NJ For Change

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Corzine Watch, Pumping Gas and Technorat Finds

I’m still trying to figure out an effective way to use Technorati. I was curious to find blog posts on the pump your own gas issue here in New Jersey and thought I’d give it a try. I found a mish mash of posts, like this one – Hey, New Jersey! Pump Your Own Gas, Losers*, but did not have much luck finding posts from New Jersey bloggers.

From the articles I have read, people aren’t very enthusiastic about the change and for what my little blog reader survey is worth, women less so. Most news articles all say about the same thing, including as I said before, there’s not much in the way of evidence we’d save money at the pump if the law was changed.

Pamela Fischer, vice president of public affairs for AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, said the club opposes lifting the ban because there's no proof that doing so would help prices. In other states that allowed self-serve, prices have often risen as the full-service price becomes the self-service price, she said.
I’m sure someday the law will be changed, but it won’t be happening in the near future. Frankly, I don’t know why Governor Corzine is continuing to push the idea. I suppose he’d rather be in the news for self-serve gas pumping and lowering speed limits than for his proposed budget and tax increases.

My Technorati search did turn up a blog called CorzineWatch.com and this nifty code to track the number of posts on a specific term. Here is the automatically updating chart for ‘Corzine’. The Corzine Watch bloggers might want to add this graph to their site as a novelty. Anyway, I hope they keep a close eye on Corzine’s doings – Ken Adams caught the Governor in another whopper.

* He must work in New Jersey and is one angry person.

Corzine per day for the last 60 days.
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hor Air

I suppose by now everyone has checked out Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air – “the world’s first full-service conservative Internet broadcast network.” What do you think of the idea, the material presented on the site and her vlog, (another new term) Vent?

My first reaction was - where does the woman find the time? Second reaction – how can she come up with material for her blog and material for her vlog when I can barely keep up with current events and writing stuff for one little blog?

Michelle is one ambitious and hard working lady. Smart too. I wish her the best.

On the flip side, Jay Lassiter has been working to get himself quoted in the media on every conceivable topic. Did you happen to notice he also manages to attend every “progressive” protest march? I’m beginning to think that’s what he does for a living.

Supposedly, he wrangled a press pass to cover the today’s protest in New York - End the war in Iraq! Stand up for immigrant and women's rights! I didn’t finsih reading the post, when I got to the picture (please tell me it’s not Jay) I stopped reading.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Backfire

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mayday! Mayday!

Am I missing something here? I was under the impression Congress was supposed to be working on new laws to get a handle on the country’s problems with illegal immigration. You know, protect American citizens, uphold the law and secure the borders. It seems to me Congress is concentrating on something they call immigration reform, which as far as I can tell amounts to awarding benefits to illegal aliens.

Are American citizens clamoring for illegal alien amnesty? Demanding millions more be added to the rolls of “entitlement” programs? The answer is no and no. So when and why did this become a congressional priority? All this talk has only stirred the pot and emboldened millions of illegals to demand “rights” for which they are not entitled under our Constitution. We’d be better off leaving things as they currently stand if reducing illegal immigration is not the objective.

Pro-immigration activists say a national boycott and marches planned for May 1 will flood U.S. streets with millions of Latinos to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants and shake the ground under Congress as it debates reform.

"We want full amnesty, full legalization for anybody who is here (illegally)," Rodriguez said. "That is the message that is going to be played out across the country on May 1."

They vow that America's major cities will grind to a halt and its economy will stagger as Latinos walk off their jobs and skip school.
This should shake the ground under Congress and bring our leaders to their senses. The situation is out of control and the American people will not be intimidated by criminal mobs. Congress is supposed to represent the citizens of the United States and if our elected leaders have forgotten, then we’ll need to remind them this November.

P.S. What's up with the skipping school? To prove how many extra teachers we employ and how extra classrooms we have built to accommodate illegal aliens? If they follow through on this threat, this should be a real eye opener!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

'Hold Me Accountable'

Jon Corzine has been governor of New Jersey for 100 days. Not really long enough to judge his performance, but long enough to have learned something about his priorities and the direction his leadership will take the state. Corzine made a number of major campaign promises and when sworn into to office said “hold me accountable". One hundred days in and people are doing just that.

The Quinnipiac University poll released today shows Gov. Corzine’s overall approval rating at 35% and on his handling of the state budget, only 31% approve. A comparison between candidate Corzine and Governor Corzine may help to explain why public has turned against him.

Budget and Taxes

Campaign promises: Corzine said he would rein in government spending; put the state's fiscal house in order by eliminating budget gimmicks and borrowing; proposed economic growth initiatives that would eliminate the need for tax hikes.

Quotes: "I don't think we have to raise taxes," at a Gannett New Jersey editorial board on Oct. 5. "The time of one-shot budget fixes is past. It's time to balance the books," in his Jan. 17 inaugural address. "Economic growth should be the engine to expand revenues, not taxes," in his budget address, March 21.

