The Old In-and-Out in Rhode Island
Subbing for Dan Yorke on WPRO 630AM, Matt Allen has been talking about Rhode Island’s first place ranking among states for lost population, which Marc investigated this morning.
I called in to the radio during my commute to mention my finding back in September (and my related Providence Journal op-ed) that, on top of the state’s losing citizens, thousands of people in Rhode Island fell below the twice-poverty line. As it turns out, my day raising and sheathing a roof by the water in the cold misty drizzle affected my memory, because I guessed (from the road) that the high-end drop was actually about the same as the total leaving the state, but the actual number was 21,637 fewer people earning more than twice the poverty level.
There is almost an exact match between the 30,577 increase of those making 1–1.99 times the poverty rate plus the 3,144 fewer people in the state with the 12,084 decrease in people under the poverty level plus the 21,637 decrease in people earning over two times the poverty rate. The last chart of my September post shows that the biggest drop was actually the roughly 25,000 fewer people making over five times poverty level, followed by the nearly 15,000 fewer people making between three and four times poverty. The bottom line is that the productive are being dragged down and driven out in order to achieve a much less significant improvement at the bottom of the scale.
As I pulled into my driveway, Matt had shifted the topic slightly and asked listeners what one law would change their mind about leaving. My response is that my daily urges to leave Rhode Island might be dispelled were the RI government to pass a law requiring members of the General Assembly to pay for any deficits at the end of the year out of their own pockets.
I think that, at the very least, would give our elected officials a sense of the magnitude of the problem