Christie’s Good Fight

August 30th, 2011 at 12:56 am | 51 Comments |

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As a Democrat – and a fairly liberal one by the standards of where I live – it isn’t that often that someone on the right really knocks my socks off. Let alone a Republican!

Yet that is exactly what happened on August 25th. From the comfort of my own living room I watched Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey patiently but firmly set a hysterical critic straight at a town hall meeting. The exchange can be seen on YouTube.

I am among those who watched Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker do battle with the public employee unions earlier this year with more than a passing interest. My mother has recently retired after 36 years in the classroom and I am aware of the teaching profession’s tendency towards hidebound self-preservation. And I confess to wishing on more than one occasion that I lived closer to Madison so I could camp out on the floor of the Capitol there, in solidarity with the protesters.

Yet, Gov. Christie did something that I see so rarely from a public figure. Instead of matching the lady shout for shout and accusation for accusation, he calmly explained in detail why he had felt it necessary to reduce the pay and benefits enjoyed by teachers in his state – by a large margin more generous than anything my mom ever got. He responded not with barbs, but with data, in order to make his case. You read it here first: I came away impressed.

Upon some reflection, I think I can put words to why Gov. Christie impressed me. He didn’t seem to be pursuing some ideological agenda. His sole ambition was to be a faithful steward of his state’s public resources. And if you ask this Democrat, these are the kind of Republicans we need, and the kind of Republicans whom the Tea Party, for all its bluster, has failed to produce.

Rep. Paul Ryan may swear a million times that he truly doesn’t object in principle to Medicare, that he only wishes to spare this country from fiscal ruin with his now infamous budget; I refuse to believe him because of the other major features of his plan: large tax cuts for those at the top, and preposterously high predictions of future growth.

Gov. Christie makes no lavish promises. He grimly states his purpose, and gets on with the job. No noisy rallies or placard signs required. A great many so-called “conservatives” in this country ought to take note.

Recent Posts by Jamie McFadden



51 Comments so far ↓

  • Russnet

    I’d vote for him. Sorry, Mitt. you’re likeable enough. But Christie is the real deal.

    • Smargalicious

      I agree.

      My voting choices in order:

      1. Christie
      2. Perry
      3. Romney
      4. Cain
      5. Anyone else but that half-Kenyan monster reparationist we have in now

      • buddyglass

        Christie is my favorite Republican out of those whose names have been mentioned in the same sentence as “2012″. Liked Mitch Daniels too, but I think I prefer Christie.

        Of the ones actually running, Romney is the only one I find remotely palatable, and even then I’d probably prefer Obama. Romney has flip flopped too much over the course of his political career for me to believe he has any deeply held political beliefs. I’m reluctant to vote for someone who just says whatever he thinks the voters want to hear.

        Some other things I like about Christie: the way he handled criticism for his appointment of a Muslim to a NJ court, and his response when asked where his kids go to school (“none of your business”).

        • laingirl

          The woman did not asked where Christie’s children went to school. She mentioned she knew his children went to private school, which he has never made a secret about, and asked how he justified cutting the budget on public schools. While her question was not well phrased, she was not being smart alec in any way. Christie was the one with the awful demeanor, twisting her words in order to prove who knows what. He turned off a huge supporter of Meg Whitman in California with the same antics.

      • armstp

        Smarg,

        A surprising pick for you. Christie is probably the most liberal on the list. I took you for a Palin man.

        • Smargalicious

          No, Christie is the best choice by far, but he’ll probably forego any run because of his family’s privacy. He’s in for a merciless media attack machine from the left if he decided to go for it.

          Palin is good for one thing: make liberal’s heads explode. I love it! :D

        • armstp

          She makes a lot of peoples heads explode; liberal, conservatives and independents. She is even making a lot of Alaskians heads explode these days.

      • Lonewolf

        Smarg, you reveal SO much about yourself, every time you gleefully point out the President has partially African DNA, and intimate that is somehow an insult.
        What’s next – are you going to insult him by calling him left-handed, or brown-eyed?

