Tuesday, March 29, 2005


A set of work-related events may begin curtailing my blogging activities. We have a major proposal effort starting to ramp up, and demonstrations (with related travel) are fast approaching on a development project.
On top of that, I was notified today of my acceptance for a company sponsored master's degree program. I was completely surprised by this, since my manager told me last Thursday that he had nominated me. An even bigger surprise is that the first class in my curriculum starts next Monday, and I get to spend the week in ... Hoboken. So, while all you Jersey bloggers are whipping yourselves into a frenzy over the whole Stevens controversy, yours truly will be a student at that fine institution.

For those who are curious, there's more info about the program in the comments.

Corzine Campaign Insensitive to Animal Rights!

In a comment on this JoeTerrito.com post, Corzine Internet Director Matt Stoller shows his disdain for the rights of youthful Bovine-Americans.

I'll be here all week. Try the veal.
Posted By Matt Stoller, Corzine for Governor - March 29, 2005 11:51

How can a Democrat fail to acknowledge the pain and suffering caused by the consumption of meat?!?!?

You won't see Doug Forrester or Bret Schundler making such a faux pas.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Blue State Conservatives

Acknowledging the need to shine light on our very blue state, The Blue State Conservatives have added USMC_Vet (aka Steve from the People's Republic of New Jersey) from The Word Unheard to their team. A while back, he guest-blogged for them with an interesting rundown of the NJ Gubernatorial race.

Glad to see a NJ blogger joining a national team like that. Semper Fi, Steve!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

2005 New Jersey Governor

Alexander McClure at Polipundit has noticed the recent Qinnipiac poll on our little gubernatorial contest. It's interesting to note that Corzine's favorable/unfavorable split has fallen by 7 points, while Schundler has gained 8 points on him head-to-head. Forrester has also gained 4 in the matchup. Interesting comments as well, especially Ironman's note about the honesty question. He asks,

if Corzine is no more honest than the people already in Trenton, why not try out a Republican?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Professional vs. Amateur Political Corruption

Fausta over at the Bad Hair Blog points to a story about bribes, kickbacks, and contract awards in Paris, to the tune of £50 million skimmed off £2.5 billion in contracts. Compared to these guys, our home-grown Jersey politicians are pikers. I guess it's due to the difference between 4 and 20 centuries of institutional corruption.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Privacy, Schundler's Tax Calculator, and Politician Responsiveness -- Update

Privacy. Bret Schundler's web site now has a privacy policy posted. Encouragingly, the policy is written in standard English rather than legalese. Also a positive, the policy is prominently linked throughout the site -- the Google search I posted earlier now returns eleven hits rather than the one it was finding on Tuesday evening.

Tax Calculator. I received a note from my contact inside the Schundler campaign, with some explanation of how his calculator works. Basically, it figures the additional state funding to be provided to your school district, municipality, and county based on the legislation he proposes, subtracts that amount from the property tax levy, then recalculates your tax based on your 2004 bill and the new, reduced rate. As Enlighten-NJ pointed out in comments to the earlier item, all of the records used are public, and my contact assures me that nothing other than the public record is in the database.

Politican Responsiveness. It looks like I might have jumped the gun a bit in my previous post on this subject. The privacy policy posted to the Schundler web site shows that the campaign listens to the feedback it gets, then acts on it. Bret's team did a good job pulling things together after I asked the question. I closed the first post by saying:

I hope that Schundler's people can make my world a happy one on this issue.
They have succeeded.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Corzine – Fact Check

Enlighten-NJ does a nice little fisking of Who Jon is from the new web site for the craziness campaign.

I'm giving Enlighten an A for topic selection and a B+ for execution, but an F for style. A proper fisking has much higher levels of vitriol. See The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler for an example of an A-player in this game.

Blogger Prophecy - II

In the original Blogger Prophecy, it was revealed that Corzine = craziness. Today, it provides the following suggestions:

Schundler's --> scandal's

Lonegan --> lonesome

It almost makes you think, doesn't it? Is someone influencing the speel chucker's word selection? I may have to run the rest of the candidates through it to see if I can detect a pattern.

Privacy, Schundler's Tax Calculator, and Politician Responsiveness

The Schundler campaign web site features a calculator that purports to tell you how much you would save in local property taxes through increased state aid to your local schools, municipal government, and county government.
As the user runs through the calculator, it first asks for your county, then your street number and zip code. From these inputs, a selection of possible matches is presented. In my case, the list contains my own name and address, Delanco township, a business in Delran, and one of my neighbors with the same house number on a different street.

