My great state of New Jersey is first in blowing up Trump properties (It only took 3,500 sticks of dynamite to bring down that big beautiful temple of losers, Trump Plaza).
It’s first in rich seniors moving to Florida because of high taxes.
First in Goldman Sachs partners serving as governor (two of the last three).
The latest, Gov. Phil Murphy came to public service after making his fortune on Wall Street, a place where it has been known a bright fellow can do well following a system formulated by Charles H. Dow, editor of the Wall Street Journal from 1889 to 1902: “ Buy low,” advised Dow, “and sell high.”
In only two years in Trenton, Governor Phil is credited with introducing a unique style of governance in dealing with the scandal and controversy we have grown accustomed to in our state capitol. As it was explained by Charles Stile, the dean of the State House press in his “Political Stile” column (NorthJersey.com/USA Today Network):
Express shock and disgust about the latest revelation, hire a consultant or panel to investigate the issue, have them write a report calling for reform—and fuggedaboutit.
Our Phil has not yet reached the national prominence of
that other Phil, Punxsutawney Phil, the iconic groundhog of Pennsylvania, but his brilliant conduct during the Vaccine Distribution Crisis of 2020–21 may make him a household name in the world of science, along with the hydroxychloroquine and injecting disinfectants.
New Jersey is not a state famous for “Jumping the Line,” a favorite sport in New York, from what we hear, played by the rich, well-connected and crafty managing to get vaccinations. Whatever regulations are in effect in our neighboring state, it seems to have as many holes as Swiss cheese.
Nor is our state like Rhode Island where the words “I Know a Guy” are engraved in the state seal (in Latin), or so I am told.
Jumping the Line, in all its mutations, is a disgusting practice, reprehensible, abhorrent, immoral, unpatriotic behavior, something we would never do in New Jersey. Line jumpers should be arrested!
Our former governor, His Rotundity, Chris Christie, would have said to the impatient, “Shut up, and sit down until your number is called.” Now we wait for our turn, knowing our current governor with that fine Wall Street mind has set up a data base guaranteeing fair and equitable distribution of vaccine, should it ever become available as the Trump administration Operation Warp Speed turned into the speed of a snail.
Murphy’s Phase 1a included front line troops in the war against the virus, health care workers, hospital employees, nursing home residents who made up 40 % of the death toll. Phase 1b listed senior citizens and the immune-compromised, including my wife and I among other Ninetysomethings.
The Murphy List was a thing of beauty with only one problem.
Somehow, Governor Phil or his crack data team failed to create a unified appointment system, neglecting to link the master state list with the distribution sites. To get an appointment you had to be listed on the sites where the vaccine would be distributed, hundreds of Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite Aid and ShopRite locations.
Not so bad, if you didn’t mind spending hours on the phone or computer. Phone lines were usually jammed and computers fritzed out from over load.
You had to go all over the web every day with the computers asking the same stupid questions as the last time; it had no memory of previous visits. And then they told you there are no appointments.
Some of our Northern New Jersey neighbors were able to brag about having made 700 phone calls before they would score an appointment at a site some three miles away from Philadelphia.
Or they could take a shot in the dark and try showing up in Paterson.
From time to time, the rare vaccine arrived in our state, like it was the serum being rushed to Nome, Alaska, a plot line in our childhood melodramas. Paterson, a city 23.7 miles southwest from my town is our Nome. They always seemed to have drugs in Paterson, which are democratically dispensed first come, first served, regardless of category.
Senior citizens from our town had taken the opportunity to stand for hours in pre-dawn freezing lines outside a Paterson high school without portable toilets to score a shot. Always there was the chance the last vaccine went into the arm of the one in front of you. “The situation is very fluid,” the mayor of Paterson has explained about supply.
Those who have made the pre-dawn trek suggested bringing along a security guard for added peace of mind.
Well, Team Murphy only had a year to figure out a system. It was working as efficiently as searching for hot concert tickets.
As if that wasn’t enough of a thrill, Gov. Murphy then decided to conduct a scientific experiment.
What would happen, the hypothesis of the Murphy study asked, if you added smokers and the obese to Phase1b group?
With all the humanity learned at Goldman Sachs, Governor Phil with the stroke of a pen added an estimated 3 million smokers and over-eaters of any age to the 1.2 million seniors and other immunity-compromised waiting patiently. Do the math! Almost anyone could now get a vaccination, (no documentation required).
The Murphy experiment raised a number of questions. Would it enhance your chances if you started smoking again? I had a 50 year-old antique pack of Camels I could crack open—cough, cough—and a box of Dunkin’ donuts waiting in the freezer for an emergency.
Would the vaccine shots be awarded to those on the waiting lists alphabetically or in what we used to call “size places?”
Would the governor with a heart as big as all outdoors next add anti-maskers to his Phase 1b pool?
What else could possibly go wrong with Murphy’s Law?
Nevertheless, Gov. Phil (What Was I Thinking?) Murphy’s scientific study was already a great success. It proved beyond reasonable doubt it is now as hard to get a shot as winning the New Jersey Lottery.
And so it goes…
February 23, 2021
Marvin Kitman is a leading member of the Northern New Jersey School of Literary Criticism. His next book is “The Christie Chronicles,” 54 episodes of which are accessible at marvinkitman.com.