Shameless is a story about a hopelessly dysfunctional family led by a soulless father whose greed and own selfish desires exacerbate the poor behavior of the miscreants who surround him.
My story does not star William H. Macy and Emily Rossum but rather Michael Madigan, John Cullerton, and the Illinois General Assembly.
In its latest egregious display of political knavery, the Illinois General Assembly on January 9th approved an amendment to Senate Bill 3531, an amendment providing a 15% pay raise for incoming Democratic Governor J.B. Prtizker’s department directors, assistant directors and assistant secretaries.
Not surprisingly, both Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Hades) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Madigan’s Minion) pushed the amendment through the 100th General Assembly’s final hours and Pritzker has announced he will sign the legislation once he assumes the governorship.
To review, Illinois is the state in which its government is on the brink of bankruptcy due to hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded pension debt; whose residents and businesses are fleeing at unprecedented rates due to punishing taxes; whose largest metropolitan city has one of the worst school systems in the country and a rate of violent crime greater than Los Angeles and New York combined.
This is the state run by people whom Speaker Madigan and Sen. Cullerton, along with most of their respective caucuses, deserve a pay raise. One has to wonder: will these self-serving legislators deem that they, too, deserve a pay raise?
Typically, I would launch into an attack on the financially crippling policies of the increasingly leftist Democratic Party but why belabor the obvious?
Instead, l will cast a bright light upon that political entity one would expect to oppose the utterly disgraceful and financially burdensome legislation described above. Yes, that’s correct, disappointed fellow citizens, I refer to the Republican Party.
As a practical matter, I view the Illinois Republican Party much the same way one would describe an Irish dentist: both are mythical creatures inhabiting myths, fables and fantasies.
Now, there are politicians in our General Assembly who voted for the pay raise who self-identify as Republicans.
Topping the list is House Minority Leader Jim Durkin. And it comes as no surprise this Fagin-like leader of his own band of street urchins sets the example of how to steal while feigning innocence. Remember Rep. Durkin’s fierce opposition, his Herculean efforts to hold his caucus together in unanimous opposition to Speaker Madigan’s permanent income tax increase?
Of course you don’t. Remember: Hercules was a mythical figure, who performed heroic acts in myths, fables and fantasies. Here in the real world, Rep. Durkin threw up his paws, then shrugged and said “Meh” as ten GOP representatives voted to override Gov. Rauner’s veto of the permanent income tax hike. Unlike Rep. Durkin, who did nothing to rally opposition to the tax hike, five of the ten GOP turncoats had the good taste not to stand for re-election.
Rep. Durkin’s Republican Artful Dodgers who voted for the 15% salary hike were Reps. Michael McAuliffe (Chicago), Keith Wheeler (Oswego), Tim Butler (Springfield), Tom Demmer (Dixon), Michael Unes (East Peoria), and Norine Hammond (Macomb).
These are but a few within the GOP’s ranks who, through ineptitude, disinterest or sheer lack of ability serve, rather than oppose, the Beelzebub-like figure currently ruling from the House Speaker’s throne and who may continue to do so until his deal with the devil expires, if it ever does.
Why is our state saddled with such State House mediocrities? One reason for our governmental dysfunction is the professionalization of politics.
In the early days of our Republic, state legislatures were comprised of citizens who were not career politicians. Instead, teachers, lawyers, farmers, doctors and a legion of hard-working American citizens kept their jobs while working as part-time lawmakers.
The fruits of their labor yielded greater economic and political freedom.
Yes, I know we no longer live in the halcyon days of an idyllic, sun dappled by-gone era. Yes, our society has an order of complexity far greater than any legislator from any state government could ever imagined but none of them, Republican or Democratic, would agree Illinois’ governmental dysfunction is due solely to our society’s complexity but would agree it is due to the mendacity and corruption of the full-time politicians skulking through the state capitol.
There are currently ten states with full-time or professional legislatures and, clever readers that you are, you will not be surprised to know three of them are Illinois, New York and California.
Why is it that the states which pay their legislators the least also have balanced budgets (see Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota and Montana)?
There is a great line from ShowTime‘s program Shameless which also explains why our legislature is so unbelievably awful: “Once you announce your depravity, there’s plenty of depravers seeking company.”
With that, it might be time to flee our fair state.
Perhaps I should join the throngs leaving states like Illinois for what New York’s Dolt-in-Chief, Andrew Cuomo, said was for “warmer weather”.
What’s the temperature in Indiana?
– Jeffrey Leef, M.D. is a two-time candidate for US Congress and concerned citizen.