Two things bother me about this process.

First, Schundler's site does not disclose the source of its data. I presume that it is going to a public database somewhere, or that the campaign has purchased a set of data. In either case, I'm curious what records about me this database contains, besides those returned by the query. Someone smarter than I could probably reverse engineer the scripts or sniff the packets and find out where the data reside. Is my personal information thus exposed for personal consumption and possible identity theft or credit fraud?
Second, it's entirely possible that Schundler's campaign is using the selections made on the calculator to build its own database of visitors to the site, by name, address, etc. The site does not have a privacy policy posted, so we don't know whether or not the campaign has any plans to collect or use that data.

I raised these concerns with a member of Schundler's staff, via email last Saturday. I got a response Sunday afternoon stating:

Thanks for the heads up. I will bring this up Monday morning with the other senior staff and see what we can come up with. All in all, its a very good point and worth looking into. I'll be in touch about it by midday Monday.
So far so good. Then, I received this Monday morning (around 10:30, probably right after the staff meeting):
Again, thanks for the tip. I’m working on getting a policy up on the site today.
So it looks like the Bret team is doing all the right things, except for one problem. I can't find the privacy policy anywhere on their site! I even did a Google search, and came up essentially empty. The one item returned, the Contribution Center, refers to a "Security & Privacy help page," but doesn't link to one.

The world is a good place to be when I ask someone for information or help and they get back to me right away (see this post's comments about Steve Lonegan for an example). When someone over-promises and under-delivers, it's not such a happy place. I hope that Schundler's people can make my world a happy one on this issue.

UPDATE: My concerns have been addressed - see this follow-up post for details.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blogger Prophecy

In the previous post, the word Corzine's was not found by Blogger's speel chucker. It suggested craziness as the most likely replacement.

Isn't life wonderful?

Qualifications for Governor

In a brilliant piece about the presumptive Democrat nominee for governor of New Jersey, Enlighten asks,

Yea, we know the Senator is rich but, is that the only qualification for the office?

Enlighten also provides plenty of information to answer the question. My take: while being rich isn't the only qualification for the office of governor, it is Corzine's only qualification. His complete lack of effort in presenting a position on the state's financial situation (his supposed field of expertise) should disqualify him. Maybe, someday, the media will notice this as well.

Generations in the News Business

The Prop at coffeegrounds has got my intellectual juices flowing with two pieces. In the first, he points out some disconnects between current issues and media headlines, and asks,

Why, oh why, aren't people showing more respect for us?? -- MSM
I've been struggling in the 24 hours since he posted that item to come up with some witty play on words in response, without success. But then, the Prop lit the light at the end of the tunnel for me, with this comment on an item titled "Rather's Revenge?" over at Sluggo Needs a Nap:
See the current discussion over at my place on what makes news vs. what makes headlines.
At some point the News business became the news Business. Or maybe it always was and 1940-1980 was an anomoly?
I think the Prop has hit the nail squarely on the head here -- 1940-80 was an anomaly. An entire generation came together as never before to defeat, nearly simultaneously, three militaristic fascist regimes. The people whose lives were formed by those events were the leaders of the news business through the late 70s. Then, a new generation of leaders, untouched by the war their parents had fought, took over the leadership.
Their war experience was primarily in protest against, not in active execution of national policy. This has colored their choices about what constitutes news, with a default position that war is always wrong.
Walter Cronkite created some controversy by breaking ranks with his contemporaries (the WWII generation) and coming out against the Vietnam war. Today, accusations fly and tempers rise if a media organization presents facts in support of any administration policy that would use force to protect our nation's interests. The leadership of the MSM has become so locked into this viewpoint that they cannot break out.
I believe that the leaders of the MSM are pretty smart people. Intellectually, they know that it's not possible for every position of the administration to be wrong-headed and dangerous, yet they continue to portray them as such. This is due to the mechanism of peer pressure -- none of them want to be first.
This conflict between what their intellect and emotions tell them to do forms the basis for the answer to the Prop's question. The MSM leadership knows the right thing to do, from the example of the previous generation. We are engaged in a global war, and the nation needs to band together again to defeat the threat to our society. Yet, they refuse to do the right thing because they fear the consequences they would face from their own peers.
The bottom line -- more people aren't showing respect for the mainstream media because they don't respect themselves. If they did have a true sense of self-respect, then they would act in the way that they knew was right, rather than in the way that they think the group wants them to act. They are moral cowards, and the continuous display of criminals, perverts and freaks rather than issues of substance serves to distract the majority of the population from the media's lack of a spine.

