NJ For Change

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Turn Ft. Monmouth into a Milton Hershey Style Campus for Foster Children

Milston Hershey SchoolNew Jersey's child-welfare system is such a mess that it is under a court-ordered reform edict. Two and a half years and an additional $345 million later, the court-appointed panel charged with monitoring the system's reform effort reports New Jersey's child welfare system is digressing.

"Indeed, in some areas where prior shortcomings could be explained in part by the amount of time needed to lay the groundwork for future improvements, the record compiled from July through December is particularly disappointing," the report says.

"Before we ask for one more penny, we need some solid evidence, some solid plans," Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, chairman of the Assembly Human Services Committee said Monday. Cryan, also the state Democratic Party chairman and a budget committee member, called the numbers "disastrous" and "staggering."

Our elected leaders are constantly expressing shock and surprise as state programs one by one are found to be ineffective, bloated and broke. As far as I’m concerned the problem is the money spent does not reach the people we are trying to help.

Hershey HomeIf we really want to help foster children we would spend our money running facilities like the Milton Hershey School. There children live in nice homes, each with 8-12 kids, overseen by a married couple who act as house parents. Children receive a quality education, excellent medical care and live in a safe, nurturing environment.

As the state decides what is to become of Fort Monmouth, why not convert that beautiful compound into a Milton Hershey type sanctuary for New Jersey’s orphaned, abused and neglected kids. It may not be the total answer to our child welfare needs, but it could be a great place for children needing long term care by the state.

Ft. MonmouthWith more kids in a central location, money could be better spent on the children rather than on foster parents and child welfare agents shuttling from one foster home to another for a quick visit. A hit and miss proposition at best.

Rather than separating siblings in separate foster homes, bothers and sisters could live together in one home. The state would be better able to provide quality services and monitor the progress and welfare of each child living on the campus.

Why not study the success of the Milton Hershey School and see if a similar program could be adapted for New Jersey’s foster children using the Fort Monmouth campus? Why not?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Poverty In America

DBK writes that he was "criticized the other day by some wingnut who inaugurated his spanking new blog (%%insert gratuitous joke about new spanking blog here%%) by complaining that people are poor because they are "too stupid or lazy to work".

Of course DBK doesn't provide a link to the blog post he quotes, so I assume no such quote exists. It certainly didn’t come from my blog as a reading of my postings will prove.

In his posting, DBK goes on to quote from an article by America's Second Harvest, a food bank network."More than 25 million Americans turned to the nation's largest network of food banks, soup kitchens and shelters for meals last year, up 9 percent from 2001." He also writes that based on U.S. Census Bureau statistics: “During the Bush years, it [poverty rate] has grown from 11.7% in his first year to 12.7% in 2004, the last for which we have statistics."

So what is the cause of poverty in America according to DBK? He believes President Bush is to blame, but he never explains why. I’ll explain why President Bush, the U.S. economy and federal spending on anti-poverty programs are not the cause of poverty in our country.

The U.S. economy has been the fastest growing of the major industrialized nations for the past three years and this year the economy is off to a good start, growing at a “robust 4.5 percent pace”. Unemployment is at 4.7 percent. The condition of the U.S. economy is the best in the world and can’t be blamed for people in poverty.

Federal spending on antipoverty programs has increased each year Bush has been president. An article on Harvard Political Review cites a study that found “poverty-relief programs have grown at a 9.2 percent annual rate under President Bush, nearly twice the rate at which they grew during the Clinton administration”.

During Presdient Clinton’s time in office the average proverty rate was 13.3 percent.and during President Bush’s administration the average rate is 12.3 percent. Not tmuch to show for spending an average of 9.2 percent more every year for the past four years.

According to the Harvard Political Review the federal government has “spent trillions of dollars on anti-poverty programs” since Lyndon Johnson began the ”war on poverty” and yet the poverty rate in the U.S. has remained about the same for the past forty years.

In 1966 the poverty rate was 14.7 percent and since then it was ranged from a high of 15.2 percent to a low of 11.1 percent. As the Harvard article concludes:”it is clear that these antipoverty programs did not come close to achieving President Lyndon Johnson's goal of eradicating poverty in America”.

