According to a recent report by the Illinois Policy Institute, John Tillman, CEO, Still leaving Illinois: An exodus of people and money, Illinois residents are fleeing the state and taking their purchasing power, entrepreneurial activity and taxable income with them. Pension reform was noted in the report as one of three changes that must take place in Illinois to turn the state around.

 llinois legislators made a stab at pension reform in 2011, but reforms enacted only applied to new hires, while promised generous benefits that are out of proportion to private sector benefits and employee contributions were not affected.

The Pew Center on the States, a Washington, D.C. think tank, on April 25, 2011, released a series of annual studies on the financial status of state public pension plans, including the TRS (Teachers Retirement System).  Noted in the report is that Illinois continues to have the “worst funded” pension systems in the country.  http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/Pew_pensions_reti..
 
The Illinois TRS $40 billion unfunded liability is part of the total $77 billion liability that the TRS owes current retired teachers and all active teachers who have yet to retire.  Because active teachers cannot collect what they are owed until they retire, the deficit in the TRS fund appears less critical as the total liability never comes due at one point in time.
 
The devastating state of the Illinois pension system was hammered home to me by Marc Levine of the Illinois Policy Institute in his article, Two sides of the pension debate.  http://illinoisissues.uis,edu/archives/2011/10/levine.html

Although much has been written about the detrimental impact of Illinois’ unfunded pension systems, Marc Levine links Illinois’ default risk as the result of Illinois’ insolvent state pension system.

On average, full-time teachers earn $84,000 as they near retirement.  Upon retirement, their initial $63,000 annual pension income grows 3 percent annually and, given teachers and state workers can retire as early as age 55, they enjoy this growing income for decades (actuaries estimate about 30 years).  It is fundamentally unfair for Illinois’ private sector citizens, already worried they will outlive their own savings, to pay higher taxes for the lavish retirement packages of teachers and government workers.”

It is easy and convenient to place blame upon legislatures for Illinois having the largest unfunded pension liability, when for years legislatures have failed to make sufficient contributions to the state’s pension systems despite a 1994 state law mandating contributions by the state.  Accordingly, the funded ratio for the TRS pension has continued to slide, hovering below the 50% mark for the past two years.

But what about the politicians from both parties who promise generous benefits that are out of proportion to private sector benefits and employee contributions, as well as IEA union representatives who negotiate with school districts across the state for huge teacher salaries and pension benefits?

Only consider my Lake Forest School District #115.  Out of 169 full time and part-time administrators and teachers employed by District 115, 89 of them earn more than $100,000 a year and another twenty-one earn salaries of $90,000 to $100,000 with no obligation to contribute to their pensions.  Dr. Harry Griffith, superintendent of Lake Forest District 67 (4 schools) and District 115 (high school) was the second highest paid superintendent in the state of Illinois in 2009-10 at $358,540.  Dr. Griffith’s retirement package upon retirement in June of 2012 will be over-the-top in value (“Gouging Taxpayers in the Chicago Suburbs”  http://www.americanthinker.com/printpage/&url=http://www.americant. . . by N. Thorner).

In light of the TRS $40 billion unfunded liability, I was appalled after reading a June 10, 2010 report titled, Illinois pension fund uses OTC derivatives to recoup returns, jeopardized pensions, by Alexandra Harris, in which Harris writes about the TRS using OTC derivatives to recoup returns.  Alexandra Harris writes:  “In addition to writing swaptions, TRS is also selling credit default swaps on corporations like MetLife, Inc. and Ford Motor Co., as well as the debt of Brazil, Germany, China and Panama.”

Dale Rosenthal, the now University of Illinois-Chicago assistant professor of finance, after examining a seven-page list of derivatives positions held by the Illinois Teacher Retirement System obtained by Medill News Service through a Freedom of Information Act request, found that the Illinois TRS fund lost $4.4 billion on investments in fiscal year 2009 (22% or the fifth-largest loss in the U.S.) and 5% on investments in fiscal year 2008.

According to Joshua Rauh, associate professor, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, It’s clear the IRS portfolio is primed for speculation, because if the Illinois TRS were hedging or seeking to mitigate other risky investments, it would have been on the buy side of swaptions and CDSs, rather than selling one set of maturities while buying another.  http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id-166746

Now fast forward to December 19, 2011 when a similar article was published by Lynne Marek in Crain’s Chicago Business.  Its title, Pension Peril.   http://trs.illinois.gov/Crain’s%20-%20TRS%20Story%20Annotated%20FIN…

According to Lynne Marek:  “The Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System — the worst-funded major pension plan in the U.S. — is pumping more of its assets into higher-risk investments while using accounting methods that some pension experts say understates its funding shortfall.

Uncovered by Crain’s after a four-month investigation of TRS holdings and practices was how TRS plans to allocate about a third of its $37.8 billion portfolio to alternative investments such as private-equitey and hedge funds.  Although these unconventional assets do typically dangle the potential for higher returns, it is only because they also carry greater risks and fees.

The TRS response to the Crain’s Chicago Business report of their investment practices was a resounding TRS denial which follows:

“From time to time, Teachers’ Retirement System gets questions from legislators, academics, members and others asking about the System’s investment decisions.  Specifically, there questions center on whether TRS is making risky investments in order to ‘overreach’ for investment returns that would help reduce our unfunded liability and whether the allocation of TRS assets to ‘alternative’ investments is a prudent move.   The answers are:  TRS does not invest with the goal of making up the System’s unfunded liability.  TRS investments in ‘alternatives’ are prudent and are designed more to reduce volatility in the overall portfolio.”

For point-by-point answers by the TRS to the accusations raised in Crain’s story by Lynne  Marek check out this link:  http://trs.illinois.gv/Crain’s%20Response%20Web%20-20121611.pdf

Although experts have claimed there is no language in the Illinois pension code that prohibits pension funds and retirement systems from buying or selling OTC derivatives as an investment method, does it make sense for the TRS’s portfolio to be invested in what might generate the highest returns as losses were already encountered through risky TRS investments from 2008 onward?  What about the possibility of even bigger losses further jeopardizing the pensions of 363,121 former and current teachers?

The TRS is counting on an 8.5% annual return this year which many portfolio managers and investors, including Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, says is unrealistically high, even though two other IL public pension funds have lowered their forecasts to a 7.75% return.http://trs.illinois.gov/Crain’s%20-%20TRS%20Story%20Annotated%20FIN…  

It sounds much like going to Las Vegas in the hope that Lady Luck will substantially increase the amount of the 9.4% of each paycheck teachers have paid into their retirement fund.  Presently TRS liabilities amount to $17,562 per household.

Associate professor at Kellogg School of Management, Joshua Rauh, made this comment to Crain’s investigative report of December 19th:  “Taxpayers are, one way or the other, going to end up bearing a large portion of this burden.”

According to Marc Levine of the Illinois Policy Institute, “We cannot borrow our way out of the pension crisis; we must reform our way out.”

Will Illinois legislators in 2012 seriously tackle pension reform in a way that will help reduce the default risk Illinois is now facing due to having to pay the highest interest rate of any other state on borrowed money?

A good start was made last year when retirement age was increased to 67 from 55 along with reduced pension benefits for employees new to government pension systems.

The position of Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, must be vigorously challenged as to the constitutionality of making changes to the benefits employees receive who were in the IRS retirement plan before January 1, 2012.  Tyrone Fahner, a former Illinois attorney general and president of the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago, is “absolutely convinced” that some pension changes would not violate the constitution. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-03-22/news/ct-met-teacher-p…  (Illinois teacher pension system nearly $40 billion in the hole by Diane Rado)

Is it fair for taxpayers to have to pay for the generous salaries and pension teachers receive as a result of union negotiations, which have increased salaries and pensions far beyond those received by private sector employees.  Seventy-five percent of an educator’s average salary is used in retirement calculations.