Revisited, Feb 01, 2006: Thanks for reading Mister Snitch's compilation of The Best Posts of 2005. Inexplicably, he selected this piece. I guess it takes all types.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Short Hiatus

There will be no posts today or tomorrow. You are not reading this, because it was not posted today.

While I'm gone, stop in and read Enlighten-NJ's latest post about implementing trackback.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Paul DiGaetano's web site appears to be back online. It still hasn't been updated, but at least it's up. The latest new item:

I'm a bit surprised that his team hasn't added any content to the site, especially after winning the Bergen County line this week.

DiGaetano also has a television ad running, with a web copy accessible here. The main point of the ad is that Corzine is a limousine liberal loser, and that DiGaetano is an all around nice guy with "the guts to take on Corzine. And win." It's an OK ad, with some useful factoids, but didn't tell a compelling story. I think Corzine can be beaten, but it'll take a lot more than guts. DiGaetano has shown he can win a county, and needs to show he can do more before he will be a serious threat to beat Corzine.

My suggestion: start by producing some fresh content for your site. Update as often as you have something to say in public. Most of us can't get around to your speeches, wherever they might be, but we all stop by and check the web for new news and opinion. If you provide new content on a regular basis, people will keep coming back.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Minimum Wage

jw at NJ Politiko blogs in support of the just-passed minimum wage increase. When the acting governor signs the bill for which he just voted, the cost of entry-level labor will increase by 38%.

There are two possible outcomes at the extremes from this change in the labor rate. Either the total market has a constant dollar value, or the total market has a fixed number of jobs. In reality, it'll come out somewhere between, but suspend your disbelief for a minute.

The fixed market value case
According to a quote jw provides, about 200,000 people currently earn the minimum wage. That places the total value of the entry-level labor market at about $2.14 billion dollars, assuming that all 200k work a full year (2,080 hours).
The federal government will collect about $328 million in Social Security taxes -- half from the workers, and half from the employers, so that bumps the total cost of entry-level labor up to about $2.3 billion. This doesn't significantly affect the fixed market value case, but will be important later.
So now, we divide up the available capital at the new rate. The feds get their cut off the top, so we are back down to $2.14 billion dollars. At the new rate of $7.15, that pays for 299,636,363 hours of work, or 144,055 full time jobs. The net loss due to the increased cost of labor is just about 66,000 jobs.

The fixed number of entry-level jobs case
If we assume that the number of entry level jobs remains fixed, then the value of the market will increase. Those 200k people now earn $2.974 billion. The federal take on their earnings goes up to $455 million, an increase of $127 million, and the total cost of the entry level labor market goes up to $3.202 billion. The net increase in cost to the market is about $900 million. Given that New Jersey only gets 57 cents back on each federal tax dollar, should we really be volunteering to send more money to Washington? More importantly, can business afford this much of a cost increase?
Fortunately, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis has lots of data we can use to figure that out. The regional economic accounts search page reveals that New Jersey private industry spent $179.2 billion in 2001 and $181.7 billion in 2002 for employee compensation, a growth rate of 1.3%. (I exclude the public sector because I can't believe the government pays anyone the minimum wage -- the unions wouldn't stand for it). Assuming a consistent growth rate, the total labor market is about $189 billion today, growing just under $2.5 billion a year.
The entry-level market, at $2.3 billion, is 1.2% of the total. If $900 million of the $2.5 billion available for wage growth is applied to that market, then this would only leave $1.6 billion available for wage growth in the rest of the private sector.
According to the state Department of Labor, as of February there were 4,038,400 people employed in New Jersey. So, there are about 3.8 million workers not making minimum wage. Division of the remaining $1.6 billion in payroll growth results in an average increase of $417, or about 20 cents an hour. Without the distortion of the minimum wage increase, that available pool would average $619 per worker. Suppose that employers decided to distribute increases at the average rate, until the money ran out. In that case, about 2.6 million workers would get an average increase, leaving 1.2 million workers with nothing.

The end result
Are employers going to let those 1.2 million productive workers go looking for greener pastures, just to appease 200 thousand entry-level workers? I don’t think so. I believe that employers would rather retain their skilled workforces, and will sacrifice the training of entry-level personnel to do so. The average worker will be asked to work a few more hours to take up the slack for the new kid that the boss couldn’t afford to hire. We will end somewhere between the two extremes that I’ve laid out, but it will be much closer to the reduced entry-level head count.

