In the crazy world in which we live, a blog looking to make sense of it all.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Misadventures Of The Illinois Legislature

If things were not as serious, Springfield and one particular residence in the Chicago area would be a comedy of errors. I'm talking of course about our state leadership; or lack thereof.

For starters, we have a governor who refuses to pay current state bills, though I don't know where they'd find the money anyway. This governor is hellbent on raising taxes through a gross receipts tax, a scheme which does not sound very fair, that would pass higher costs onto consumers, runs the risk of loss of jobs, employee benefits and/or businesses leaving Illinois altogether. The governor claims that this new tax will raise over $7 billion, but he doesn't want to use that money, if it actually materializes, to pay current bills and obligations. No, he wants new spending programs!

Down in Springfield, the legislature did show some common sense and Overwhelmingly (with a capital "O") voted down this insane tax scheme. Unfortunately, the common sense stops there. From poor law created 10 years ago, Illinois residents and businesses are struggling with skyrocketing electric rates. Meanwhile, our lawmakers drag their feet on the problem and bicker amongst themselves. Our governor has displayed remarkable leadership on the problem by publicly stating, in so many words, that the state legislature needs to bring him a bill and that he will sign it.

But no, our state lawmakers are spending more time dealing with smoking ban laws. Most places are already smoke free, including many restaurants. Several cities already have smoking bans in place. So while millions of Illinoisans are paying outrageous electricity rates, the legislature feels it more imported to curb the tobacco use in public places. Guess this is why I'm not a law maker; I would have though the electricity issue would take priority. Huh?

And while on the topic, our great legislature is wanting to exempt casinos from the smoking ban. Let me get this straight; they are saying that restaurants and bars and private clubs such as the VFW are public places, but yet they want to make it legal to smoke in a casino? Isn't a casino then a public place? All we have to do is follow the money. The state will lose a lot of tax revenue if it kicks out all those smoking, slot machine playing taxpayers. So I guess they really don't care about our health. What about the tax revenue loss from loss tavern patronage? What about the loss in tax revenue in tobacco sales from those who quit smoking because it's become too much of a hassle?

The misadventures continue. In today's Peoria Journal Star, an Associated Press story accounts how Illinois lawmakers are defending the exorbitant costs to refurbish the statehouse. They have spent $20 thus far, but I'm sure they're not done yet. Of the refurbishment includes $950 urinals and a total of 25 door knobs, at $405 each, that bears the seal of the state of Illinois.

According to the AP/Journal Star:

Legislative leaders, however, defend the expenditures. Two Chicago
Democrats, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senete President Emil Jones, are
overseeing the work. And a Madigan spokesman, Steve Brown, explained that
historical renovations are expensive.

You know, we are not refurbishing the Abraham Lincoln home. We're trying to fix up a place for our leaders to do the people's business. Since when did urinals become "historical?" And a bigger question, where is the state finding the money to do all this?

Common Sense of it All: This state is in sorry shape and we as voters need to raise our voice, and cast sensable ballots in '08 and '10.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Another Peoria Murder

Eight murders in Peoria in just the first trimester of 2007. At this rate we’ll have 24 murders by years end. When growing up in Peoria, a murder was somewhat rare. Now they are becoming all too commonplace. We need to ask ourselves why this is happening and what can be done about it. First, why is this happening.

First and foremost, the reason this is happening can be summed up in one word; drugs. Drugs along with gang activity are a large part to the violence that is spiking in Peoria. Another reason for these crimes stems from poor parenting and, for lack of a least abrasive term, a “ghetto-culture.”

Kids and small children today are inundated with this “ghetto-culture,” the likes of rap and hip-hop music videos, video games, dress styles, etc. A generation or two ago, parents were upset with the new rock and roll music and the personalities of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. They thought rock music was some sort of devil music and did not care for their rebellious attitudes and long hair. But this is just a bit different than today. Look at the songs from these rap and hip-hop artists. There is nothing wrong with the style of this music (though it’s not my taste), it’s the subject matter. They depict violence, gang activity and sexual innuendo and degradation of women. There are actual songs about cop killing. Kids, as impressionable as they are, are exposed to this and want to emulate it.

While Elvis and the Beatles may have not been the perfect role models as they too had their share of drug incidents, their songs were more about peace and love. Also another difference, there were parents back then who intervened in this and taught their children that some of these activities were bad. This is where parents are needed, to teach children morals, the right from wrong, to teach them to respect others, to teach them responsibility and that there are consequences to their actions. When I was young and growing up in a “nuclear family,” the two biggest things I was taught to avoid were jail and welfare. Not today. Kids watch all this shit on cable TV and the Internet with little or no parental supervision. There are small children who believe that prison is nothing but a kind of gym where you play basketball. These kids are exposed to drug deals going on in their home, they stay up late at night, witness domestic fights and violence and other inappropriate activity. They grow up thinking this is the norm. So how do you think they will behave once they are on their own? This has been going on for some time now.

So what’s the solution? That’s harder to answer than figuring out what causes the problem. Implementing some of my ideas would probably prove even tougher to do.

1.) Good prosecutors to put these violent criminals away for a long time in facilities that are not very pleasant, to say the least.

2.) More cops wouldn’t be a bad thing.

3.) Take out the basketball hoops and weight lifting sets in prisons and replace them with leg irons for chain gangs. A lot of these criminals are lazy and the idea of work scares them; this is one of the reasons they turn to crime is they don’t have to do an honest day’s work. Once word gets out that prison isn’t just 3 meals a day and basketball and that hard labor is involved, they might think twice before doing the crime. They might realize it is a place to be avoided.

4.) Kids need to be taught that many of the images being depicted in the “ghetto-culture” are wrong. Since we can’t legally mandate parents to teach their children morals, we can educate children the right and wrong of many things in school, TV, etc., that they should avoid doing drugs and getting involved in crime. Teach then that going to jail is a bad thing, that it’s not fun and should be avoided. Does anybody remember when “Officer Friendly” came to visit your classroom?

These solutions won’t fix it all, but might be a good start.

Common Sense of it All: In 1992, I couldn’t stand to see Dan Quayle talking about family values. But more and more, it’s beginning to make a bit more sense to me now. If you raise bad kids, or fail to raise good kids, nine times out of ten, they’ll turn out to be bad people. Could Dan Quayle be right, that family values do matter?