| Why we are on the brink of the greatest Depression of all time

TUA’s study on Illinois government employees making over $425,000 per year was referenced in an article by Wayne Allen Root at Fox
Everywhere from to, I suddenly see commentators warning of pending doom, economic collapse, and a new Great Depression. Welcome to my club. Perhaps America’s politicians and economists should have paid attention to an entrepreneur and small businessman that has been warning of economic collapse and a new Great Depression publicly for over two years.
More importantly, none of the current commentaries mention the “why’s” of this slow motion economic collapse…beyond the obvious — mountains of deficit and debt. None of them mention the dysfunctional structure of the current U.S. economy and the massive changes in the work ethic and mindset of the average American.
I am a successful small businessman and a patriot who loves America and always sees its greatness. I am also an optimistic, positive thinker who always sees the glass half full.
But not this time.
This time we are in such deep trouble, the only solution is a radical restructuring of the politicians, the economy, and the way we view personal responsibility versus government handouts. If those changes don’t come then we are facing a long decline and the eventual end of America.
This time the results are going to be dramatically worse than 1929. This time we are facing The Greatest Depression ever.
Why? Because The Great Depression had NONE of the structural, economic, and social problems, nor the massive obligations we are now facing. Read the facts:
In 1929 America was not $16 trillion in debt, plus facing over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. That’s over $360,000 in debt per citizen.

In 1929, most of our states were not bankrupt, insolvent and dependent on federal government handouts to survive. One county (Cook County which includes Chicago, Illinois) now owes over $108 billion in debt (the biggest part of it in unfunded government employee pensions).
In 1929, we did not have 21 million government employees with bloated salaries, obscene pensions, and free health care for life. Today 1 out of 5 federal employees earn over $100,000.
Today, 77,000 federal employees earn more than the governors of their states.
Staggering numbers of federal government employees retire at a young age with $100,000 pensions for life.
Unfortunately on the state and local levels it’s even worse. There is now nearly $4 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities for state government employees.
Protected by their unions and the politicians they elect, government employees are bankrupting America. In Illinois there are retired government employees making over $425,000 per year.
No one could have imagined any of this in 1929. There is no possible way to pay these bills moving forward.
In 1929, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid didn’t exist. The federal government had no such obligations threatening to consume the entire federal budget within a few years.
In 1929, there was no such thing as welfare, food stamps, aid to dependent children, or English as a second language programs. American’s didn’t consider it the responsibility of government to pay for breakfast and lunch for school students — let alone for illegal immigrants at school.
Who could have imagined back in 1929 that one seventh of America’s population would be on food stamps…and the federal government would ADVERTISE to encourage even more Americans to sign up for food stamps and welfare.
Who could imagine back then that the federal government would team up with the President of Mexico to encourage Mexicans living illegally in America to sign up for food stamps?
Who could have imagined back then that the president would offer not just welfare, but waivers to allow any state to opt out of requiring work to receive welfare?
Back in 1929, who could have imagined 86 pregnant teenage girls all in one Memphis high school?
In 1929 we had families, moral codes, and churches to prevent this kind of tragedy. Do you actually believe this is just one abnormal high school? There must be record numbers of pregnant teens all over America. They have figured out that the choice is to either work a drab, depressing job paying minimum wage, or pump out babies and have government pay your bills for decades to come. But where will the money come from? This will overwhelm the system with generations of massive debt. This is a nightmare.
In 1929, legal immigrants wanted only to work. My grandparents, who came to this country from Russia and Germany, received no government benefits. They worked day and night to provide for their family and become American citizens. It was sink or swim. My grandmother Anna Root never took a penny in welfare, even when my grandfather died and left her with no job, no money, and 7 young children. So back in 1929 immigrants cost us very little.
Today we have millions of illegal immigrants and their children collecting billions of dollars in entitlements from U.S. taxpayers.
