Tuesday, April 03, 2012

New Jersey: All Your Gift Cards Are Belong To Us!

Hey, Chris Christie, you f*cked up.  I realize the state is in a financial bind, but seizing the property and capital of private citizens based on the claim that they didn't use it fast enough is unconstitutional, reprehensible, and immoral.  And it has resulted in a sadly predictable outcome, and one familiar to any long-time citizen of New Jersey:

The state will soon begin requiring gift card sellers to obtain ZIP codes from buyers so it can claim the value of cards not redeemed after two years. At least one major seller, American Express, has pulled its cards from shelves rather than attempt to comply.

There is no way American Express Co. can ensure compliance with cards not bought directly from AmEx, company spokeswoman Vanessa McCutchen told The Associated Press. So the company began pulling gift cards in New Jersey last week.

By Monday, there were none left at groceries, pharmacies or convenience stores in the state. The only way for New Jersey residents to buy AmEx gift cards, which can be used practically anywhere, is directly from the company.

The state saw unused gift cards, travelers' checks and money orders as potential new revenue sources and projected the state could get $79 million in the 2011 fiscal year.... New Jersey appears to be the only state trying to collect data at purchases time to help collect unused gift card balances..

Unbelievable.  How dare the state determine for any private citizen how long they have to spend their money  before it is confiscated?  I personally know plenty of people - kids, especially - who ask for gift cards during holiday and birthday season, so that they may save up for a higher-priced item they might want (a laptop or a video-game system, in experience with my family members) but cannot afford.  And sometimes this may take two years.  Maybe longer.

And the government of New Jersey knows this, and is counting on this unbelievably short turnaround time to help them steal tens of millions of dollars from private citizens who are likely not even aware of these new restrictions. 

Hey punk!  You better steal that XBox 360, 'cause I ain't gonna let you save up for it...!

And of course, the inevitable result:  Businesses fleeing New Jersey, or refusing to come here, and additional burdens placed on retailers in an extremely fragile economy.

Ironically, it is Democratic lawmakers who are sponsoring a bill to overturn this escheat mandate by Chris Christie.  Ironically, escheat law was first established as a way for the crown or state to take control of property of persons who perished without rightful heirs.  New Jersey has perverted that, to mean the taking of rightful property from people still quite alive, who have different plans for it than the government.

A slippery slope from the KELO decision?  Maybe.  But I do know one thing: Chris Christie is gonna take the heat on this, and since he signed this into law, he owns it.  Time to get your fat ass out of Israel and back to Jersey pronto, before our economy (and your fortunes) go even further south...

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