225px-Pencils_hbBy Nancy Thorner –


The Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) based in Washington, D.C. co-sponsored a movie showing of Leonard Reed’s classic essay, I, Pencil, on May 21, at the Union League Club of Chicago.

The co-sponsorship by The Heartland Institute  and the CEI was a natural collaboration.  Both organizations celebrate and defend free enterprise based on the freedom to prosper if liberty exists to pursue choices to accomplish personal dreams. Without this freedom options are drastically limited, for It is through free enterprise and limited government that society has the freedom and the chance to prosper.

“I, Pencil”, published in 1958, was Leonard Reed’s most famous essay.  Although a few of the manufacturing details and place names in the original story have changed, its principles remain unchanged. Specifically: Not one person, no matter how smart or how many degrees follow his name, could create from scratch a small, everyday pencil, let alone a car, an airplane, or even a tablet of paper.

In plain language the five-minute movie — based on Reed’s essay and produced by the Competitive Enterprise Institute — explains in language that can’t be misunderstood why central planning is an exercise in arrogance and futility, or what Nobel laureate and Austrian economist F.A. Hayek aptly termed as “the pretense of knowledge.”

Jim Lakely, Director of Communications at the Heartland Institute, presented welcoming remarks.  It was his preview of a upcoming Heartland event that should be of interest to many, as it centers around the now controversial, federally imposed K – 12 Common Core K curriculum. The details of the event are still coming together.  As of now it’s a Freedom Works conference call on Common Core happening June 6.  Invited panelists include Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and Joy Pullmann (Heartland’s recognized expert on Common Core), among a couple of others.

Certainly no stranger to those who live in Chicagoland or listen to Fox News, Jonathan Hoenig, a founding member of the Capitalist Pig hedge fund and a regular contributor to Fox News Channel’s Cashin’ In, etc., made introductory, pre-screening I, Pencil film remarks.

Hoenig described I, Pencil as a truly remarkable film with its message that free market capitalism produces both the goods and the wealth.  It’s a system where everyone is able to pursue their own interests without being told that if money is made it was selfish to have done so and must have resulted in the hammering of someone else.  Phrases such as “you didn’t build it” and “there is fairness in spreading the wealth around” are in direct opposition to free market capitalism and reflect current administration policy.

The story line of I, Pencil begins with:  “I am a lead pencil — the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.”  Yet the pencil is not simple in its makeup.  Given all the elements that go in producing a pencil, a pencil needs the help of countless others.  Just as our family ancestry can be traced to understand what we are made of, so it is with the common pencil.

Ancestors of the pencil and first noted was a cedar tree that grow in Northern California and Oregon, followed by  loggers who fell the trees; those who produce the chains and the saws used by loggers; waiters who serve lunch to loggers, those who provide the food to be served to loggers, etc.

Noted also were Parts of the Simple Pencil’s Family Tree.  These were defined as the graphite mined; the eraser; and the brass metal ferrule.  Each part requires the collaboration of many with each entity supplying but a small part in the making of a pencil.  The process involves voluntary, spontaneous cooperation, with the absence of a mastermind, among many individuals who had the freedom to interact with one another.  This is the free market system at work, which is in direct opposition to those who believe that the only way to achieve order is to order people around.

The moral of I, Pencil makes it a must see movie for high school students across America to demonstrate the free market system:  There was no mastermind (government) involved in producing a pencil.  Instead, it was the spontaneous cooperation of thousands of people working together to produce the simple pencil through the basic idea that human freedom creates competition, while big government stifles innovation.  This involves having faith that men and woman will respond to producing goods that will benefit all mankind, without government masterminding to tell people what to do and what to produce.

Following the movie screening, recently appointed president of the CEI, Lawson Bader, spoke about the CEI and its activities. Believing in the power of a strong narrative to motivate people I, Pencil was a project of the CEI, produced during the time when Fred L. Smith, Jr. was president.  More movies are on the docket for CEI.  Lawson Bader, not unlike many Americans, was amazed how in the midst of the worst economic crisis, someone was elected who believes that Washington, D.C. knows better than the American people

The CEI is involved in creating coalitions, Hill briefing, and letter writing campaigns.  Bader also spoke in detail about the CEI’s lead action in filing to overturn Dodd-Frank, using FOIAs to badger the EPA.  With the cost of federal rules exceeding $l.8 trillion in 2012, a new study puts the cost of regulation at $14,768 per household.  Three of the four greatest paperwork years of regulations on record were churned out by the Obama administration, 78,961 pages during 2012.  Even so the administration didn’t break its 2010 all-time record of 81,405.  To be fair, George W. Bush set a lousy example when he routinely generated more than 70,000 pages a year in the Federal Register.

It stands to reason that government barriers must be removed for free enterprise to flourish.

An excellent panel discussion followed moderated by Jim Lakely.  The panel included Jonathan Hoening, CEI President Lawson Bader, and CEI Founder and Chairman Fred L. Smith, Jr.

Thoughts expressed by the panelists:

1. Regarding how to convey the message of free enterprise?:  We lose even though our ideas are right because we don’t know how to connect. People don’t care what we know but that we care about them and that our policies are compatible with their values.

2. We must first win by getting voters out with the message that capitalism (free market) and individual choice is the way to create wealth and general well being.  Sometimes that means winning elections first and then educating people in the aftermath.

3. There is a moral obligation for people to keep more of their earnings.

Thomas Jefferson intoned these prophetic words when predicting what the future would hold for this nation and its people if big government was chosen over capitalism:I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 07:00 AM | Permalink





An announcement received from the Illinois Policy Institute early in May spoke of an invitation to join the Illinois Policy Institute for a luncheon on Monday, May 20, featuring Governor Sam Brownback.

The announcement went on to explain that Sam Brownback, serving his first term as Governor of Kansas, is proving to be an innovative reformer seeking to expand liberty in the Sunflower State. Before taking over in Topeka, Governor Brownback represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1996 – 2011 and in the House from 1995 – 1996.

Specially lauded in the announcement was how Governor Brownback has aggressively taken on Kansas’ tax model, most notably, by enacting the largest income tax cut in Kansas’ history and seeking, as part of a broader package of reforms, to reduce it even further.

As was evident by the large turnout of Illinois Policy Institute member and friends on Tuesday, May 21, that many were energized in having the opportunity to engage in a conversation with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.  A common thought was: “What lessons might Brownback have to share that could help in fixing the horrendous problems facing our state?  But before Brownback could impart any wisdom gleamed through his Kansas experience, it was time for the excellent luncheon to be served.

