I Could’ve Been a Contender

04 Feb

Late last year I was contacted by the vice chairman of New Jersey Libertarian Party asking me if I would consider accepting the party’s nomination for governor 2017. A few days later I had a conference call with both the chairman and vice chairman of the NJLP and discussed what a Sabrin for Governor campaign would look like in 2017.

One of the goals would be to raise sufficient funds, just like we did in 1997, to receive matching funds and be included in the official debates sponsored by the New Jersey Election Commission (ELEC). Another goal would be to surpass the nearly 5% of the vote I received in 1997 to at least 10%. I told the and NJLP leadership I would have to think this over very carefully because of my commitments to writing a book this spring while I am on sabbatical, and then I will be writing another book in the second half of this year, when I go back to teaching in the fall semester.

 After thinking this over very carefully I decided I could not devote the time and energy needed to run a vigorous campaign this year even though the issues facing the people of New Jersey will require an outsider to address the state budget, the pension shortfall, property taxes, healthcare, the so-called drug epidemic and a myriad of other issues that cry out for out-of-the-box thinking, which of course we will never get from either a Democrat or Republican gubernatorial nominee.

Nevertheless, if I had decided to run for governor this year below would have been my acceptance speech at the NJLP convention at Rutgers in March.

Thank you my fellow libertarians. I enthusiastically accept the nomination of the New Jersey Libertarian Party for governor of the State of New Jersey.

Twenty years ago when I accepted the and NJLP’s nomination for governor we had two goals: to raise enough funds to be included in the three debates with the major party candidates and to spread the message of libertarianism, namely, how the State of New Jersey can live up to its motto: Liberty and Prosperity. With your support and that of libertarians around the country we achieved both goals, not without a couple bumps in the road.

Although we raised $210,000 necessary to obtain matching funds and be included in the three scheduled debated, ELEC (NJ Election Commission) denied our application; we then went to court to overturn its ruling. To make a long story short, the Administrative Law Judge ruled in our favor and we became the first third-party candidate to be included in the debates with the major political parties. In addition, the rules were changed because of our lawsuit and the regulations are now a bit friendlier to third party candidates.

In the six weeks of campaigning from September 19 (when ELEC approved our matching fund application) to election day we crisscrossed the state and I spoke to high school students, college students, business groups and numerous audiences and appeared on countless radio and television shows explaining how free markets and limited government would address the issues facing New Jersey.

Nearly 5% of the electorate came out and voted for us, a remarkable achievement since very few voters knew about the New Jersey Libertarian Party or what it stands for. Although we didn’t win we did have an impact on two issues. I was the only candidate in the three debates who supported raising the speed limit to 65 mph. After Gov. Whitman won reelection the speed limit was raised on sections of major state highways to 65 mph.

In addition, automobile insurance was a major campaign issue and I called for the deregulation of the industry. The two major party candidates—Whitman and McGreevy– opposed deregulation. After Jim McGreevy became governor in 2002 the auto insurance industry was deregulated, competition increased, rates stabilized or declined for New Jersey drivers.

Even though we didn’t win we moved the needle toward more free-market policies and common sense speed limits. Third party candidates do not have to win for parts of their agenda to be implemented.

One of the most memorable events during the campaign occurred when I spoke to a large political science class at Rutgers University. The course was team taught by a Republican and a Democratic consultant. After I made my half-hour presentation of what a “libertarian” New Jersey would look like a student asked the following question, “Dr. Sabrin, you say you believe in free enterprise, personal responsibility and limited government, what makes you different than a Republican.” Immediately, I responded, “I mean it!” The audience roared and the professors/consultants smiled broadly.

So here we are 20 years later and the fiscal condition of the State of New Jersey is an abomination, because both Republicans and Democrats have been unwilling to do the right thing, namely, stop pandering to every special interest group who is feeding at the Trenton trough.

And previous governors have allowed the Supreme Court to legislate from the bench instead of protecting the people’s rights.

We need a New Jersey where free enterprise thrives, all levels of government are limited in their power over the people and we create a culture where philanthropy replaces the failed social policies of the welfare state.

Where do we begin? First, Let’s stat the obvious truth: The New Jersey state income tax experiment has been a colossal failure. There has been no property tax relief for suburban homeowners. That’s a fact that cannot be ignored or swept under the rug. I propose phasing out the income tax over the next four years so the people will have control over their earnings instead of the Trenton trough redistributing it throughout the state

The income tax would be reduced 10% in the first year, 20% in the second year, 30% in the third year, and 40% in the fourth year.   And in four years the people of New Jersey will no longer have to pay a state income tax. Because the state income tax pays for the vast majority of school funding in the so-called Abbott districts, we will come up with a better way to educate children in our cities.

Without going into great detail now, we need a historic shift in the way youngsters are taught so when they are graduated from high school, they will be able to support themselves in a productive job or profession so they can become financially independent, or be ready to enter college.

For suburban homeowners who supposedly were going to get property tax relief with the introduction of the state income tax 40 years ago, H. L. Menken predicted this fiasco state decades ago when he said, “When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before.”

