The Roaring Twenties Begin Again in Illinois. Well, Actually….

By Mark Glennon:

I still remember the smiles on my grandparents’ faces when they described the 1920s. They were in Chicago then, which was perhaps the most rip-roaring center of dynamism and opportunity on the planet in what seemed like the best of times.

I wish I were writing why this decade promises to be the same, but that’s not to be.

Instead, this is the time to address the most frequent theme we see in comments on this site and emails we get, which is the coming resolution of Illinois’ state and local fiscal crisis. That crisis will resolve one way or another over the course of this decade. We know that because simple math says it must.

By “resolve” I’m not implying anything benign. I mean what you readers have called it here – a meltdown, big bang, crash, finale. Call it what you want. We’ve used those terms, too, though sometimes in different ways.

Just “let it blow up” is a common sentiment. Why bother suggesting reforms, many have asked, when the political establishment has no interest in reforms? It’s too late anyway now, with or without reforms, others say.

Here’s our view, which we emphasize because it’s key to our purpose: The meltdown should neither be accelerated by artificial pessimism nor delayed by artificial optimism. A meltdown, however, is both necessary and inevitable.

By meltdown I mean a crash in Illinois’ state and local public sector severe enough to shock the public and the political establishment into drastic reform. If a crash is artificially accelerated by deliberate action or misinformation, politicians would dismiss it as such. Today, the establishment still covers up the depth of our problems — by lying — and it would be a mistake to arm them with something better.

And the meltdown indeed must be severe enough to induce shock, because decades of experience show how impervious Illinois voters and lawmakers are to financial reality.

Read more: Wirepoints

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