Tag Archive: jobs

This Was the Week That Was

Governor Christie this week tore asunder a pension bargain, decided to delay the Homestead Rebate, remained mum on the latest gun bill sitting on his desk, and reiterated his pledge (like Bush Senior) “Read my lips. No new taxes,” (although fees of course will be increased.) He raised “the white flag of surrender” and disappointed his right flank by renominating Chief Justice Rabner, but pleased the rest of us. In spite of his failure to create a New Jersey health exchange and to promote enrollment, there is good news. Then as if there was little that merited his attention in New Jersey he went to Florida yesterday to campaign for Gov. Rick Scott.  

Gov. Christie: Going Strong?

He will spend the start of the Memorial Day holiday weekend on the boardwalk promoting the summer tourism season with stops today at the Belmar boardwalk at  9:30 a.m., an Asbury Park ribbon cutting at 1:30 p.m. and a Seaside Heights boardwalk stroll at 3:30 p.m. He ceased using his Sandy recovery “Stronger than the Storm” slogan and is now saying “Going Strong.” This is an opportunity to let him know what you think about his failing and flailing administration.

NJ Democrats push millionaires tax Christie has vetoed

At a rally outside the Statehouse with more than 100 union members and supporters, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto again called on the Republican governor to raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest earners. In spite of Christie’s opposition, this plan is a must. It reduces income inequality, makes a Homestead Rebate more secure, and brings more cash to our treasury which Christie has mismanaged and plundered.

Our current and now future head of the NJ Judiciary

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner gives the keynote address at the grand reopening ceremony for the Passaic County Historic Court House, 10:30 a.m. in Paterson. The independence of our judiciary is now more secure.

The Path Toward Reducing Inequality in NJ – Part IV

Part IV of this series of articles provides recommendations on what we can do to reduce income inequality in our state. The goal is to create a more even playing field so that others can share the wealth of our state.

A Guardian article summarizes what economist Thomas Piketty has made apparent in his extraordinary work Capitalism in the 21st Century. “The American dream does not, and maybe cannot, deliver on its promises because economic growth will always be smaller than the profits from any money that is invested. Economic growth is what we all benefit from, but profits from invested money accrue to the rich.” The consequences of this are clear: those who have family fortunes or get super-sized compensation packages will foster inequality while the other 90% struggle to accumulate much smaller wealth.

Paul Krugman comments on Piketty’s work:“Even if the underlying economic conditions point toward extreme inequality, what Piketty calls ‘a drift toward oligarchy’ can be halted and even reversed if the body politic so chooses. So progressive taxation can be a powerful force limiting inequality.

Spoiler Alert: The steps proposed below the fold are incredibly difficult to enact. They will be fought “tooth and nail” by entrenched interests – the wealthy individuals who have the monies to lobby and donate against such proposals. The changes nonetheless should seem detrimental only to the wealthiest 1 to 10%, while benefiting the rest of us. Ultimately the question comes down to: Shouldn’t the 90% have a strong say in the matter? If we don’t insist on balancing the scale there is no hope for reducing inequality.

Today is Workers Memorial Day

Pray [mourn] for the dead and fight like hell for the living.

                                            – Mother Jones

Today is Workers Memorial Day. In ciities around the country, and in workplaces, workers killed or injured on the job are remembered. On Tuesday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (3pm, public invited), people will gather to remember co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Here’s how a union friend talks about this annual event:

This memorial service has never differentiated between the union and non-union sector, and this year is unprecedented in that the unionized sector of the work force has reached the long sought after goal of zero fatalities.

Yet, that will not deter the NYC Building and Construction Trades from appearing in full force and recognizing the tragedy of these workers’ deaths, and mourning their brothers and sisters among the unorganized.

There is no event for Workers Memorial Day in New Jersey (at least that I could find). I hope that next year, there will be. We live in a state where unions have taken a deep hits – from elected people in both parties. And our governor fully allies himself with the “conservative” movement to destroy unions. Safe jobs are something unions have historically pushed forward; something to remember as we rebuild after Sandy, and try to get New Jersey back on its feet.

Below the fold, a statement on Workers Memorial Day from New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charlie Wowkanech.  

