Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Honest Liars

Who has had an interest in “reforming” the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois and now has an interest in “reforming” the State University Retirement System instead of addressing the causes of the state’s pension and revenue debts?

Who often writes and influences the laws by which the Illinois government operates? Who will profit from pension reform and free up the cash flow and increase its profit margin in Illinois? The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, et al.  Whose retirement pension will also be “diminished and impaired” possibly without a fight to preserve its original constitutional guarantee? The members of the State University Retirement System.

“…Proposals for solving the pension funding crisis have advanced in the early stages of the legislative session but the Governor and lawmakers continue to seek a consensus solution. The package of steps described in ‘Six Simple Steps: Reforming the Illinois State University Retirement System’ is a viable option for SURS, the university presidents and chancellors agreed…

“The six points of the plan are as follows:

• Change the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) to link it to the consumer price index.
• Rationalize administrative rules for calculating the rate of interest used to determine a range of benefits, refunds and service credits that is set each year by the SURS Board and the State Comptroller.
• Over time shift responsibility for paying a portion of the annual pension cost of SURS to universities and colleges.
• Increase contributions by Tier I participants from 8 percent to 10 percent of pay over a two-year period in exchange for granting the appropriate legal rights to participants to hold the state accountable for its funding commitments.
• Require the state to agree to a schedule of payments to steadily reduce SURS' unfunded liability.
• Replace the Tier II plan for new employees with a new "hybrid" plan for new employees that combines features of both defined-benefit and defined-contribution programs…”

–Robert A. Easter, president of the University of Illinois
and current member of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago

What is the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago? Today it is a group of businessmen that attempts to maintain and improve its membership’s financial privileges while creating conflict in the public at large through controlling and buying policymakers and media to mold public opinion.

The Civic Committee’s tactics include convincing the shrinking middle class that the reason why “Illinois is broke” is the public pension systems.  The Civic Committee’s stratagems consist of deflecting attention away from their avaricious profiteering and arrogant elitism; keeping public employees divided by attacking each group separately; diverting class conflict by turning the middle class upon itself through use of such rhetorical devices as faulty cause and effect, distraction (red herring), selected instances, slogans, causal oversimplifications, and non sequitur; its appeals are to fear, ignorance, and bias commonly found on its obverse group’s website (Illinois Is Broke). Its schemes include using its own membership to challenge the Illinois and U.S. Constitutions and to compile reports and analyses disguised as impartial data (Sidley Austin LLP). The group is known to lobby and intimidate legislators in downstate meetings to make laws in the interests of the wealthy and powerful few. The Civic Committee has one major objective: profit.

What is the Civic Committee’s plan for all Illinois teachers? The Civic Committee plans to address the state’s budget deficit in the interests of big business by destroying the teachers’ defined-benefit pension plan and maintain control of the economic and political policies of state and municipal governments; they plan to redistribute money away from the public employees’ defined-benefit pension plans and to their private interests and profits by proposing an unsecured, non-guaranteed financial option called a defined-contribution plan and rendering the present defined-benefit plan unaffordable. Besides cleverly disguising its economic terrorism against public employees, the Civic Committee’s manipulation and exploitation of all citizens of Illinois closely rival the history and spirit of conniving capitalism. 

Such is the case in the State of Illinois where the government is held hostage by affluent and influential “special interests” (to protect the riches of the state’s wealthy ruling class); where money not only influences the General Assembly’s decision-making policies but generates and perpetuates falsehoods and economic inequality; where both the republican and democratic parties have become corrupted by briberies (campaign funding) made legal; and by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, in particular, that can manipulate the state’s politicians without consequences, set the legislative agenda, and hoodwink and oppress an oblivious populace and even some of the state’s public employees. 

There are no equal rights when there is inequity of wealth and when promises are made to support and to preserve the fortunes of a few at the expense and victimization of the many. Substantial amounts of money affect the ability and the will of our state legislators to make ethical decisions. It is the preservation of corporate profit that motivates legislators to believe “pension reform” (or the breaking of a constitutional contract) is the means for reducing the state’s future budget deficit.  In the attempt to pass “pension reform” bills through both the House and Senate, it is evident legislators and profit seekers who support them do not care about the consequences they will inflict upon the lives of teachers and other public employees in Illinois. 

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