If Americans really want to identify someone who will propose solutions, and not just look good in a suit, they'll have to change the way they think about their representatives. To begin with, I strongly advocate turning off the TV and other such trash thrust upon them, and taking some time to read and think for themselves. They don't need a glib, pretty talking head spouting five second sound bites on CNN. They need depth of thought, intelligence to propose meaningful solutions, guts to withstand withering criticism, and persistence to carry out those solutions to their fruition.
Some freshmen Congressmen have shown promise. Unfortunately we need many more of them if the recent budget vote is any indication, we can anticipate only more of the same from the entrenched establishment in both parties. So far I have seen scant evidence of any decent leadership in Washington.
However, a few people outside of Washington have looked promising.
Consider New Jersey. First, though, I have to summarize just how badly NJ has been suffering the effects of eight years of astonishingly stupid and anti-growth legislation, the kind liberals seek in pursuit of "spreading the wealth around". As a result of such staggeringly bad public policy, NJ now has:
- the highest property taxes in the country
- the highest state and local taxes in the country by a large margin
- nearly the worst business climate in the country (only NY and CA are worse)
- a net loss of residents, every year, since 2004 (about 70,000 taxpayers now leave the state, every year)
- not one single net private sector job created, since 2000 (a situation that hasn't occurred since the Great Depression)
- the least federal funds returned of any state - 61¢ on every dollar (for what that's worth)
- the second highest housing costs in the nation
- the fifth highest foreclosure rate in the nation
The top 1% of NJ taxpayers pay about 40% of the state's tax revenue. That's not many people... and they're leaving. What happens when they leave? Well, about $70 billion of wealth has left NJ in the past four years. The state now faces a $2.2 billion budget shortfall:
real estate transfer tax that assesses a tax of about 9% of profits (or 2% of the total sale price - whichever is higher) on your house should you feel inclined to move out of the state. This is in addition to the 1% transfer tax that already existed and the "mansion tax" (an additional 1% on sales of over $1M). Still thinking of moving there? The tax was created during the era of rapidly rising home prices; of course it still remains after the crash. It applies even if you sell at a loss, adding insult to the injurious fate many homeowners have had to endure. If increased taxes resulted in increased revenues to state treasuries, then NJ, NY, and CA ought to be awash in wealth. Instead, they're all deeply in debt and now face painful choices. Anyone wishing to see the result of soak-the-rich tax policy, overly intrusive business regulations, powerful public sector unions and profligate spending need look no further than New Jersey. It's a microcosm of what is in store for us nationally, unless we change course in dramatic fashion.
(*) NJ's previous governor Jon Corzine (D) wanted 8%. His predecessor McGreevey (D) eliminated the popular property tax rebate program implemented in the 90s, which had eased the pain somewhat. He also implemented a special
It didn't have to be that way. Contrast NJ's wretched climate to the past:
It was in the dismal atmosphere of the past decade that NJ voters overwhelmingly rejected D rule and elected Chris Christie for governor, unseating a very wealthy incumbent who spent nearly ten times as much campaigning for reelection.
He campaigned on fiscal restraint and against public sector unions, and has been keeping those promises since he assumed office. Addressing an angry group of firefighters, for whom Christie had already
He was met, unsurprisingly, by a hostile crowd:
He told them there was no political advantage in being truthful: "The way we used to think about politics and, unfortunately, the way I fear they're thinking about politics still in Washington" involves "the old playbook (which) says, "lie, deceive, obfuscate and make it to the next election." He'd seen a study that said New Jersey's pensions may go bankrupt by 2020. A friend told him not to worry, he won't be governor then. "That's the way politics has been practiced in our country for too long So I said to those firefighters, 'You may hate me now, but fifteen years from now, when you have a pension to collect because of what I did, you'll be looking for my address on the Internet so you can send me a thank you note.'"
Christie has confronted the teacher's union with similar proposals, which mirror some of the problems Scott Walker is now facing in Wisconsin. Christie has literally been threatened with death by the teacher's union all for proposing a piddling 1 year salary freeze and a contribution of 1.5% to their benefits. For a teacher earning $50,000, that's $750 a year - not much more than what most people pay for just medical insurance alone - every month!
