The Illinois Policy Institute, together with The Heritage Foundation, hosted an evening with Joe Morris on Thursday, July 29th.  Morris is a Chicago lawyer and president of the Lincoln Legal Foundation.  He also served in several senior positions in President Reagan’s administration.  The topic of the evening was “RULES FOR RADICALS” – AN INSIDE LOOK AT COMMUNITY ORGANIZING.

As one who met Saul Alinsky in the late 1960s and witnessed some of his organizing efforts firsthand, Joe Morris had an interesting tale to tell.

Morris didn’t set out to become an expert on the life of Saul Alinsky. It was a year ago that Joe Morris started to speak about Alinsky’s life and his work, resulting in many people coming forward with valuable information to share.

It was during the 2008 election cycle that Morris realized that one of two political parties was going to elect an Alinsky accolade.

Joe Morris went on to say that Saul Alinsky was a product of Hyde Park (1909 – 1972).  His “Rules for Radicals” was published shortly before his death.  Joe Morris then distributed handouts titled, “Key Ideas in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals,” although Morris cautioned his audience that the handout was no substitute for reading the book itself.

During the 1960’s and early 1970’s Alinsky faced an environment of alienation; there was a sense of revolution in the air.  Sensing this desire for change Alinsky started out initially as a labor organizer.  The tactics and techniques he developed for organizing labor had a clear connection to Obama’s community organizing later on.  People had to be excited to make change.  This was done by first asking individuals what bothered them.  After the complaints were registered, a community leader could then set himself up as the one who will fight for that change, whether social or political.

There was remarkable candor in in the way Saul Alinsky operated.  His was a no-hold, bare knuckles type of action of going for the jugular.  Number 13 of the handout descrbes this tactic as:  “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”   Also reverent was Number 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon, at which time former President Bush was brought into the discussion.

What was unusual about Alinsky is that he was completely alienated from any hopeful vision of where society would end up.  He lived for the fight, not for the belief that the fight would bring about anything worthwhile.

Surprising to me is that Saul Alinsky greatest financial support came from the Roman Catholic Church in Chicago.

According to Joe Morris, Alinsky didn’t accomplish all that much.  Morris challenged the assembled IPI/Heritage members, as he challenges others groups he speaks to, to tell him what Alinsky did to improve the lives of people, such as giving them better economic opportunities.  Unlike capitalism that creates economic opportunity, community organizing does no such thing.

Joe Morris suggested that we read Obama’s Dreams  from my Father (disregarding the question of authorship) to learn about Obama’s community organizing in Chicago’s Southside neighborhood.

As far as the ethical side of Saul Alinksy’s work, in no uncertain terms Morris described it as the end justified the means.  This idea is listed as Number 3 under Ethical Observations:  “In war the end justifies almost any means.”

Other key ideas taken from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals as listed on Joe Morris’ handout include the following  (In all there were 13 Tactical Rules and 11 Ethical Observations):

Technical Rules

  • Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
  • Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
  • Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
  • The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
  • If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.

Ethical Observations

  • Ones concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s personal interest in the issue.
  • Generally, success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics.
  • You do what you can with what you have and clothe it in moral garments.
  • Goals must be phrased in general terms like “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” “Of the Common Welfare,” “Pursuit of Happiness,” or “Bread and Peace.”
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Illinoisans would have to have their heads buried in the sand not to realize that their state is in big financial trouble.

Consider that Illinois ranks No. 8 on the list of governments worldwide that CMA, a London-based credit information company, rated as having the highest percentage probabilities of defaulting on payments to bondholders. Greece is No. 1 and Portugal is No. 10. Sandwiched between are the State of Illinois at No. 8, with California following Illinois at No. 9.

In other words, Illinois is broke and real budget reform is needed now. Illinois spends $3 for every $2 it takes in. If Illinois were a business or a household it would be bankrupt.

The biggest debt producer of all is Illinois’ retirement-related debt, of which there are seven unfunded pension funds. It is the worst in this nation. Combined, they amount to a whopping $130 billion of an ever-expanding, unfunded and unsustainable pension obligation.

There are studies which show that pubic service employees make one-third more in wages than those who work at similar jobs in the private sector. Additionally, upon retirement public service workers are rewarded with a very generous pension. Is this fair?

And what is Gov. Quinn’s solution to the unfunded pension crisis? Quinn wants to borrow $3.7 billion to make the state’s payments into its pension funds, which would only saddle Illinois with even more debt.

