New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie may be the best thing to come out of the Garden State since The Sopranos ended its run. Christie has given the GOP faithful a reason not just to hope, but to exult. We conservatives are programmed to take deep breaths even after favorable election results, especially in the blue Northeastern states.
But in one of the most stunning two-month gubernatorial debuts in recent memory, Governor Christie has set a very high standard for state executives. When the state's leading newspaper, The Star-Ledger, can post a headline that reads, "Action Leaves Democrats Seething," you know the right person is in charge.
Reflecting a successful prosecutorial career, Christie began almost immediately to present his case against multi-generational Garden State profligacy. He spoke to the New Jersey legislature with unflinching simplicity a month after his swearing in: "New Jersey is in a state of financial crisis."
We shouldn't underestimate the importance of leaders who can recognize and state such simple truths, economic or otherwise. If such truths were so easily spoken, and the logical conclusions of over-indebtedness and over-taxation so easily drawn, we would have heard many similar fiscal crisis speeches from the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Paterson, and Barack Obama. But we have not. Instead, these three inept mediocrities are leading California, New York, and America toward the fiscal abyss.
Christie's speech is a gold mine of reasoned arguments defining fiscal conservatism and rationality. It should be required reading for every office-seeker, local or national. Its budget details are New Jersey's, but its broad general conclusions are universal. It is also a highly moral statement of fundamental principles, for Christie completely redefines the notion of economic fairness.
Fairness has been co-opted by socialists and other proponents of private property redistribution to justify nothing less than legalized theft. America's fairness czar, Barack Obama, is on the record as a true believer in sharing the wealth...for any uneven accumulation of wealth by individuals or nations is ipso facto proof of unfairness. Rich individuals must be brutally taxed so that income can be more justly distributed within a society. And internationally, wealthy nations, through global mechanisms -- carbon credits are the currently favored means -- must be forced to lift up poor ones.
How does Gov. Christie successfully condemn and destroy this pathologically evil liberal definition of fairness?
One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life, and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits -- a total of $3.8 million on a $120,000 investment. Is that fair?
And he continues.
A retired teacher paid $62,000 towards her pension and nothing -- yes, nothing -- for full family medical, dental, and vision coverage over her entire career. What will we pay her? $1.4 million in pension benefits and another $215,000 in health care benefit premiums over her lifetime. Is it "fair" for all of us and our children to have to pay for this excess?
Neither teacher unions nor public-sector workers will escape the wrath of Christie's logic or his morality. One month after his oratorical debut, Christie was prepared to put the flesh on his previously skeletal fiscal outline. He returned to fairness again:
[Is it] fair to have New Jersey taxpayers foot the bill for 100% of the health insurance costs of teachers and their families from the day they are hired until the day they die? Is it fair that teachers have a better, richer health plan than even state workers and pay absolutely nothing for it?
But no corner of the bloated bureaucracy is sacred. Christie pledges to reduce the staff levels of every department of state government; he has requested that $445 million be cut from municipal aid, especially to the most irresponsibly spendthrift cities; and he proposed a budget that would cut -- not merely reduce the level of expected increase, but actually cut -- spending. In implicit mocking reference to Obama, he stated that "[i]t is a reduction of nearly 9% from the total amount the state spent last year. A 9% drop in one year in state spending -- now that is the change we deserve."
New Jersey is lucky to have Chris Christie, and so is America. Though hardly a charismatic figure, he has displayed a level of statesmanship more inspiring, insightful, visionary, and brave than almost any other figure in the country. America has seen with our current tyrannical and bankrupting president where vapid, narcissistic, charismatic leadership can lead. Perhaps now we're finally ready for merely competent leaders.