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An ongoing discussion about conservatism in New Jersey.
Government Spending and My Italian Grandmother
James D. Agresti  (December 15, 2009, 1:01 am)

The state government of New Jersey is undergoing budget “cuts,” and government officials are moaning as if they are destitute. I place the word “cuts” in quotes because in this context, “cuts” is a relative word. Budget “cuts” compared to what? Let’s get out the calculator and see.

From 2000 to 2009 – even after adjusting for inflation and population growth – Jersey state government spending rose by 29%. Let me put this another way: If spending grew in accord with population and inflation over the past ten years, New Jersey would have enjoyed a $5.7 billion surplus in fiscal year 2009 instead of suffering under a $4.3 billion deficit.

Similarly, according the latest Census Bureau data (2007), local governments in Jersey have increased spending at well above the rates of inflation and population growth – though not as rapidly as the state government. Yet, the executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities recently stated that the state’s “cuts” in aid to municipalities will “absolutely, positively have an adverse impact on quality-of-life services.” Hence, I did some research and found that this public servant’s compensation is $191,580/year. Does this give anyone ideas as to how we could handle these budget cuts without adversely impacting our quality of life?

This reminds me of a classic incident involving my plain-spoken Italian grandmother who became outraged when she noticed a certain brand of crackers had gone up in price, down in quantity, and was now costing more than $9.00/pound. This prompted her to send a letter to the manufacturer scolding them for selling crackers at a higher price per pound than filet mignon. A senior manager wrote back, attempting to placate her with an explanation about the high costs of production, marketing, and distribution. Unimpressed with this response and now in possession of the name of a corporate executive, my grandmother penned this simple reply:

“Dear Mr. [corporate executive],

You’re the first SOB your company should fire so they can stick two more crackers in the box.”

It is time public servants stick two more crackers in the box instead of continually raising the price. I’m not talking about all public servants. Many render excellent service to our communities, but the acceptance of insider politics (“you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”), bloated salaries, absurd pensions/benefits, and substandard results has got to stop.

This applies even more so at the federal level where spending has grown 36% above the rate of inflation and population growth during the past decade; federal employees are now averaging $30,000 more in salary than private sector workers, and Obama is greasing the palms of his core constituents with “stimulus” money borrowed from our children.

Even before Obama began his massive spending spree, the federal government was 59 trillion dollars in the hole. On a personal level, this is more than half a million dollars for every household in the U.S., which is more than the combined net worth of all U.S. households including assets in real estate, corporate stocks, and private businesses. Simply put, this is unsustainable, and if something is not done very soon, the people of this country will suffer gravely from the politically motivated, short-sighted, and irresponsible actions of our government.