The can will just be kicked down the road. Illinoisans will be the losers. Shame on our legislators and governor who refuse to make the difficult choices necessary to defuse Illinois’ debt bomb

Even before the  Arizona immigration law was to take effect on Thursday, July 29, Judge Susan Bolton, despite the fact that the Arizona law was written to conform to federal law, issued a temporary injunction against the most crucial aspect of the law which allowed police to determine the immigration status of people they stop and suspect of being in the U..S. illegally.

Although a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll of July 16-21 reported that the Arizona law is supported by twenty-four percent of Hispanics and sixty-one percent of white respondents, Chicago’s Mayor Daley still had some choice words to say the morning after Judge Bolton’s temporary injunction.  Among them were:  “We are a nation of immigrants.”  In the eyes of Mayor Daley there are no illegal immigrants!

A recent Federation for American Immigration Reform study (FAIR) sets the cost of U.S. illegal immigrant at a staggering $113 billion a year.  $52 billion is to educate their children.  Federal data available for 2009 estimates the number of unauthorized individuals living in Illinois at 540,000.

In a state-to-state breakdown of dollars spent on undocumented aliens, Illinois ranks 4th in the nation at $4.6 billion after CA, Texas, and Florida.  It is Illinois taxpayers who absorb most of this financial burden along with their local governments.

It doesn’t help that Chicago is known as a “Sanctuary City,” which inhibits police or municipal employees from inquiring about immigration status, and which encourages thousands of undocumented immigrants to flock to Illinois.  Among other Illinois sanctuary cities are Addison, Cicero and Evanston.

How ironic that Mayor Daley rails against gun ownership, when he has allowed Chicago to become a safe haven for illegal aliens.  Mayor Daley should not be surprised that gang activity, drug trafficking — Chicago has a thriving drug trade second only to Los Angeles — and murder thrive in Chicago.   Daley’s irrational solution to the Chicago crime mayhem is to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.
But Illinois’ reputation for attracting and harboring illegal immigrants extends beyond its sanctuary cities.
In 2003 the Illinois General Assembly passed a law making the Mexican Matricula Consular ID Cards legit for identification.  The cards are being issued to Mexicans throughout Illinois who cannot get access to U.S. identity documents.  The ID is easy to get for as little as $40.00, while in Mexico only 32 of its states and districts recognize the card for identification purposes.  Now there is talk in Chicago’s City Council to expand the card to cover forty two other nationalities.
E-Verify was set up by the federal government so employers could check the legal status of those they hire.  Thereafter the State of Illinois passed a new law  — the Illinois Right to  Privacy in the Workplace Act — prohibiting employers in Illinois from enrolling in the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program.   Illinois is now being sued by DHS.  Illinois employers are free to use the federal program, as Illinois has agreed not to enforce its law until the DHS’s lawsuit is resolved, but the federal program is not being promoted because of the pro-immigrant atmosphere here in Illinois.
The Dream Act is still alive in the U.S. Senate and would receive an unconditional welcome here in Illinois. Senate Majority Leader Reid announced on Wed. July 27 that he is going to try to bring the DREAM Act  to a vote this year.  The DREAM Act amounts to a back door way for a smaller amnesty, an estimated 2.1 million.   It would give people who are brought to the U.S. illegally as children a path to citizenship.  After being accepted by a college to receive free, subsidized college tuition, illegal immigrant children would then be able to petition for their parents and adult brothers and sisters to receive legal immigrant status.
Although this nation has always been welcoming to immigrants, as all of us were once immigrants, the widow into our nation cannot be left wide open.  Any nation should be able to decide who comes into their country.
The issue also involves the rule of law.  If the rule of law regarding illegal entry into this nation by millions of individuals is not enforced, it will ultimately give rise to anarchy.
Why should those who invade our country be treated differently from the way other countries treat our own citizens who enter their nations illegally?

As a long-time Lake Bluff resident and taxpayer, a Lake Forester article by Karen Berkowitz published Thursday, July 15,  LFHS tops all North Shore high schools in spending per student”, caught my attention undivided attention.  The article ranked Lake Forest High School first in spending per student based on average daily attendance of all North Shore high schools, $23,789 per student.

On the same day the Chicago Tribune published an equally amazing Watchdog article titled, Suburbs’ $100,000 teachers.  In the Tribune article Lake Forest Community High School District 115 ranked 2nd out of ten school districts having the highest percentage of teachers making $100,000 a year or more or 43.7% of total teachers.  In noting the number of $100,000 teachers by subjects taught, the Tribune listed the top two as physical education and English.  Chemistry came in at #10. 
 
