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Does the Whole World Think Illinois Is Crazy?

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Illinoisans have learned to weather a certain amount of scorn from the national media about our government's dysfunction.

This week, though, the criticism goes international.

The current issue of the respected, London-based magazine The Economist features a piece headlined, "Dysfunctional Illinois: No play, no pay," that neatly and accurately dissects the dissention currently running through Illinois government.

I guess I've been so immersed in all that has gone on this summer -- the pension committee, Gov. Quinn canceling lawmakers' salaries, lawmakers suing Quinn, Mike Madigan and the Metra scandal, former White House chiefs of staff running for governor and running Chicago, which is a city facing pension debt disaster in a state facing the same -- that I never looked at it all as one picture.

And what a picture this must be to an outsider.

Here's one especially good excerpt:

To win in 2014 (Pat Quinn) must fend off a Democratic primary challenge from Bill Daley: a name to conjure with in these parts. Mr. Daley, like Mr. Emanuel, is a former chief of staff for President Barack Obama. He is also the son of Richard J. Daley, the formidable mayor of Chicago from 1955 to 1976, and brother of Richard M. Daley, mayor from 1989 to 2011. Bill Daley's critics say he will be just another machine politician. Yet he is marginally better than the other Democratic option: Lisa Madigan, the attorney-general, who, while popular, is also the daughter of the House Speaker. Ms. Madigan recently said she would not run, because the state would 'not be well served' by having a governor and a Speaker from the same family. Having resolved this conflict of interest, she turned her attention to representing the state comptroller in the pay lawsuit filed by her father.

All true. And it sounds even more ridiculous if you read it out loud, I found.

The article, which carries no byline, also nicely summarizes the elder Madigan's other big summer headline:

Many argue that Mr. Madigan, who has been Speaker for 28 of the past 30 years, is actually the most powerful politician in the state, and could do more if he wanted to. His influence is currently under investigation by an ethics panel, at his own request; he says he is confident he has done nothing wrong.

Of course, none of this is news to anyone in Illinois who has opened a newspaper this summer. But seeing Illinois government so succinctly and accurately summarized on the world stage adds a whole new dimension. My guess is that the general reaction from Economist readers goes something like this: "Why do those people in Illinois put up with this nonsense?"

The whole article is here. Read it and check your reaction.

- See more at Reboot Illinois.