Looting

The pension deal that former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley worked out for himself is quite the cause célèbre here. Tribune columnist John Kass comments:

While many taxpayers are worried about bleak retirement futures, Mayor Richard Daley is cashing in on a quiet and outrageous political maneuver from years ago that allows him to collect a fantastic public pension of more than $180,000 a year.

And as your lips tingle, consider this.

As he left office last year, Daley was smooched repeatedly by official Chicago and many in the news media as the city’s benevolent father figure. It was an orgy of public love as the self-avowed champion of taxpayers reminded us that the cost of government was too high for the people to bear.

What we didn’t know then was that Daley was running from the barnyard with meat in his teeth.

He did that pension deal on the sneak, just a couple of years into his mayoralty. Though he’d been out of the Legislature for a decade, he was allowed to quietly re-enter the legislative pension plan for a single month. This cynical maneuver boosted his pension by about $50,000 a year and allowed him to avoid paying $400,000 into the plan, Tribune/WGN-TV investigators found.

If you think people are merely angry, you’re wrong. They’re seething. The cops and the teachers, the firefighters and the city workers, and the taxpayers who bankroll it all — they consider him a hypocrite.

“People are raw with anger, that’s all they’ve been talking about is the Tribune story,” said a lobbyist who’s been working at City Hall for decades. “They’re just raw with it. It’s like the parking meter deal. $180,000 a year pension after all the money the Daleys made? For life? That’s overkill.”

No, it’s looting. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if I were king the Illinois legislature would not have the power to vote pensions for any elected or appointed Illinois public employee and the Congress would not have the power to vote pensions for any elected or appointed federal employee. The mayor of Chicago’s salary would be capped at three standard deviations above the median Chicago wage and all other Chicago public employees would receive less than the mayor by statute; the governor of Illinois’s salary would be capped at three standard deviations above the median income in the state and wages for all state public employees would be receive less than that by state; the president of the U. S.’s salary would be capped at three standard deviations above the median U. S. wage, etc.

Without his family connections and the political clout that went along with them and not being a graduate of a top law school Richie Daley would have been lucky to have topped out at $50,000 a year as a lawyer. That he should receive $180,000 per year, year in and year out, in a city where the median family income is $38,000 is unconsionable. It’s unsupportable. It is offensive.

Note that I have no objection to the mayor making $1 million a year or more. But it should be by bringing the city along with him in growing wealthy rather than by looting it.

While I’m on the subject, how do people think that Illinois will escape its fiscal mess? Since passing the tax hike last year, the number of people employed in Illinois has dropped sharply. Total incomes are still rising but not as fast as taxes are, cf. here and here. Are more taxes really the answer? Or is the only solution a change in the way the state does business?

27 comments… add one
  • Drew

    And people wonder why I’m a cynic and small government advocate. This stuff is rampant, for anyone with an IQ over 80 and eyes open…………..or perhaps just a basic grasp of reality. But I guess there is just nowhere to cut government without harming “the children.”

    I’m just a nihilist, I guess.

    By the way. This ain’t new news. But much like Obama, Daley had this nudge and a wink relationship with the media, the political establishment……..and his voting support……shameful. Indefensible and shameful. Advocate the “correct views” and you can be Don Corleone as far as people care.

  • michael reynolds

    You realize that if you were king you’d be King David? Don’t you think that might be a lot to carry?

  • Icepick

    “People are raw with anger, that’s all they’ve been talking about is the Tribune story.”

    I bet that nothing comes from all this raw, seething anger. They’ll go to the polls next election and elect all the same scumbags that are running for re-election, and when no one is running for re-election they’ll vote for the same jerks their party machine tells them to vote for.

    Hell, I bet that if Daley ran again he’d win. And you folks SHOULD vote for him if he does. You’re already paying him, may as well get some work out of him!

  • When I was a kid I was very much impressed by the story in 1Kings 5-12:

    5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.

    6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

    7 And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

    8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

    9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

    10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

    11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;

    12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

    That has guided how I’ve tried to live my life. I have tried to avoid being David, a man of anger, which is my nature. I have tried to be Solomon.

  • Icepick

    While I’m on the subject, how do people think that Illinois will escape its fiscal mess?

    I don’t believe that it will.

  • Drew

    “While I’m on the subject, how do people think that Illinois will escape its fiscal mess? Since passing the tax hike last year, the number of people employed in Illinois has dropped sharply. Total incomes are still rising but not as fast as taxes are, cf. here and here. ”

    I know the song was in a different context, but……”Back home again, in Indiana…………” or how ’bout this? “Indiana wants me, lord I cant go back there……..”

  • I’d be mad too. The question is, will the people of Chicago do anything about it?

  • steve

    I am not sure how small government would stop this. We need better government to stop this stuff. I think requiring government workers to be in defined contribution plans like everyone else would help. I find it odd that this is not being pushed for anywhere that I know of.

    Steve

  • Drew

    “The question is, will the people of Chicago do anything about it?”

    I seriously doubt it. Rationality and political philosophy rarely intersect. See: Michael Reynolds.

