"As long as we are not chased from our words we have nothing to fear. As long as our utterances keep their sound we have a voice. As long as our words keep their sense we have a soul." -- Edmond Jabes, from The Book of Yukel, Return to the Book

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The dangers of governing with a mandate you haven't earned

Gov. Chris Christie won 49 percent of the vote in November to defeat an unpopular incumbent governor by 5 percentage points.

To many -- primarily his Republican supporters -- that was a landslide and gave him a mandate. But the math is pretty simple: More than half of the state's voters backed someone other than Christie and -- a key point that has been lost in the discussion -- only one Assembly seat changed parties. Christie's win, it would seem, had more to do with him not being the other guy.

And yet, he has been governing aggressively from the right, using a hatchet to chop the state budget into bits, apparently ready to make Grover Norquist's goal of a government small enough to drown in a bath tub a reality.

So, what has been the response? The state's papers (aside from conservative Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine and me) have given him a fairly wide berth. The public, however, appears to have a far less generous view.

Monmouth University released its latest poll today, showing that the governor's approval rating has been on the decline and that many are dissatisfied with his budget:
When Governor Chris Christie unveiled his first state budget last month, he claimed the cuts were tough but fair. The latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll finds that Garden State residents agree with only half of that assessment. The cuts may be tough, but New Jerseyans see some groups, including teachers, as being disproportionately hurt. The poll also finds the governor coming up with the short end of the stick in his battle with the state teachers’ union.

Governor Christie’s job rating currently stands at 41% approve to 44% disapprove among all state residents, and 42% to 44% among registered voters. As a comparison, 34% of New Jerseyans gave thumbs up to the prior governor, Jon Corzine, at the same point in his term, while 37% gave a negative rating.

The driving force behind public opinion on the governor is his budget plan, something that an overwhelming 9-in-10 New Jerseyans have been paying some attention to. Governor Christie’s proposal gets mixed reviews. Among those aware of Christie’s budget plan, 46% say that his proposal is the product of tough and thoughtful choices, while an identical 46% see it as more of the same old political dealings. This may not represent an overwhelming endorsement of the incumbent’s plan, but it is decidedly more positive than opinion of Jon Corzine’s first budget, which only 32% saw as tough and thoughtful, compared to fully 60% who felt it was the product of backroom deals.

Furthermore, 22% of the public say they are satisfied with Chris Christie’s budget plan and another 32% say they can live with it even if they are not necessarily satisfied. However, a sizable 44% report being dissatisfied with the governor’s proposal. Again, these numbers are not great, but slightly better than his predecessor’s – only 10% of New Jerseyans were satisfied with Corzine’s initial budget, while 41% were dissatisfied.
To be fair, the governor had a disastrous fiscal situation to deal with. The state has been spending more than it has been taking in for years, and it has been clear since the day Jon Corzine took office in 2006 that something had to be done. To his credit, Gov. Christie is attempting to put the state on sounder fiscal footing; his approach, however, ignores public priorities and has little to do with fairness.

I've written about this before -- including yesterday -- but this budget leaves tax revenue on the table in the form of the expired income tax surcharge on those making more than $400,000. It slashes spending on public education (while leaving the charter school law in place, meaning that charters can form and ultimately siphon money from traditional public schools); asks poor seniors to pay fees for services and so on. There is a lot of pain being spread here, but the folks at the upper end of the income bracket, the ones most able to afford cuts, are the ones being spared.

We will have three more years of this -- unless this petition to recall the governor catches fire (not likely). The best hope is a concerted and focused campaign by New Jersey voters to push back against the governor's budget, to make it clear that the priorities he has outlined in his spending plan are not priorities supported by  a majority of New Jerseyans and to give support to legislators of either party who are willing to stand up and make it clear that they will not support the budget.


reinkefj said...

Unfortunately, "we" are at the time where the earth is shifting under our "collective feet".

We, as a society, can no longer afford gooferment supplied "education".

Sorry, but that is a "facts of life". There's just too many "facts". Too much "overhead". Too many chiefs. Too many "mandates". Too many "union rules". Too little innovation. Too much "entrenched fiefdoms".

Christie is just one in a long line of politicians who are trying to adjust. Like a soon to be dead fish, flopping around on the dock. A lot of activity without much chance of success.

Dewey and Mann were socialists who brought the Prussian model of education to the USA. It was right for what they wanted to accomplish -- socialism. It was, and is, wrong because it's not what the American people want or need.

As an IT/BPR practitioner, we need to recognize the basics. Parents need to be in charge. Education is just one more aspect of the things a parent needs to provide. We need a plan to migrate from where we are to where we want to be. It took almost 100 years to get into this mess; it will take decades to get out.

Recognizing the problem is the first step!

Anonymous said...

reinkefj is right. We should all quit our jobs and start homeschooling our kids. That shouldn't be to hard for Mr. IT/BPR practitioner, I'm sure he has plenty of spare time to teach his kids.

This brilliant suggestion ranks right up there with the guy who is tired of taxpayers paying for other taxpayers to use the library.

