Scott Dixon presents a historical chronology of Alton’s history and points to the last 50 years of our decline. Then Jim Schwegel shows Democratic leader Doug House’s letter blaming Gov. (Bruce) Rauner. Is it not interesting he (House) and Democrats have had control of Illinois government these last 50 years of decline? And Madison and St. Clair counties are a microcosm of Illinois’ decline, with a business-unfriendly climate and a “Judicial Hellhole” that prevents recovery.
Decline of society follows single political party control. Judges up to and including the Illinois Supreme Court are vested in the system. The damage done by the insidious nature of this combination of self-interest may be irreparable, certainly in my lifetime.
Regrowth of Alton with alternative businesses will not happen in the near term. The election of Mayor (Brant) Walker, a businessman who understands the need here, is an encouraging sign of change. Look at growth along the Beltline. However, this locale is still controlled by the forces of our decline. Workmen’s compensation litigation alone rules out return to this area of intense manufacturing industries. That trumps Alton’s excellent central geographic location, excellent highways, railways and riverways. Until this part of the state becomes politically diverse (democratic with a small “d”), change is not going to happen. The way out is clear but not any time soon.
The 67 percent personal income tax increase (state) Sen. (Bill) Haine and (state Rep. Dan) Beiser voted for is telling of what to expect from them. It would be comforting, however, if they had not been part of the Democratic cabal that spent Illinois into these billion-dollar deficits at the heart of decline. Neither has ever met a tax increase he did not like.
Government is astride this country’s economy with over-regulation of banking and businesses, Environmental Protection Agency rules, takeover of health care, $18 trillion debt and unaffordable colleges. Moreover, seven years of deficit spending and the Fed’s zero interest rates to make government debt repayment cheap have all come together to stifle economic growth. The Fed’s cheap money makes wealthy stockholders wealthier and the middle class poorer.
So the Democrats’ solution to this financial morass is to heap on more regulations. Banks were the most regulated institutions and Obama’s solution is more regulations. An overabundance of regulators all missed the warning signs, so their solution is more regulators. We are now at Europe’s moribund 1.5 to 2 percent growth, resulting in lack of business investment because of high taxes.
The only solution is less government, lower taxes and fewer regulations to free up money so businesses will again invest in plants and equipment, but mostly in new businesses for a growing population. But do not expect that in Illinois or Madison County.
In 1960, CBS produced a documentary, “Harvest of Shame” (fairfoodstandards.org), in which Edward R. Murrow exposed Third World squalor right here in the United States. Child labor, wage theft, forced labor and sexual abuse were exposed in the fields where our food was harvested. Congress passed new labor laws, but nothing changed in the fields.
In 1993, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) was formed. Immokalee, an unincorporated area in Southern Florida on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, grows 90 percent of the tomatoes we eat in the winter. And as recently as the ‘90s and early 2000s, the same child labor, wage theft, forced labor and sexual abuse continued in those tomato fields.
Early on, the CIW organized protests and marches. Finally, in 2001, it organized a boycott of Taco Bell asking for just one penny more per pound for the tomato pickers. Several groups, including major religious denominations, joined the boycott, and in 2005 Taco Bell agreed. That extra penny meant $60 to $80 more per week for tomato pickers, making a huge difference in the workers’ lives. The CIW has also aided in the investigation and prosecution of slavery operations in Florida agriculture.
In 2010, CIW organized the Fair Food Program, which investigates conditions in the tomato fields, educates workers about their rights, assures safe working conditions and fair wages, and in general makes a life of dignity possible for workers. All major fast food companies have joined the Fair Food Program, except Wendy’s. Instead of purchasing tomatoes from Fair Food producers in Florida, Wendy’s has opted to purchase tomatoes from a Mexico producer that has a poor record of human rights for its farm workers.
CIW has now organized a boycott against Wendy’s. Again, many groups, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists have joined the boycott. College Avenue Presbyterian Church has a long history of social justice and supports this boycott. We hope you will too.
Karen Wilson, Elder/Treasurer
College Avenue Presbyterian Church, Wood River