Monthly Archives: December 2008

2008’s Top Public Policy Developments

It is that time again when lists of the year’s top stories begin to emerge in newspapers and magazines, on radio and TV stations, and online in websites, blogs and emails. My list is a little different. Instead of news stories, I decided to take a crack at identifying the top public policy developments that took place in New Jersey during 2008.

This poses somewhat of a different challenge. Rather than selecting the top stories from a group of existing news reports, it requires speculating about the long-term impact of decisions made this year. And that is made even more difficult by the unusual and unexpected twists that can alter our future.

Consider for a moment the case of Charles Ingram Courtenay Wood, 2nd Earl of Halifax. When Neville Chamberlain resigned as British Prime Minister in 1940, Halifax was considered a likely successor, but Winston Churchill was selected for the post instead. As Alan Bennett relates in The History Boys, on the afternoon the decision was taken, Halifax chose to go the dentist instead. “If Halifax had had better teeth, we might have lost the war,” the Dakin character in Bennett’s film remarks.

So barring the likes of an unforeseen trip to the dentist, here are what I consider the most significant public policy developments that took place in New Jersey this year:
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We Can’t Let This Bank Fail

I am departing from my usual topics today to take part in an important and innovative campaign to increase public awareness of the need to keep our food pantries well-stocked. As part of Blogging Out Hunger, bloggers from all over New Jersey are posting information today about the increased demand being put on the food pantries in our state and how everyone can help.

More than 35 million Americans, including 12 million children, either live with or are on the verge of hunger. In New Jersey alone, an estimated 250,000 new clients will be seeking sustenance this year from the state’s food banks. But recently, as requests for food assistance have risen, food donations are on the decline, leaving food bank shelves almost empty and hungry families waiting for something to eat. Continue reading