Lots of Illinoisans are crossing the Wisconsin state line–permanently

By John Ruberry

“He crossed state lines with an AR-15” is a typical bellyache from leftist pontificators about Kyle Rittenhouse traveling from his home in Antioch, Illinois to help protect a business in Kenosha, Wisconsin during the riots (oops civil unrest) there last summer. 

The northern city limits of Antioch end at the Wisconsin state line. So for many people, including for Kyle Rittenhouse, travelling to Wisconsin is a daily trip. He worked in Pleasant Prairie, which is sandwiched between the Illinois state line and Kenosha. And Rittenhouse’s father and other relatives of his live in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse of course was found not guilty–and it was the correct verdict–of charges surrounding the self-defense shootings of three rioters (oops mostly peaceful protesters) in Kenosha last summer.

Do you need to fill up your gas tank? Only naive fools top off their vehicles in Illinois when there is a Wisconsin choice a short drive away. For instance, last month Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I visited Illinois Beach State Park in Zion. On our way out of the park I told Mrs. Marathon Pundit, “Let’s head up Sheridan Road and fill up our car.” And so we did. At the BP station there–which is just 50 yards north of the Illinois border, we paid 40 cents less per gallon than we would have south of the Cheese Curtain. The BP station is a large one–there were about ten vehicles filling up. And each one had Illinois license plates.

What about permanent moves to America’s Dairyland?

Just north of that border you see many manufacturing facilities and warehouses, most of them are newly built. Many of them are businesses that formerly called Illinois home. U-Line has a massive warehouse in Pleasant Prairie, they moved there, bringing 1,000 jobs, from Waukegan, Illinois in 2008. That facility has many neighbors that are equally massive. But on the Illinois side you see farms and some small scale businesses.

Why are they leaving?

Writing for the Badger Institute in 2019, Mark J. Perry said, “On 14 different measures of labor market dynamism, economic growth, various tax burdens, business climate and fiscal health, Wisconsin comes out ahead of neighboring Illinois on all but one of those measures — state individual income tax rate.” Perry added, “On net, Wisconsin has gained 116,000 Illinois residents between 2006 and 2017, an average of nearly 40 residents every day from 2014-’17.” 

Illinois has other substantial problems. Its public pension system is the second-worst funded of the 50 states–at just 39 percent–while Wisconsin’s public worker pensions are the best-funded at over 100 percent. Only an amendment to the Illinois constitution to eliminate the pension guarantee clause, a default, or hyper-inflation can solve the pension crisis. Illinois regularly contends for the title of most-corrupt state. Since I was born four Illinois governors have served time in federal prison. No governors of Wisconsin from that period have suffered the same disgrace.

Violent crime and robbery is a growing crisis in Chicago and its inner suburbs. Chicago will probably exceed 800 murders this year–numbers that the city hasn’t seen since the crack-fueled street gang wars of the mid-1990s. According to Hey Jackass there have already been over 1,400 carjackings in Chicago–nearly double than the yearly total of 2009. Flash mob robberies are occurring not just in Chicago but also the suburbs, such as this outrage where a gang of thieves on Wednesday filched over $100,000 in merchandise from a Luis Vuitton store in DuPage County. Two days later in Chicago’s downsized Magnificent Mile a flash mob of shoplifters struck Neiman Marcus–filling up three cars of merchandise. Wow, up until recently finding even an illegal parking spot was nearly impossible on the Mag Mile. Of course no one has been charged in these flash mob thefts. 

So crossing the Illinois state line into Wisconsin isn’t just a common occurrence. It’s the safe and smart move for people and businesses. 

Who knows? Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I might make that migration north too. Without a rifle. We only own a handgun.

John Ruberry regularly blogs just forty miles south of the Wisconsin border at Marathon Pundit.