014. (link). 7 Mar. 2014.

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Illinois To Lag All States In Job Creation In 2014, According To Pew Research, Moody’s Analytics

“We’ve had seven straight months of job creation and more to come.”

-Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, speaking with Charles Thomas of ABC7 News Chicago on December 20, 2013

On January 7, The Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that carries out global research and public policy organization, displayed an interactive data visualization on its website entitled “Top States for Job Creation in 2014.” The source for the interactive graphic was Moody’s Analytics, a subsidiary of Moody’s Corporation and provider of financial analysis services and software.

According to the visualization, the top states for job creation this year will be:

1. North Dakota
2. Arizona
3. Texas
4. Colorado
5. Florida

Bringing up the rear in 2014?:

46. Alaska
47. New York
48. Vermont
49. Maine
50. Illinois

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Here’s what the Pew people had to say about the “Land of Lincoln”:

Illinois
State rank for job growth: 50
Growth rate: 0.98
Jobs added: 56,996

The other day I mentioned Illinois was the number 2 outbound state for the second year in a row in 2013 (New Jersey took the top spot), according to the latest United Van Lines Annual Migration study.

A new year, and more worrisome news for Illinoisans.

Stay tuned for more “blue skies ahead” spin from Illinois politicians shortly. In the meantime, you can view that interactive graphic over on the Pew website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago At The Tipping Point

“There should be no doubt that I predict tough times ahead for the city. But it’s not just me who harbors such suspicion. Even the Chicago FOX affiliate, Channel 32 News, is running a series called ‘Chicago at the Tipping Point’ these days.”

-Survival And Prosperity, July 24, 2013

FOX 32 News in Chicago has been pretty busy with their “Chicago at the Tipping Point” project since I wrote the above. What is it? Political Editor Mike Flannery wrote on their website back on May 30:

FOX 32 News is starting a new series: “Chicago at the Tipping Point.”

We know — as you do — that Chicago is at a critical point, where things can either get better, or much worse. We want to know what you think about which way things will go.

Joblessness and violent drug gangs? Lousy schools and families fleeing? We’ll be looking at those connections in our city…

Recently, I happened to catch a series special entitled “Special Report: Jobs And The Economy.” Released at the end of November and hosted by Flannery and former FOX 32 News anchorwoman Robin Robinson, this production further confirmed for me that Chicago faces some major economic headwinds going forward, potentially making the city’s financial position even more precarious than it already is:

Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News
“Special Report: Jobs And The Economy”
FOX 32 Video

The special is worth checking out when you can spare 33 minutes and change.

In the meantime, for more information about the “Chicago at the Tipping Point” project, visit the FOX 32 News site here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Flannery, Mike. “Chicago at the Tipping Point: New FOX 32 News Series.” FOX 32 News. 30 May 2013. (http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/22463117/2013/05/30/chicago-at-the-tipping-point-flannery-violence-drugs-schools-economy-jobs). 24 Dec. 2013.

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Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 Employment, Mainstream Media No Comments

Peter Schiff Bashes QE, Taper Lite, Gold Bears

“Gold Set for Worst Annual Tumble Since ‘81”

-FOX Business website headline, December 23, 2013

“Gold’s safe-haven role is over: strategist”

-MarketWatch.com headline, December 23, 2013

“I wouldn’t buy gold with my worst enemy’s cash: Strategist”

-CNBC.com headline, December 22, 2013

Not only have I been waiting to hear Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff’s take on last week’s “taper” of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program, but also his opinion on the latest bout of gold selling.

Schiff, who correctly called the recent housing crash and 2008 global economic crisis, just uploaded a new entry to The Schiff Report, his YouTube video blog. Schiff told viewers on December 20:

We have never had more stimulus- both monetary and fiscal- than we have right now. This is record-breaking, Keynesian stimulus. And it’s barely working. Yes, it’s inflating a stock market bubble. It’s inflating a real estate bubble. But it’s not creating genuine economic growth. And it never will. It is not raising living standards for the vast majority of Americans. And it isn’t creating productive, high-paying jobs. And it never will. And Ben Bernanke doesn’t understand that.

