Things You Can’t Do in New Jersey

I’m not a frequent visitor to the Garden State, but occasionally I travel there on behalf of my day job. Today I was reading an article which caused me to amend my list of things you cannot do in New Jersey:

Pump your own gas.

Give directions to a location WITHOUT referring to an exit number.

Drive anywhere without having change for a $20.

Dispose of your trash without a written contract in place.

And….. Visit a state park (or at least one of nine set for closure).

Yes, in a cost cutting measure, the state of New Jersey has figured to trim $4.5 million (on the overall $33 billion, with a “B,” budget). The parks closed this season, of interest to those with the military history palate such as myself, include Monmouth Battlefield, Washington Crossing, and Fort Mott. The article mentions that state-wide the park program’s budget was $34 million, and was required to trim some $8.8 million. The “pile on” number is reference to the $3.9 billion (again “B”) that outdoor recreation generate for the state, of which the parks system is central element.

Ok, country boy math here.

  • $4.5 million saved is some darn near statistically insignificant percentage of the total state budget. My calculator starts going into “powers of” notations.
  • The overall park budget of $34 million is what, about a tenth of a percentage of the overall state budget?
  • Assuming the figure cited from outdoor recreation is indeed directly proportional to attendance numbers at the state park, and assuming some magically statistical normal deviation here, AND that closing one-fifth of the parks results in a similar reduction recreation generated income – The resultant loss to the state economy would be around $800 million. But that’s my non-scientific speculation.
  • The estimated 2006 population of New Jersey was 8.7 million. Using that number, assuming the state government will pass this budget savings directly back to the tax payers in the form of cuts (when pigs fly), each person in New Jersey is getting roughly 50 cents back this year in order to close the parks.

Before we call this a “Yankee” thing, recall the State of North Carolina did the same “bonehead” move back in 2003. What is gained by a short term savings? Can I start queuing up the “For less than the cost of a cup of Coffee…” lines here? What is the heritage of the State of New Jersey, and in the case of the the three sites I mentioned our national heritage, really worth in raw dollars?

If Monmouth is closed, I’ll have to “virtually visit” Monmouth through the entries of another correspondent on HMDB. Guess I save some gas money for further excursions to the (open) parks of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Translated to real terms, “No, that isn’t the sound of my pocket change bouncing around the funnel at the toll booth.”

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