Posts Tagged Jared Labell

45 Years of the Madigan Political-Industrial Complex


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Chicago—Although the Illinois Senate meets today, House members of the Illinois General Assembly won’t reconvene in Springfield until January 27, the day of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s (R) State of the State address. The House members will be absent because, “the workload was not there,” according to Steve Brown, spokesperson for Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-22, Chicago). Taxpayers United of America’s (TUA) director of operations, Jared Labell, says that’s a shameful dereliction of duty, but unsurprising.
“Illinois is in the midst of its seventh month without a state budget and the state’s ongoing financial fiasco is worsening by the day, yet Speaker Madigan is content with business as usual in Springfield and blaming the new governor for all of the state’s problems,” said Labell. “We continually hear from our members and taxpayers from across Illinois that they are enraged by the arrogance of Illinois’ elite political class, the most infamous of which is Speaker Madigan. Of all the days for Speaker Madigan to quietly plot his continued reign from another taxing district of his vast fiefdom, this is the anniversary of a very important day in the history of his rise to power and Illinois’ ensuing collapse.”
“Today marks forty-five years since a young lawyer named Michael J. Madigan first joined the Illinois General Assembly. He would eventually become the longest-serving Speaker in state history after assuming the position in 1983, and he has retained that power for all but two of those intervening years,” said Labell. “Illinois’ current financial state cannot be blamed on one politician alone, but if pressed to narrow down that list, Speaker Madigan is one of the quintessential lifetime politicians with a voting record that is as shockingly bad as the state income tax and property tax increases he has supported for nearly a half-century.“
Speaker Madigan has ruled over the statehouse for decades, but he began his government career at only twenty-eight years old as a delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention. He voted in favor of including the now notorious pension protection language in the new constitution, paving the way for more than $111 billion in unfunded government pension liabilities by the start of 2016.
Since 1983, the year Speaker Madigan first sat upon his throne in Springfield, TUA has compiled a biennial tax survey to rate the voting records of the Illinois General Assembly based on their fidelity to taxpayers and support for tax relief. In the past thirty-two years, Speaker Madigan has failed every one of TUA’s tax surveys, with his highest rating currently standing at a pathetic 40%. His average voting record on behalf of Illinois’ taxpayers over those years is a miserable 16%, and he has received a score of 0% five times since 1983, including on TUA’s latest survey of the 98th Illinois General Assembly.
The Madigan Political-Industrial Complex has been sustained by applying the machine politics Madigan learned from his mentor, the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, and his peer and another former Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley, as well as other seedy Chicago political allies.”
“His law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, is basically an appendage of the state, as Madigan benefits financially from his opposition to property tax caps, maintaining Cook County’s mindboggling property tax system, and continuing the state’s reliance on property taxes for funding government schools and other services,” said Labell.
Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association notes, “Mike Madigan spends a lot of time in Springfield, but the Illinois House Speaker also earns a sizable income as a corporate real estate tax attorney in Chicago, raising an ethical question that’s shadowed him for years: Can he reliably steward our state tax dollars, as a powerful legislative leader, while he’s helping building owners and developers lower their property taxes, which deprives local governments of sorely needed revenue, or is that a conflict?”
Jim Nowlan, a retired political science professor at the University of Illinois, explains the brutal Iron Triangle between the politicians, their connected law firms, and property tax assessments, “Basically, the assessor assesses too high, the property owner has no alternative but to go out and hire one of these politically connected law firms. The firms argue their case before the Board of Review and then the assessments go down. And then the law firms make campaign contributions to the assessor and the board of review members. The only people who benefit from this system are the lawyers and the politicos. Ordinary taxpayers really get the short-end of the stick.”
“For all of his rhetoric about the middle class, Madigan is certainly not focused on resolving Illinois’ budget impasse or providing tax relief to the populace, but he is intent on maintaining his grip on power,” said Labell. “He went on a fundraising blitz in 2015, bringing in $7,124,771 for the year, and more than $2.8 million of those funds were just in December. He has positioned himself as kingmaker, since he is able to transfer as much money as he wants from his own Friends of Michael J. Madigan campaign fund to the Democratic Party of Illinois, Democratic Majority, and 13th Ward Democratic Organization funds, all of which he controls. The last three funds are political party funds, so they can give unlimited money and campaign assistance to Democratic candidates in the upcoming elections.”
At a rare appearance addressing the City Club of Chicago last month, Speaker Madigan answered an audience members’ question about his pledge to protect the middle class and how his views differed from Gov. Rauner. Speaker Madigan’s response revealed his adherence to the failed Keynesian economic policies which have brought Illinois to its current deplorable condition:
“This goes right to the heart of the difference of opinion between myself and the governor…The history of the American government prior to 1933 was pretty much to remain out of the business of managing the economy. The beginning of 1933 with the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, there was a dedicated effort by the federal government to in effect manage the economy and to work always to create jobs, to raise wages, to raise the standard of living…”
“Even by his own standards, Speaker Madigan has been unsuccessful in applying government power to help Illinois’ economy flourish and improve the living standards of its residence. The policies he has championed for nearly a half-century in Springfield have contributed immensely to Illinois’ current morass.”
“Raised by New Deal Democrats and their ilk, Speaker Madigan represents the decaying ideological empire of omnipotent government. An era of technological advances and amazing innovations is replete with examples of economic instability and declining prosperity due to the false notion that government can centrally plan everything. If the results of his forty-five years holding elected office and his rhetoric are any indication, the history Speaker Madigan retells is one of his own making, which stands apart from reality,” said Labell.
“Speaker Madigan’s complete legacy is still unwritten, but his role in Illinois’ government pension crisis will feature prominently. To the misfortune of government retirees, they will become increasingly familiar with Speaker Madigan’s hero, FDR, who adorns the dime, as their government pensions will eventually be valued at ten cents on the dollar without immediate reforms. This reality is due to decades of mismanagement by the Illinois General Assembly, led for decades by Speaker Madigan,” concluded Labell.

