Nov 23, 2015
Illinois claims to have a deep budget crisis because of the pensions of teachers and state workers. Chicago’s newspapers have been printing headline after headline, editorial after editorial, calling for cuts to pensions in order to keep the state solvent. They admit the state didn’t put in its share for years, state workers and teachers don’t get Social Security, and state workers put in years of service. But, they say, Illinois just can’t afford their pensions!
But this whole anti-pension attack is a piece of propaganda orchestrated by some of the richest people in Illinois. In 2010, the Chicago Commercial Club started a fake organization called “Illinois is Broke.” According to the Commercial Club website, “Illinois is Broke” has “driven a constant drumbeat of newspaper editorials” calling for cuts to pensions.
So who are these people and why do they care about pensions? The Commercial Club has been a club of the richest Chicagoans for more than 100 years. It has always been anti-union, anti-worker, and anti-tax – at least for the rich.
Lester Crown and Eden Martin put out the Commercial Club’s main “report” calling for the attacks on Illinois pensions. This report gave “Illinois is Broke” its ammunition. According to Forbes, the Crown family is the 27th richest family in the U.S., with a net worth of almost nine billion dollars, and Lester is the family patriarch. Eden Martin is a rich corporate lawyer who serves on the boards of directors of the Chicago Board Options Exchange and Nicor Gas – two huge companies that have pushed for help from the state and local government repeatedly in recent years.
These are not “disinterested observers” – they are the super-rich, who want to cut pensions so that more of the state’s wealth can be funneled to themselves. No one should believe their propaganda. Illinois is not broke – we just have to get the money out of these rich liars!