Update: Patrick at Jerseystyle has weighed in on this as well. His central point:

Raising minimum wages routinely produces nothing but false positives. Sure, a couple dishwashers are making 7 dollars an hour instead of 5, but that money has to come from somewhere. Guess what, it's not coming from the complaining business. It's coming from the consumer. The money you are putting into the pockets of the dishwasher is coming right out of the pockets of average joe New Jersey everytime he stops into the local 5 and 10 to buy a card for his mother.
As usual, Patrick gets it, and makes a point in 6 lines where I take 6 pages. Nicely done.

Revisited, Feb 01, 2006: Thanks for reading Mister Snitch's compilation of The Best Posts of 2005. Inexplicably, he selected this piece. I guess it takes all types.

Zen and the art of baseball bat maintenance

I wish I could write with a part per million of the brilliance that is Mister Snitch!.

DiGaetano Wins Bergen County

Steve Kornacki at PolitcsNJ.com reports that Paul DiGaetano has won the party line in Bergen County. It was a heavily split vote, with the winner taking only 23% of the 835 ballots cast. Earlier today in a preview article, Steve cast this as a do-or-die day for DiGaetano:

"Listen," said Guy Talarico, Bergen's GOP's chairman, "(Bret) Schundler and (Doug) Forrester have the name ID and probably the money to win off line, but I think it's awful tough for the other guys. So I think Tuesday night is life or death for the (second tier) candidates."

The second-tier candidates vying for Bergen's support are DiGaetano, Schroeder and Murphy. All three could use a victory badly -- probably as much as they could use a loss by Forrester, the co-front-runner who is undefeated to date in county conventions. Schundler, the other front-runner, won the gubernatorial nomination without significant organizational support in 2001, so his credibility as a candidate is not at stake in the conventions. But that doesn't mean he isn't seeking a Bergen win and the momentum-building headlines that would come with it.
Those second tier candidates each wanted Bergen County pretty badly, as did the front-runners:
"Murphy has been working it for the last two years," said Guy Talarico, the county's GOP chairman. "No one has courted the rank-and-file as zealously as (John) Murphy, but that's not to say that the others haven't paid attention. When you consider the number of times Forrester and Schundler have been in Bergen County over the last few years, that counts. Then over the last few weeks, they've done personal visits and phone calls."

Talarico and all of the campaigns expect the contest to be close. Talarico estimated that about 1,050 voters will show up. Calling the event a convention is something of a misnomer. It's more of an election, with voting machines open at the party's Hackensack headquarters from 4:30 to 8:30. Unlike other counties, there will only be one ballot.

"I think all five are coming in with 100 votes," Talarico said. "So then it's a question of how much over 100 each one of them gets."
Looks like Talarico was right about the close margins, since DiGaetano won with 188 votes, followed by Forrester (161), Schundler (157), Murphy (150), and Schroeder (147). Given that it was so close, I'm surprised he was so far off on the turnout prediction.

I think this means DiGaetano stays in until the primary. It's probably too early to say for Murphy and Schroeder -- they can choose to take a graceful exit based on the loss, or continue to fight on with the closeness of the race as a rallying point.

DiGaetano Campaign - Web Site Update

In the comments to this post, Vince Micco from the DiGaetano campaign reports that their webmaster is "angry," and that the site should be back up in a day or so. He also offers to "pass along your input to the boss if you like."

Offer accepted, Vince. In addition to my stuff, please, make sure your candidate hears about everything written here, here, here, and here at a minimum. You would serve him well by spending an hour or so each day reading those sites and following their links.

And, thanks to you and Paul for your service. I won't hold the Notre Dame thing against Paul, as long as he promises they will lose to Navy sometime before I die.

Monday, March 14, 2005

A View from the Other Side

NJ Politiko posts some thoughts about the Forrester candidacy for the Republican nomination. The essential argument in the post:

The conservative junkies constantly point out that Jon Corzine is too rich, and uses his money to achieve his political goals. There's no denying that he's loaded. My response to that is, so what?
Guess what? Doug Forrester is loaded too. They're both millionares. Here's a hint for those who haven't noticed a trend in politics today: Politicans tend to be rich.
It's fairly obvious from the overall tone of Politiko's blog (in favor of raising the minimum wage, for example) that the author is not a member of the VRWC, but rational thought from the other side should always be considered. The vast majority of the posts in the NJ Governor category are anti-Forrester hit jobs, but pretty well written.

This is a blog that bears watching. It goes in the Blogroll. (update: or it will, when blogrolling.com decides it wants to talk to me).