Many argue that teacher salaries must be competitive to attract top teachers as demanded by parents.  But how much is enough?  Teachers enjoy steady increases in wages even during economic downturns.  It is more than likely that many school board members are overcome when facing tough teachers unions at the bargaining table. 
 
As for school taxes, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff residents pay the lowest in the state of Illinois, only because they have the highest value of total property tax base.  Even so, $23,789 per student is way too much when average spending per pupil nationally is $9,698.  According to a former LFHS BOE member, when she left the board in 2007 our per pupil spending was around $16,170. 
 
The Illinois Policy Institute has developed a Ten-Point Transparency Checklist to hold government and elected officials, including school boards, accountable to citizens and taxpayers.  There has been much success around the state. 
 
The Lake Forest Community High School District #115 Board of Education needs to be open to the Illinois Policy Institute’s transparency audit, so its financial books are made available for public scrutiny. Proactive transparency is the best way to educate society about the actions of government.  If not for the information revealed in the Lake Forester and the Chicago Tribune, the public would be largely unaware of the amount of money being spent per pupil or the $100,000 plus teachers employed in the Lake Forest High School District  #115.   
 
Included in the Illinois Policy Institute’s Ten-Point Transparency Checklist:     http://illinoispolicy.org/content/?section=504
  • Elected & Administrative Officials:  Contact Information
  • Meting Information:  Calendar (Future) Minutes & board Packets (Past)
  • Public Records:  FOIA submission & FOIA Officer Contact Information
  • Budgets:  General Fund and Special Projects
  • Financial Audits: Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports
  • Expenditures: Checkbook Register and Credit Card Receipts
  • Salary & Benefits: Wages, Salary, Overtime, Health, Dental, Life, Pension, etc.
  • Contracts: Union, Private Contractors, Vendors
  • Lobbying:  Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying Associations
  • Taxes and Fees: Sales, Property, Income, and Miscellaneous Taxes, Fees.

As a Liberty Leader at the Illinois Policy Institute,  I will pursue a transparency audit with member of the Lake Forest Community High School District #115 Board of Education in the fall.  I hope others will join with me in this effort.

The United States’ Government has twenty national laboratories, each with a unique mission.   Several of the more familiar ones are NASA, Washington D.C., responsible for the nation’s civilian space program; National Institutes of Health, Bethesda Maryland, one of the world’s foremost medical research centers; the National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia, supports research and education in all non-medical fields of science and engineering; Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, deals with national security and technology issues; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, where basic research is done in nuclear and atomic physics.  Two of the laboratories which make up the twenty Federal Laboratory Consortium are located right here in Illinois:   Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. 

As a member of the Chicago Chapter of the American Nuclear Society, I was able to tour Argonne National Laboratory on Saturday, July 24, along with other Chicago Chapter members and members of  the Southwest Michigan Chapter.  I took as my guest Beverly Cooper of Highland Park, producer of  “Cooper’s Corner”, a live, hour-long Wednesday night Comcast TV program, which is then replayed during the week that follows on local community TV stations throughout Lake County, Illinois.  Communities that replay Cooper’s Cooper include those in the Channel 35 area from Skokie to Schaumberg; those receiving Waukegan’s Channel 17 west to Mundelein and north to Zion; and Channel 19 covering Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Highland Park, and Deerfield.

The tour was arranged by Natalie Zaczek, ANS Chicago Chapter Vice-Chair and a Mechanical Design Engineer at Exelon’s Dresden Generating Station, a nuclear power plant.  Upon reaching the Argonne Information Center/Visitor Reception Center, we were issued plastic Security Passes  for the day, which had to remain clipped to our clothing throughout the tour.  All 40 individuals on the Saturday, July 24 tour were U.S. citizens, so we only had to submit our names prior to the tour. As the final step before boarding the bus to begin our tour, all forty of us had to show a picture ID.  Long pants and closed-toe shoes were required attire.

Here are some basic facts about Argonne National Laboratory.  Argonne is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest research centers.  It was also the nation’s first national laboratory, chartered in 1946.  It occupies 1,500 wooded acres in southeast DuPage County about 25 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.  The Argonne campus consists of 100 buildings.  It even has its own hotel for visitors.   The University of Chicago oversees laboratory operations for the U.S. Department of Energy,  Argonne’s annual operating budget of about $650 million supports more than 200 research projects. There are 3,200 full-time employees of whom 1,250 are scientists and engineers.  The number often swells to six or seven thousand with visitors doing research projects.  Argonne is also home to a Nuclear Response Team which can quickly be sent anywhere in the U.S. to deal with a radiation or nuclear accident or malfunction   

Argonne designs, builds and operates facilities for scientific research.  Many of these facilities are unique in the world, and the research done in them increases our understanding of the universe and its building blocks.  Like those at other government labs, the facilities at Argonne are too expensive and specialized for private industry or educational institutions to build and operate. Among these are the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility, the Electron Microscopy Center, and the Structural Biology Center.  An important recent addition is Argonne’s two-year old Center for Nanoscale Materials. 

