Observation of an RI Naif

I don’t know whether it was something that he’d recently read or a memory sparked by something that I said, but during a telephone conversation with my Jersey Boy father last night, he said (paraphrasing), “Rhode Island is essentially a playground for the rich, and the rich don’t need a middle class.” The point being, I suppose, that circumstances in this state will have to go beyond intolerable — beyond the point at which any rational citizenry would insist on change — before change will even be conceivable.
The frightening thing is that the few native Rhode Islanders with whom I was able to share the commentary today replied, “Sounds about right.”
Not surprisingly, the context for my father’s explication was my continued interest in staying in this state. My reply, when whittled down to its essence, was that I find a certain attraction to contributing to the thorn, the buzz, the hiss, the whiff of truth that this playground comes at an unacceptable cost.

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Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
14 years ago

I agree in part, but disagree in part.
Many of the “rich” in Rhode Island aren’t Rhode Island residents, they have second or third homes here, so they don’t pay income taxes here.
In turn, while they may not like the excessive property taxes on those homes, their own cost-benefit analysis of fighting that circumstance dictates that it isn’t worth the bother, for the property taxes eat a relatively small portion of their income / assets (as compared to the huge hit suffered by fixed income seniors and the middle class).
For anyone with the means, Rhode Island is a great place to have a second home … but is a terrible place to be a legal resident and working in the private sector, i.e., not on the public tit as an employee or welfare recipient.

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

Will the last middle-classer to leave the state please be kind and hang the “Closed” sign? God knows it won’t be me.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
14 years ago

>>Will the last middle-classer to leave the state please be kind and hang the “Closed” sign? God knows it won’t be me.
But don’t forget to place next to it the sign that says: “Welcome. Open for Welfare” … en espanol, of course.

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

“…on the public tit as an employee or welfare recipient.”
Thank you.
” …they may not like the excessive property taxes on those homes, their own cost-benefit analysis of fighting that circumstance dictates that it isn’t worth the bother, …”
Nor, because they do not interact with local or state gov’t, do they see the quality of Dem candidates who get elected. Short-sighted, immature, unprofessional, ill-informed. Attend a Town Council or School Committee meeting and cringe when a Dem official opens his/her mouth. Embarrassing – to the party, to the municipality, to the voters.
In Rhode Island, Republican and unaffiliated candidates bring so much more to the table.
Obviously, however, lots of resident voters are not interacting with their gov’t, either. It’s not possible they would knowingly reelect these … er, people in such high numbers.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
14 years ago

>>Nor, because they do not interact with local or state gov’t, do they see the quality of Dem candidates who get elected. Short-sighted, immature, unprofessional, ill-informed. Attend a Town Council or School Committee meeting and cringe when a Dem official opens his/her mouth. Embarrassing – to the party, to the municipality, to the voters
The “Public Sector Peter Principle”?
Those who don’t have the necessary wherewithal to compete in the private sector are attracted to “public service” … an arena in which they’ll appear to be more “important” than they could ever hope to achieve in the private sector?
Perhaps this is why Democrats have no shortage of candidates … while the average Republican is loathe to run for public office (for they have the wherewithal to compete in the private sector).
We all rise to the level of our incompetence … perhaps those inclined to be Democrats intuitively realize that they can rise higher in the public sector than in the private sector.

Chuck
14 years ago

I dunno, Justin, seems to me NJ isn’t too far afield from RI culture and politics. We live in a fallen condition – it’s just that the Northeast is more fallen than the rest of the country, and RI’s right smack in it.
We’ve lost a lot of good people in RIover the years who left for greener pastures in lower taxed, and beautiful states like NM, UT, FL, SC, and on and on.
I say we stay and fight. What the heck.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Chuck,
Having grown up there, I keep a keen eye to nativism on my part with respect to New Jersey, but I must say that New Jersey’s rut just doesn’t strike me as so deep as Rhode Island’s.
Heretofore, I’ve been taking as my dark consolation that Rhode Island would bottom out. But sometimes I wonder: is there a bottom to the unholy alliance of the ultra rich, public organized labor, and welfare statists?
An answer of “no” isn’t irredeemable, but it does suggest that our job — as progress-driven conservatives — involves forcing change, rather than just waiting for change to become a necessity.

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

I’m not sure Rhode Island is any more corrupt than other places. It’s just that it’s all so close and so personal here: your high school classmate becomes the kingmaker state rep; your kid’s Little League coach is the high-powered consultant who usually gets his way; the guy passing the collection plate at your church does arson for hire (and is protected from prosecution by the assistant AG who stole your girlfriend when you were 17).
Rhode Island: the world’s largets small town.

