A lot can be said about New Jersey; people either love it or hate it, and the jokes abound on either side. I’ve been known to jump on the Jersey-bashing bandwagon every now and then, but I was pleasantly surprised by a recent New York Times article that I found to be very Mockingbird appropriate. The article, In New Jersey, Ideal Conditions for Corruption, came on the heels of a vast corruption bust involving various state politicians, mayors, and rabbis and takes a look at just why it is that NJ seems to be so infected with scandal. Long story short, it turns out that people in the Dirty Jerz really understand Original Sin! From the NY Times:

Over the last decade alone, nearly 150 of the state’s senators, mayors, county executives and council members have been arrested and charged with leaping at the chance to engage in this lowest-common-denominator crime, at times for laughably small sums of money. But the history goes back much further than that. “Everyone says it couldn’t happen to them, until it happens,” said Robert C. Botti, who became mayor of Union City in 1982 after his predecessor was sentenced to seven years for seeking bribes for school construction contracts.

It turns out Mr. Botti then rigged bids for janitorial contracts and ended up in prison for 18 months himself.

It wasn’t always like this, proud New Jersey residents say. But, in reality, it always was. As far back as the 1870s, a grand jury in Hudson County indicted two police commissioners accused of awarding contracts to fictitious groups. And by the 1970s, fraud, extortion and kickbacks had become as common as traffic jams on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The examples go on and justifications are given, but in the end, New Jersey residents seem less than surprised.

Many New Jersey residents are less impressed. In interviews around the state, several simply shrugged at the latest indictments, the third, fourth, or fifth wave in their lives. “I don’t know if I wasn’t surprised because it’s New Jersey or because it’s politicians,” said Cynthia Rose, 30, a makeup artist who lives in Jersey City. “I hate to be so jaded,” she added.

In Hoboken, where Mayor Peter Cammarano III is accused of accepting a $25,000 bribe just weeks after taking office, Stu Buchbinder, 30…predicted that Mr. Cammarano’s replacement would be equally susceptible. “Will they take bribes? Probably.” He paused. “Possibly they’ll be smarter about it and wait longer,” he said.

It is no news to these people that we are powerless to change/save ourselves by our own merit. Jersey jokes aside, sin is inherent in human nature and and at times it seems there is no other way. Reading this article, I’m reminded of the AA parable about the man who is addicted to jaywalking and though he is injured over and over again, can’t stop until one day, he’s hit by a fire engine. Or Romans 7. Lucky for us (and New Jersey), “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”