Rhode Island Isn’t Big on Reinvention
So Rhode Island is hemoraging its young and ambitious citizens. That’s not really news, but its mention gives us an excuse to consider our state in broad terms.
Any state-sized entity will have a broad middle for which life simply goes on — with more or less difficulty — whatever the trends along the all-important margins. But as a general proposition, it strikes me as characteristic of Rhode Island to enable policies that drive out the young and the entrepreneurial, while attracting those who will surely be state-dependent (i.e., welfare recipients, in one form or another). As a matter of simple logic, then, it follows that the movers and shakers who remain will be those who’ve found a way to capitalize on the ill health of the state, whether directly or indirectly. That would seem likely to result in a self-reinforcing downward spiral.
According to University of Rhode Island economist Leonard Lardaro:
With our budget deficits, the fact that our population is declining and the fact that we know our tax and cost structure is not competitive, Rhode Island needs to reinvent itself. This is not the time for piecemeal answers.
So what do you think? How about we “conserve” huge swaths of land, dictate a $10 per hour minimum wage and non-discrimination rental status for felons, layer regulations (as opposed to, say, consumer choices) on healthcare by government fiat, and finance our legislators’ progressive education? Okay, fine. You drive a hard bargain, but we’ll keep allowing public-sector employees (such as teachers) to unionize.
If that’s not a formula for success, then I’m not a native Rhode Islander…