The American people have tried to end poverty with trillions of tax dollars and billions more in charitable donations. We have been generous, but the DBK’s in this country don’t want to give us credit for all that we have given. Rather then admit that the polices and programs championed by the American left have not worked, the DBK’s demonize anyone who advocates change.

But if we really want to end poverty isn’t it time to try some new approaches? There will always be a need for a safety net for those who become ill or disabled and unable to work and of course for the elderly. But these people are in the minority of those in poverty.

As Walter Williams says avoiding poverty is not rocket science. “First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior” and substance abuse.

The vast majority of people remaining in poverty for long periods of time have failed to take responsibility for their own lives. They quit school, don’t work steadily, have children out of wedlock and abuse alcohol and drugs. We know this is what causes poverty, now what can we do to get people to change this destructive behavior?

Let’s dedicate ourselves to helping people change their attitudes and behaviors that inevitably lead to poverty. Treating people as victims and laying the blame on others isn’t going to solve the problem. That road always leads to the same dead end. It’s time to chart a new course. What do you say DBK?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

On Carnival Hosting and the Olympics

I wasn’t included in this week’s Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers. I’ll try again next week. I don’t think this week’s host put much effort into his Carnival post, last week’s was great. Oh well, I’ll just need to try harder to write something worthy. I’m not giving up.

The Olympics are just about over and right now they’re closing the games with a carnival theme. I thought the Italians did a great job as hosts. I enjoyed watching those events I was able to stay up late enough to see and my favorite was the women’s figure skating.

I thought Sasha Cohen was fantastic. I’ve never seen anyone skate so perfectly with the music. If you weren’t able to see Sasha Cohen skate you really missed out, she’s the best I’ve ever seen. She had it all, beauty grace and athleticism. Yes, she fell in her long program and it cost her the gold medal, but what a gutsy performance – she never gave up. Like so many of the athletes her will to succeed was inspiring, her talent incredible. I hope she gives the Olympics another shot – she’s too good not to be gold

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Week One

I have been blogging for a week now and so far I think about three people have read what I’ve written - me, my cousin and DBK. Ha! My cousin thinks I’m wasting my time and DBK thinks I’m - fill in the blank with one of about 17 or so names he called me in his comments here. Me, I’m going to keep plugging away as long as I keep learning and have something to say.

I’ve asked to join the Carnival of the New Jersey bloggers, so if they include me maybe I’ll get a few more readers. I’m really hoping to engage in some intelligent debate about the issues and maybe persuade a few people to a new way of thinking. Maybe I’ll be persuaded to look at some things differently too. So much of life is dependent on attitude. I hope to keep mine positive and to stay motivated.

Update: Make that at least four readers. Overlawyered is the first to link to one of my postings with their post- Kreimer gets another settlement.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Welcome to the State of Employment

This story isn’t about New Jersey, but it’s about an attitude change our elected officials need to make if they want to turn our state around. People are starting to wake up to the fact that we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing and expect different results.

Mayor Ray Nagin down in New Orleans is a complete fool, but I sure do like the words of their City Council President, Oliver Thomas. He certainly got the public's attention when he told residents that post-Katrina New Orleans would be a different city.

At a meeting of the council's housing committee, Thomas bluntly said evacuees would be welcome back only if they wanted to work. Those who don't "roll up their sleeves" are better off staying away. He said that for too long the New Orleans’s government has "pampered" many citizens and allowed them to get away with being idle.

We don't need soap opera watchers right now," he said. "We're going to target the people who are going to work. It's not that I'm fed up, but at some point there has to be a whole new level of motivation, and people have got to stop blaming the government for something they ought to do.
Thomas explained that he was directing his comments at able-bodied people, not the elderly or disabled.
There's just been a lot of pampering, and at some point you have to say, 'No, no, no, no, no.'... If our legs don't hurt, you can walk somewhere," he said. "I'm saying these things to motivate my people.
In a show of unity with Thomas, Councilwomen Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson and Renee Gill Pratt said they supported his views. Clarkson said preference for spots in permanent public housing should be given to people who show a willingness to work because the city needs a base of taxpayers before it brings back other former residents who can't work. She said Thomas' comments were "an indictment of those who can work, but don't work."

