Corruption

The Cornfed Remedy for Illinois Graft

A modest proposal to reform America's most corrupt state

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An open letter to the people of Iowa, from the people of Illinois:

Dear Neighbors:

Being proud citizens of the Hawkeye State, you are all probably still basking in the glory of helping our own Barack Obama's quest for the presidency by giving him a victory in the Iowa caucuses. As fellow Midwesterners, let us say: Nice work. In four years, Washington may be changed beyond recognition. But knowing the depth of public spirit in Iowa, let us also say: Your work is not finished.

As you may have noticed if you ever get the news on WGN, Obama was not quite able to transform our state during his time in the legislature. It's as ethically imperfect as ever, if not more so. How bad? Put it this way: If an Illinois politician moved into a pigsty, the pigs would leave in disgust.

Anyone watching from another state must be amazed by the amount of graft that is regularly on view here. It's enough to shock even people in Louisiana—where after Hurricane Katrina, one Bayou wag said half the state was under water and the other half was under indictment.

This year has had a full quota of seamy developments. Our former governor, George Ryan, remains in prison after failing to win a presidential pardon. A onetime top aide to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is about to go on trial for his alleged role in a fraudulent city hiring scheme. A former Chicago alderman got sentenced to four years in prison for demanding bribes from local developers.

Our new U.S. senator, Roland Burris, faces a Senate ethics investigation after repeatedly changing his story about how he got appointed to the seat by Gov. Rod Blagojevich. That's the same governor who was recently impeached and removed from office for allegedly trying to sell that Senate seat for his own benefit.

We would like to say this is unusual, but it's really about as unusual as a cold day in February. Since 1970, according to a report done at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 1,000 people have been convicted of public corruption—including three governors, 19 Cook County (Chicago) judges, and 30 members of the Chicago City Council.

It may surprise you to learn that Illinois does not rank as the least honest state in the country. According to an analysis of federal data on the 35 most populous states by the Corporate Crime Reporter, we come in 6th in public corruption convictions per capita. But after the Blagojevich scandal broke, editor Russell Mokhiber said he was reconsidering. "If there was a BCS for corruption," he admitted, "I think right now you'd have to put Illinois in the title game."

That is not something Iowa would or could ever aspire to. CCR named Iowa the second least corrupt place in America, trailing only Oregon. Head west across the Mississippi River, and you are transported from Sodom to the Celestial City.

"Iowa political scandal" is an oxymoron. The worst one you've had recently was when the governor's wife was seen smoking in a state vehicle. Imagine that! In Illinois, we're happy if the governor's wife is not caught using a state vehicle as a getaway car in a bank robbery.

Illinois could learn a lot from seeing how things are done in Iowa. But let's face it: We've been located right next door ever since Iowa became a state in 1846, and we haven't learned anything yet.

So what can we do? Stop trying to clean up Illinois and let somebody else do it, and that somebody is you. We propose that the honest, decent folks of Iowa annex us, vote out all our grifters, shysters, thieves, extortionists, bagmen, flunkies, and mopes, and replace them with clean-cut, plain-spoken guardians of the public interest—of which you have a surplus.

It's a win-win deal, giving each state what it currently lacks. We'd get good government and honest politicians. You'd get major league baseball, Lake Michigan, great airline service, restaurants that serve something fancier than meatloaf, and the kind of nightlife you can't find in Oskaloosa.

We're confident that given this opportunity to spread the blessings of Iowa to less fortunate souls, you'll do it out of the goodness of your simple, honest, cornfed hearts. And if that's not sufficient motivation—well, we have some friends who could make it worth your while.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  1. They need to find a quarterback for the Bears in that stimulus package. That’ll get things moving in the right direction.

  2. “A modest proposal to reform America’s most corrupt state”

    Louisiana may have something to say about that.

