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Yash Gupta
Business School Dean

Yash Gupta

Yash Gupta is Professor and Dean of The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

Christie is taking a short-sighted approach

Q: New Jersey's new Republican governor, Chris Christie, has forced cutbacks in pay for teachers and superintendents, capped local property taxes, cut pension benefits for state workers, canceled popular public works projects and closed a $11 billion state budget deficit. Yet in spite of these highly controversial initiatives and a blunt speaking style, his popularity in a heavily Democratic state is rising. What is the lesson here for other political leaders?

The implication here is that popularity is a sign of leadership. That isn't necessarily the case, and quite often it isn't. We've seen many politicians-too many, in fact--who have based their actions on the latest polls and have attempted, vainly, to pass it off as leadership.

Governor Christie may deserve credit for addressing New Jersey's budget problems, and he may be scoring points in certain quarters with his various cuts. However, he appears to be taking a short-sighted approach that could cause his state harm in the long run.

Consider the impact on education, for example. For the leader of a state, providing a first-rate public education is virtually a moral obligation, and I can't help but wonder how the young people-the future--of New Jersey will be affected by these cuts. Doesn't the governor worry that weakening the state university system will send many of the state's brightest young students to schools in other states? Perhaps never returning to New Jersey, and taking with them their ideas, their energy, their incomes (and income taxes)? It seems especially disconcerting to see this happen at a time when we need more educated people for the global, knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.

Any time a political leader sells off the future to score political points, he or she is not exhibiting leadership. That's merely tapping into the current anger of the electorate; it's putting emotion ahead of reason. That's not what true leaders do. They're supposed to help people envision a better future, not just deliver quick gratification today.

By Yash Gupta

 |  October 12, 2010; 4:24 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Government leadership , Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: What can we learn from Christie? | Next: Four lessons from Christie


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Christie's policies are only short-sighted if you assume he has any interest in even maintaining public education and an effective public sector. If you assume he wishes to destroy public education and any effective public sector, his policies are designed for the long-term. It has become evident that the goal of right wing Repubicanism is the latter. CATO anarchism has taken over the current Republican party.

Posted by: twm1 | October 15, 2010 8:41 PM
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My god. I cringe even more at my tuition bill every time I read this ignorance. Please stop.

Your own solution to lack of funds for education, and I have an email from you to prove it, is to go begging to the government. You have had to raise tuition over and over claiming that it is competitive with top schools yet your product is inferior an unaccredited. You scalped the part time students to pay for the new facilities for the Global MBA. No shame?

You write a column on leadership and have the audacity to criticize Gov. Christie? You are right, popularity does not equate to leadership. That is why there will be a huge change this November in response to Mr. Popularity's ignorant economic policies.

Posted by: asaelens | October 14, 2010 6:19 PM
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all you dems and libs say education is a priority...
but what good is education when there are no jobs...
and by the time these children graduate, all those jobs will be outsourced to india...

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 13, 2010 11:40 AM
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Governor Christie is doing an excellent job. His dramatic announcement of the cancellation of the Hudson tunnels brought the Federal government back to the bargaining table and no doubt he will ensure that it is not New Jersey which will be stuck with the inevitable cost overruns (likely to be massive). His education proposals seem reasonable and although decried by New Jersey's powerful teacher unions, are clearly resonating with the public.

I suspect he will be a frontrunner for VP in 2012 and if O bomb her is reelected, will be a major GOP candidate for the presidential nod in 2016.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | October 13, 2010 11:04 AM
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Mr. Gupta could you clarify what cuts in education you mean? Sounds like you prefer hyperbole to facts.

People who can't stand a Republican doing a good job keep trying to claim he cut a billion dollars out of the budget but that is a falsehood. The billion they speak of was a one time federal government gift, Governor Christie increased the states school budget by 200 million dollars; that is not a cut that is an addition to the budget.

The only cut he made was asking the teachers to take a two year pay freeze and pay 1% of their medical plan; both are reasonable requests refused by the unions who would rather cut jobs than not get a raise in a 0% inflation time period. I don't think Governor Christie was the unreasonable one in that case and neither does the voting public of New Jersey.

Posted by: flonzy1 | October 13, 2010 8:49 AM
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