Archive for the ‘Planet Jersey’ Category

After Record Rains, New Jersey Declares A Drought

Saturday, July 13th, 2013


With record rainfall, Planet Jersey sees a revenue opportunity


Trenton – Today the government of New Jersey declared that as a result of record rainfall this year, there is a drought. As a consequence, a government spokesperson said that New Jersey will be enacting a “dustbowl tax” to address the matter, sort of.

While the spokesperson conceded this is one of the wettest seasons on record, resulting from global warming, George Bush and red states, which has created overflowing rivers and lakes, by New Jersey standards, the state is a virtual desert.

The “dustbowl tax” will only be enacted on those with income over $500,000 (“millionaires”) because, as a leading legislative figure pointed out off-the-record (on for a white envelope), “while they use the least water, they are also the most passive of all taxpayers and will resist the least. Hey, it’s an easy target. Ever see The Sopranos?”

After biblical rains, New Jersey declares a drought and, of course, a tax


Various leaders of public workers unions wholeheartedly supported the measure.

A spokesperson for the New Jersey Education Association said “while we blame Governor Christie  for this drought mess we are in as well as the extinction of dinosaurs, we are glad to see that this disaster is recognized and being cleaned up. We look forward to talking at the bargaining table about how New Jersey educators will get their fair share of these sorely-needed funds for compensation and pensions, all to help the kids, of course.”

An insider for the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police demurred off-the-record “we’ll get our piece…quietly.”

The Communication Workers of America, New Jersey’s largest state workers union, issued a statement saying “it’s time public workers in this state get the same treatment as the “1%.” When pressed for clarification, it amended its statement to say “we look forward to a piece of this action.”

As the preamble of the drought tax legislation states that its enactment is to address the “arid conditions recently inflicted upon New Jersey,” the body of the law allocates all tax revenue received to government worker wages and pensions.

A leading legislator said that future legislation will be enacted to actually address the drought and raise tax revenue for it, as well as deal with gay marriage.

-I.M. Windee


Senator Lautenberg and His Replacement

Monday, June 3rd, 2013


Advice to Governor Christie when picking Lautenberg’s replacement: don’t take the Liberal’s or Democrat’s advice


Senator Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey and the state’s longest-serving senator, died today at the age of 89. As Mr. Lautenberg was in the Army Signal Corps in World War II, he served his country in the military before he did so in the business world and U.S. Senate. For all of this, the country should be eternally grateful to him.

But as politics never takes time out to honor the dead, let alone anything else, the talk immediately focused on his replacement to be chosen by Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Governor Christie should play all the boardwalk games he wants with President Obama but he should not help his agenda


Of course, Liberals and Democrats are pointing to the late Senator’s party pedigree and are making the moral case that only a Democrat should be chosen to replace him. They argue that the voters elected a Democrat Senator and thus are entitled to have such. Where was this pious crew when Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords  left the Republican party in 2001 right after he was elected as a Republican and became a nominal independent? The independent status of Jeffords changed the Senate composition from 50-50 (with Republican Vice-President Cheney serving as President of the Senate to break tie votes) to 49 Republicans, 50 Democrats, and one independent and gave the Democrats control of the senate as he caucused with them. Back then, Liberals and Democrats cooed at the principled choice he made despite pulling a bait-and-switch on the voters.

Perhaps in a better world, a governor would pick a replacement senator who is of the same party and ideology of the one replaced. But also in a better world elected officials, regardless of party or ideology, would not live until they die from old age or conditions resultant from such.

This is not yet the better world that we all wish and hope for.

As Mr. Christie has his eye both on re-election as governor and possibly even a run for the presidency in 2016 or thereafter, his temptation might be to appease the chattering media class and Democrat-leaning voters here on Planet Jersey with a Democratic replacement. That would be a mistake. The voters will not remember who he chooses as a replacement for their senior senator that many likely did not even know existed.

If Mr. Christie wishes to continue his non-partisan bona fides, he should consider someone like former Governor Tom Kean who would caucus with Republicans but is also more than moderate enough to defend as Lautenberg’s replacement.

