starlady: (revisionist historian)
[personal profile] starlady
This is a post about Philly and New Jersey, or more precisely, about how they're all going to hell in a handbasket.

The news this evening that The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Daily News have been sold to their creditors in bankruptcy auction is, quite frankly, a huge blow to the region--The Inquirer has 180 years of history in the area, and The Daily News is actually doing okay despite print journalism's woes, but none of those will matter a damn to the creditors and hedge funds in on the deal. I can't pretend that I actually really read The Inquirer anymore, because it's gone to hell in the last 10 years and only recently started getting better under Brian Tierney and company, and I've never really been in The Daily News demographics, but it seems a very real possibility that the region could lose one or both papers--and if The Inquirer goes, south Jersey will be entirely bereft of a paper even halfway deserving of the name. Both papers perform important investigative and public watchdog functions, and civil society will suffer without them.

The fact that 60% of school budgets were rejected by New Jersey voters last week is just fucking depressing. I don't, don't, don't understand why a) education is not guaranteed certain amounts of funding; and b) why education is not the absolute last thing that is cut in a budget, rather than the first. As the product of private education from K through B.A., I can tell you that teachers absolutely make a 100% difference in education, but money--aka "resources"--absolutely makes a 98.9% difference. And Chris Christie, our absolutely atrocious governor, has decided in his infinite asshattery to cut the education budgets in this state. As a New Jerseyan born and bred, I have to ask, WTF does he think people are going to stay in this state for if the schools are crap, the property taxes stay as high as they are and the auto insurance rates keep climbing? Without good schools there's no reason for people not to move to New York or Pennsylvania, and a poorly educated population means a smaller tax base twenty years down the road. Brilliant, dumbass! Just brilliant! And while we're at it, cutting the library budgets is shooting yourself in your own fucking foot. But Christie's children go to parochial school, so WTF does he care? None, that's what.

This is part of why I was so pleased to see 18,000 high school students walk out of class around the state yesterday protesting the cuts. The students know what's what; unlike the head of the NJ Senate education committee, who was quoted on WHYY this morning saying she didn't think the school day was an appropriate time for protests (but favors a longer school day--how, prithee, will you square that with letting Christie slash the budget to the bone? Idiot!): the point, methinks you have missed it by miles! 

I can tell you how to fix New Jersey, which is currently rated the #2 most dysfunctional state in the Union (and yes, California is #1 and New York is #3). It's simple, but no one will do it.
  1. Enact a ten-cent gas tax. New Jersey has some of the cheapest gas in the nation because we fund our roads through property taxes.
  2. Force municipal and school district consolidation. New Jersey, the most densely populated state, has the highest number of municipalities per capita; my favorite example of this out-of-hand phenomenon is Tavistock, which is a doughnut town completely encirlced by Haddonfield, population: 24. School district population: 1. At least Jon Corzine, before he was stupidly voted out, signed a law forcing school districts without schools to consolidate into districts that did have facilities.The waste and graft that arises from every pissant town having its own police, fire stations, and schools is staggering, and it's part of why we pay so much damn money in taxes.
  3. For the love of lucre, stop raiding the state pension fund like it's a piggybank, because it's not.
Per the terms of my graduate fellowship I am required to become a resident of California by the summer of 2011. I'm anything but wild about that, because California is a strange place to my East Coast eyes and because I feel like a rat disloyally abandoning a sinking ship. But I also have to admit that there is a part of me that thinks that we deserve what we got ourselves into with Christie (or, more precisely, what approximately 3% of the electorate got us into; thanks so much, guys!). In any case, it won't be pretty, and I'm both unhappy and glad that I won't be around to see it.
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