Following the luncheon, Johathan Greenberg, Vice President of External Relations at the Illinois Policy Institute, extended his welcome to those in attendance, during which time Greenberg highlighted a very important upcoming event being held by the Illinois Policy Institute in partnership with the Union League Club of Chicago and its Public Affairs Committee, a Digital Learning Symposium.  It will take place on Tuesday, June 25 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Union League Club of Chicago.  The Symposium will explore how students can be helped to achieve their full potential with digital learning.  Everyone with a stake in improving student outcomes is invited to the Digital Learning Symposium.   http://illinoispolicy.org/news/article.asp?ArticleSource=5741

The honor of introducing Gov. Brownback fell to Gary E. MacDougal, a businessman who now works primarily on helping the economically disadvantage.  MacDougal introduced Brownback as the governor of a state “who really get it.”  Also as one who is thought most likely to become U.S. president by many.   www.macdougal.com

A youthful-looking Governor Brownback didn’t disappoint his attentive audience.  As Govenor  Brownback revealed, now is a good time to be a governor along with thirty other Republican governors, for it is at the state level where change occur, not at the federal level.  States perform as “laboratories of democracy” where positive, workable policy are formulated and then shared with other states.

It all wasn’t a “bed of roses” when Brownback won the governorship.  After all, he did follow Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services since 2009.  Brownback also inherited some RINOS in the state house and a floundering economy.  Having run on what is known as the Brownback Road Map for Kansas, these five points now serve as a Kansas Report Card that will be updated yearly so the Brownback Administration will be held accountable by the people of Kansas.

The Road Map for Kansas Goals includes:

1.  Increase net personal income.

2.  Increase private sector employment.

3.  Increase the percentage of 4th graders reading at grade level.

4.  Increase the percentage of high school graduates who are college or career ready.

5.  Decrease the percentage of Kansas children who live in poverty.

Governor Brownback’s Road Map plan is yielding dividends.   Kansas was on a downward trajectory in population when Brownback was sworn in as governor. Regarding taxes, Kansas had the highest tax burden of all states in the region at 6.45%.  Brownback would like to see a zero state income tax burden on Kansans, but with a divided Republican Congress Brownback must be content with his plan to lower the top income tax rate down to 3.5% by 2017.

As in Illinois, Kansas was in desperate need of pension reform.  From a defined benefit plan a cash balance system was put in place, this being the only measure Brownback was able to get through the Kansas legislature. The amazing figure of $4 trillion was quoted by Senator Brownback as the amount of the total unfunded pension obligations throughout this nation at the state and local levels.

Positive state accomplishments since Brownback was elected governor:

  • Kansas likes fracking and natural gas.  With the horizontal drilling technique, by 2020 this nation could be the largest energy producer in the world.  Gov. Brownback expressed amazement at Chicagoland gas prices when driving in from O’Hare.
  • Kansas now ranks 10th in the lowest unemployment rate (5.5%) and 15th in being good for business, making the state a good place for recent graduates to locate.  A record number of new industries are entering the state.  Caterpillar, an Illinois business, is expanding its business in Kansas.
  • Kansas is a committed family values state.
  • Kansas is a right to work state.

Having served in the U.S. House and Senate for sixteen years before being elected governor, Brownback stressed the need to turn things around at the state level because it isn’t going to happen at the federal level. Brownback is extremely concerned about what is happening in Washington, D.C.  Asked how his accomplishments in Kansas could impact Illinois, Brownback spoke of the need for state organizations like the Illinois Policy Institute and those at the grassroots level to generate policy debate.  The education process was cited in not imparting to students what was meant to be a limited role of government by our Founding Fathers, which now has morphed into big government with an entitlement system that has gotten out of control and which desperately needs to be brought under control.

Closing remarks by Johathan Greenberg:  Policies must be marketed in ways that can be understood.  It’s then up to those who do get it to spread the word.  We can only hope that given enough pain people will finally get it and start voting to elect those who do understand the value of the free market system in growing the economy, producing job, and thereby improving the quality of life, but this might take years to happen, if ever.

What is needed here in Illinois and is lacking is leadership.  We need people in place to get things done.  All in attendance were asked to do their part in helping to spread the word to our legislators and others as to what needs to be done to change Illinois from ranking at the bottom of the heap, to a state that is economically viable and one that Illinoisans can once again be proud to call home.

At this point Illinois has failed at being a laboratory of democracy.  No state in its right mind would desire to copy Illinois’s tax and spend method of government!

Check this site for the video of the event:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTmKyTqC3bc

Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 03:39 PM | Permalink



The biggest stumbling block to immigration reform is no longer politics but how to market the deal to conservatives.  Both the House and the Senate now have their own “deals.”  What is left in the wake is how pro-immigration reform Republicans will make the case, especially to conservatives, that toughness against undocumented immigrants is not just a misleading ploy to push through an extremely questionable immigration reform package.

The House version features a “hard trigger” that blocks citizenship if the government does not implement electronic verification through E-Verify that would allow employers to check on the immigration status of workers.  The House bill likewise bans all entitlement benefits.

Both of the stated House proposals, however, will be hard sells to the Democrat base, while conservatives demand such tough assurances from their fellow Republican immigration reform proponents.   Another stumbling block for pro-reform Republicans is how to convince their base that the passing of an immigration bill will not be perceived as a victory for Democrats while a non-starter for Republicans.

Anxious over the negative feedback issuing from conservatives over the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration reform proposal, an ad was developed tailored to appeal to conservatives, starring conservative Republican and Florida senator Marco Rubio touting the importance of passing immigration reform NOW.

In the ad, there is an implication that ‘border security’ will be of primary importance with strong triggers to be enforced first.

Most casual viewers of the TV being aired multiple time every day are unaware that the ad is backed by the Americans for Conservative Direction, an organization funded by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and a known Obama supporter. The founder of ACD is Joe Kaplan, who just happens to be Zuckerberg’s Vice President of U.S. Public Policy at Facebook.

The board of ACD includes:

*Haley Barbour, former Gov of Mississippi.

*Sally Bradshaw, former Chief of Staff for Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida.

*Dan Senor, former chief advisor to Paul Ryan on the Romney campaign.

*Rob Jesmer, former Exec Director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

These Republicans are known to be squishy on legalization of illegal immigrants and are not certifiable advocates of border control first.  In defiance of political correctness, all of the above can be labeled as RINOS, although this connotations doesn’t set well with establishment Republicans.  But by all means don’t be fooled into thinking the ACD is ‘conservative’, despite the use of the term in its name.

The ACD ad is further supported by the McClatchey Papers, Washington Post and CNN – none of which are considered conservative or Republican entities.

What about the claims made in the ad?  Jon Feere, Legal Policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, has found all to be deceptive.

Rubio’s makes the following claims in his minute-long advertisement, represented to the public as “conservative immigration reform.”  The article by Jon Feere is worth a read.  It addresses each one of Rubio’s misleading claims as stated below.

  • “What we have in place today is de facto amnesty.”
  • “They have to pass the background check, they have to be able to pay a registration fee, they have to pay a fine.”
  • “No federal benefits, no food stamps, no welfare, no Obamacare, they have to prove that they’re gainfully employed.”
  • “It puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world and it once and for all deals with the issue of those that are here illegally but does so in a way that’s fair and compassionate but does not encourage people to come illegally in the future and isn’t unfair to the people that have done it the right way.”