What happened: Proposed the largest budget increase in nearly 20 years at 9.2%. Has proposed raising taxes by $1.5 billion: sales tax increase from 6% to 7%, plus tax increases on alcohol, cigarettes, luxury cars, water and hospital beds. "One-shot" budget fixes total $500 million. Corzine avoided increasing the gas tax. Instead he added $6.4 billion in borrowing for a five-year transportation plan. The debt will cost $18 billion in the long run, and lawmakers will still have to come up with a long-term funding plan.

Property Taxes

Campaign promises: The Corzine 40% in 4 property tax relief plan - restore property tax rebates to 2004 levels and increase them 10% for four years; address long-term reform with a special session of the Legislature, a constitutional convention, or both.

Quote: "We have a serious, serious problem . . . with regard to property taxes, and it's more than just relief, it is real reform, and I intend to tackle that," on Nov. 9, the morning after he won election.

What happened: Rebates will not be restored and increases are limited to a 10% increase or about a $35 increase for most homeowners. The budget also holds funding for schools and municipalities flat, putting more pressure on local property taxes. No call for a special session of the Legislature or a constitutional convention.

Government Ethics

Campaign promises: Corzine said he would create an elected comptroller to oversee state finances, strengthen the State Ethics Commission, ban pay-to-play at all levels of government and end "wheeling," which lets political power brokers shift campaign funds around the state.

Corzine quotes: "I call on all my fellow public servants to join in an historic effort to end the toxic mix of politics, money and public business, at every level of New Jersey government," in his Jan. 17 inaugural address.

What happened: Corzine expanded ethics rules to make more people file financial disclosure forms and his budget includes steps to end pension some abuses. The statewide reforms, however, have not occured.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Who Will Clean Up the Mess?

Tenants want a mayor who'll clean up mess. The residents at Seth Boyden Elderly Public Housing Project, say they don't much care who gets elected mayor of Newark just as long it's someone who deals with the rats running through the ceiling above the community room.

Prod one of the ceiling panels with a stick and a small storm of pellet-like rat turds rain down on the floor and the smell is unbearable. But that's still not as big a problem as the security, which residents say is lax in the evening and then non-existent from midnight until 8 a.m., leaving the hallways free to the drug dealers and prostitutes.
New Jersey spends $175 million, plus millions more in federal funds and yet, the people who should have benefited from our money are living in these horrible conditions.

"I'm not asking for much, I just want the maintenance people and the security people to do their jobs," Johnson said. "To me that's what this election is about -- who's going to get the job done?"

Four years ago, that was a question Newark Housing Authority tenants answered with a resounding vote for incumbent Mayor Sharpe James.

"He has 100 percent authority," Mary Rone of the Newark Tenants Council said about the mayor. "The mayor appoints al most everybody that sits on the board."
Why do these folks continue to vote for these scoundrels and crooks, along with many voters who claim to care about the most vulnerable. Does anyone pay attention to what’s been going on? Not at all, they just call for more spending and pat themselves on the back for being so compassionate and progressive.
Candidate for Newark mayor, Ronald Rice has long fought for low-income housing appropriations in Trenton and, as West Ward councilman, was a regular at tenant association meetings at places like Bradley Court.
Rice is currently Deputy Mayor and a state Senator, as is Newark’s Mayor Sharpe James. The pair fought for tax dollars so they could enrich themselves and their friends. It certainly wasn’t used for public housing. Reason enough to vote for Cory Booker for mayor.

The Newark Housing Authority has been labeled a “troubled agency” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for misusing $20 million in federal funds. Unless there is a major turnaround, the federal government will be forced to take over the Newark Housing Authority, just as feds have been forced to oversee the UMDNJ.

The scathing audits from the federal Office of Inspector General said Housing Authority officials used $3.9 million to buy land for a downtown arena that should have been used for housing. The agency also paid the city, under the direction of the James administration, $7 million for police protection and other services that HUD officials say they aren't sure housing authority residents ever received.
How long have the Democrats controlled Newark? How long has Sharpe James been mayor? How many billions have taxpayers sent the city? The schools, the healthcare system, the housing authority – the Democrat's culture of corruption has become accepted as the price of political power from the Governor on down.

"It's been messed up so long," Lonnie Johnson said. "Sometimes you feel like nobody even cares."
Democrats have taken the minority vote for granted and have used the poor and the helpless as excuses for continuing their failed socialist polices. It’s enough to make you sick. When are people going to wake up and say enough is enough? New Jersey needs major political change – there’s no defending the status quo.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pumping Your Own Gas?

Gov. Jon Corzine said he may consider lifting a 57-year-old law that makes New Jersey only one of two states where people can't pump their own gas. Supposedly, self-service might save people “as much as 5 cents a gallon” at the pump.