Appeasing the party of President Obama who would never think of returning such favor under any circumstances is definitely not the answer.

-I.M. Windee

A Trip to the Recycling Center

Sunday, October 21st, 2012


An oasis for fathers and husbands


One of the modern weekend ostensible chores that has developed, at least in the northeast, is a trip to the recycling center. Some observations:

  • There can be no doubt that recycling centers were the idea of a bedraggled husband/father and created for the purpose of getting them out of that internecine firefight known as “home.” There is a disproportionate amount of men there who possess a (temporary) sense of relief. It is an oasis of sorts, or better yet a “panic room.”
  • Regarding the prior point, I make sure that every recyclable is placed in the proper receptacle. If need be, I analyze the label to determine the make-up of the item at hand; there is no amount of time too great to expend on such. If I get home a few hours later than need be, it is worth it to preserve Mother Earth.

I.M. Windee, like many a husband, is an avid recycler, but not necessarily for the sake of Mother Earth


  • Given the refuge that the center offers, I suggested that a bar and large-screen tv playing football be set up; the profit-potential could be limitless.
  • When going to the recycling center alone simply to recycle and not escape the domestic front, it can take 30 minutes. If the kids go, it turns into a 2 hour adventure and there is usually more brought back home by way of books and 30 year-old magazines than what was brought there.
  • Saying that the recycling center was opened 24-hours a day, especially at dinner time, worked for a bit until the wife caught on; she never bought that it was open on holidays, with an urgent need to visit it, as family was arriving.
  • It’s over when there’s a sound of bloodhounds and loud music occurs (psychological operations by the spouse). An inevitable extraction from the spider hole, rough interrogation and a return to the cell (alright, a slight exaggeration, no cell). It’s disappointing when the kids point out where I’m hiding.

It would be natural to wonder how married men existed prior to recycling centers but one must assume that there was probably not a need for such back then, at least as a sanctuary.

-I.M. Windee

In a Rare Moment, a Revenue Stream is Rejected on Planet Jersey

Saturday, June 30th, 2012


A New Jersey legislator makes the profound discovery that government is concerned about revenue and not safety; pass the smelling salts!


As reported in the Newark Star Ledger recently, New Jersey lawmakers want an end to red-light cameras. For those who do not know about such latest revenue-enhancement devices, they are cameras at intersections that take pictures of the license plates of cars that ostensibly disobey red lights, resulting in tickets being mailed to the auto owners.

Of course, municipalities argue that it is for safety but cynics (read: Planet Jersey Realists), like myself, think that there could be less noble reasons afoot; namely, cash inflow.

State Sen. Mike Doherty (R-Warren) and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) called for disbanding the devices, which they say have not made intersections safer, amongst other things. Doherty called for the cameras to be banned outright, saying the program is less about safety and more about filling town coffers from fines at the intersections. “Government should not use citizens as cash cows,” he thundered. Clearly Mr. Doherty is Planet Jersey’s version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, circa 2012, or he is very good at feigning ignorance.

Above: A robot disguised as a policeman in the movie “The Terminator”

Under national standards, yellow lights are expected to stay lit one second for every 10 mph — or 3.5 seconds in the case of an intersection where the speed limit is 35 mph. I wish anyone luck who can stop their car in 3 1/2 seconds while driving 35 miles per hour, while not leaving half their tire on the road and inviting a roadside conversation with one of New Jersey’s Finest.


The harsh truth of the matter is that my beloved Planet Jersey has a civic model which is to tax, ticket and fee anything that moves. And this has become more pronounced given the fiscal canyon that our politicians have led us into. For anyone who thinks that a traffic ticket is being inflicted upon them, in most cases, in the name of public safety and not to support that revenue-officers compensation (including a nice retirement out of this state), I’ve got some Greek bonds I will sell you at a premium.