The Future of Freedom Foundation|Libertarians and Political Violence


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This post was written by Jared Labell for The Future of Freedom Foundation.  He is director of operations for Taxpayers United of America. He is a history major with an interest in taxation, imperialism, and the libertarian tradition in American history.

To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant’s Face: Libertarian Political Violence and the Origins of the Militia Movement by Robert H. Churchill (University of Michigan Press 2011), 384 pages.toshake
Discussions regarding the legitimate use of force are not limited to any single ideology. Perhaps the defining quality of any political movement vying for validity is its position on the permissibility of violence by individuals and the state. Although such conversations vary on the spectrum from mainstream to fringe political discourse, those outside the dominant political caste aren’t extremists for questioning the state’s monopoly on the use of force. Libertarian political theory is particularly concerned with this issue; championing peaceful interaction and private property rights, commonly exemplified by the nonaggression principle. But libertarians also differentiate nonaggression from the legitimate use of force in defense of persons or property against other individuals or the state.
Libertarianism is distinct in its view of the relationship between individuals, the state, and violence — or the absence thereof — in society. To that end, Prof. Robert H. Churchill’s To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant’s Face surveys the history of libertarian political violence in America by outlining several historical events of unprecedented resistance to state power invoking the insurrectionary violence epitomizing the late 18th century. Churchill gives context to the development of libertarian political theory in this narrow respect by analyzing how those lessons reverberate as much today as the fire of muskets by their antecedents.
Insurgent violence as political theory and the Revolution as living memory
The package of legislation emanating from the Parliament in the spring of 1774 were known as the Coercive Acts, an attempt to quell an unwieldy Massachusetts mere months after some of Boston’s residents relieved the British East India Company of its tea into the harbor. The libertarian memory of the American Revolution is defined by Churchill as, “a struggle to defend liberty against a corrupt and abusive state” and “to protect liberty by enforcing inviolable constitutional restraints on the power of the state.”
Resistance to Parliament took two familiar libertarian forms. The first approach was an economic boycott led by the nonimportation movement. The other approach was most pronounced in Massachusetts and clearly articulated in the Suffolk Resolves. Churchill notes that they stressed the infringement of liberty and the right to self-government as galvanizing factors for opposition, rather than the well-known matters of taxation and representation focused on by the nonimportation movement and commonly repeated today.
Jonathan Mayhew’s Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers was the first American declaration of this libertarian resistance. Mayhew’s Discourse asserted deference to just authority, irrespective of the form of government. He argued that dissent was legitimate when people resolved that authorities had grown oppressive and “therefore disobedience to them is a duty, and not a crime” in such a moral crisis. Thomas Jefferson would echo similar analysis in July 1774 with A Summary View of the Rights of British America, castigating the emerging “Parliamentary tyranny,” among other grievances.
Americans referenced the Suffolk Resolves in April 1775 as individuals agreed to arm, organize militia, and train under arms for the first time. The Continental Congress attempted to represent both the nonimportation and insurrectionary movements, subordinating grievances of the latter to the former, but that sentiment was reversed by Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence. The application of Whig ideology persisted in American political theory because “it offered a critique of oppressive government and state violence that would continue to apply to the acts of a fully representative republican polity,” Churchill asserts. The standing army remained the most severe threat to liberty in the view of 18th-century Whig politics and continued as debate raged between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over ratification of the Constitution in 1787-88.
Churchill underscores the libertarian memory of the Revolution with an analysis of Fries’s Rebellion and the Alien and Sedition Act crisis of 1798-99. A majority of Democratic-Republicans agreed on longstanding Whig analysis of the political crisis, but were less unified by solutions. Moderates proposed constitutional measures — petitioning and voting — while radical elements chose nullification and armed opposition. Summer and fall 1798 were filled with militia, Independence Day celebrations, and the mixing of political meetings with firearms as the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 were introduced, representing a fusion of moderate and insurrectionist opposition.
Although Democratic-Republicans made the Alien and Sedition Acts the cornerstone of their nullification campaign, Churchill explains that only six individuals were prosecuted prior to Fries’s Rebellion, and their insurgency focused on the house tax directly affecting their lives by Federalist tax assessors. Public backlash moderated Democratic-Republicans, signaling abandonment of sustained hostility to the Alien and Sedition Acts and tax collection for electoral politics and the inauguration of Jefferson. Although constitutional measures became the preferred method of dissent as the republic matured, insurrectionary politics would once again be unfurled.
Civil War dissenters, 100% Americanism, and the Brown scare
