Saturday, December 18, 2010


So the relatively new governor of New Jersey. Chris Christie has become one of the darlings of the Republican Party and some of the Tea Party groups because he's cutting programs all over the place while refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy elite in the state.

But here's what that means on the ground in just two policy areas.

He stopped the tunnel that would connect New Jersey to New York and cut the time it takes to get from one to the other drastically by eliminating the daily delays that make our greatest city and its environs less efficient than most metropolitan areas of the world, including some in developing countries (as we know, China now has the fastest trains), a tunnel on which work had already begun—so the cost of that work will still be paid for by Jersey taxpayers, mostly by the non-wealthy as usual—despite the fact that the federal government was willing to pay for much of that tunnel's cost and New York was willing to help as well.

His answer to the problems of commuting between New Jersey and New York that will only grow worse since they rely on tunnels that date back to almost a century is to spend more on roads! In a state that is criss-crossed with so many highways it's like some random Marcel Duchamp drop-a-ton-of-strings-on-a-map-and-where-they-fall-build-a-road abstract maze. So he has made the choice for more pollution, more congestion, more taxes going to prop up the profits of oil and gas companies etc. over what's best for the future, the environment, and the non-wealthy of my home state. The wealthy will just continue to take their "cars"—as they call their chauffeur driven town cars and limos—and the new roads and road widening will help them, or they'll hop a helicopter etc.

In education, first his education department hack blew 400 million, yes, four hundred million dollars awarded by the federal government because they filled in the application incorrectly, putting in the wrong year for their budget! Hello!?! And then he just went and cut the budget for education in the state. What that means in my town and the school my thirteen-year-old goes to, is that the teachers' aides used in the classrooms who could help the students with IEPs (special ed issues) were all fired and now those positions are contracted out (great! more money for corporations!) and instead of having aides with years of experience in his school, who know the students and the teachers, who stay after and help out and volunteer their time and effort above and beyond what the job definition is, there are strangers who leave as soon as the bell rings and have no real investment in the community or the school other than a paycheck they get for just showing up.

I asked my son if the aide in the class he was having trouble in had ever helped him, and he said the aide had never even spoken to my son, let alone helped him, or anyone else as far as he could see.

There are many other areas of life in this state that have deteriorated in just the short time Christie has been governor. But that won't stop his rightwing supporters from praising him and holding him up as a beacon of their -back-to-the-future head-in-the-sand ill-informed unreasoning for why making life easier and better for the wealthiest and corporations while the rest of us suffer is somehow the way out of the morass other rightwing Republicans got us into in the first place.

[And for those who always leave comments about how the Republicans and Democrats are all the same, the fact is, under the former Democratic governor, the tunnel was going forward, money was being directed toward mass transit projects rather than more highways, education was a priority and teachers and teachers' aides were not being fired, etc.]


JIm said...

New Jersey is well on the way to bankruptcy. The new governor is the best chance for the Garden State to avoid that catastrophe.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

DADT overturned. Hope is alive and cannot be stopped.

Lally said...

You got that right Robert. nd as for my jersey observations, Republican Christie has already cost the state over a billion dollars in lost revenues because of his bad choices (canceling the tunnel, screwing up the federal education grant, stopping support of TV and movie production in Jersey (several productions moved to New York state as a result and those who might have come to Jersey are now going elsewhere). Over a billion for just this year. Over the course of the next few years it will add up to millions and billions more. All so that the wealthy can have more and the rest of us less. Typical GOP policy.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...


JIm said...

The idiocy of the left is limitless. Do you not understand; no money, bankruptcy, California, NY,Illinois, Michigan, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain. All Democrat controlled states and cities are at or near bankruptcy. Texas is one of the few prospering states and they promote free enterprize and curtail government spending. Wake up liberals your philosophy and world is crumbling and disapearing.

Lally said...

Two biggest deficits in U.S. history in my lifetime were run up by Reagan and Bush Jr. Republicans response to that was best summed up by Dick Cheney, who said, "Deficits don't matter." The Democractic president, between those big spenders, Bill Clinton, created a surplus. Oh yeah, those big bad Democrats. The "idiocy" of rightwing Republicans has almost destroyed our country, let alone the world. (oh and notice how suddenly California etc. are "Democrat" (the usual Republican insult, they choke on the idea of "Democratic") when of course, it was a Republican governor and Republican state legislators that created and sustained rightwing ideas like no taxes for schools so California went from on of the top three states in the nation in the quality of their educational system under Democratic governors, to one of the bottom three states in the country under Republicans, starting with that Reagan.

