Recently, I received a post card from Steve Lonegan. For those who don’t know the name, it is not surprising. Mr. Lonegan is the Mayor of Bogota, New Jersey. He is a Republican with a flair for dramatic lawsuits that go nowhere. The post card in question was an invitation to attend an orgizational meeting of Mr. Lonegan’s campaign for the Office of Governor here in New Jersey. Regrettably, Mr. Lonegan is once again pursuing the nomination from the New Jersey Republican Party. While I certainly appreciate his interest in trying to do something positive to address the many ills found in this state, I do not find within Mr. Lonegan what is truly needed to turn things around: functional ideas for the state of New Jersey.
Retirees and Taxes
Several friends and family are retired. These are people who were born and raised in New Jersey. They worked here their entire lives. They love the state because it is home to them. They enjoy all of the natural benefits available such as,
- proximity to New York,
- the Shore,
- regional locales such as New Brunswick, Princeton, Red Bank, and Sandy Hook.
But they live on a fixed income that was amassed slowly over their thirty to thirty-five years of hard work in a variety of jobs. Even during those working years, they paid a bit higher taxes, but they did so looking forward to a time when they could enjoy their retirement. Now they find the property taxes to be outrageous thanks to the unfunded mandates rammed down the throats of the municipalities by legislators who insisted on bowing to perceived political pressure from special interest groups over the last thirty years. Sure my family and friends condemned the actions of the Legislature then, but that fell on deaf ears. Today property taxes alone on townhouses can consume easily 10% of their retirement income per year. Beyond that local tax, New Jersey continues to tax retirement income even when most states in the Nation have wised up to the reality that doing so reduces the amount of disposable income available to retirees who, thus, reduce their spending habits even more. To whom do my retired friends and family owe this “shot”?
Due to this double dipping by the Department of Treasury, many retirees find their quality of life has depreciated drastically from when they were working. While they were never expecting to eat out every single night with friends at a Ruth’s Chris or P.F. Chang’s, they were looking forward to the opportunity to be able to have a meal out every now and again at a local restaurant. They were looking to enjoy the opportunity to go in during the Christmas Season and enjoy the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. They wanted to once in a while be able to take a sightseeing trip during the summer and fall, stopping at restaurants for lunches, taking in exhibits at museums and state parks.
But most of all, they did not want to be a burden to their children. Yet thanks to the confiscatory taxes in the state, many retirees now must move in with their adult children. Such living arrangements add to the stress experienced by all in that household. That stress debilitates the retirees potentially causing health issues while also harming current workers who find it more difficult to balance home life with work responsibility. This directly cuts into productivity and efficiency at work, potentially opening that worker up for negative reviews and the possibility of being a target for downsizing due to poor performance.
If the Republican Party was truly serious about addressing the issues facing people, they would start by looking at a variety of cohorts, such as the retirees. At the very least, the policy analysts for the Republican Party need to get a clue and push for the removal of the income tax on retiree pensions, or lower the net taxable income for retirees to 1% of their net. To date I have not heard any so-called Republican “lawmaker” or “politician” even discuss the financial abuse of the elderly through the taxation laws of the state.
Family and Unemployment
On the flip side of the example above, many retirees who are fortunate to have paid off their home mortgage still find themselves caught up in the general economic decay that has been going on since the late 1990’s. In many instances, there is a migration of older adult children back home until they can find employment and get on their feet again. Those who scoff at this prove themselves incredibly stupid in their grasp of history. Many sons and daughters had to return to their parents’ homes as a result of the two great depressions in 1932 and 1937. Unfortunately we are seeing history repeat itself again.
People who are working are always mindful of downsizing. Certainly downsizing takes place simply because a company may lose clients or may struggle to deal with shrinking bottom lines. In other cases, while difficult to prove, incompetence in the management of a company may also be a reason. For the most part, however, these are not the primary reasons for downsizing in New Jersey. What is the primary reason, what actually causes the loss of clients and shrinking bottom lines, is that New Jersey is anti-business in its rules, regulations, policies, and procedures. It is because the business climate in New Jersey is not progressive for business – on the contrary it is anti-business with the many laws curtailing daily operations administered by the Apparatchiks masquerading as “officials” in the State bureaucracy. New Jersey discourages business activity because of its anti-business legislation and ruinously high taxes. Companies are leaving the state because they can conduct normal business practices in a much healthier regulatory and fiscal climate in other states, even surrounding states. While the list of issues is long, it is not difficult to identify the problems, even without talking to business leaders.