In one state (California) illegal aliens cost taxpayers over $10.5 billion annually just for education, health care and incarceration. Do you now understand why California is bankrupt and insolvent? This is spreading across the country.
More dysfunction? Today new studies show that almost 20% of American children under age 18 are obese and therefore prone to suffer pre-diabetes, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease.
Even worse, by 2020 experts predict that 52% of the adult population of America will have either pre-diabetes or diabetes.
Do you understand the cost of diabetes? This alone will overwhelm and bankrupt America’s health care system.
In 1929 we had no federal disability program. Today almost 11 million Americans are on disability. There are more citizens on the disabled rolls than the population of 39 of our 50 states. This is far worse than the welfare or unemployment rolls- which have time limits. Disability is forever. The ratio of able-bodied workers to disabled in 1967 was 41 to 1. As of June 2012 it is now 16 to 1. It is impossible to pay this bill long term.
But wait…it gets worse. Now soldiers are in on the act. Are you aware 45% of returning vets are claiming “disability” — a number that dwarfs all prior records in the history of warfare. No nation can afford this.
In 1929, we had an education system that was the envy of the world. Today our public schools are in shambles. We spend the most money in the world, and get among the worst results. The difference today? Teachers unions are in charge, instead of parents. Our students graduate with few skills, are qualified only for low paying manufacturing jobs that no longer exist — they’ve been shipped to China and India. What will this workforce do for the rest of their lives? Live off the government dole? Who will pay for it?
In 1929 taxes were much lower. Forget the tax rates — they were meaningless. In those days we had a cash economy, so most businesses paid little or no taxes. Sales and FICA taxes didn’t exist. Today the combined local, state, property, gas, sales, FICA and federal taxes are the highest burden in history.
When income taxes started in 1913, the average American was untouched. Only the richest 350,000 Americans paid a 2% income tax. Today the average American works until April 12th just to pay his or her taxes.
This stifles entrepreneurship and hinders the financial risk-taking necessary to create jobs and get out of a Great Depression.
New numbers just out for July back up my contention that disaster looms. Sales tax revenues plunged an alarming $539 million below expectations in California last month. The jobless rate rose in July in 9 out of 10 battleground states — Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and North Carolina all had higher unemployment (while Ohio held steady). They say bad news comes in threes. Well here’s the worst news of all- the American Petroleum Institute reports that demand for oil in July was at the lowest level since 1995. These figures are alarming — to say the least.
Do you get the picture? Our country is staring at the Greatest Depression ever. We face a  long slow decline towards the end of America — unless we change paths and policy quickly.
The economy is crumbling. The situation is turning more hopeless by the hour. The more government gets involved, the worse it gets. Coincidence?
The solution is actually simple: dramatically cut the size, scope and power of government; cut spending; cut entitlements; cut taxes; cut government rules and regulations that smother, damage and destroy businesses, prevent startups, and kill jobs; reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; reform public employee pensions; stop the wars (we can no longer afford to police the world); end or reform the Fed; end bailouts and stimulus (ask Japan about the failures of repeated stimulus); end the Democratic obsession with green energy and high speed rail (ask Spain about the waste in those two programs); encourage oil and energy exploration; encourage job creation by small business and the private sector; term limit politicians; institute school choice; and back the dollar with a gold standard.
Or, like so many other great empires of history, America may never recover from this Greatest Depression of All Time.
Wayne Allyn Root is a capitalist evangelist and serial entrepreneur. He is a former Libertarian vice presidential nominee. He now serves as chairman of the Libertarian National Campaign Committee. He is the best-selling author of “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gold & Tax Cuts.” For more, visit his website:

It’s a Spending Problem, Not a Revenue Problem – Even in Shawano, Wisconsin!

View release as a PDF
SHAWANO—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) released salaries and estimated pension payouts for Shawano School District government employees.
“At a time when bureaucrats are trying to raise property taxes, one might think that they tighten their own belts, but not in Shawano, Wisconsin! They intend to also give themselves a 2% pay raise while raising the school property taxes by 12.4%,” stated Shawano resident and president of TUA, Jim Tobin.