Like fellow “crash prophet” Marc Faber, Schiff believes the Federal Reserve will eventually pursue more, not less, bond-buying in the future. He explained:

Why did gold sell off? “Because everything is great.” “Because the Fed has done the impossible.” “It’s tapered and it hasn’t hurt anything.” This is what everybody believes. That the Fed has accomplished its goal. It hasn’t done anything. It’s talked about doing a tiny bit. But again, as far as I’m concerned, monetary policy is even easier now than it was before they announced this trivial taper lite. And the rest of the taper is probably never going to happen because the Fed is going to have to buy more bonds, not fewer bonds, to keep this whole house of cards from imploding.

Now, is gold going to continue to fall? I don’t know. My gut is that it’s probably still finding a bottom around 1,200. There is plenty of legitimate support for gold all around the world. Yes, all the speculators who are convinced that everything is great. The same people that thought it was great in 2007. Or it was great in 1999. That crowd, completely clueless about actual economics, is convinced that there is no reason to own gold. And so, they’re going to sell it, they’re going to short it. But there is a larger community around the world, particularly I think a lot of the emerging markets, central banks, China in particular, that see it differently. And they’re using this opportunity to buy as much gold as they can so that when the speculators and the investors figure out how wrong they’ve got it, and they realize that they need to be buying gold not selling it, there won’t be any gold left to buy because they would have already sold it. And the people who bought it from them aren’t going to sell it back. The gold that China bought- they’re never going to sell it. I don’t care how high the price of gold goes. They want that gold as reserves for their currency because they know the dollars that they have in reserve are eventually going to be Monopoly money. It’s going to be confetti. So they need something real to back up their own currency, and they want gold.

And so, I think that we need to be taking advantage of this opportunity. And don’t be worried about all the negativity that’s out there and all the professionals who are writing gold’s obituary. They’ve written it before, they’ll write it again. But I still think that the bull market has a long way to go. Ultimately, we are still heading for a currency crisis.


“Taper Lite: Bernanke Tightens Monetary Policy by Easing it!”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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November Jobs Report ‘Rather Sucked’?

While researching an earlier post, I came across quite a few glowing mainstream media headlines concerning the release of the lastest U.S. employment numbers.

“Strong” was the adjective used most to describe the November jobs report.

Although television personality and CNBC Mad Money host went so far as to call it “kind of perfect”:



ANY CHARACTER HERE

So, was November really “kind of perfect” for employment in the U.S.?

Or, is the devil in the details- once again?

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Employment Situation Summary” this morning:

The unemployment rate declined from 7.3 percent to 7.0 percent in November, and total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 203,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in transportation and warehousing, health care, and manufacturing…

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 10.9 million, and the unemployment rate, at 7.0 percent, declined in November. Among the unemployed, the number who reported being on temporary layoff decreased by 377,000. This largely reflects the return to work of federal employees who were furloughed in October due to the partial government shutdown.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Ah, returning federal workers who were furloughed. As to how many, Paul Davidson chimed in on the USA TODAY website:

Unemployment rose in October because the federal government furloughed about 450,000 workers during the 16-day shutdown. The jobless rate, in turn, was expected to fall in November as those employees were back at work.

Ah, 450,000 returning government workers.

Anyone else detect a horned figure among the employment data?

As for the 203,000 jobs created in November, I wonder how many are low-paying ones? I just thought I’d ask, considering what Chris Isidore wrote on the CNN Money website this morning about this year’s hiring trends:

So in what sectors have the jobs been created? Nearly 1 million of the jobs have come in relatively low-wage sectors. These include retail, leisure and hospitality, temporary workers and some segments of health care such as home health care and nursing homes. That’s almost half the jobs added.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Just tallying up those areas mentioned by Isidore, I already get 64,000 jobs. Considering there are other low-paying job areas not mentioned by Isidore but part of the report- couriers and messengers (9,000 new jobs last month), for example- and it becomes obvious a lot of low-paying jobs were created once again in November.

As I pointed out back on November 7, 2012:

Burger flippers won’t be spearheading a U.S. economic recovery anytime soon.