Argonne’s scientific-user research facilities are offered for free, with the stipulation that  the research done must be published.  Hundreds of scientists and engineers with varied backgrounds from academia, industry, other national laboratories — and often scientists from other nations —  take advantage of Argonne’s facilities to develop innovative solutions to research projects that few industry or university labs would have the wherewithall to acquire.

Tour highlights included the Advanced Photon Source, the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS), and the Nuclear Engineering exhibit.  Our very capable tour escorts were Mr. Dave Hooper and Mr. Dan West.  Both entertained questions during the tour.  Their answers provided even more insights into the operation of Argonne Laboratory, when the questions took them beyond their prepared tour remarks.  Much of the research related to climate and green energy sources is being done at the national laboratories, and Argonne is no exception.  An Argonne Laboratory publication, “Argonne’s Green Shoots,”  describes Argonne’s green energy projects.  Projects include a search for untapped sources of water that may help create transformational energy solutions, a newly expanded program that will allow Argonne’s climatologists to get a more nuanced picture of the mechanisms that underlie climate change, and research into controlling the quantity of carbon in the atmosphere through knowledge of how algae naturally sequesters organic phosphorous.

Not included on our handout which listed tour highlights was Argonne’s Transportation Facility, where we were shown a recycling process for end of life cars where 90% of a vehicle ends up going to vendors instead of to landfill.  The 10% left is sand, gravel, rust, etc.  The machine developed at Argonne crunches and grinds automobile materials, after which residue is further separated through the following processes:  1) Mechanical/Eddy magnetism and 2) submersion in liquids that vary in density. The “Cash for Clunkers” Program was a perfect fit for Argonne’s crunching and shredding machine.   The residue is sold to vendors, where car parts are made from the recycled material, which are often superior to those made with the original material. 

Sears is interested in Argonne’s Auto Recycling Plant following its rebate program involving old appliances.  Other companies expressing interest in the Argonne’s recycling plant are furniture companies and those dealing with old computers.

Another research program at the Transportation Facility is the testing and rating of new car designs that use alternate sources for power such as electric, diesel, hydrogen, fuel cells, as well as combustion engines. Research into improved efficiency of coal-fired plants is also conducted at this facility. 

The Nuclear Engineering Exhibit most interested me, as I continue to spend time and effort in advocating for the restarting of the now-shuttered 2,100 megawatt Dual Zion Nuclear Plant, instead of wasting its massive source of energy forever through decommissioning.  The Nuclear Exhibit contains six major sections and describes Argonne’s historic role in the development of nuclear power.  Every reactor type around the world that has successfully produced electrical energy was either invented or developed at Argonne.  Argonne, however, is no longer involved in nuclear development.

Charts mounted along the hallway told of 104 operating nuclear plants in the U.S. which provide 20% of our energy.  One chart which I took exception to, especially the climate change reference, described “nuclear energy as the only large-scale electrical generating technology that does not emit greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.”  Continuing on:  “Through the use of nuclear energy, the U.S. has avoided over three billion tons of air emissions since 1970.”  A nuclear consultant on the tour informed me that a new nuclear plant would cost $7 billion to build and that it would typically last for 60 years with license extensions, which are almost always granted.

I was able to view the mock up of the Westinghouse AP600 standardized reactor design supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and Industry, and which has extensive international support and usage.  This same pressurized water reactor is still being used in all six of the operating nuclear plants here in Illinois owned by Exelon Corporation — Byron, Quad Cities, Dresden, LaSalle, Clinton, and Braidwood.  The same Westinghouse AP600 pressurized water reactors were in use at the dual Zion Nuclear Facility when it was prematurely shuttered in 1998. 

Although the Westinghouse AP600 design has a good safety record and is used world-wide, it was interesting to see another mock up in the Nuclear Exhibit of the new and improved AP1000 Westinghouse reactor design.  

Most amazing was Argonne’s Advance Photon Source center. This premier research facility provides the brightest x-ray beams in the Western Hemisphere to more than 5,000 scientists from across the United States and around the world.   One medical research program being conducted has the goal of a treatment process that will kill cancer cells without harming surrounding tissue.  