Do we pay more per gallon of gas in New Jersey (minus state tax) than consumers in states with self-service? That’s the question. It’s been my experience when self-service comes in gas prices are reduced for a short period and then go right back to the full service price. The price for full service is then priced considerably higher and eventually it becomes nearly impossible to find a gas station that will pump your gas.

Should there be a law against pumping your own gas? Probably not. But, I do like the convenience of sitting in my car, regardless of weather and having someone filler-up. No mess, no fuss, no dirty hands or gas spills on my clothes. Lift the consumer gas pumping ban and there goes one of the few niceties left in New Jersey. Also there goes who knows how many gas station jobs.

Actually, I always assumed the law wasn’t changed because of the impact it would have on the entry-level, low skill job pool and the problems people with disabilities have in other states finding assistance, even though it is required by law.

It will be interesting to see where Corzine’s idea goes – who will be for it, who will be against it. It’s probably just a head fake put out there as an “I feel your pain” and “I’m doing everything I can” PR move. We’ll see. I'm sure one day the law will be changed, just probably not in the near future.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Politics Patrol Blog

Bob Ingle was on a roll today:

New definition:Used to be oligarchy best described New Jersey's political setup. That's rule by a few for their own advantage. Nowadays the collection of Trenton public trough-swillers can best be described as a kleptocracy. That's a government characterized by rampant greed and corruption.

Blogosphere: Starting today you can share opinions and see input from other readers about our wretched kleptocracy and the world in general. You asked for a Politics Patrol blog. You got it. It will be updated daily. The journey starts at this Web site: http://www.app.com/.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! To celebrate, my cousin and I are spending a quite day at home watching the rain turn the earth green – at least it is in our little neck of the woods.

The state of New Jersey has a very unattractive website devoted to Earth Day and explains since the first celebration on April 22, 1970 “New Jersey has become one of the leaders in recognizing environmental problems and developing creative solutions.” If you curious to learn more about our state’s pioneering efforts in environmental protection click here.

The federal government has an Earth Day portal with environmental highlights and action you can take to accelerate environmental progress – at home, at work, in the classroom and in your community.

At the international level you can get Earth Day in a Box or for a spiritual take you can get Religious Earth Day in a Box. You also take an Ecological Footprint Quiz which supposedly estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15 questions you'll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what other people use and to what is available on this planet.

If you take the quiz, I’d be curious to know how many planets you score. Here’s my result – 7.2 planets would be needed if everyone lived like me.

Corzine Sings the Blues

New Jersey only has three state-wide elected officials – the governor and two senators – all of which are currently Democrats. Which politician is the most popular in the state – Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator Bob Menendez or Governor Jon Corzine?

As of April 20, Lautenberg has a 43% approval to 43% disapproval rating, Menendez stands at 40% approval, 37% disapproval and Corzine is at 36% approval and 56% disapproval. Not quite 100 days into to his term as governor and Corzine has gone from first to worst. The Governor is singing the budget blues:

Gov. Jon Corzine is all over the state singing the praises of his monetary masterpiece, the all-time record $31.9 billion state budget. Naturally, Corzine is accompanied by the marvelous Democratic Rinky Dinks - majority-booked in the Legislature for two years. From Turnpike to Parkway, from interstate to city streets, Corzine remains obscured from his adoring fans in his limo-tinted SUV, which stands for Some Ugly Vehicle.

But two polls suggest Corzine's fan base is eroding. On April 4, a Rutgers-Eagleton poll reported that only 30 percent said Corzine convinced them that the tax increases he proposed are necessary to balance the budget. The respondents said spending cuts should be favored over tax increases, 56 to 27 percent.

The Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind survey, also published April 4, was more harsh: 61 percent said raising the sales tax from 6 to 7 percent was a bad idea. That poll said 67 percent of voters suggested the state should hold the line on spending, even if state programs are reduced. Only 21 percent said the state should increase taxes to maintain programs.
Corzine keeps playing that same broken record and singing off key at the top of his lungs – tax and spend, la di da.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Man in the Mirror

From L.A. Parker in today’s Trentonian:

Every person living in Trenton turns a blind eye toward the real hard facts regarding an escalation of problems in the African American community.

"I don’t see (other groups) killing each other the way we do. We want to blame everybody else instead of dealing with the real issues. This is our problem.’’

While politicians make promises as they rush toward the May 9 general election, a single campaign initiative should include a mirror for every African American male living or being stalked by death in Trenton.

They [politicians] and their spin doctors tell us that we need them with the sincerity of a sly mechanic looking under your hood on a lonely stretch of highway.

What we need is for African American men to stand up for employment, education, community, family, love and determination.

What we need are prayers offered up towards the heavens followed by action.

Break out the mirrors African American men.