The ad is based on the “Gang of Eight” Senate bill:  Rubio is in essence helping President Obama fulfill his campaign goal of keeping all illegal aliens in the country and giving them benefits reserved for legal residents. Within six months of the bill’s passage, illegal immigrant would become immediately eligible for legal status, and many of the hoops that illegal immigrants would have to jump through to get such status amount to very little.  According to an article published on Wednesday, May 22, there would be immediate welfare payments to immigrants who get legal status.

As far as border security, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano simply has to submit a plan for border security and a fencing plan within six months of the passage of the bill.  As soon as Napolitano submits the plans, illegal aliens become eligible for work permits.  Rubio’s claim that illegal immigrants will receive no federal benefits belies the fact that illegal immigrants are already receiving federal benefits and the bill would do nothing to stop that.

Considering all the exemptions and waivers, it becomes difficult to conclude that the bill is a bold one with a tough line on immigration.  Regarding amnesties, they always encourage illegal immigration because they send the message that illegal entry is a feasible path to legal U.S. residence.

At the conclusion of the ad, the announcer requests all to stand with Marco Rubio to end de facto amnesty and instead support Conservative Immigration Reform.  How can this be so when Rubio himself is standing with Obama, Napolitano, La Raza, the ACLU, and many other amnesty supporters who cannot in any way be described as conservative.  All have ulterior motives, as do Republican who favor immigration reform.

The Senate has so far successfully resisted all amendments to its bill from those on the right demanding more border security.  Democrats insist that border security is already high.

The Heritage Foundation’s “Morning Bell” for Monday, May 19, Immigration Reform Should Strengthen, Not Cost, America, warned Congress about moving ahead with a comprehensive bill that would include amnesty for those who have broken the law and which would end up costing taxpayers as much as $9.4 trillion dollars in benefits.

Heritage’s solution:

Instead, Congress should proceed step-by-step:  border security, then workplace enforcement, and then fixing our broken legal immigration system.  These steps will fulfill past promises and benefit America economically while not adding the unnecessary fiscal costs of amnesty.

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

Before introducing Keith Koenman, Jim Lakely, Heartland’s Communications Director, in holding up a magazine with Heartland splashed across its cover, assured those present that this publication about  trucks and heavy equipment was not a Heartland publication!  After “breaking the ice,” Lakely went on to explain five happenings of merit at Heartland, both past and future.

1.  The Milt Rosenberg show has returned as a podcast which will feature long-form interviews with authors, journalists, economists.  Milt’s first guest was author and conservative pundit, Mark Steyn.  It was done at Heartland’s headquarters in Chicago.   http://chicagoradioandmedia.com/news/5622-the-milt-rosenberg-show-returns-today-as-a-podcast – 69k –       http://www.miltrosenberg.com/

2.  James Taylor, J.D., Senior Fellow and Managing Editor of Environment and Climate News, continued his lecture push against states having mandates for renewable energy use.

3.  Jay Lehr, Ph.D, Science Director, appeared on Good Morning America during a three minutes segment devoted to “No Need to Panic about 400ppm CO2.”  Jay managed nine seconds of talk time.    http://blog.heartland.org/2013/05/heartlands-jay-lehr-on-the-today-show-no-need-to-panic-about-400-ppm-co2/

4. The short film, “I Pencil” is being presented on Tuesday, May 21 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. as a joint venture of The Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute at the the Union League Club of Chicago.

5.  Peter Roskam will be featured on Wednesday, May 29, and will speak about Medicare Part D at the Union League Club of Chicago.

To keep in touch with these and future Heartland activities log on to:  events@heartland.org or www.heartland.org

In Jim Lakely’s introduction of Keith Koeneman, the author was described as a third generation Chicagoan and an expert of Daley and Chicago politics.  Koeneman hold advanced degrees from Harvard, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University and is a contributor of articles to the Huffington Post on Chicago politics, history and culture.

Keith KIoenman presented his book through the narratives of:  1 ) The process through which the book was written; 2) Daley’s rise to mayor through his life story; 3) Daley’s accomplishments; and 4) Daley’s mistakes.

Process through which First Son was written:

It was 20 years ago when Koeneman first thought about writing a biography of Richard M. Daley after finding that no one else had done so.  Time passed by.  About three and one half years ago the thought of writing Daley’s bio became a reality for Koeneman.  By that time Daley had already been in office for four decades.  Koeneman also found that during the interim of 20 years between thought and action, a bio of Daley had yet to be written.

First Son was written in keeping with what was described by Koeneman as the “very Chicago thing to do.”  Koeneman used networking with friends of Daley for acquiring 20 or so interviews.  It was also through persistence that Koeneman had success.  He would call individuals as many as 20 and even 40 times, until it became uncomfortable for those individuals not to respond to his calls.  Koeneman also found that by calling at 7:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m., the individuals he wished to speak with would often answer their own phones, making it difficult for them to say “no” to Koeneman.

Most of Koeneman’s interviews were rather long.  Most of the interesting information also come at the end of Koeneman’s interviews, that is, if the interviews lasted for more than an hour.  According to Koeneman, either an interview would end after an hour during which time lying was apparent, or it would continue well past an hour when truth was revealed.  How so?  It took time for individuals to determine whether KIoeneman was someone who was honest and trustworthy and with whom they could feel at home with.

In all Koeneman conducted a total of 140 interviews for his book, some on the record, some off the record, and some a mixture of on and off the record.

In writing First Son, it was Koeneman’s goal to present Daley’s mistakes and accomplishment in a bi-partisan way,  thereby enabling readers to make up their own minds.

Daley’s rise to mayor through his life story (Highlights of Daley’s Life):

  • Grew up in the Irish-Catholic section of Bridgeport.
  • His favorite activity in high school (De LaSalle Institute) was playing basketball.
  •  Interesting time for young Daley was when his father (elected to office in 1968) had to deal with the race riots.  The then 26-year old Daley experienced the grief directed against his dad by protesters, many of whom were upset about the Vietnam War and who were of an age closer to that of the young Daley.  Daley’s dad represented the old generation to the protesters.
  • By 1974 Daley the elder had become very powerful and was instrumental in helping elect his son to the Illinois Senate.The nickname given by Daley’s Senate colleagues in the 1970’s was “Dirty Little Ritchie.”
  • First real accomplishment for Daley was his election to State’s Attorney General in 1980 at age 38 (The elder Daley died in 1965.).  Daley won despite 48 of 50 aldermen backing Edward Burke, one of few the Democrats to win in 1980, the year of the “Regan Revolution.”
  •  Campaign of 1983 a nasty one in which Harold Washington defeated Jane Byrne and Richard Daley for mayor, with Daley coming in third in this Democrat primary.  Daley angered his political base for splitting the white vote.
  • The 1980’s were known for its council war.  It was a low point for Chicago, sometimes referred to as “Beirut on the Lake.”
  • Elected as Chicago’s mayor in 1989 with a convincing victory.  Daley ran a different campaign from his 1983 mayoral attempt.  He vowed to be ” mayor of all people.”
  • Keys advisers for Daley’s successful 1989 campaign were David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, David Wilhelm and brother Bill Daley.
  • Daley served 22 years as Chicago’s mayor, the longest in Chicago’s history.


