Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza was ordered to make a “substantial” dent in a $2 billion backlog of bills owed to Medicaid providers. The courts ruled that according to the State Constitution, it cannot reduce the pension payments to state employees. What is happening in Illinois is indicative of how governments are imploding and why I am warning get out of all State and Muni-debt before it is too late. Since State and local governments cannot “print” (create) money, they are forced to borrow and raise taxes. Consequently, they have hit the ceiling in tax resistance. What is happening is people are gradually migrating because there is absolutely no hope for states like Illinois. The only way out will have to be bankruptcy and a default on all the pension promises.
A federal judge has now intervened ordering the Comptroller to now prioritize who it pays. This is turning into the clash of titans – the epic battle between medical expenses that constantly rise regardless of the business cycle and state employees demanding pensions. Caught in the middle are the average middle class American who is being exploited from both sides. The judge now ordered the state to pay up towards Medicaid to keep doctors and hospitals from cutting off care for the low-income families that rely on the program.
I have often pointed out the fate of the city of Mainz. They had their technological boom with the invention of the printing press there. The politicians couldn’t wait to spend tax money assuming the business cycle would never end. So they spend the money before the taxes were due and borrowed against future tax revenues. The debt quickly became a Ponzi scheme issuing new debt to pay off the old as we are doing today. The interest kept rising so they just raised taxes. The rich began to leave and the city was quickly left with the people who didn’t really pay taxes. The bubble burst when they could not sell the next new issue of debt to pay off the last one. The city defaulted. The Pope excommunicated the politicians. And eventually the city was simply sacked and burned to the ground.
Politicians are the scourge of human society. They are the great destroyers of civilization and the instruments of war. People champion gold standards as if this would solve anything. The common fault is not what we call money, it is always, and without exception, those who we put in charge of it.
Meanwhile, Moody’s and S&P have both downgraded the general obligation debt of the state of Illinois as of June 1, on a combination of a state government budget impasse and a seemingly unstoppable unfunded pension obligation that has now ballooned into at least a $130 billion shortfall. You better get out of the State before it is too late. Property values will decline further because of the tax burden.
Welcome to the Sovereign Debt Crisis. This one is going to be a-real–doozy.