Re: Rhode Island’s Retrograde Fiscal Culture

Andrew puts his post about Rhode Island’s fiscal position relative to its neighbors in the “Rhode Island Economy” category, but the issue is at least as political and cultural as it is economic. Over years of patchwork research, I’ve found that Rhode Island always tops Massachusetts in all the wrong ways. It takes bad or questionable policies, or policies that require moderation, and goes a bit further with them.

  • The process for becoming a master tradesman, for example, is longer and more arduous, providing incentive to conduct such business in other states.
  • As I recall from personal experience, teacher certification is just a bit more difficult to maintain and the inducement for those already in the club is a bit stronger, providing incentive (if not a requirement) for the young and innovative to ply that trade out of state.
  • The welfare net is somewhat more generous (and tolerant of delinquency), providing incentive for the non-productive to move here.

Throw in the prominence of such “passing through” industries as tourism and higher education (which, I’ve a feeling, generate “residents” with minimal personal investment in the state), and you’ve got a state heading in all the wrong directions at once.

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