By James J. Devine
New Jersey taxpayers deserve the truth about where our pension problems come from, because governors and legislators are trying to make public workers bear the burden for irresponsible actions made by politicians. New Jersey’s pension system would have been far better off had the government been managed by people who did not seek to game the system. It would also be in far better condition if politicians invested the funds needed instead of deciding to stiff taxpayers in the long run. Both of those situations were intended.
Christine Todd Whitman invented the great pension theft, not clerks, cooks and counselors who make $35,000 to $50,000 after 30 years in public service. Teachers who make $55,000 to $60,000 on average and even police and firefighters who typically earn less than $90,000 a year are not the people who caused this problem. Why should these middle class working families pay full freight for decades of neglect?
But instead of joining together and working out a fair solution — the way one might expect Americans to unite in the interest of ‘justice for all’ — we find ourselves at odds with one another while the politicians and their fat cat sponsors who wrecked things watch from the sidelines. I am disappointed that President Barack Obama is not bolder and more progressive in his policies, but I never forget that the mess he is cleaning up was made by reckless Republicans including Willard Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Chris Christie, Jon Corzine & Jim McGreevey share Whitman’s guilt, but those are the last four elected governors and ‘we the people’ made the infinitely stupid mistake of not only putting them in power, but virtually assuring that idiots like them will continue to rule New Jersey. We have a corrupt system, starting with too much influence over elections concentrated among power brokers who rig the primary election ballots and ending with rules that encourage voters to virtually auction government to the highest bidding rich & powerful interest.
We certainly need to repair the pension funds, but that will not happen until we elect good people — and that requires voters who behave smarter and more responsibly than the Garden State electorate in recent years. I believe we can do it, because Americans have always risen to the occasion when confronted with such trials. If you have faith in yourself and your fellow citizens, you will see that a clean sweep in the next round of primary elections is the only cure and there is still time to make that a reasonable option.
America will not get better with more foreclosures, broader unemployment and higher taxes on those whose wages barely suffice. From Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive policies, through the New Deal and on to the Great Society’s war on poverty, what the GOP now calls ‘socialism’ has made America great and economically strong and universally better for people. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, free public education, unemployment insurance, the national highway system and many other government programs have been essential triggers for equality and economic growth.
As voters, we need to be responsible by finding ways to pay for new investments that can get our nation and state back on the right track instead of searching for slogans and simple solutions that permit the situation to get worse.
If you want to get out of a hole, the best thing to do is stop digging yourself deeper.