I would like to thank the many people who actively supported me through their contributions, door to door walking, phone calls and talking with friends and neighbors on my behalf.
A special thank you goes to my family, for their love, support and patience. It’s tough to see disappointment on the face of your child…but we will all use this experience for a learning opportunity.
Leading up to Election Day, I spent time contemplating the many issues we face in New Jersey. For those paying attention to facts, you all know the harsh realities; NJ is the highest taxed state in the country, NJ has the highest rate of foreclosures in the country, NJ has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, our pension system is on life support, our transportation infrastructure is in shambles, our education system is broken and more people leave the state than come here to live. And yet… throughout campaigns across the state, rather than debating ways for solving these problems, we saw absurd sums of money spent by the teacher’s union to “get even”, vitriolic rhetoric…fabricated from thin air…to diminish good people who work hard for people in their communities or better yet…a complete lack of reality as to who got us in this mess in the first place.
Throughout all of this, the overriding thought that kept running through my mind, was that we have begun to view our civic participation in representative government as nothing more than a sport. A sport played without regard to solving real problems, but rather…played by some purely for the thrill of winning or for the largess that is believed to come from an unending spring of resources. All of this without regard to the consequence of the outcome. Politics has become the same as our participation in, or observance of, a baseball or football game…and nothing of any greater significance.
Unfortunately, unlike the games we watch on the weekends, the decisions that are made regarding our governance, have real and in some cases dire affects on people’s lives. The Mets not winning the World Series will not cause a retired senior to lose their home because they can’t afford the taxes. Rutgers not going to a bowl game will not force a recent grad to move far away from their friends and family to find a good job and the ability to buy a home. Whether or not the local high school team makes the playoffs will not force retired state employees to change their retirement plans because the pension fund is out of money.
I am not naïve, I know that politics has been a sport of sorts for time eternal…but throughout our history, when the stakes were high and it really mattered; people got serious about the decisions being made and chose those individuals who they believed had a complete understanding of the circumstances and better still, a good grasp on the solutions which would right the ship and avoid disaster…not double down on the same empty promises made for the last twenty years.
While campaigning, I often talked to people about the parallels between our economy in New Jersey and Hurricane Katrina. As Hurricane Katrina approached New Orleans, I called friends of mine to check on their status. They responded in the way only people who live in a hurricane prone area can…they said… “It’s a hurricane…we know its coming…we are packed and on our way out of town…we are evacuating.” As we all know, not everyone was able to evacuate. Some didn’t take the storm seriously until it was too late and some were trapped by their dependence on others to provide safety and security. Unfortunately, for those who didn’t evacuate early, decisions made by those who they elected; local, state and federal…caused them great harm and in some cases their lives.
Here in New Jersey, it isn’t a hurricane that is coming…but rather, a storm of economics…and it is very real. The evacuations have already begun. New Jersey lost 15,000 people, with a net worth of $1 million or more, in 2014 alone. As taxes increase even further to pay for the shortfalls, more people paying into the system and a lot more jobs will leave the state at an increasing rate, and the consequences for those who are left behind will become greater with each passing day. You may not yet feel the effects of this storm directly, but with every election cycle that we continue to see our choices as a sport…we get one step closer to the day when it will be too late to heed the warnings and evacuation will no longer be an option.
The home that you counted on for retirement will be worth far less with fewer people wanting to live here. That pension plan you are counting on will only pay pennies on the dollar when it’s bankrupt and your families will be fragmented across geography due to a fixed income, a lack of jobs or unaffordable taxes. Technology has afforded us many things…and it will also allow us to live anywhere but here. Sometimes winning doesn’t mean everything when the cost of winning means you lose.
The storm is coming, the evacuation has begun…we need to start taking these issues seriously before it’s too late.
May God Bless You All,