Is sacrifice no longer a politically correct word when applied to doing what is best to save Illinois and to ease the burden on taxpayers in a challenged economy?

 

The Illinois Policy Institute, John Tillman, CEO, held another excellent Conference call on Tuesday, December 20, one of several I’ve participated in during the past few months.  The subject of the Dec. 20 call was timely, given that Illinois General Assembly Republican candidates will be thrust in almost perpetual motion after the New Year, scrambling to get their names before their Primary Republican voters in March in the hope of being selected as the Republican who will challenge their Democrat rival in the November 2012 General Elections.

Through an examination of the Illinois Policy Institute’s new policy paper, Still leaving Illinois:  An exodus of people land Money, revealed by the conference call was shocking information about how Illinois residents are fleeing the state and taking with them their purchasing power, entrepreneurial activity and taxable income.

Ted Dabrowski, Vice President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, discussed the Illinois’ out-migration crisis and fielded question; Brian Costin, Director of Outreach, moderated the program.  http://illinoispolicy.org/news/article.asp?ArticleSource=4576

IRS data was used in compiling the policy paper to ascertain the number of taxpayers who had left and moved into Illinois; the total numbers of people who had left or moved into the state, and the amount of earned income that was taken to another state or vice versa. 

Although the motto of the Illinois Policy Institute is “policy changes lives for the better,” Illinois exemplifies what bad policy can do for a state.  As stated by Ted Dabrowski, “Illinois is bleeding people to almost every state in the nation.  People are packing up and voting with their feet.  Gone — goodbye.”

Highlighted in the conference call were two staggering and scary statistics that bode ill for Illinois and its future:

1.   For the past 15 years, Illinois has lost more than 806,000 people to other states, the equivalent of losing Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville, Springfield — five of Illinois’ six largest cities — and half of Elgin. 

2.  The 800,000 figure adds up to a loss of one person every ten minutes.

Other striking statistics:

* Along with the loss of 806,000 individuals from 1995 to 2010, went $26 billion in adjusted gross income which would have been part of the Illinois tax base.

* In 2009 alone, Illinois lost $1.5 billion in taxable income when 40,000 people moved to 42 other states.

* States netting the most people from Illinois include the following:  Texas, Indiana, Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri and Iowa.  Four are neighboring states which negates the idea that Illinoisans are fleeing to warmer weather states.  

IRS data was also utilized to show how Illinois residents are migrating to states where, on the average, taxes are lower as well as estate taxes, housing is more affordable, and union membership nets 10% rather than Illinois’ 18%. 

The looming problem:  How is it possible to stop the bleeding of people and taxable income from Illinois so the environment can become a positive one for families and businesses to prosper and thrive and college graduates can find work to remain in Illinois? 

It was pointed out that Illinois won’t turn around unless these three changes take place:

1.  Pension system reform:  Unfunded pension are estimated at $85 billion to perhaps as high as $200 billion.

2.  Repeal 2011 individual and corporation tax increases.  Lower taxes are needed in Illinois to create a level playing field.

3.  Tackle run-away health care costs:  The state spent 2-1/2 billion more on Medicaid this year than was budgeted, amounting to 2-1/2 billion of unpaid medical bills.  Why?  Illinois loosened the requirements of who was eligible so more individuals are now enrolled in the program and using it.

Only by electing more Republicans to Springfield will Illinois have a chance to end the Democrat culture of spending and borrowing which has resulted in driving up taxes and chasing Illinoisans to more friendly states.   

One of the three changes that must happen to turn Illinois around deals with health care.  As of now there are no doctors in either the Illinois House or the Senate.  Arie Friedman, M.D. is running to replace an open senate seat in the 29th Legislative District and Mark Neerhof, M.D. is running for another open seat in House District 58.   Both are outstanding candidates who are willing to take time off from their lucrative medical practices because of concern over the direction of this nation and state, coupled with love of country and their desire to try to make a difference.  

It is important to support Doctors Friedman and Neerhof and other fine, principled Republican candidates in the March 20th Illinois Primary Elections — among them Don Castella, a candidate for Illinois 30th Senate District — who will not go soft when elected, but who will fight to undo Democrat policies that have placed Illinois at the bottom of the heap in state rankings and brought shame to Illinois and its people. 

 

I am still of the persuasion that had House Republicans been able to effectively get out the truth, as did my own 10th District representative, Bob Dold, the outcome would have been different. 

Just why did Republican senators agree to the Senate bill which is silly legislation and which would be difficult to enact?  Do they have no spine!?  They must have more faith than I do that Democrats will extend the two months to one year when the occasion rolls around in 2012.

