Stealing From All to Give Freebies to Grandma


By: Warner Todd Huston

Or, how government is licensed theft.

Here is a perfect example of the destructive power of government. It is also a representative example of why it is a canard that government ever gives anything away for “free” as that so-called free gift inflicts pain on everyone under that government. In this tale Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has pulled a fast one on the people of Illinois. He’s agreed to a plan that hikes a tax that few people even know the existence of and he’s added his own layer of cost just to get old people in the city of Chicago to like him. In pandering to this tiny minority he’s skewered the entire state in general and the people of the six counties surrounding the people’s republic of Chicago in particular.

At issue is the bail out of Chicago’s mass transit system. Naturally, being a normal government program, it is a money losing, disorganized, union bloated, den of corruption and waste, but the leaders in the state capitol of Springfield (no better name for the comedy going on there than “Springfield,” just like the town in the cartoon “The Simpsons”) felt it necessary to infuse state funds into the backwards and failing transit system in Chicago. So, the state legislature came up with a bailout plan and sent it to the Governor to sign.

Upon reaching his desk, Governor Blagojevich decided to add his own tragiocomic aspect to this government fiasco through an amendatory veto. He decreed that henceforth all old folks will ride the CTA in Chicago for “free.” The great white Father has waved his magic wand and now all the old folk in the city have a new perk merely for having reached their golden years without becoming bedridden. No bus and train fares for grandma from here on out. Hoorah for the nanny state.

So, how the heck do we pay for the estimated 10 million dollars a year this “free” give away to the elderly will cost the CTA to provide? Why we will raise the real estate transfer taxes on the sale of the old folks’ homes, that’s how. This transfer tax is going to go from $7.50 per thousand dollars of the final selling price to $10.50 per thousand. Not to mention a sales tax hike and numerous other tax hikes.

Some “free” program!

Worse, this “free” ride for grandma will be doled out to anyone over retirement age quite regardless of whether that citizen can afford to pay their own way or not. That means the poorest citizens get a free ride right alongside the richest. Does that make any sense at all? I thought Democrats were only supposed to be for the “poor”?

Needless to say, Gov. Blagojevich’s pandering isn’t being well received by the legislature who is being asked to approve Blagojevich’s budget busting late addition to the bail out plan. Now, State Senator Kirk Dillard of the 24th District is saying that this “free ride” should be means tested to make sure that rich old folks aren’t getting an undeserved free ride. And, everyone wonders, why should just any ol’ old guy get a free ride, anyway? Should an elder from Wisconsin get the benefit of our Illinois tax dollars at work through the CTA? Should just any one over a certain age get this freebie no matter where they are from? (What a treat for visitors, especially if the city gets the Olympics, eh? THAT little freebie won’t cost us too much.)

For his part, the Governor says that only Illinois oldsters should get that benefit. So, we have a Gov. saying only resident elders should get the freebie and we have Dillard (and others) saying that the freebie should be means tested… this all begs a question to be asked. How do we certify that someone is poor enough and/or a legal citizen of the state in order to deserve this magical freebie?

Answer: we will have to start a NEW government office to do the research and certification, of course. We will surely have to issue some sort of CTA ID card that certifies that said oldster applied and was approved for the benefit, as well. And, even if we just use a state ID or Driver’s license, we will require the bus driver to view each individual’s ID to make sure they are getting their free fare legally. This will cause time and money, too.

NONE of that is “free,” Governor Blagojevich. All of these things will cost the government and the CTA millions of dollars to implement.

So, the Guv’s pandering, his mere idea of attaching a freebie to this already tax hiking mass transit bailout bill, will add millions more to the costs of running Chicago’s mass transit system. Further, we are putting a mounting tax burden on every last tax paying citizen of the state of Illinois to benefit the few old folks in Chicago that will decide to take the Gov. up on his “gift.” And, who can doubt that the transit unions will demand more money should they suddenly be required to add this new ID card checking aspect to their job?

And guess what? This is all a sure thing because of a quirky idea in the Illinois state constitution called the amendatory veto which was initiated in 1970. With this power, the governor can add an amendment to a bill that takes three-fifths of both houses to overturn. In this case, few amendatory vetoes ever get overturned, most being just approved without argument, because it’s so hard to muster the votes to dump them. All cementing the state of Illinois as one of the most corrupt and incompetent state governments in the union.

At least we are number one in something.

So, remember, whenever a government tells you that it’s going to give you something for free, better get out your wallet because it’s going to cost you many millions to implement.

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