JIm said...

No amount of of sanctomonious,spread the wealth socialism, will make up for the fact that European and American socialism is bankrupt. Grownups will be in charge of the House soon. We shall see if they act better than they did last time they were in power. If they do not, the Tea Party will make sure that they face primary challenges.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

You're the most sanctimonious of all Jim. And a liar. I thought you said you were going to stay off this blog. Typical tea-pocriscy. "Grownups" what a joke. Why don't you man up and keep your word and stay off this blog, keep your word, like a grownup.

JIm said...


Seasons Greetings! May the joy of the holiday season be with you and
your family.

Tim said...

I'm no fan of Christie, but I'm glad he's taking on the schools. The NJ school system faces many challenges, but a lack of funding is not one of them:

"New Jersey school systems spent $16,491 per student in 2008, according to Census data. That ranked second to New York, which spent $17,173 per pupil. The average was $10,259."

The state spends $25 billion per year on education, 50% more per student than the national average. But there's not enough to cover a teacher's aid in your son's class? What is this, the defense department?

South Orange has one of the highest property tax rates in the state and in the country. A huge amount of that money goes toward education. And yet, Columbia High School is a dump. And the teachers are unhappy with their salaries and benefits. And there's probably even a budget short fall this year.

That's f'd up. And maybe Christie doesn't have the right approach to fixing it, but at least he's trying to take it on. I expected the former Democratic governor to do it - he didn't.

Lally said...

The countries with the best educated students, according to recent studies, have smaller class sizes and more well-trained teachers in the class working with students and a national attitude that respects teachers as a valuable asset and pays the accordingly, leading to the best and brightest choosing teaching as a profession.
The rap from Republicans and rightwingers, ever since the 1960s showed them how better educated college students would respond to government lies and other chicanery (the first point man being Spiro Agnew) was to denigrate the liberal arts and "elite" colleges that taught higher reasoning etc. and in subsequent years (Reagan took all that even further right when he was CA gov.) began to denigrate the public school system which up until then had been doing a great job of educating such a diverse population. They also began attacking public worker unions, once they had decimated the once thriving labor unions in the U.S. and took on the teachers unions, etc. There is justification for wanting teachers evaluated and bad teachers fired, but just because your taxes are high that doesn't mean they are enough to pay for the kind of education that has proven the best—smaller classes, and more teachers in each class, and teachers who are motivated by more respect for the profession and in some cases better pay (and as for Columbia, the two towns it serves are kid heavy, the enrollment is very large, and in some areas the taxes are well spent and the rewards are great (the communications dept. for instance and honors classes etc.), but the challenges are enormous, given the diversity, the size of enrollment, and demands of the Republican mandated but unfunded "No Child Left Behind" (I know, Dems supported it too, but not if unfunded) teach-to-the-test bit. Money is not the total solution, but it certainly will help attract better candidates, and if all Christie was about was saving you property taxes (which you should be addressing your local government about) that might be fine, but as I wrote in the post above, he has blown more money than he has saved, by appointing people who obviously need a better education, and by losing tax revenues in too many ways to mention, and by favoring the interests of the wealthiest among us. And if you think making the job of teaching our children should go the way of all corporate "America"—i.e. more work for less pay—okay, but I don't believe that's the solution. The aides in my son's classes were let go because they cost more, and they cost more because they were experienced and had been doing it longer etc. Those aides helped make a school system that has everything from kids living in homes that cost millions to kids living with extended immigrant families in tiny homes or apartments, and from parents with higher degrees to parents with only a high school or less education, and well-adjusted kids to ones with deep psychological or social or neurological problems. I substitute taught when I was younger (in my late twenties and thirties) at what was then called "the junior high" level, one public school in a working-class Maryland town, and one private school in Manhattan, and both were two of the most challenging tasks I've ever taken on. teaching college (which I did for four years) was a breeze in comparison. Good teachers are a blessing, but cutting their pay, denigrating their efforts, and threatening them with the loss of their jobs, doesn't seem like a good way to attract them.

Lally said...
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