illinois signBy John Ruberry

On the day before Thanksgiving word trickled out that the bipartisan legislative committee that has been working since June on a fix for Illinois’ worst-funded-in-the-nation public pension system has finally completed their work.

Except only the insiders knew the details of the plan to erase the $100 billion pension deficit.

The outline of the fix became public when member of the General Assembly were briefed on the bill on Black Friday–they have two more days to decide how to vote.  According to AP, the pension system will be fully-funded in 2044.

I said briefed. Where is the bill?

The Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank,  is suspicious of the fix and wants to know more:

From CBS Chicago:

“No legislation has been released. No financial analyses have been released,” CEO John Tillman said. “But of the details that have been shared, it is clear this ‘deal’ will not solve Illinois’ $100 billion pension crisis. In fact, it will make it worse.”

That’s the way things are done in Illinois.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner blasted the pension deal in a statement released yesterday.

In the early 1990’s, Senate President John Cullerton [a Chicago Democrat] was on a committee of 10 legislators who inserted language into a pension bill that allowed 23 government union bosses to collect an extra $56 million from municipal pension funds. According to the Chicago Tribune, “the changes became law with no public debate among state legislators, and, more importantly, no cost analysis.”

Sound familiar?

A few years ago, the legislature approved a workers compensation law that was highly touted for its bipartisan “reforms.” Despite the acclaim it received at the time, in the end it accomplished very little. Illinois’ workers compensation system remains uncompetitive with neighboring states and our economy continues to suffer.

The Democrats enjoy super-majorities in the General Assembly. How did that happen?

This will sound familiar too.

Here  is what NBC 5 Chicago’s Ward Room blog had to say about the decennial remap in 2011:

And as the legislators’ deadline draws near, still others are upset at the brief window for public input. Public hearings were held Saturday and Sunday.

Illinois House Minority leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) called it “disingenuous” for House Democrats to release their plans just two days before a public hearing on the matter.

Prairie State residents suffer under the second-highest unemployment rate in the Midwest. Illinois has a backlog of $8 billion in unpaid bills. The Land of Lincoln’s credit rating is the lowest in the union. 

With more transparency, things could only improve in America’s fifth most-populous state.

Last week the Pope released an Apostolic Exhortation EVANGELII GAUDIUM a detailed treatise on spreading the Gospel both within and outside the christian community as he put it

I have chosen to present some guidelines which can encourage and guide the whole Church in a new phase of evangelization, one marked by enthusiasm and vitality. (17)

The primary message is the invitation to the Gospel

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.

The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”.

And above all the duty to preach the Gospel to those who have rejected it

 we cannot forget that evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him (15 ) [emphasis in original]

This is likely a huge surprise to all those who have listened to the MSM and believe the Pope’s letter primary subject is the evils of capitalism, but when one actually reads the piece they will be surprised at what they see:

Reminders of how Christianity should not be joyless: “lives seem like Lent without Easter” (6)

reminds us “ That the teaching of the Gospel “has to be reflected by the teacher’s way of life” (42)

talks of the need for patience with those walking progressively toward redemption  (44)

How the message should be delivered  (156)

Dignity in work in addition to charity  (192)

Ineffectual idealism with no basis in reality (232)

Faith reason and science (242)

That might be a surprise to those who only heard the reports on economics but there is more, a LOT more.  The Pope also toucheds on some vital issues  the media has been dodging:

Like human trafficking

 Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved?  Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses,in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labour? (211)

The persecution of Christians worldwide:

We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise.  On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence.(61)
And specifically challenges to Muslim nations
We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! (233)
These are all huge issues internationally but the media in their rush to turn the Pope into a socialist somehow missed them.

While the left may not have noticed, those issues, there are other parts of EVANGELII GAUDIUM that I suspect they simply want to suppress such as his challenges to a phony sense of “diversity”,

When we, for our part, aspire to diversity, we become self-enclosed, exclusive and divisive; similarly, whenever we attempt to create unity on the basis of our human calculations, we end up imposing a monolithic uniformity. This is not helpful for the Church’s mission (131)


That certainly won’t play well in academic halls and this section on openness won’t play well at some Catholic institutions of higher learning populated by his fellow Jesuits

 True openness involves remaining steadfast in one’s deepest convictions, clear and joyful in one’s own identity, while at the same time being “open to understanding those of the other party” and “knowing that dialogue can enrich each side”.  What is not helpful is a diplomatic openness which says “yes” to everything in order to avoid problems, for this would be a way of deceiving others and denying them the good which we have been given to share generously with others. (251)
Nor will they love this on some scientific opinions as a “dogma of faith”.
Whenever the sciences – rigorously focused on their specific field of inquiry– arrive at a conclusion which reason cannot refute, faith does not contradict it. Neither can believers claim that a scientific opinion which is attractive but not sufficiently verified has the same weight as a dogma of faith. At times some scientists have exceeded the limits of their scientific competence by making certain statements or claims. But here the problem is not with reason itself, but with the promotion of a particular ideology which blocks the path to authentic, serene and productive dialogue (243)
I’m sure some Hockey Sticks are being shattered in anger over that
It goes without saying they didn’t like this direct attack on Abortion:
This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.  On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?