Keith Koeneman described the job of mayor as a very difficult one because of the high expectations for mayors. Example given were fixing pot holes and clearing streets of snow in a timely way.   Problem solving by mayors was then noted by Koeneman as similar to solving a Rubik cube. The first one might be relatively easy to solve, but successfully resolving all that follow becomes a much more difficult task and even an impossible one.

Daley’s Accomplishments:

1.  Strengthened race relations in Chicago.

2.  Took a big risk to improve schools and public housing in 1995, although Koeneman realizes that opinions do vary.  Koeneman lauded Daley for taking responsibility but did admit that Daley’s leadership in following through wasn’t all it should have been.

3.  Provided two decades of stability to the political and business communities.  From 1976 to 1989 there had been five different Chicago mayors.

4.  Considered the most important: The transformation of Chicago to a global city.  By 2010 Chicago ranked 6th in global cities after New York, London, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong.

Daley’s Mistakes:

1.  Decade-long, large structural budget deficits starting in 2001.  From 1989 to 2000 every budget was balanced. 2001 brought about Daley’s first operating budget deficit.

2.  Flawed parking meter deal was just a symptom of Illinois’s pension crisis and its large structural budget deficit.  It was done as a way to come up with a a quick fix.

3.  Failure to take on unions has contributed to Illinois’s insurmountable billions of pension debt and deficit accumulations.

4.  The midnight destruction of Meigs Field.

5.  Tolerance for political corruption, i.e., 48 went to jail in the hired truck scandal.

6.  Supported inapt political candidates for office like Todd Stroger and Rod Blogovitch.

7.  Allowed a high level of crime to persist.  Although much of the crime was beyond Daley’s control, he could have done more toward the end of his term.

Regarding the relationship between Mayor Daley, Barack Obama, and other Chicago players, Keith Koeneman began this account with Obama’s move to Chicago in 1980:  1.  Obama grew up in a political sense during Daley’s reign.  Both kept each other at  arm’s length.  It was perceived that Obama had in mind to replace Daley as mayor until Obama was elected on his own as an  Illinois senator in 1996.  2.  Upon Obama’s  election to the presidency in November of 2008, Obama took with him to the White House two “Chicago Boys,” Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod.  3. In announcing his retirement as mayor, it was highly unusual for Daley to have endorsed Rahm Emanuel as his replacement.

Random thoughts expressed by Koeneman, many during the question and answer period:

  • For 22 years, from 1989 – 2003, Richard Daley was a good mayor, but from 2003 – 2011 he made lots of mistakes.  Explanation:  A  person remaining in office for too long — whether be a politician, school principal, or a CEO — is bound to get too comfortable in the job, whereas keeping power and being re-elected become paramount and leads to corruption.
  • There is a parallel between Mayor Daley and Mayor Emanuel.  Both assumed office with great intensity.  Rahm Emanuel likewise appears to be giving his all to the job, but the “whole movie” must be seen first before judgment is made.
  • Chicago will not go like Detroit because of a $460 billion economy in the greater Chicago area.

President and CEO, Joe Bast, applauded Koenemen for writing a book which doesn’t have an ax to grind.

Th-19By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold – 


An interesting survey by the Pew Foundation shows that gun crimes, including homicide, have been steadily decreasing irregardless of an increasing number of guns owned by citizens. Despite the recent headlines, homicides in schools have dropped at a similar rate, and are the lowest level in recent history.

But despite this decrease, most people think gun crimes are increasing, largely because of what they hear from main stream media and anti-gun politicians. According to a Rasmussen poll released on Friday, May 10, while gun killings have plunged 39 percent since 1993, and non-fatal gun crimes have dropped 69 percent in the same period, those who want gun control think that gun crime is up. Rasmussen reports that only 7 percent of adults believe there are fewer gun owners in the country than there were 20 years ago — and more importantly, 64 percent of those who want more gun control think that gun crime has escalated.

How can this be?

Ever since the Justice Department released its study on Tuesday, May 7th showing that firearms-related homicides in the U.S. annually declined 19 percent from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011, anti-gun proponents have been silent.  There has not been a peep out of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg since the report was issued. The President has ignored it.  Both are doing what they do best to avoid sabotaging their agenda by keeping the report secret from the American people so restrictions can be passed on Second Amendment rights. As for the mainstream media with its natural anti-gun bias, coupled with the adage about TV news — “if it bleeds, it leads” — it is a given that hyper-coverage will follow any gun-related death compared to other news events.

Gun control supporters, including Nancy Pelosi, credit the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban for this decrease.  Homicides in the US peaked in 1993-1994 and have decreased steadily since that time. However, the rate of decrease did not change when the AWB lapsed in 2004. There is no credible evidence that the 1994 law had any effect whatsoever, in part because it limited the importation of these weapons but not domestic manufacturing. At best, the law focused on cosmetic features like pistol grips and flash suppressors which have no effect on lethality. Semi-automatic versions of military assault weapons remain a popular form of firearms being purchased, accounting for about 10% of all sales. If we include semi-automatic handguns, included in the 2013 ban proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the percent is closer to 80%.

There also remains confusion in the minds of the American people over the role of so-called assault weapons in gun-related crimes.  Might the anti-gun people being going after the wrong guns by design, when handguns, not rifles, are used to commit most gun crimes?   According to FBI data, approximately 90 percent of firearms homicides and two-thirds of firearms suicides are committed with handguns.  In homicides, the contrast between handguns and assault weapons is stark, yet it is only assault weapons that capture the headlines and elicit reform measures.

The recent defeat of Senator Feinstein’s 2013 gun legislation is but a temporary lapse in the gun control agenda. Anti-gun politicians, including Dianne Feinstein, have stated that they would like to confiscate all guns but don’t think it’s politically feasible. Gun registration would be the innocuous first step toward that goal and has been used to that end in California, New York and several other states.

Registration was proposed overtly in the Feinstein 2013 Assault Weapons bill, wherein most semi-automatic rifles and handguns would be classified as “NFA” items (National Firearms Act of 1936), the same as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. NFA classification requires extensive background checks, approval from local law enforcement, mountains of paperwork and months of delay, not to mention a $200 tax stamp. Most important, ownership of the weapon cannot be transferred, but must be surrendered to the Government upon death of the owner.

Assuredly this was a bit much for the public and Congress to digest. However, registration is a necessary part of the so-called “Universal Background Check” law proposed by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and a watered-down version by Sen Manchin (D-VA) and Sen.Toomey (R-PA). Records of all private sales would be retained by the Federal government, including serial numbers and the names and addresses of the parties involved. Any loss, theft or destruction of a firearm would be reported to the Attorney General, within 24 hours, under penalty of law.