Forrester's new campaign manager

PoliticsNJ.com carries a press release, puportedly from the Forrester campaign, announcing that

On the heels of renewed momentum from a victory in Union County and major new endorsements, Tom Sullivan, President & CEO of Princeton Partners, has been named campaign manager.
PoliticsNJ sums it up in the News Briefs section:
... Forrester is replacing campaign manager Steve Berlin with Thomas Sullivan, the president of a Princeton-based advertising firm and a newcomer to political campaigns. Berlin, who joined the campaign earlier this year after working for George Pataki, and briefly for Bob Schroeder, will leave the campaign completely.
Interestingly, this press release does not appear on Forrester's web site (as of this posting).

What I'd like to know is what Berlin did wrong to deserve sacking. If all this momentum has been built up, it has been on his watch. Whatever happened must have been particularly egregious to not give him even a mention in the press release. So what is it, Forrester folk?

p.s. If you aren't reading the News Briefs every day, you're missing a lot of interesting stuff. Make it a habit.

I'm Number Two ...

... in a Google search for Monmouth County + bribe. Only the New York Times is ahead of me. Maybe this extra hit will help push me over the top...

I'm dependable

Thanks to Patrick over at Jerseystyle for the pointer to the quiz.

You are .exe When given proper orders, you execute them flawlessly.  You're familiar to most, and useful to all.
Which File Extension are You?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Last Angry Men: The Trenton Circus: Government Unrestrained

Anthony J. Galasso, Jr. of The Last Angry Men provides an interesting rundown of the current political situation in The Trenton Circus: Government Unrestrained. Here's what he had to say about the Republican race for the nomination:

Conversely, the Republican situation, with seven, count ‘em, seven candidates vying for the nomination, is perhaps the most fitting argument against primary elections. The two front-runners are Bret Schundler, the reform candidate with an impressive record as Mayor of Jersey City who, as some are coming to regret, could not beat McGreevey in 2001, and Doug Forrester, who would have beaten the criminal Torricelli in 2002 for the Senate, had the Democrats not bent state law to exhume Frank Lautenberg and run him to victory. Schundler is the better candidate. Forrester has the money. The other five represent all ends of the Republican spectrum and are itching to play spoiler. The only certain outcome is a vicious and expensive primary that John Corzine can watch, laughing while reclining on a tremendous pile of money.

Go read the rest. It's all good stuff.

Tidbits from the Republican Candidates

I scan the Republican candidates' web sites just about daily. Today, I'm feeling a little frisky, so here's some commentary on what I found.

Forrester has a nice little picture on his main page showing him going door-to-door. The text says
Forrester Campaign Taking To The Streets

"You're the only one who can do it," she said. "We firmly believe that - my husband and I."

"Doug Forrester gripped her hand and said: "That's why

we're running. We think we can do it, too." [more]
So, I was wondering, is that the editorial "we" or the royal "we"?

Lonegan has a Media Center link in his main menu. Given such a prominent placement, one would expect lots of useful content. Go check it out (we’ll wait while you read it all).

Murphy has a blog that reads like a series of monthly campaign letters to contributors. There are three entries. They lapse into the royal “we” by the third post.

Schroeder’s latest press release trumpets his victory in the race for the NorthEast Republican Organization endorsement.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Bergen GOP convention, Schroeder stated, “Our campaign must continue to build on each of our successes, proving the wisdom that a win at NERO fuels the momentum crucial to a campaign’s success in all of Bergen County.”

I’m thinking that maybe a candidate for statewide office should be shooting for more than just winning a single county.

I looked and looked, but couldn’t find anything to mock at Schundler’s site. His blog is clearly written, in the conversational style familiar to most bloggers. It’s also updated several times a week.

I could go on, but then the FEC might go after me for an in-kind contribution. Or they would if this were a federal race.