  • drdredel

    I’m curious what the teacher’s objections to Christie’s points were… He does come off as extremely rational in his arguments. Curious if his facts are all accurate. But in any event, I agree with the tenor of the post; You don’t see a whole lot of rational, non hyperbolic, plausible sounding arguments coming from the Right. This guy stands out really starkly.

  • Scritor

    Are you serious? Christie has a pretty clear agenda. Partially because he’s in NJ, he has to finesse it to show he’s not a perfect movement conservative. But he’s still pretty bad news as far as it goes for people looking for liberal to moderate conservatives. That’s more Lincoln Chafee, Mike Castle, and Bloomberg. You’ll notice that they either moved on or were moved out of Republican positions.

    Christie himself is mean. It is simply not acceptable for a public official to have an operation working out of the governor’s office devoted to burnishing his image by splicing together a best hits compilation of times he has vociferously (and rudely) smacked down his own constituents. Public service is about serving the public, and that level of entitlement is generally what people hate about public officials. Indeed, it’s one reason they elected Christie, whom they thought would be less entitled than Goldman alum Jon Corzine–and nicer and more realistic at running the state. I guess they were wrong, but if this is Christie’s true image, he’s obviously not one for truth in advertising, because various people who have seen his style do not like it, to say nothing of his substance.

    Note that this mainly explains his poll numbers. Yet hilariously, people keep pushing him on the American public as a change that we ought to try, even when it’s very much in doubt whether he could win his own re-election.

  • JohnMcC

    “Obama sent one billion $….Corzine spent it all in one year….I had an income of $820 million…I spent $820 million…which means I only cut $280 million….”

    Which means Gov Christ knows his talking points. But does not not how to add. Maybe New Jersey Schools were failing when he was in 2d grade?

  • MattP

    Isn’t this video like from a while ago?

    It was uploaded to Youtube in September 2010, so it’s a year old. I thought I had seen it before a while ago.

    • Graychin

      Perhaps a year-old clip is the only one they could find of Christie being calm and reasonable. Usually when he makes the news it’s because he’s yelling at someone to “get the hell off the beach” or screaming at the teacher who mentioned his kids’ attendance at private schools.

      As far as I can tell, Christie’s popularity among “conservatives” is due mostly to his frequent episodes of acting like a jerk, yelling at hated liberals. He doesn’t seem to be very popular with the general public in New Jersey, for some odd reason.

      Personally, I would never vote for a candidate for president who is unable or unwilling to walk 100 yards from his helicopter to the bleachers, riding the distance in a limo instead. I would likely make an exception for a polio victim like FDR.

  • Stewardship

    The problem with teachers is that when it comes to their own jobs, they fail to objectively gather facts and look at all sides of an issue. Whatever the union tells them is the gospel truth. When a Christie tells them the facts, they simply can’t compute it. It should frighten all Americans that people that gullible are responsible for teaching our children.

    Very similar to tea partiers who only get their “facts” from Fox News and Human Events.

  • armstp

    A couple of things:

    > Christie may try to be calm and rational in this case, but that is far from his record. He much more often shouting at people and being a tyrant.

    > why should the budget cuts come down on the backs of teachers and other public employees?

    > teachers do not make much money and if they have decent retirmement packages that is because that makes up for the terrible pay. why don’t teachers make the same kind of money as say Doctors? one could argue that their role in society is about just as important. why do teachers make 10 times less than your average banker? Do bankers contribute more to society? Teachers get paid far more in many other countries that have far better education systems.

    > you pay for what you get; if you cut the pay and benefits of teachers you are just going to attract less qualified teacher. no one will go into the profession. sure cut all you want from education, but you education outcomes will eventually just go down. that is no way to build a state economy.

    > so far what has Christie actually accomplished? he balanced the budget by avoiding making a $3 billion state payment required into pension funds. just like McDonnell has done in Viriginia. That payment will still need to be made. He just kicked the can down the road. And when the pensions run into more problems, he will just blame the unions and all their wages and “benefits”.

