NY to NJ: FAILURE

A recent column in the New York Post points out the dismal state of affairs at New Jersey’s leading newspapers, attributing the layoffs, buyouts, and cutbacks to the similarlysclerotic state of New Jersey’s economy. The author accurately blames thepathetic economy on the State’s insane fiscal policies.

When New Yorkers start favorably comparing their own State budget and tax policies with those of New Jersey, things are really in the tank.

The author failed to mention the delicious irony: the Ledger owes its precarious financial condition to the State’s adoption of the policies its editorial board endorses – the purveyors of Politically Correct opinion hoist high upon their own petards. Who says the political gods lack a sense of humor? (Robespierre, call your office.)

Liberal policies inevitably destroy economies. It’s not a tough call: PA is essentially an economic basket case, except along its border with NJ, where our idiotic tax, borrow, spend, and regulate policies make it look good by comparison. If productive folk can escape the reach of a government which treats their capital and labor as community assets, they will. And they have. That’s why the left favors national … everything, because they figure escaping a country is much more difficult than abandoning a state. People fleeing California’s nonsensical fiscal policies make Nevada the fastest growing state in the nation; it’s more difficult to leave the USA for freer pastures, like Ireland or Singapore.

Just listen to Obama; the top 1% of all federal taxpayers already pay 40% of all taxes; the top 10% pay 71%. But, to liberals, that’s not enough; they’re not paying their "fair share". (The two most dangerous phrases in the liberal lexicon are "fair share" and "reform"; both translate as "more". Governmental "reform" always means more government; whatever you’re paying now, your "fair share" is always more.) Obama proposes to do for the entire country that which McGreevey/Codey/Corzine have done for NJ. Should he win this election, we can only hope those promises are, like so many of his other campaign statements, mere empty rhetoric for his leftist base.

While it may be difficult for people to escape an increasingly confiscatory state, not so capital. It will flow to where it secures the greatest rate of return. Tax it and it will leave. Again, using NJ as an example, McGreevey and the Democrats doubled the tax on businesses. Unsurprisingly, that annihilated economic growth; NJ boasts fewer private sector jobs than it did when he took office. And, yet, true to the old Reagan observation about liberalism – "if it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it." – NJ pols embarked on a Japan Inc-style industrial policy, attempting to pick "winners" – like stem cell research centers – and offer them massive tax subsidies to locate here. Through taxpayer subsidy programs, like BEIP, they reward a few high profile entities, while driving countless, nameless others from the state. This makes sense … why?

And this is "progressive"? Toward what destination are we "progressing", other than bankruptcy?

As the Post column observes, an unholy alliance of people who profit from the taxpayers’ misery combines to reelect the architects of that distress. Urban residents and public employee unions, obviously, refuse to elect people who threaten their boodle. And the Democrats expressly promise to make things "progressively" worse. On top of a huge new unfunded mandate for "affordable" housing, they promise to heap a mandate for "affordable", universal health insurance, costing billions more. And the program will be hugely popular among beneficiaries – who vote – while those to whom government sends the bills increasingly seek economic asylum across state lines.

Rich liberals, like the Corzines of the world, don’t care. (He might, if we imposed a requirement that all investments held by sitting governors be in New Jersey companies.) But folks Obama considers "wealthy" – those making $250K or so – often disagree with that descriptive, and stubbornly wish to put their own kids’ needs ahead of the desires of strangers. Since taxes constitute a first claim on income and assets, the effect of liberalism is to place the desires of those strangers ahead of the needs of the person earning the income. And that’s just plain backwards.

Already, here in NJ, the system shows the indisputable signs of collapse. When the only segment of the economy growing is government, that’s simply unsustainable. The problem cannot be solved by early retirements or modest curtailment of governmental programs (assuming that Corzine, or any leftist, would accept even such a modest curtailment, instead of seeking massive further expansion). Only a fundamental rethinking of the appropriate mission of government – consistent with basic human nature – can produce economic prosperity.

Simply put, prosperity requires the wholesale repudiation of the leftism.

Well-off folks – even modestly well-off folks – should help their neighbor. And, indeed, they do. But a fundamental distinction exists between a moral obligation and a legal command. Jon Shure would make a wonderful priest, imploring his flock to assist the downtrodden. But what works well in church – in which the audience is free to disregard the priest, and determines for itself how much it can afford – fails miserably as governmental policy. The asserted needs of the supplicants always far outweigh the willingness of even the most selfless congregation to sacrifice. And the priest, when elevated to tax collector, refuses to take "I can’t afford it" for an answer.

Leftists refuses to admit of a need to which government should not attend. And, of course, such needs are filled by highly paid, well-benefitted, civil-service-protected, politically active public employees, who, too often, conflate their own material well-being with the public interest. In consequence, the public sector bloats, taxes mushroom, and those selfish "rich" folks with kids of their own to raise, find any refuge they can. Our government keeps trying to "help" those in the water by handing anchors to those in the boats. Perversely, this pleases the left, which doesn’t object to drowning, provided that everyone drowns together, and which doesn’t trust the folks in the boats to voluntarily assist those in the water.

For the poor, the best possible state of affairs rests in residing in a dynamic, prosperous society, with few guarantees but much opportunity. Economic evidence demonstrates conclusively that the freest societies are the most prosperous. We can emulate Sweden – in which everyone enjoys modest prosperity, but from which the most talented folks flee – or Singapore. Singapore, among the freest economies in the world, grew at 6.6%, 7.9%, and 7.7% over the last three years. Sweden grew at 2.7% last year. Singapore’s average tax rate: 14.9%; maximum 20%; Sweden imposes the highest income taxes in the world. Which model best serves the needs of ALL the people?

The US government lists Singapore’s natural resources as "none". Phooey. They possess the most important economic resource of all: freedom. The results speak for themselves, and NJ would do well to emulate that example, so that we can once again be a beacon to the people of NY.

NY to NJ: FAILURE