Perhaps it’s time for another Boston Tea Party


By: Ruth Luse
To James E. McGreevey,
governor, State of New Jersey:
   I want to share with you, on behalf of many New Jersey residents who probably agree with me, my feelings about the auto insurance fiasco and the state’s budget worries.
   While I have no idea where my state income tax dollars go once you collect them each pay period, I do know where a large portion of my other hard-earned dollars goes — and that is my auto insurance company. I call it mine, because it’s the one I happen to have at the moment … not because I want that company, but because it is one of a very few that is still willing to do business in this state.
   I know the current auto insurance debacle is not one you created, but it is one that you — or someone else — must solve. Several governors and hundreds of politicians before you have failed miserably to address the issue of auto insurance — something that is causing many of us good and honest citizens real hardships.
   A few weeks ago, my auto insurance company sent me a premium renewal notice. I was aghast! Without any warning and for no good reason that I know of, my premium has gone up 35 percent. When I asked why, I was given some reasons that include: where I live, my age, and of course, all the money the company had to pay out as a result of lawsuits. They could care less than I was not a party to any of those lawsuits or that I did not have any accidents.
   So, I shopped around, as much as my personal weekday time permitted, only to find out that my options are few. Companies with which I have done business in previous years are gone or won’t do business here! NJCure, which is supposed to be some sort of option for New Jersey drivers, gave me a quote higher than any amount I ever have paid for insurance.
   Is it any wonder than some people simply are not carrying insurance, despite the fact that it is law in this state? I hear you are thinking about having vehicles of uninsured drivers impounded. Did it ever occur to you that some of these people simply cannot afford to pay for the insurance? Did it occur to you to fix the system before starting to punish people further?
   Many of these people have to drive to get to work. There is no mass transit system available to many residents of New Jersey. And where there is the possibility, many residents don’t like the idea of other people using the streets of their towns to get to a train station — if one were placed in their municipality. Others don’t want buses coming into town, because they fear the influx of a criminal element.
   While you talk of cutting state spending, you accept a $70,000 plus pay raise. While you talk of the current budget disaster, you hand out high-paying jobs, freeze state aid to schools (which you know will be replaced by higher individual school property taxes on the local level) and rush about trying to think of new taxes to get you out of the budget bind.
   I personally would consider it a victory for you and the legislators with whom you are working if you could accomplish two things during your term.
   The first would be to put a fair, inexpensive auto insurance system in place. Others may have tried, but all have failed.
   The second would be to cut out wasteful state spending, which we all know exists department by department. One item I see as an immediate step in the right direction would be to get rid of all state vehicles. Make employees use their own cars, just as the rest of us do.
   It’s time for New Jersey officials— Democrats and Republicans alike — to recognize the fact that citizens have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (referred to by many today as "quality of life"). For most of us that means keeping a lot more of our hard-earned money for ourselves and our families.
   I hope many others will join me in writing similar letters. Perhaps, together, we can get our message through. Perhaps it’s time for citizens to rally and refuse to pay exorbitant insurance rates and more and more taxes. Perhaps it’s time to consider the idea of holding another Boston Tea Party-type event.