Nadine Jarmon, the appointed chief of the Housing Authority of New Orleans, says it's necessary that returning residents understand the realities of the situation:
"Sometimes you have to not do what's politically correct, you have to do what's right."
Let's hope the people of New Orleans reward the new attitude of their elected officials with votes in April.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Give Us Extra Credit for Education Spending

Since taking office President George Bush has increased federal spending on public schools by $13.8 billion. That’s a thirty-three percent increase since 2001, bringing this year’s total federal spending for public schools to $56 billion.

Some people are never satisfied. A woman by the name of Sharon GR on Blue Jersey Net wrote:

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings makes her first visit to Our Fair State today. She will be speaking at Fairleigh Dickinson University then visiting the acclaimed Robert Treat Academy Charter School in Newark. She is not expected to visit any public schools where Children have been Left Behind.
What children does Sharon GR think Margaret Spellings has 'Left Behind'? If she means kids in other Newark schools and if she’s talking about school funding, she is very mistaken. I have been studying the School Report Cards and Newark spends more per school child than any other community in Essex County.

New Jersey spends more per child on education than any other state and our state spends more per student in the poor Abbott Districts than for school children in well-to-do neighborhoods. Do the research and you’ll see that Newark spends $15,796, Camden spends $15,091 and Jersey City spends $14,420 per child.

We can spend all the money in the world, but money can’t make kids learn. Parents must be role models for their children and teach them the importance of an education and of applying themselves in school. A change in the attitude of parents and children is what’s needed to keep children from getting left behind.

So many people I know are like Sharon. They make sarcastic remarks, but they don’t have any information to back up their comments. Maybe Sharon doesn’t know any better or maybe she’s just trying to mislead people. I don’t know.

It’s the negative attitude many people have in this state that bothers me. Here we spend all this money on our kids and people like Sharon won’t give us any credit. Communicating misleading information doesn’t help anybody either.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Jersey May Cut Medicaid Budget

I wonder if my new “best friend” DBK will outraged to learn Senator Wayne Bryant is looking to cut New Jersey’s Medicaid budget?

Our state currently spends a total of $9 billion on Medicaid, half paid by the federal government and half by the state. Of the $4.5 billion New Jersey spends, $1.5 billion is spent on optional services.
Medicaid cuts could be on the table as state lawmakers try to close a budget gap in the coming months.

Some optional programs currently included in New Jersey's Medicaid coverage may be worth examining for savings, Sen. Wayne Bryant, D-Lawnside, the chairman of the Senate budget committee said after a hearing Tuesday. He stressed he is just seeking information at this point.

"If you're going to try to make a budget work, you have to look at all of them," Bryant said as his committee began work on tackling a budget deficit that could exceed $4 billion. "We're probably going to keep most of the optional services, I believe that, but there might be some that we say we can either do in a different way, or we just can't afford to do it."
Bryant is also going to be taking a closer look at some of the other sacred cows in the state’s budget for possible cost savings and reductions.

The look at Medicaid was the first in what Bryant indicated could be several examinations of the largest, and often most sensitive, parts of the state budget. Spending on education and higher education could also come under the microscope.
If our elected officials actually follow through and make cuts, that would be the attitude change I’m looking for to turn New Jersey around.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

No Excuses

Camden has a poverty rate greater than New Orleans. In fact Camden is the second poorest central city in America. That’s right; a city that’s been led by Democrats forever has a poverty rate of 32.8 percent compared to another Democratic Party mess, New Orleans’ 23.7 percent.

The problems in Camden have nothing to do with racism and everything to do with attitude. I know, my momma was born and grew up in Camden. Most of my family was born and raised in Camden. I know Camden and the people.

Politicians and the other poverty pimps keep people in line and the money flowing into their bank accounts by telling people they’re victims and keeping people dependent on government handouts. Camden will never change until the people living in Camden have an attitude change. As Walter Williams says avoiding poverty is not rocket science.

First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.

Is it racial discrimination that stops black students from studying and completing high school? Is it racial discrimination that's responsible for the 68 percent illegitimacy rate among blacks?

