Yesterday’s New York Times had an editorial that began
Over the last several years, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has shown utter contempt for the State Supreme Court’s three-decades-old ruling in the Mount Laurel housing case, which bars wealthy towns from excluding affordable housing and requires them to write zoning laws that permit a reasonable amount of such housing to be built.
The editorial went on to describe Christie’s persistent refusal to comply with the court’s orders. It’s hard to believe that Christie was once a lawyer–a profession rooted in respect for the rule of law.
Of course, even ignoring “Bridgegate,” this is hardly the first time Christie has privileged his personal political interests over the common good. When he was first elected, he killed a much-needed, long-planned tunnel into Manhattan. As a New Jersey paper recently noted,
The ARC tunnel would have doubled cross-Hudson rail capacity – helping commuters get to high-paying Manhattan jobs and increasing property values back home in New Jersey. When Christie killed the plan – he didn’t have a Plan B. Instead, Christie grabbed the billions of dollars set aside by Gov. Jon Corzine and spent it on in-state transportation projects – which allowed him to pay for road and bridge repairs without raising the gas tax. By pulling out of the ARC tunnel and spending the money, Christie left billions in federal dollars on the table and has nothing left to contribute to a new tunnel project – rail capacity that is still desperately needed.
Christie justified that decision by saying that the project faced cost overruns; the General Accounting Office said otherwise.
I wish Christie were an anomaly, but he isn’t. In fact, Christie’s is the face of far too much of today’s politics: officeholders who are contemptuous of the government that pays them and the interests of the voters who elect them, power-hungry, self-absorbed lackeys of special interests willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the good graces of their patrons, no matter who gets hurt in the process.
What I don’t get is why these people–who appear to have no concept at all of the common good, or respect for the purpose of government–choose political life in the first place. Surely in a capitalist economy there are more appropriate venues for their narrowly-focused ambitions.
Might it be that these pompous preachers of the virtues of the market lack the ability to succeed in the real-life marketplace? Why else go into a line of work for which they are so clearly unsuited?