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Trenton’s March Madness

And one bright spot……but not really.

Please read this post in the context of the fact that New Jersey owns the embarrassing distinction  of being the number one state in the nation for outward migration, and has owned it for three of the last four years.  Also bear in mind that the N.J. Legislature is by a significant margin the busiest state legislature in the country.  Coincidence?……Doubtful.

Here’s a sampling of some of what Trenton will be doing to further advance its plan to evacuate the state.

1) Raise the gas tax.

Now I happen to think that a gas tax is probably the fairest and most efficient way to pay for road construction and maintenance.  I’ve even suggested allowing counties to collect a gas tax and have them pay for county and local roads with the revenues.  And as long as the revenues aren’t diverted to mass-transit pet projects, a gas tax can’t be used for income redistribution.  You pay based on how much you use the roads.  Heavier vehicles, which use up more space and put more load onto the pavement, pay more.  Some of my libertarian friends favor using tolls, but I think toll collection is too complicated and privacy invasive.

My problem  with the proposed increase is that I believe the current gas tax would be sufficient if the politicians would try to make projects as cheap as possible instead of as expensive as possible.  For some reason they think it’s more important to ingratiate themselves with the people they hire to do the work than with the people that are actually paying for all of this.  This is going on even here in Belmar.  So everything we do costs three times what it would if the government wasn’t doing it.

As I said, New Jersey has the highest outward migration rate of any state.  This is in no small part due to the fact that we have the highest income taxes, highest sales taxes, highest property taxes, highest estate taxes, and the highest business taxes of any state.  I guess Senator Ray Lesniak, the sponsor of the gas increase, looks out over New Jersey’s vast tax landscape with great, but not complete, satisfaction.  There is still one form of taxation with which we do not lead the nation.

2) Earmarking $150 million/year for “open space”.

First of I’d like to say that if New Jersey’s lawmakers really want to see some open space they should try looking into the wallets of their constituents.  They claim this tax is pain-free because it simply dedicates 6% of corporate taxes to buying open space.  But all taxes ultimately come from the people, so what they should do instead is cut the corporate (highest in the nation) tax by 6%.  I’m sure the people who earned that money have better things to do with it than buy a bunch of trees.

Not only is the $150 million per year tax causing $150 million a year worth of pain for New Jersey residents, by taking development able land off the market they drive up the cost of the land that is left.  So we have to pay to make housing costs higher.  Where are the affordable housing advocates?

3) Tax e-cigs as much as tobacco.

To all those busibodies that want us to stop smoking:  THIS IS STOPPING SMOKING!!!  Why do you want to be discouraging their use?  You’re killing us.  Literally.

4) Ban smoking from all beaches and state parks.

You know I moved to Belmar because I love the beach.  I live 50 miles from my office but I do the commute 3 days a week because I love the beach.  I’ve lived here 20 years and have so much invested in this place.  In those 20 years I have not left a single cigarette butt on the beach.  I have always stayed downwind of anyone nearby.

I was getting around Belmar’s smoking law by staying on tidal land near the surf where Belmar does not have enforcement jurisdiction.  I guess if the state bans it I won’t have sanctuary there anymore.  I’ll probably just stop going.

Parents who smoke will be faced with the choice of leaving their children to the care of someone else and walking hundreds of feet in hot sand to go stand in the street and dodge cars and bikes.  Or maybe they’ll take their kids with them.  Or maybe they’ll stay on the beach and be miserable the entire time.  Or maybe they’ll smoke and pay hundreds in fines.  Thanks, New Jersey Legislature.  That’s real compassionate, guys.

5) And the bright spot, legalize marijuana!

99% of the harm caused by marijuana is due to the black market caused by its prohibition.  The danger to legalizing in New Jersey is that reports of tax windfalls coming out of the western states that have legalized already will entice the greedy New Jersey lawmakers to tax it so heavily that it will still be cheaper on the black market.  Then they’ll say that legalization didn’t work.

And Christie will just veto it anyway.  Gambling good.  Liquor good.  Pot bad.

Maybe pot needs better lobbyists.


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