President Obama and his supporters like to talk up job creation. But as Isidore also pointed out:

Even with three straight years of adding more than 2 million jobs, the economy has not recovered from the huge loss of nearly 9 million jobs in 2008 and 2009.

The economy will need to add an additional 1.3 million jobs to get back to how many people had jobs when the recession started. And the U.S. adult population has grown by more than 13 million people in those six years. So even getting back to the number of jobs before the recession won’t get the economy completely out of the hole. The Economic Policy Institute calculates the overall jobs shortfall is still at nearly 8 million jobs.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“The overall jobs shortfall is still at nearly 8 million jobs.”

I know- it’s all Bush’s fault, right?

Before I let you go, keep in mind the following that was also pointed out by the folks over at CNN Money in a related piece this morning. Annalyn Kurtz reported:

Only about 63% of Americans over the age of 16 participate in the job market — meaning they either have a job or are looking for one. That’s nearly the lowest level since 1978, driven partly by Baby Boomers retiring, but also by workers simply giving up hope.

That would help explain all these working-age adults I see driving around during the day in the Chicagoland area who don’t seem to be heading in to or out of some workplace.

I was still a young kid back in ’78. But I’ve asked people who were old enough to know back then what they thought about economic conditions at that time.

Unanimously, they thought they “rather sucked.”

Which could also be said of employment conditions and the jobs report from last month.

You can read the entire November jobs report on the BLS website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Davidson, Paul. “Nov. job gains, 203,000: jobless rate, 7.0%.” USA TODAY. 6 Dec. 2013. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/12/06/jobs-report-november/3881983/). 6 Dec, 2013.

Isidore, Chris. “Five key numbers behind the jobs recovery.” CNN Money. 6 Dec. 2013. (http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/06/news/economy/jobs-numbers/index.html?iid=lead2). 6 Dec. 2013.

Kurtz, Annalyn. “Unemployment falls to 7%.” CNN Money. 6 Dec. 2013. (http://fox43.com/2013/12/06/unemployment-falls-to-7/#axzz2miKFbxKf). 6 Dec. 2013.

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Welfare Recipient: ‘Can You Really Blame Us? I Mean, I Get To Sit Home, I Get To Go Visit My Friends All Day, I Even Get To Smoke Weed’

“The point is these programs are not typically hammocks for people to just lie back and relax. These programs are almost always temporary means for hardworking people to stay afloat while they try to find a new job or go into school to retrain themselves for the jobs that are out there, or sometimes just to cope with a bout of bad luck. Progressives should be open to reforms that actually strengthen these programs and make them more responsive to a 21st century economy.”

-U.S. President Barack Obama, remarking on economic mobility, December 4, 2013

And then there’s “Lucy,” calling in to KLBJ radio station in Austin, Texas, in October. This alleged welfare recipient told listeners:

I just wanted to say while workers out there- people like you that are preaching morality at people like me who are living on welfare- can you really blame us? I mean, I get to sit home, I get to go visit my friends all day, I even get to smoke weed. Me, and people that I know that are illegal immigrants that don’t contribute to society- we still gonna get paid. Our checks are going to come in the mail every month, and it’s going to be on time. And we get subsidized housing. We even get presents delivered to our kids for Christmas. Why should I work?

Personally, I think there may be a lot more “Lucy’s” out there than President Obama’s remarks would have you believe.


“Welfare Recipient: ‘I Get to Sit Home… I Get to Smoke Weed… We Still Gonna Get Paid’”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois State Lawmakers To ‘Fix’ $100 Billion Public Pension Crisis Tuesday?

Tuesday looks to be an important day for the future of Illinois.

State lawmakers may vote on legislation to “fix” a well-publicized $100 billion public pension crisis. Rick Pearson and Bob Secter wrote on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday to consider an agreement struck by legislative leaders that aims to fix the state’s massive government worker pension as Senate Democrats have become the focal point for intensive lobbying efforts…

The pension vote is shaping up to be one of the most important votes of lawmakers’ careers, with senators and representatives forced to decide which is better for their political self-interest: Backing up their powerful leaders or siding with the re-election might of public employee unions.