March NJ jobless numbers – NJ lagging behind

You remember this guy, right? The headstrong governor here in the land of make-believe who propagandized the happy-talk of Jersey Comeback with banners, theme music and videos and jacked-up Republican campaign rallies passed off to the taxpayers public town halls in their best interest. How’s that working for ya? Christie quietly retired the banners a couple years ago, and knew better than to utter that phrase in his Republican National Convention speech that same year. Christie’s trying to make a case for himself as viable on the national scene beyond the RGA, tougher now because of the scandals. But we’re still left with the impact of some piss-poor state economic decisions over recent years, many of them his.

Unemployment is up here, though the state is using terms like “flat” and “small dips” to describe it. New Jersey lost about 1,300 jobs in March, bringing NJ’s unemployment to 7.2%. That’s up from 7.1% this time last year, and lagging half a point behind the national rate of 6.7%.

What’s Happening today Wed. 01/15/2014

Today people are digesting the comments in Christie’s State of the State Address. For many the meal did not go down so well.

With Bridgegate on the minds of many and swirling suspicions in the air one might have thought that Christie would be more responsive. The State of the State Address might be designed to be lofty and to convey a sweep of past achievements and a broad vision for the future. However, there is something rotten in the state of our State (or more particularly in the Executive Office and the Port Authority.) He said little on the matter, and what he did say was not reassuring. He vaguely reiterated, “mistakes were clearly made,” but he did not  elaborate further. He failed to fess up about anything he might know or have done, and he placed the onus on others to find out the truth.

Furthermore, he put his future cooperation with investigative bodies in doubt. He said, “We will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries.” Apparently he will only respond to inquiries which he deems appropriate. Given the number of investigations that are likely to take place, more will be revealed. He had said on Thursday, “I’m not completed with those interviews yet, but when I am, if there is additional information that needs to be disclosed, I will do so.” He could have let people know what he knows and maybe have put the matter closer to rest. Instead, he has made his bed and will have to lie in it – uncomfortable, with little rest and a rotten smell in the air.      

He distracted attention away from Bridgegate (not suitable for a national or NJ audience) and spent much of his time talking about new initiatives. They included K-12 education, higher education, crime prevention, drug rehabilitation, job training. health care, and infrastructure investment. However,  they were just soundbite teases.  He said, “We have discussed many exciting opportunities for investment …. But here is the simple truth. We cannot afford to do it right now.”  He then put the blame on “soaring pension and debt costs.” Pension reform does call for increasingly hefty state contributions in the new and succeeding budgets. However, it was these reforms which he trumpeted for years after negotiating them with Democratic legislators. The reforms called for sacrifice from State employees and pensioners but the quid pro quo was that the State would resume required contributions. He left listeners unsure whether he was arguing for reduced contributions, more sacrifice or something else. He raised the subject but provided no solution.

If this was a bad moment to capture the attention of a national audience, he was successful. His discussion of sometimes arcane Jersey-specific issues was not of interest elsewhere, and cable TV’s attention waned.

Other than initially patting himself on the back with dubious successes (jobs, unemployment, holding the line against new taxes, Sandy recovery, and shrinking State employees), he said little of substance. His new initiatives vanished into thin air. Regarding Bridgegate he acknowledged nothing new and left us with uncertainty regarding his future cooperation. The final blow was raising the specter of another blood-letting battle over pensions.

PolitiFact N.J.’s objection to “stagnant” to refer to job growth under Christie

Sunday’s Star-Ledger carried a PolitiFact N.J. post by Caryn Shinske, whose “Truth-O-Meter” rated a (pullout from a) post here at Blue Jersey by Marie Corfield as “Half-True”. MediaBob already did a great job pointing out errors in how Shinske defined Blue Jersey, and why we’re dubious of all self-defined “fact-checkers”. But even more than that troubles me about PolitiFact N.J.’s post. And I think you should see who else makes the same assessment about Christie’s economic record, and with precisely the same word PolitiFact N.J. objects to. Hint: It’s not no Christie-hatin’ librul website.  

PolitiFactNJ Calls Blue Jersey a “Democrat Blog”

Mmm Hmmm. Promoted by Rosi.

Marie Corfield posted a diary on Blue Jersey last week that has been “fact checked” by the good people over at PolitiFactNJ.  In this they demonstrate why no one, and I mean no one, should take “fact checkers” seriously.

Corfield, a public school teacher who ran unsuccessfully in November for the District 16 Assembly seat against incumbent Republican Donna Simon, criticized the state of jobs in New Jersey in a Dec. 30 column on the Democrat (sic) blog BlueJersey.com.

It’s the last three words that show how little facts matter to the “fact checkers.”  