Red-light cameras are a somewhat difficult subject as, in one sense, they take the subjectivity out of the transaction (see: PBA shields on windshields atop inspection stickers). On the other hand, they take away the discretion that a policeman may properly use in cases where the matter is a close call, especially given weather conditions, traffic volume or speed given the time of day (rush hour is far different from any other time of day).

It would seem that, at least for now, red-light cameras are not appropriate until they are programmed to take in all of the facts and circumstances that reality offers drivers on the roads. And as such standard could be the equivalent of the search for artificial intelligence, red-light cameras will perhaps never see their day. Oh well, humans may not become obsolete after all.

In the meantime, municipalities could best console themselves with such revenue loss by cleaning up their fiscal houses, to wit, cut costs.

-I.M. Windee

Sanity Overcomes a New Jersey Court: Texter Not Liable for Driver’s Crash

Sunday, June 10th, 2012
 A loss for the trial bar; a win for society


Recently, a judge in New Jersey said a woman who texted her boyfriend while he was driving couldn’t be held liable for a car crash he caused while responding to her, seriously injuring a couple on a motorcycle. The Plaintiff’s lawyer says the woman’s text messages to her boyfriend played a role in the wreck. The plaintiffs’ attorney argued that defendant should have known her boyfriend was driving and texting her at the time. He argued that while the defendant was not physically present at the wreck, she was “electronically present” and asked for a jury to decide the defendant’s liability in the case.  The defendant’s lawyer says she had no control over when her boyfriend would read and respond to the message.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. Let’s hope it’s the last.

One of the duties of a plaintiff’s lawyer is to find as many pockets (the deeper the better) to sue. This involves, in the world of personal injury law, claiming that everyone and anyone near or around the tort (or for that matter, on the planet) had some duty that they breached which resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, there is the legal rule of “proximate cause” which defines the legally recognized cause of an injury. It is seen as an action or actions producing  particular, foreseeable consequences without the intervention of any independent or unforeseeable cause.

The key, at least in this case, is “foreseeable consequences.” Anyone who picks up a mobile device cannot reasonably foresee that the recipient will focus their attention on such message and cause an accident. The “electronically present” argument made by plaintiff’s lawyer in this case sounds great for a Star Trek episode but is not reasonably applicable for today’s day and age.

The judge in this case so much as said such by stating it’s reasonable for text message senders to assume the recipients will behave responsibly, and he also noted drivers are bombarded with many forms of distraction, whether they be text messages, notifications from smart-phones, GPS devices or signs along the road. Should those the manufacturers of such devices also be held liable? While the trial bar may say yes, a reasonable person would say no.

Let’s hope that the New Jersey judiciary keeps such a clear-eyed approach to causation as this judge has shown. If not, people will not only be afraid to leave their homes for fear of legal liability, they will not even pick up their telephone or mobile device, thus causing an undue chill in the everyday affairs of society.

-I.M. Windee


Public Workers’ Compensation: Fiscal Death by (Millions of) Government Workers‏

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012


A Tsunami of Pension Liabilities is Heading Ashore


The debate over the cost of government workers slogs on and, unsurprisingly, both sides are throwing everything they have into this pitched battle to win.

On April 11, Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine had a compelling op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal discussing how, via pensions, public employees are overpaid. This prompted a rebuttal from Gerald McEntee, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union.

Mr. McEntree said that “facts can be very stubborn things” and went on to state that his members working for state and local governments average annual compensation of about $40,000 and yearly pensions of $19,000.

While Mssrs. Biggs and Richwire rebutted such figures as being too low in a follow-up letter on April 25, the larger point is missed.

If taxpayers of each state were only dealing with several dozen, hundred, thousand or even tens of thousand public employees, such per employee compensation would be completely manageable. But the reason that states like Illinois (unfunded pension liability estimated at $126 billion as of 2011), California (unfunded pension liability estimated at $490 billion as of 2011) and my beloved Planet Jersey (unfunded pension liability estimated at $134 billion as of 2011) are sinking under the weight of health-care and pension liabilities is because there are layers upon layers of public workers earning only $40,000 per year and annual pensions of $19,000. Suddenly the per employee figures take on a new magnitude, in the order of the Japan tsunami.