With the above in mind, readers must decide whether the agreement reached on Friday, December 23 was a good one for the American people on the basis of the facts I presented about the two chamber bills in this article, “10th District Dold bats a home run in voting for $1,000 instead of $67 before House caves in.”

~~~~~~

Recently expressed was how Congressman Robert Dold (IL-10) was leaning to the left of his predecessor, Mark Kirk, on sanctity of life and sexual responsibility.  Just to set the record straight, as one who has lived in the10th District during Kirk’s tenure as a U.S. congressman, there is no daylight between Kirk and Dold.  Both, as moderate Republicans, are pro-abortion and anti-family promoters.

I was pleased, however, as a conservative by an informational e-mail I received from Bob Dold as a constituent on Tuesday, December 20.  The subject of his mailing was “$1000 or $167.”

Dold wrote how he voted last week for bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives that provided a one-year payroll tax cut as was initially requested by President Obama. The same House bipartisan legislation further protects seniors’ health care for the next two years by ensuring doctors in the Medicare program that reinforcement are not cut more 27%.  

The Senate, by contrast, passed its version of a payroll tax “holiday” measure on Saturday, December 18 which cuts taxes and protects seniors for only the next sixty days.  Senators then scurried out of town for the holidays.  

In describing the House plan, Dold explained how an American worker making $50,000 is certain to receive a tax cut of $1,000 next year.  In contrast, the bill passed by the Senate of December 18 would only guarantee the same worker a $167 tax cut. 

Also notable in the House bill is a key provision for a pay freeze for congressional members not included in the Senate version.

Bob Dold then went on to inform constituents of his vote on Tuesday, December 20 to take the House to conference to work out the differences and how the Senate is refusing to take the bill to conference by coming back to Washington, D.C. before the end of the year.  In fact, senators have left town with no plans to return until January 23, 2012.  

Finally, Dold’s constituents were given a chance to register their thoughts on-line through a three-question poll.  Dold’s position was the favored one at the time I took the poll.

Here is the catch:  Democrats are playing a political game. House Republicans, caught in a deceitful web spun by Democrats, are painting Republicans as the villains, when the real culprit in the payroll tax debacle is the U.S. Senate.  Even among fellow Republicans, including John McCain, House Republicans are being plummeted for standing their ground in pushing for solid conservative policies. 

In tandem, Speaker Boehner is also being accused of having allowed eighty or so Tea Party-elected representatives to create the existing gridlock, even though the representatives were sent to Washington in 2010 with the expectation that they would stand firm for conservative principles and not be bullied into advancing the President’s agenda deemed not right for this nation.

For good reason there are  two chambers of Congress so when there is a disagreement between the two chambers they can sit down and resolve those differences.  Senate Republicans are willing to return, but Senate Democrats remain obstinate.

On December 31 the payroll tax “holiday” will expire which will mean higher taxes for working Americans, fees for physicians and hospitals providing Medicare services will be severely cut, and additional weeks of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed will run out.  

As explained in The Heritage Morning Bell report of Wednesday, Dec. 21 — Senators, Do Your Job and Get to Work — the House bill 1) “would at least prevent the looming tax hike for all working Americans, 2) extend additional unemployment benefits, and 3) prevent cuts to Medicare providers with another ‘Doc Fix’ for a full year.”  Also included in the House bill are some policies helpful to job creation as well as an important change to fix Medicare’s finances.    morningbell@heritage.org <mailto:morningbell@heritage.org

Regarding the Senate’s bill:  “Unable to get the job done right, the Senate passed a measly two-month extension of the three House measures and quickly got out of Dodge, a.k.a. the Nation’s capital.  Somehow, this is supposed to reassure us that Reid and the rest of his Senate colleagues are able to do the people’s business.” 

Just what has been left undone by the Senate bill (according to The Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell report of Wednesday, December 21:  “Senators, Do your Job and Get to Work):
1.  Working Americans will have no idea whether or not they’ll suffer a tax hike when the extension expires.

2.  Employers will take on additional costs in having to change their payroll systems to keep up with Washington’s policy du jour.

3  For small businesses who do payroll by hand, it will be a bigger pain in the neck.

4. Some good old-fashioned class warfare is included limiting the amount of income that qualifies for payroll tax relief so that upper-income earners don’t get more than their ‘fair share’ of the tax relief during this brief two-month period.  

While the American people are wondering about the size of their paycheck as January 1st, 2012 approaches, the House is in one corner, the President in another, and Senators have checked out this year for good instead of going to conference to iron out the differences between their legislation and the House version. 

The people’s business is not being done.  It is ironic that the onus is being place on the House by many Americans for the stalemate that now exists, when it is the House that is willing to do the people’s business.  It is the Senate that has dropped the ball!

As of Monday, December 18, the U.S. House was still at logger heads over the Senate’s speedy, get-out-of-town passage of President Obama’s two-month compromise extension of the payroll tax-cut, foolish in concept because payroll taxes are the only source of funding for Social Security which, as an entitlement program, faced a long-rang imbalance in 2010 of $16.1 trillion.

Little publicized was that on Friday, December 16, the House reached a deal to delay until October the enforcement of standards that were to bring about the end of the old-style 100-watt Edison bulb that had been set to expire on January 1, 2012.  Senate approval of the House measure was expected before the Senate adjourned for the holidays. 

Why is the reversal of the Edison light bulb ban important to the American people? 

Just because Europe is already well along the way of mandating the use of CFL to slash carbon emissions in favor of the energy-saving bulbs, despite complaints from European museum directors and other cultural leaders who see the light cast as harsh and flickery, is there any reason why this nation should follow suit? 

Unlike in Europe where government control is the norm, this nation operates under the free market capitalist system where success and failure of a product or service is decided by those who use the product.  If enough Americans in time switch to CFLs, the Edison bulb will be phased out without government interference.  Until such a time the American people should have the freedom to select which light bulb is best for them.

Consider these downsides to CFLs usage:

1.  All CFLs contain a tiny bit of mercury, which is highly toxic.

2.  By law, CFL blubs must either be recycled or taken to an approved hazardous waste disposal site.

3.  Most CFLs don’t work on dimmer switches and might actually damage this kind of switch.

4.  Sensitivity to emfs and flickering can make the use of CFLs unwise and a health hazard for a small percentage of the population.

The American people have spoken.  They don’t want government standards determining how they light  their homes as another feel good measure legislated to prove to others and the world that this nation is doing its part to please Mother Earth, all in the name of the hoax that is man-made global warming!

Keep the pressure on your elected U.S. Congressmen and Senators to dismiss any notion of reinstating the ban of the Edison light bulb when October rolls around.

 

When attending a Republican Assembly of Lake County Christmas Party on Saturday, December, 17, I observed members of the organization who call themselves conservatives, but who do not talk the talk or walk the walk of true conservative Republicans.

Congressman Joe Walsh of the 8th Congressional District in Illinois was not hesitant to present himself as an unwavering and a true conservative in speaking before the Assembly members. What is going on with some of our conservatives or should I say those who fashion themselves conservatives?

Joe Walsh, RALC Christmas Party

We have Ann Coulter badmouthing our Republican conservative candidates and supporting Romney, a moderate.  Then Christine O’Donnell and Nikki Haley came out in support of Romney.

These two women were greatly helped and advanced as conservatives by Tea Party groups; Nikki Haley won with big help from Sarah Palin.  Apparently both women are now betting on the GOP establishment supporting them in their next election.  Way to go Christine O’Donnell and Nikki Haley!

Meanwhile, Romney has been endorsed by a liberal Iowa newspaper and by John McCain and Bob Dole.

Fox News, a favorite with Republicans of all stripes, is constantly informing its listeners that the

GOP presidential election is between two candidates, Romney and Gingrich, demonstrated by the special guests O’Reilly and Hannity feature on their TV shows and who were tight with the Bushies: Karl Rove, Dick Morris and Ann Coulter.

Somewhat hesitate when Greta was hired at Fox, I now view Greta as the most fair of Fox talk show hosts.  Only consider Greta’s great interview with Rush Limbaugh!

Rush Limbaugh is the rare conservative pundit who has maintained dignity and respect for the GOP candidates.  Rush informed Greta that the true conservatives in the race are Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum, but they just are not well known nationally.

And why not?  Because very few are willing or have the gumpsion to promote conservative candidates.  Most follow what they have been led to believe, that the race is between Romney or Gingrich.

