William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE PRESIDENT'S PATHETIC HOME STATE – AT 10:52 A.M. ET:  I recall traveling the length and breadth of Illinois during the 1960 campaign, with one of my mentors, Senator Paul Douglas, a national-defense liberal at a time when liberalism was respectable, and a Marine war hero who'd been severely wounded on Okinawa. 

Illinois was a great state then, although the political corruption in many areas couldn't be denied.  It was a manufacturing state, and still a great meat production and railroad center.  The states we sneered at were states in the south, like Virginia and South Carolina. 

That was then, this is now.  Virginia, where my older daughter resides, is one of the best-run states in the country.  South Carolina is great and modern. 

And Illinois?  It's very sad, and the president takes no interest in his home state, which sent him to the Senate.  From Fox: 

A staggering one out of three Illinoisans today lives in or near poverty — the peak of a continued climb over three decades, a new study finds.

It means one in five Illinois children are living in poverty, according to the study released Wednesday by the Social IMPACT Research Center of Chicago's Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights.

The forces behind this rising poverty in a post-recession economy go beyond unemployment, according to the study, which traces it also to an inadequate living wage and lack of access to education, housing, health care and assets.

"Illinois' 33%: Report on Illinois Poverty," is based on 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data. It declares a crisis sparing no community in Illinois, and only worsening under budget cuts to government programs and policies that alleviate poverty.

If the state were well run, and the economy properly handled, those programs wouldn't be needed in the first place.

The 33 percent figure is up from 25 percent of Illinoisans who lived in or near poverty in 2000. In 1990, it was 27 percent; in 1980, 26 percent.

"We wanted to get a handle on how people are recovering post-recession and to understand how things like our state's budget crisis are filtering down into communities," said report author Amy Rynell, director of the research center.

"What we learned was extraordinarily disturbing," Rynell said.

The study found that almost half of Chicago's population is living in or near poverty.

In suburban Cook and Kane counties, it's nearly a third; in DuPage, McHenry and Will counties, one out of five people, and in Lake County, one out of four.

Statewide, 31 percent of the African-American population lives in poverty, along with 22.6 percent of Latinos; 12 percent of Asians, and 11 percent of whites.

COMMENT:  The story implies that more of those "programs" are needed.  What is needed in Illinois is a business-friendly atmosphere, as in next-door Indiana.  And lower taxes would help.

Illinois today is one of the sickest states, along with California and New York.  If it weren't for the financial industry, New York might well go under.  As for Illinois, it is dominated by the Chicago political machine, where real progress is considered a danger to the entrenched political interests.

Land of Lincoln?  Lincoln would be ashamed.

January 16, 2013