I have passed by various public works projects on the roads and seen situations where one person holds the refuse bag, the other fills it, and the third screws in the light-bulb (to complete the sardonic joke). And one can only imagine the redundancy and over-capacity (excess workers) that exist in the government bureaucracy that is outside of public view. It’s the world’s worst-kept secret that union leadership wants as many people as possible in union membership to keep the dues coffers full. Thus, there are more people on the government payroll than need be, thanks in large part to obliging politicians who receive campaign contributions from the unions, which came from public workers union dues which came, ultimately, from the taxpayer. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The standard defense is that all of these workers are needed, if not more. But if so, how about some good old-fashioned overtime that people in the private sector do, without additional compensation? That would cut deeply into any backlog of work as well as pare down the burgeoning public workforce. Yet the thought of such is completely foreign as each day that government workers show up to work, they are setting land-speed records in the parking lot at 4:30:30 or 5:00:30 in order to flee their place of ostensible work. I once showed up at my municipal office to inquire about my real estate tax bill (always fun) and was told that computers shut down at 4:25 in order to close the office at 4:30 (as if the worker’s body parts would fall off if she stayed 5 minutes beyond regular hours).

Mr. McEntree then dryly asserted that his members should get a guarantee for good health and never growing old in exchange for any cuts in health and pension benefits. Having slogged in the private sector for 16 years, it is altogether appropriate to offer the same guarantee we poor schlubs get in the private industry: none. Welcome to Planet Earth…and watch your step.

So just as Mr. McEntree has pointed out that “facts are very stubborn things,” so too  are budget deficits. And both must be dealt with.

-I.M. Windee

Another Jersey (Northeast) Extinction

Friday, March 9th, 2012


The Northeast (Soprano) Way Takes out Another Public Benefit


The cultural pearl of Red Bank, New Jersey announced that their Independence Day fireworks display, around for more than 50 years, is canceled for 2012 because the event has become too large and expensive.

Organizers said the annual show has been costing more and more for security and other expenses. This year, security and insurance costs were set to increase, and some major backers told organizers that they couldn’t maintain their level of funding. Additionally, the borough has other related expenses, such as an average of 10 lawsuits filed annually after the event in which Red Bank is named as a defendant. “There are incidents with private citizens [charging] the municipality with not controlling the [event] and [Red Bank has] to defend against it,” the Red Bank mayor said.

Whether people want to admit it or not, this is the modus operandi in the Northeast; everyone look out out for their immediate parochial interests regardless of how it affects others or themselves in the long term.

It’s not hard to imagine that security (read: police) for this event get compensation that is well above and beyond their standard rate, which is rich in this state to begin with (median police pay is $94,000/annum). The lion’s share of the expense, fireworks, is probably charged at top dollar by the supplier, the famed Grucci Brothers of Long Island. After all, Red Bank, in the middle of rich Monmouth County, has the money, right? And there has got to be other smaller hands in the till that claim entitlement to exacting their tithes for the fireworks bonanza. Consequently, there were not enough “tits for the pigs,” to borrow a Lincoln phrase, so the entire show is cancelled.

This is commensurate with other New York metropolitan, and Northeast, fiascoes.

It has been recently reported that rising New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority pension and health-care costs will absorb most of the $900 million generated by planned fare and toll increases in 2013 and 2015. The MTA’s director of government affairs, Hilary Ring, testifying before the City Council’s Transportation Committee, said the planned hikes on subway and bus fares and bridge and tunnel tolls wouldn’t likely be sufficient to allow for new improvements in the system or to restore some of the bus and subway routes eliminated during the budget crunch of 2010.

So commuters will be paying higher fares so that MTA workers will have comfortable retirements in Florida and Arizona, amongst other non-Northeastern locales.

I’ve predicted for a while that we are approaching the day where a commuter will pay the fare and walk through the turn-style only to be told to exit as the core service (subway, bus, etc.) cannot be provided because the fare is being put towards worker benefits.