Seriously, it's like a bunch of morons read this paper. Can't anyone come up with a coherent thought that is more "idea" than rambling nonsense?

Anonymous said...

To the other anonymous guy, I can only agree. Mr Libertarian is always coming up with this crap. Bottom line, he doesn't give a damn about education, libertarian ideology is more important than education or reality.
Geez, I'm so glad that we finally have an extra person posting comments. It's been a long time coming.
Dear sweet lord of the universes, Christie has 3 more years to destroy NJ education and possibly NJ itself. The knuckle heads and the NJ101.5 crowd are cheering this all on. CC may very well destroy the teacher unions, the right wing and the Norquistians will be so pleased.

reinkefj said...

Yup, I don't care about "education". I'd like parents to assume total control. Don't you trust parents? Education is too important to be in the hands of the gooferment. Look at the mess they've made of it. And, the costs!

And, yes, if the only idea you can come up with is homeschooling, then you should quit and teach them. You had them; not the village.

Funny with daycare, the marketplace has figured out how people can have children and still pursue their dreams.

Of course, if taxes were lower, then maybe we could have Mom or Dad afford to stay home with their children.

But now with two anonymous posters, I'm sure that we will have more years of "gooferment education" that continues to dumb down the youth at prices that forces senior citizens from their homes and drives everyone into poverty. All so that the teachers' union can drive the "ship of state" onto the rocks of bankruptcy.

I have no doubt that Christie will be UNABLE to make any headway on the budget or the whole "skrool" mess, because he fails to recognize the essential fact.


For all the sniping about libertarian ideas, neither anonymous has addressed that single point.

And, that is our problem!


p.s., Amusing how now we have two commentors who have to hide their identity. At least, I will stand up for my opinions. Come out from the metaphorical shadows. What are we hiding? Affiliations with the entrenched special interests or just don't want to immortalize your legacy. Remember that fellow who said; "Bumblebees can't fly", IBMer Watson "There's only a marketplace for 50 computers", or ... ...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I have no idea what you're even talking about.

Just wondering if you attended private school or your children do. It's the only place I can see getting an education that isn't run by the "Government." I'm sorry that you think the public schools in Central jersey are that bad. If I felt that way I'd pull my kids out too. Glad you can afford that.

I'd educate them myself, but have to work three jobs to keep up with the tanking economy that libertarian and Republican talking points has destroyed. But you don't see that I guess. Working class people like me know the value of a dollar and realize that when it comes to education, a dollar spent on a professional teacher is better "spent" than a dollar saved in my bank account.

And by the way. The only thing I'm hiding is my name and address from crazy angry people on the Internet. Sorry you find my personal safety so offensive.

Anonymous said...

"You had them; not the village"

Very clever. I'll use that line when I we stop public funding EMS and fire departments. I'll handle my own first aid thank you.

Oh, and have you checked out the salaries of police offcers? Grab a budget. They're crazy! Time they stopped living on the public dole too. DEFUND!

Bob said...

"We, as a society, can no longer afford gooferment supplied "education"."
A BPR might even suggest we trash the Constitution & start from scratch with something more efficient.

We have one of the most powerful governors. The "mandate" argument rarely cuts it with me. I just point to Lincoln. A winning candidate assumes all the power of the office, not the popular vote percentage of the power. So the opposition has to deal with all the power of the office Christie uses in whatever way he decides to use it. Any governor needs to say, "If you want it, show me how to pay for it." & that's what Democrats have to do.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Christie is a "strong" bad governor and strong bad leader. Just great.

He's gutting the public schools but the sacred cow charter schools will maintain their funding. That's all part of the anti-public school agenda and the move to privatize the whole school system. Mr. Libertarian thinks that is great but does not seem to realize that they will still be getting our tax dollars.
A multitude of studies, evaluations and assessments have been made of charter schools over the years. Charter schools are doing no better than the public schools and there are more under performing charter schools than there are good ones. Overall and on average, regular public schools out perform charter schools. So why are we continuing with this failed experiment? The politicians of either party are on board for this garbage, the media only highlights the charter success stories and not their many failures.

How many parents can home school their kids from K through 12? They are working multiple jobs, there may be only one parent (who is working) or maybe they just don't feel qualified to teach geometry, algebra and science to their kids. Actually, there is a certain degree of home schooling after school hours and after the parents come home from their jobs. Making sure that the home work gets finished and reading to the younger children. Realistically, only a miniscule fraction of the population can home school full time. We have too many divorces and too many poor, working poor to be able to home school.

You know all those advanced countries that we are compared to regarding education, the ones that are doing so much better than us? Guess what, they don't have charter schools, school vouchers or home schooling. Home schooling is illegal in Germany. It's not illegal in Finland but home schooling is virtually non-existent and private schools are rare. Finland certainly does not have a school choice garbage movement and............drum roll.........Finland has one of the top rated school systems in the world. But of course Mr. Libertarian will just whine that they are all socialists and commies, that's all we hear from the crypto-McCarthyites these days. Mr Libertarian is not a crypto-McCarthyite "just" misguided.
And yes, I am a proud anonymous person.