DiGaetano Campaign

As a follow up this post, I called the DiGaetano campaign office to ask about their server. Unfortunately, I was rolled directly to voice mail, so I didn't talk to anyone live. On the plus side for the campaign, however, I received a return call that rolled to my voice mail.
Vince from DiGaetano's campaign reports that they are very much still in business. His choice of words was interesting -- "we're actually in fifth gear." Apparently, a mass email sent out by the campaign has caused some kind of server problem, and they are temporarily down.
Vince also let me know that DiGaetano has just released a television commercial, and that it hits Senator Corzine pretty hard. I think this is a good thing -- Corzine needs to take a lot of body blows between now and November if the Republicans are going to beat him. Its also encouraging to hear that DiGaetano's campaign is still active, since his web presence has been pretty much static since December. Once the server gets back online, I'm looking forward to seeing what new material is available.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Republican Gubernatorial Race

Paul DiGaetano has purchased the most obnoxious advertisement possible, over at PoliticsNJ.com. It's an annoying full page interruption of your reading enjoyment, especially considering that DiGaetano only got 6 votes in the Union County convention today.
Speaking of which, the real lead story at PoliticsNJ is that Doug Forrester beat John Murphy pretty handily in Union, with a 16 vote margin (3%) in the first ballot and opening up to a 23 vote margin (6%) in the second ballot. Steve Kornacki has all the gory details.
Hopefully that link will get you past the DiGaetano advertisement.

Update: In taking a quick scan around the candidates' web pages tonight, this interesting little tidbit popped up:

03/12/05 22:07:38 dns www.paulnj.com
No DNS for this address
(host doesn't exist)
Could this be the end for Paul DiGaetano's candidacy?

Accusations against Corzine

A comment attached to this post over at Jerseystyle makes some pretty serious allegations of malfeasance against Senator Corzine, from his time as CEO at Goldman Sachs. Enron pops up multiple times. I have no way to confirm (or deny) the materials posted there, so you'll have to make your own judgements.

Update: Enlighten-NJ has the story as well, and has made a judgement. It's not pretty:

Mr. Corzine stands right at the Center of the ENRON scandal and the Wall Street practices that led to the NASDAQ meltdown at the beginning of this decade.
All the more reason to support the Republican candidate after the June primary. We cannot afford to have another governor climb the ladder to power on the backs of New Jersey taxpayers.

A study in bad government

This morning, INCITE published a great piece on the current state of New Jersey political corruption. Here's a teaser quote:

McGreevey's malfeasance, however, was just the tip of the iceberg. Run a search on Google News for "New Jersey government corruption" and you get 17 articles in the last twenty-four hours alone.
Get yourself over to INCITE and enjoy yourself. This is really good stuff.

DynamoBuzz provided the inspiration for this note.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


My first 100-visitor day! Thanks for dropping by.

School Bond Referendum

Delanco passed a school construction referendum last night, 483-344. The Burlington County Times has the full story here. (Minor update: with absentees, the total was 508-354)

This is the way taxation should work. The board appealed to the voters to fund this project four times before it finally passed. Our government should not have the option of raising taxes by a simple majority vote within the government, whether it's the school board, county freeholders, or state legislature. Like the Delanco board, they should have to work hard to convince individual voters that a new major expense is both necessary and affordable. As I pointed out here, the board did that hard work, and earned the approval of the township taxpayers.

Pay attention, Trenton. This small town is setting an example you should follow.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

New Jersey has an economic policy?

We must, because the Burlington County Times reports that a BurlCo resident is in charge of directing it. The director, Donald Scarry, is "a self-described economic conservative" who claims,

"I'm a professional economist," he said. "I'm not pro-business, pro-labor or anything else."
This sounds great! A government official who isn't pro-labor must be a good thing, right? Oh, wait. There's more to the story.

1. This is a brand-new, $110k/year position.
He said his new job was to advise Labor Commissioner Thomas D. Carver on economic policy in the state and evaluate department programs.
Strike one. New Jersey already has enough $110k bureaucrats.

2. He believes job-training is an incentive to hiring:
On job creation, Scarry said the Department of Labor needs to continue promoting efforts to train the state's work force in order to lure high-wage, high-growth businesses from other states.
How about lowering taxes and easing regulations as an incentive? Make New Jersey the cheapest place to do business in the Northeast, not the most expensive. Strike two.

3. Supports the acting governor's plan to tax us all to death:
On tax policy, Scarry said the recent budget address of acting Gov. Richard Codey echoed the positions Scarry had taken in his economic columns over the past 10 years.
Strike three.

Turns out that he's not really a conservative economist after all. In fact, it turns out that he's really a Democrat politician.

We need a real conservative economist to turn his attention toward New Jersey.

Update: a real conservative economist has turned his attention toward New Jersey. Welcome to readers from "The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid."

