The political failure of the Illinois business community

Just a scan of the Saturday morning newspapers reveals these facts – from the local to the state to the national level:

  • In the county where I live, more than 130 local businesses and employers reported laying off more than 4,000 jobs in the Kane County area through November.
  • Illinois has seen 22 months straight of job losses.
  • Nationally, unemployment now stands at 10.2 officially, or 22%(!) if you include people who have given up on finding a job.

You can bet your life that the public sector – those paid by taxpayers’ dollars – have suffered no such economic downturn. I wrote a bit on that topic the other day. Bill Zettler’s article “Anatomy of a Teachers Contract: Blueprint for a Taxpayer Mugging,” explains why things are humming along just fine for many taxeaters.

The concept is a simple one: win politically, and you win economically.

Amass the troops, raise the money, pick candidates who will implement your policies from the school boards on up through the General Assembly to the Governor’s mansion to Congress and the White House and whala. If there’s a downturn in the economy, your insurance policy kicks in.

When Democrats win, bailouts, borrowing, “stimulus” packages, pork aplenty, and an expanding financial burden on future generations result. But those who have done their political homework are protected and rewarded.

So – where has the Illinois Chamber of Commerce been? How about the Illinois chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses or the Illinois Manufacturers Association? No one can argue they’ve been anything but an abysmal failure.

No three groups in this state hold the potential to wield more power and influence for good than they do. None. Instead, they’ve been trapped in small mindedness and led by unimaginative middle manager types.

If that strikes you as too mean – then explain to me how successful, confident people who run businesses in this state are losing to thug-like union members and self-esteem challenged teachers – most of whom are women.

Illinois has had a lousy jobs climate for many years. Even during national economic good times our state is usually left behind. Taxpayers feel the impact through increasing fees, sales taxes, and completely ridiculous property tax rates. Job hunters – well, they’re the hardest hit.

Every Republican candidate running for governor is promising to do something about the sorry Illinois economy – and a few of them are getting into specifics about what is required. Personally, I want to see Illinois set a new standard for slashing government spending. It’d be the quickest way for us to begin to mend this state’s corrupt reputation.

But we’re not going to elect enough good Republicans in Illinois next year unless the business community gets serious and heads roll at the major business groups. At some point, there has to be a consequence for economic disaster that would have been avoided with better leadership at the Chamber, NIFB-IL, and IMA – and others.

Outside of a handful of General Assembly members and two or three statewide candidates, Republicans in 2010 don’t have much to offer voters. It’s time for businessmen and women here to amass the troops, raise the money, pick candidates…

As we’ve noted often, the problem isn’t principles, it is personnel. The Illinois Democratic Party, the teacher unions, the Service Employees International Union, and all the other rabid left wing funders of candidates are run by smarter political people than anyone the GOP or business community or conservative interests groups have put on the field thus far. There is no arguing that point. They win, we lose.

It’s time to clean house in 2010 – and that housecleaning had better begin as soon as possible at the business groups. My readers already know that political reform must precede policy reform. To take it a step further – a change in personnel is a prerequisite to success on the political battlefield.