Reduce Poverty by lower taxes, not more
It’s not a stretch to say things are tough all over this year, worse than most. Yet, whether it’s good times or bad, the one constant is that we will see news stories detailing the annual end-of-year (ie; right around Christmas) Poverty Institute study aimed at tugging at our
wallets heartstrings. (They alternate the publication of their “Rhode Island Standard of Need” report and their “State of Working Rhode Island” report).
But I’m not going to take them to task for advocating for the poor, nor do I dispute their findings. I have little doubt that budget deficits will affect the programs for which they advocate. I certainly don’t want to see hungry, homeless kids. No one does. But the problem is that they have sent the same message year after year: “Rhode Island(ers) are not doing enough.” And people–average Rhode Island taxpayers–are less likely to be receptive to the guilt game when they are feeling the pain themselves. Maybe the impact of the PI’s message would be greater in lean times if it wasn’t broadcast so loudly in good times.
And maybe, instead of focusing on increasing Rhode Island’s tax burden, they should turn their attention to shrinking other areas of government to make up for the shortfalls in the programs they prioritize. No one wants to “balance the budget on the backs of the poor,” so why don’t they spend more time advocating for cutting the extravagances in state and local government or consolidating services to free up more money for those in need?
That’s a better solution than adding to Rhode Island’s tax burden, particularly on businesses (say, by advocating for expanding sales tax to services). Taking money out of the pockets of job producers is one surefire way to reduce employment and add to the constituency for which the Poverty Institute advocates. And I’m sure they wouldn’t want that.