The enemy has been identified and regrettably it’s us.
Amen, brother!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New Jerseyans Seeing Red

Slowly, but surely New Jersey is turning red. Governor Corzine has proposed a state budget that breaks each of his campaign promises and has everyone up in arms over his tax and spending spree. You can’t increase state spending by 9.2 percent and get people with half a brain to believe your budget contains billions in spending cuts.

Even the Democrats in the Trenton aren’t going along with Corzine’s script – rejecting his tax increases and calling for actual spending cuts. Still, Corzine remains tone deaf, pressing for $250 million in additional spending for three stem cell research facilities and complaining it’s "unconscionable" that the spending measure hasn’t sailed through the legislature. I guess the magic words “stem cells” aren’t working as planned. Reality has set in, we can’t afford it.

Yesterday, New Jersey voters rejected nearly half the state's local school district budgets.. Schools fared even worse on additional spending on second ballot questions with sixty-six percent being rejected by voters. You know things are bad when even socialists are voting no on school spending.

In fairness I should cofess (sic) that I voted NO on both counts and I did so because I can't afford to pay more than the $13,000 (and change) that I already fork over annually in property taxes. It wasn't a question of values for me, it was basic economic reality. I fancy myself a liberal progressive who regards education as a big priority. The bitter irony is that I may spend my entire adult life advocating to transform New Jersey into a socialist workers paradise only to be priced out of Cherry Hill in retirement.
It’s amazing how ‘conservative’ people become when it involves their own money. New Jersey has become a ‘socialist workers paradise”, but ‘basic economic reality’ proves the system bankrupt. It’s just taken some people longer to figure out that a ‘socialist paradise’ is a taxpayer hell.

So the people of New Jersey are beginning to see red and wise up. The latest Rasmussen poll has Tom Kean up by seven points over Bob Menendez in the senate race. I’m not surprised. Menendez voted against the 3,416,000 New Jerseyans who benefited from the ‘Bush tax cuts’. The tax cuts for ‘the rich’ turned out to be tax cuts for New Jersey and I’m betting most people would rather keep it that way.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Camden Waterfront Attraction Blogging Days

Calling New Jersey bloggers! The Camden Waterfront attractions are looking for 200 bloggers to blog about a free day of fun at Adventure Aquarium, Battleship New Jersey and Camden Riversharks.

To enter Camden Waterfront Attraction Blogging Days, May 19 - 21, 2006 just click on the link, fill in the form and submit your entry by Friday, May 12th.

If you are selected to be one of the lucky 200 bloggers, you and a guest can see everything from the Big Guns at the Battleship New Jersey, or the Shark Realm at Adventure Aquarium and take in a Camden Riversharks game, all for free. All you have to do is blog about your experience.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Dealing With Denial

Check out Dr. Pat Sanity’s articles Dealing With Denial Part I, Part II and Part III .

Part I addresses the many faces of psychological denial. Part II focuses on psychological denial and the logical fallacies used by deniers to rationalize their denial. Part III discusses strategies for dealing with denial in one's self and in others.

I am posting this as a public service.

Update: A link to Part III has been added.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Reality Sets In


We have finally finished our incomes taxes. This Ipso Facto comic by Mike Wallster pretty much says it all for my cousin and me.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Jay Lassiter

I had a visit today from New Jersey blogger Jay Lassiter and he left three comments I would like to share with you. I am reprinting Jay's comments exactly as received and have some commentary of my own after each one.

Jay’s blog is Lassiter’s Space and you might want to check it out beginning with his first postings in November of 2005 if you are not familiar with him and his politics.

Comment # 1 - 4/13/2006 07:47:36 AM

Damn chanice...dosn't the griping all the time get old? if you don't like NJ, there is aplenty of room in a red state sister.
That comment was left on my posting Stem Cells Multiplying. My piece was about how our elected leaders in Trenton had decided New Jersey needed to build, first two new stem cell research facilities, one for $150 million in New Brunswick and another for $50 million in Camden and then less then 24 hours later deciding we needed a third – this one for $50 million in Newark.

My point was given New Jersey’s current financial status, broke as Governor Corzine likes to remind us, it struck me as ridiculous that taxpayers were being asked to foot the tab for not one, but for three new stem cell research centers. I consider my questioning the expense and the need for not one, but three facilities to be reasonable. Apparently, I’m supposed to just pay up and shut up or move out.

I hope my readers will find that I have been doing more than just griping this past seven weeks, but I will defer to Jay who has been blogging for over five months as to whether griping all the time gets old. Does it Jay?