The civil rights struggle is over, and it has been won. At one time, black Americans did not have the same constitutional protections as whites. Now, we do, because the civil rights struggle is over and won is not the same as saying that there are not major problems for a large segment of the black community. What it does say is that they're not civil rights problems, and to act as if they are leads to a serious misallocation of resources.
Exactly. I'm sick of hearing all the usual excuses from perfectly healthy people blaming everyone but themselves for their own problems. Stop being a victim and take responsibility for your own life. Go to school, get a job, don’t get into drink and drugs and don’t have kids you can’t afford.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Medicare Premium Hype

Medicare monthly premium will be $88.50 for 2006, an increase of $10.30 from the $78.20 premium seniors paid last year. That’s a total increase of $123.60 a year and the new deductiable is $124. Total out of pocket for Meidcare is less than $250..

Premiums are going up, but “most Medicare beneficiaries will see significantly lower out-of-pocket health care costs in 2006 because of the savings in drug costs from the new Medicare prescription drug benefit.” Also, about one-fourth of beneficiaries can receive assistance that pays for their entire premium.

As Medicare costs go up why shouldn’t seniors have to pay a bit more? One-hundred and twenty-five dollars a year seems like a good deal to me. Really poor seniors don't even have to pay. So what are these people tetchy about?

Here’s a guy, calling himself DBK, writing about how hard working and wonderful his in-laws are, yet complaining about the increase in Medicare premiums:

It gets to be personal after a while, after you see the effect these mean-spirited, greedy, petty, pipsqueaks, these fractions of a human have on so many other people, and how these pipsqueaks do so much harm when they play politics with other people's lives.

They'll send your children in the way of bullets with one hand and take the food and medicine off of your in-laws' kitchen counter with the other. Then they'll send out a newsletter to tell you why it's a good thing they did that, all the while pretending that sick and impoverished senior citizens will save you money.
You should know his “father-in-law still plays golf every chance he can get”. Not exactly what I would call impoverished. Still, it makes you wonder why this guy thinks we should care more about his in-laws than he does. And who’s he calling greedy? If he really cared and if his in-laws needed help, why doesn’t he give them the extra $250? DBK is what I would call a “mean-spirited, greedy, petty, pipsqueak.”

Oh well, consider the source, as my momma always told me. The guy’s blog address is frogsdong, I kid you not, and he gets his news from a website called Dump Mike - a blog devoted to complaining about New Jersey Congressman Mike Ferguson. It’s actually some sort of “spam blog” asking for contributions in the range of $50 to $5000 that’s supposed to be used to defeat Ferguson. Sounds like a scam to me.

A guy named Michael Pratt is mad at Ferguson for voting in favor of a money saving bill that included the increases in Medicare premiums. Pratt says the bill “comes down -- and hard -- on poor senior citizens” and “makes it necessary for some elderly citizens to have to sell their houses to get the care they need to survive.” I still don't see what's wrong with people getting the benefit paying for some of the cost increases.

Old people in New Jersey are forced to sell their houses to get out from under the high property taxes, not because they have to pay an extra $123.60 a year for Medicare. What fool is going to send these guys money to help elect someone who will vote to raise taxes? I already pay enough for taxes, thank you. I think we need more Congressmen like Mike Ferguson.

This is why it’s important not to believe everything you read. I’ve learned you’ve got to do your own research and not take the word of people who only give just one part of a story. Like I said, we need to make some changes in New Jersey and one is to start calling out people who stretch the truth.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Discrimination on the Basis of Martial Status

Gay people believe they are being discriminated on the basis of their sexual orientation and want the New Jersey Supreme Court to find people of the same sex have a right to marry. That’s what they say anyway.

What gays are really after are the perks married people receive under state and federal law. Unmarried people suffer discrimination and gays are just one small subset of the “single” population getting the short end of the stick.

Shouldn’t everyone have the right to have people visit them in the hospital, to have someone hold their hand as they die? Or should this right only be granted based on martial status?

Fifty-four percent of adult woman in the U.S. are unmarried. Forty-eight percent of households nationwide are maintained by unmarried men and women. But being unmarried doesn’t mean single people aren’t dependent on one another for financial support. Friends, cousins and other extended family members live together in committed relationships for decades. Should they have their homes taxed away when one of them dies simply because of their marital status?