Abortion not a progressive solution in the case of rape or extreme poverty?  That was the entire basis of several democrat senate campaigns last year.

All of these themes and pieces of the Pope Apostolic Exhortation that the left does not want you to see, but if there is a single section that above all else, can not, nay MUST NOT be discussed and embraced by the general public, it’s this: (all emphasis mine)

A healthy pluralism, one which genuinely respects differences and values them as such, does not entail privatizing religions in an attempt to reduce them to the quiet obscurity of the individual’s conscience or to relegate them to the enclosed precincts of churches, synagogues or mosques. This would represent, in effect, a new form of discrimination and authoritarianism.  The respect due to the agnostic or non-believing minority should not be arbitrarily imposed in a way that silences the convictions of the believing majority or ignores the wealth of religious traditions. In the long run, this would feed resentment rather than tolerance and peace. (255)

When considering the effect of religion on public life, one must distinguish the different ways in which it is practiced. Intellectuals and serious journalists frequently descend to crude and superficial generalizations in speaking of the shortcomings of religion, and often prove incapable of realizing that not all believers – or religious leaders – are the same. Some politicians take advantage of this confusion to justify acts of discrimination. At other times, contempt is shown for writings which reflect religious convictions, overlooking the fact that religious classics can prove meaningful in every age; they have an enduring power to open new horizons, to stimulate thought, to expand the mind and the heart. This contempt is due to the myopia of a certain rationalism. Is it reasonable and enlightened to dismiss certain writings simply because they arose in a context of religious belief ? These writings include principles which are profoundly humanistic and, albeit tinged with religious symbols and teachings, they have a certain value for reason (256)
Imagine just for a moment what would happen to the pillars of the left’s cultural elite if these words were widely quoted and accepted in the greater cultural community?  How long could their house built on sand endure?
For a long time the left has railed against a pseudo church throwing hatred at a straw church that never existed, now they are throwing love at yet another Pseudo church that they are trying to create in their own image.  I’m not surprised.  Nothing could be more damaging to the institutions of the left than the people actually hearing what the Catholic Church in general and Pope Francis is actually saying in particular.
That day would spell their doom.
Update:  Words (and outside) accidentally deleted from opening paragraph, fixed
Update 2:  Ed Morrissey in the Fiscal Times gets it


That’s the point that the media missed. Almost all of the coverage of the document failed to note the actual purpose of the apostolic exhortation, which was to evangelize in the real world. The criticisms of capitalism – and there are more than a few lines devoted to them – frame part of the challenges faced by those who wish to evangelize, especially those who make idols out of political or economic ideologies.

The Gospel, Pope Francis insists in Evangelii Gaudium, transcends those by reminding us to be mindful of the human cost of markets, and to feel the pain of those who are impoverished rather than dismiss them as mere statistics – like “the 47 percent,” for an example.  The central point for Catholics is to evangelize the Word of God through proclamation and service, and not “capitalism,” or “socialism,” or “utopianism.” Francis scolds governments for not structuring their economies better to prevent injustices, but the emphasis in Evangelii Gaudium is on individual action.

Hey what’s a lack of context when the media has a meme to advance, and others to ignore.

Update 3:  There is a lot more at Hotair where Ed Morrissey quotes this post among others and says:

To talk exclusively about Pope Francis’ remarks on the dysfunctions of capitalism is not just to miss the forest for the trees — it misses the forest for just a couple of trees. When read in the context of Catholic teaching on economics, it becomes clear that this is no innovation, but a broad restatement of traditional Catholic teaching that emphasizes personal engagement. That, however, doesn’t make for big headlines.

Nor does it advance the left’s agenda.

Update 4:  Could it be an issue of Translation?

Notice the differences:

  • The Spanish version states that the free market favors economic growth; the English version makes that sound like a mere theory.
  • The Spanish version says that growth by itself will not bring about social equity—a proposition that all but the most doctrinaire libertarians would accept. The English omits that important phrase.
  • In the next sentence, the Pope says that the theory described in #54 “has never been confirmed by the facts.” If he is saying that economic growth has not brought about greater equity, as the English version suggests, the facts are actually quite heavily stacked against him. If he’s saying that growth by itself hasn’t done the trick, that’s a much easier argument to defend.

The author notes how these type of Translation errors always seem to go in one ideological direction


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