New Jersey Legislator Doesn't Get It

The Burlington County Times reports on a bill introduced by my Assemblyman, Herb Conaway (D-7th). Conaway wants to create a deputy to the county Superintendent of Elections.
The appointed Superintendent is a Republican. Conaway's bill would mandate that the Superintendent and deputy be from different parties. Details of the bill (as described on the Legislature's website):

A2310 Requires every second class county to establish office of deputy Superintendent of elections; authorizes county committees to select nominees for Superintendent in such counties; appropriates funds
Given that the county Board of Elections is already evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, I can't see how this ridiculous patronage job will accomplish anything useful. Conaway sees it differently (from the BCT article):
Conaway, however, defended his bill. He said it provides an extra level of confidence in the integrity of the election process, needed given the closeness of recent elections.
"I believe we need the office that runs elections to be politically balanced,'' he said. "There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the legitimacy of the process.''
Dr. Conaway, if there are questions about the legitimacy of "the process," then there are questions about the legitimacy of the office which you hold. I suggest you step down and stop trying to waste our tax dollars by mandating duplicative positions that do nothing. The counties already have authority under the law to create the position of deputy to the Superintendent of Elections. The pertinent text of your bill, paragraph 2, clearly shows this existing authority.
2. Section 1 of P.L.1992, c.17 (C.19:32-26.1) is amended to read as follows:

1. The governing body of a county of the second class in which the office of superintendent of elections for the county has been established pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1947, c.167 (C.19:32-26) [may] shall establish[, by ordinance or resolution, as appropriate,] the office of deputy superintendent of elections.

If Burlington (or any other county) needs a deputy, the Freeholders are quite capable of making that determination. This bill is a waste of the Legislature's time and the taxpayer's money.

2006 Gubernatorial Races

Alexander McClure of Polipundit has some items today about Republican chances in the 2006 races for governor across the country, specifically in Michigan and New York. His last post about this year's New Jersey race was way back on February 7th, so I think it's time for a friendly reminder that we are out here trying to make a difference. A little national attention would go a long way to helping our candidates in their valiant struggle against Jon Corzine.

Here are some blogs that would love to see you stop by and read their NJ coverage:

Barista of Bloomfield Ave.
Mister Snitch!
Sluggo Needs a Nap
The Bad Hair Blog

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Topic Drift

The Barista of Bloomfield Ave. has an interesting post about school construction costs and falling flat on her back. The ensuing comments are a hoot, devolving into a debate about social security interspersed with cheers for speedy recovery and pain medication recommendations.
Especially interesting was the comment by Right of Center, who does a nice job of tying school construction to social security:

Social Security is a wealth redistribution program masked as an "annuity". If it was an annuity (you pay for your own self) there would not be such a hue and cry about private accounts, right? Those who like SS can opt in and those who don't can opt out. BUT, that does not work because the money of the opt-outers is needed to be redistributed to the opt-inners. See?
All the Abbot program does is try the same thing with "unequal" school construction budgets. Redistribute funds from wealthier school systems to poorer ones.
Any time government tries to solve social inequities by taking the short-cut of paying to "equalize" the outcome the result will be fraught with waste because there is no objective measure of an "equal" outcome. The tendency will be to pump more and more (of other people's) money into a wasteful system until all the voices asking for "more" are satisfied. The problem is made even worse when (in Tragedy of the Commons fashion) everyone must be in the system like SS.

Taxpayers == Baby Seals?

Enlighten-New Jersey has posted one of the best pieces ever on the state's spending habits and methods of persuasion. As I read it, I kept having visions of New Jersey taxpayers as helpless little baby seals, being clubbed to death so that the politician-hunters could take their pelts and make them into nice fur coats for those "in need."
Here's the money quote:

It’s time for New Jersey taxpayers to take the club away. We have a right to limit or eliminate special interest government spending and to demand our money be spent wisely. We must stand together and let it be known that bankrupting the state and making taxpayers into villains is no longer an acceptable model for political success.

Go now and read Enlighten-New Jersey.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

New Taxes - Real Estate

DynamoBuzz points out the acting governor's proposed tax increase on real estate transfers.

And they're increasing the real estate transfer tax again, but only on homes between $150,000 and $350,000. I think McGreevey raised the tax last year on home sales over $350,000, so Codey now get to tax the remaining homes.

What this really means is that practically all real estate transfers will now be subject to this additional tax. A quick trip over to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight shows that home values in NJ are up 13.67% in the past year, and 74.4% over the last 5 years.

The data available from the 2000 census really show what the governor is up to. Based on the census value, just over a million homes would be subject to the new tax. The groups in blue were afflicted with the new tax last year, while the line in yellow would be included under the new budget proposal.

