In perhaps the first major gaffe I’m aware of by Chris Christie, the fire-breathing budget-cutting Republican Governor of New Jersey, or more precisely by his administration, the state’s Treasurer has announced that the state will appeal a court ruling striking down a new law which allows the government to steal private property in order to help balance its budget.
In particular, the law allows the state to seize the unused value on gift cards two years after their purchase as well as the unused value of any travelers checks not cashed or spent within three years after purchase.
A news story on the judge’s injunction, which was originally handed down in November, says that “consumers can still redeem the gift cards after the state takes the money” which is a concept that only a bureaucrat could think is sensible. This would imply that the state would have some unknown liability, probably actuarially determined at some percentage of the total amount seized.
But even with that fig leaf of consumer “protection,” New Jersey’s proposal is an act of piracy on the open seas of commerce.
The New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, the New Jersey Food Council and American Express each sued to block the law, and Judge Freda Wolfson agreed with them, at least for now.
It’s fairly reprehensible that the state of New Jersey sees fit to appeal a law blocking their ability to steal money — and make no mistake, that’s what this is — regardless of how bad the state’s budget deficit is.
After all, a mugger’s budget probably isn’t all that great, but if he took your gift card or traveler’s check, he’d rightfully go to prison.