Meanwhile, the Economic Viability of NJ is at Stake

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22 Responses

  1. rj says:

    I don’t know if I’d go as far as Krugman – the legislature has voted down, on several occasions, a bill to make “Born to Run” the state song. What other state is more deserving of a state song about how much people want to leave it?Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to rj says:

      @rj, Having just returned from a trip that included Detroit and living in NJ, I’m going to say Michigan. Then again, I live nowhere near Seaside Heights (and the “Jersey Shore” cast, who, of course, are not actually from New Jersey), Newark, Camden, or AC. So YMMV.Report

      • rj in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        @Mark Thompson,

        NJ just has a level of self-loathing that other states lack. Slave states like SC may generate a lot of out-migration of certain types of people, but their defensiveness towards change and outsiders and protection of a “way of life” is a part of the culture.

        As for Michigan, the only people from there I know have left (since I don’t live there myself) and despite the fact that they made a very economically rational decision, they still love their Big Mitten.Report

        • Mark Thompson in reply to rj says:

          @rj, Our self-loathing is kind of odd, though. I mean, it exists, but then at the same time it’s usually paired with a real pride in Jersey that is almost unmatched by any other state that I can think of (and, yeah, Springsteen is Exhibit A, which is probably why we love him so damn much….for as much as his songs always talk about leaving, how often do they actually finish with someone leaving?).

          Hell, even I came back after leaving for the better part of a decade.

          That said, the failure to make “Born to Run” the state song is an unforgivable travesty.Report

  2. Sam M says:

    I am not sure I understand the reference to the gas tax. In what way does killing this project ensure that they have the fourth lowest gas tax? I take it to mean you think that NJ should perhaps pay for this project by raising its gas tax?

    Well, two things: It’s hardly the case that NJ residents enjoy a low tax burden at the state level. As often discussed, the state’s income and property taxes are some of the highest in the nation. So whatever systemic problems the state has, a lack of sufficient taxes seems pretty low on the list.

    Also, I see that NJ’s contribution to the project is $1.25 billion generated by highway tolls. OK. So I can see why drivers might be expected to fund some of the project. When people take trains, they don’t take the roads, less congestion, blah blah blah. Fair enough. But should drivers be the ONLY people funding the project? Seems kind of odd that nobody is proposing additional fees for various transit users, or taxes on milk (milk drinkers can use the tunnel, too!) or taxes on just about anything. Just roads and cars. Hmmm.

    Right now, as I understand it, New Jersey’s roads and bridges are completely falling apart. Is it really that outrageous to think it might be a good idea to use money generated by the roads and bridges and the gas tax to maintain the roads and bridges?Report

    • rj in reply to Sam M says:

      @Sam M,

      The idea here is that the transportation system is integrated and not a choice between transit and roads. We certainly don’t argue that buses and trains are part of different systems – people drive to train stations just like they often take buses to train stations. Those who advocate increasing the gas tax (including me) argue that NJ Transit riders are already pulling their weight through fares that are already high and getting higher. Drivers, on the other hand, pay much less to use a more expansive system.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to rj says:

        @rj, “Those who advocate increasing the gas tax (including me) argue that NJ Transit riders are already pulling their weight through fares that are already high and getting higher.”

        I am, myself, totally undecided about this question, but that NJ Transit riders are already paying through the nose should be beyond doubt. I had to take Illinois commuter rail last week into Chicago (not exactly a small backwater), and it was no more than half of what it would have cost for the same distance/time commute into NYC from the NJ suburbs.Report

      • Sam M in reply to rj says:


        “Those who advocate increasing the gas tax (including me) argue that NJ Transit riders are already pulling their weight through fares that are already high and getting higher.”

        Lots of people are already pulling a lot of weight. And it seems odfd to me that the ENTIRE New Jersy contribution to the project would be from highway and bridge tolls, meaning drivers would be paying for the whole thing. But OK. They decided to pay for it that way.

        Now, it seems, they need more money. So the rational thing to do would seem to hit up some OTHER people. But no. The plan is to hit those same people.

        As mentioned, NJ has one of the highest income and property tax schemes in the entire country. Perhaps the highest. This, therefor, would seem to argue that NJ drivers are already paying plenty in taxes if you count their entire tax burden.

        Why not cut something else and fund the tunnel if it’s that important?

        IF NJ were a moderate tax state, I might agree that raising taxes would be a reasonable thing to do. But given it’s income and property taxes, if New Jersey can’t afford a tunnel, it’s not because the state coffers aren’t fat enough. The ocffers are plenty fat. They are just getting emptied on other projects. Ultimately, that’s the problem the people of New Jersey need to address, not the fact that people who drive there aren’t paying enough taxes.Report

  3. North says:

    In honor of all my friends from new Jersey I present you with… a Newark State of Mind:

  4. Ben says:

    I’m not sure I follow the logic of this post. Simply because a new tunnel is a good idea in the abstract, doesn’t mean that the existing “plan” was a good idea. Given that the plan was basically just to start building and worry about how much it costs later, I think taking efforts to abandon the Gabriel Garcia Marquez theory of infrastructure and government finance isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    If the post had some numbers substantiating its claims regarding the economic viability of NJ, it might look more like analysis. Instead, its current appearance is substantially, “but I really wanted a pony.” Well, I want you to have a pony too- but that isn’t the issue.Report

  5. Tim Kowal says:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been to Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together.”

    Paul Krugman is a less funny Kent Brockman.Report