The Freedom and Prosperity Agenda

Governor Corzine is gearing up for a re-election campaign next year just as the state's economy is contracting rapidly. In addition, the state budget is facing at least a $1 billion deficit this fiscal year and as much as a $4 billion deficit next year as revenues are plunging because the Great Recession of 2008 is causing more layoffs while profits are shrinking or disappearing in virtually all businesses.

Although Governor Corzine has stated in the past he didn't want to be governor so he could be a "Scrooge," economic reality has made even the most passionate advocate of big government accept the fact that the state does not have unlimited resources to fund forever the redistribution of income, known as welfarism, statism, or collectivism. All Corzine can do now is make sure that state spending does not exceed revenue, and that means he will have to cut programs he wants to expand, e.g., providing some form of subsidized healthcare for families who currently are not eligible for FamilyCare.

However, Jon Corzine, the philanthropist, can put a huge dent in the unavailability of primary healthcare for working families by using let's say the $30 million he may spend on his re-election campaign and fund the creation of nonprofit health centers throughout the state. The governor knows about the existence of these centers. He should become the state's biggest cheerleader for a proven way-without the use of taxpayers' money–to provide healthcare for low-income, uninsured working families. All he has to do is log on to the Volunteers in Medicine website, and visit some of the "VIMs" in New Jersey, such as the Parker Family Health Center in Red Bank and other locations.

Jon Corzine could "leverage" his substantial resources by creating challenge grants for communities around the state to bring healthcare to uninsured working families. In addition, other philanthropists as well as foundations and corporations could also chip in to this noble effort. In other words, more than $100 million could be raised, which would be enough to insure the founding of enough health centers to provide every New Jerseyan with primary care.

Sadly, Corzine has not realized that the American 75 year experiment in welfare economics has failed. Since the inauguration of FDR in 1933, government has expanded generation after generation after generation so each generation has accepted big government as appropriate, inevitable and therefore "untouchable." Yet, even former one-term Democrat governor Jim Florio recognized the limits of government, when in one of his budget messages he said government tries to do too much. Nevertheless, both Democrats and Republicans have ignored Florio's insight, because they have either expanded the welfare state or refused to begin repealing it so the nonprofit sector could fully fulfill its mission to provide for the less fortunate among using time tested means, voluntarism and individual and community caring.

In 1991 the greatest management consultant of the 20th century Peter Drucker wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "government has proved incompetent in solving social problems." Drucker devoted the last twenty years of his illustrious career advising nonprofits how to become better social service organizations. Drucker predicted nearly two decades ago that "nonprofitization" would be the next "big thing" because of the emerging financial crisis that would grip local and state governments. We are in that financial crisis that Drucker predicted and politicians still want to maintain the status quo-unsustainable bureaucratic government agencies.

The challenge for the next governor–Corzine, Christie, Lonegan Merkt or Levine–is to correctly diagnose the problem and begin to downsize state government ASAP. We don't need more gimmicks, like the $3,000 credit for job creation, to restore a robust economy in the Garden State. We need a free enterprise New Jersey.

(There are polices that we have no control over, such as the Federal Reserve's manipulation of interest rates that caused the boom and bust. In addition, we need to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and reduce the empire overseas. The military-industrial complex is a huge financial drag on the economy. )

An agenda to restore prosperity in New Jersey begins with lower income tax rates, less spending and abolishing unnecessary regulations. Ideally, this means the following policy changes over the next 12-24 months:

  • Abolishing the state income tax so that communities could fund their public schools out of local resources. Public schools should be funded using tuition and fees just like the state colleges and universities. Eventually all subsidies would be ended creating a free enterprise educaiton system. This would be boon to suburban communities who see most of their income taxes fund education in urban districts. Barring that fundamental change, state aid should be allocated on a per pupil basis, which would require overturning the Abbot decision. Urban school districts would have to become more efficient and use alternative ways to educate their kids, e.g, homeschooling, small community based education centers that would staffed by teachers, parents, retired teacher volunteers, etc. At the least, if the income tax is not abolished, there should be tax credits for parents and others who fund the education costs of children who attend non-governmental schools.
  • Phasing out state government support for nonprofits so they could become more entrepreneurial as per Drucker's 1991 plan. Inefficient and ineffective nonprofits would cease to exist and the competent and effective ones would thrive. The abolition of the state income tax and a reduction in the sales tax would free up the people's income to support the best nonprofits in local communities.
  • Reviewing all regulations ASAP in order to end the red tape that stifles businesses and the unwarranted intrusion in the free enterprise system.
  • Pardoning all nonviolent drug offenders to reduce the costs of incarceration; eventually New Jersey could become a leader in the humane treatment of drug users.

This is the initial proposal of the freedom and prosperity agenda. Will Governor Corzine have his epiphany this holiday season and become an unabashed supporter of Peter Drucker's' plan for compassion and embrace the free enterprise system? Or will he cling to the failed status quo? In the meantime, Happy Holidays, and for Governor Corzine, Happy Birthday. See you in 2009. The Freedom and Prosperity Agenda