Monday, December 28, 2009

Who Are You, And What Have You Done to the Chicago Tribune?

As a child growing up in the Chicago area, the Chicago Tribune arrived on our doorstep every day. My grandmother, who lived with us, was an avid reader of the Tribune. In fact, I can attribute the Tribune to fostering my ability to read at a very early age, because they used to have features that promoted phonics education lessons that parents could use with their children. During my growing up years, the Chicago Tribune, then dubbing themselves, "The World's Greatest Newspaper," (A moniker from which the call letters for WGN Radio and then WGN-TV were derived) was pretty much considered the more conservative paper of record in the Chicago area (about as conservative a paper can be, at any rate).

As the 80s and 90s went on, however, the Trib eventually followed the primrose path of the New York Times, LA Times and other organs, and eventually turned into nothing more than just another statist liberal mouthpiece.

That's why I was so taken aback when I read this editorial today:
Not good enough. Time to silence the Illinois Lullaby and get on with dramatic changes to how Illinois government treats the people of this state. . . . From now on, let's judge our elected officials by their effectiveness or impotence at delivering reform. Enough with "effort." Illinois needs results.

Illinois needs results. We intend to live by that credo in an effort to rehab Illinois during 2010. In the months since those words appeared, Illinoisans have watched their politicians resist aggressive reforms, both to how Illinois is governed and to how state and county governments spend money: Many politicians have jealously protected their power while overcommitting taxpayers to more missions than we can afford.

As a result, this state is impoverished in spirit. And it is too impoverished financially to pay its bills for services already delivered to the disabled, the sick, the most vulnerable among us. Yes, recklessly growing state government at double the rate of inflation for two decades has brought devastating consequences to Illinois.

This confluence of man-made miseries menaces Illinois.

So, whom will we elect to right Illinois?

-- -- --

This editorial launches our pre-primary push to answer that question. Subsequent editorials will explore how a reconstituted Illinois can confront three mighty challenges:

--The wreckage from current spending and borrowing -- and the taxing to pay for it all.

--The need for ethical reforms to better curb corruption and to reduce the concentration of power in the hands of those Illinois oligarchs.

--The disturbingly low level of job creation here as state government policies nudge employers to locate and expand elsewhere.

Be assured, how candidates for the Feb. 2 primary propose to address these challenges figure heavily in the Tribune endorsements that will appear as early voting begins in January. We're looking especially hard at how incumbents have demonstrated their effectiveness or impotence at delivering reform.

Calendar 2010 really does need to be different. Forgive and forget? Not this time.

Next Sunday: Illinois' hazardous fiscal triathlon -- spending, borrowing, taxing.
Read, as they say, the whole thing.

Imagine that... From the same state and municipality that gave us Barack Obama.

Has Chicago's prodigal son finally seen the error of his erstwhile ways, finally returning to its honorable history as a credible source of news and commentary?

If so, There may be hope for our ailing nation, yet.

(h/t Gary Gross)