Well, even in Iowa the voters haven’t made a final decision———-over 60% still undecided!

What is happening nationally is also the norm at the state and country level, especially here in Illinois, where the Republican Establishment funds and promotes their candidates of choice even before Illinois Republicans voters (and there are many conservatives among them) have had a chance to select their candidates of choice in Primary Elections.

Some say that compromise in terms of selecting a candidate is necessary for change to occur, but why take a half of loaf when a full loaf can be had?  Compromise seldom leads to big changes, such as what are called for now in order to preserve this nation for future generations.

Republicans time and again compromise with Democrats, only to lose more than they gain.

It is not unreasonable that Tea Party groups will remember how Fox and their pundits have treated us “We the People” and will keep in mind politicians like O’Donnell and Haley who have betrayed their principles.

Maybe conservatives should stop buying books written by Coulter, Hannity, O’Reilly, and Morris; stop attending their events; and stop watching Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly shows on TV?

In actuality conservative ideas are not far-right ideas.  In Illinois they form the Platform of the Republican Party.

Conservative views, if compared to their corresponding liberal ideas, will win every time.  When will ‘fraidy cat Republicans politicians wake up and not be hesitant to explain conservative positions that the mainstream public will accept, instead of believing that only by being Democrat light will they be able to win.

Speaking for the Republican Party, as a conservative, be very careful how you treat Republican conservative members.  Failure to take conservatives seriously could ultimately lead to the downfall of a once great party and the failure here in IL to rid the state of Democrat control which has relegated Illinois to the bottom of the heap in state rankings.

The two party system has worked up to this point, but might both parties have seen their better days with the need for a third party to emerge that has not been corrupted by big government, interest groups, and legislators who care more about retaining power and prestige than in doing what is best for the American people?

Photo description: Congressman Joe Walsh, the Tea Party-elected candidate to the U.S. Congress in the 8th District who is a member of the Republican Assembly of Lake County — I helped Joe in his campaign — poses with his wife and Doreen and Raymond True, who is Chairman of the Republican Assembly of Lake County.  Congressman Walsh spoke briefly at the Christmas event.

The 194-party climate change conference in Durban, Africa, ended on Sunday, December 11, after 13 so-called hectic days of negotiations that ran a day and a half over schedule.

Although the results of the Durban conference is being credited for putting the world on track for the first time for a comprehensive binding global treaty of climate change, are the results mostly hype with no substance (mostly wishful thinking?), l meaning Durban was just as inconsequential as past global warming conferences?

Only two year ago President Barack Obama made an appearance, as did Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, at which time Obama could only produce a non-binding agreement that even he didn’t agree to sign.

While the Copenhagen conference received wall-to-wall coverage, the Durban conference was for the most part ignored by the America media, although I did read several brief accounts of the conference in several Chicagoland newspapers.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration did sign on to the U.N. Durban climate conference deal worked out in the final hours of the South Africa meeting.

According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the deal represents “an important advance in our work on climate change.”  But even though a deal was reached, any meaningful “real-world” results will ultimately depend on how Asia reacts (China and India),rather than Africa and the West, to a new global climate accord with legal force. Such an accord would presumably be negotiated 2015 and would require major developing nations to make cuts in emissions (The existing 1997 Kyoto climate treaty only applied to industrialized nations like the U.S.).

Just what is included in the four document deal, officially called “the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” that is being hailed as a break through in some quarters, but which fails to mention penalties for countries who try to tie their emissions to legal restraints?

1.  Gives new life to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which applied only to industrial countries like the U.S.  Carbon emissions targets slated to expire next year were extended for another five years.

2.  Obliges major developing nations like China and India which were excluded under Kyoto to accept legally binding emissions targets in the future by 2020 at the latest.

3.  Sets up the structure and governing bodies of the Green Climate Fund which will receive and distribute the billions of dollars promised yearly to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change and to low-carbon growth.

4.  Issues rules for monitoring and verifying emissions reductions, protecting forests, transferring clean technologies to developing countries and scores of technical issues.

As is my practice, I rely on The Heartland institute in Chicago, Joseph Bast, CEO, to keep me on the straight and narrow path regarding the issue of climate change so as to keep me grounded in reality, instead of allowing myself to wander off in all directions.  Recently Joseph Bast sent me this excellent report that was presented to the UN Durban climate summit:

The report — from A-Z, and in keeping with scientific reality — details how the claims of the promoters of man-made climate fears are failing.  Included in the A-Z report are key facts, peer-reviewed studies and the latest data and developments with links for further reading, on an exhaustive range of global warming claims.

After reading the A-Z report, I found myself harboring two questions which seemed to negate the feelings of Joe Bast and Jay Lehr, Ph.D, Science Director at the Heartland Institute, that the “global warming delusion” might be on its last legs. (See, for example, http://heartland.org/policy-documents/bast-unwinding-great-global-warming-delusion )

My first question posed to Mr. Bast had to do with the mandates and rules and regulations being issued presently by the EPA and by FIAT by President Obama, without Congressional approval.

I shared the following concerns:

*Electric cars are being promoted, even though they do need energy produced by some means to operate.

*What about the restrictions being placed by the EPA on coal-fired plants, which will result in many of the plants shutting down because the required updates are too costly to install?

*Drilling for oil has become frowned upon and is being presented as the greatest cause of global warming related to CO2 emissions.

*Then there is fracking with the claim that water is being polluted through the fracking process.

*And what about nuclear power which is safe, green and gives the biggest bang for the buck?  After Japan, nuclear power has once again been vilified as a source of power.  I’m still smarting from the decision made by John Rowe of Exelon Corporation to decommision the Dual Zion Nuclear Plant in northern Illinois that still had much life in it, forever removing from the electrical grid its 2,100 MW of electrical power.

*Instead, wind and solar power is being pushed here in Il as in other states, where mandates have been set up as to how much power must be generated by these two sources of power, sources which would not exist except for the hugs subsidies given to those who wish to invest in these follies.

The email response back from Mr. Bast was too good not to share, knowing that many are likewise frustrated with the hoax that is global warming and feel that other side is winning:

“Everything you say is correct except this:  ‘Things already seem to be snowballing out of control.’

Unsustainable trends, by definition, must end or be reversed.  The green movement is waxing now, but the waning stage is well within sight.  As social movement go, this one is running out of gas as its leaders are discredited, the factual basis is exposed as fraudulent, the costs become absurdly high and impossible to hide, and (alas) new ‘crises’ come along to take their place.

So this too shall pass.  Jay Lehr and I seem to share a vision of the day, not so far ahead, when all those windmills are standing still, their subsidies cancelled, their motors dead and gears rusted tight, birds roosting on their rotors, monuments to the folly of the global warming movement.  We have no doubt that this will happen in a few years, five if Obama loses, ten if he wins.  An expensive lesson, perhaps, but a lesson learned nevertheless by gullible taxpayers and rate-payers, and a constant reminder of the lies of environmentalists

‘Mommy, why aren’t the windmills spinning?”  “Because the environmentalists lied to us.'”

Another nagging question I felt compelled to ask Mr. Bast was how can the liberal indoctrination education of Global Warming be stopped which seems to be on a course to do irreparable harm to this nation in the years to come?

Although I have been troubled for some time by the liberal indoctrination of children on many issues, the scope and reach of Global Warming indoctrination in schools throughout this nation was brought foremost to my mind upon receiving a letter by mail from the Cornwall Alliance, Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, Founder.  http://www.cornwallalliance.org/about/

Dr. Beisner noted how extreme environmental indoctrination is going on from kindergarten through graduate school.

Although protecting the environment sounds innocuous, being offered instead are not moderate views of environmental awareness and stewardship almost all Americans can agree on, but an extreme agenda based on the most radical strains of environmental activism.