Gun control advocates like to point to “civilized western countries” like Great Britain, which ban or severely limit private gun ownership. The homicide rate due to firearms in Great Britain is 1.2 per 100k, compared to 4.2 for the United States. Perhaps it is surprising that the figure is not zero, considering the comprehensive firearm ban in that country. In the US, the state of Utah has a homicide rate of 1.5, yet residents of Utah own firearms at a higher rate than other states, and can carry them freely (when licensed), even on school property, and licenses to carry are readily available. The rate in NYC is 4.7, despite the strict firearm laws and stop-and-frisk police tactics. In Chicago, which has adefacto ban on firearms, the homicide rate is an abysmal 17. (From the rants by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, you would think white suburbanites were creeping into the city, murdering its residents.)

More telling is the demographic factor. Non-whites account for 84% of gun-related homicides in the US, which places the homicide rate for whites at less than 0.7. By this measure, the US places well below that of Great Britain and Australia (0.92). Switzerland is cited as a country with a lot of guns and few homicides, about 85/year. With only 6 million people and extremely low diversity, this is still 1.4 /100K. As we see, the US doesn’t come off so badly after all.

Statistics clearly illustrate that gun control does not reduce crime.  It has just the opposite effect.  While over the last 40 years the number of guns per 1000 people has increased, serious violent crimes have decreased. Among the top ten killers in the U.S. homicide by firearms is at the bottom of the list.  Almost 20 times more people die in the United States from medical errors than they do from firearm homicides.  In addition, the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs routinely outpaces the number of homicides committed using a rifle. Now consider Chicago, which in 1982 passed a ban on all handguns except for those registered with the city before the ban was enacted:

Since the handgun ban took effect, the number of murders in Chicago committed using handguns has been 40% higher than before the ban, and has spiked even high in recent years, proving that the gun ban actually served to cause an increase in violent crime.  

Ten myths have been exploited for years to generate fear and mistrust of the 60-65 million decent and responsible Americans who own firearms. Yet, as this document proves, none of these myths will stand up under the cold light of fact.

For those who maintain that the US is more dangerous than any other “wealthy” country, it might be educational to move to Europe, but keep your doors locked and the lights on.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 09:07 AM | Permalink


Friday, May 17, 2013

Water Resources Development Act of 2013 lacks Fiscal Responsibility

Th-8By Nancy Thorner – 

With news and politics focusing on a trio of questionable and even scandalous actions by the Obama administration, it is difficult to get word out to the public about other matters of importance that are coming down the pike for consideration by our legislators and which demand accountability by concerned citizens.

The full Senate is currently considering legislation to reauthorize WRDA (an array of water resource projects, most of which are run by the Army Corps of Engineers). The complete document can be read HERE. 

Who could object to a bill which would authorize federal spending on an array of water resource projects such as ports, harbors, inland waterways, beaches, and wetlands?

Might cost be up for consideration?  The CBO estimates that implementing S 601 would be very costly at $12.2 billion over a time frame of  2014 to 2024.

Although there is some good in every bill —  S 601 does contain small positive reforms such as increasing non-federal control and management of projects and environmental review streamlining — it lacks fiscal responsibility.

The Heritage Foundation published an Issue Brief on May 6 which cites seven costly sins of S 601:

1.  Authorizes Billions in Spending.  With a price tag of $12.2 billion over the fiscal year 2013-2012 period, and given the debt level of this nation, it would be more appropriate to have many of the activities funded and managed by states, localities or the private sector than in spending tax dollars

2.  Funds State and Local Activities.  Local or private-sector activities should not be included in the corp’s mission. Because lawmakers are discouraged from setting rigorous cost-benefit analyses as requirements for funding projects — often pet projects are involved — controlling costs does not rate high with legislators.  If the private sector or local citizens were paying for the project in full they would be incentivized to make wise investment and construction decisions to control costs.

3.  Worsens the Corp’s Project Backlog.  The bill not only opens the door for potential “Administration earmarks,” but it could worsen the Army Corp’s current $60 billion backlog of 1,000 studies and projects. Lawmakers should cancel funding for those projects that are unwarranted before adding new projects to the mix.

4.  Prevents Budget Cuts.  The bill prevents Congress from considering any bill that lowers the funding level for the Civil Works Program from what was spent the year before, thereby letting Congress off the hook from having to live within its means.

5.  Misses the Mark on Environmental Reforms.  Legislators should narrow the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process and remove the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions as a requirement, with the ultimate goal of rescinding NEPA.

6.  Mandates Studies, misses reforms.  The bill mandates conducting studies such as levee vegetation, the history of hurricanes, and flood and drought management, which can distract from enacting real reform.

7.  Stops Short on Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Reform.  The trust fund is currently running a surplus (consists of fees levied on cargo that passes through the nation’s ports and waterways).  Either the fees should be reduced or the reserve funds should be set aside for future needs, not used to pad spending elsewhere.

All in all the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 would authorize high levels of spending, fail to address underlying problems, and continue using federal tax dollars to pay for state and local project responsibilities.
It is not too soon to urge Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin to vote no on the legislation.

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 07:57 AM | Permalink




School HouseBy Nancy Thorner – 

Following  Dr. Herb Walberg at the Heartland Author Series on May 9 was  Joseph Bast — certainly no stranger to those in attendance as president of the Heartland Institute — who continued the discussion as co-author of Education and Capitalism. Joe Bast studied economics at the University of Chicago and since 1984 has coauthored or edited nearly 100 policy studies and nine books.  Heartland’s first book, published in 1986, was on school reform. The authors, who included Bast, called for the adoption of tax credits.

Of all the policies issues covered by The Heartland Institute — budgets and taxes, education, health care, environment, technology — Bast said he considers education the most important issue of all as knowledge is the most important factor in determining a nation’s wealth, scientific progress, and economic freedom. Then too, students will grow up to be voters.

Education and Capitalism, related Bast, crossed over political party lines to appeal to liberals, conservatives, and libertarians alike. Half of the book is about education and the other half about capitalism. Bast’s and Walberg’s main thesis was that the nation is not getting better results in educating students because people don’t understand capitalism or economics, and therefore are afraid to use them to improve the nation’s schools.

Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize winner in economic sciences, had this to say about Education and Capitalism:

This is a thoughtful, thorough examination of the virtues of capitalism and free markets as a way to organize elementary and secondary education in a democracy.

Joe Bast spoke primarily about vouchers, approaching the voucher issue from three angles:

1.  Vouchers as a strategy for chance.

2.  Vouchers vs. tax credits.

3.  Vouchers and regulations.

As a strategy for change, “vouchers are a means and not an end.”  This nation has done a poorer job of educating its young people than other countries around the world, with a huge gap existing between low-income and minority kids and white and high-income children.  An invasion of political correctness has seeped into public schools and has even been encouraged.  Not just reform is needed in public schools, but schools must be transformed to a whole new public level.

