By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
Shakespeare’s Macbeth describes politics before the American Revolution, when? governments were run by a privileged classes of nobles who did what they wanted with their power.??? Macbeth, lied, cheated, and killed to take control of the government, and in they end, was thrown out and killed by others who were better at it.
??? So far, nobody in New Jersey killed to win an election.? But with so much money and power at stake,? that is just a matter of time.
??? They say the Democrats spent more than four million dollars on last Tuesday’s state elections in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland Counties. They say? Republicans spent “only” one million.?? Most of that money paid for slick ads that said:? “The other side raised taxes, and wasted your money to reward their friends”.??? Now the winners from both parties will raise your taxes, and waste your money so they can pay back the folks who gave them the campaign cash to run those ads!
??? New Jersey has 40 legislative districts of roughly 125,000 voters each.?? Each? gets one Senate and two Assembly seats.?? Whoever controls 21 Senators and 41 Assemblymen dishes out the $33 billion the state collects in taxes each year.? They also can borrow hundreds of millions more (if you keep voting yes on ballot questions), and sell, lease, or hock any property owned by the state.
??? In 1965, state politicians did not have anywhere near that much money or power.?? State government? built and maintained a few state highways, colleges, mental hospitals, and prisons.?? It made and enforced basic standards for businesses,? professionals, and school teachers.?? State appeals courts reviewed cases from county and local courts, and state police patrolled rural highways.? State employees made less money than most people, but didn’t mind since they had job security and pensions at age 65.
???? New Jersey then had no debt, no sales tax, no income tax, no lottery, no casinos, no real estate transfer tax, no riparian claims, and much smaller business and cigarette taxes.?? Yet we were one of the most prosperous, safest, and best educated states in the country.
??? New Jersey voters were also smarter back then.?? We knew that if the government did something it never did before, we would pay for it with higher taxes.
??? Then a Democratic President (Lyndon Johnson) and Congress changed the culture of America.?? They paid billions of federal tax dollars to local governments, schools, and private organizations for all sorts of worthy projects-and? nobody paid higher taxes!? (They borrowed the money, inflation went crazy, but nobody cared.)
??? At the same time, New Jersey Governors Bill Hughes (Democrat) and Bill Cahill (Republican) told local governments and school districts to give generous pay hikes, pensions, and health benefits to teachers, cops and firemen without raising property taxes.?? The state would pay for it with a simple 3% sales tax in 1966 (hiked to 5% in 1971).??? Of course, no matter how much public employee salaries, benefits, and pensions were increased, it was never enough.??? We got the 2.5% income tax in 1976, the 6% sales tax in 1983, and you know the hundreds of new taxes and tax hikes that came after that.??? And of course, real estate taxes also went up!
??? Not a single Republican or Democrat candidate for any office in Atlantic or Cape May County dared to tell you these “inconvenient truths” during the election campaign.?? Can we trust them to deal with these real issues two years from now, during the next state elections?
??? If you don’t want a? meaningless re-run of this last campaign two years from now, you must?get involved.