Wednesday, May 30, 2012

“Responsibility” according to the Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan

“There is a concept in America that we all strive to live under which is called responsibility, responsibility for our actions. And when one person can spend money and send the bill to somebody else, that’s not responsible; that’s not responsibility; that’s un-American” –M. Madigan

How should we respond to Madigan’s “concept in America that we all strive to live under...” when he wants the state’s policymakers to shift the "responsibility" of the state’s debts to public employees and other taxpayers and their school districts? Is that responsible?

Madigan’s new definition of “responsibility” is about sacrificing teachers and other public employees. It is about a disregard for active and retired teachers’ dignity, about betrayal and indifference and not honoring a legal and moral commitment and "responsibility." 

What really matters for Madigan and his cronies is the elimination of the state’s pension payments (at any cost) and not a reform of the state’s inequitable and unbalanced revenue system and pension debt problems.

Madigan’s new definition of “responsibility” is about coercing teachers and other public employees to make an unconstitutional choice or lose the modest, non-guaranteed state’s health insurance subsidy and creditable earnings in retirement.  

It entails establishing an inefficient Cash Balance Plan, a 401 (k) scheme that is profitable for pension-consulting companies and employers, contract and pension lawyers and actuaries, but is not as profitable and cost-effective as the constitutionally-guaranteed defined-benefit pension plan.

Madigan’s new definition of “responsibility” involves a deliberately vague and ambiguous legislation that would have diminished Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, even though there are better legal and moral alternatives that do not violate the Pension Protection Clause, such as the ability to raise money through revenue restructuring so the State of Illinois can pay its debts responsibly.

Madigan’s new definition of “responsibility” maintains the wealthiest people among us who do not pay tax rates commensurate with their incomes, and it supports tax breaks for large corporations.

Madigan’s new definition of “responsibility” also means sustaining the unethical “winner-take-all” economy for the wealthy egomaniacs among us at the expense of everyone else; thus, it means scapegoating teachers, other public employees and retirees by legislators who align their interests with those who want laws passed that preserve their concentrated economic privilege and power.

And when Madigan says, “When one person can spend money and send the bill to somebody else, that’s not responsible; that’s not responsibility; that’s un-American,” that is precisely what Madigan and all the General Assemblies he has controlled have done throughout the past decades. 

How incongruous is this declaration by a politician who callously exploits his power, resources and sycophantic loyalists? How ironical is his so-called "reform" bill that will force the state's public employees and other middle-class taxpayers to pay for debts that were the result of political and ethical corruption during his protracted tenure as Speaker of the House? 

-Glen Brown

Read also Like So-Called "Pension Reform": It's Quite Simple 


  1. Bible Dictionary

    Hypocrite definition:
    one who puts on a mask and feigns himself to be what he is not; a dissembler in religion. Our Lord severely rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16). "The hypocrite's hope shall perish" (Job 8:13). The Hebrew word here rendered "hypocrite" rather means the "godless" or "profane," as it is rendered in Jer. 23:11, i.e., polluted with crimes.
    Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
    Ken Previti