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In this political environment where Republican hostage taking is all the rage, Illinois corporations are now regularly taking their employee's jobs hostage as they demand tax breaks from the state. This brand of economic terrorism goes like this:

On Thursday, it was the Chicago Board Options Exchange suggesting that higher corporate taxes in Illinois could cause it to take jobs out of state. The CBOE’s warning came a day after CME Group Inc. said the same thing. CME owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.

The options market, with its headquarters and trading floor at 400 S. La Salle, employs about 580 people, not including traders who use its facilities.

A CBOE spokesman said in a statement that “economic realities” could force a move, although it prefers to stay put.

Would it really surprise you that CBOE and CME's economic realities aren't doing so poorly? Take the jump...

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On Friday I wrote about the push by Republican Leader Tom Cross and Speaker Madigan, with the full support of the Commercial Club of Chicago, to violate the Illinois Constitution by passing a bill that would kill off public pensions in Illinois. Today, Madigan pulled the bill due to overwhelming and unprecedented push back:

Efforts to make government workers pay more toward their pensions were pushed off the Illinois Legislature’s spring agenda and onto its fall calendar Monday, handing public-employee unions an important, though potentially temporary, victory.

More reaction after the jump...

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Article VIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution states the following in plain language regarding pensions of public workers like teachers, police and firefighters in Illinois:

Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.

Yet SB512, a bill that would increase pension deductions by 50-100% for these hard working public employees, leaving open the possibility to raise them again every three years until public pensions are destroyed, is being rammed through the Illinois House despite furious opposition from labor unions.

The following is some background, some facts, and some action from a teacher's perspective...

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So a long term research study finds that students who can't read well by third-grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school than their proficient peers. If you're a Republican in New Jersey pushing budget cuts what should you do? Cut funding for day care for poor kids, silly. It seems for Republicans the best way to spend education dollars is to decry our failing public education system while undercutting the programs that research shows have the greatest impact on long term student achievement as too costly and unfair.

Follow me after the jump, and we'll look at how Republicans in New Jersey are throwing their children's future under bus because "the constitution doesn't require it" despite some new research that underscores just how costly these cuts will be in the long term.

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Although this will come as a shock, offering incentives to teachers for increased student achievement - a concept referred to as "merit pay" - doesn't seem to produce the results the "reformers" said it would. In fact, according to a recently released study by the Harvard economist Roland Fryer, merit pay actually often hurt student performance rather than increasing it.

I know. You're surprised. Try to hold back your astonishment enough to make the jump and I'll explain.

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Today Bill Gates, an obvious expert on education due to his background in education experience as a teacher billions of dollars, has written an op-ed in today's Washington Post entitled "How teacher development could revolutionize our schools". In it, he issues deep and well thought out insights such as this:

Over the past four decades, the per-student cost of running our K-12 schools has more than doubled, while our student achievement has remained virtually flat.

All I can say this man works in misplaced causation like Picasso worked in paints. Join me after the jump as we explore how Gate's logic represents reality about as well as cubism is an example of realism.

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Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 09:48 AM PDT

"We" have to?

by michael in chicago

President Obama:
"We’ve got to stop blocking emergency relief for Americans who are out of work."

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I'm not falling over myself erupting in joy at President Obama's latest address where he goes ever so softly on the offensive against the Epublicansray (wink wink) blocking extension of unemployment benefits. Call me old fashion, but when one goes on the offensive and calls out one's opponents, I have this silly belief that one should at the very least name their political party. Because, with all due respect Mr. President, "we" are not blocking emergency relief for Americans who are out of work. Republicans are.

Below the fold, let's take a look at President Obama's nameless attacks - that will be lost on the majority of Americans not attuned to politics as either party base is - and compare them to Rep. Grayson's attacks on the same issue.

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Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:16 AM PST

Too Big a House?

by michael in chicago

So what is "too big" a house? In DuPage County Illinois, where I live, if you bought new the average cost of a house was $325,900 in 2006. The median price of a detached house: $431,998. Median real estate property taxes for homeowners with a mortgage in 2007: $5,043. Source. This isn't a cheap place to live, but it is less than a 45 minute drive to work, where I grew up, and where all my family is.

So lets say I'm a first time home buyer who is just married, and I go to a mortgage broker and like a responsible person ask "How much mortgage do I qualify for?". The Mortgage Broker, looking to make a commission for himself and a tidy profit for the bank, qualifies me for a $250K mortgage. I've never bought before, so I'm thinking, Great! I can buy $250K. That's not going to buy much in DuPage County, but I can quit renting and live the American Dream. So I go out and buy a house at the going market value at the best interest rates at the time for a little less than $250K the broker told me that I qualify for.

See what this irresponsible behavior of mine gets me after the jump...

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You know, I'm getting plenty tired of hearing about how since no Republicans in the House, and only three so far in the Senate, have voted for their chamber's stimulus bill, that somehow Obama has failed and the bills are not bipartisan.

This is just silly.

Bipartisanship is not a vote total.

Bipartisanship is a process - a process that the Obama administration is fully utilizing.

Explanation after the jump...

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Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 07:52 AM PDT

"...Break Some China"

by michael in chicago

On Friday, McCain and Palin went to Sterling Heights Michigan, where among other pithy slogans, McCain garnered rousing applause for lines like this:

"Send a team of mavericks who aren't afraid to go to Washington and break some china," McCain implored.

And in typical Republican fashion, such a "Team of Mavericks™" would be lead by a long time Washington Lobbyist like Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, who knows how to break stuff...

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So I'm watching the debate on C-Span, and keep hearing repeatedly from our Democratic Congressman that the "majority party" or "the other side of the isle" or "the Bush administration" are the root of this sham resolution they are "debating."

One suggestion to those on the floor and any of their staffers reading this: Use the word "Republican."

Give the American people the clear understanding of who is in charge, who's fault this war is, who is pushing this sham resolution, and who the hell they need to be mad at.

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So I just watched RFK Jr. on Blitzer's show talking about his article in Rolling Stone "Was the 2004 Election Stolen." I'm so frustrated I don't know where to start.

All I can say is, can we please get Democrats who are going on camera, on national media, facing pundits like Blitzer, with GOP talking heads counting their arguments, some fucking media training.

Please. Dear. God.

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