While public schools should be enhancing the product of education, we have allowed political interests to put their own interests before those of the children.  With a voucher program in place, through competition the political balance would shift away from unions and government-school defenders and toward parents and the education entrepreneurs seeking to meet their needs.  For those who oppose vouchers and view competition as evil, once they understand the educational results achieved by children involved in school choice programs — and these programs do work — school choice will cease to be a radical idea.

As to the fear that public schools would be disrupted through competition, vouchers can be defended as an effort to improve, rather than to abolish public schools.  Vouchers give parents an interim step, if they so choose.  Vouchers especially serve those children trapped in the worst government schools, which, incidentally, is where public support for market-based reform is the strongest.

Vouchers vs. tax credits:
Proponents of both agree that they must work together if either plan is to win legislative or voter approval.  Both vouchers and tax credits are ways to lift or reduce the penalty on parents who choose private schools for their children.

With tax credits parents pay tuition out of pocket first before applying for an annual tax credit, whereby with a voucher program the tuition is paid immediately.  Depending on how the legislation is written, the amount of tax credit allowed in some states is quite small (compared to the cost of private school tuition, especially if a family has more than one student in school) and varies from family to family based on the incomes and tax rates of parents.

There is nothing about tax credits that makes it more difficult for a state to impose its regulations and restrictions on participating schools than voucher programs, according to Bast. Both programs have to define what a “school” is, and both typically require participating schools to follow similar rules, adopt tests, and so on. One benefit of vouchers is that each time a student moves from a public school to a private school, the money “follows the child” and the public schools lose some funding. This helps taxpayers and puts financial pressure on public schools to improve in order to stay in business. Tax credits typically don’t take any money away from public schools.

As to the constitutionality of vouchers, the U.S. Court has given the green light as long as the money is given to the parents and not the schools themselves.  Tax credit plans may incur difficulty if tax credits are found to counter the Supreme Court decision that schools can be denied tax exempt status if they do not comply with affirmative action regulations in regard to enrollment and staffing.

In considering vouchers and regulations, both voucher proponents and opponents increasingly agree that excessive regulation and nonacademic mandates hurt the quality of government schools. It is wrong, however, to suggest that vouchers would open government regulators doors not currently open to them.  State constitutions already allow for heavy regulations of private schools, regardless of whether those schools receive government funding.  Private schools on the whole, however, still enjoy greater autonomy in all areas than do government schools despite efforts to bring them in line with public schools.

Vouchers are the most free market kind of privatization because they subsidize consumers and not producers. This makes it more difficult for the government to regulate schools. Bast pointed out that government places no restrictions on how people spend their Social Security checks, which makes it a good example of a voucher program that hasn’t resulted in increased regulations. Food stamps are, too.

Another way to prevent regulation of schools participating in a voucher program is for parents to press for good legislation that doesn’t mandate increased power over schools that participate in voucher programs.  A definite plus would be to have more parents involved in vouchers programs to promote an attitude that says: “Keep your hands off our schools!”  In so doing their combined efforts would form a large and very important interest group to oppose increased regulations.  Promoting quality does require the removal of regulations.

Education and Capitalism clearly shows that without a broader understanding of how and why markets work, small past steps in moving education in the right direction could be swept away.  Beware of government-inspired Common Core curriculum with its left-of-center educational standards and curriculum.  Should Common Core be imposed upon private schools, this nation will sink further and further into financial and moral morass as students embrace liberalism and vote accordingly as adults.

On Thursday, May 16 from 11:30 A.M. – 1:30 P.M. The Heartland Author Series will feature Keith Koeneman in First Son:  The Biography of Richard M. Daley.  For information call 312/377-4000.

The Heartland Institute (heartland.org) is a 29-year-old national nonprofit organization based in Chicago.  Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 03:00 PM |    Permalink  http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2013/05/part-2-education-and-capitalism.html#more

Part 1 features Dr. Herbert Walberg, co-author of Education and Capitalism with Joseph Bast.   http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2013/05/heartland-re-asserts-connection-between-education-and-capitalism-.html



On Thursday, May 9, the Heartland Institute, in its continuing Author Series events, featured Joseph Bast and Dr.Herb Walberg reviewing of their joint endeavor, Education And Capitalism Review:  How Overcoming Our Fear of Markets and Economics Can Improve America’s Schools, in recognition of the book publication’s tenth anniversary.

A bit of humor was provided initially by Jim Lakely, Communications Director of The Heartland Institute and Co-Director of the Center on the Digital Economy, before he introduced Dr. Herb Walberg. Lakely related how The Heartland Institute had distributed 100,000 copies of Steve Goreham’s book, The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism. Some of the global warming alarmists who received the Goreham’s book did not appreciate Heartland’s gift and responded accordingly with nasty emails.

At the April 24 Authors Series event which featured John Lott, Lakely, tongue and cheek, told those in attendance: “Too bad.  Maybe they could burn the book to keep warm in this a record cold spring, which might be a sign of the coming global cooling.”  Two individuals associated with the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University did just that, and then posted a photo on their department’s website of setting Goreham’s book on fire.

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Dr. Herbert J. Walberg was introduced as a distinguished visiting fellow at the Stanford University Hoover Institution and a member of its Koret Task Force on K-12 Education.  He holds a PhD from the University of Chicago and taught for thirty-five years at Harvard and the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Editor and author of more than 65 books, in the last two decades Walberg has concentrated on educational policy.

 To Dr. Walberg, school choice means that families can choose the best public or private (parochial or independent) schools for their children.  School choice was described as resembling free enterprise by encouraging innovation, competition, reduced costs, better performance, and accommodation to a variety of parental preferences.

Walberg then went on to explain how school choice has reached a turning point in the last ten years, thereafter he defined various forms of school choice.

1.  Charter schools are now found in the bulk of the states, although some states do limit their number and size. The origin of charter schools can be traced back to 1991 in Minnesota.  Today the number of charter schools nears the 5,000 mark in the U.S.  Charter schools are supported with public funds but are privately governed and managed, although there is a movement under foot in Chicago to unionize its charter schools.

2.  Tuition tax credits are growing in more than ten states.  Parents are allowed to deduct private (that is, parochial and independent) school tuition from their state income taxes.  Most states, however, limit what a parent can deduct.  Also, since the poor don’t pay taxes  tax tuition credits are of no assist to them.

3.  Vouchers are possibly the most controversial and have a long way to go.  Vouchers award publicly and privately funded scholarships to families for their children to attend private schools in deference to public schools.

4. About fifty are considering “parent trigger” legislation which closes failing schools upon a majority vote from the parents.  Parents elect to either charter the school for private management, send children to another public school, or shut the failing school.

Stressed was that research has shown that charter and private schools excel both in achievement and a higher rate of graduation, and that both parents and students are more satisfied in these settings.  As an added benefit, the average cost of a private school is about one half the cost of what a near by public school would spend per student.