At stake is Illinois’ $100 billion pension shortfall that affects teachers outside Chicago, public university employees and state government workers. The worst-in-the-nation deficit is gobbling up tax money that otherwise could go to education and other programs, and has resulted in Illinois holding the lowest credit rating among the states. Illinois’ pension problem also is being blamed in part for the state’s struggling economy and high unemployment.

The agreement leaders reached the day before Thanksgiving aims at saving the state $160 billon over 30 years to get the pension systems fully funded, largely by limiting annual cost-of-living increases and raising the retirement age while also requiring the state to put its share of money into the system.

Not surprisingly, beneficiaries of the current setup aren’t too happy with these rapidly-unfolding developments. Francine Knowles reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday:

Details of the pension deal reached by four House and Senate leaders and headed for a vote this week have supporters and critics in full-court press mode.

Union leaders, who are blasting the agreement, say their members will bombard lawmakers Monday, urging them to kill the proposed bill that could ultimately slash $160 billion from the state’s future pension liabilities and improve Illinois’ damaged creditworthiness.

Opponents of the yet-to-be-seen legislation will argue that it’s unconstitutional, among other things. Pearson and Secter added:

Any final package approved by the legislature and governor faces an almost certain legal challenge. Critics will go into court armed with a provision of the 1970 Illinois Constitution that defines pension benefits as “an enforceable contractual relationship” that “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

I’m not sure what to make of all this yet, except that the present course the State is on concerning public sector pensions is unsustainable (costing taxpayers $5 million a day as I noted back on October 21) and that any legislation passed will probably end up being legally contested.

More Wednesday…

Sources:

Pearson, Rick and Secter, Bob. “Senate Democrats under the gun on proposed pension fix.” Chicago Tribune. 30 Nov. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-illinois-pension-reform-met-1201-20131201,0,7850446.story). 1 Dec. 2013.

Knowles, Francine. “Pension deal faces pushback from unions; backers pursue votes.” Chicago Sun-Times. 30 Nov. 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/24073242-761/pension-deal-faces-pushback-from-unions-backers-pursue-votes.html). 1 Dec. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois Public Sector ‘Double-Dipping’ Targeted

“Double-dipping.” When public sector public employees draw a public paycheck while at the same time drawing a public pension.

Back when I as a civil servant, not only did I see this taking place, but suspected the arrangement would come under fire one of these days.

As Main Street’s finances eroded significantly after the economic crisis reared its ugly head five years ago, more grumbling was heard over the practice. I blogged back on April 4, 2011:

An employment arrangement I witnessed during my days as a civil servant is coming under increased fire these days. Bloomberg’s David Mildenberg wrote on March 29:

With U.S. unemployment averaging 8.9 percent, so-called double-dipping by tens of thousands of government workers nationwide is drawing increasing scrutiny.

Lawmakers from coast to coast are taking steps to curb the practice as states face combined deficits projected at $112 billion and unfunded pension liabilities of as much as $3 trillion.

Arkansas banned double-dipping by state workers last month, while bills to curb it are pending before lawmakers in Olympia, Washington, and Trenton, New Jersey.

And then there’s Illinois, where double-dipping is still permitted in a state saddled with a nearly $100 billion unfunded public pension liability.

Perhaps for not much longer though.

Enter Illinois State Representative Jack D. Franks (D-Woodstock). Representative Franks has introduced Illinois House Bill 3760, the “Retirement Means Retirement Act,” on November 14. Natasha Korecki reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website today:

[Representative Franks] says the legislation would address anyone — from state lawmakers to school superintendents to those in law enforcement who retire from one public job because they’ve maxed out on their pension, then take another public job as they begin to draw pension benefits.

Franks pointed to school superintendents and police chiefs who retire on a Friday only to return the following Monday with a new title, new salary — and drawing a pension— all while staying in the same office.

“I see a lot of people who retire and just end up in another government job shortly thereafter,” Franks told the Sun-Times. “That’s not what this system was designed for, but it’s a major loophole that they’re able to exploit… We’re going after the abusers — and we know who we’re talking about. Some of these guys make more than the president in retirement.”

Supporters of “double-dipping” argue that someone has to be hired to fill the job opening, so it might as well be the best qualified candidate applying for the position- which in many cases is the new retiree.