Beisner describes indoctrination as the process of passing ideas and attitutdes that lead to a permanent pattern of thinking.  It is distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated students are expected not to qustion or critically examine the doctrine they have learned.

According to Dr. Beisner:

“Children are being taught that the American way of life is destroying the planet.  That there are too many people, using up too many resources, and putting out too much pollution. That this is all unsustainable and the earth will be destroyed if we don’t stop our modern way of life. Of course, government is always the solution to these problem.”

Everywhere you look, in the name of ‘saving the planet’ and ‘protecting wildlife,’ an ideologically driven movement that is rally a ‘Green religion’ indoctrinating our kids.  A religion that includes worship of ‘Gaia,’ the Earth goddess.”

The following link comes with the blessing of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.  It is a downloadable document for teachers targeted at kids as a “student resource” aimed at force-feeding the idea that human-induced, catastrophic global warming is an established fact.  I’m sure you will be as outraged as I was when I read the false claims made by the EPA in “Frequently Asked Questions About Global Warming and Climate Change.”   http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/downloads/Climate_Basics.pdf

At the federal level, leading Green zealot in the Congress, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), is urging Energy Secretary Steven Chu to launch an intense national “Climate-change education” campaign to stem the diminished public understanding and interest in climate change.

Recently President Obama told Scholastic News Kids Reporters during a TV interview that one of the greatest challenges facing their generation is climate change.

After presenting my concerns to Joseph Bast about the magnitude of the global warming lies that are ensnaring children and young people, I was once again reassured by the following prompt response back from Mr. Bast whose comments were once again worthy of sharing in their entirety:

“You ask, “How can the liberal indoctrination education of Global Warming be stopped which is on a course to do irreparable harm to this nation in the years to come?”

I don’t think it can be stopped. We can try to get some counter- balancing commentary into the classroom in the form of books, videos, and lesson plans, but they will only rarely be used or endorsed by teachers, and will be buried under the avalanche of propaganda from the other side. But the same is true of other important topics in K-12 schools – American history, economics, religion, and gender issues are all taught in a distorted and often even frightening way.

Kids survive this.  The smart ones will discover that they can stand out  from their peers by voicing a dissenting position, and in truth, this rarely leads to punishment in the lower grades.  Most teachers reward independent thinking, and more than a few doubt the science and truth behind the PC garbage they teach all day.

The migration of books and information to the Internet breaks the control that teachers once had on what K-12 students could read. Homeschoolers especially rave about our Web-based resources, and since homeschooled kids are disproportionately represented among high achievers, we are having a highly leveraged impact.

Over the years we’ve sent publications to teachers and school board members, and we may do so again.  But I think the better strategy is to go directly to students, at an age when they can read and think critically.  “Skepticism” is the grown-up attitude toward global warming alarmism.  Kids realize that by the time they graduate, or shortly thereafter . . . I think and hope!”    jbast@heartland.org

Recently Human Events published an article titled, Top 10 Inconvenient Truths about Global Warming. http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=48070

It is essential that the EPA downloadable document being used by teachers to indoctrinate children in man-made global warming all over this nation is thrown in the trash bin where is belongs.  Instead, teaching the truth about global warming must become the norm.

A few days ago while attending a local school board meeting of District 67 in Lake Forest (K – 5), I observed first-hand how students are being taught, starting at the kindergarten level, about saving water, saving trees, and yes, even lies about global warming.  I left the meeting with a heavy heart upon the realization that even the upscale Lake Forest School Districts #67 and #115 have climbed aboard the Global Warming Express.   In the words of a 2nd grade teacher, “Citizen activists are are being created.”

From Human Events’ Top 10 inconvenient Truths about Global Warming:  “Evidence is growing that the small amount of warming seen in the 1980s and the 1990s was caused by natural events and was not “man-made.”  Prominent scientists have advanced theories that solar eruptions, tidal activity and other natural factors have warming tendencies.  Considering the Earth has always had periods of warming and cooling, why would an increase of 0.8 degrees Celsius over a hundred years be of such concern?

A little warming isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  What’s wrong about a longer growing season in Northern Europe, a thawed Northwest Passage in Canada, or easier energy extraction in Siberia?  Not to mention the economic impact of lower heating bills in New England?”

Pacifying the climate alarmists would mean that the U.S. would have to accept the prospect of a long-term moribund economy.   May common sense prevail, and as shared by Joseph Bast, “Unsustainable trends, by definition, must end or be reversed.”


The Illinois Policy Institute, John Tillman, President, hosted its “Gifts of the Free Market” annual holiday event on Wednesday, December 7th.   Illinoispolicy.org

The occasion featured cocktails, appetizers, and some some good old-fashioned holiday cheer.  There was also a brief program which focused on how free markets are the best way to help the poor and disadvantaged and society in general

Riding the elevator to the 40 floor to reach the venue for the Illinois Policy Institute’s holiday party at the

Chicago headquarters of the Illinois Policy Institute, 190 S. LaSalle Street, members and guests were greeted by the sound of youthful voices singing holiday music.  The young singers hailed from Bucktown campus, one of charter schools associated with the Chicago International Charter School started in 1997. 

I was fortunate to be able to meet and speak with Meghan M. Schmidt, Director of Special Projects at Chicago International Charter School, who without hesitation was eager to answer my questions and offered the following information:

“Chicago International Charter School (CICS) is the largest charter school operating in Illinois and is a front runner in thought leadership in the school reform movement.  CICS now operates a network of 16 campuses across the city of Chicago and Rockford, IL serving more that 9,200 students in K through 12th grade.

CICS believes that all young people can achieve, when given the right support.  This philosophy has led to significant academic progress and the expectation that every of of the students will graduate high school with the capacity to succeed in a competitive four-year college.  The organization works continuously to provide the tools and support necessary to achieve this goal.  CICS’s mission is to provide, thorough innovation and choice, an attractive and rigorous college-preparatory education that meets the needs of today’s students. 

Charter schools are privately managed public schools.  CICS is therefor publicly funded, tuition-free and open to all city children regardless of income or academic ability.  It’s student body is demographically similar to Chicago’s other public schools; 86% are low income, 96% are minority, and many are second-language learners and /or have disabilities.”

As one trained in music education having myself directed choruses during my teaching career, I informed Meghan Schmidt how impressed I was with the Bucktown campus charter school chorus under the direction of Evan Bruno.  Meghan informed me that the 35 young people who made up the choir were from grades 2nd through 6th,  All had signed up to participate as a volunteer after-school activity.

And sing they did with enthusiasm and gusto under the excellent leadership of their chorus director, Evan Bruno, who impressed me not only with his ability as a music teacher to draw out of the diverse group of students pleasing-to-listen-to holiday and Christmas songs, but also with his unique ability to keep the youngsters under control with firmness accomplished in a somewhat humorous way. 

Evan Bruno is one of six in-school conductors associated with the Chicago Children’s Choir.  Bucktown charter school qualified to become part of the In-School Program of Chicago’s Schools this past fall.  In so doing Bucktown was provided with a qualified conductor to establish a chorus.  More than 2,000 children in 40 schools are the beneficiaries of the Chicago Children’s choir in-school program.http://www.ccchoir.org/ensembles/in-school-choir     

About an hour into the holiday event a request was made for all to be seated so the program could begin.

Collin Hitt was the initial speaker as Senior Director of Government Affairs and an education specialist at the Illinois Policy Institute.  His work at the Illinois Policy Institute focuses on better educational options for Illinois Children, such as school choice, education funding, and education reform.   Collin Hitt is also a proponent of charter schools and praised Gov. Quinn’s signing of the Charter School Quality Act in his published IPI report of 7/10/2011 titled, New Charter Reforms Empower Communities, as “an important moment in the history of education reform” in our state.”   http://illinoispolicy.org/blog/blog.asp?ArticleSource=4300

It was fitting for Collin Hitt’s remarks to emphasize with pride the Bucktown Campus charter school choir, having been the initiator in inviting Bucktown choir to entertain Illinois Policy Institute members and friends with music of the season.  Collin Hitt has also worked with CICS on state legislation and has contributed to its journal, Focal Point 

