Tag Archives: Chris Christie

Tell Me Again How There’s No War on Women…

While I am on the subject of women’s rights, I see that the thoroughly despicable Chris Christie has vetoed a New Jersey bill that would have required businesses to pay men and women equally when they are performing the same tasks.

On average, women in New Jersey make 80% of what men make for substantially similar work.

Christie called the bill “nonsensical” and said it would make New Jersey “very business unfriendly.”

Christie is currently stumping for his former nemesis Donald Trump, who holds a 70% unfavorability rating among women.

Forgive me if I am uncharitable, but the only justification (if one can call it that) for this veto is as part of a pathetic effort to be The Donald’s running mate. I mean, let’s face it–Christie is massively unpopular in New Jersey where, on those rare occasions when he has visited the state he governs, his “accomplishments” have consisted mainly of lowering the state’s bond rating and closing a bridge.

There are a lot of things that people like Christie (and Indiana’s Mike Pence) believe make a state “business unfriendly.” Laws requiring employers to pay a living wage, or give bathroom breaks or sick leave, for example. Or laws against wage theft. (Do you know what would make a state really attractive to business– “business friendly” in the Pence/Christie model? Slavery! It would be great; you wouldn’t have to pay workers at all!)

To Christie–and Pence–“business friendly” measures include right to work laws (often called “right to work for less laws,” because they make it difficult if not impossible for employees to bargain effectively with their employers), and low taxes (although lots of research suggests that the low quality of life that accompanies low taxes is a big turnoff to businesses looking to relocate).

Add to those “business friendly” measures laws making it perfectly acceptable for employers to pay women less than they’d pay a male worker. After all, we women are just incubators, necessary only to produce the next generation of voters and workers, and ultimately beholden to the un-self-aware “mansplainers” and bullies like Christie. Why should we expect wages equal to those of a man?

Come to places like New Jersey and Indiana,  “business-friendly” states where you can hire women and save money!

I’m sure Trump approves. And I’m sure Pence is taking notes….

Things I’ll Never Understand…

Yesterday’s New York Times had an editorial that began

Over the last several years, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has shown utter contempt for the State Supreme Court’s three-decades-old ruling in the Mount Laurel housing case, which bars wealthy towns from excluding affordable housing and requires them to write zoning laws that permit a reasonable amount of such housing to be built.

The editorial went on to describe Christie’s persistent refusal to comply with the court’s orders. It’s hard to believe that Christie was once a lawyer–a profession rooted in respect for the rule of law.

Of course, even ignoring “Bridgegate,” this is hardly the first time Christie has privileged his personal political interests over the common good. When he was first elected, he killed a much-needed, long-planned tunnel into Manhattan. As a New Jersey paper recently noted,

The ARC tunnel would have doubled cross-Hudson rail capacity – helping commuters get to high-paying Manhattan jobs and increasing property values back home in New Jersey. When Christie killed the plan – he didn’t have a Plan B. Instead, Christie grabbed the billions of dollars set aside by Gov. Jon Corzine and spent it on in-state transportation projects – which allowed him to pay for road and bridge repairs without raising the gas tax.  By pulling out of the ARC tunnel and spending the money, Christie left billions in federal dollars on the table and has nothing left to contribute to a new tunnel project – rail capacity that is still desperately needed.

Christie justified that decision by saying that the project faced cost overruns; the General Accounting Office said otherwise.

I wish Christie were an anomaly, but he isn’t. In fact, Christie’s is the face of far too much of today’s politics: officeholders who are contemptuous of the government that pays them and the interests of the voters who elect them, power-hungry, self-absorbed lackeys of special interests willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the good graces of their patrons, no matter who gets hurt in the process.

What I don’t get is why these people–who appear to have no concept at all of the common good, or respect for the purpose of government–choose political life in the first place. Surely in a capitalist economy there are more appropriate venues for their narrowly-focused ambitions.

Might it be that these pompous preachers of the virtues of the market lack the ability to succeed in the real-life marketplace? Why else go into a line of work for which they are so clearly unsuited?

 

Walking and Talking

In a speech last week in Washington, D.C., New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sang from the Republican playbook in criticizing President Obama’s recent economic interventions.

“We don’t have an income inequality problem,” Christie blustered. “We have an opportunity problem in this country because government’s trying to control the free market. We need to talk about the fact that we’re for a free-market society that allows your effort and your ingenuity to determine your success, not the cold, hard hand of government determining winners and losers.”

Aside from the somewhat bizarre assertion that we don’t have an inequality problem, most Americans (this one included) would agree with that basic assertion. Assuming a level regulatory playing field—a set of rules ensuring that everyone “plays fair”—the market should be the arbiter of business success and failure. We regularly quibble over the need for some of those rules, but it’s a rare politician or citizen (Republican or Democrat) who advocates government control over the economy.