  3. Hey, what about Jersey?

  4. “We propose that the honest, decent folks of Iowa annex us”

    On behalf of the honest, decent folks of Iowa. I would like to say fuck no to this offer.

  5. Let us not forget about that paragon of virtue, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!

  6. You all suck. ‘Kay?

  7. “Iowa political scandal is an oxymoron.”

    Tell that to my former city councilman.

    http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/38243194.html

  8. joe | January 5, 2009, 12:11pm | #

    Burris is bad because he’s associated with Blago… but again, Blago should reflect on Burris

    Has anyone actually said this? Every Democrat I’ve seen talking about this has gone out of his way to make it clear that Burris himself is a good guy and unconnected with the scandals.

  9. IMO, there is a greater chance of corruption the longer a given elected official remains in office. By that criteria, what do we have to say about Senator Grassley? When was he first elected, 1980?

  10. By that criteria, what do we have to say about Senator Grassley? When was he first elected, 1980?

    Chuckles isn’t smart enough to be corrupt.

  11. Corn Subsidies
    Ethanol Mandates
    Sugar Tariffs

    Illinois corruption makes for good entertainment. For the most part it’s no skin off my credenza. I don’t think you can blame the corruption for saddling the country with BHO.

    Iowas corruption is boring and has crippled the entire nation.

    SHUT THE FUCK UP STEVE CHAPMAN

  12. Corn Subsidies; Ethanol Mandates; Sugar Tariffs

    Sorry Warren, those do not qualify as political corruption. They are merely side effects of the deliberative process.

  13. “By that criteria, what do we have to say about Senator Grassley? When was he first elected, 1980?”
    “Chuckles isn’t smart enough to be corrupt.”

    Grassley’s a Senator & a farmer. He has great influence on farm bills, which he votes for. He also collects farm subsidies.

  14. Here’s a list of the farm subsidies Grassley & other politicians collect.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-11-05-farmbill_N.htm#subsidies

  15. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some of us living in this city by the lake wouldn’t be all that put out if one of the local gangs decided to directly attack the politicians by brute force. Of course, with our police force down by about 800 in the past few years and no concealed carry legally, things might get more than a little messy.

    I’m kind of torn about the number of police being down – Chicago cops can be really bad news, even me being a white male, regardless of legality, but the level of gang action in some parts of town, particularly the violence (bastards can’t shoot straight!) require some sort of response, and I’m not allowed to CC (though I have my FOID card and keep a rifle at home).

    IF (big if) we can clean up the merit cops and the raw bastards (I can deal with a little clean corruption honestly – I have trouble getting up in arms about a cop being paid under the table to call a particular tow truck from a scene as long as he doesn’t block another one from working) we could really use some more police presence here. Plus, we sold the parking meters, so they aren’t going to be writing those tickets much longer.

  16. As someone who has worked in politics in both states, I can attest to what Chapman is saying. I worked as a communications director during college for the Iowa General Assembly. The representatives were nice people, most of them still had that gleam in their eyes that showed they actually believed in what they were preaching. When I graduated, I moved back to Illinois and was offered a position with a state senator. I lasted two days. The only thing in his eyes were dollar signs.

  17. Every Democrat I’ve seen talking about this has gone out of his way to make it clear that Burris himself is a good guy and unconnected with the scandals.

    Well, except for the perjury and the fundraising for Blago, that is.

  18. My modest proposal, no company nor a person working for a company that is bidding or working on a government contract can give money, campaign funds or gifts to a politician. This is so we’re not asking the question is there a quid pro quo; the assumption must be that there is. As the saying goes, Caesar’s wife must be beyond suspicion. Of course nothing like this can pass the legislative process but it’s nice to dream.

  19. Not practical H man; the solution is transparency — a searchable website where are potential conflicts of interest are posted for the public to see.

