Front Page Article
"Illinois: Lawless State and Junk Credit Rating"
by Dr. Patti Amsden
Illinois narrowly avoided becoming the first U.S. state ever slapped with a "junk" credit rating from S&P Global Ratings after it passed its first budget in more than two years. The firm removed the threat of the downgrade because the state passed its first budget in more than two years. Now, the fifth most populous state in the country is rated just above the junk ranking because the budget lowered the risk of liquidity status.
Illinois lawmakers agreed to raise income taxes by 32% and to start paying down an incredible $15 billion in unpaid bills. Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the budget but both houses of the legislature voted to override his veto. The budget calls for $36.6 billion of estimated spending for the fiscal year of 2018 and $36.3 billion in revenue. The S&P considers the deficit of $289 million to be modest. To increase the revenue, the state has established a permanent tax increase on individual rates rising from 3.75 % to 4.95 % and corporate tax rates increasing from 5.25% to 7%.
The state remains in danger as the pension crisis could still trigger the downgrade in the state’s ratings. S&P summarized that the state’s financial problems are the results of decades of financial mismanagement and budget gimmicks and are a direct consequence of intransigent political leadership. Moody’s (another ratings firm) estimates that Illinois is on the hook for an estimated $251 bullion to retired state workers.
More government, bigger taxes, civil jurisdictional overreach, and other such practices will not provide any future answers for the state’s many woes. Past practices have produced today’s problems. Unjust policies have placed the whole state into bondage. Politicians have made laws which place burdens upon the citizens and taxpayers while at the same time excluding themselves or a few other elites from the same legislated burdens. Such lawmakers demonstrate a lack of understanding about the nature of the law and an ignorance of the ramifications of broken biblical law. Citizens must pay debts or suffer the consequences. Illinois has voted itself exempt from debt repayment. People may not steal from their neighbor to support their lifestyle. Illinois practices theft though the ballot box. On and on the litany of charges accumulates as Illinois legislators refuse to play by the same rules her citizens must follow. The question needs to be asked and answered: who must keep the law?
Laws are standards of what is allowed and not allowed. All societies throughout all history have, through either written text or verbal tradition, established the rules by which the populace must comply. Law is imperative to the health of a people. Lawlessness is anarchy, which is a system without established law-givers, law-enforcers, and laws. Anarchy breeds chaos, disorder, and mayhem because every man is a law unto himself until the guy (or group) with the biggest weapon temporarily subdues the contest.
Whether or not law should govern a people is not nor has it ever been in dispute. The disagreement arises over who is empowered to make the law and over who must keep the law. Each system of government defines those with the power to set the standards. In a monarchy, a king, queen, or emperor sovereignty legislates. In an oligarchy, governing power is vested in a few persons or an elite group. Democracy is rule by the majority of the people, while a Republic is representational of the people but constitutionally designed to limit control from a governing elite and mob rule of an omnipotent majority.
The United States was founded as a republic but has functioned in the most recent decades as a democracy and has been in danger of morphing into a presidential and congressional oligarchy throughout the more recent administrations. Setting the laws of a land is the mandate and the responsibility of the rulers. Who is empowered to make the laws – the representatives, the masses, or the elite – is defined by the style of government a nation adopts.
The next important question is “Who must keep the law?” Is the standard of right and wrong only to be applied to those being governed or should it also apply to those decreeing the imperatives? For example, if an ordinary person is forbidden to kill, should the king likewise be forbidden? Apparently, the Bible story about King David taking the life of Uriah indicates that both king and commoner must obey the laws against murder (II Sam. 11).
What about theft? If law forbids a person to steal a neighbor’s goods, can a collective democracy steal private property, thus exempting themselves from the law against theft they created for the individual? Can a few elite congresspersons pass legislation to which the general public must comply while yet excluding themselves from both the tenet and the penalty? Is the directive of ‘do as I say not as I do’ the basic rule of governing? Is such a legal precedent the intent of the law? Is it justice, fairness, or goodness?
The scriptures define the government of God, which is called a Theocracy. God tells all humanity the canon of His laws. Yet, the God who is above and beyond all that He has created does not exempt Himself from His standards. His law is just and He personifies justice. Only an unjust ruler excuses himself from the requirements of rectitude. Who must keep the law? The answer is – everyone!
Illinois will continue to fall in its economic rankings and in the level of confidence that it engenders among its citizens unless the legislators and the laws make the necessary adjustments. Law must apply equally to the governed and the governors, and law must protect everyone against the lawless deeds of lawbreakers – especially when the lawless deeds are committed by the lawgivers. Liars, cheats, and thieves are violators of God’s law even when – and especially when – the liars, cheats, and thieves are embodied in the civil order.
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