Friday, November 25

Do I Have To Say It?

FIRST, Cheers! to the young libertarian entrepreneurs locally who realized that a mallful of unattended vehicles in the middle of the night was a fine place to search for treasure. If this seems insensitive on my part to dozens of good folk who had merely gone in search of the illusive Unbelievable Deal on Some Consumer Crap Guaranteed To Make Their Miserable Lives Less Miserable, only to have some brigand spoil Christmas, well, it's meant to be. Why don't you sue all the local teevee news operations which have been telling you for a solid week that you'd better get out at midnight and buy shit?

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.

11 comments:

Unknown said...

as duly-appointed representative of the world's third largest municipal economy, i hereby accept this offer of secession. we hope that the new state of illiana enjoys 90% less tax revenue on its glorious adventure in the race to the bottom. the hollow carcasses of former towns along the mississippi and in 'little egypt', and the one stoplight and one gas station towns in between will certainly transform into powerful economic engines with less regulation and zero taxes.

whetstone said...

As a fellow representative, I should note that I heartily agree, and add that it's a bit rich for someone from Decatur, that massive part of the state that consumes about twice as much in state expenditures as it generates in tax revenue (by 1987 figures; that particular legislative study has not been repeated due to political pressure, likely from downstate Republicans who desire not to be portrayed as welfare kings), plus who knows how much in federal funds.

Anonymous said...

Riley, I'm so glad you brought this up. It drives me batty how we (Indiana) have abandoned our parks, forests and waterways. I wonder how the citizens will feel when they get swept away in a flood because all of the trees were cut or when somebody gets sick because our water and air is so dirty. Bet they'll wish we spent the money then!

heydave said...

all I can say is fuckin' A

Anonymous said...

Dirty air, dirty water, crumbling roads that destroy your tyres, an electric grid made of Xmas tree tinsel, and if you want to see trees and wildlife, well, that's what the Intertubes are for, Google "wilderness"...
But hey, Indiana's taxes are LOW! At least it would seem that way if our per-capita wages weren't also low...

Anonymous said...

Hey, let's not over-generalize here!
I probably qualify as a public moralist, and I both protested and boycotted.
I also made my gesture toward procreating, having no reason to get up early and work or buy shit.

prairie curmudgeon said...

Thanks Riley. I was thinking yesterday morning that I was missing out on the bestest deal of the century on a must have electronic device that I could load up with apps to help me stay up with the world gone fucking crazy and account for the value of shit.

But to cope with this almost irresistible seduction I went down to the river, emptied my flask, and wizened up with my revitalized realization -- fuckem, I got the blue sky, a brisk breeze thru the trees, bubbling water, and lots of rocks to ponder. What a lucky fucking fool I am. I should be detained, an enemy of the state, countin' all my blessin's like that when the world needs to spend itself out of debt. Like we couldn't all do with a fucking reset with a measure of what really matters instead of this insidious delusion with GDP and the accumulation of "wealth".

StringOnAStick said...

Prairie, I think I love you.

prairie curmudgeon said...

StringOnAStick,
Muchas! You bring back memories of the pup days at the willow crick farm when granny, Corrie, always hummin' a hymn, would fix us youngins up with a string on a stick along with other simple and free hominid recapitulations passed to her from her granny, which, I suppose, better prepared us for hunting and gathering than for jobs in the rocket century. Now it seems as though those atavistic links are lost with parents fretting about which thousand dollar gadget to buy for Christmas that will most stimulate their childrens' minds and creative impulses and purchase them passage through tomorrow's winnowing gauntlet. Some of us are both fortunate and unfortunate to have lived with grandparents who practically had their feet planted more in 1850 than in 1950 lifeways, which, I guess, imparts a longing along with foreboding in the time compression years.

Monkey Business said...

I read this a few days ago. Personally, as a native son and current resident of the Hoosier state, as well as a former resident of the Windy City, I'm all in favor of this.

The new state, Chicagoland, would be a force. 12 representatives, solid blue, plenty of tax revenue, fairly progressive... The rest of Illinois, however, would be as much of a wasteland as everything outside of 465 is in Indiana.

There is a large portion of this country still holding on to the idea that these small towns are supposed to be a force in American politics. They're not. The real war is between the Urbs and the Suburbs.

Brian M said...

Monkey Business: SACRILEGE. Small Towns are the only force for good in the world! LOL

It's good to read Riley here to be reminded that California is not the only f-ed up place in these Benighted States. Having visited my good ol' hometown, Fort Wayne, this Spring...god, what a hell hole (and not only because of the economy. Fort Wayne began ruining itself starting in 1950 or so!)-I cannot believe a metropolitan area can be so unremittedly UGLY, man, I'll probabluy never live in Indiana again, but it is still the mythical "home"...so thanks, Riley!