By Pat Hughes
I love baseball. I have for as long as I can remember. I played for as long as my will and ability allowed. My 8-year-old son loves the game even more than I do. We spend hours playing and watching. I coach his team.
Over the years it’s become more and more clear to me that the lessons I’ve learned from baseball are those I can apply to every aspect of my life. Especially the lessons of how to achieve and define success—and how to handle failure. After all, even a great hitter is only successful a third of the time. How a player responds during the other two thirds—in the field, in the dugout, when he practices—determines who he is and who he will be.
For over a decade now, Illinois has been struggling economically. In 2011, Illinois Democrats passed what they promised was a temporary 67% income tax increase. At the time, that increase cost the average family about $1,300 a year. We were told it was necessary because the economy was weak and the state needed to pay down its bills.
In 2011, Illinois had an $8.5 billion backlog of unpaid bills. At the end 2014, after receiving an extra $31 billion from taxpayers, the state is projected to have roughly $6 billion in unpaid bills and $127 billion in debt.
Furthermore, Democrats told us that the tax increase would improve the economy. Today, Illinois has the highest unemployment rate in the Midwest.
Democrats told us that it would improve our credit rating. Illinois has been downgraded 5 times since the tax increase, more than any other state in America. Additionally, Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state.
The 2011 tax increase failed to do what was promised. Now, Democrats want to make it permanent. Hardworking taxpayers can’t afford another tax increase. And raising taxes does nothing to help the 550,000 unemployed Illinoisans find work.
Hall of Famer Bob Feller—one of baseball’s all time greats—once stated, “Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.”
We have the opportunity to begin a new game, so to speak. We must seize it. We have an opportunity to get people elected who understand the policies that will lead to economic expansion. Candidates who recognize the need to implement focused policy reform and leverage our state’s competitive advantages; as opposed to legislators who seek take your hard earned income with total disregard for the work you do and the life you are trying to build.
While the 2011 tax increase was a failure, how we deal with that failure now is what matters. A lesson that a great American state must learn from a great American game.