Re: Yorke: We’re Screwed
I’m afraid I have to say that I don’t share Dan Yorke’s optimism. I’m coming to believe that the silent (read: apathetic) majority that many of us have assumed to exist is dwindling toward mythdom.
I’ve been beating this drum regularly, of late, but allow me to repeat: Almost 30,000 fewer Rhode Islanders lived in households making over three times the poverty level in 2006 than 2005. That’s almost 3% of the total population in the latter year. I’ll be very surprised if data shows a reversal — even a cessation, even a slowdown — of this trend in 2007. And despite all of the gaps in information, I’d be willing to wager that those leaving (or preparing to do so) are not those on the benefit side of Rhode Island’s suicide-bender system.
In other words, if there does indeed remain any hope that Rhode Island doesn’t have to hit rock-hard bottom for change to come, it’s a race. What remains of the fleeing “outsiders” has to be joined by one or more of the RI Democrats’ strangle-hold constituencies, and unless readers have a sunnier view of human nature than mine, that isn’t likely to happen until the General Assembly runs out of ways to plug holes.
And if the legislators don’t make huge changes this year, I’ll lose all faith in the ability of reasonableness, or just plain sanity, to guide their decisions. Everything might be on the table. Dan predicts a revenue anticipation bond. Others have predicted the sale of the state lottery. Basically, anything that you can imagine that will provide the GA with a quick infusion of cash — no matter how detrimental to the long-term fiscal health of the state — might be on the table and will be increasingly likely as each year passes without some magic change in the state’s fortune.
Meanwhile, taxpayers will continue to leave, widening the hole that must be plugged.
The question of the years to come will be how creative the General Assembly can be in mortgaging our state’s future. My depressing gut feeling is that the parasites will make it through Yorke’s 2010 deadline.