Only liberty can bring a true ?Jersey Comeback?

By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist

While Republican Gov. Chris Christie bragged of a ?Jersey Comeback? at his town hall meetings, the U.S. Department of Labor published this inconvenient truth.


Last year, New Jersey was one of only seven states where the economy shrank. While the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased in 43 states last year the GDP in New Jersey declined by 0.5 percent, giving us the 47th worst economic performance in the country.

The reason for this is simple. Only liberty brings prosperity. And during the past three years, our Republican governor and Democratic Legislature gave us more laws, debt, and taxes ? and less liberty.

America was ?conceived in liberty? in 1776 as an experiment. We were the first to invent a small, simple government with a very limited purpose ? to secure the ?unalienable rights? of each of us to make the most important decisions concerning our own lives, like deciding:

Where and how to live, work, eat, dress, and relax;

Where to send our kids to school;

How much to pay for the things we buy and the people we hire.

How much to get paid for the work we do and the things we sell.

Which churches, clubs, or unions we choose to join or not join.

Atlantic City had prosperity even during the Great Depression of the 1930s because Republican political ?bosses? like ?Nucky? Johnson and ?Hap? Farley did far more to secure these basic rights in Atlantic County than the petty politicians and government officials of today.

During the Depression, families were free to move into their basements during the summer, rent rooms upstairs, and sell meals to tourists in their dining rooms. Others used their personal automobiles to offer taxi and jitney service to visitors. For a little ?ice money,? anyone could get a liquor license or ?permission? to run lotteries, blackjack or poker games discretely in back rooms. Today, those licenses and permits cost a fortune, for the few who can get them.

Businesses like the 500 Club, Taber?s Toyland, Casel?s Delicatessen, Mammy?s Restaurant, Kramer Beverage, the Needle Craft, and Willie Malamut?s Ritz-Carlton Hotel all opened and thrived during the Great Depression. Because taxes were low and few government approvals were needed, they didn?t need loans, grants, tax abatements or other special favors from expensive government agencies like CRDA or the Special Tourism District.

If we had that kind of liberty in New Jersey today, young people could start new businesses, lease to own and fix up empty stores and houses, taxi people from the airport, and promote their own concerts instead of turning to drugs, crime or TV.

If we had that liberty today, Atlantic City?s elected officials would be free to hire people to bulldoze those ugly, artificial piles of sand that keep visitors on the Boardwalk from enjoying the ocean view and breezes.

If we had that liberty today, Cape May County?s elected representatives would have construction workers replacing those three deadly traffic lights on the Garden State Parkway at mileposts 9, 10, and 11 with safe overpasses and access ramps by now.

If we had that liberty today, the two old drawbridges between Somers Point and Ocean City would have been replaced for less than $50 million instead of $500 million. We could have used the other $450 million to finish most of Route 55 from Millville to Wildwood, and remove the death traps on Routes 47 and 347.

If we had that liberty today, we could cut state government by 25 percent, back to what it was just 10 years ago. With a state budget of $23 billion instead of $31 billion, we could easily cut the state income, sales, and hotel-motel tax rates back to 5 percent for each. If local and public school officials were free to serve the taxpayers who elect them rather than their public ?servants,? real estate taxes could also be cut to 2002 levels.

This would not only make our tourist business much more competitive, it would also encourage industries like Lenox China, Wheaton Industries, and Ocean Spray Cranberry to come back to New Jersey.

Corrections to last week?s column:?, put total New Jersey state government debt (including unfunded pension obligations) at $281,544,674,000, not $$281,544,674. I left out three zeros. I also double counted the 580,000 non-retired public employees in the state pension systems. There are only 257,000 retirees for 837,000 total participants. That gives each an average $84,468 share of the $70.7 billion of state pension funds ? not the $51,000 I erroneously stated.

(Reprinted from June 27, 2012 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties,

Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 92.1FM 8-9 a.m. Saturday. For information see, email or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore Diner on Fire and Tilton roads in Egg Harbor Township.

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  • Seth Grossman

    Seth Grossman is executive director of Liberty And Prosperity, which he co-founded in 2003. It promotes American liberty and limited constitutional government through weekly radio and in-person discussions, its website, email newsletters and various events. Seth Grossman is also a general practice lawyer.

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