But as stated with the Grucci Brothers above, the gouge mentality is not limited to government worker union leaders; private industry also bellies up to the trough.

Remember the proposed Hudson tunnel project that would’ve increased sorely-needed train capacity between New York and New Jersey? Governor Christie wisely scuttled the project as he foresaw that the inevitable cost “over-runs” would have created a burden on New Jersey that it could not afford. Cost over-runs are generally costs that are not included in the original bid so that the bidder can win, or project promoter can see initiated the realization of, the project. Again, a situation in which interested parties grab as much as they think they can without any regard for anything else.

The lesson from all of this is that as everyone grabs and paws at everything they can, there becomes less and less of such. Put another way, the adage that a half a loaf is better than none is true.

-I.M. Windee

The Debate Over Remembering Whitney Houston: Brains at Half-Mast

Sunday, February 19th, 2012


New Jersey Lowers Its Flags for the Iconic Singer and People Get Unhinged


This week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie decided to lower American flags throughout the state to half-staff to honor the late Whitney Houston.  Naturally, in today’s highly cantankerous society where people disagree on the time of day just to be heard, there was an uproar over Mr. Christie’s decision.  To be sure, there were those who truly believed that such honor is reserved for those who are in the military or similar calls of duty and much can be said how we don’t recognize them like we should.  But there were also armchair moralists, many who would not want nor survive the application of the high standards to their lives that they are applying to Ms. Houston.

The governor responded to such criticism by stating “I’m not saying that Whitney Houston is a role model. She’s not a role model in that respect……………..But what she is is a cultural icon in the history of this state. I’m disturbed by people who believe … because of her history of substance abuse, that somehow she’s forfeited the good things that she did in her life. I just reject that on a human level.”

Well put, Governor.

Ms. Houston gave much to the public via her music. Any damage she did was predominantly to herself and not others.  No reasonable person can argue that she is somehow responsible for getting people hooked on drugs, let alone advocating such. Those finger-wagging pilgrims would spend their time far better by seeing that the Kardashians are erased from society’s conscious.

But for those whose heartburn is so great over this matter, allow me to suggest a compromise: New Jersey flies flags at half-staff to recognize the good she has done but she loses the last 35 years of her life (starting last week) that she would likely have had if she did not make the ultimately fatal decision of using drugs.

-I.M. Windee

(Government) Jobs are Up in the Garden State!

Sunday, January 29th, 2012


Governor Christie and Republican Presidential Candidates Have a Great Lesson to Learn, and Teach, If They are Willing


December brought bad news for the Garden State as local governments in New Jersey increased their payrolls by 2,400 employees, canceling out the 2,000 jobs lost in the private sector in December, according to the state’s most recent employment report.

While state government lost the highest amount of jobs (11,800) in 2011, the local government sector was the third-largest growing sector in the state (9,800 new jobs), according to Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at J.H. Cohn.

Regardless of where state government jobs were added or (mercifully) eliminated, New Jersey continues its transformation to a wealth transfer (distribution) state that is slowly eating itself alive.

To wit, New Jersey is relyng more and more on the upper income earners by increasing their taxes so it may move such money to state and local government workers (whether through state support or higher real estate taxes) and the upper earners are moving out of the state (or finding ways to shelter their income from taxes) which decreases the tax base and burdens a shrinking pool of people and businesses (think: New York City in the mid-1970s). One of the more ironic scenarios would be to have a state with no one but government workers left as a tax base. It would be almost humorous, if not so tragic, to see the typical big government suspects come to the realization that their constituency could not support themselves. In other words, only the much maligned private (wealth creation) sector (a.k.a “The Rich”) can pay for government.

