I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Whine Than a French Bistro

So about this video of Christie verbally smacking down a teacher who just happens to be a woman...

What we have here is a nice little compilation of Christie's greatest whines: all of the petty little excuses he loves to wallow in to justify his jihad against the education profession. A little deconstruction is in order:

Still Running Against Corzine (1:55): Christie regularly moans that he inherited a $1 billion hole from Jon Corzine because Corzine spent stimulus money in one year instead of two. There are many responses to this:
  • There was nothing that stipulated that the funds were to be spent in two years.
  • It was a stimulus - we were supposed to spend it quickly.
  • If it was a billion in aid over two years, and Corzine spent it all in one, you'd only be out half-a-billion, right?
  • During the campaign, you said you wouldn't take stimulus money like this anyway (whether you really could have rejected it is another point).
But I think the best response is this:

You reject Corzine's stimulus spending as a one-shot gimmick. What do you call withholding property tax rebates for a year? Or not paying into the pension system? I guess those were "permanent" solutions...

"I had declining state revenues"(2:17): Yes you did, and a big part of that was refusing to keep the millionaire's tax for another year, which cost you at least $600 million. That was your choice - not Corzine's.

"I only cut $820 million" (2:25): Did you or did you not force districts to spend down their surpluses?  You did - the cuts are $1.3 billion.

"My lambasting is only directed at the leaders of the NJEA" (2:50): What a crock. He said teachers used kids like drug dealers use their mules. 'Nuff said. 

"Teachers were getting huge raises before I became Governor" (3:35): Over the last 20 years, teacher pay has grown more slowly than the average worker in NJ - not the college-educated worker, the AVERAGE worker. And now teacher pay raises are down to 2% - the lowest in 30 years. So slow growing teacher pay is growing even more slowly.

"New York pays less of the health benefits for employees than NJ" (4:24): Yeah, and the State of NY pays their teachers MORE in salaries. Kind of helps to make up the difference, huh?

"Teachers pay nothing for full family medical, dental, and vision" (4:50): Another crock. Dental is expensive to teachers; vision often means an annual eye exam - that's it. We have co-pays, out-of-network, prescription co-pays... AND we are extremely limited in our choices. I've said it before: our benefits are no better than a white-collar worker at a Fortune 500 company. In any case, benefits are part of collective bargaining and total compensation packages. If you cut them, you are cutting teacher pay, pure and simple.

"Maybe those promises were appropriate decades ago" (5:00): They weren't "promises" - they were negotiated wages. The government told employees this is what they would get paid - you are now reneging on the deal because you want to keep a system of regressive taxation to protect the wealthy of this state.

"I only asked teachers for $750 a year" (5:20): When you are a multi-millionaire like Chris Christie, $750 is chump change. If you're making $55K, it's the difference between fixing the car or getting your kid braces.

"If the teachers took a pay freeze and gave 1.5% for benefits, that would have saved most of the cuts this year" (5:35): Wrong. The OLS analyzed the numbers and found a freeze and 1.5% wouldn't have covered 1/4 of the cuts. You got your original calculations from Bret Schundler, a man you fired because you said he lied to you. Why trust him over the OLS?

"There would not have been anywhere near the layoffs if a pay freeze was taken" (6:15): Weasel words. Christie has a history of claiming he will save more jobs with his schemes than he really could. Here's what he said when he first proposed the idea:
Governor Christie has promised districts struggling with massive budget cuts that he'll return the difference in payroll taxes if they agree to a one-year pay freeze. 
"We've laid out there how this can be done and it would avoid teacher layoffs and it would avoid program cuts and they just don't want to hear it," Christie said.
So we've gone from "avoid teacher layoffs" to "not have been anywhere near the layoffs." Again, weasel words.

"The head of the teachers union in Bergen County sent out an email encouraging his members to pray for the death of the governor" (7:45): Let's lay this stupidity to rest once and for all. Here's the "prayer" that was sent out:
"Dear Lord this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."
You would have to be the biggest moron in the world to believe this is a "prayer," and you'd have to be the biggest tool in the world to argue that this was "praying for your death." It's a stupid, tasteless, unprofessional joke that should not have been sent, but it's no more than that.

The head of the Bergen union, Joe Coppola, and NJEA President Barbara Keskishian both apologized to Christie, as well they should. But Christie has held on to this stupid little slur as an excuse to slam teachers with impunity.

What he won't accept is that HE is the governor. HE sets the tone. HE could have been the bigger man, accepted the apology, and moved on. What he chose to do instead is cling tightly to this little tiff and use it as an excuse to slam teachers and humiliate women in public. And he has no problem lying about the content or the context of this "prayer" to use it to his own ends.

This video really is a tour-de-force of pettiness and whininess. I read the commenters and bloggers swooning over this, and I wonder how our brains could be wired so differently: Christie comes across, to me, as a a blustering fool who blames his inability to actually solve anything on everyone else. It's the whining of a bully, and it's pathetic.

1 comment:

French course said...

Same problems arise in France. More than 3,000 classes will be cut in 2012.