Engineers on the tour were especially interested in seeing the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS), the world’s first superconducting ion accelerator ever build.  My lack of scientific training and knowledge restricted my understanding of all that the ATLAS can accomplish. Tour Highlights information described ATLAS as “capable of accelerating ions of all natural elements from hydrogen to uranium for research into the properties of the nucleus, the core of matter, and the fuel of stars.”

It is likely that Beverly Cooper and I were the only members of the forty-member tour group not connected with the nuclear industry.  Even so the Argonne tour was not above our understanding.  One handout especially caught our attention because of its musical theme.  It was titled,  “A Lead to the Root Cause of Beethoven’s Demise,”   The handout told how the Argonne’s APS played an important role in a project to solve the mystery of what caused composer Ludwig van Beethoven to suffer years of chronic illness and to die at age 57.  A  chemical and x-ray analysis of a clipping of Beethoven’s hair taken the day after he died by a student, strongly suggested that Beethoven had plumbism or lead poisoning, which could explain his  bad digestion, chronic abdominal pain, irritability, and depression.  The average value for lead concentration for Beethoven’s hair was 60 parts per million; the average human hair contains less than 1 ppm.  Illinoisans can take pride in Argonne Laboratory.   It is on the cutting edge of seeking solutions to pressing national problems in basic science and in applied science and engineering.   Argonne has a national and worldwide reputation as its researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems. 

It would be amiss to not mention another Illinois research gem, the Enrico Fermi Accelerator Laboratory, located near Batavia, IL, which specializes in high energy particles.   Noted in the Chicago Tribune on Monday, July 26, is that the longtime professor of physics and the director of the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, Simon Swordy, died of lymphoma on Monday, July 19, at the University of Chicago Medical Center. 


 

For years the General Assembly and successive governors have failed to ensure the solvency of the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) as mandated by Illinois law, but instead have gone all out on spending sprees, as if oblivious of their responsibilities.  As a result, every Illinois household is now burdened with $4,423 in state government debt.  And the burden continues to go up, every day.

 Kevin Williamson of National Review On-line sums it up this way:  “Illinois is borrowing money it will have to repay eventually to repay the pension money it already spent to pay for other spending it couldn’t afford then and can’t afford now.” 

According to a recent Manhattan Institute report, the TRS has a funding gap of over $70 billion, by its own estimate, and TRS does not even include Chicago, whose better-funded system faces a shortfall of its own of more than $9 billion. 

When the Illinois and Chicago plans are considered together, Illinois has a greater teacher pension funding gap–at $79 billion–than any state except California, outstripping Texas at $72 billion; Ohio at $63 billion; and New York at $61 billion. 

In economic good times, teacher salaries and benefit packages are competitive with private sector compensation.  During economic downturns, members of the teaching profession generally enjoy steady increases in wages, although there are some layoffs.  In the private sector, by contrast, many employees are taking pay cuts and layoffs occur in larger numbers.  Then comes retirement, when educators have even more significant advantages over their private sector counterparts.  Their pensions start earlier and are about double in size.  When they retire at 55 — Social Security minimum is 62 — they are free to work full-time without penalty, something the SS recipient cannot do until age 66 (for current retirees). 

With these things in mind, we examined some of the elements and the structure of TRS.

The basic arrangement:

  • Teachers and administrators contribute 8% of their gross pay (compare that to Social Security’s 12.4%), and can then retire when they’ve accumulated 32 years of service AND have attained age 55.
  • With an actuarial life expectancy of 78, an educator can work 32 years, and live another 23 years in retirement.
  • The pension is 75% of the average of the last 3 years’ pay.
  • Once retired, an educator can work for a school district up to 1000 hours per year and still draw the full pension, or work full time anywhere else without affecting their pensions.

As part of the study, a teacher’s career was modeled, and an annuity-based pension was calculated. One result was to show that educators’ contributions to TRS are insufficient to make it self-sufficient, short of an investment miracle.  Returns on the investment of TRS funds would have to exceed 10% consistently, to simply fund ordinary, annuity-based pensions. But TRS pensions are not ordinary. There are additional benefits — extra cost add-ons — that are enough to undermine TRS self-sufficiency, even if miraculous levels of investment return were to be achieved.