A study by the Mathematica Policy Research group found that students in the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) network of charter schools — 41,000 students in 20 states — were eight months ahead of their public school peers in reading, eleven in mathematics, and 14 months ahead in science.  There are Kipp schools in Chicago.

Of concern is the poor performance of our top high school students when paired against top students in other countries.  Having seventeen of the top universities in the world, it is not complimentary that most of the top students hail from India or China.  Reasons given by Walberg for our nation lagging behind at the high school level:  1)  Only a minimal level of competence is required, and 2) Energy and money goes into bringing up the bottom instead of challenging top students.

In the most recent international achievement survey U.S. student ranked 27th in mathematics and 21st in science, yet this nation has the highest per-student spending in the world with the exception of Luxembourg.  Long-term studies of test scores from ninety countries indicate that despite differences in culture, those countries having the largest percentages of students in the top five percent when scored against the top five percent of scores in other countries,experienced a faster rate of economic growth.

Lastly, Dr. Walberg accounted for why the present traditional public school system isn’t rising to new international achievement standards.  Over the course of 150 years more and more bureaucracy ensued as school districts became bigger replacing smaller, self-contained units.  State came first to take away what had been local control of education.  Now the federal government is on the move with Common Core, a devised set of curriculum standards for literature, math, etc., which most states have signed on to for implementation in their school districts.

Such interference by government only advances school choice proponents and the establishment of charter and private schools.  Other things being equal, private organizations perform on the average better than government-run organizations at a lower cost and with more satisfaction for staff, parents and students.


Monday, May 13, 2013 at 08:47 AM | Permalink


 How to rescue Illinois from being the worst state to the top tier of states in the nation seems to be an overwhelming and an almost impossible Herculean task to accomplish, given the political and financial issues which plague this state, but it can be done.

Such was tenor of the event sponsored by the Illinois Policy Institute, Reform: This way – Lessons from states that got it right, as five courageous leaders who championed bold changes in their own states were assembled at the Roiling Green Country Club in Arlington Heights on Tuesday evening, May 7th.  The event was moderated by WLS-AM radio host Dan Proft.

Each of the five panel members revealed the stories behind the strategic decisions made in each of their states on issues common to all, which resulted in transformative policy changes through which other states were emboldened to adopt the same strategies.


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Listed below are panel members and the issues upon which each took courageous actions to effect positive change in their states.  Might they also work here in Illinois?:

  • Michigan state Sen. Patrick Colbeck – Right to Work
  • Indiana state Rep. Robert Behning – school choice
  • Former Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist – pension reform
  • Former Wisconsin Assemblywoman Michelle Litjens – budget reform
  • Opportunity Ohio President Matt Mayer – competitive federalism

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Photos by Nancy Thorner


First up was Indiana state Sen. Robert Behning speaking about school choice.   As a prelude to Behning’s remarks, a short video was shown that displayed how children from a poor family in Merriville, Indiana, thrived when given a chance to exit from a failing public school. An initial question was proposed by moderator Dan Proft as to how Behning managed to get the different school choice entities to the same place?  The solution:  All worked together and made sure that whether school choice related to charter schools or school vouchers, Indiana would become a leader in eduction reform. Parents would further know that in both charter schools and in a voucher system neither zip codes or income disparages would make a difference in the type of education a child would receive. Competition as being a positive for education was explained using the auto industry as an example.  When auto imports became a established in this nation, all makers produced better cars than they had during the ten prior years, spurred on by a need to sell cars to consumers.

Next up was Michigan state Sen. Patrick Colbeck with his Right to Work story.  As a newly elected senator, Sen.Colbeck’s  #1 priority was to bring his 20 years of problem-solving experience to state government.  He prides himself on being a problem solver, not a politician. In his first year Sen. Colbeck led the passage of Right-To-Work legislation in the Senate to stop the exodus of jobs and people from Michigan that had occurred over the past decade and to encourage job growth.  Colbeck sold his “bill of goods” by changing “Right to Work” to “Freedom to Work.”  Freedom to Work resonated with rank and file union members, important for the positive reception of his message.  Then too, groups such as tea party conservatives throughout Michigan were able to outnumber the other side in their communications with the public.  Colbeck applauded two committed freshmen legislators for contributing in his success.  Both ran for office with the passage of Labor Freedom on their agenda.  Cobeck noted how companies when wishing to locate often ask if a state is a Right to Work state.  Right to Work states include South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Indiana.


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Former Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist spoke about pension reform.  Senator Liljenquist spoke of the fear that is manufactured about the inability of people to manage their own money, with the stock market being the riskiest of all.  What gave the impetus for reform and got everyone’s attention, as a non-partisan issue, was what happened in Utah in 2008.  Utah had to focus on reality, and reality is not negotiable.  A one year’s market loss led to a 10% loss in Utah’s General Fund.  Resolved was that such a financial loss could not be permitted to happen again.  Unions did not accept the idea of going to 401 K accounts. Spurred on and encouraged by Union leaders, union members got up in arms to protest. To quell the unrest Sen. Liljenquist wrote individuals letters to each protester thanking them for their service and what they did for their state, reminding them that what happened in 2008 could never be allowed to happen again and that changes had to be made. Liljenquist’s writing campaign separated good union members from union bosses with the result that in 2010 pension reform drove voters to the Republican Party.  Results of the reform:  Money was saved beyond wildest dreams and retiree pension commitments could be met.  Utah is #1 in financial management, while Illinois is #48.

The only woman on the panel, former Wisconsin Assemblywoman Michelle Litjens, highlighted Wisconsin’s contentious budget reform.  Although Assemblywoman Michelle Litjens served for only two years, electing not to run for re-election because she had children in high school, and further realized that she had managed to make a difference in her two years, was an arch supporter of Governor Scott Walker and as such was in the eye of the storm.  When elected to office in 2010 it was her goal to fix things.  In 2009 Democratic control had run the debt up to $3.6 billion.  Binding educational laws had to be changed.  Two billion dollars was saved by having teachers teach seven hours a day instead of only five.  Another change was that the most recent hire did not have to be laid off.  Still another change was that teachers would now have to pay some of their own health insurance and pension costs instead of the Wisconsin paying all.  At one time there were as many as 100,000 protestors outside and inside the Capitol building in Wisconsin, requiring that the staff wear jeans and plaid shirt to get inside to blend with the protestors.  But they did it, they succeeded, by keeping the mission focused.  Litjens did admit that the legislators should have done a better job of selling what they had to do up front.  It was also advantageous that Gov. Walker’s recall election took place one year and two months after success was had at the political level with budget reform. Assemblywoman Liljenquist likewise wrote letters to protesters, as did former Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in dealing with his state’s pension reform.

