Editorial: Is it time for Crain's Chicago Business to change its name?
You'd think a publication with a name like “Crain's Chicago Business” would be a booster for free enterprise and limited government, but you'd be wrong.
Crain's, in fact, is a staunch supporter of crony capitalism and effectively a defender of the political malfeasance that has brought Illinois to the brink of bankruptcy. It might more accurately be called “Crain's Chicago Government.”
Not only has it failed, over many years, to offer consistent and constructive criticism of the way politics has undermined our state's economy. It has chastised others who do so.
Two examples will suffice to make the point.
Over the course of his 20 years with Crain's, political columnist Greg Hinz ignored the impending public pension crisis that now has come to a head. That is, he ignored it until gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner promised to address the problem if elected. From that point on, Hinz made it his mission to snipe at Rauner's reform proposals and, subsequently, his efforts to implement them.
“Much as it stings, you don't always win,” Hinz hectored in one of his snarkier columns, addressed directly to the governor. “When the price of a deal is just too high to ever pay off, you're better off letting it go.”
A second example: Crain's went positively postal in their response to a June 21 Wall Street Journal commentary criticizing Rauner's “capitulation” to House Speaker Mike Madigan and the tax-addicted Democrats in the state legislature who are obstructing his reform efforts, urging the nation's leading business paper to “drop dead.”
Yet, the Journal's criticisms were incisive – and made necessary by the persistent refusal of publications like Crain's to offer such criticisms themselves.
The Crain eds insist that “the only responsible way Illinois is going to dig itself out of its mega-billion-dollar fiscal hole and operate sustainably in the future is to raise additional revenue while also paring expenses.”
This, of course, is the approach that has served as a default position for years on end, except for the “paring expenses” part, which is never given anything but lip service.
The Journal's recommendations “may have merit down the road,” the Crain's board concedes, “but have little to do with resolving the immediate crisis before us.”
Ah, yes. That's always the response from people invested in the status quo. The steps that really need to be taken, the things that could really make a difference, must always be dismissed as unrealistic at this precise moment and postponed indefinitely.
The Journal simply, and sensibly, focused on the “unrestrained tax-and-spend political culture that drives more people out of the state and pension liabilities ever upward,” pointing out that Rauner's fallback position “includes almost none of the reforms Illinois desperately needs to compete with neighboring states and repair its fisc. It includes nothing on right-to-work and little workers’ compensation reform. It doesn’t give local governments the collective-bargaining reforms they need and it fails to solve the state’s $130 billion or so in unfunded pension liabilities.”
For the Crainiacs, this spot-on critique is some kind of wild-eyed fanaticism. Their more sober approach is to keep driving toward the same cliff at the same speed.
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