Despite blistering attacks from the public sector unions, Governor Christie is enjoying a large degree of popular support - and a growing one at that. Meanwhile, the public is becoming increasingly fed up with the demands of public sector unions, while private sector employment, income, and benefits continue to suffer at their expense.
As difficult as they have been, these minuscule changes are only the beginning. More substantive changes are required - much more - on the order of Scott Walker's proposals in WI, and we've seen the upheaval there. Christie's work has barely begun.
He's just one example. Here's another:
I refer, of course, to the debts our nation has amassed for itself over decades of indulgence. It is the new Red Menace, this time consisting of ink. We can debate its origins endlessly and search for villains on ideological grounds, but the reality is pure arithmetic. No enterprise, small or large, public or private, can remain self-governing, let alone successful, so deeply in hock to others as we are about to be.
If a foreign power advanced an army to the border of our land, everyone in this room would drop everything and look for a way to help. We would set aside all other agendas and disputes as secondary, and go to the ramparts until the threat was repelled. That is what those of us here, and every possible ally we can persuade to join us, are now called to do. It is our generational assignment. It is the mission of our era.
Rather than trivial pursuits debating the relative intelligence of Obama or GWB, we need to focus attention on solving the problem. The reckless spending now in effect threatens our freedom and our security as surely as foreign invaders or rabid jihadis. As Daniels said,
I trust that won't present too much of a challenge to our public school graduates
We believe that government works for the benefit of private life, not the other way around. We see government's mission as fostering and enabling the important realms - our businesses, service clubs, Little Leagues, churches - to flourish. Our first thought is always for those on life's first rung, and how we might increase their chances of climbing.
Every day, we work to lower the costs and barriers to free men and women creating wealth for each other. We build roads and bridges, and new sources of homegrown energy at record rates, in order to have the strongest possible backbone to which people of enterprise can attach their investments and build their dreams. When business leaders ask me what they can do for Indiana, I always reply: "Make money. Go make money. That's the first act of 'corporate citizenship.' If you do that, you'll have to hire someone else, and you'll have enough profit to help one of those non-profits we're so proud of."
Rule number one: Make money More is better. So, how do we do that?
Second, untie Gulliver. The regulatory rainforest through which our enterprises must hack their way is blighting the future of millions of Americans.
Finally, treat domestic energy production as the economic necessity it is and the job creator it can be. Drill, and frack, and lease, and license, unleash in every way the jobs potential in the enormous energy resources we have been denying ourselves. And help our fellow citizens to understand that a poorer country will not be a greener country, but its opposite. It is freedom and its fruits that enable the steady progress we have made in preserving and protecting God's kingdom.
This guy gets it. Energy independence will free us from the tyranny of such unpredictable and reckless third world megalomaniacs; the cause of countless wars past and countless more yet to be fought, those who have shown utter contempt for their own people and their own environment even as we seek to protect ours; who hold our fragile economy in their capricious hands, and to whom we might have well sold our national soul.
Are those the words of one seeking to blame others for his plight? Is this man likely to retreat into the excuse of being "trapped" by circumstances beyond his reach?
These are inspiring thoughts expressed by intelligent men. I offer these two examples as evidence of their apparent intelligence. I defy anyone to read Mitch Daniels' speech and not be inspired just as I defy anyone to find anything Obama has ever written to suggest similar qualifications for the demanding position he now holds.
Turn off the TV. Shut off the ranting. Forget all the sclerotic crap that clogs the typical American brain. Should it matter that Christie is fat, or Daniels is bald? Who cares. We have problems. They require solutions. No one else will help us. Above all we will not be "trapped." As Daniels said,
Nor do I. Nor should you.
I don't believe either of these gentlemen are interested in any sort of national position, but that may be less important given upcoming legal scrutiny of state sovereignty. Besides, there are others. Such leaders will cause "progressives" to foam at the mouth, but they are the future. Of this, I am certain.
Stop feeling. Start thinking. Read. That will be a good start.
I trust this answers your question.