I have a message for those who believe things can't get worse.. YES THEY CAN!!
I’m gonna fire up the Delorean to 88 MPH and go back to the future to Illinois 2019. Here’s what I saw:
There was a fake budget made up of tax increases and borrowing. The borrowing was so expensive and few came to lend money that the state was virtually bankrupted. By the end of 2017 schools closed. Private education picked up the slack as people scrambled but money stopped. Lottery winnings were never paid. Mass layoffs began accelerated by the fact that people no longer were being paid. Essential services like police and fire were cut and cut and cut. What was truly essential was discovered. It was less than we knew. Nothing was repaid, the machine broke down.
Public buildings (State) lost heat and air conditioning. Utilities would no longer could wait for payment. All road construction and repair ceased. Detours were the only way around. Soon that became impossible. Streetlights went dark at night. Traffic signals if they broken were not repaired. 4 Way Stop was the new norm everywhere.
Hospitals and nursing homes began to close or cut. Only the most essential services were provided. Unless you had money, you got no care. Federal money came for a few things like the veterans administration. The policing done in the city of Chicago was mostly done by military some even federal. The posse comitatus law was set aside in the emergency.
Public employee unions fighting to retain pensions for teachers and other employees settled on a bond in lieu. Since there was no more money to pay pensions, they accepted bonds that paid high interest but were only redeemable when the state was able to pay. Many tried to factor these thru J G Wentworth and such found that the confidence in the state to pay made these bonds almost worthless.
There were masses of lawsuits against every form of government, yet without avail. No matter the award, there was no money to pay. All awards due people from the past were left unpaid.
Meanwhile the exit from the state accelerated so rapidly that cities and counties found empty houses without buyers via tax lien. Squatters and vandalism began to spread throughout. No police and no fire fighters to stem the tide. Vigilantism increased but without a system for prosecution and with sympathies for the offended, it was ignored.
There were riots, but against who? Marches, bullhorns, demands…. All on empty ears with empty pockets. People began begging. There was compassion but it soon became apparent that the real enemy was greed.
With the increase in violence, the corruption that follows in these vacuums, the gangsterism that expands, the lawlessness, regular people fled. There were places that would receive them. But it was grapes of wrath kind of fleeing.
Attempts to collect taxes from the population failed. Even sales taxes failed as the barter system expanded. There was virtually no money to do anything. No money to even pay the interest on the junk bonds the state was able to find.
Electricity stayed on for those who could pay. In small government offices there was power enough for basic services. Gas as well. Garbage pickup all went private as the cities no longer had money to pay to provide services. It piled up in front of places like government offices when they were not paid.
People’s lives went on but without any capacity to depend on anything from the government. No Medicaid, no state welfare. It all closed down.
The Thompson Center a showpiece in downtown Chicago was abandoned for lack of repair and the inability to pay for heat and air conditioning.
The streets of Chicago and several other towns and cities in the state with those most dependant upon government largess in the past became worse war zones than they had been.
Basic licensing stopped. Car licensing and drivers License dispersal became a thing of the past. People were no longer willing to pay for a tag at $100 each when there was almost no chance of being caught.
As it hit the bottom of the barrel, a strongman mobster rose up and promised to fix everything. It was an empty promise. There was no hope. By the fall of 2019 President Trump and the all republican congress authorized complete bankruptcy for the state. It was the first time but it set a pattern. The bond holders (read that public employee pensioners) were left in the cold. So were those foolish enough to buy the junk bonds. All lottery payments were canceled. Bankruptcies on a personal basis skyrocketed for those who thought working for the state was a gravy train. All state public officials were fired at once. They could reapply for the job they had, but at less money and at zero benefits. Many didn’t. They self selected out. Public Service was becoming public service.
All income taxes were eliminated since they were uncollectable. Sales tax stayed in force. A fuel tax was added. Property taxes were cut by ¾ in order to commence collecting them once again. People had stopped paying them. All corporate taxes were eliminated.
The wasteland that Illinois had become was coming back to life.. slowly. There was no more state government. No legislators, not a governor. A few administrative offices, but very few. It was administered by the federal government as a bankruptcy trustee. It wasn’t desired but it was necessary. Those cities like Chicago that were unsustainable (as Detroit was) also came under federal oversight.
I drove 88 MPH once more and found this:
In 2024 as the state was to improve there were statewide elections once more. Voter ID and Registration were become far more stringent. With the need to restore the state to solvency and begin the process of wooing back those who took their businesses and left the state back home, drastic measures were required.
All public unions including teachers unions were outlawed until 2034. After that as a right to work state (Which Illinois became) and with education by voucher only, no pubic education except a level of reform school for those deemed uneducable, and most public services now privatized, the state began the slow crawl back. Working for the state truly became public service once again. All representative and senatorial offices were paid only a tiny stipend.
Someday maybe I can fire up the DeLorean and go further forward.