    > “Voters mostly disapprove of the way Christie is handling education, his signature issue this year. With a heavily partisan split, 52 percent of voters disapprove of how he his handling education, while 44 percent approve.

    Christie is pushing New Jersey to adopt merit pay and school vouchers, get rid of seniority and weaken tenure for teachers. He has had harsh words for the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, which in turn has spent millions on ads attacking him.”

    > his overall approval rating are not that great, for someone who is the messiah on the right;

    “Christie’s job performance numbers have come back a little bit from a June dip, with 47 percent approving of his job performance and 46 percent disapproving. But for all of Christie’s talk of bipartisanship, he does not enjoy much bipartisan support himself among voters: 84 percent of Republicans approve of the job he is doing, compared with 17 percent of Democrats.”

    His approval is about the same as Obama’s average approval and he has not had to deal with the same level of challenges Obama has had to deal with.

    • Stewardship

      I’m a “locally elected official.” In our city of 12,000, the jobs of choice are with the city government or schools. Why? They are the only jobs with any kind of security. The average teacher in our community earns over $50,000 (our longest tenured teachers earn $80,000+). The average guy in a metal shop earns less than $30,000, with no benefits and no retirement–and he works 50 weeks a year. He stands at a press all day long, inhaling lubricant particles, burning metal, and gets two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch.

      The last teacher opening at our school attracted 600 applicants. If supply and demand worked unfettered, teacher salaries and benefits would be more in line with the private sector (probably well below the private sector). Extrapolating the average salary over a full year puts teachers in the $80,000 per year range.

      The bottom line is revenue for local government has tanked in the recession, yet teachers feel entitled to having their neighbors and fellow citizens make up for it in higher taxes…even though they may be unemployed, underemployed, or have other obligations (caring for elderly parents, college tuition, or funding their own healthcare).

      The lesson in Wisconsin is, teachers need to have some empathy for the people paying their salaries…it isn’t a governor or a legislator…it is their fellow citizens.

      • lilmanny

        Stewardship is right. My wife is a teacher, and a damn good one, but what she does and what a doctor does are two different levels of capability, hence two different levels of demand for their particular skills, hence to different levels of what people are willing to pay. Importance has nothing to do with it and that term can change in an instant. If teachers were worth what doctors were worth, in terms of salary only, they couldn’t fill the positions, as Stewardship notes.

        With all that said, Christie has zero shot at the presidency, at least as a Republican. He can yell at voters all day long and it still ain’t gonna make up for his positions on TARP, global warming, teh gayz, muslim judges and how he doesn’t hate them, abortion, shaking hands with Democrats, gun laws, etc.

        • armstp

          lilmanny,

          But do teachers desire to get paid 5 or 10 times less than Doctors? And do teachers deserve to get paid more than someone operating a metal press?

          Many other countries treat their teachers much higher up in importance and pay them more. They attract better quality teachers and get better outcomes.

        • Rob_654

          While if you are sick or injured a doctor is very important – the future of the United States and its ability to compete is not going to rest with doctor’s (nor lawyers, nor athletes) it will rest on the ability for the next generation and generations to follow to compete with the well educated people that are being taught in other countries and teachers are part of the backbone of that future.

        • zephae

          “My wife is a teacher, and a damn good one, but what she does and what a doctor does are two different levels of capability, hence two different levels of demand for their particular skills, hence to different levels of what people are willing to pay.”

          The biggest difference is not really two different levels of capability, but two different levels of debt leaving college. Doctors simply have to spend more time in larger amounts of debt than teachers and so they make a lot more when their turn comes. Most of the teachers in my public school district have the equivalent of master’s degrees because of continuing education requirements that have them rack up credits, but that doesn’t show up in their salaries.