This brings me to the next reform that is necessary to make New Jersey a more just State. For parents who send their children to nonpublic schools or homeschool them, they will no longer have to pay school property taxes. And that also applies to singles and couples without children. In other words, if you like your public schools you can keep your public schools and you will pay for your public schools. No one else will have to pay for your children’s education. Just as we pay for cell phones, cable TV and other services without subsidies education should be paid for the exact same way.

As far as business taxes go, we can also phase out state business income taxes so entrepreneurs and corporate managers can focus on providing the best goods and services to the people of New Jersey and beyond without having to pay tribute to the Trenton trough. That of course means no more subsidies, no more state grants, and no more special privileges to any business in the state. Crony capitalism will be ended in the State of New Jersey once and for all.

We will finally end the Supreme Court’s interference in the housing market by abolishing COAH and any barriers and regulations that drive up the cost of housing in the state. They’ll be no need for so-called affordable housing mandates. A vibrant housing market requires that government get out of the way and allow entrepreneurs to build housing to meet the needs of the people.

New Jersey’s unfunded pension liability is a disgrace, a result of both Democrats and Republicans in the governor’s office and in the Legislature failing to fund what they negotiated with state workers. This fiasco is also a failure of union leadership to ensure that their workers pensions have been fully funded. Because of this egregious failure of leadership for the past 20 years, funding the pension shortfall on the backs of taxpayers would be unjust.

I propose that retirees be exempt from State income tax immediately as well as current state workers so they can fully fund their own pension plan. Another possibility is to convert the defined benefit plan into a 401(k) plan so workers would have control over investing their own funds, just as we have at the state college level with TIAA.

As far as state colleges and universities go I propose that they become financially independent in seven years or less by building up their endowments, streamlining their operations and generating new sources of revenue without increasing tuition and fees.

Healthcare has been another contentious issue not only in New Jersey but also across the country since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The evidence shows the ACA may have insured more people but from the anecdotal evidence I have heard premiums, which are highly subsidized, have not provided any benefits to low income policyholders, because most policies have very high deductibles.

However, there is a way out of this program. And that is the creation of nonprofit health centers throughout the state like the Zarephath Health Center in Somerset County, the Parker Family Health Center in Red Bank and the Lynn Diamond Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative in Hackensack. For transparency purposes, I am a founding trustee of the BVMI and served on the board of trustees for several years.

If we create at least 150 centers throughout the state and use the Medicaid funding that we get from the federal government to pay for equipment and other needs of a high-quality nonprofit health center, then the people in every community should and must support such an organization if they care about providing healthcare to low income neighbors. After the centers are built, the operating expenses would be provided by charitable contributions from individuals, households, foundations and businesses and volunteer doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.

New Jersey will thus become the epicenter of the “culture of caring,” where neighbors help each other to address the needs of the less fortunate in our communities. With a substantial reduction in taxes, the people of New Jersey will have funds to support what works–nonprofit health centers that are beacons of hope for individuals who have medical issues that they cannot pay for because of their low income.

This brings me to another issue that has arisen not only in New Jersey but also throughout the country, the tragedy of drug addiction. Drug addiction is a medical issue and competent doctors, nurses, counselors, and other professionals can best deal with medical issues. Here again the people of New Jersey will rise to the occasion and help pay for the successful treatment centers.

As Peter Drucker reminded us more than 25 years ago, “Government has proved incompetent at solving social problems.” We don’t need more government funding, which is really taxpayer funding, or government facilities to help people overcome their addiction. People who have succumbed to addiction must be part of the solution, namely, they must take responsibility for their actions and want to be free of addiction.

We must and once and for all abolish the idea that if individuals have problems coping that there should be a government program or government funding to help them lead a normal life. This is the great non sequitur of our era, that there must be a government program to deal with every social issue facing the American people.

That my fellow libertarians is our message in 2017: free enterprise, limited government and nonprofitization will restore the state’s motto, Liberty and Prosperity, and make New Jersey the freest state in the union with the best school choice program in the history of America and with the most vibrant economy rivaling that of Hong Kong and Singapore.

That is what we’re offering to the people of New Jersey, chance to revitalize our economy and end once and for all the bullying of state government and the state Supreme Court.   No longer will our rights be trampled, especially our Second Amendment rights, which will no longer stop at our front door but will be exercised throughout the state.

As far as my opponents from the two major parties, whomever they may be, let us remember what H.L. Menken said about democracy.” Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies too trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule–and both commonly succeed, and are right.”

There is an alternative and that is the Libertarian solution.

Last year Sen. Sanders in his campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for president said we need a political revolution. What Bernie was offering the American people is more of the failed statist policies of the past hundred years.

I am offering the people of New Jersey the real revolution–the freedom revolution, the right to control your own life, your own income, what you want to ingest in your own body.

We must end the failed war on drugs, which would eliminate the supply of drugs from Mexico and other countries because the price of illegal substances would drop making it financially unattractive to smuggle narcotics into New Jersey.

Freedom and liberty are our natural rights and therefore we must restore them here in the Garden State and become a model so people throughout America can do the same in the remaining 49 states.

With your help the next revolution will be for liberty and the people of New Jersey well thank us forgiving them back what is rightfully theirs–control over their own lives.



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