“How To Destroy The Public Sector in Ten Easy Steps”–a Chris Christie handbook

Congrats, Chris Christie, on your win in court today!

You must be thrilled that the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that the law you yourself signed–you know, the one you called “a model for America“–cannot be enforced.

No, wait–only the part of the law that requires the *state* to make its pension payments can’t be enforced. The public workers who have been contributing hundreds more per paycheck to their pensions and benefits still have to continue their increased contributions, as per the law. Is that right?

I’m only asking for clarification because I know you’re an expert in legal proceedings. You are, after all, a former US Attorney for NJ who holds a J.D. for Seton Hall. (I almost wonder whether declaring that the part of your own law which requires the state to contribute is unconstitutional–and all the while requiring public workers with modest salaries to take what amounts to pay cuts because of the increased contributions your law requires–was part of your grand plan all along. But that’s none of my business!)

Anyway, I’m sure this ruling will have your fans clapping loudly–because many of them think public workers don’t deserve their deferred compensation a pension, even though those workers have always contributed to the fund. (Wait, you haven’t told your fans that teachers have put $10 billion into the pension fund in the past 20 years? That they never had the option to not contribute to the pension fund? That they’re undercompensated compared to their private-sector counterparts? Sorry for letting the cat out of the bag.)

I’m also sure that you’ll spin this decision as a *huge* win for taxpayers. (Shhhh…don’t tell anyone that the hundreds of thousands of workers this ruling affects are–gasp–taxpayers; or that a Federal Reserve Board Chairman just criticized your fiscal strategies, including shirking pension payments; or that NJ might be subjected to yet another credit downgrade, as if the record 9 downgrades weren’t enough; or that you’ve spent $1.5 billion dollars in Wall Street fees, dished out $5 billion in corporate subsidies, rewarded your political donors with control of the pension system, and snuggled up to ExxonMobil by letting them off the hook for billions of dollars; or that New Jersey’s poverty rate keeps going up; or that you lost the receipts–whoops–for a quarter-million dollars in taxpayer-funded expenses. It’s middle-class public workers who are crippling taxpayers!)

Yes, you’re certainly making a name for yourself–and that’s despite all the incompetent/vindictive/reckless people and advisers you have around you! So impressive! You didn’t know how bad the pension situation was when you wrote that letter to teachers, police officers, and firefighters in 2009 saying that nothing about their pensions would change if you were elected governor. You didn’t know (hand over heart) that you staffers were shutting down a bridge as political payback! (Is it too soon to make a “who’ll-be-in-your-cabinet-and-how-will-they-secretly-betray-you-without-your-knowledge” joke? Too soon?) You–an attorney–didn’t know that parts of your own “model for America” law were unconstitutional!

We all know you have presidential aspirations and that you’re really busy traveling around and figuring out whether you should throw your baseball cap into the ring, so I’ll save you some time and get started on the “How To Destroy The Public Sector in Ten Easy Steps” handbook that I’m sure you’d love to distribute far and wide. I’ll start with teachers.

  1. Pretend you like public workers (lol!) and make promises to them that you won’t even *think* about keeping. (Don’t worry, it’s just until they vote you into office.)
  2. Once you get elected, appoint a bunch of NJ Supreme Court Justices who share your political views. (This’ll be important in #8!)
  3. Convince everyone that teachers suck, perhaps by likening them to drug dealers who are greedy and self-interested and who don’t care about their students. Also, make teachers’ jobs immeasurably more difficult by refusing to fund urban schools according to the SRFA–and then call schools with high populations of minority, ELL, special needs, and impoverished students “failure factories.” Or you could even say the K-12 education system is as much of a threat as ISIS!!
  4. When everyone jumps on the “Yeah! Teachers Suck!” bandwagon, convince them that public workers’ “benefits are too rich” and that they “aren’t contributing enough” to their pensions and benefits. Note to self: pay people to try to get that report about NJ being 95th out of 100th in pension generosity taken down from the internet.
  5. Implement education “reforms” like Common Core, PARCC, AchieveNJ, and TeachNJ, all of which are untested, fundamentally flawed, and designed to depersonalize, standardized, deprofessionalize, and privatize schools. (Continue sending your own children to private schools that don’t have to adhere to these “reforms.”)
  6. Watch veteran teachers start to flee the profession because they don’t want to teach to a test by reading from a script. Replace them with new (read, cheap!) teachers who will never know the academic freedom or professional judgment their veteran counterparts once enjoyed.
  7. At the same time, create and sign a law that requires teachers and other public workers to pay hundreds more toward their pensions and benefits, and promise that the state will make up its missed contributions by increasing its contributions over seven years and then continuing to fund the system thereafter.
  8. Yell “Just kidding!” and ignore the part of your law that requires you to fund the pension system.
  9. Appeal to the Supreme Court that’s mostly comprised of people you appointed when a lower-court judge tells you to make the payments that are required by the law you signed. (I know there are members of the legislature who have some kind of moral compass, but I’m not sure if there are enough to ensure the state does its part. We’ll find out, I guess.)
  10. Celebrate!

Yes, congratulations, indeed. Congratulations on perpetuating the vilification of public employees. Congratulations on perpetuating the idea that corporations and millionaires deserve political favors and tax breaks, but already-strapped middle-class workers are the greedy ones. Congratulations on perpetuating the idea that cheap labor is the way to go–and that years of service, and the knowledge and expertise that come with them, are worthless. And, ultimately, congratulations on a win in your most recent attempt to completely destroy the public sector. What a noble, admirable goal it is.

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2 responses to ““How To Destroy The Public Sector in Ten Easy Steps”–a Chris Christie handbook

  1. What I find amazing is his announcement that now public workers should come back and negotiate to “solve the problem.” Who negotiates with someone who just unilaterally abrogates their obligation under the previous negotiated terms, then obtains a court ruling that they can do that any time?

    So, negotiate for what? Are teachers yet seeing what must be done?

  2. Pingback: Star-Ledger’s Mulshine asks question, ignores answer, writes column | teacherbiz