The late great writer Marek Hlasko once balked when offered free passage out of his Soviet-occupied homeland, arguing that Poland, however dysfunctional and rife with death and injustice, was too damned interesting as a subject for the Warsaw Insider to ever think about seeking a more secure country.
We’re not saying New Jersey’s quite that bad for most residents here – but we’re also ashamed to say that on too many days the prospect of being able to write about chaos keeps us here, as we shoulder, for Insider survival’s sake, a variation on Mike Aron‘s “If you’re a reporter, New Jersey never lets you down.”
The sad fact is that it also is just that bad for too many: young girls who walk the streets not knowing whether they’re going to make it home without getting caught in the crossfire of a gang war; or those workers who juggle three jobs only to fail to meet the rent, or the immigrant who doesn’t know whether today is the day he’ll be deported, or the homeowner who can’t pay the property tax bill.
Insider dysfunction shouldn’t be the state’s selling point, let’s face it. Given the educational resources in our midst,
our mascot need not perpetually be Terry Malloy in the back of that taxi cab on River Street in Hoboken, praying for one more night unspent face down in the Hudson.
But our condition in New Jersey could get worse, plausibly much worse, as the pension payment-saddled state faces the prospect of a $50 billion unfunded liability, reels amid 11 credit downgrades, a transportation infrastructure that fails to serve the state’s commuters, decaying cities, suburbs on lock-down, an immense disparity between rich and poor, and an educational system that punishes taxpaying senior citizens and under-serves too many of our brightest young stars.
On the pages that follow, you’ll find the names of those 100 Garden State Insider brains who will have to figure out how to piece together a blueprint to keep the place afloat…