By: Mark Glennon*
When the books are written about Illinois’ collapse, much will be written about deniers in the media — those who have misled the public about the gravity of our problems. John McCarron has written opinion pieces for the Chicago Tribune since just about when the media should have begun sounding alarms loudly — 2000. He has failed. He’s been among the biggest of the deniers. Worse, he remains undeterred.
This week’s contribution was titled, “Plenty of Good Reasons to Remain in Illinois.” If you’re among the vast majority of Illinoisans who believe in fair legislative maps, a property tax freeze or term limits, well that’s all a “crock,” he says, with no explanation. And the businesses fleeing Illinois aren’t rational, as he apparently sees things. Those leaving Illinois are “Chicken Littles,” he says.
The sole point he makes to defend his sanguine view is that Illinois’ out-migration is small — less than one-third of one percent. Unmentioned are the polls showing a full half of Illinoisans say they want to leave, and the reality that it takes years for people to make that happen — find a new job, sell a home, wait till kids finish school and all the rest. And never mind constant examples of employers leaving and shrinking tax revenue. He gloats about how well Chicago is doing, which is widely known, but ignores the statewide picture. The Tale of Two States most all of us recognize apparently isn’t familiar to him.
It seems to me that if McCarron wants to convince so many Illinoisans why they are wrong, there are better ways than merely calling them “Chicken Littles” and asserting that what they believe is a “crock.” He could start by looking at the Tribune’s own database to see the suicidal property taxes being paid in many communities. He could explain to residents there why they shouldn’t be worried that so much of their lives’ savings have been wiped out. (Actually, nobody at the Tribune has done that. They rejected a guest piece I submitted to them on it, but the piece I wrote here on it is among our most viewed and most complimented.)
McCarron doesn’t bother with facts like that, which might be a good thing. See our earlier piece describing where he absolutely butchered facts pertinent to pension reform.
Maybe the scariest part is that McCarron teaches journalism at Northwestern’s Medill school, reputedly among the best in the country.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.