      • armstp

        Steward,

        I hate to say it but, there is not much of a requirement to be a metal shop worker. No teachers college or academic requirement. Maybe an apprenticeship. I would also value what a metal shop worker adds to society lower than what teachers do, as they are responsible for the future of our country and your town through our kids. Education is the bedrock for everything. That metal worker is free to get qualified to be a teacher and apply to be a teacher.

        Also, just using a small town as in your example is not really all that fair. Your example just reflects being in a small town with more limited career opportuities and higher paying jobs. Are you suggesting that we should pay teachers less in small towns because there are less job opportunities or high paying jobs in those smaller towns? Maybe… but, you may not attract very good teachers..

        Teachers salaries in the $50,000 range are about average to even slightly below average for salaries in the U.S.

        “teacher salaries and benefits would be more in line with the private sector (probably well below the private sector). ”

        why do you think that teachers get paid more than those in the “private” sector? what exactly is the comparison?

        “yet teachers feel entitled to having their neighbors and fellow citizens make up for it in higher taxes”

        That is a bit of a nutty statement. No taxpayers are paying for a service, which is education and schooling their children. If they do not want to pay for it then great, but that just reduces the schooling of their children. Are you suggesting that in times of economic downturn that teachers should have their salaries reduced? Will that apply to all professions? Firemen, police officers, accountants, garbage men, pilots, engineers, etc. They are still teaching the same number of children and doing the same level of work.

        “The lesson in Wisconsin is, teachers need to have some empathy for the people paying their salaries.”

        What makes you think that teachers don’t have empathy for people paying their salaries? Again, I would say the opposite. I think on average teachers do a very tough and important job and they often do not get paid enough…. the public often has no empathy toward teachers. It is now fashionable to shit on teachers and balance the budget on their backs.

      • Frumplestiltskin

        So your solution for the hard working underpaid shop worker is not to have him unionize and get a livable salary and benefits, it is to drive down the teachers salary and take away their benefits.
        And just how can we have a consumer based society when the overwhelming number of Americans are poor and a few are superrich? It is nuts.

        • zephae

          It never ceases to amaze me that when people compare public and private sector pay for different jobs the response is always “the public sector employees should be paid less” instead of “I should be paid more.” Meanwhile, wages have either remained stagnant or dropped in the past decade and this fact seems to be conveniently forgotten every time this issue comes up.

    • think4yourself

      I can’t speak to New Jersey’s budget woes specfically but I assume they aren’t much different from CA. In my view teacher’s unions (and other unions) have lost touch with reality as much as politicians have. Doctors get paid more, because they (a) attend more schooling and (b) have chosen a profession that has created significant barriers to entry which means they can command a higher income. That doesn’t make doctors better.

      Teachers make about average for college graduates, generally have significantly better benefits, and get the summers off (I know there is continuing education and other stuff but it’s a pretty good deal). I am very much in favor of merit pay and advancement based on outcomes. I understand that it’s complicated and issues like homelife have a significant impact on student performance, but if we just through up our hands and say “it’s not the teacher’s responsibility”, then we shouldn’t have teachers.

      Two last points. It’s not just teachers, unions in general can be tone deaf. Here in S. Calif. the grocery union called for a strike because they thought the grocery chain offer of having the workers pay $36 per month for individual health insurance and $96 per month for a family wasn’t fair. I pay $900 per month for a family (down from $1,800 per month). That doesn’t make me very sympathetic.

      Lastly, not all educators are this way. Case in point the Fresno School Superintendent gave up $800K in future salary and benefits and applied it to programs for his students. He also didn’t say anything about it until someone else leaked the story. http://www.theroot.com/buzz/california-school-superintendent-forgoes-salary

      • armstp

        think,

        It is not just about level of education when comparing doctors and teachers, although most teachers these days also have a pretty high level of education. Do teachers just deserve to get 5-10 times less pay than Doctors? Do Doctors require 5 or 10 times more education or have 5 or 10 times more debt when leaving school? (I would claim that Doctors are paid too much in this country and that is part of the reason we have a healthcare cost inflation crisis in this country.)