  • PD Shaw

    steve, the pensions are largely funded by the contributions of current employees. If the current employees started paying into their own defined contribution plan (which I think might be an option in Illinois), the pensions would go broke quicker.

    I think there needs to be seed money to make the transition, and state/local governments don’t have it. I believe I suggested here that this would be a good federal initiative, but some might interpret that as me trying to get the feds to bail out Illinois.

  • michael reynolds

    I’m just a nihilist, I guess.

    You are so self-pitying. Good grief. It’s all huffy, beleaguered, hurt feelings and whininess with you. For a guy who supposedly has a good life you don’t seem very happy. Here, for inspiration: https://twitter.com/#!/thefayz/status/197816897176207360/photo/1

    See how happy that guy is? Get yourself a hammock.

  • Drew

    “We need better government to stop this stuff.”

    Waiting for Godot.

  • Drew

    “You are so self-pitying. Good grief. It’s all huffy, beleaguered, hurt feelings and whininess with you. For a guy who supposedly has a good life you don’t seem very happy.”

    Blah, blah, blah. Congratulations on your newly minted psychiatry degree. My handicap is down to 4 again. After four herniated or degenerative discs and two surgeries when it went to infinity, thats not bad. Won the last two significant events at our club. Golf is back. Happy. Family healthy. Arizona bound. Portfolio in good shape.

    Daughter in great school. Another movie role, by the way. If she’s happy, I’m happy.

    I don’t play psychiatrist, even though I stayed in a Holiday Inn last night, but I do believe by your own admission you need to look in the mirror on this subject. Provided that cue ball doesn’t blind you……..

    Before you go berserk. Joke. Snark. Wisecrack, just having fun….relax, have a Talisker…..

  • I have to admit that the “conversation” between Drew, Michael and Icepick never gets old for me – always some good cracks to make me chuckle!

  • michael reynolds

    Actually, I was sampling the Old Pulteny last night . . . interestingly salty, not peaty enough for you, probably, but I rather liked it.

    Tonight Henry McKenna Bourbon. Big vanilla toffee nose, lovely dark color, but the 100 proof burn is too much to allow appreciation of a lot of subtlety.

  • michael reynolds

    Drew:

    And congrats to the daughter!

  • michael reynolds

    Andy:

    It’s all about the love.

  • Drew

    At the risk of being too crude – but then, I worked in a steel mill – or exorcising the spam filter….

    In the great words of the Harvey Keitel character in Pulp Fiction, ‘The Wolf’…..”before we start suckin’ each others dicks, we’ve still got some work to do….”

  • Drew

    Andy

    It ain’t about the love. Its just sport mixed in with the politics.

    What’s a mother to do?

  • Icepick

    I have to admit that the “conversation” between Drew, Michael and Icepick never gets old for me – always some good cracks to make me chuckle!

    I hope you’re being snarky. If not, seek help.

    PS, Drew and Michael neveer stop talking about alcohol, yet they always acuse ME of being drunk. I have been on a bender recently, though. In the last month I tripled my alcohol consumption for the year. I’m now up to six beers consumed for the year. Shameful!

  • Icepick

    Hey, what about that employment report? 522,000 people dropped out of the labor force! Happy daze are here again! Recovery Summer III, mutha-fuckas! (I can’t wait for Idiot Joe to hit the campaign trail with that slogan.) Obama by acclamation in November as we head towards 0.0% unemployment! (I can’t wait for Michael to explain to me how this is all the fault of racist Republicans….)

  • Icepick

    I see from Mish that the numbers are worse than I thought:

    This month was another disaster. Actual employment fell by 169,000 and the only reason the unemployment rate dropped is the civilian labor force fell by 342,000.

    So the number of unemployed people actually went UP last month! I just need to start ignoring the Establishment Survey numbers entirely….

  • I hope you’re being snarky. If not, seek help.

    Guess I need help then. You three are pretty good when it comes to witty insults.

  • Icepick

    Greeat, now you’ve just ruined it for me. Now there are expectations….

  • Icepick

    An oldie but a goodie from the Gaffe-o-matic:

    Biden said he “got in trouble” for his prediction last month of job growth. “Even some in the White House said, ‘Hey, don’t get ahead of yourself,’ ” he said at a Pennsylvania fundraiser, according to a pool report. “Well, I’m here to tell you, some time in the next couple of months, we’re going to be creating between 250,000 jobs a month and 500,000 jobs a month.

    “We caught a lot of bad breaks on the way down,” Biden added. “We’re going to catch a few good breaks because of good planning on the way up.”

    Shut the fuck up, Joey!

  • Greeat, now you’ve just ruined it for me. Now there are expectations….

    I’m sorry, but that doesn’t quite meet the standard. Could you turn it up a notch please?

  • michael reynolds

    Ice:

    Interesting news item the other day that Biden is not invited to major campaign strategy sessions. It would be very interesting if Biden suddenly decided to spend more time with his family. I don’t think that’s likely, but someone must have brought it up at one of those meetings. If Hillary came in for Biden it would be game over for Romney.

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