First is “Democrat blog,” a phrasing that is not only ungrammatical but created and promoted by right-wing message gurus to sound contemptuous when talking about Democrats. The proper way to write this would be “Democratic blog,” but instead the “fact checkers” chose to use poor English and partisan language.  Odd for a “non-partisan” column.

And besides being poor writing, it’s simple not factual.  Blue Jersey is honored to have many Democrats write here, but it is definitively not the party organ that “Democrat blog” implies.

Just Friday, front pager Jeff Gardner slapped the Democratic Governor’s Association for having abandoned New Jersey in the last election.  Diarists regularly attack Democratic leaders, “Christiecrats” and what they consider poor policy decisions by Democrats, and many of these are front paged. Just look at the arguments over George Norcross buying the Philadelphia Inquirer or Steve Sweeney’s relationship with Governor Chris Christie. And, occasionally, Blue Jersey even praises a Republican for taking courageous votes on marriage equality, the death penalty or medical marijuana.

And that last point is really the issue here.  Blue Jersey will back the Democrat over the Republican 99 44/100s of the time, but not because we are a part of the “Democrat party.” Generally the site is to the left of the Democrats, but they’re closer to the site’s average view than the Republicans.  

Blue Jersey is a liberal blog, nice and simple. But it is not a “Democrat blog.”  That’s a fact.  

It’s also not “BlueJersey.com.”  That’s not the name of the site, but the domain it is hosted at.  The banner at the top of every page reads “Blue Jersey” and when a front pager, the leaders of the site, write about it it is called “Blue Jersey.” PolitiFactNJ couldn’t even get the name of the site correct, a pretty simple fact to check by just visiting the site.

Which brings us to the point: for all the parsing of language, the selection of minutiae, the judgement calls that the folks at PolitiFactNJ make they are not careful with the “facts” in their own work.  It’s just as easy to give them “Pants on Fire” or “Half True” or “Mostly True” ratings for some part of every article they write if you use their methods.  

Wanna give it a “Pants on Fire” rating?  Well, Blue Jersey is not a part pf the Democratic party, a Democrat (sic) blog, or called BlueJersey.com so the facts in that statement are 100 percent inaccurate.  So, “Pants on Fire”!

Or, how about a “Half True” rating?  There are people with official positions in the Democratic party, including Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Hawthorne municipal chair Jeff Gardner who are given front page status on the site.  While not officially part of the Democratic party, Blue Jersey is connected to a lot of the leaders of the party.  So, “Half True”!

Or, let’s see about a “Mostly True” rating.  While the real name is Blue Jersey, many websites are referred to by their domain name, and while the Democratic party doesn’t control the site but many of its leaders are involved, the blog definitely supports Democrats over Republicans.  So, “Mostly True”!

And now that we have said, “On PolitiFactNJ the claims that Blue Jersey is called BlueJersey.com and is a part of the Democrat (sic) party is ‘Pants of Fire'” people will think the entire column is a lie.  This is what fact check columns like PolitiFactNJ eventually wind up doing, parsing words and assigning random and usually negative ratings, muddying the waters so that nothing anyone says is believed.  Democrats can use PolitiFactNJ to slam Republicans, Republicans can use PolitiFactNJ to slam Democrats, blah, blah, blah.

And yet the folks at PolitiFactNJ don’t get basic facts like a site’s name, affiliation or even the link to the blog post they’re talking about (it links to a tag on the post, not the post itself, so if that tag is used in the future Corfield’s post won’t be visible).  

No one on either side, or any side, should use PolitiFactNJ or any of the other alleged fact checking sites and columns out there as a weapon because it is always pointing in random directions and will hit you as often as not, deserved or not.

P.S. Yes, we know the PolitFactNJ column is actually PolitiFact New Jersey.  🙂

Christie’s last Jersey ‘gift’ of the year

promoted by Rosi

Nothing like closing out the year with a Bang! Just when I thought Governor Christie couldn’t say or do one more callous, elitist thing; just when I thought he couldn’t give the middle class, the working poor, the unemployed, minorities, seniors, women, children, taxpayers, teachers, public schools, students, public employees, the LGBT community, hourly-wage workers, Sandy survivors, commuters, Dreamers, people in dire need of medical marijuana (did I leave anyone out?) any more of a kick in the craw, he saves the last, big shiv for the end of the year. Commenting on Comptroller Matthew Boxer’s departure next month, Christie said:

“He needs to go make some money. He’s got a family. At $140,000, he can’t put aside the money he needs to do it. It’s well below his market value.’’