Comment # 2 - 4/13/2006 07:50:25 AM

perhaps you just resent the fact that a black man is getting rich? you're not one of those uncomfortable-in-their skin black people who wants soooo badly to emulate the features of whiteness that you become a right wing goof ball? are you? If so, that must suck.
That comment was left on my posting the Audacity of Hope which was about Senator Barack Obama penning a book entitled Audacity, enabling him to join the Senate’s millionaires club. My purpose in this piece was to point out one, I didn’t know Obama had made so much money on his book and two, that in my opinion he owed his success to getting a good education, setting goals and working hard to achieve them, not to audacity. Reasonable people can disagree as to why he chose to highlight audacity as the key to success; my guess was the traditional go to school and work hard story wouldn’t sell the philosophy of the Democratic Party.

I ask you, does my posting have anything to do with race or resenting people becoming rich, regardless of their race or gender? I think not. The rest of Jay’s insults I will leave to each of you to form your own opinion. It’s becoming clear to me that Jay doesn’t appreciate points of view that differ from his. Is that why you refer to yourself as a ‘progressive’ Jay?

Comment # 3 - 4/13/2006 10:42:08 AM

My mamaw used to tell me that if you can't say something nice to (or about someone) better to say nothing. I am sorry that i did not heed that advise before leaving this post.sorry, i had no right to say what i said.Jay Lassiter
That comment was left on my posting the Audacity of Hope. My comment here is that Jay wrote what he did because that’s what he really thinks and feels - his regret was for telling me and you. Jay, give your mother my sympathies.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Blue Trenton

This past Sunday I questioned whether progressives had any interest in New Jersey beyond winning the next election and holding taxpayers hostage for more money. A reader emailed me a link to a posting, Reading, Writing and Gangs, on Blue Jersey “that shows they want to improve something.”

The posting is about the horrible gang problem in Trenton and the murders that have recently been committed there in broad daylight by members of the Bloods gang. Things have gotten so out of control in Trenton the author explains that about 400 Trenton High students will skip school tomorrow out of fear of walking to school.

Recently, a suspected gang member accused of murder got back on the streets after posting $50,000 cash for his $500,000 bail. Mayor Doug Palmer asked "Where's a guy who doesn't have a job get $50,000?" Attorney General Farber has said she will speed up from 3 years to 4 months the time it takes for shooting cases to go to trial.
It’s well known New Jersey’s cities are behind the curve in law enforcement, failing to learn from the successful strategies Mayor Rudolph Giuliani employed in New York City. The Democrats have controlled our state’s cities for decades and taxpayers have poured billions into every conceivable ‘program” with little to show for the ’investment.’

My reader suggested I read this Blue Jersey post to gain an understanding of progressive ideas for improvement. Unfortunately, the idea is the usual progressive answer to all problems, spend more money.

That's a start. Action must be taken - and soon. It's bad enough that they don't have enough books, computers or teachers. It's bad enough they go to school in a run-down building that's sorely in need of renovation. The least we should provide our children is a place where they can feel safe and learn.
So there you have it. If only we had spent more on Trenton’s High School the Bloods wouldn’t be terrorizing the city’s population. This is a ridiculous theory that is not rooted in any facts.

The gang violence has nothing to do with public school funding. The average Trenton High School teacher earns $66,790 per year versus the state average of $52, 563; the cost per student Trenton High School student averages $14,567, well above the state average and the highest in Mercer County; the school in 100% internet connected and the numbers of students per faculty member is 11.5, as compared to 11.4 for the state.

Trenton High School hardly appears to be run down (see picture above and to the right) and the $24 million slated for construction at the school is going to build one heck of a gym as pictured on the left. A great priority for a school with such an abysmal student performance record and totally irrelevant to the gang problem.

The gang violence in Trenton is a testimony to the failed polices and ‘programs’ of government. More money for more of the same tired strategies isn’t going to change anything in Trenton.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Blue Strategy

I think I’ve spotted the Democrat strategy for this years’ election. Put up two candidates in the primary. One that is your basic liberal candidate and one that is so completely outlandish and so far left that by comparison the liberal will seem almost mainstream when the general election rolls around.

Here’s a good example from Blue Jersey. The Xpatriated Texan is the voice of reason in Enough Stupidity Please which was brought on by the Dumbest Quote of the Day from An Open Letter to Paul Aronsohn.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Creating Poverty

Today, I read where economists warned that New Jersey, which already charges residents and businesses high taxes compared to other states, has been losing high-paying jobs and has a weaker economy than the rest of the nation. They said more taxes could hurt businesses and cause high-wage earners to flee the state.

I guess this will come as a real shocker to some people and at least to one New Jersey professor. The other day I read an article by Steven Pressman (picture at right), a professor of economics and finance at Monmouth University, on how New Jersey could easily solve its financial troubles by raising the income tax on the ‘wealthy’ and the gas tax on everyone. Pressman believes these measures would result in economic growth, low unemployment and the end of our state’s budget deficit.

You really need to read Pressman’s entire piece to fully appreciate his complete lack of understanding about economics and the realities of life in New Jersey. He’s trying to convince people that income tax increases result in economic growth and low unemployment. It’s bad enough he managed to get a newspaper to print his ridiculous ideas, it’s beyond pathetic that he’s teaching this drivel to his students.

