By Harold V. Kane
The State of New Jersey is doing its utmost to fight off the ravages of Covid-19. Most of the efforts are being done voluntarily (social distancing) but other efforts are being done at the direction of the governor. Governor Philip Murphy, by edict, has closed most of the smaller retail establishments in the state. It’s obvious that with fixed costs and no revenue many of these establishments will not reopen. Murphy’s edicts “that you will close” do not seem to have any weight in law. The proprietors close because of fear of the local police or county sheriff paying them a visit. Using the threat of arrest, prosecution, and possibly, incarceration Murphy was wildly successful in getting the “little people” to toe his line.
Murphy may have had the best of intentions in closing the establishments but the reality is he took the livelihood away from thousands of citizens who want to do nothing more than to operate their establishments in a lawful manner. Amendment #5 of the US Constitution says “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
By taking way the livelihood of the proprietors for a public use (fighting Covid-19)Murphy has violated amendment #5 “taken for public use”. In effect Murphy owes the New Jersey business establishment a substantial sum of money as compensation for the taking of their properties and livelihood. No one expects Murphy to start writing checks to businesses, but there is a way that he could compensate them for this gross violation of amendment #5.
The proprietors could review their gross revenue from the same three month period in 2019 and use that as a base line. They could then use 20% of that amount as an adjustment to income on their NJ income taxes each year for five years. The exact method would need to be worked out but this would be a way for marginal businesses to stay in business and to help some that have gone to possibly coming back.
Eventually Murphy and the Democrat legislature are going to have to show their concern for the business community. This tax adjustment would be a good start.
Harold V. Kane of Monroe Township, NJ is a U.S. Navy Veteran and a retired telecom analyst.