I seriously question how much longer the New Jersey government can continue to embrace a patently unhealthy, anti-business agenda and not force residents to abandon their home of origin? Without question, unless the economic situation in New Jersey improves, many more people who lived their lives here in New Jersey will soon have to leave the state of their birth for states that are more attuned to the minimalist taxation and regulations that had been the hallmarks of conservative political platforms for decades in the past.
As I look around at the state of New Jersey economically and socially, I can say without fear of contradiction that today, New Jersey is worst in every possible way more so than it has ever been in the past. There is no future here for either the young, middle aged, or the elderly. This horrendous shame has to be laid at the feet of all the local and state politicians who contributed by their fiscal and legal mismanagement. Nor should one believe this to be a recent phenomenon in New Jersey. It has been building for decades because of political ineptitude, corruption, fraud and blatant disregard of needs of the citizens of this state.
It is obvious to all that both political parties share responsibility. Christie Whitman and her supporters bare the onus for their unconscionable borrowing to balance the state budget.
However, the Democrats have devised all manner of devious ways to tax and spend us into insolvency. And the Republicans went right along with it.
The socialist polices of the Democrats have dramatically contributed to the unemployment situation and the overall derogation of both the private and public financial situation. And the Republicans went right along with it.
The Democrats have conspired to violate the laws to such an extent as to make the public lax in its respect for the law. Their nefarious thefts, conspiracies to commit crimes, and all-round contempt for the public good serve but to increase the residents’ cynicism and their disdain for politics in general and politicians in particular. And Republicans went right along with it.
Mostly Democrat appointed, although the Republicans have shoe-horned in their fair share of losers, political lackeys on the courts especially the New Jersey Supreme court, and their ex parte, tendentious opinions favoring the Democrat-Socialist agenda has fostered scorn, disrespect and disgust for lawyers, judges and their coterie of toadies.
All of this has been detailed, repeatedly, in the myriad of letters to the editors, comments that follow the letters online, opinion pieces and comments to many news articles online.
The Republican Party in New Jersey is moribund. Why? It has no dynamic leadership! It has no one person to whom Republicans can point. The people masquerading in this state as Republicans are nothing more than Democrats with an R after their names. They do not have a core message, set of values, or talking points except to say, “We don’t like the Democrats, but we’ll act like them.” I do not see anyone in the party today who has the courage, ability, charisma, knowledge, savvy, and political know-how to draw support from the residents of the state. There is no one who appears capable to carry with conviction, sincerity, charm, and public awareness the Republican message.
And what is that message? It should be the message that has always been the voice of reason: fiscal conservatism, business amicability, social concern, support of secondary education, and cautious, prudent and moderate change in all facets of the government.
It is well past the time for the Republican Party to hold a statewide Party Congress, to which are invited not only the party bigwigs, but also the everyday person. There should be a call for talking papers, well-reasoned agenda items, and a steering committee that based on all submitted ideas, forges an agenda that lays out how the Republican Party can capture the hearts, minds and souls of the people of New Jersey. Where is the Republican Party’s “Contract with the People of New Jersey”?
Christopher Christie has submitted his paperwork to run for governor. I sincerely hope his voice will be strong, clear, and definitive. He needs a voice that will be heard by the everyday person.
While his desire to effect change is there, Mr. Lonegan has yet to show me that he either the foresight or ability to make a legitimate run for the governor’s seat. Yet, he will still make his run.
Having reviewed the contents of the NJRC website, I find it clear that most of the senior members of the Party do not appear to be capable of developing well-thought-out plans of attack. Earlier I mentioned that Mr. Lonegan made a name for himself filing lawsuits that are bounced out of court by the lackeys of the Democrats on the bench. Had he truly developed a business plan, he would have seen early on it would be far better to spend that money on legitimate ad campaigns that would get the Republican message out there. Without question, he is a good man with generally rational ideas. However, he and his supporters have allowed his campaigns to be marginalized by legal grandstanding bound for failure.
This plays right into the hands of the house organs (read: the Star-Ledger, The Trentonian, the Asbury Park Press) for the Democrat Party. During the primary, anyone running against Christopher Christie will be trumpeted as “worthy opponents” to Governor Corzine. Yet once they are in the hunt for the governor’s office, the tide will turn and they will be marginalized, thus trampling real reform.
Ultimately, the Republican Party in the State of New Jersey needs to get together a real business and political plan that will get rid of the incumbents on both sides of the aisle with a slate of like-minded, pro-business, pro-resident legislators who have the two B’s needed to make Trenton work.
Truly, the Republican Party is no better than the Democrat Party because both are generally viewed as one in the same. Until the Republican Party in New Jersey gains the respect, trust and approval of the majority of New Jersey’s voters, it will not find itself in the position of holding the governor’s office and certainly not a majority in either houses of the Legislature.