Affording Rhode Island
Perhaps I take rhetoric such as Bernie Beaudreau’s in the Providence Journal a bit too personally:
Low-income Rhode Islanders register little in the present tax debate, except for the false promise that there is a connection between tax breaks for the rich and more bread for the poor. “The flat tax will reduce poverty,” we’re told.
They offer no proof for this assertion. The tax proposal does indeed promise to take tens of millions of dollars out of state revenues at a time of budget deficits and when investments are needed to meet the basic food, health and shelter needs of our people. That’s just plain wrong.
As a matter of decency, we all should recognize that everyone in our community should at least have enough to eat, a place to sleep at night and health care before we choose to further enrich the relatively few who live already abundantly. This is a fundamental principle of our great nation.
I am no stranger to the choice between writing checks for housing or for food. At several key points of my life, when doing no more nor less than looking for work, the state of Rhode Island has let me down: out of college, when no longer able to stand the commute to Framingham, Massachusetts, when children required me to work additional hours, and when only partially employed for a year. Mr. Beaudreau complains of Rhode Island’s poor having to work two jobs, well, depending on how the term is defined, I’ve worked between three and five jobs for the past fourteen months, and largely because of the accumulating debt by which I’ve survived in this state for almost a decade, if I can’t maintain 80+ hour workweeks for the foreseeable future, I’ll have no choice but to leave, tearing my children from their large extended family.
For all his lamentations about others’ lack of proof, Beaudreau offers not a single economic fact himself. Instead, he tosses around his own class-warfare assertions and gives absolutely no indication of empathy for those who are struggling to stay out of his food lines. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve heard a single member of the charity industry spare a word of understanding for anybody who is feeling the crunch of this state’s economy, but has not yet been crushed by it.
Well, to Mr. Beaudreau and all of his fellow singers in the choir of Give’em Gimme, I suggest that, before they ask where the plight of the rich leaves “the rest of us,” they ponder to whom they’re speaking and what changes to the local government might answer our needs. Cheap lines about “year-round golf” are certain to yield diminishing returns.
Surely a man pulling upwards of $90,000 a year has the time and wherewithal to research economics for himself. Perhaps he can devote his next vacation (a privilege that I haven’t enjoyed for just about seven years) to a search for a bottomless well, and if he doesn’t find one, maybe he can come back home and ask “the rest of us” how our lives can be enriched.