“I have published the salaries and estimated pensions for Shawano School District to illustrate how irresponsible a property tax increase would be. Keep in mind that these are 2010 salaries, so it is likely that they are considerably higher today,” added Tobin.
“When average taxpayers in the district are making about $28,000 a year, how can anyone justify taking even more from taxpayers? This will hit farmers, retirees, and small business owners very hard at a time when they can least afford it.”
“It’s time for administrators to stop thinking of taxpayers as an unlimited source of money and be responsible by making the cuts to the largest portion of the budget – salaries and benefits.”
View the top salaries and estimated pensions of Shawano government school employees here.
Tobin continued, “Todd Carlson, Shawano superintendent, made a comfortable $169,196 in wages and benefits. As if that isn’t enough, he will also be paid about $117,784* annually, NOT to work when he retires.”
“The ten highest paid district employees make a combined total of over $1.5 million in total compensation; that’s an average of $150,000. It would be interesting to know exactly how many students these 10 highly paid individuals educate or how often they even step into a classroom!”
“Of the top 25 salaries for Shawano County government schools, 11 of them are from the Shawano District. Only five of the top 25 are from Bonduel and they are able to cut their rate this year. Perhaps Shawano could learn from them.”
“I am encouraging all taxpayers to attend tonight’s annual board meeting and let the bureaucrats know how they feel about their plan to increase spending without a second thought about forcing the taxpayers to foot the bill. Nearly every one of us has had to make cuts in our personal spending, yet Shawano School District administrators refuse to do the same.”
The annual school board meeting will be held tonight, August 20, at 8:00 pm, at Olga Brener Intermediate School, 1300 Union Street, Shawano.
*Based on 2010 salary data provided by the school district through the FOIA process. 1. Assumes employee retires in 1 year and this salary would be 2nd to last salary, 2. Assumes employee works 41 years or more and retires at age 65 and pension = 70%, 3. Plus Social Security. | Watchdog exposes Tollway cops taking home millions

TUA’s release on Illinois Tollway retirees’ pension amounts was featured in the following article at
August 16, 2012. Springfield. A taxpayer watchdog group examined payroll and pension benefits for employees of the Illinois Tollway System. What they found surprised even their investigators. Among other shocking data, the information revealed that of the five highest paid IL Tollway retirees, four are former police officers, one is a simple office worker, they all retired early and they’re all millionaires thanks to Illinois taxpayers.
The Illinois Pension Scam
At first glance, readers will assume the use of the word ‘scam’ is another example of this column’s plain-talk, frustration and skepticism over the corruption that repeatedly raises its ugly head in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois. But in this case, that’s the exact word numerous impartial experts have used to describe the Illinois Tollway System and its pension plan.
Read the June edition of this column, ‘Book calls Illinois Teachers underworked, overpaid’ which details the findings of the book ‘Illinois Pension Scam’. Researchers documented numerous instances where individuals worked only one day on the job and were awarded 6-figure yearly pensions in exchange. In the most criticized instance, a union executive has been collecting more than $1 million per year in pension payouts for working his one day.
In 1953, the Illinois Tollway Authority Act was passed to create a government agency to oversee the construction of Illinois’ tollways. The legislation specifically created the authority for a lifetime of 20 years, upon which all Illinois tollways would be paid-off and reverted to freeways. The Tollway Authority, no longer needed at that point, was supposed to dissolve itself. But like the goose that laid the golden egg, detractors insist the ITA proved too personally enriching for the bureaucrats involved to abide by the mandate.
In 1973, the Tollway Authority didn’t disband. Instead, it has continued to milk drivers for hundreds of millions of dollars in what some call, “unauthorized and illegal tolls”. Now, thanks to the taxpayer watchdog Taxpayers United of America, we see exactly where so much of that Tollway money has gone.
