Friday, April 30, 2010

This is Not About Governor Christie's Weight

Like millions of Americans, Governor Christie and I weigh more than what is considered healthy.  As anyone who has tried knows, losing weight is not simple.  Here’s why:

Let’s suppose that I take a simplistic solution to my problem.  My doctor says I should limit my caloric intake to 1500 calories per day.  There are 271 calories in a Snickers bar, so if I eat 5½ Snickers a day, I will lose the weight that I need to.  Of course this is ludicrous.  Losing weight is not a one-dimensional application of calorie control.  There’s balanced eating with the right mix of vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients.  There’s exercise.  And there’s discipline.  If all I do is monitor my calorie intake at the expense of other factors, I will rapidly become unhealthy and in worse shape than when I started the diet.

Like dieting, managing the State of New Jersey is managing a complex ecosystem.  Simply cutting calories or cutting taxes while ignoring the other aspects that make that ecosystem run will not be effective, and indeed will be harmful.  But that’s the approach the Governor is taking.

Exercise is necessary for weight loss.  For most people, it is not pleasant and they’d rather be doing something other than schvitzing on a treadmill.  Similarly, taxes are necessary for running a state.  For most people, they are not pleasant and since the services that these taxes provide are usually taken for granted, they’d rather spend that money on going to the movies or buying a new electronic gizmo.

The Governor is harming the citizens of New Jersey by managing the state one-dimensionally.  Yes, it is imperative that we spend within our means.  But “means” is an independent variable.  Our tax system should be balanced, with those who are at the top income levels contributing their fair share.  Just like eating vegetables gives you more nutrition and fewer calories than a Snickers bar, state government needs to adopt a “more for less” approach by embracing proven six-sigma techniques to effectively lean out the waste in government while not cutting out the bone.

Christie’s cavalier attitude toward governing makes me think that he does not “get it”.  Tax cuts are comfortable – so are Snickers bars.   But they don’t solve the problem.

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