December 25, 2016


Census Says U.S. Population Grew at Lowest Rate Since Great Depression This Year (JANET ADAMY and  PAUL OVERBERG, Dec. 20, 2016, WSJ)

An uptick in deaths, a slowdown in births and a slight drop in immigration all damped American population growth for the year ended July 1. The 0.7% increase, to 323.1 million, was the smallest on record since 1936-37, according to William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

The figures show Americans continue to leave the North for Western states, with Utah, Nevada, Idaho and several others in that region topping the country in percentage growth. Besides New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois also shrunk in notable ways, with the land of Lincoln losing more people than any other state.

Madiganistan : How House Speaker Michael Madigan helped ruin Illinois (Daniel DiSalvo, Autumn 2016, City Journal)

Illinois currently holds the dubious distinction of being the most fiscally derelict state in America. In 2015, Moody's downgraded Illinois' general-obligation bonds from A3 to Baa1, the lowest ranking among the 50 states. The state's pension systems are only 40 percent funded, the worst ratio in the country. Forbes rated Illinois' business climate 38th among states last year. Chicago, the state's economic engine, has been cratering under the weight of huge pension costs, and had to enact a $500 million property-tax increase last year. In addition, Chicago's schools are in crisis, and--most disturbing of all--the city has watched its crime rate explode. The migration rate out of Illinois over the last five years has been the highest of any state.

Digging so deep a fiscal and economic hole takes effort. Many people doubtless share some of the culpability. But if one person should be singled out as responsible for Illinois' political and economic mess, it would be House Speaker Madigan. Unlike Rauner, who just arrived on the political scene, Madigan is at the heart of Illinois' political establishment. Chicago magazine has long ranked him among the "most powerful" people in the Windy City.

Madigan, 74, has been involved in electoral politics for 43 years and has served as speaker of the Illinois House for 31 of those--making him the longest-serving state house speaker in U.S. history. His duties hardly stop there. He is also the chairman of the state Democratic Party, a partner in Chicago's most successful property-tax law firm, and--last, but not least--a committeeman for Chicago's 13th Ward, a post he has held since he was 27. These four positions and their associated networks of patronage appointees, legislative staffers, corporate lobbyists, campaign donors, industry clients, and family members are what some in Illinois refer to as "Madiganistan" or the "Madigan industrial complex."

Posted by at December 25, 2016 9:31 AM