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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ill in Illinois

The State of Illinois is a financial basket case. But they want to turn their basket into a coffin by raising their personal income taxes 75%.

Frederick Sheehan / Aucontrarian:
Illinois is No Peter Pan --

"Top Illinois Democrats have agreed to push a plan that would temporarily boost income taxes by 75 percent and double cigarette taxes," harked CBS Chicago on January 6, 2011. The proposed plan would increase Illinois' personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5.75 percent for the next three years. After that, it would drop back to 3.25%. So they say.

Illinois is a state in which the legislators have so betrayed the taxpayers that a lifetime on Devil's Island would be too good for them. For instance, the liability of the four state pension plans is calculated at $151 billion or $280 billion, depending on the assumptions used. The $280 billion figure is analytically controversial but deductively compelling given the efforts to deny and confuse bondholders and the public alike respecting the coming collapse of the municipal bond market...

... a Sword of Damocles hovers over all transactions and contracts in the United States today: who still trusts the "full faith" of any government body? And, this is the worst situation of all: politicians who think they can fly.

[Frederick J. Sheehan is the author of Panderer to Power: The Untold Story of How Alan Greenspan Enriched Wall Street and Left a Legacy of Recession (McGraw-Hill, 2009) and The Coming Collapse of the Municipal Bond Market. He is the co-author of Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve.]

via CreditWriteDowns
The next stop on the road to...

The Economist:
The battle ahead -- The struggle with public-sector unions should be about productivity and parity, not just spending cuts

LOOK around the world and the forces are massing. On one side are Californian prison guards, British policemen, French railworkers, Greek civil servants, and teachers just about everywhere. On the other stand the cash-strapped governments of the rich world. Even the mere mention of cuts has brought public-sector workers onto the streets across Europe. When those plans are put into action, expect much worse.

“Industrial relations” are back at the heart of politics—not as an old-fashioned clash between capital and labour, fought out so brutally in the Thatcherite 1980s, but as one between taxpayers and what William Cobbett, one of the great British liberals, used to refer to as “tax eaters”. People in the private sector are only just beginning to understand how much of a banquet public-sector unions have been having at everybody else’s expense (see article). In many rich countries wages are on average higher in the state sector, pensions hugely better and jobs far more secure. Even if many individual state workers do magnificent jobs, their unions have blocked reform at every turn. In both America and Europe it is almost as hard to reward an outstanding teacher as it is to sack a useless one...

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