Which leads us to Governor Christie who recently proclaimed “‘New Jersey is back.” Well, not quite. And not because Mr. Christie hasn’t tried; he’s done a yeoman’s job at taking on the entrenched interests in this state (union leaders, politicians) to make it a viable economic climate as it once was, long ago. But with a 9% unemployment rate, private industry fleeing the state and budget deficits that threaten annually, re-election slogans are not what’s needed. The Governor needs to convey to the New Jersey electorate that the job has just begun: several decades of mismanagement under both Republicans and Democrats cannot be reversed in a couple of years, even by the Herculean Chris Christie.

Mr. Christie has begun such fiscal renovation project by pushing a major tax decrease, which has put the Democrats on the defensive and has them scrambling for their own tax-cut plan. And a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal has him asking for the “1%” to come to his state. This smartly continues his rehabilitation agenda for the Garden State, but this is only the beginning of a very long journey that his successors will still be addressing, if they take on the task. Still, he must continue to press his argument that New Jersey, as anywhere, needs wealthy people and should not punish them regardless of the Dickensian sweatshop caricature that may have been drawn up.

And Republican Presidential candidates would do well to appreciate and teach the benefits of the wealthy who provide capital to spur and sustain economic growth. As Newt Gingrich has (wrongly) decided to attack Romney and capitalism, he may well find himself backtracking should he become the Republican nominee or even President. As to Mr. Romney, it’s almost as if he were from a different economic system (Europe?) and is completely incapable of defending the free-market system he has done so well in and prospered from. The electorate is tired of the failed re-distributionist policies for the past 3 years and is seeking someone who will provide a clear choice between wealth creation (sustainable indefinitely with the right policies) and wealth transfer (a limited amount of time as such relies on wealth-creation).

Ronald Reagan showed over 30 years ago which policies would be successful and last and which would not; now Messrs. Romney and Gingrich must decide what hand they wish to play.

-I.M. Windee

New Jersey Re-Districts Pitting 2 Incumbents: Advice to Avoid a Nasty Campaign and Win

Monday, December 26th, 2011

The ongoing loss of population to warmer tax and business climes has caused New Jersey to re-district its congressional lines.  A commission has just announced the new districts which could wind up having veteran incumbents from each party vying for a seat: Democrat Steve Rothman against Republican Rep. Scott Garrett.

The idea of having an incumbent actually have to earn (somewhat) her or his seat is refreshing as most federal and state incumbents have over a 90% re-election rate.  The way that these 2 candidates may try to retain office, though, is somewhat alarming, if not depressing.

“It’s two incumbents squaring off against each other,” said Brigid Harrison, a professor of political science and law at Montclair State University. “It’s going to be a nasty, pitchfork fight.”

It’s not shocking that politics, as with anything else in the Garden State, is done “Sopranos style.”

But to understand why this possible “clash of the titans” is occurring could both avoid an unseemly fight as well as help focus the worthy candidates on what truly matters: jobs.

The 2010 census revealed that people are migrating from New Jersey, and the northeast, to warmer climates.  Such climates are not only measured by the thermometer but also by the tax and regulatory burden that each state imposes on its citizenry, businesses as well as individuals.

Regularly listed as a state with one of the highest tax burdens, New Jersey is cited by the Tax Foundation as having the country’s highest property tax per capita. It is also has one of the highest marginal income tax rates at 8.97% and is one of only 14 states to tax Social Security income.

The regulatory obstacle course is no less burdensome with, amongst other business-crushing initiatives, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection always trying to outdo the federal EPA and even the People’s Republic of California when it comes to safeguarding Mother Earth from human existence.

Furthermore, the 2 middle classes that New Jersey has, private sector (wealth creation) and public sector (government worker [wealth transfer]) is an inevitably combustible situation, both fiscally and politically.

So if Mssrs. Rothman and Garrett wish to have an inside track on how to win this congressional seat that both now find themselves competing for, perhaps a rigorous platform on job creation, via less taxes and regulation, would be a great place to start, instead of a “nasty” campaign.  After all, good policy is ultimately good politics.

Not only would such help their constituencies, but it would prevent they and other fellow politicos from waking up one day and finding their districts gone because of voter flight due to their bad policies.

-I.M. Windee