What’s Missing from the 2021 Campaign? Harris has More than a Clue


So far, the New Jersey Governor’s race has not been about everything other than the real-world circumstances of the millions of people that live here.

The debased multi-billion-dollar slug fest between Gov. Murphy and former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli has been all about what’s wrong with the privileged candidates, not the huge percentage of the electorate both parties have failed for generations.

Between the millions in taxpayer money and the millions from outside national groups, this high-priced non-therapeutic mud bath is mired in a fixation on the past of just these two white guys.

There’s been insufficient discussion of the future of our state that for close to a year and a half has been afflicted by a mass death event that has inordinately claimed poor people of color who are most often essential workers in a state that is one of the richest in the nation where so many whites had the luxury of hunkering down at home.

We’ve known about these brutal race-based inequities for decades. After the 1967 civil disturbance in Newark the Lilley Report, commissioned by then Gov. Hughes, flagged the linkage between poverty and race-based health care disparities and outcomes in Newark, the state’s largest city.

Among the statistics the report laid out to describe Newark’s endemic poverty: the city had the highest maternal and infant mortality rate in the nation and the highest rate of tuberculosis infection, and it ranked ninth out of 302 American cities in severity of air pollution.

A half-century since the Lilley Report was issued the COVID pandemic has driven home the enduring nature of those very same race based economic and health care disparities that continue to define Newark, our state and the entire nation.

In the decades since we have been undercounting the number of our fellow state residents struggling in the margins of poverty in a state with one of the highest cost of living.

According to a report released this past July by the Legal Services of New Jersey’s Poverty Research Institute, the federal measure we use to determine the number of people in poverty undercounted that population by more than two million.

Under that official measure that’s informed by an outdated one size fits all federal formula a family of four is only poor if they make under $21,000 a year, which means that just 800,000 New Jersey residents are poor.

Researchers at the Legal Services of New Jersey’s Poverty Research Institute found that in 2019 a two-bedroom apartment in New Jersey averaged $17,316 — about $1,450 a month — claiming nearly 85% of the poverty-level family’s $21,000 in wages.

“They would be left with $3,275 annually, or $273 a month, to meet other essential needs like food, transportation, health care and taxes, according to the researchers,” the Asbury Park Press reported when the report was released.

Calculating the actual cost of living here in the Garden State the advocacy group…

Read More:What’s Missing from the 2021 Campaign? Harris has More than a Clue