Of course, there’s talking the talk and there’s walking the walk.

After his speech, Christie returned to New Jersey and signed off on a government regulation that blocks Tesla from selling its cars in the state. According to Slate Magazine,

The rule change prohibits automakers from selling directly to consumers, as Tesla does. Instead, it requires them to go through franchised, third-party dealerships, as the big, traditional car companies do. In other words, it requires that the middle-men get their cut. The Christie Administration made the move unilaterally, via the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. It was urged on by lobbyists for the state’s existing car dealerships, which fear the competition. The upshot is that Tesla will be forced to stop selling cars at its two existing dealerships in the state, and drop its plans to build more. It’s unclear what will happen to the employees of those dealerships.

There’s socialism, and then there’s corporatism and crony capitalism.

There’s rhetoric, and then there’s reality.

 

 

 

I Am Not a Crook! Er…Bully!

It doesn’t speak well for me, I’ll admit, but there’s a German word for what I’m feeling: schadenfreude. It means taking pleasure from the misfortune of others.

I’ve disliked Chris Christie ever since he first assumed the office of Governor of New Jersey, and decided to cement his “fiscally conservative” bona fides by refusing to allow the feds to fund a much-needed tunnel under the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York. His decision was all theater, and the effect was to screw up traffic engineering in the whole Tri-State area.

Evidently, screwing up traffic is his preferred modus operandi. 

Between his earlier “look at me, I’m not spending federal dollars” and his more recent “Don’t cross me or I’ll shut down your bridge” episodes, we’ve seen periodic outbursts–yelling at people who question him, crude insults lobbed at hecklers–that gave observers a glimpse into the arrogance of this big bully. If he had a coat of arms, it would say “How dare you cross me? Who do you think you are.”

In his rambling press conference, Christie did what bullies tend to do when they are confronted: throw someone else under the bus. He was shocked–shocked, I tell you–to find that his top aides had engaged in such behavior. He had been betrayed by the people he had hired and mentored. He was the victim.

Anyone who has ever been in politics–for that matter, anyone who has ever worked for someone with a huge ego–knows that subordinates act on the desires and/or orders of their bosses. If you believe that Christie didn’t (directly or tacitly) endorse this bit of petty bullying, I have a different bridge to sell you.

Like I said, schadenfreude.

The truly unanswered question arising out of this abuse of authority is: when will those who work for government figure out that office emails are public and discoverable? Didn’t Tony Bennett’s debacle teach Christie’s folks anything?

 

How Not to Solve Real Problems

In a column about the GOP Convention, E.J.Dionne referred to Chris Christie’s speech,which he dubbed “Rousing, if deceptive.”

Dionne noted Christie’s admiration for his dad. “After returning from Army service,” Christie recounted, “he worked at the Breyers Ice Cream plant in the 1950s. With that job and the GI Bill he put himself through Rutgers University at night to become the first in his family to earn a college degree.”

“Good for his dad. But Christie somehow slid over the fact that it was government — through the GI Bill and by financing New Jersey’s fine state university — that gave the elder Christie his chance to rise. Are we to “sacrifice” the next generation by cutting student loans and even arguing, as is becoming fashionable, that some Americans shouldn’t get the opportunity to go to college?”

This convention’s delusional theme–its insistence that successful people “do it themselves”–has been properly debunked by numerous people; for that matter, it’s self-evidently false to anyone who bothers to spend five minutes thinking about it. As a friend remarked, “Do these self-congratulatory types really believe that people in, say, Bangladesh, are less motivated and entrepreneurial human beings? Do they not understand that you can’t sell goods to other people if those others are impoverished? Do they just not notice their own ‘dependence’ on an educated workforce, public safety and functioning infrastructure–none of which would exist without the government?”

True enough, and evident to anyone who hasn’t totally succumbed to ideological BS or irrational hatred of government. But that shouldn’t be our biggest concern with this particular alternate reality.

The problem with this failure to understand our social interdependence and the extent of the role government plays in our lives is that this particular form of blindness prevents us from fixing things that are broken.

I teach college. A college education is a time-honored tool of social mobility (it certainly helped Chris Christie’s father). When that education is successful, it also opens intellectual doors for students who would not otherwise pass through them. A genuine education that goes beyond mere job training enriches lives and enables human progress.

But the cost of a college education is rapidly escalating; it is becoming increasingly unaffordable, leaving millions of students with massive debt that takes decades to pay off. This is a problem we need to address. But like so many other current problems, we aren’t addressing it, because our energies are being consumed by arguments over the nature of reality.

The problem of rapidly escalating college costs is not going to be solved by cutting the programs that help students pay those costs. As another friend of mine likes to say, “you can’t cure a disease unless you diagnose it properly.”

People who don’t understand the problems–or who see problems that don’t exist rather than the ones that do–can’t solve them. They are not the people who move America forward.