Reading over the proposed legislation, “double-dipping” looks to be prohibited only going forward. Illinois public sector retirees who are already participating in such an arrangement appear to be safe.

For now, at least.

You can find out more about Illinois House Bill 3670 on the Illinois General Assembly website here.

Source:

Korecki, Natasha. “Public pension and salary ‘double-dippers’ targeted in new bill.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Nov. 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/23845706-761/public-pension-and-salary-double-dippers-targeted-in-new-bill.html). 19 Nov. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Farewell, Illinois Businesses And Jobs

One topic I particularly “harp on” in Survival And Prosperity is the continued erosion of business-friendly conditions in the state of Illinois.

Whether it be a misguided anti-Constitution, anti-Bill of Rights crusade that drives off gun manufacturers and their workers or a 46 percent corporate income tax hike that was implemented at the beginning of 2011, parochial-minded politicians in control of the state are scaring away prospective and existing businesses and jobs.

Thankfully, it’s not just me that recognizes the nonsense that’s going on. From my Sunday paper this morning:

Scott Stantis
Chicago Tribune
Oct 19, 2013
ANY CHARACTER HERE

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois Gun Maker Leaving State

Another business is leaving Illinois.

Big whip. That’s going on all the time these days in the anti-business climate the state’s political leaders have created.

But in this instance, it’s a well-known gun manufacturer- the second one that’s thrown in the towel on the “Land of Lincoln” in the last five years.

Enter Lewis Machine & Tool Company, or LMT. From their website:

Lewis Machine & Tool Company (LMT) was founded in 1980 to provide the US Military, law enforcement and government agencies with precision engineered, high quality weapons, components and modular weapon systems.

Milan, Illinois-based Lewis is internationally-known for its flagship .308 Sharpshooter rifle, which the British military adopted in 2010. In fact, this Royal Air Force used Sharpshooters to protect the 2012 Olympics in London, England, against potential terrorist attacks.

And now, the expanding company looks to be departing Illinois for Davenport, Iowa. Stephen Elliott reported on the Quad-Cities Online (Moline Dispatch/Rock Island Argus) website last Thursday:

A longtime Milan-based gun manufacturer announced plans Thursday to move his 170-employee operation to Davenport.

During a city enterprise zone commission meeting, Karl Lewis, owner of Lewis Machine and Tool Co., said he plans to build a 60,000-square-foot building on Kimmel Drive. The board unanimously approved Mr. Lewis’ plans.

If those plans come to fruition, Lewis Machine and Tool will be the second gun manufacturer to move across the river in the past five years. In 2008, Les Baer Customs moved its operations and two dozen workers to a new 18,000-square-foot building.

“I would hope, if everything lines up as it should, that sometime in 2014 we’ll make the formal move,” Mr. Lewis said. “The sooner, the better.”

Elliott added later in the piece:

Milan Mayor Duane Dawson on Thursday said city officials were aware of Mr. Lewis seeking more space.

“As I understand it, they need more space, and there is also a concern with the Illinois gun laws,” Mayor Dawson said. “There’s only so much we can do with where they are.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Shane Simmons contributed the following over on the website of WQAD 8 (Quad Cities) Friday evening:

Mayor Dawson believes the Illinois business climate makes it hard to keep the businesses that are present.

“We here in Illinois have fought this for quite some time about attracting businesses”, he continued, “It’s very difficult to get manufacturers to come to this state.”

In Illinois, income tax is higher, which is a burden on business owners.

Local officials like Mayor Dawson hope to see change in the Illinois business culture.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

So would I, Mayor Dawson. So would I.


“Illinois Gun Maker Plans Move”
WQAD 8 Video

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Elliott, Stephen. “Milan gun-maker plans move to Davenport.” Quad-Cities Online. 18 Sep. 2013. (http://qconline.com/archives/qco/display.php?id=653224). 24 Sep. 2013.

Simmons, Shane. “Illinois Gun Maker Plans Move.” WQAD 8. 20 Sep. 2013. (http://wqad.com/2013/09/20/illinois-gun-maker-plans-move/). 24 Sep. 2013.

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