Do away with the inheritance taxes and no gets hurt – straight or gay. Or give everyone the right to designate one person they can leave their estate to tax free. Give everyone the right to name a primary person who can speak for them in medical emergencies, visit them in hospital or hold their hand as they lie dying. Wouldn’t these changes solve the problem for everyone, including gay people?

The gay rights movement hasn’t being working toward addressing the hardships and obstacles faced by single people or toward the achievement of equal rights for all. If the LGBT advocacy groups really cared about civil rights, their work would have been on behalf of all non-married people, but it hasn’t. It’s all about getting in on the special rights enjoyed by the married at the expense of others.

The New Jersey Supreme Court should be addressing discrimination on basis of martial status. Instead they agree to hear a case with the potential to further divide people. The state legislature could easily fix the problems government caused in the first place. But politicians prefer to take the easy way out and let unelected judges find special interests rights in New Jersey’s Constitution. No matter how the court rules, the majority of single people will continue to pay the price of martial discrimination.

This isn’t a case about civil rights, it’s all about special rights and recent New Jersey Supreme Court history has shown a lack of common sense to understand the difference.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Richard Kreimer's Homeless Scam

Have you read about the homeless guy, Richard Kreimer, making his living by suing people for kicking him out of public places and off public transportation because he stinks and aggravates people with his behavior?

Back in 1991 Kreimer sued and won nearly a quarter of a million bucks from Morristown and the Morris Township Public Library because they kicked him out because of his obnoxious body odor and his habit of staring at people in library. Why should people have to put up with a smelly weirdo? Why is this even a problem for courts to solve?

Kreimer received $230,000 from the 1991 harassment suit after a federal judge ruled a library's rules on hygiene were unconstitutional. That ruling was later overturned, but not before Kreimer had been paid. Ah, sorry too late your tax money has already been flushed down the toilet.

The New York Times recalls an ACLU lawyer who represented Kreimer in a 1991 voting rights case, calling him "driven and difficult" to deal with, as well as manipulative. Kreimer even carries out his own PR efforts, anonymously calling a New York Times reporter, claiming that he was a New Jersey Transit employee.
He said that "Richard Kreimer was back," prompting talks between the transit agency and the A.C.L.U. over the treatment of homeless people.
Are you asking yourself why this guy is still homeless if he won $230,000? You shoulda known, the lawyers got half and he blew the rest.

Now Kreimer’s figured out how to shakedown a contract carrier for NJ Transit in Morris County for an undisclosed sum. He was asking for $5 million. He also still has federal lawsuits pending against NJ Transit, the city of Summit, and others because he says he was kicked out of train stations because he is homeless.

Here’s what the NJ Transit bus driver in the middle of Kreimer’s latest rip-off had to say:
But in a written statement given to police last April, driver Robert Begbie acknowledged refusing to let Kreimer board his bus on April 14, 2005 "as he is a real problem child. He annoys other passengers and tape records all conversations and most of all being homeless, he smells very bad and it's not fair to me or the passengers that we have to put up with the smell ... We really would be happy not seeing him anymore."
See what I mean? We need an attitude change in this state. This guy Kreimer travels around annoying people with his crazy behavior and nasty body odor and now we gotta pay him and his greedy lawyers. Judges in New Jersey that buy into this crap are to blame for making scams like this possible.

I’ve read the New Jersey Constitution and I don’t see where it says you have a right to get in other people’s faces and make them retch at your stench. Kreimer isn’t discriminated against because he’s homeless, he purposely bothers people for profit. We need changes in this state.

Friday, February 17, 2006

New Jersey For Change

Since no one I know blogs, I thought I would give it a shot. I think New Jersey needs to make major changes and this is what my blog (I think) is going to be about. When I say New Jersey needs to change, I mean the politicians and many of the people need an attitude change.

I am sick of working hard and paying my taxes to see people always asking for more. If you don't finish school and don't want to get a job, why am I supposed to be supporting you? It's all a big scam with politicians pretending to care about poor folks. Most folks are poor because they try to take the easy way out and don't care about the future.

Did you ever notice who ends up rich in this state? The politicians, that's who. How do they become rich on the small pay they get from their political jobs? That's one of the things I'd like to see changed in New Jersey, politicians getting rich off people like me. This has got to change people.