Collin cited the Bucktown Campus as a good example of school choice in action, reminding all that the Illinois Policy Institute has fought hard for school choice and vouchers.  Regarding Bucktown charter school, “Parents now have a good, safe place to send their kids to school.” 

Collin looks forward to the day when there will be school choice for all children in Illinois.

Kristin Rasmussen, Executive Vice President of the Illinois Policy Institute, was next in line at the podium.  Kristin Rasmussen, like Collin Hitt, is based in the Springfield office of the Illinois Policy Institute at 802 South 2nd Street. Her role is to direct the Institute’s operation, legislative outreach and policy research. Kristin advises legislators in Springfield on liberty-based public policy solutions and travels the state to advance the liberty-based principles of the Illinois Policy Institute.

After brief remarks, Ms. Rasmussen introduced Vicki Tesmer, a local Chicago artist who volunteered at UCAN Academy teaching art to students in conjunction with UCAN’s Director of Spiritual Formation, The Reverend Tyrone Fowlkes.  The vision of UCAN is that youth who have suffered trauma can become our future leaders.  www.ucanchicago.org 

Ms. Tesmer worked with UCAN’S youth, aged seven to fourteen, to turn art based on holiday scenes into UCAN holiday cards.  Four art designs were picked from the many fabulous art works produced by Tesmer’s students.  The boxed cards of 20 were on sale at the IPI holiday event for $20.00.  Proceeds from card sales are slated for the Capital City Fund. 

After a short film showing Vicki Tesmer’s work with UCAN youth, Tesmer noted how artists benefit when the free market system is working.  According to Ms. Tesmer, “When the business world does well, so does the art world.  When the business world does poorly, artists stop finding work .”  Why is this so?  The flourishing of the private sector through free market principles creates work for artists.

Tesmer admitted that when in college she would put down so-called yuppies, only to be told by a professor that she better be careful how she thought about yuppies because they will be the ones who will keep her in business later on (Yuppie short for “young urban professional” or “young upwardly mobile professional” is a term that refers to a member of the supper middle class or upper class in their 20s or 30s.  Yuppie first came into use in the early-1980s, and also its use has faded, it is still being used in the 2000s and 2010s.).

In conclusion, Vicki Tesmer revealed that the best time for artists and for galleries was during the time of Ronald Reagan.  Following the advise of her father, Ms. Tesmer found something she liked to do and then went for it.

The final speaker of the evening was John Tillman, president of the Illinois Policy Institute. Tillman spoke of the Free Market System as when all harmonize to create something of value that others desire.

Since the date of the IPI event coincided with the remembrance of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the connection was made to the blood that was shed so that liberty could be preserved.

In speaking about the sentencing of Governor Blagojevich, John Tillman suggested that those present consider giving $14.00 in the month of  December as a donation to the Illinois Policy Institute.  This would amount to one dollar for every year Blago was being incarcerated, and, if so disposed, a zero or two could be added to our $14.00 contribution.

Tillman stressed how the financial legacy of Blago is alive and well.  Illinoisans will for years be paying for the excessive financial burdens placed upon future generation, including irresponsible expansions in health and prescription benefits, headline-grabbing lawsuits, highway signs sporting his name . . and on and on goes the list!  

Released by John Tillman on the day after the IPI holiday event (December 8) was a COMPASS on-line report that details the policies Gov. Blagojevich advanced for his political gain and their costs to taxpayers.  Even though all of Blago’s polices passed through the legislature, Blago was still the leader and architect of all. http://illinoispolicy.org/news/article.asp?ArticleSource=4553&utm_source=Illinois+Policy+Institute&utm_campaign=7754af057a-Nov+22%2C+2011+E-letter&utm_medium=email

Stated by Tillman was that we must take responsibility upon ourselves for changing the narrative. The culture of corruption can no longer be tolerated here in Illinois.

David From was asked to stand to be recognized by John Tillman as the new Illinois director of American For Prosperity, a national grassroots advocacy group on par with the Illinois Policy Institute here in Illinois.  AFP is committed to educating Americans about economic policy and returning the federal government to its constitutional  limits.   http://americansforprosperity.org/120911-david-afp-illinois-state-director

A surprise announcement followed when Tillman informed Institute members and guests that all would be the recipients of the gifting of a book made possible by a generous donor to the Illinois Policy Institute, Democracy Denied:  How Obama Is Ignoring You And Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America — And How To Stop Him.  Mark Levin, said of the book written by Phil Kerpen, Vice President For Policy At Americans For Prosperity, “This is a must-read for everyone who values our nation’s bedrock principles.” 

John Tillman then displayed another book, one of the 44 world-famous books for children written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss for children and their lucky parents — Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose.”

Upon inquiring whether anyone had ever heard of Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, there was a resounding “no” response, although another Dr. Seuss book, Scramble eggs super!, was recognized by almost all. 

As to why Thudwick the Big-Hearted Moose lacked the recognition that it deserved, Tillman suggested that it was because the book was all about the free market system.  Copies of Thudwick the Big-Hearted Moose books were made available free of charge upon request. 

I read my copy of Thudwick on my way home on the commuter train from Chicago to Lake Bluff.  I found it to be a charming book with its marvelous message of how depending on others to provide for you in the end does one no good.

In closing John Tillman wished all a Merry Christmas which he knew wasn’t politically correct.  Tillman also related how this past year had been a good year for the Illinois Policy Institute in the area of finances.  Funds raised were just north of $3 million.

With the end of the program, many stayed on to continue enjoying more of the offered good old-fashioned holiday cheer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo:  (Left) Ilene Disch and (Right) Denise Peterson, proprietors of Sweet Things in Lake Bluff, display gift items for the holiday seasonPhoto: (Left) Ilene Disch and (Right) Denise Peterson, proprietors of Sweet Things in Lake Bluff, display gift items for the holiday season

Recently a new store opened for business on October 1st in Lake Bluff at 615 Sheridan Road with the alluring name of “Sweet Things.”

Sweet Things shares the same building with Brookside Cleaners, and, as with the patrons of Brookside Cleaners, the entrance to Sweet Things is located behind the store front where there is ample place to park.

The candy shop became reality through a friendship which resulted in a business partnership between Lake Bluffer Ilene Disch and Denise Peterson of Mt. Prospect. Denise was previously involved in the insurance business and decided that the time was right for a change. Ilene saw the need in Lake Bluff for a candy store after the closing of the Village Market which offered a wide array of candy and other sweets to children and grownups alike.

It is only natural that kids would have initially discovered Sweet Things, as candy has a way of attracting children because it tastes so good even to the youngest child. Many parents have been introduced to Sweet Things through their children, who have told proprietors Ilene and Denise that it was their child who insisted they visit the store.

I’m far removed from my childhood, yet it didn’t take me long to investigate what was inside a store with the name of Sweet Things, as I drove south on Sheridan Road a few weeks ago

I have always loved candy, especially if chocolate is involved. Perhaps it is because my student teaching took place in Hershey, PA. Every day I got to sniff the wonderful smell of chocolate on route to my student teaching assignment in Hershey from nearby Lebanon Valley College in Pa., from which I received my under graduate degree in Music Education ages ago.

And investigate the store I did. I knew immediately that I had to tell others about my wonderful find in my own Village of Lake Bluff.

There was much to like about the new candy store and its two owners. With the enthusiasm of a child, I progressed from one candy-filled large container to another displayed on an attractive wall shelf arrangement. Among many varieties of gummi candy selections were Sour Gummi Worms, Fruit Gummi Bears, and Gummi Butterflies — very popular with the young patrons — along with Swedish Fish, Blue Raspberry Gummi Sharks, and Sour Patch Kids. Among the numerous chocolate selections were Chocolate Covered Cashews, Cherries, Pretzels, Raisins, and Malted Milk Balls.

In addition to the many attractively displayed Gummis and Chocolate Covered selections to choose from, a fine assortment of chocolates is available and greets customers as they enter Sweet Things. My favorite was easy to spot, Chocolate Covered Carmels, but the wide assortment array also includes Chocolate Cashew Turtles, Chocolate Peanut Butter Meltaways, Dark Chocolate Raspberry Creams, and at least a dozen other favorites which that should offer something to please even the most discriminating connoisseurs of chocolate.

The motto of “Sweet Things” tells much about the desire of owners Ilene and Denise to please all customers whatever the occasion:

“We go out of our way to provide the freshest and tastiest packages for any and for all of your special occasions. You can pick from our prepared packages or select your own assortments. We have a wide variety to choose from and all treats are hand packages. All assortments can be combined in a decorative basket, box or tray for any event. We have the following selections for your choosing: World’s Best Gummis – Chocolate Covered Treats – Salty Snacks – Fine Chocolate Selections.”