The final panelist was Opportunity Ohio President Matt Mayer who discussed competitive federalism.  Besides being President at Opportunity Ohio, a free market think tank in Dublin, Ohio, Matt Mayer also speaks on national security issues as a visiting fellow at Heritage where he heads a project evaluating how each state has met the modern threat of terrorism.  Mr. Mayer second book, “Taxpayers Don’t Stand a Chance: Why Battleground Ohio Loses No Matter Who Wins (and What To Do About it), is an in-depth case study on the perennial election battleground state of Ohio, including a microanalysis of Ohio’s political landscape.  Stressed by Matt Mayer is that competition is what made America great.  If a state refuses to reform, it loses any competitive edge it may have had to a neighboring state.  Mayer believes states should serve as laboratories of competition, with competition happening on a large range of activities.  Mayer expressed a belief in Illinois, that Illinois can win again instead of being last where it should be first and first where it should be last.  Grassroots efforts are essential in effecting change.  Regarding Ohio, the state was unable to pass Right to Work, even with Republican governor John Kasich, because, unlike Wisconsin, Ohio foolishly included the police and firemen in its budget reform legislation.

A short question and answer period followed.  One question dealt with “What needs to changed first in Illinois before policy can change — Culture or Policy?  Some remarks included:  Policy alone can’t effect change.  We can’t be all mind and very little heart.  We must do a better job at story telling to get our message out.  We must sell the benefits are well as the product, i.e., such as the difference a charter school can make in the life of a child. Grass roots efforts and social media rank high in getting messages out that are not in step with the mainstream media.  Humans benefit from good policy, while they suffer when bad policy is enacted.

Johnathon Greenberg, Vice President of External Relations at the Illinois Policy Institute, gave the closing remarks.  Greenberg called the free enterprise system the greatest force in human history.  Noted was how change will only happen in Illinois when things become dark enough so change can no longer be avoided and when there are those in Illinois who have the courage to lead.

What CEO’s are saying about Illinois can be found at Chiefexecutive.net.


Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 08:29 AM | Permalink


ImmigrationBy Nancy Thorner – 

This week the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is considering the so-called “Gang of 8” immigration reform package.

Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric you are hearing. The bill will provide amnesty now, with citizenship later and declines to seriously address the border security issue. There are those who wish to distract you from the real issues surrounding the debate. It can’t be denied that the Gang of 8 immigration reform package undermines the rule of law and is harmful to law-abiding Americans.

On Monday, May 6, Heritage’s Senior Research Fellow Robert Rector, released a highly anticipated study about the cost of immigration reform. His study concluded that “Over a lifetime, the former unlawful immigrants together would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay $3.1 tr5illion in taxes.” In other words, they would generate a lifetime fiscal deficit (total benefits minus total taxes) of $6.3 trillion in combined federal, state, and local benefits. The annual net cost would be roughly $112 billion. The majority of expense would be the result of increased educational and welfare costs.”

Daniel Horowitz, in writing about Robert Rector’s Executive summary about the fiscal cost of unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer, pegged it as an “Open Borders + Welfare State = Disaster.”  http://www.redstate.com/dhorowitz3/2013/05/06/robert-rectors-study...

Admittedly, writes Horowitz:

Some people don’t like to hear it, but the reality of today’s redistributive society is that the higher-skilled population transfers a tremendous amount of wealth to the lower-skilled population in the form of the tax code, entitlements, welfare, and social services.  Do we really need to import so many new low-skilled illegal and legal immigrants over the next decade to exacerbate the current unsustainable dynamic?  

Further writes Horowitz, additionally there are a number of likely factors that could result in an even higher cost:

1. What is there are more than 11.5 million illegals?  What if fraudulent documents allow more people to receive amnesty?  In 1986, 25% of applications were fraudulent.  A similar dynamic now wold cost an additional $1.6 trillion, according to Rector.

2. This bill allows the amnestied immigrants to bring in spouses and minor children.  The cost would top $600 billion per 1 million more family members

3.  Every amnesty encourages more illegal immigration , especially when the enforcement is nothing more than a promise.  The number of border crossing have already tripled in recent months.  

And what about the fairness issue?  The “Gang of 8” immigration reform package is unfair to the two to three million immigrants waiting lawfully to enter the United States, and will make our immigration problem worse, as it will only encourage more illegal immigrants to enter unlawfully.  Unfortunately Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has been drawn into the Gang of 8 by Democrat Senator Schumer to sweeten the pot under the assumption and hope that conservative Republicans will this time accept an immigration reform package hook, line, and sinker because of Rubio’s endorsement.

Worse yet, as border security is a key sticking point in this year’s immigration debate, only a little more than one-third of senators have been to the southwestern border during their time in office to get a first hand look at the security situation.

According to President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano the border is secure “and that they only way to improve it is to legalize illegal immigrants, which they argue will help authorities focus on illegal crossings and major criminals.”

Not so say lawmakers who have traveled to the border to see for themselves and ofter come back with a different impression.  When Arizona’s Senator John McCain, one of four Republican Gang of Eight members, was showing colleagues the border in March he saw a woman climb over a border barrier right in front of them.  In this incident, border security did apprehend the woman. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/ma/7/two-thirds-of-senat...

Of even greater concern is that the same approach is being used to enact immigration reform as was used with Obamacare through an attempt to ram immigration reform through Congress without many Members having read the bill.

Such are the frightening similarities of Obamacare to the complex, pie-in-the-sky immigration proposal:

1.  As with Obamacare costing much more than originally anticipated, the Gang of Eight’s immigration plan of granting amnesty to those unlawfully in the U.S. will cost $6.3 trillion, burdening American taxpayers even more than they now are.

2.  As with Obamacare false promises exist.  “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”? is one of the most infamous broken promises of Obamacare.  The immigration plan proposal is going to give legal status and eventual citizenship to those who came here unlawfully without actually securing the border.

3.  You have to pass it to see what’s in it applies to both Obamacare and the Gang of Eight immigration proposal.  We are now learning the disastrous makeup of the gigantic Obamacare bill.  The immigration bill likewise gives over congressional authority to federal agencies, allowing unelected bureaucrats to think up all the details later.

4.  Obamacare will add millions of people to Medicaid rolls, already an unsustainable program in need of reform.  The immigration bill would add millions to the number of people on various taxpayer-funded benefits, from Medicare and Social Security to welfare, at a time when our nation is already $17 trillion in debt!

5.  The immigration proposal, not unlike Obamacare, is filled with perks for special interests. Obmacare is full of favors for Big Labor.  The immigration bill has a myriad of special-interest goodies, not to mention a bonanza for immigration lawyers.

Conservatives must remain firmly committed to modernizing our immigration system to ensure that our nation enjoys the benefits of immigration by pushing back against liberals (and some Republicans) who are obsessed with ramming through a costly and unnecessary amnesty.

Regardless of political persuasion, the American people should not tolerant a Congress who makes laws that will put a gigantic financial tax burden on future generation by following through with laws that disregard past failures and mistakes.

No amount of tinkering will make the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill an acceptable solution to our nation’s immigration problems.