These extra cost add-ons include:

  • Contracts often allow additional “end of career” raises of up to 6% to boost pension payments, raising the actual pension to nearly 85% of the unboosted 3-year average.
  • The pension payout is not a “fixed income”.  There are regular COLA increases.
  • The upshot is that a few years after retiring, annual pension income may actually exceed the final year’s salary.

According to a Chicago Tribune analysis of Illinois State Board of Education data, an extraordinary number of public school teachers in Chicago-area affluent school districts earned  $100,000 or more in 2009.  As a result school budgets and taxpayer wallets were strained, fueling debate over what teachers are worth and how they get raises.  Nancy Thorner’s School District 115 in Lake Forest ranks #2 out of the top 10 school districts with the highest percentage of teachers making $100,000 a year or more with 52 teachers.    http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/07/chicago-area-teachers-top-state-in-earning-six-figure-salaries.html

At some point retirement time will come for all teachers, along with increasingly high pension obligations for the already insolvent–by billions–Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System

Undoubtedly pension reform is one of the most important issues facing Illinois.  The Illinois Policy Institute is tackling the problem through the introduction of its Pension Funding & Fairness Act.   If embraced by the General Assemby, Illinois would be able to control spending excesses, budget responsibly, and meet its pension funding obligations.  

The time is right for creative and bold thinking.  Illinois is out of cash to pay its bills or to fund its pension systems.  Most Illinoisans, already burdened with high taxes, reject further confiscation of their assets by a government that is responsible for this state’s deplorable financial condition. 

Check out this update to the Illinois Policy Institute’s Pension Funding & Fairness Act:  http://www.illinoispolicy.org/news/article.asp?ArticleSource=2678

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All Lake Forester readers, seniors or not, must become acquainted with Dr. Donald Berwick, the health-care rationing czar whose recess appointment on July 8 elevated him to head of the federal Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs.

Although Dr. Berwick is a pediatrician, he has not seen a patient in years. Further, the two Harvard professors positions attributed to Berwick are but honorary professorships.

A defender of Britain’s health care rationing system and single-payer health care, Dr. Berwick served as a consultant to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which utilizes an end-of-life pathway to death many British doctors say leads to premature death. Dr. Berwick has said that “Most people who have serious pain do not need advanced methods, they just need the morphine and counseling that have been around for centuries.”

If this isn’t scary enough, Dr. Berwick opposes consumer-focused solutions to health care problems, believing that for health care funding to be “just, equitable, civilized, and humane it must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate.”

Upon further examination, Medicare has been without an administrator since 2006. It was not until April of this year that President Obama nominated Dr. Berwick to the CMS position. In that Berwick has not returned Senators’ written questionnaires, nor will he have to go through the normal confirmation process which would replay the acrimonious health care debate on the Senate floor, Dr. Berwick’s confessed love affair with the British Health Care System will remain under the radar for senior citizens and other Americans.

Most frightening is that Dr. Donald Berwick, in his recess appointment, will serve until the end of 2011 with views that are consistent with the Obama administration policy. This makes a mockery of Obama’s promise of transparency.

Let State Sen. Susan Garrett, State Rep. Karen May, and senators Durban and Burris know what you think and how the wool is not being pulled over your eyes.

 

On Thursday, July 8th, past and present associates and friends gathered at The Erie Cafe at 536 West Erie Street in Chicago to honor Dan Miller.  It was on June 30th that Dan Miller stepped down as executive vice president and Publisher at The Heartland Institute, where he had worked since 2008.   Joseph Bast, CEO of Heartland Institute, called it “hanging out” at Heartland for the last two years, although Mr. Miller did have a part in helping to launch the Institute back in 1988. 

 A screen in the front of the dining area at The Erie Cafe presented flash backs of Dan Miller’s life in the newspaper business.  And what a stellar career it was!  Dan Miller’s newspaper career started as a rookie in Michigan where he worked for newspapers in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Grand Rapids, followed by a position at the Chicago Daily News.   It was in 1978 that Dan launched Crain’s Chicago Business, serving as editor for 10 years.  From 1994 to 1998 Dan Miller was chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission.  Thereafter Dan Miller became Business Editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, which he left to join Heartland in 2008.

 Mr Miller has been honored in the past as when he was named Illinois Journalist of the Year by the Northern Illinois University faculty in 1981.   And it was in 2005 that Dan was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame.  Dan also appears frequently as a featured guest on television and radio public affairs programs.