  20. “trailing only oregon…” i am proud to live in america’s least corrupt state. of course, our winters are six months long, and the only way the mayor of portland can keep warm is by making out with teenagers in the city hall men’s room…

    my own modest proposal: make illinois a territory rather than a state for ten years. no more senators or congressmen for awhile, no right to vote in federal elections, a governor appointed by the president. then we gradually re-introduce democracy at the rate they show they can handle it.

  21. Hey Bruce, can we add California, New York, and Massachusetts to that proposal?

  22. My modest proposal, no company nor a person working for a company that is bidding or working on a government contract can give money, campaign funds or gifts to a politician.

    1,000 people convicted for breaking existing law, and you expect one more law to make a difference?

    The real solution is much simpler. Voters need to elect honest politicians. Unfortunately for Illinois, one honest politician was killed by the mob, and the other one is in witness protection.

    The second best solution is kinnath’s transparency.

    It may surprise you to learn that Illinois does not rank as the least honest state in the country. According to an analysis of federal data on the 35 most populous states by the Corporate Crime Reporter, we come in 6th in public corruption convictions per capita.

    Yeah. Leave us hanging. I think the report cited is at http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/corrupt100807.htm . Top Ten are Louisiana (1), Mississippi (2), Kentucky (3), Alabama (4), Ohio (5), Illinois (6), Pennsylvania (7), Florida (8), New Jersey (9), and New York (10).

    “trailing only Oregon…” i am proud to live in America’s least corrupt state.

    That jumps to a conclusion, since the report excluded the fifteen least populous states.

  23. Illinois could learn a lot from seeing how things are done in Iowa.

    Steve, you had me going with this line. Such a great setup to be followed by recommending less money and power in the hands of politicians. Oh, well. Less money and power is as likely as annexation. Zero equals zero after all.

  24. My modest proposal, no company nor a person working for a company that is bidding or working on a government contract can give money, campaign funds or gifts to a politician. This is so we’re not asking the question is there a quid pro quo; the assumption must be that there is. As the saying goes, Caesar’s wife must be beyond suspicion.

    Hear Hear, I second that.

  25. Now I see why libertarians are for open borders, you suck at math.

    “We propose that the honest, decent folks of Iowa annex us.” If such was to happen Iowa would become like Illinois not the other way around.

  26. Dear Illinois:

    We the people of Iowa are honored and humbled by your request. However, your list of considerations for the service we will be providing you is no where near the value you will be receiving from us. We therefore respectfully decline your offer.

    Sincerely,

    Iowa

    P.S. Are you fucking nuts? No one in their right mind would wade into that shithole of a political system for anything less than the world.

  27. Well, except for the perjury and the fundraising for Blago, that is.

    None of which had occurred when the comment was written.

    Too bad for Burress. Prior to being selected by Blago, he actually was an honest pol. There’s still nothing that’s come out about him engaging in any corrupt acts before this – that’s probably why Blago chose him.

    And he goes and throws his reputation away like that. Sad story.

  28. joe | February 19, 2009, 6:51pm | #

    “Well, except for the perjury and the fundraising for Blago, that is.

    None of which had occurred when the comment was written.”

    Wrong (as usual). They had occurred. You just weren’t admitting it yet.

  29. It may surprise you to learn that Illinois does not rank as the least honest state in the country. According to an analysis of federal data on the 35 most populous states by the Corporate Crime Reporter, we come in 6th in public corruption convictions per capita.

    I’m not sure if convictions per capita is all that good a marker for levels of corruption.

    A high number of convictions my indicate a high level of deication on the part of investigators and prosecutors.

    Just because you haven’t been caught doesn’t mean you aren’t corrupt.

  30. “Now I see why libertarians are for open borders, you suck at math.”

    No, Steve Chapman sucks at math. And he’s a tool. So there.

  31. You know as much fun as it is to turn our noses up at Illinois, you have to wonder. These guys are getting caught left and right; what if it’s not so much that Illinois is especially corrupt as that their investigators are especially talented or their corrupt politicians are especially stupid?

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