He suggests raising the income tax rather than the sales tax because the wealthy save a lot of their money, implying I suppose that they really don’t need it. Pressman must think they save it under their mattresses as opposed to investing it in our economy, because I assume he must have read investment is what’s used to create economic growth and wealth. Then again, the creation of wealth is not one of his interests.

If that bit of muddled thinking isn’t disturbing enough, Pressman suggests the Governor should cut the present sales tax rate and boost the state’s income tax higher to really get the state humming with economic vitality.

He believes the ‘wealthy’ will just deduct the state income tax increase from their federal taxes. According to the professor, for every $3 in additional state tax they’ll get $1 back from the IRS. Apparently Pressman’s never heard of the Alternative Minimum Tax and how federal deductions for state income and local property taxes are greatly reduced or totally wiped out for ‘wealthy” New Jersey taxpayers.. Even Senator Bob Menendez and Congresswoman Nancy Pelsoi understand this tax trap.

I wonder how the good professor explains the record amount of income tax revenue the federal and state governments have been raking in since the 2003 ‘Bush tax cuts’? Or why he thinks New Jersey’s broke and other states have surpluses? So engrossed in his academic bubble he must have missed our country’s economic statistics for the past three years and the billions of dollars in new or increased taxes Trenton has imposed during that same time period.

I do think I have figured out the reason for Pressman’s delusional thinking. His B.A. and M.A. were in philosophy and his Ph.D. in economics was from the New School for Social Research. As bio states, his primary research interest is poverty and after reading his article it’s the only thing professor Pressman theories would create. Imagine spending $30,000 a year for college to be taught by professors like Steven Pressman. On second thought don’t.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Week Seven

It’s week seven and I have some questions on my mind. Am I getting stale? I know I’m not the greatest writer or even very good, but are my postings boring? Am I adding anything to the New Jersey discussion? Are there basically two political silos – one right and one left – each talking past the other?

Actually, I am surprised there aren’t more people writing about New Jersey issues and participating on websites and blogs. Our state may be small, but we are the ninth largest in population. New Jersey’s citizens are supposed to be well educated and yet, it seems to me very few of our neighbors are knowledgeable about the state and local matters affecting their everyday lives.

Blue Jersey and like minded progressive bloggers don’t really seem interested in New Jersey except as the state may help add Democrats to congress. Their party controls all the braches of state government, but they don’t seem to have any ideas or suggestions for governing. It’s as if the progressive bloggers have a laundry list. - we held the majority in the assembly and our guy won the governor’s race – check the box, next.

Perhaps the left is basically satisfied with the way things are going in the state and have nothing they’d like to change or improve. New Jersey’s economy is lagging behind the nation, our cities are crumbling, taxes and spending going up, up, up and the state’s broke. Taxpayers are held hostage to public employee unions and corrupt politicians and there’s no relief in sight for people like me.

Maybe progressive Democrats have achieved all their major goals for state and local government and now wish to bring these achievements to the rest of the country. Anyway, it just doesn’t seem to me as though they are very excited about the opportunity to show us doubters what they can do with all the resources at their disposal.

These are just a few questions and thoughts I’ve been thinking about lately. What’s on your mind?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Taxing Results

I had drafted a posting for today and forgot to publish it. I think I have a good excuse too. I was helping my cousin complete her tax returns for 2005 – federal, New York state and New Jersey. Tomorrow we’ll work on my returns. I can’t wait.

It is this annual taxpaying ritual that has played a major role in my political point of view. The day I recognized I was spending more for taxes than any other expense I have, is the day I began to look at government and politics differently. The day I realized I was spending more on taxes than all of my other spending and saving combined, I knew I was being taken advantage of by the ’system’.

Anyway, it’s best I not dwell on the subject of taxes right now or I'll find myself telling you how I really feel. Let’s just say the frustration of not being able to control my own financial destiny drives me nuts.

This Saturday’s posting was about the article, The Mob That Whacked Jersey. But I noticed Dynamobuzz already had one and so I figured why bother to publish one that covers much of the same ground. Read both Roberto’s post and the article.

There is one quote from the City Journal article I had in my posting that I have decided to include here for later discussion:

In Camden and Newark, that system spends nearly $1 billion in state funds annually—to produce a scant 2,000 high school grads a year.
I’ll leave you with that fact to ponder as I get back to our income tax returns.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sucking Taxpayers Dry

About ten days ago I wrote about the Camden city council submitting a new budget with a $40.5 million hole that supposedly will have to be filled by the state. Today, I read that Camden received a $37million bailout from the state last year, on top of a $175 million budget bailout the year before. These bailouts apparently are over and above the regular municipal aid Camden received from the state.

