There is a lot of talk about privilege as of late, but I do not hear anyone talking about economic privilege. 

The truth is, if you can afford to stay home for several months to mitigate the risk of contracting a virus that means you are very fortunate because you can feed yourself with your savings after having no income for three months. And yes, if your biggest qualm after spending three months in quarantine is looking a bit disheveled with an ‘80s mullet that you promised yourself you would never grow again, then you are in that category, too. 

But the reality for many in New Jersey is that they live paycheck-to-paycheck, relying on income from their own business or a small business that employs them. Some people would risk a chance at contracting coronavirus if it means being able to afford food. When Governor Phil Murphy closed businesses, at the stroke of a pen, he was protecting those with the most fortunate economic circumstances and put those who are not as fortunate at risk of starvation or homelessness. 

Sign Up for Westfield Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

When New Jersey needed leadership during a crisis, we instead got a governor who plays czar with our livelihoods and panders to his political proponents. Phil Murphy opens big businesses like Costo that have thousands of customers, yet closes your convenience store that sees only a handful of customers per hour. When people gathered in protest at such a hypocritical executive order, Phil Murphy punished them with fines, yet he faced impunity after attending a Black Lives Matter protest right here in our town

Although it’s clear that decades of neglect of police reform led to the harassment, assault, and untimely death of George Floyd, it’s also clear that economic policy created by and meant for the most fortunate in our society has disproportionate impacts on the most vulnerable among us. The man for whom Phil Murphy protested, George Floyd, lost his security job because of COVID-19, which dried up his savings and ultimately caused his fatal encounter with a police officer. So, I do not want to hear Governor Phil Murphy pretend that he cares about black lives when his coronavirus executive orders caused one of the largest black unemployment rates in our state’s history. 

Don't be fooled by Phil Murphy’s lip service. He claims that he is a governor for the common man, but he only governs for the privileged.

Anthony Pericolo
Westfield, NJ