Y'know, it's not like you can't figure this stuff out for yourself, and it's not like this hasn't actually taken place right before your eyes: a decade ago "What's the busiest shopping day of the year?" was a trivia question. Then some marketeer with no belief in a Cosmic recounting of his actions on some Day of Judgement--but I repeat myself!--turned it into a sales ploy. Which meant, of course, one of two things would follow: the sort of sad mediocrity contest that results from major producers vying for attention, like the vast array of energy drinks and flavored waters now available on your grocer's shelves, or the Slough of Despond that results when such shit really takes off. I guess we know which one "Black Friday" turned out to be.
And, fine: you can't live without a bigger teevee, or a bluer Blu-Ray, it's your business; if I were a public moralist I might concern myself with it (and where are the public moralists, anyway? Non-denominational public school "Winter" programs offend them, but a mass descent into human depravity of Fall of Rome proportions over a fucking telephone sale elicits no response at all), but I figure we're not exactly missing the next Einstein because these people are camping out at the mall rather than home procreating. Retailers, of course, cannot be expected to do anything but panic dive for the bottom in fear that everyone else will get there first. For fuck's sake, have we learned nothing from the presidential campaign of that Godfather's CEO and NRA President?
But the local news, fer chrissakes! I'm assuming you're smart enough not to watch. For the past week, solid, if there hasn't been accompanying video of a fireball the story got no play, the better to cram in vital news of store operating hours. Is it really possible that everyone connected with such enterprises is soul dead?
Second, via Wonkette we get news of the Illinois Republicans who want to secede from Chicago; I trust Chicagoans are smart enough to take them up on it. If that wasn't enough evidence of the, let's call it, insufficient attention to detail, there's this:
Rep. Mitchell brought up the state of Indiana multiple times Tuesday morning and said that he would like Illinois to become more like its neighbor to the east. "Take a look at Indiana. Their population is similar to the new Illinois we are proposing. But there are some fundamental differences between Indiana and Illinois as it exists now: Indiana doesn't have a budget deficit; they haven't raised taxes to pay for more government spending; they have a lower unemployment rate than Illinois. And what's the biggest difference? Indiana doesn't have Chicago."
Of course, if it did, Indiana wouldn't have Mitch Daniels as its governor, and you'd be minus one paragon of made-up virtues. Indiana doesn't have a budget deficit its rulers will admit to, but it conveniently doesn't count what it owes the Federal government, nor note that, accounting period to accounting period, Mitch Daniels' last deficit was larger than the one he keeps crowing about; it didn't raise taxes to pay for more government spending, it raised its most regressive tax to pay for a cap on property taxes which mostly benefits commercial landowners; and it has a lower unemployment rate than Illinois, mostly because if you didn't have a job, and found yourself in Indiana, you'd go somewhere else too.
But let's back up. The Indiana deficit game is smoke and mirrors, as we've noted here many a time; the guy who wrecked the national economy under George W. Bush, then high-tailed it back to the Hoosier state, set out to create a make-believe record he could base a vanity Presidential campaign on in 2012, and get himself another cabinet post out of. The way he proposed to do so, at first, was precisely the way Illinois eventually addressed its: a temporary tax increase. This did not sit well with Indiana Republicans, so ten minutes later he dropped it, and, over the course of his first legislative session, the deal was struck to balance the budget by lopping the feet off every existing program, and sending the bill for the remainder to county and local governments.
Indiana's sales tax is now 7%, compared to Illinois' 6%. Illinois' personal income tax is now higher, 5% to 3.4%, but that's due to the four-year deficit reduction increase, begun this year, which raised it from 3%. Some of us in Indiana--who've watched sales and local taxes go up so that some idiot in Illinois, or some governor on the campaign trail, could selectively quote numbers to make it look like Indiana had lowered taxes--call that "refreshingly honest". Indiana's per capita tax burden ranks 25th nationally; Illinois is 13th. Indiana's income tax is 33rd highest in the nation; Illinois' is 31st. Meanwhile, Illinois' per capita income is 11th in the nation, while Indiana's--13% lower than its neighbor across the Toll Road--is 27th.
Y'know, I still can't figure out where this Miracle is supposed to reside. Indiana isn't well off. It hasn't suddenly solved the manufacturing problem, the outsourcing problem, the infrastructure problem, or the income disparity problem; its citizens aren't any less less-well-off than the rest of the nation during the Daniels era. Anybody can make a budget deficit disappear by cutting out everything above revenue, assuming he's got a compliant, veto-proof majority, and that no one looks closely at how things work thereafter. State college tuition is skyrocketing, secondary education has been slashed, and local governments are being stretched. The number of Hoosiers with no health insurance has risen 8.6% in the last decade; in Illinois--which used to have more uninsured, now has fewer--it's gone up only 1.3% in that time. Hoosiers now get taxed at the same rate--outside the 17% increase in sales taxes, and the 1% property tax cap--and get less and less service in exchange. This is the nature of miracles: they're not duplicable, they get shilled by the faithful, and they don't stand up to scrutiny from anyone else.