 With such an illustrious background it was appropriate for the Heartland Institute to toast Dan Miller live.  It was emphasized to those gathered on Dan’s behalf that the occasion was a “toast”and not a “roast”.  Although I have only know Dan Miller for several months, and as the Heartland member who introduced me to Heartland’s Freedom Pub where fellow pubbers meet to exchange ideas, it was not difficult for me to understand why Dan affected so many individuals in so many ways throughout his journalism career.  It was evident that Dan has a genuine love of people and that he cares about them, as I watched Dan repeatedly greet each guest (and he knew them all) with hugs and smiles. 

In describing the tenor of the event, a “light” roast seems an appropriate description of the occasion.  But there were many serious moments, such as when those who knew Dan best spoke repeatedly of those inherent qualities which mark Dan as an exceptional individual.  Heard often was Dan’s search for the truth.  To Dan truth does matter; it’s moral and it’s right. 

Although my writeup would be far too lengthy if I listed each person who spoke on Dan’s behalf, here are the highlight of five who did speak. 

CEO Joseph Bast, upon congratulating  Dan Miller, and after informing those gathered that Dan was a marathon runner since May of 1987 and that he had an intense love for Chicago, Bast went on to reveal some gifts for Dan.  Since Dan’s love for Chicago didn’t leave him time for visiting the suburbs (Was it out of fear? Joe asked. ), Joe Bast presented Dan with three gift certificates to widely separated suburban restaurants and a map to locate them.   But it didn’t end there.   Bast went on to describe Dan’s fascination with China, after which he presented Dan with some token gifts from China.  They were:  a Hawaiian mug, a hat, a salt and pepper shaker, and a bundle of old pens.  What relationship did these gifts have to China?  As remarked by Joseph Bast,  “They were all made in China.” 

Next up was Jonathan Hoenig, better know as the “Capitalist Pig.”  Hoenig spoke of Dan’s search for the truth.  Upon reflecting upon Dan’s past career, Johathan Hoenig suggested that “this is not a retirement party, but your commencement onto more chapters in your life.

Joe Morris, president of the Lincoln Legal Foundation, told how Dan stood for freedom, liberty and the printed word, how these were his passions, and how  Dan would always fight for freedom and the truth. 

Following Morris was Bruce DuMont, host of  “Beyond the Beltway” heard every Sunday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on WLS-AM 890.  Mr. DuMont said of Dan Miller:  “Dan is the most decent, honest, and passionate person I have ever met in my life.”  DuMont went on to say how Dan had been a mentor to many in building their careers.  Dan Miller also helped to keep DuMont’s old show on the air before it was changed to “Beyond the Beltway”, and it was with Dan’s encouragement that the Museum of Broadcasting and Communication became a reality.  Further describing Miller as a man of honesty, passion, integrity and vision, DuMont suggested a new career for Dan Miller —  mayor of Chicago.because Chicago needs new leadership and one with the ability to communicate.  DuMont indicated that his remark was not entirely “tongue and cheek”, which prompted those present to take up the call, “Run Dan, Run.” 

Terry Savage, a Sun-Times columnist, described Dan as one who set high standards for integrity and bravery.   Savage spoke of Dan as her mentor and admitted that Dan corrected many of her errors.  Terry’s gift to Dan was a bowl filled with lemons to establish a new career path – a lemonade stand.

Chris Whitehead,, a Business reporter with Sun-Times media Group, Inc., spoke of Dan as being the Business Editor when he was hired as a copy editor.   Mr. Whitehead further related that it was difficult to tell Dan’s political leanings, and how Dan was not afraid to cover the story if a business did something wrong.

It was finally time for the honored guest to speak, Dan Miller.  Dan emphasize that nobody does anything by themselves.  In a sign of humbleness, Dan indicated how everyone in this room could be so honored as to what they have done and those they have touched during their lifetimes.  It was somewhat sobering to hear Dan say that he is the first male in his side of the family to make it to 65.  Dan attributed this feat to his running. 

 In closing Dan had this two-fold advise:  Take care of your body and get into a Roth IRA.  

Cake and coffee followed.  Not only was the cake delicious, but affixed to the top of the large sheet cake was a made-up, humorous newspaper article which told of Dan’s retirement at the Heartland Institute.

Jim Lakely now fills  Dan’s position at the Heartland Institute.

Libertyville was the perfect place to hold the first ever Lake County Tea Party on Monday, July 5th.  Beneath an umbrella of shade trees in Cook Park in Libertyville, 500 gathered to hear politicians, candidates, and leaders of interest groups speak in front of Cook House about  the importance of getting involved in government as government can no longer be taken for granted. 
 
The Libertyville Tea Party was bi-partisan in nature, as more and more individuals are beginning to revolt against higher taxes and the desire to have less government in their lives.
 
