Yes, it's true, these are troubled times for the state of Illinois. Our neighbor across the river is currently $12 billion in debt. Nearly half of that (OK, $5.01 billion) is owed to schools, rehabilitation centers and the state university.
But really, is it necessary to advertise the fact that the state's in trouble by instituting sin taxes? Isn't Rod Blagojevich embarrassment enough? (The Cubs, dear Keegan, don't qualify as a statewide embarrassment since they owe their ongoing futility to a curse, and besides, at least half the state's baseball fans root for the Cards or the White Sox and therefore rejoice whenever the Cubs lose.)
Even if you're sinking in debt, even if you're running the risk of closing schools and putting thousands of people out of work, even if welfare services can't stay open because they're dependent on state funds that haven't arrived, there's one thing that matters more: Dignity.
It's a damned pity that pesky New York Times had to advertise the state's woes. And, really, what was comptroller Dan Hynes thinking, complaining to a reporter? (You can lose your job that way! Just look at Stanley McChrystal.)
Better to make like Barbara Flynn Currie, a state Democratic leader, who said, "In the long run, we'll muddle our way through."
And muddling means not sinking to the desperate levels of a state like Nevada. Does anyone really want the whole state of Illinois to be like Alton or Sauget or, heaven forbid, East St. Louis? Is it necessary for Illinois to put out the red light, so to speak?
Representative Currie is right! Eventually, this terrible recession will end and money will start flowing through Illinois again, but how will anybody be able to stem the tide of titty bars and riverboat casinos and the blight upon the state's reputation? What's next, legalized prostitution? And what will people think of a state that institutes a cigarette ban only to repeal it five short years later?
By refusing to sink to the level of sin (and collecting related taxes), Illinois can redeem its reputation as a crooked and corrupt state and regain its dignity. Then money will surely follow! (Now if only Blago would just shut up...)
Read Part 1 here.