VALUE (2000)

2000 Census Count

Value (2005)

Less than $50,000


Less than $87,200

$50,000 to $99,999


$87,200 to $174,399

$100,000 to $149,999


$174,400 to $261,599

$150,000 to $199,999


$261,600 to $348,799

$200,000 to $299,999


$348,800 to $523,199

$300,000 to $499,999


$523,200 to $871,999

$500,000 to $999,999


$872,000 to $1,743,998

$1,000,000 or more


$1,744,000 or more

When you increase the home values by 74.4%, you get the right hand column. As you can see, the largest group of homes in the census report (highlighted in orange) has been inflated into the new tax -- another 415,190 homeowners with a nasty surprise waiting for them if for some reason they need or want to sell.

The worst part is the next group, highlighted in red. If you bought a home for $86,000 five years ago, it is now subject to this additional tax. That group includes about 28% of those the census found in the $50k-$100k group, or about 64,000 homes. A little more quick math shows that, while Governor McGreevey piled this tax on about 650,000 homes, acting Governor Codey wants to expand it to over 1.5 million homes.

This additional tax should not be tolerated by the voting homeowners of New Jersey. Instead of finding creative new ways to raise taxes, the government should stop redistributing our confiscated wealth and get back to the business of providing necessary services to all citizens.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Salt in the Wound

Enlighten, who apparently believes that no horse is too dead to beat, reminds us that New Jersey [is] Scraping By On $60 Billion.

By the way, that $60 billion in spending costs us $70.1 billion. You might wonder why, and, as usual, Enlighten has the answer. New Jersey gets back 57 cents for every dollar paid into the federal coffers, so the $13.4 billion in Federal Spending actually costs us $23.5 billion.

Thanks for reminding us that we live in a tax-and-spend hell.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

NJ Budget

Enlighten - New Jersey does a great job putting together highlights of the acting Governor's budget. Only problem is, I hate long lists. To try and simplify things, I took their list and condensed it a bit. The new spending items are broken down into construction, personnel, direct transfers, and other (meaning I don't have a clue what the governor is doing with the money).

New Spending:









Back in this post, we saw that New Jersey has about 647,000 public sector employees, so the $589 million number works out to about $900 apiece. I can probably live with that, but the details will probably show that there are hidden increases in personnel cost on top of those highlighted in Enlighten's post.

The wealth transfers are a much bigger problem in my mind. According to the Census bureau, 8.5% of New Jersey residents are below the poverty line, compared with 12.4% nationally. This works out to about 750,000 people, so the additional $437 million in spending equates to about another $600 per "poor" person. Given that New Jersey's performance already far surpasses the national average, there is no justification for spending so much more money on a very small marginal improvement.

The new taxes were easier to break down -- property, sales, income, and wealth taxes.

New Taxes:









According to the Census, there are approximately three million households in New Jersey, with a home ownership rate of about 67%, so roughly 2 million households would have been eligible for the rebates. The elimination of the Homestead and NJ Saver rebates equates to an average $600 property tax increase for each of those households. In a state where fixed-income homeowners complain about an increase of less than $100 per year, this is a problem of epic proportions. If this tax increase survives the legislature, I predict that there will be wholesale removal of incumbents from their previously safe seats.

$350 million in new sales taxes? This is a direct drain on the economy of the state, and regressive as hell. The 2% gross receipts tax on cable companies (on top of all the other taxes their customers are forced to pay) is probably the most egregious. An annual Federal Communications Commission report on cable rates (see Table below, from page 8) shows that the cost of this service has been growing astronomically -- 7.4% annually for basic and expanded basic; to pile on with an additional $50 million in taxes is just plain wrong. It is a fallacy to call this a tax on the cable companies, as the money they handle comes from their subscribers. Cost to the average cable subscriber: about a dollar a month, more with premium channels.

Table 1
Monthly Cable Rates and Price Per Channel


Annual Percent Change

Service Elements

Jan. 1, 2004

Jan. 1, 2003

Jan. 1, 2004

Jan. 1, 2003

5-Year Average

Basic Service






Expanded basic service






Basic and expanded basic






Converter & remote control






Programming & equipment






Number of channels






Average rate per channel






New income taxes are targeted at those making $200k or more. According to this 1999 report, of 3 million households in NJ, only about 133,000 break that threshold; each of those households will see an income tax increase of about $1000. Over half of the "rich" households are found in Bergen, Morris, Essex, and Monmouth counties. Is it really fair to impose an additional $65 million in income taxes on just four counties?

Overall, I give the acting Governor's budget a big fat F. Had he balanced the budget without a $1.2 billion property tax increase, I probably could have given it a D-minus.