Messages about health care issues and the future of medical care under Obamacare were well received, as was the a message about the explosive issue of illegal immigration which was framed as an issue of national security.
 
David Schippers was presented as the featured speaker.  Many will remember that David Schippers, a Democrat and a Constitutional lawyer, was hired as the Republican chief council by the House Judiciary Committee in the impeachment of President Clinton.  Schippers concluded that there existed substantial and credible evidence of several separate events directly involving the president that could constitute grounds for impeachment. 
 
Although David Schippers looked a bit older than he did in 1998, he still exhibited a passion for speaking the truth unhindered by party affiliation or political correctness.  Schippers spoke positively about this nation, although not without some trepidation over its current direction away from our sacred document — the Constitution – – that was set in place by our Founding Fathers as a guide for our nation to live by.
 
Schippers spoke approvingly of tea parties and those who participate in them.
 
I was one of the 500 plus who attended Libertyville’s Tea Party.  In keeping with the call for lower taxes, I carried a sign that informed assembled tea partiers about the dual Zion Nuclear Plant which has been prematurely shuttered since 1998.  Exelon has never given a clear explanation as to why the Zion Nuclear Facility was closed and its massive power source of 2,100 megawatts of power was removed from the electrical grid. 
 
Now it is 2010 and Exelon seeks to have the Zion Facility decommissioned by Energy Solutions out of Iowa.  The dual plants have already been paid for by rate payers (consumers of electricity) at a cost of billions of dollars.  The decommissioning would add another billion dollars and would take seven years to accomplish.
 
The dual Zion Nuclear Facility could be restarted for a fraction of the cost it would take to build a new nuclear facility with Zion’s power capacity of 2,100 megawatts, even after its steam turbines were replaced, etc.
 
Also worthy to note is that Exelon has given more money to the Obama administration than has any other power company in this nation.  Exelon also has close connections to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.  Exelon Corportion likewise has lobbyists in Washington, D.C. who are advocating for the passing of “Cap and Trade.”  If passed Exelon would make billions of dollars.   I’ll let readers draw their own conclusions about Exelon’s political clout and influence.
 
Zion must be saved from destruction.   The Zion Nuclear Facility is still in tact and standing on ground which was tested and approved for its suitabilitywhen constructed.
 
All citizens in Illinois should be concerned about the wasting of the dual Zion Nuclear Facility.  Show that you care as I did at Lake County’s Libertyvillle Tea Party on July 5th with the help of friend, David Cooper.  Write letters to newspapers and/or contact your legislators here in Illinois and in Washington, D.C.  
Attachment photos in zip file:  1)  David Shippers delivering his message.  2)  Nancy Thorner and David Cooper displaying their “Zion must be saved” signs.
 
 

 

Unless there is intervention soon, Zion’s Dual Nuclear Facility, capable of producing 2,100 Megawatts of power, will be foolishly wasted.  Exelon Corporation, who owns and operates six other nuclear plants in Illinois, has until November to cancel its contract with Energy Solutions out of Iowa for decommissioning  

Restarting Zion Nuclear Plant could potentially save Illinois citizens billions of dollars and massively reduce carbon emissions, in addition to the following benefits:

  • Lower electricity prices for consumers by hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Create hundreds of permanent jobs operating the plant and raise significant tax revenues for the town of Zion and the state of Illinois.
  • Displace the CO2 output equivalent of perhaps eight coal power generation plants with emission-free power.
  • Satisfy the state’s desire for additional emission-free power generation quickly, at perhaps 30% of the cost and many times the reliability of other renewable options, while using none of the thousands of acres of land needed for wind and solar facilities.
  • The citizens of Illinois and the government would otherwise spend billions to subsidize and build immensely more expensive and less efficient wind and power facilities to meet its clean emissions goals.

Many have argued that restarting Zion would be too costly.  Estimates range from $400 million to Exelon’s more pessimistic estimate of $2 billion.  This argument is not credible when compared to the estimated $14 billion cost of building the new Georgia plant of equal capacity where the federal government is guaranteeing part of the debt.  Zion’s licenses do expire in 2013, but plant licenses are routinely being extended for 20 years or more.

Since the people of Illinois have already fully paid for the Zion Plant in prior rates — additionally, a $1 billion decommissioning fund is being held by Exelon — restarting the Zion Dual Nuclear Plant is the only sensible thing to do. 

If you feel your electricity rates are too high, and who doesn’t, contact your legislators with this message:  The Zion Plant must be saved and not wasted!