Friday, December 12, 2014

Thorner: Rauner joins Illinois Policy Institute Christmas party

Gov.-Elect Rauner mingled with Illinois Policy Institute “Gifts of the Free Market” guests

By Nancy Thorner – 

Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner celebrated a “No Cronies Christmas” with the Illinois Policy Institute at its annual “Gifts of the Free Market” party in the Library of its Chicago headquarters Wednesday. The group’s CEO John Tillman and Vice President Kristina Rasmussen, along with the 300 members and friends gathered to celebrate Christmas cheer, enjoy incredible company, and applaud the fantastic gifts of the free market system, the greatest force for good in the human sphere.

To wrap up 2014, the group noted three victories achieved in Illinois: the defeat of three tax-hike proposals, stopping a state-funded ObamaCare exchange, and helping thousands of Illinoisans opt out of union membership.

Governor-elect Bruce Rauner made a guest appearance. Although the Illinois Policy Institute cannot support political candidates, CEO John Tillman, in introducing Bruce Rauner, noted that he had known Rauner since 2008.  Governor-elect Rauner deemed it an honor to be in attendance, offering special thanks to the staff of the Illinois Policy Institute for its leadership in promoting freedom and American principles. Rauner further noted how fortunate Illinois was to be home to an organization such as the Illinois Policy Institute where citizens can get engaged in making a difference.Rauner indicated that he saw being governor more than just a job.  He was here to work for the people of Illinois, humbled and honored to have the opportunity to do so.  Illinois has always been his home, having been born and raised in IL.  For Bruce Rauner, any self-sacrifice was well worth what it might entail, given his desire to bring about a New Day In Illinois come January 12, 2015.  Rauner indicated that he would give his all to restoring Illinois.  Referring to Illinois as the worst run state in this nation,  Bruce Rauner spoke of fighting for limited government, lower taxes, jobs, pension reform and choice in education.  When Bruce Rauner announced to his wife and children that he was running for governor, his youngest daughter expressed this concern, “Please don’t run for governor.  I don’t want you to go to jail.”

After winning his bid for governor in November, Rauner looked at every budget in every department, and found that things were a lot worse than he had originally thought them to be. It was then that governor-elect Rauner requested citizen help and investment to turn around state government.  Presently Rauner is looking for talented individuals — 500 in the next 60 days — who will be true pubic servants.  They must display talent, integrity, and principle and the willingness to treat Illinoisans with respect.  Rauner’s final remarks, “I will run the government from Springfield.”  Unlike Governor Quinn, Rauner will reside in the “The Governor’s Mansion” located in Springfield.  Rauner stayed to shake hands and pose for photos after his comments.

Acknowledgments were extended by CEO John Tillman to Institute’s heroes from 2014.  They included individuals, donors, and activists who took extraordinary steps to make Illinois a freer place to live and work.

Given the still fresh news of Judy Topinka’s unexpected death earlier in the day, within the room everyone was talking about who would replace her as comptroller.

Complimentary food and drinks were provided. Vocalist Lisa Sroka and Tony Jurich on keyboard performed Christmas carols and music of the season early in the evening, which likewise contributed to the festive mood experienced by those who participated in the 2014 Gifts of the Free Market Christmas party hosted by the Illinois Policy Institute.


Photos by Mark Weyermuller

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1356169943776171955By Nancy Thorner and Mark Weyermuller – 

What gifts could one expect under the “free market system” tree?  Our guess might be prosperity and freedom for all.

Last Tuesday, the Illinois Policy Institute hosted its annual “Gifts of the Free Market” party. This year’s festivities featured speaker Craig Zucker, a serial entrepreneur from Ohio and former co-founder and CEO of Maxfield and Oberton, makers of Buckyballs.

Buckyballs was named 2010’s “Best Desk Toy of the Year” by the Rolling Stone Magazine. Three years later, Zucker’s powerful ball-shaped toy magnets are banned from sale by government agencies.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission took action against Zucker’s product shortly after Buckyballs became a rage for adults. Within a matter of months the business, which brought in $18 million at one point, was destroyed – with no due process.

Maxfield & Oberton was the small company behind Buckyballs (and Buckycubes), an office toy that became an Internet sensation in 2009.  The company sold millions of Buckyballs unites under the watchful eye of the CPSC before the product was banned.

From the beginning, Buckyballs were marketed and sold to adults.  Each set was wrapped with five conspicuous warnings to keep the product away from children.

Zucker and his company worked with the CPSC over its expressed concern that children could swallow the powerful magnets.  Maxfield & Oberton even ran a pubic-education campaign to alert consumers of the potential danger. When the age of a child thought safe to use a product increased from 13 to 14, Maxfield & Oberton changed the child warning label accordingly.

In July of 2012, the CPSC sued Maxfield & Oberton thereby forcing a full recall of Buckyballs. According to the CPSC, Buckyballs were deemed defective in that unintended users could misuse it and suffer injuries.

In December of 2012 Maxfield & Oberton shuttered and dissolved.  A “Save Our Balls” campaign was launched to keep the business alive, but failed to raise enough to pay legal bills.

In February of 2103, the CPSC invoked a little-used legal doctrine to try to force Craig Zucker, as former chief executive of Maxfield & Oberton, to pay an estimated $57 million in costs related to the recall. The $57 million amount exceeded what the company ever made in sales.

Not willing to allow himself to be used by the government in a ruling which could ultimately have severe and far-reaching consequences for the future of American businesses and consumers, Zucker filed a lawsuit in October this year in the U.S. District Court of Maryland to block the CPSC from seeking damages against him.

In an attempt to pay his legal costs, Zucker set up the Unite We Ball website to “support the legal battle of one individual against government absurdity overreach retaliation regulators and stand up for the rights of all Americans.”

Several products for sale at ““, including “Liberty Balls, Founding Balls, Balls of Right, and UWB merchandise,  including tees. The items range from $10 to $40.  100% of the profits go towards the legal fees of fighting the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s absurd case against Buckyballs and Craig Zucker.

Many free marketers see Zucker’s case as one to watch for the country’s free market future. If government wins over Zucker, a precedent will be set for agencies to go after an entrepreneur or officer of a company and hold him or her personally responsible for his or her company’s actions, even if no laws or regulations were violated.

The free market system allows a vibrant entrepreneurial environment to flourish and create a force for good, as first protected and promoted by our Founding Fathers. Free enterprise must be allowed to survive and flourish for her to remain strong and competitive, for it is freedom that allows the human spirit to soar to accomplish, invent, and create new products unhindered by government regulations and control.

At this time of year and beyond, courageous Americans like Craig Zucker should be celebrated and cheered on to stand against this nation’s direction toward centralized government and nanny statism.


Illinois Policy Institute’s Jonathan Greenberg, Ex Vice Pres Kristina Rasmussen and Buckyballs creator Craig Zucker