Will
Will
14 years ago

No, Rhode Island is probably the most corrupt state, surpassing new Jersey and even Louisiana — everyone has to be #1 at something, right? I don’t know how one quantifies it exactly, but we certainly must have more of “it” per square mile than anywhere else.
People who can afford to leave here have left already, or have done the next best thing, which is to declare their primary residency in another state, and stay here just under half the year. They get many the benefits, such as the beaches, bay, etc., without the many significant drawbacks. If more of Rhode Island’s middle class had that same option, I’m confident they would take it in a heartbeat. I don’t know if our demise is inevitable, but if we don’t change course, we’re certainly heading that way.
As Ronald Reagan once said, “I don’t believe in a fate that will happen no matter what we do — but I do believe in a fate that will happen, if we do nothing.”

Marc Comtois
14 years ago

To unrelated notes prompted by the above:
1) “Progress-driven conservatives” = progcons (or Progress-cons)? Now wouldn’t that oxymoronish term just confound all handy “labeling” attempts?
2) More seriously, this post and comments makes it sound like we could be headed toward something like “Providence, D.C.” Yikes!

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
14 years ago

>>”Providence, D.C.”
By any chance, does that stand for: “Providence, District of Corruption”?
All of the comparisons to NJ are apt. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU READ THE FOLLOWING, FOR THE PARALLELS ARE UNCANNY:
The Mob That Whacked Jersey: How rapacious government withered the Garden State
http://www.city-journal.org/html/16_2_new_jersey.html

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

Excerpt:
“But today Jersey is a cautionary example of how to cripple a thriving state. Increasingly muscular public-sector unions have won billions in outlandish benefits and wages from compliant officeholders. A powerful public education cartel has driven school spending skyward, making Jersey among the nation’s biggest education spenders, even as student achievement lags.”
Ragin’, this article is mislabeled. Clearly, it is about Rhode Island, not New Jersey.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

I don’t think Rhode Islanders are more corrupt than any others.
Let’s not forget, a recent governor of New Jersey had to resign after making his gay lover the head of NJ homeland security, a position which for which he was a.) unqualified and b.) couldn’t even get the necessary security clearance to do his job.
I agree with Rhody. Much of the corruption stems from dishonest people doing things that go unchecked because other people trust them. This is more pervasive in RI because it’s such a small state where people know one another.
Take perhaps the biggest scandal in the past 50 years, the RISDIC crisis. Joe Mollicone got away with things he never would have in other states because people knew his family and thought they could trust him rather than closely examine bank records.
Remember Todd LaScola? Any time someone says, “I’m 25 years old and have already made a million dollars on my own”, don’t you think it might be worthwhile to investigate whether or not that is actually the case before forking over money to the guy and accepting him as legitimate?

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

“I don’t think Rhode Islanders are more corrupt than any others. ”
How many states have you lived in?

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
14 years ago

>>I agree with Rhody. Much of the corruption stems from dishonest people doing things that go unchecked because other people trust them. This is more pervasive in RI because it’s such a small state where people know one another.
I don’t buy the “because we’re so small” excuse that we’ve been hearing for so many years.
It’s just the opposite.
Because we’re small, and everyone tends to know everyone else, there should be LESS corruption here.
After all, a NY or CA legislator may hardly have even met many of their peers.
Here, the proximity should inhibit officeholders from being corrupt (and betraying their friends and acquaintances).
That RI – and particularly the Democrat Party in RI – have such a decades-long history of corruption demonstrates that DESPITE our small size RI indeed has a pervasive culture of corruption.
The Democrats seem to have the attitude that corruption is “par for the course” – but if you get caught we’ll just pretend that you never existed.
For instance, the silence of the Democrats in the General Assembly regarding Celona / Irons has been deafening … almost as if they never existed.

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

Part of our problem is the whole “They’re all corrupt…but not MY guy,” a phrase probably used at many senior high-rises where a pot of coffee and some doughnuts are persuasive arguments.
Unfortunately, as a North Providence resident, I don’t get to vote on the junk West Warwick sends to the General Assembly (my town sends plenty of garbage to the Statehouse, too, but unfortunately, I’m in the minority). Getting rid of corruption of this state requires looking at the big picture, which more voters need to do (i.e., I’m never voting for Patrick Kennedy again after his robocalls for Mollis). In primaries, I like to know who the candidates are supporting for the leadership positions before I vote – that deserves attention alongside the legislative issues.
Ah, the price of representative democracy.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

2 and 1 other country

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

” … but if you get caught we’ll just pretend that you never existed.
For instance, the silence of the Democrats in the General Assembly regarding Celona / Irons has been deafening … almost as if they never existed.”
Didn’t see it. Not one of us. Entitled to a presumption of innocence. Anyway, look at Eddy DiPrete. So it must be okay.
Gotta go. Busy. Clients out the wazoo …
Bill Murphy

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