– By Mark Stefanik. Mark is a middle school language arts teacher and frequent contributor this site.
Amidst the wide range of reactions to the Illinois Supreme Court’s overturning the 2013 Pension Law, one, in particular, seized my attention.
At first, I was in the moment, giving full rein to my own joy. I believe that life is an adventure; a never-ending series of ups and downs, and that one should celebrate the highs when they happen. Relish them. Carpe diem. Release the joy. Gather the strengths. Express gratitude to the Cosmos. Whatever.
So in my imagination, I partied.
- Thought I’d rattle the ‘slippery slope’ conservatives. Put a giant picture of FDR in the back of a pickup truck plastered with union decals . Drove it around the North Shore with the speakers blaring, “Happy Days are Here Again.”
- Deleted my viral burst of job applications to fast food and box store franchises.
- Didn’t show up for my weekend gig as a street poet outside Gibson’s (‘roses are red, violets are blue, for 5 crummy dollars, I’ll immortalize you.’)
Went out to dinner with my wife.
I know, I know…crazy stuff, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to feel good, if just for a little time. I was rich in happiness. My cup overflowed (especially Friday night).
And then it happened. I looked around and saw that not all were rich in happiness like me. I read that Senator Nekritz of Northbrook, who co-sponsored the now defunct pension law, was sad.
That put a hair in my Happy Meal.
I am not a compassionless man. I can feel your pain…sometimes. I want to be gracious in victory. Suddenly, my revelry seemed insensitive.
What have we done, I thought. In our zeal for justice, we have saddened Elaine, the Princess of Pension Piracy.
Sure, we’ve gained what we were promised. In a dizzying presentation of simple ethics, the Supremes upheld the validity of constitutional and contractual law. But, at what price?
If I fathom Elaine’s sadness correctly, she fears for the future of Illinois. Well, cheer up, Elaine. For hundreds of thousands of middle class Illinois citizens, the future looks a wee bit brighter this weekend. Their trust in a system has been restored.
And, do you see the sails on the horizon, Princess? It’s the good ship Fair Taxation, laden with loot once bound for Brucie and Penny and the coast of Corporate Breaks.
Arrrghh…thar be revenues aplenty. You can still save the Land of Lincoln.
So, cheer up, Elaine, but be careful, too. Sometimes, when we’re sad, we make bad decisions. Sometimes, we self-medicate to make the problems go away, but that only masks pain; it does not cure problems. You know, like reneging on pension obligations doesn’t really solve the state’s fiscal crisis.
Don’t surrender to the temptation, Elaine. Join a support group like the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party. They might be hard to find right now, but the search will be worth it.
Embrace a loving sobriety, Elaine. Some people are drinking the Kool-Aid that defrauding the pensioners, purging the middle class, and victimizing the poor is preferable to asking more of the wealthy. Steer clear of that cocktail. Enjoy a nice tall glass of Just Taxation instead.
If state solvency will make you happy, your path is clear.