        Here is an interesting piece:

        “First let’s look at teachers. Compared to other developed countries, in the United States teachers generally spend more time teaching but apparently without an equivalent advantage in pay.

        American teachers spend on average 1,080 hours teaching each year. Across the O.E.C.D., the average is 794 hours on primary education, 709 hours on lower secondary education, and 653 hours on upper secondary education general programs.

        American teachers’ pay is more middling. The average public primary-school teacher who has worked 15 years and has received the minimum amount of training, for example, earns $43,633, compared to the O.E.C.D. average of $39,007.

        Comparing each country’s teacher salaries to the wealth of that country makes United States educational salaries appear lower. In the United States, a teacher with 15 years of experience makes a salary that is 96 percent of the country’s gross domestic product per capita. Across the O.E.C.D., a teacher of equivalent experience makes 117 percent of G.D.P. per capita. At the high end of the scale, in Korea, the average teacher at this level makes a full 221 percent of the country’s G.D.P. per capita.”

        http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/teacher-pay-around-the-world/

        As for Unions, I don’t think you understand the larger struggle. It is about who benefits from their efforts and work. Unions are fighting to make sure they get their fair share of say corporate profits. Why should it all go to the investor class? Where and what is the balance? Clearly with all the wealth increasing going to the top 2% the balance is completely upended in recent decades.

        In highly unionized countries like Germany it just works. There can still be success in a modern economy with more equality. In fact, one can argue there can be more success, as you build a stronger wealthier middle class or consumer market.

        By the way anyone can pick a few outliers or extreme examples on any side of any arguement, but what is important is the larger trends.

  • Oldskool

    His demeanor is as nasty as your average Smarg. And who knows how factual his statements were, since they aren’t mentioned in the article. And who knows how much of those cuts in education were redirected to rich fat cats, which Republicans are famous for.

    • Smargalicious

      Nasty? Nope. I’m actually a cream puff.

      Now, MEDDY is nasty. He stalks folks and threatens them.

  • Slide

    he may have responded to this question calmly but that is not your typical Christie. This is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm-fsq-aA5E

    Totally uncalled for. He is a nasty little (well maybe not so little) bully.

    • laingirl

      Thank you for confirming what I said above. The woman did not ask him where he sent his kids to school. He made that up in his own evil mind and tried to justify his actions on the cable news shows.

    • tom78212

      I didn’t see the program/video mentioned in this article. I have seen others. My take on Christie is that he’s the mean, nasty playground bully. He uses his size – which is very generous – to intimidate people. In fact, it is his size as well as his tendency toward rudeness and bullying that make it impossible for me to watch him now. If he can’t control his own over-active eating habits, how can he exercise any thought or control over anything else?

  • TerryF98

    Christie is the essence of a Porcine Republican.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    I don’t believe for a second that this author is a Democrat. I see he really is nothing more than a College student in the South who truly has no idea what he is talking about.
    I lived in New Jersey for many years, it is one of the most expensive states to live in, many people who live in New Jersey work in NYC in Wall Street and they drive up property values and costs in the towns they live in. To live in Bergen County requires a very high salary. It is one of the most expensive counties to live in in the nation. Now are all teachers who work in Bergen supposed to commute from Pennsylvania? Is that the solution?
    The median price for a detached house (the kind that people generally raise children in) is $625,957

    You try buying a house and raising a family on $30,000 in NJ, which Stewardship seems to think is fine. Even a townhouse or condo median price is $432,868

    And why the hell does Frum keep hiring these wet behind the ears college students to write so many of these articles?
    Jamie McFadden is an Accounting major at the University of Mississippi. What the hell does he even know about NJ or the schools there? This article is based on his complete lack of understanding of the cost of living in NJ or the challenges teachers face. He bases his argument on a youtube video. I don’t want to be brutal, he is just a child but c’mon Frum. Treat your readers with respect.