Churchill characterizes the period from the Civil War until the Cold War as refashioning patriot-ism and cleansing the libertarian memory of the Revolution from the public sphere. Libertarians know a litany of critiques of Lincoln’s administration, and conscription factored heavily in political opposition from 1861 to 1865. Rather than basing resistance to conscription on individualist principles, dissent was suffused with white supremacist rhetoric and hostility towards the Emancipation Proclamation and abolitionism. Others were concerned with economic hardship brought on families of those conscripted. Lysander Spooner, the great libertarian abolitionist, is one of those contemporary voices to be applauded for recognizing both the evils of slavery and the tyranny of conscription, serving as a counterweight of principled dissent during the Civil War.
The 20th century was the fulfillment of recasting patriotism in America, displacing the memory of the Revolutionary era with the birth of the state. “One hundred percent Americanism” grew from this celebration. Patriotism meant loyalty to the state and greater interest in preserving the nation rather than liberty for all.
The reemergence of the KKK and its ideological cousin the Black Legion was fueled by the Great Depression, centralization of power by Roosevelt’s New Deal, and influx of immigrants to the United States. The Black Legion sought to overthrow the government and then inflict state violence onto those deemed undesirable, repurposing the Revolution with their own blend of nativist, anti-communist, and patriarchal ideology.
Revelations of such plots were received by the public as avowedly un-American, leading to the Brown Scare, scapegoating, and a rejection of political violence. Academic condemnation of extreme political positions made the far Right and far Left outcasts in the Cold War political system. Churchill notes that transformation as best symbolized by the New Deal-era construction of the Jefferson Memorial, which leaves out Jefferson’s articulation of the right of revolution in its commemoration of the Declaration of Independence.
Emergence of the militia movement and resurrection of libertarian political violence
Churchill’s work differentiating two competing models of late 20th-century militias is significant. Constitutionalists formed public militias with open membership, their perception of government informed by Whig and libertarian ideology to publicly deter the state by a show of arms. As Churchill exhaustively documents, constitutionalists were deeply committed to inclusivity, sometimes leading to violent confrontations with the second faction: millenarians organized in leaderless cells without open public participation, which held darkly apocalyptic, bigoted, and often conspiratorial worldviews. Although quite different in structure and ideology, these militias were united by the reason for their formation: the militarization of domestic law enforcement.
Two events rekindled this libertarian memory of the Revolution: the 1992 siege in Idaho at Ruby Ridge and the 1993 raid on the Davidians near Waco, Texas. The Oklahoma City bombing — Patriots’ Day, April 19, 1995 — was the high-water mark for the militias. Although constitutionalists correctly blamed millenarians for the plot and harboring accomplices of Timothy McVeigh, their numbers waned, declining further following George W. Bush’s election. Churchill shows that conflating the disparate groups is incorrect and to call either exemplars of libertarianism is even further from the truth.
Libertarian political violence today
Murray Rothbard wrote in For a New Liberty, “If, as libertarians believe, every individual has the right to own his person and property, it then follows that he has the right to employ violence to defend himself against the violence of criminal aggressors,” and furthermore, “While opposing any and all private or group aggression against the rights of person and property, the libertarian sees that throughout history and into the present day, there has been one central, dominant, and overriding aggressor upon all of these rights: the State.” Jacob H. Huebert wisely notes in his 2010 book Libertarianism Today, “More gun freedom and more widespread gun ownership would not force the government to fully respect libertarian rights — it did not do so even in the founding era — but it would serve as a preventative measure against the worst possible government offenses.” Radley Balko and Will Grigg consistently document that the militarization of domestic police hasn’t ceased in the years since the modern militias formed for that exact grievance.
Fellow libertarians would be mistaken to look back on the history of libertarian political violence in America and conclude that the events should be uniformly celebrated or denounced, as comprehensively detailed by Churchill’s To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant’s Face. The history of taking up arms against the state is multifaceted, as Churchill notes, “the invocation of the past to justify present action is a perpetual theme in American politics. It need not, however, command our deference. If there is a point at which the practice of history departs from the practice of collective memory, it is in the recognition that no word or deed from ages past can in and of itself justify the recourse to violence in the present.”
Mindful of historical context and present concerns of state violence, libertarians would benefit from openly discussing the parameters of protecting individual liberty with violent force against the state’s usurpations. Although an example not covered in the text, libertarians should consider Lysander Spooner’s 1858 call to arms in A Plan for the Abolition of Slavery (and) To the Non-Slaveholders of the South, where he outlines a plan to reclaim the liberty of the enslaved by means of asymmetric warfare against the slaveholders of the South, carried out by black slaves, free southerners, and northern abolitionists. A balance must be struck, however, between principles, morality, proportionality, and practicality as libertarians reflect on this and the just use of force to defend liberty against tyranny. Perhaps Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler’s oft-quoted 1935 pamphlet War Is a Racket is another good starting point for deliberation, as he wrote, “There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.”
This article was originally published in the February 2015 edition of Future of Freedom.

