By Art Gallagher
Forget trying to save America from socialism. We've already lost that war. We can and should fight to reverse how we've lost our freedom and personal responsibility, but not before we realize that we've lost it.
Bret Schundler is proof that we've become a nanny state.
The situation with Schunlder's termination as Education Commissioner and New Jersey's rejected application for $400 million in federal "Race to the Top" funding is a serious mess for the Christie administration and for the State of New Jersey.
Trenton Democrats and the mainstream media can be counted on to exploit the situation throughout the fall, slowing Governor Christie's reform agenda and "tool kit" legislation. Previously demoralised Democrats now have an issue to play throughout the election campaign. The tit for tat between Christie and Schunlder over whether or not Schundler "mislead" the Governor can weaken both men's' credibility and standing. All of the above is a matter of great concern. If anyone can turn it around in a hurry and prevent the damage, Chris Christie can. I hope he does.
But what concerns me more than the immediate fallout of the RTT/Schundler mess is how far we've crept towards a nanny state, as demonstrated by Schundler's grab for the government tit in the form of unemployment benefits.
When the first instinct of a guy with the talent, skill, intellect, and conservative philosophy of Bret Schunlder upon a career set back is to secure unemployment benefits, regardless of if he is entitled to them, you know we're in trouble. Actually, maybe you don't know, given how deeply the entitlement mentality has taken over our culture. "Well I've paid into the system, why shouldn't I take advantage of it?," is the thought that many rely on to justify applying for benefits that they don't need but think they are entitled to.
Because you don't need it and that kind of thinking has lead us to the brink of financial ruin is the right answer to that justification.
Just yesterday a young woman entering her senior year in college asked me how I got into my business. She was looking towards the future and inquiring of me and others about how we ended up where we did.
My answer was that I fought for a job I was vastly overqualified for rather than accept unemployment benefits.
That job as a car leasing salesman was a huge departure from my experience as a young banker working on billion dollar gas pipeline deals and nuclear power plant sale/lease backs and the job I had as Vice President of Sales for a Princeton area power supply manufacturer. But I couldn't stand accepting the handout and answering to the unemployment office about what I did to find a job every week. When the first check showed up in the mail with the questionnaire to be sent in, I sent the form back saying on I got a job. Then I went and got a job.
Now a days, people wait for their unemployment benefits to run out before they accept a job that is beneath their experience or start a business.
Bret Schundler doesn't need unemployment benefits. Many people, maybe even most, who apply for them don't need them.
Schundler can come to work for one of my businesses. Doing so would be beneath his experience, but would be a huge opportunity for me. He could earn more than the max that unemployment offers, but he would have to earn it. I wouldn't mind if he left in a month or so to become a university president or another big job. I'm sure there are many other small business owners in New Jersey who have long admired Bret who feel the same way.
The same goes for all the other talent sitting on the sidelines in New Jersey waiting for their benefits to run out before they do what they have to do to pay the mortgage and put food on the table.
We need to shift our safety net to a system based on need rather than the system based on entitlement that it has become. Until we do so and until individuals stand for their own freedom and responsibility before demanding that which they are entitled to, we have no hope of turning back the socialist creep.