Hellooo… Anyone else out there working below their ‘market value’? Anyone else not able to put aside the money they need to provide for their family? Yes, I thought so. Thanks to the governor there are millions of us. I wonder when he will be championing our cause for a better paying job?

For the record, I don’t know Mr. Boxer, and my beef is not with him. He was appointed six years ago by Gov. Corzine, and apparently has done an admirable job. Good for him! I truly hope he finds a great job in the private sector that will allow him to provide for his family in the way he sees fit. We should all be so fortunate. I have no knowledge of his personal finances, but I do know that $140K a year is a comfortable salary for a family of four in New Jersey. But if he needs to move on to a higher paying job, so be it. I wish him good luck in his search.

But, for the governor of the state with the highest unemployment rate in the region, stagnant job growth and an insultingly low minimum wage (which will change on Wednesday) to single out Boxer as somehow struggling while the rest of us are oh… I dunno… ringing in the New Year with a delightful 1928 Krug and $2600 Knipschildt truffles is the height of pomposity, and should be a glaring red flag (as if there aren’t enough already) as to how a POTUS Christie would operate.

 

What’s Happening Today Mon. 12/30/2013

“Let them eat cake,” said Marie Antoinette about the poor who could not even afford bread. During the Clinton era income for the poor increased in the USA. Then with George W. Bush, the Great Recession, and continuing through Barack Obama the poor just got poorer. Legal Services of NJ reported: “Poverty in New Jersey continued to grow even as the national recession lifted, reaching a 52-year high in 2011, according to the most recent report.”

The federal government (primarily Republicans) and our NJ governor have played a major role in this downward slope leaving the poor today in a precarious position. Below are key factors that substantially impact the poor (and the middle class) in NJ:

Unemployment: Throughout Gov. Christie’s tenure the unemployment level has been higher than both the national average and the level of neighboring states. The persistence of high unemployment disproportionally affects the poor as well as the middle class. As the Urban Institute explains, loss of a job not only leads to loss of income but can result in “permanently lower wages, worse mental and physical health, higher mortality rates and severe problems for affected family members.”

Jobs: NJ Policy Perspectives (NJPP) indicates “We’ve regained only 59 percent of the jobs we lost in the Great Recession (neighboring New York, by comparison, has regained 150 percent). Worse, this November drop in the unemployment rate is largely attributable to the fact that 30,600 New Jerseyans gave up looking for work.”

Earned IncomeTax Credit: The EITC encourages and rewards work by reducing the income tax due on low and middle income wage earners. Starting in 2011 and continuing through today Governor Christie reduced the tax credit from 25% to 20%. NJPP provides a map that shows the number of households and individuals in each county who lost Earned Income Tax Credit funding in 2011 and 2012. In Essex County for example 211,162 individuals lost $14,150,964.

SNAP (food stamps): These federal benefits were recently cut. The Center on Budget and Policy Perspectives says, “The depth and breadth of the SNAP cuts that took effect in November are unprecedented.” CBPP indicates that  between November 2013 and September 2014 NJ will receive $90 million less in food stamp funds which will impact 873,000 NJ recipients. $90 million would also be a boost to our economy, but our Governor is not getting involved. Congress (ie. the Republicans) are considering further cuts. Will Christie protest?

Federal Emergency Unemployment Benefits, which add multiple weeks to the initial 26 weeks paid by the State, expired Saturday. Extension of these benefits was not included in the recent compromise budget package. NJPP points out, “The expiration will harm New Jersey more than any other state since the Garden State has the highest share of its labor force on extended benefits.” NJPP estimates the expiration will immediately impact 90,000 New Jerseyans and another 89,000 in the first six months of 2014. Democratic legislators in the U. S. Senate might pass a bill to extend the benefits, but getting it passed in the Republican-majority House is a heavy lift.

Minimum Wage: The one bright spot: effective Wednesday the NJ minimum wage will increase from $7.25 per hour to $8.25. NJPP estimates, “it will impact a total of 429,000 working New Jerseyans, or 11 percent of the state’s workforce.” This happened through a popular ballot initiative after Gov. Christie vetoed the legislature’s bill. President Obama would like a national increase to an even higher level, but prospects are not good for congressional passage.

Recently Pope Francis debunked the “trickle-down” theory and said, “Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”