The owners are ready to help you with occasion gift needs such as Birthdays, Housewarming gifts, Customer appreciation, Promotions, Corporate gifts and Seasonal gifts. The attractive brochure available for handout at the store advises that you call or email to set up an appointment, although I’m sure a visit to the store itself would be desirable when selecting gifting choices.

Sweet Things does offer both Nationwide and Local Hand Delivery. Baskets start as low as $10.95.

Now is the ideal time to visit Sweet Things in this Christmas and holiday gift-giving season. And don’t forget those special occasions and holidays in the year ahead where candy is the ideal gift.

In actuality, there really is no special time to enjoy some candy. Why not treat yourself today and visit Sweet Things in Lake Bluff?

Contact information for Sweet Things: Phone: (847) 615-2557 Email: sweetthingslakebluff@gmail.com

Website: http://www.sweetthingslakebluff.com

Part 2:   “Steve Forbes Keynote Luncheon Speaker at The Heritage Foundation Chicago event on 12/1”

The Heritage Foundation featured Steve Forbes as its keynote luncheon speaker at an event held in Chicago and hosted by The Heritage Foundation for Heritage Foundation members and friends on Thursday, December 1st at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago.

Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, where his editorials appear in each issue under the heading, “Fact and Comment.”  As a widely respected economic prognosticator, Mr. Forbes is the only writer to have been a four-time winner of the highly prestigious Crystal Owl Award, formerly given by the U.S. Steel Corporation to the financial journalist whose economic forecasts for the coming year proved most accurate.

In 1996 and 2000 Forbes campaigned vigorously for the Republican nomination for the Presidency.  His latest books include: “How Capitalism Will Save Us:  Why Free People and Free Markets Are the Best Answer in Today’s Economy,” co-authored by Elizabeth Ammes, and “Power Ambition Glory:  The Stunning Parallels between Great Leaders of the Ancient world and Today,” co-authored by John Prevas.  Forbes is also the author of “Flat Tax Revolution:  Using a Postcard to Abolish the IRS.”

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., President of The Heritage Foundation, served as the Master of Cermonies for the luncheon event.   Dr. Feulner informed those present that The Heritage Foundtion is now 714,000 members strong.

Also noted by Feulner was the passing of Tom Roeser, a staunch supporter of The Heritage Foundation since its last hosted event in Chicago.

Dr. Feulner then displayed an on-stage gift that was to be presented to Steve Forbes (a copy of the petition Steve Forbes had filed with the state of Illinois in order to qualify for placement on its ballot), as a reminder to Forbes’ of his Illinos bid for the presidency back in 2000.

Michael Keiser, founder of The Heritage Foundation, introduced Steve Forbes.  Keiser also heads a separate organization, Heritage Action (Heritageaction.com), which is separate from The Heritage Foundation.  It’s goal is to hold Congress accountable to conservative principles.  Do check out the site and join up.

Before introducing Steve Forbes, Michael Keiser related these facts about this country:  1) 48.5 million live in households receiving government benefits.  2) 46 million receive food stamps.  3) The richest 20% pay 80% of the income tax; 1% earn 16% of all income but pay 34% of all federal income tax.

In speaking about Steve Forbes, Michael Keiser highly praised Forbes ability to analyze and placed Steve Forbes in the same category as Milton Friedman.

Forbes didn’t disappoint the many who had come to hear him speak and to share his financial expertise and knowledge.

Just why does the 2012 election cycle represent a critical juncture in this nation’s history?   According to Steve Forbes, individuals must be elected who understand how to get this nation out of the mess it is presently in and who understand the proper role of government.  It is not as the manager of this nation’s economy!  Instead, liberty must be foremost with a minimum of government interference.

Forbes spoke of a defacto takeover of health care and banking institutions.

Regarding health care, getting rid of general practitioners is highly desirable as they are more difficult to control.

In banking, the Dodd-Frank bill is crushing small community banks with its thousands of pages of rules and regulations.  Banks must hire hundreds of individuals just for compliance, ensuring that there will be fewer loan officers on board to serve the public.

Energy is facing a similar situation.  Government agencies are controlling what businesses and individuals can and cannot do.  This is creating statism and socialism which goes against American tradition.

According to Steve Forbes, putting the right person in control can make a big difference.  Forbes spoke of Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey as being able to make health care and pension changes despite having a Democrat Senate and House.  In New York State Democrat governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, is actually cutting spending.

In a bit of cynical humor, Forbes suggested that by taking the word “Greece” and translating it into English, you would end up with Illinois and California.

In describing the political system as dysfunctional, Forbes then pronounced that in some ways the system is working despite its unreliable nature.  In the 2010 elections many new legislators were elected, resulting in a Republican takeover of the House. This didn’t mean that a different agenda would be enacted immediately. It will take several election cycles to effect the changes that are envisioned as necessary, but what is now happening is traditionally alien to the American people.

Forbes, in talking about monetary policy, called it a boring subject that causes eyes to cloud over.  Blame for today’s crisis was laid at the feet of the Federal Reserve.  Forbes compared the action of the Federal Reserve to fueling an automobile.  It feds don’t create enough money (cars will run out of gas and stop); if the fed creates too much money (car engines will flood).  The housing bubble was caused by the Federal Reserve printing too much money.

Forbes went on to remind those gathered that the fed doesn’t create money.   It is created by individuals in the market place.

A question was posed by Steve Forbes about what would happen if a clock were treated in the same way as a dollar, with the number of hours fluctuating from day-to-day as does the value of the U.S. dollar?   The question didn’t require an answer.

The current sovereign debt crisis, according to Forbes, is one that could upend the world.  In Europe the banking industry is on life support with money being withdrawn from banks, especially in southern Europe.

America remains in better shape than Europe because she has multiple sources of capital.  Europe has only the bank.  The recent infusion of monies will only bring a brief reprieve, a short term fix.  European banks must be ready to blow out their balance sheets with financial resources, understanding that the fix is only a temporary one.  This responsible action must be combined with measures that will start to rebuild the European economy.

Tax reform to Steve Forbes is in the form of a flat tax.  The dollar needs to be elevated to the status that it once held.  Deregulation must take place, especially in the health care industry.

And why is health care an impending disaster?  Because it is not being financed in keeping with the free market system.  Nationwide competition is necessary to create free enterprise, which would, in turn, create more and better health care.

A question and answer period followed, in which cards were submitted with questions directed to teve Forbes.

1.  What about Occupy Wall Street?  Answer:  The occupiers should instead be in front of the Federal Reserve, the Senate and the White House, as these institutions are the originators of this nation’s financial problems.  According to Forbes, the occupiers represent the 1% who don’t get what America is all about.

2.  The agenda for the next president to turn this nation around?  Answer:  Link the dollar to gold; have the House pass legislation to repeal Obamacare with the legislation ready to go when the newly elected president is sworn into office; work toward a stable dollar; do serious work on a new tax code; and reign in spending.

If all of the above are done and the market is allowed to work, the American people will be surprised at how quickly this nation will reverse its downward course and begin steady progress toward recovery.

3.  What about the energy situation?  Answer:  Through fracking gas is being discovered in the most amazing place.  If we allow our natural resources to be developed, this nation could become an exporter of energy.  If would also relieve some troubling political situations, i.e., Russia.

4.  Should American Airlines receive a bailout?  Answer:  American Airlines is the last of the the American legacy airlines.  American Airlines should declare bankruptcy, for in  reorganizing it will become stronger for having done so.  This is the way things should happen.  Instead of receiving government bailouts, GM and Chrysler should have followed the same route.

5.  In regard to changing demographics?  Answer:  Steve Forbes doesn’t see a problem with assimilation whether immigrants are legal or illegal.   Every ethnic group that came in large numbers in past eras were always greeted with skepticism, yet all were able to melt into the fabric of this nation.

Closing remarks were made by The Heritage Foundation President, Edwin J. Feulner.  Clarified was why the last Republican debate was hosted by Wolf Blitzer of CNN instead of Fox News.  According to Dr. Feulner, Wolf Blitzer came to The Heritage Foundation to make the request.  In so far as Fox has already hosted a Republican presidential debate, Feulner suggested that reaching out to CNN made more sense politically as we already have Fox.   A total of 43 million viewers watched the CNN debate and its two pre-taped TV showings that followed.

