The Late Great State of Illinois

January 9, 2019

by John McClaughry

A couple of months ago I read and cut out an article from the now extinct Weekly Standard, titled “The Late Great State of Illinois”. Writer Andrew Ferguson spent a couple of weeks in Illinois, and concluded there’s “dysfunction as far as the eye can see.”

This hit close to home for me, because I grew up in small town Illinois, and have fond memories of those years. When I took my daughters and grandson to visit my home town and meet cousins eight years ago, we sat on the deck of a home built on a cousin’s farm, looked out over thousands of acres of corn and soybeans, and rejoiced that these good people were reliably feeding America as they have for five generations.

Illinois is controlled by about seven counties, mainly Cook County, Chicago. The other 97 counties are Republican, but can’t overcome Chicago’s power, Democratic votes and endemic corruption.

Until this month the state was deadlocked between a Republican businessman governor and an overwhelming Democratic legislature. The overriding issue is state employee pensions, which the Democrats made untouchable in the state constitution. The state simply cannot support its pension load. 80% of a recent tax increase went straight to paying exorbitant pensions. With the election of a new Democratic governor, this problem will not be solved. How Illinois will end up, I don’t know, but I’ll shed many a tear for it. Or, for that matter, Vermont, if it goes on down that path.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen January 9, 2019 at 8:19 pm

If it’s bound to failure,Vermont has proven,time and again,sadly ,it will embrace it…


Carolyn Jo Sweatt January 10, 2019 at 1:11 am

Yes, I grew up in the same town and you are right!


Deanne January 12, 2019 at 2:26 am

Sad… 🙁


GDP January 12, 2019 at 10:17 am

The former ‘Republican’ governor was a close confidant of Mayor Emanuel! It doesn’t take a reading of AntiFederalist 10 (all of which are pertinent to a proper understanding of our constitutions) to see that a single party state, a sine qua non of socialism, leads to tyranny – after economic implosion. Vermont, the traditional bastion of American independence, having the first constitution truly established by freemen apart from any preceding ‘state’, colony or otherwise, is headed in that direction. Time to get back to our ‘non-immigrant’ roots and re-establish good order.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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