Don Roach: Waking Up to Bakst’s Nightmare
In a recent column, M. Charles Bakst asks Rhode Islanders to “Wake up!” He opines:
Hello, Mr. Carcieri. Hello, Senate President Montalbano. Hello, House Speaker Murphy. Hello, rank-and-file lawmakers. Hello, prospective 2010 gubernatorial candidates Caprio, Chafee, Cicilline, Laffey, Lynch, Roberts
Can’t someone come up with solutions and put them across?
Not that I disagree that our state is in disarray, but for his positive remarks Bakst focuses his attention on much of what has contributed to our state’s downward spiral. For instance, he lauds Bishop Tobin for coming to the defense of low income, hard-working yet illegal immigrants, saying:
God bless Bishop Tobin and the other priests for speaking truth to power and denouncing the division, fear and disruption the raids have created. “As religious leaders concerned for our people, we would be negligent of our pastoral duties if we didn’t speak out,” they said.
Excuse me? Perhaps Bakst is unfamiliar with an economic theory that goes a little something like this: Businesses will pay the lowest wages that the marketplace will allow. Allow illegal immigrants to hold under-the-table jobs without recourse, and companies will pay them. This isn’t good for the overall health of the economy and can barely be called “good” for those low-wage workers. Consequently, the government is trying to stop it and hopes to make a statement that illegal immigration is not going to be tolerated in our state. Does anyone want to argue that an illegal labor is good for the RI economy?
Bakst also praises judge Patricia Hurst for her criticism of the governor’s (I told you Will) executive order, which would have increased the percentage government employees pay for their healthcare. At a time when local officials are asking us to pay higher property taxes and utility bills and not addressing the increasing cost of our grocery bills, I’d expect government workers also to feel a little bit of the pain that the average Rhode Islander is facing. I don’t expect nor want a judge to lambaste the governor for making a no-nonsense decision that, while hurting many workers in the short run, is a longterm policy change that should have been made ages ago. In other words, RI can no longer afford to subsidize its employees’ healthcare to such a degree.
In spirit, Bakst is right that Rhode Island needs to wake up, but as with many a teen victim in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, if you wake up to his world, you’re really not awake to the realities facing the state. Instead, you’re clinging to the hope that if you keep running down the same endless hallway, you’ll somehow escape. Where I come from, that’s called insanity, and it’s exactly what our state does not need.