–Here is the financial solution for your state, county and city Sunday, Oct 24 2010 

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.

Illinois is broke. Your state either is, or soon will be, broke, too. Illinois’s 13 million population owes $13 billion. Like all states, counties and cities, Illinois is not monetarily sovereign, so unlike the federal government, which is monetarily sovereign, states cannot create money to pay their bills. Illinois is far behind on payments to the many vendors who supply services to its citizens. The state has no hope of continuing its “borrow now, pay later” system.

Yes, Illinois may be the most dishonest state in America. Several of its recent governors have gone to jail, and the government is run by swindlers. Although the reprehensible head of the Democratic party in this traditionally Democratic state, Mike Madigan, can be blamed for much of the financial chaos, there is plenty of blame spread around.

We can begin with the voters, who inexplicably continue to vote solid Democratic, despite the astounding record for corruption this party has amassed. Not only is Illinois thoroughly crooked, but so is Cook County and Chicago, also Democratic strongholds. Chicago aldermen traditionally go to jail after a few years in office, and Mayor Daley is the classic Sgt. Schultz, the guy who repeatedly said, “I know nothing, I see nothing.”

Daley sold income-earning city assets, then spent the money, putting Chicago ever deeper in the hole. (Pity the next mayor). And don’t ask about Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who was appointed by his father after his father died (really), and instituted a “friends and family” system of patronage hiring. With all this, voters march to the polls, like little automatons, pull the Democratic lever, and march back out to complain. (In all fairness, Illinois has had its share of venal Republican governors, too, though these guys were mere minnows in a sea of sharks.)

Nevertheless, though the state, its largest county and its largest city all are run by criminals, even a theoretically honest state cannot survive on tax receipts alone. Because monetarily non-sovereign governments cannot create money, inflation forces them all to obtain money from outside their borders.

“Outside” earnings can come exports of goods and services. Example: Salaries earned by Evanston, Illinois residents, paid by Chicago firms. Or outside earnings can come from government support. Example: Illinois pays some Chicago Transportation Authority expenses. And this later approach demonstrates the only way to save Illinois and all the other states.

If the U.S. federal government would give Illinois just $1,000 for each resident, the state debt would disappear. And if the federal government continued to give Illinois an ongoing $500 for each resident, Illinois could pay its cities and counties enough to achieve better schools, better roads, better transportation and other improvements in human benefits, while reducing the onerous property, income and sales taxes, that hurt Illinois’s economy.

Yes, Illinois’s crooked politicians will continue to steal, and Illinois voters will continue to elect them, but state poverty hasn’t stopped the politicians, anyway. And though Illinois politicians uniformly promise to reduce the debt, this requires self destructive taxes and spending cuts. Austerity is a path to disaster. So, the sole financial solution for Illinois and for all states, a solution that will improve the lives of its residents and of all America’s residents, a solution easily affordable by the federal government, is per capita support for all states.

Without increased support to states, America’s quality of life will decline, as schools, roads, health care, nursing homes, housing, courts, police and fire protection, parks and businesses all disintegrate. There is no other solution. Mathematically, America’s states, counties and cities cannot do it themselves. The federal government must do it.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity. Those who say the stimulus “didn’t work” remind of the guy whose house is on fire. A neighbor runs with a garden hose and starts spraying, but the fire continues. The neighbor wants to call the fire department, which would bring the big hoses, but the guy says, “Don’t call. As you can see, water doesn’t put out fires.”

–Why the states are in financial trouble Monday, Mar 8 2010 

An alternative to popular faith

Most of the states are deeply in debt. Some of them even have stopped paying their bills. I live in Illinois. It is a deadbeat state. Our newspapers run editorials suggesting solutions to Illinois’ huge budget problems. These solutions detail tax increases and spending cuts. Sound familiar?

Neither solution will work. All states, counties and cities should understand why even the most well considered tax increases and spending cuts cannot solve their financial problems.

Yes, Illinois has among the most dishonest groups of political leaders. And yes, Illinois ranks in the upper 10% of the most distressed states. But it’s not entirely the fault of our crooked politicians.

No political entity, whether it be country, state, county or city can prosper and grow, unless it either can create money or obtain money from outside. Spending reductions reduce services and negatively impact the economy, which reduces tax collections in a never-ending downward spiral.

Tax increases merely circulate money within the political entity.Additional money is needed, because even nominal inflation reduces the real value of money. Imagine that together, the state of Illinois, its counties, cities and citizens, owned a total of $100 billion. To balance its budget, Illinois decides to raise taxes, which takes $10 billion from taxpayers and sends it to the state, which then sends the $10 billion back to the taxpayers when it pays its bills.

What has happened? Essentially nothing. There still is a total of $100 billion in the state, except after a year, even with a modest annual inflation of 2%, this money now is worth only $98 billion in purchasing power. After ten years of 2% annual inflation, that same money now is worth less than $82 billion.

Another reason the states, counties and cities cannot survive on taxes alone: Federal taxes remove money from the state every year, and as the money supply declines the state’s economy declines.

Unlike the federal government, Illinois cannot create money at will. It must obtain money from outside its borders. There are but two sources of outside money. One is exporting. We can send goods and services to other locations, which will send us money. But it is quite difficult for any state’s exports to exceed its imports by enough to grow its economy and stay ahead of inflation. An oil-rich state like Alaska and a tourism state like Nevada, both have money coming in from outside. But even these states eventually need a source of additional income.

And that source is the federal government, which in 1971 ended the gold standard, giving itself the unlimited ability to create money, not supported by taxes. By comparison, Greece is not so fortunate. It is limited by the “euro standard.” Illinois is limited by the “dollar standard.” All three standards limit money creation.

Despite fears of “big government,” the federal government must assume more financial obligations. As states, counties and cities continually raise taxes, they find they are in a never-ending, futile cycle, not just because of inefficient management, but also because it is long-term impossible for any political entity to survive, much less grow, without the ability either to create its own money or to receive money from outside its borders.

Rather than pundits calling for ever higher taxes and/or reduced spending, neither of which add to the money supply, they should demand more federal support. Mathematically, that is the only lasting solution.

In summary: The anti-big-federal-government crowd fails to take into consideration the fact that unlike the federal government, the states, counties and cities are unable to create money. When any political entity is unable to create money, its economy will stagnate, unless it receives funds from outside. Worse than stagnate, its economy will decline because inflation makes its own money lose value.

Ongoing economic growth demands ongoing money growth by the federal government.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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