The Record is also reporting that just this week Governor Corzine approved a $31 million bailout for Paterson. The article also mentions that a key Paterson city administrator, Nellie Pou, is also an Assemblywoman who chairs a powerful state appropriations committee. When the extra $31 million is included, Paterson is slated to receive five times as much state municipal aid as last year. Why am I not surprised by the double office holding, special interest connection? Also, the Governor can stop saying municipal aid in his new budget will be flat. Flat for some, fat for others would be a more accurate description.

Officials say Paterson was recently hit with huge payments for the state pension system, increased sewerage rates and insurance costs in the final quarter of the fiscal year. They say without the bailout, the city would have to raise property taxes steeply and lay off half its police officers and firefighters.

Nonetheless, Mayor Joey Torres is still talking about hiring an additional 100 police officers, which the state would now have to approve.
This is basically the same excuse Camden gave for their city’s budget gap – increased costs for government employee benefits. This problem is not going to go away with pension and medical benefits costs for public employees rising by double digits year in and year out. The state’s taxpayers should not be stuck paying for overly generous union contracts the city negotiated and its taxpayers can not afford. But New Jersey government and taxes are never fair.

Plus, it makes no sense for Paterson to claim in one breath it would have to layoff half of its police officers and firefighters without the extra state aid, but in the next breath say with the aid they will be able to afford an additional 100 police officers. Don't expect the Corzine administration to say no to this added spending, complete with even more benefit costs for the additional employees.

This is an excellent example of the two biggest problems facing the state – urban centers sucking the state dry through huge transfers in school and municipal aid and the out of control costs for public employee benefits. The state’s taxpayers can no longer afford to pay for their own local government, subsidize an ever increasing share of the state’s bankrupt cites and pay for unreasonable public employee benefits all at levels of government.

I honestly don’t believe the state’s taxpayers know what’s causing New Jersey’s financial crisis. A real leader would be educating the public and proposing serious reforms. Instead we have Governor Jon Corzine pretending he has made ‘hard choices’ and patting himself on the back for his 'courage'. As far as I can tell it’s business as usual on ‘progressive’ overdrive.

P.S. Anyone care to guess the cost of illegal immigrants included in these budget holes?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Public Employee Gravy Train

The Atlantic City, city council unanimously approved a $500,000 payment for unused vacation and sick time for retiring Police Chief Arthur C. Snellbaker. Chief Snellbaker’s annual salary is $135,498.

Anybody think, like me, that this is insane? Public employee benefits in New Jersey are completely out of control and I’m sick of paying for them. If I am ever lucky enough to retire, there will be no unused sick and vacation pay jackpot waiting for me, even though I have rarely used a sick day in my entire working life. Vacation is use it or lose it.

Sick pay is supposed to keep you whole if you miss work due to an illness, or injury. Vacation pay serves a similar purpose. It allows you to take a specific amount of time off from work without a loss in income. It is not supposed to be in addition to regular salary, accumulated over a working life and then calculated and paid out at a worker’s highest salary level.

Public employees enjoy pensions, medical insurance, and all manner of benefits unheard of in the private sector. They receive salaries and have work weeks the envy of the people paying the bills. Unless our leaders are willing to address this major driver of our state’s budget problems, people like me are doomed to working until we drop to keep the gravy train rolling. It's time to slam on the emergency breaks!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Audacity of Hope

Did you know that Senator Barack Obama recently became a millionaire? I didn’t.

So why would a public figure of Senator Obama's stature want to perpetuate a myth that hope for non-millionaires lies in audacity - instead of strong moral fiber, a good education, structure, and self-discipline?
Probably because it doesn’t sell books or the philosophy of the Democratic party.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Looking for Inequities

New Jersey is broke, we have the highest property taxes in the country, we're spending fifty-seven percent more than the national average to educate our public school students and our officials in Trenton are worried that we might have inequities in arts education. Nothing like getting your priorities in order.

Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells announced that every public school in the state will be required to complete an online survey to "take stock of arts programs as a first step toward ensuring that instruction in music, drawing, theater and dance continues, even in lean budget years".

The findings will be used to identify and rectify inequities in schools' arts programs, officials said. "We all know that students will excel in languages, in math and science, reading and all those things in the curriculum when they have this type of enrichment in their daily program," said Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells, one of two Cabinet officials who announced the survey during a visit to an elementary school in Trenton.
I'm sure some students love art classes, but I'm a bit skeptical that unbiased studies have proven students excel in core subjects and "all those things" as a result of "this type of enrichment in their daily program".

