“Think tank says more money is not the answer”

The above headline came from a report in the Chicago Sun-Times with the title “State urged to cut programs, staff.” I was reminded of a report from Americans for Tax Reform titled “Whatever the Question, the Answer is Not Raising Taxes.”

In the Sun-Times article, Laurence Msall from the Civic Federation is quoted as saying the following:

“Until the state closes the door on runaway spending, there’s no reason to believe more money will fix it or be of benefit to the taxpayers.”

“The first act must be to stop the digging. And to date, we haven’t seen evidence the state is ready to stop the digging.”

City Journal contributing editor Nicole Gelinas put it this way yesterday:

“It’s a golden hour for governors to make good decisions — finally — about how to spend finite money. If they don’t, they may pay for their own, and the federal government’s, bad decisions over and over again.”

Those of us in Illinois won’t be holding our breath regarding Mr. Pat Quinn & company.

Daily Herald report this week about a February statewide poll conducted by Zogby was titled “Poll finds no love for taxes, politicians who raise them.”

“If taxes must be raised to help control the state government’s estimated $9 billion budget deficit, which tax increase plan would you support?

– Increase the state income tax: 25.2 percent

– Expand the state’s sales tax to include a new tax on services: 13.4 percent

– Neither/other plan: 55.2 percent

– Not sure: 6.2 percent.”

A similar negative response was received when people were asked about raising the gasoline tax.

We’ll see if Illinois General Assembly Republicans will be inspired by these numbers.

“If you knew a member of the Illinois General Assembly who voted to increase taxes, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for them on Election Day, or would it make no difference?

– Much more likely: 1.9 percent

– Somewhat more likely: 3.4 percent

– Somewhat less likely: 15.5 percent

– Much less likely: 37.8 percent

– No difference: 32.2 percent

– Not sure: 9.2 percent.”

In a state that went for Obama by 25 points last year and hasn’t trusted Republicans with power for several years, it remains to be seen if voters will be presented with a viable alternative come 2010.

How many Americans right now understand that our federal and state governments are borrowing from our future to bail out and rescue people and companies that need to be allowed to go bankrupt?

Part of the challenge facing Republicans is overcoming what a Manhattan Institute article refers to as the rampant economic illiteracy on the part of the public.

“The upheavals in the financial markets have made us newly aware of how much depends on our financial security – and also how little most Americans understand about financial markets, or even personal finances.

It starts in our schools. Younger Americans are deplorably uninformed about economic and financial matters.

In 1999, researchers at the Securities and Exchange Commission concluded that 66 percent of high school seniors could not pass a basic economic literacy test. Things have not changed for the better since…

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has stated that financial literacy is “vital to the future of our economy” and called for improved financial education. American parents agree – 76 percent say schools should be required to teach money management.”

America public schools and even colleges and universities, the report said, have done little to address this sorry situation.

“No wonder that a 2008 Intercollegiate Studies Institute survey revealed stunning levels of economic ignorance among the American people as a whole. Only 16 percent could differentiate free markets from central government planning. Less than 30 percent understood the relationship between taxes and government spending, and less than 40 percent knew what sort of fiscal policy would produce economic stimulus.”

We certainly do know now, however, what demographic most of our elected officials come from:

“Students who can’t do basic math are not likely to make informed choices about spending, debt, investments or retirement planning. Students who do not understand money become adults who are financially irresponsible.”

Unfortunately, too many of them end up running on the Republican ballot line here in Illinois.

©2009 John F. Biver