    And if you are a Chemist in NJ, would you rather teach High School and make $50,000 or work at Pfizer and make 3 times that amount and not have to deal with parents, school boards, snotty students, etc. And teachers of elementary students have to have a great deal of expertise in Child psychology. To compare it to working in a factory is just brain dead.
    I worked in a Printers for 11 years and as a teacher for 15, I had zero stress at the Printers Everyone seems to think that teaching is easy. My office job at the Printers was easy, teaching is hard as hell, but far more rewarding (and I don’t mean financially)

    • LFC

      “And why the hell does Frum keep hiring these wet behind the ears college students to write so many of these articles?”

      They’ll write for free?

    • jcm433

      Hi there
      Jamie McFadden here.
      True, I have never lived in New Jersey, and I am aware that the cost of living is much higher than down here in the South. But a modest increase in employer contributions to health insurance premiums does not seem at all unreasonable to me. Sounds like yet another good reason for health care reform – but that’s another discussion.
      And as far as me being wet behind the ears and not really a Democrat: I’m a 31 year old Navy veteran returning to school for an accounting degree. And I’m on the Executive Committee of the Lee County Democratic Party.
      Pleasure to meet you.

    • hjkent

      Mr. Frump, Perhaps Mr. McFadden writes his article simply because he is interested in the issues and wants to hear opinions from other people, why else would he do it if he does not get paid for it. I admire him for expressing his views, considering the negativity when anyone talks about politics. It’s one thing to “discuss” his political views and disagree in a polite way but it is another thing to attack the guy personally. The videos of Christie ranting sound very much like you, Mr. Frump.

      Mr. McFadden.. Thank you for serving our country and good luck to you in furthering your education.

  • WillyP

    Chris Christie is, how shall I say, a tool… a classless behemoth without any sense of self-parody. On top of that, he’s a closet liberal – pro amnesty, pro cap and trade, anti fracking, pro gun control, pro Obamacare, and pro Sharia.

    Any “conservative” who supports this guy clearly isn’t aware of his very troubling record.

    Moreover, it doesn’t exactly help the image of NJ residents, suffering as they are from the abominable Jersey Shore, to have a boorish, foul-mouthed Governor talking about sun tans and beach houses. A governor should not be chastising and belittling his citizens for staying in their homes, much less in ready-made “Youtube” moments which suggest an ego on par with his girth. In the middle of the hurricane, the guy’s trotting around the national media like a Chuck Schumer. A serious minded governor with a decent respect for his citizens wouldn’t swear on camera during a press conference, and would not be more interested in his own attention than in the safety of his state’s citizens. Something tells me that a Good Morning America appearance wasn’t the most valuable thing the state’s executive could be doing while rain, wind, and flooding commenced.

    We can applaud his stance on teachers’ unions. Better than Corzine, sure, but certainly not a figure worthy of national repute. He’s about as likable as the clergy-banning totalitarian, Mike Bloomberg. And Lord, go on a diet.

  • steven08817

    Seems like their are lot of gullible readers here. Christie has consistently demagogued teachers and their unions for the state fiscal problems. The truth is that Christie failed to extend the income tax surcharge on millionaires which would have eliminated the need for such deep spending cuts. instead he has balanced the budget on the middle class who cannot afford to send their children to private schools. His cuts to funding for nj transit forced a 25% increase in the fare. Christie had consistently failed governed in a fair manner. Like most conservatives he coddled the wealthy and lectures the middle class.

  • PatrickQuint

    I think it’s reasonable to ask people to maintain their purchasing power parity, rather than increasing pay (by value) across the board. When that request is denied, I think it’s reasonable to lay off people to deal with a declining budget.

    I think Christie argued his case pretty well here.

    Good tone is nice, so long as it creates results. Results are the key.

  • rockstar

    FAT. A**HOLE. I’ll take this man on a trip he’ll never forget. WEEEEEE……!

  • mannie

    I see many posters have suggested Mr. Christie for Prez, but I say, the guy is a Jersey battler, so why not leave him in a more managerial role like he has now? Jimmy Carter could have probably given you the Georgia version of that same argument quite sincerely and capabily as well.