Quad-City Times | AFSCME, taxpayer group disagree on Illinois pensions


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Taxpayers United of America’s operations director, Jared Labell, was quoted by Quad-City Times in an article about Taxpayers United of America’s recent pension release for both Rock Island County and Moline.


Visit website to see pension information

According to Jared Labell, of the Taxpayers United of America organization, the group’s website lists individual pensions of Rock Island and Moline municipal, Rock Island County, Rock Island County government teachers and Black Hawk College retirees. Visit www.taxpayersunited.org to see the list.

Rock Island County taxpayers bear the burden of millions of dollars in pensions that retired educators and municipal workers will collect for years to come, according to a Chicago-based taxpayers group.

Taxpayers United of America made a presentation on that contention — one of several presentations throughout the state — Wednesday at the Rock Island Holiday Inn.

But a representative from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, counters that most Illinois retirees receive only modest pensions.

Jared Labell, operations director of the taxpayers group, said about 930 Rock Island County teachers collect at least $50,000 annually. Statewide, more than 12,000 Illinois pensioners collect six-figure pensions, and more than 85,893 retirees collect more than $50,000, he said.

“On average, these government pensioners contribute only about 5.5 percent to their own retirement payout,” he said. “In the private sector, employees pay 15 percent of every dollar they earn into Social Security for an average pension of only $15,000.”

But Anders Lindall, public affairs director at AFSCME Council 31, Chicago, calls the taxpayers group and similar organizations “pension-cutting lobby groups.”

He said the average pension in the state is $32,000 a year.

“We’re talking about the life savings of teachers, police, firefighters, nurses and other public-service workers who live in our communities throughout Illinois,” Lindall said.

Eight in 10 of those workers are ineligible for Social Security, Lindall said. “So, their modest pension is their primary, if not their only, source of income in retirement.”

When they are working, teachers, police officers and other public employees pay significantly into their own pensions, Lindall said. He said workers typically pay 8-12 percent of every paycheck toward their pension.

 “The pension debt, which is real, is caused not by employees doing anything wrong; they always pay their share. It’s caused not by benefits being too expensive, and it’s certainly not caused by the few radical exceptions — outliers — that these pension-slashing lobby groups like to trot out,” Lindall said.

The taxpayer group’s Labell gave examples of local retirees with pensions near or surpassing $100,000, including Calvin D. Lee, former superintendent of Moline-Coal Valley School District, who according to the taxpayer group’s research, receives $197,826 in annual pension payments.

Another retiree, former Rock Island County Sheriff Michael T. Huff, receives $97,291 in annual pension payments, Labell said.

AFSCME’s Lindall said the pension debt was caused by legislators who didn’t set aside enough money to pay benefits. “It’s regrettable that they (the taxpayer group) attract any attention at all. They’re not adding anything productive to the conversation.”

He said it’s important to understand that the problem is the decades-long failure of politicians at the state level to set aside adequate resources.

“The answer is ending that practice and for the state to pay what it owes,” Lindall said. “Many people have talked about ways to make those costs more manageable — for example, re-amortizing the pension debt — a mathematician’s word for refinancing your mortgage.”

Creative and constitutional solutions like that that should be considered, Lindall said.

The taxpayer group’s Labell suggests putting new state employees on a 401(k) retirement plan. He emphasized that he is not demonizing people who receive pensions. Pointing out what someone is making through a pension “puts a more ‘real’ spin on it,” he said.

The average person’s Social Security pension is $15,000, he said. Compared to that, the pensions he discussed “are just astronomical,” he said.

“We are technically these peoples’ employers,” Labell said. “I think we have a right to know this information.”

Taxpayers United of America calls itself a “pro-taxpayer, nonprofit, non-partisan organization,” Labell said, adding that the organization is “not indebted” to any political party.

AFSCME represents mostly public employees at all levels of government and is the largest public employee union in the country with 1.4 million members.

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Taxpayers United Of America: (TUA). is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded June 27, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. In the past forty years, TUA has saved taxpayers more than $200 billion n taxes and has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America. Check All posts. s.

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