Maybe Your State Representatives Want You to Be Poor

It’s called “the Curley effect,” according to an absolutely must-read column by Tom Coyne of RIPolicyAnalysis:

The authors note that “in his six mayoral races, between 1913 and 1951, James Curley represented the poorest and most ethnically distinct of Boston’s Irish. The city’s Brahmins always despised him because of his policies, his corruption, and his rhetoric, and always worked to block his victory. The probability that Curley would win in Boston was[enhanced by] increasing in the share of poor Irish Bostonians, and decreasing in the share of rich Bostonians of English descent.”
“Unsurprisingly, he tried to turn Boston into a city that would elect him. We call this strategy — increasing the relative size of one’s political base through distortionary, wealth-reducing policies — the Curley effect.”

After reading Coyne’s list of current legislation, it’s not hard to see why one might be justified in concluding that “the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly have laid down a clear challenge to all those who oppose them: Either seize their power or leave Rhode Island.” When it comes to Rhode Island’s aristocracy, even citizens who benefit from payoffs of one kind or another have to ask themselves whether Rhode Island is our state or theirs.

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