And don't you just love the sudden need to identify and rectify inequities in school arts programs. Let me tell you how this is going to play out. After the survey will come the lawsuits, leading to the discovery by New Jersey's Supreme Court that every child has a 'right' to art, music, theater and dance lessons under the state's constitution. This will lead to tax increases to bridge the 'art inequities gap' or as you and I will know it – the art teachers full employment mandate.
"You hope that the information is used to bolster education in the arts," said Kim L. Defibaugh, president of Art Educators of New Jersey and the fine arts supervisor in the Toms River school district. "You hope the survey will show some districts need to hire more certified teachers. But where the money comes from, I don't know."
You don’t have to hope Ms. Defibaugh, you know the study will conclude 'some districts' will need to hire more arts teachers. As to 'where the money comes from', it will come from the same place it always does, the state’s taxpayers. Is it any wonder the state's broke?

Monday, April 03, 2006

This and That

Just a little of this and that I came across today.

Alec Bladwin blogging on the Huffington Post is dissing our Governor Corzine, along with some other politicans.

The Filthy Report is pulling no punches and I like the name of this second new, New Jersey blog I just found, Stop NJ Tax Hikes. Great name. A few million more people with a similar opinion and we just might have a chance to turn our state around.

The Coalliton of the Swilling “can't keep them all straight [NJ Democrats] ~ they all sound so much alike.” The Coalition must be referring to Bob’s Baggage, another new site I just found.

As the illegal immigration issue continues to heat up, Jim at Parkway Rest Stop has a post that places everything in perceptive.

Howard Dean says President Bush and the Republican Party are playing politics with immigration, and using Hispanics for scapegoats. Are the Democrats for or against illegal immigration?

Tom Delay has decided not to run for reelection. There goes a big page out of the Democrats’ playbook. Oh well, they can still run on surrendering in Iraq, raising taxes and impeaching President Bush.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Week Six

Six weeks down and another 1,800 to go in order to equal Kate’s achievement of 300,000 visitors. Yea, at the rate I’m going it’ll take me 34 and one-half years. My cousin is laughing her head off as she reads over my shoulder. It does sound funny though, doesn’t it.?

I plan to plug along, if for no other reason than because blogging is forcing me to pay closer attention to New Jersey issues. As others have suggested, I should blog for mysself and if others find something I’ve written worthwhile, I should consider that a bonus. Good advice.

The big news for me this week is the new TV that my cousin and I bought yesterday. Thankfully, the old was taken away to wherever old TVs go, the new one is looking good and my cousin is smiling again. Our friends who had been good enough to invite us to see the Sopranos, taped last week’s episode, so we are now all up-to-date with our favorite show. I found this week’s installment unsettling, but that’s probably how I felt about most of the shows from previous years and just forgot over the past eighteen months.

We’ve sprung forward with the time and I’m exhausted before the workweek even starts. I’m going to bed. Enjoy your week and hope to see you around.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Cory Booker

"We took on a Goliath, not just in Sharpe James but really in the statewide party apparatus that came in to work against us." -- Cory Booker

Ah-oh, what a difference four years can make.
But this time around, even before Mr. James dropped out of the race, Mr. Booker had become a different kind of candidate — one whose political organization and style now bear more than a passing resemblance to that of his former rival, the flamboyant five-term mayor.
Booker has hired several of Sharpe James’ former advisers and his list of contributors is now loaded with contractors looking do business with Newark. He hired Message and Media, the consulting firm that managed Jon Corzine's successful campaign for governor and he now relies on the local contractors and real estate companies that fueled the James’ political machine.
A comparison of Booker's campaign filings from 2002 to 2006 shows that the number of developers giving him money has increased dramatically over the past four years, with dozens of real estate and building companies such as, JB Construction, JDS Builders and River Terminal Development Company accounting for tens of thousands of dollars he received in campaign contributions in 2005.

Speaking recently to a group of high school students, Booker sternly criticized the mayor for raising money from developers with business interests in Newark. "Now," he added with a faint smile, "a lot of these folks are giving me money, so I'm implicating myself."
"We're not going to become what we're trying to replace” -- Cory Booker

In interviews over the past several weeks, Booker has said that he would never govern like James, and that if he wins on May 9 in the nonpartisan election, his administration will be more transparent and free of patronage. He has pledged to cut the mayor's salary and reject campaign contributions from city workers if he is elected.
But he admits that his outlook has become more pragmatic. "The last time gave us a lot to learn from," Mr. Booker said recently in an interview at his Central Ward headquarters. After lacking a traditional Democratic organization, he added, this time, "We have a full breadth of it, from across the party to the S.E.I.U (Service Employees International Union), which was Sharpe's biggest and tightest union, which is now with us."
I can only hope Cory Booker will not turn out to be, as I said earlier this week, a smoother and better educated rip-off artist than Sharpe James. It’s hard to imagine anyone could be more corrupt than James, but I was hoping for a complete break from the past. The Democratic Party was fully in bed with James and bares much responsibility for what has gone in Newark. Will it be the dawn of a new day if Booker becomes mayor of Newark, or has the Democratic Party machine merely gotten themselves a new front man? Time will tell, I still have my fingers crossed.