The State united
In December 2011, the Illinois Tollway Authority put into action a “scheme”, as described by critics at the time, to double the government agency’s operating budget. In addition to the record-breaking 67% income tax increase just enacted by the state legislature, the ITA announced a record-breaking 100% raise in toll rates across Illinois. Except the ITA wasn’t waiting. They would begin selling high-interest, sub-prime bonds, using Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation credit rating.
Taxpayers United of America sued the agency, arguing that it doesn’t legally exist in the first place and has no authority to force a toll tax increase without the authorization of the people’s representatives in Springfield. In a blow to Illinois taxpayers, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, daughter of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), used her taxpayer-funded office to represent the ITA against the taxpayers of Illinois. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rita Novak sided with the Madigans and dismissed the taxpayer challenge to the toll increase.
Illinois dirty little tollway secret
While it’s no secret to many Chicagoans, those same dumbfounded residents typically don’t understand the Tollway deal Mayor Daley and the Chicago City Council made on their behalf in 2005.
Outrageous and questionable diversions of billions of dollars in Chicago’s finances over two decades led to a gaping hole in Chicago’s yearly budget. A situation that would have garnered national attention and a probable federal investigation in any other city, Mayor Richard Daley simply sold five generations worth of future tax revenue to foreign companies for a one-time payment that would hide the missing taxpayer money for one year – just long enough for Daley to leave office.
For a one-time payment of $1.9 billion, just pennies on the dollar, Mayor Daley and his Democratic allies surrendered the next 99 years worth of Chicago’s tollway revenue to vulture capital firms from Spain and Australia. That $1.9 billion vanished as fast as it was received.
Read the Dec. 21, 2011 edition of this column, ‘Lisa Madigan wins her Toll Tax increase’ for more information.
Illinois Tollway Authority Pensions
Now comes the results of an exhaustive search of ITA records which reveal just how profitable and lucrative the Tollway Authority has been for some government employees. Unlike typical instances of this sort however, the data showed that most of the highest-paid pension amounts were going to Illinois Tollway police officers.
Announcing their discovery yesterday, Jim Tobin of Taxpayers United of America revealed that many of the top 100 pension recipients had already received more than $1 million each. And since many had opted for early retirement, that amount would grow significantly.
“Our organization has obtained the names, annual pension figures and amounts-paid-to-date for former employees of the Illinois Tollway system,” said Jim Tobin, TUA President, “and the list of the Top 100 total pension payouts is very revealing. 20 of the top 24 recipients have already received over $1 million in amounts-paid-to-date, and of these 24 former tollway employees, 22 are retired Illinois Tollway Police Officers.”
View the list of the Top 100 Illinois Tollway system pension recipients (from Taxpayers United of America).
TUA gives us 3 of the top 5 as examples:
1. Policeman Edward Quendens – received to date $1,299,996 – total employee contribution $65,384.
2. Policeman Victor Centanni – received to date $1,212,777 – total employee contribution $49,067.
5. General Office worker Ralph Wehner – received to date $1,207,833 – total employee contribution $148,838.
According to the announcement by TUA President Jim Tobin, the data also shows that these men will be receiving these exorbitant amounts for some time to come. Quendens retired early at the age of 54 and Centanni did the same at age 56.
“These high-flying former tollway employees are getting rich by being paid for doing absolutely nothing,” said Tobin, “It must be nice to retire at age 54 and look forward to getting more than a million dollars over a normal lifetime for not working.”
“Although tollway salaries are funded by the system’s exorbitant tolls, Illinois taxpayers are on the hook for their lavish, gold-plated pensions,” TUA’s Jim Tobin reminds Illinois residents, “All of the recent, back-breaking 67% increase in the state personal income tax is going to fund the over-the-top pensions of government employees. This pension system is unsustainable.”
For more information, visit Taxpayers United of America.
For additional information regarding Illinois’ pension problems, read the April 5 edition of this column, ‘Secret Memo shows No Confidence in Illinois state pensions’.