President Feulner lastly thanked  all who had participated in The Heritage Foundation Chicago event and further urged members and guests to spread the work of The Heritage Foundation here in Illinois as many are likewise doing across this nation.  Tom Roeser was cited as a great Chicago friend of The Heritage Foundation who passed away since the last sponsored Heritage Foundation event in Chicago.

Part 1:  “Heritage Foundation morning event featured Matthew Spalding, Ph.D in ‘Preserving America’s First Principles'”

The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based think tank that promotes the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense, hosted a panel discussion and luncheon featuring Steve Forbes as keynote speaker, at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago, 160 E. Pearson Street in Chicago on Thursday, December 1st.

The Heritage Foundation is committed to building an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.  Heritagefoundation. org.

It was appropriate that Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. was selected to begin the morning program of the Heritage Foundation, as he is the vice president for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation.  Dr. Spading is a constitutional scholar, historian and best-selling author and oversees Heritage’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics and serves as project leader for the think tank’s First Principles initiative.

Dr. Spading is also a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and political Philosophy; has taught American government at George Mason University, the Catholic University of America, and Claremont McKenna College; and is an adjunct fellow at the Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship at Hillsdale College.

Spalding’s 2009 best-seller, “We Still Hold These Truths:  Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future”, details America’s core principles, shows how they have come under assault by modern progressive-liberatlism and lays out a strategy to recover them.

The general theme of all who spoke throughout the day’s event had as its tenent an America which has reached a tipping point and of the challenges lying ahead to return this nation to the core principles of its Founding Fathers.

Steve DeBuhr, responsible for communicating Heritage’s mission to members who reside in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, introduced Dr. Spading.  But before doing so DeBuhr followed through with his own remarks about this nation and its standing since its founding 235 years ago.  He spoke of the American Revolution as a remarkable event which ended in a Constitutional government that has long endured, despite being attached by relativism from time to time since its founding.

Mr. DeBuhr further related how Dr. Spalding goes out to talk with congressmen and staffers, and that he is fond of story telling as a way to explain abstract ideas.  Also revealed was that Spalding actively advised Congressman Paul Ryan in drafting the narration for his budget proposal.

Dr. Spalding continued the dialog begun by Steve DeBuhr through relating how American history is made up of turning points, i.e., such as the Battle Concord and Washington crossing the Delaware.  Turning points at the time of their happenings aren’t  perceived as such, but are only recognized for what they are in hindsight.

In Dr. Spalding’s words:  “This nation is now at a turning point just as vital as the battles of long ago. Core principles being threatened involve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The outcome of this battle is yet unknow.”

Continuing along the same theme:  “This nation is the most charitable and humanitarian nation in the world because of what we believe and act upon based upon principles embedded in our nation’s Constitution.”

The American Dream is based on the tenets of our Constitution which grants equality to all (Before this nation was established, in most countries  citizens were viewed as subjects of a king with little or no rights.).

As citizens you have the right to the fruits of your labor to create property and opportunity.   This is made possible through free enterprise, which gives everyone an opportunity to achieve success so it can be passed along to their children for the betterment of their lives.

The concept of Liberty has been challenged and even curtailed during past eras — as it is likewise being challenged today — through the introduction of the New Deal and Great Society programs.   The concept of a living Constitution, espoused by liberals, has time and again demonstrated that government is not better run by a central controlled bureaucracy.

According to Spalding, the greatest model of central control existing today is Obamacare, which has nothing to do with health care.  The idea of government control of health care is not a recent one.  It has been a dream for over one hundred years when first proposed back in 1906.

Today the aim of Obamacare is to transfer one sixth of the American economy to the government for its administration of health care.

In the National Elections of 2012, Americans will decide which way they wish to go.  Will the progressives win their argument that there is only one way to go, the European way which is failing, or will the American people vote to return to the principles of our Founding Fathers?

Dr. Spalding emphasized that now is not the time for tinkering or for compromise in this time of national debate that will decide the future of our nation.

The following points were given by Spalding as a positive guide to action:

1.  Seize the world’s high ground.  Win the battle by claiming the high ground through revisiting the American principles that have created a good and a great nation.

2.  Get our financial policies in order to save the American Dream.

3.  Keep an eye on our national security.  With increased danger in the world it is fine to debate, but this nation will suffer if it overlooks its responsibility.

In order to take back our nation we must return to the principles established by our Founding Fathers, meeting today’s crisis head-on as we did back in 1776, 1860, World I, World II, and during the 1970’s with the threat of Communism.

In conclusion, Dr. Spalding told the inspiring story of Dr. Joseph Warren as a early patriot who lived in the center of the whirlwind of revolutionary activity in the 1760’s and 1770’s.  “During the British return march from Lexington and Concord, Warren exposed himself to enemy fire repeatedly in order to reach and treat the wounded.  In June (1775), after learning of the British move to Charlestown, Warren went to the Battle of Bunker Hill to offer his services as a volunteer.  He fought valiantly and was one of the last Americans to leave Breed’s Hill, but was struck in the back of the head by a musket ball and died instantly.”       http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1256.html

We don’t need a bunch of scholars to save our nation.  We need citizens called to action, with enough of them having pulled back the curtain to discover only a wizard.  If our Founding Fathers were right about human nature, and given that past attempts to dismantle the building blocks of this nation have been halted, might liberalism be losing its game and may this be its final play?

A number of questions written out on note cards by attendees were addressed by Dr. Mark Spalding in the question and answer period that followed:

1)  Concern expressed about the liberal-minded younger generation?  Answer:  The younger generation has always been more liberal and have always questioned authority.  No different now than in the past.  In Benjamin Franklin’s time, 1/3 were patriots; 1/3 Tories; and 1/3 didn’t care.

2)  The class warfare issue as cause of lasting harm to nation?   Answer:  European class warfare does not work in American.  America is not based on class division.  Belief still exists that with hard work and struggle one can better himself.  Consider the sweet Nebraska “corn husker” deal?  Even though it would have benefited Nebraskans, the citizens of Nebraska disapproved of it, rejecting its favored treatment.

3)  About candidates addressing moral principles?    Answer:  This nation’s future is in jeopardy.  Although deep ethical questions cannot be forgotten, pre-election debate must focus on issues that will save this nation.  Economic problems are paramount right now, such as entitlements and long-term debt.  Moral principles can be addressed when the battle has been fought and won and this nation is in the process of being rebuilt.

4)  About thinking strategically?   Answer:  There are a vast number of issues to be addressed.  Every battle does not start at the same time.  There is much to be done, but if the big things are not decided rightly, other things won’t matter.  Moral issues cannot be allowed to fall by the wayside, but as with the hard left orientation of education, it represents a long-term battle rather than an immediate battle.

5)  About utilizing the media and its left-wing bent?  Answer:  Newspapers and the major media are declining.  You-tube and the Internet are now working in our favor.

6)  As moderator, Steve Debuhr fielded the last question to Dr. Spalding relative to his work done outside of The Heritage Foundation?  Dr. Spalding spoke of his activity on Capitol Hill with legislators and how he has collaborated many times with Wisconsin House representative, Paul Ryan, in drafting policy.

Steve Debuhr closed the session by reminding the attendees that it is necessary to come to the fore to help change the direction of our nation, and how there are many equally as passionate individuals across this nation as those who were present at the Chicago Heritage Foundation event.

As we face yet another national crises, The Heritage Foundation must serve as our guide to action through its publication of reports issued by experts on topics that are important to this nation’s survival.  It is a crisis that must be won or this nation will go the way of Europe, realized by   the unraveling and  abandonment of this nation’s democratic roots as set forth by our Founding Fathers.

Resulting will be the failure of our “little social experiment” known as the United States.  She will fall by the wayside and become irrelevant as an important player in the world, as has been the fate of other great nations before her.