Projo Editorial Board to Most of America: We Are Better than You Are

The Projo welcomes Rhode Islanders back to the first work-day of the new year with a bit of regional jingoism that is equal parts inaccurate and ugly. The gist of a Tuesday unsigned editorial is that New England and the Pacific Northwest are so superior to the rest of the country, they need not care what the rest of the country thinks…

If you think of the United States as the upper half of a human body, New England and the Pacific Northwest are its shoulders. And in an economic sense, they are….
Politicians in the South and the heartland often forget this. They sometimes denigrate the northern East and West coasts as cul-de-sacs: picturesque places of little import. They are so wrong.
America’s two shoulders need not worry about what others think of them. New England and the Pacific Northwest have the best social indicators [and] the country’s upper corners are where much of the money is made.
Now, if you’re going to insult most of the country that you live in, you should have a few facts to back up the points you make, but this editorial doesn’t present the supporting facts — because they don’t exist.
The unsigned editorial asserts that…
[New England and the Pacific Northwest] both maintain socially liberal traditions of helping the less-well-off, while staying out of people’s bedrooms,
but there is no credible consensus that New England is a special place when it comes to helping the “less-well-off”. The Boston Foundation recently conducted a study of state-by-state charitable giving adjusted for local cost-of-living and tax burdens. (In large measure, the study is a response to the Generosity Index, published by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, which consistently ranks New England states near the bottom in charitable giving). Though the Boston Foundation resists the concept of “ranking” states, a few state-level and regional-level conclusions are obvious.
Connecticut is the only New England state to make the Boston Foundation’s top group of charitable givers in the most recent data (from 2002). Massachusetts also does well in the study, but not quite as well as the Southern states of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Vermont and New Hampshire rate near the bottom of the study. It’s pretty clear that a superior New England tradition of “helping the less well off” with charitable giving does not exist.
The Boston Foundation’s charitable giving metric places Rhode Island in the middle of the pack. States most similar to Rhode Island are Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arizona and Montana. When it comes to charity, RI has a lot more in common with the Deep South than it does with the rest of southern New England.
The editorial makes a second important assertion of questionable basis in reality…
The Northeast and the Northwest are both economic powerhouses, burdened with paying for much of the country’s spending.
Again, there are basic facts available which counter this assertion. According to statistics compiled by the Tax Foundation, 3 of the 6 New England states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire — are “donor” states that pay out more in Federal income taxes than they receive. The other 3 — Maine, Vermont, and, yes, Rhode Island — are “beneficiary” states that receive more in Federal taxes than they pay. There is no pattern of New England superiority in matters of fiscal responsibility, and Rhode Islanders, in particular, are not paying for Sun Belt spending. Rhode Island gets all of its Federal taxes back, and then some.
Having twice taken a sloppy approach towards the facts, the editorial then delves into the realm of sloppy philosophizing…
[T]ax cuts engineered by the Sunbelt politicians will, ironically, leave more money up north for local use. After all, the country’s upper corners are where much of the money is made.
There is nothing “ironic” about the fact that Federal tax cuts allow people to keep their money closer to home. The core of the argument for reducing both the Federal tax burden and Federal spending is that money is spent most effectively when it is spent by the people closest to problems and not by remote bureaucrats. Now that the liberal bloc of Projo editorial writers bloc has come to realize this, will they be consistent and advocate that Federal spending be cut so that more money can stay closer to home?

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john b
john b
18 years ago

This editorial says it all without having to say it: RI is a national wonder.
If not for winning the geographical lottery, we would be a far cry from the ‘shoulders’ of the nation. From my perspective, we’re closer to being the Appendix of the nation than the shoulders: a perplexing organ of unknown origin or use, long past being a functioning, let alone vital organ; small in nature and importance, predisposed to festering in its own venom, and if removed hardly missed.
And speaking of the projo’s editorials, I think we should also bring attention to today’s edition which highlights the ineffectiveness of our state’s AG in prosecuting “big fish” and the two standards of law that exist in this state: namely that of the politically-connected and everyone else.

18 years ago

I stopped laughing, so now I can write.
Remember, Bank of Boston, Fleet Bank and RI Hospital Trust? Yup, New England’s great financial institutions are now headquartered in North Carolina.
Anyone take a look to see where population and job growth is occurring? It’s not in the so-called “shoulders” of the nation!
New England rested on its laurels for so long thinking it was the center of the universe–remember when Boston was truly the ‘Hub’. Well, guess what? The rest of the country has caught up.
Education? Still some of the best in the world, but the Carolina Research Triangle also produces some of the best science anywhere in the world, challenging Harvard and MIT.
It just amazes me that anyone could have written this editorial. They obviously did not look at any of the trends of basic economic indicators in the various regions.

18 years ago

Propose putting their beloved container port where the Barrington town beach now lies and see how fast Bobby, Eddie and the boys change their tune on that project.
It’s the ProJo editorial board.
‘Nuff said!! 😉

Maggie's Farm
18 years ago

Thursday Morning Links

Providence Journal claims New Englanders and Pacific Northwesterners better than other Americans. Anchor Rising questions their "reasoning."A Citizenship Test: ex-donkChess, Appellate Briefs, Newton, and Creation. PejmanAlthouse on DionLynn Swan

18 years ago

This will probably fall on deaf ears, but your well documented argument is pretty flawed. You contend that the ProJo is insulting half the nation with its editorial that praises the “corners” of the nation. I’ll agree that the editorial was somewhat short-sighted, but mostly because the writer fell in love with this idea of talking about the corners of the nation. If the writer had taken their focus off of geography, and instead focused on the states that share the philosophies of those states, the editorial would have made far more sense. Unfortunately, that argument would not have been nearly so easy for you to poke holes in – just look at your supporting evidence. For example, the Boston Foundation’s numbers, adjusted for cost-of-living and tax burdens, rank states on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being the best. The six states getting the best rating were Connecticut, D.C., New Jersey, New York, and Utah. With the exception of Utah, all of these states (and the District) were comfortably “blue.” Looking at the many states that got the worst rating, we get Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The first thing you will notice is the size of the list – almost half of the union ranks as 4s, the lowest rating. You will also notice that the list is purple, but is redder than it is blue. The conclusion that we can draw from this is the majority of the union is miserly, but four of the five most generous states are states that share socially liberal traditions of helping the less-well-off. The same rings true when we analyze the tax… Read more »

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