July 19, 2018 | ° F

Christie doesn’t care about poor people

Despite economic policies, Governor’s insensitivity is inappropriate

The stereotype of a no-nonsense New Jersey attitude is perfectly encapsulated in the personality of our loud, blunt (to the point of being obnoxious), dear old Governor Chris Christie. Just yesterday, Christie was put on blast yet again for some insensitive comments during a speech at the United States Chamber of Commerce, where he announced that he is “tired of hearing about minimum wage.”

We could understand where he’s coming from. While ever-rising inflation calls for minimum wage to be raised for people just to be able to make ends meet, that’s just a short-term fix to a much larger issue of economic inequality that requires a more comprehensive and long-term solution. But of course, Christie didn’t just stop there: “I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’” He continued to say that parents instead aspire for a better America where success isn’t measured by a higher minimum wage. 

Well, obviously no one wants to aspire to make minimum wage, but the reality of the current economic situation is such that it’s the only option for a lot of people. Most minimum wage workers are not just high school students with summer jobs. According to a recent article in The New York Times, statistics from the Economic Policy Institute show that the average age of those who earn minimum wage is 35, and 27 percent are parents with a family to support.

Christie is the fourth-highest paid governor in the country, with a yearly salary of $175,000 coming from New Jersey taxpayers. According to the Star Tribune, tax returns show that he and his wife earned a combined $700,000 in 2013. Christie is so far removed from those who have to live on minimum wage, and on top of that, he doesn’t seem too concerned with attempting to sympathize with their struggles. It’s not a good look for a governor who is supposed to put his constituent’s interests first.

It’s true that our focus shouldn’t be so stubbornly fixated on raising minimum wage because that’s not the only obstacle to economic equality in this country. The ever-increasing wealth gap makes raising minimum wage the least of our worries — leveling the playing field isn’t going to be possible just through that. We aren’t going to comment on the specific economic policies that the state should or should not be implementing in this editorial — but the point is, there should definitely be policies that aim for more holistic economic reform, so that if we do raise the minimum wage, the effects are sure to actually be beneficial in the long run.

But regardless of how relevant (or irrelevant) the discussion of raising minimum wage is, and even if Christie’s alternative is to actually work on reform for economic conditions overall, these kinds of comments just highlight his insensitivity. And displaying that kind of unsympathetic attitude when it comes to the needs of a struggling working class is going to alienate a whole lot of voters. Maybe Christie is still committed to economic reform, but he clearly doesn’t realize — or care about — the immediate impact raising the minimum wage might have on so many who are forced to live on it. That kind of attitude is simply inappropriate for a governor, and it’s pretty disappointing that it’s something that even needs to be addressed.

The Daily Targum

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