Welcome to the Era of Dependency

I have a question. Once the dust settles on the big grandchildren’s money drop heading the states’ way, how is our failed public finance system going to maintain all of this on top of the infrastructure and assets that it currently struggles to keep in one piece?

To Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline, new federal investment in his city means streetcars.
Not the RIPTA buses with the fine wood trim that resemble trolleys. But real trolleys running on rails along city streets. He sees crater-pocked Bridgham Street in the city’s Elmwood section and dozens of other neglected city streets and sidewalks finally repaved and refinished.
In Warwick, Mayor Scott Avedisian sees a new bridge over Mill Creek on Tidewater Drive, and maybe a boardwalk and a handicap-accessible pier at Gorton Pond, a freshwater pond that is a popular spot for bass fishermen and beachgoers.
In Pawtucket, Mayor James E. Doyle sees something that young city residents have been dreaming about for well over a decade: a skateboard park in the heart of the city, right across from McCoy Stadium, at Joseph Jenks Junior High School.
It’s the dawn of a new era of big government, and big government spending. Millions of federal dollars are expected to come to Rhode Island as part of an economic stimulus plan.
The certainty of the windfall has inspired local cities and towns to dust off development plans, some long-held and many that may have just never had the money to begin with, in the hopes that maybe, finally, they’ll see the light of day.

Perhaps the most important whisper to heed comes from our Congressional delegation, which doesn’t think the current borrow-and-spend plan is big enough. It’s a sort of trap we’re in:

  • If the stimulus money doesn’t boost the economy, the powers who be will insist that the windfall wasn’t big enough, and nobody down the money-grubbing line will be inclined to disagree.
  • If the stimulus money has a mild effect on the economy, the powers will say the same thing, and states will have all sort of new items and programs for which they have no real prospects of continued funding.
  • And if by some miracle throwing borrowed money at the country really does revive the economy, it will be seen as having validated the principle, and the practice will be continued in good times and amplified even more in bad.

Some would argue that this monster will be something worse than ineffective.
Through it all, the spectacle of hearing officials of every layer of government, right down to small-town school committees, place their hopes and dreams in a federal check writer is evidence of that malignant addiction to receiving. Yes, it’s the dawn of the Era of Dependency, and not a few paths that lead from here into the future begin the end of the United States of America.

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chuckR
chuckR
12 years ago

A few questions we should have asked:
1)is it really different this time?
2)how are uncovered option trades different than parimutuel betting? Same question about CDOs and other toxic waste.
3)at the prices, who will be able to buy our houses?
Some questions we should ask:
1)where are all the new consumers for new developments like Lowes and Kohls at Quonset Point?
2)who is going to ride the Mayor’s trolley/light rail? Why would they bother? (bonus follow-on – what are the chances that Cicilline has the faintest clue about the cost of a trolley/light rail system?)
God, I hope that Carcieri gets control over the pork bux coming our way rather than the Smith Hill confederacy of dunces and crooks.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

So what’s your idea? And don’t give me the tax cut snake oil. That wheeze has been tried twice. At least Reagan spent the last six years of his Administration startging to clean up his mess. His two successors had to finish the job.
Then we got the feckless George W. Bush, shoved into the Oval Office by a corrupt Supreme Court. I used to think this country was too big to ruin. I have to admit Bush, and the GOP and shills like you have proved me wrong.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

All this talk about “generational theft” and “the grandchildren” is laughable.
With the trillions Barry O is going to be printing over the next few months the ugly bite of Carter-istic double digit inflation will be hitting the fan next year.
That’s A.D. 2010 baby.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Four weeks in-
Trillions in corporate bailouts
Tax cuts for the rich
Expanded Asian land war
Guantanamo running smoothly
Patriot Act fascism, warrantless wiretaps and the insipid “war on drugs” continue unabated
Hey progressives:
how do you like Bush’s third term!

chuckR
chuckR
12 years ago

Ken
You must balance the budget. That includes reducing cost of government and reducing taxes. It is not snake oil, it is essential.
Hope’n’change’n’$800million will possibly balance the RI budget for two years, if somehow it is all devoted to just that. That would of course leave no money for Cicilline’s own Toonerville Trolley to nowhere ridden by nobody. At the end of those two years, we’ll be at least as bad off relative the rest of the country as we are now.
If you are going to p*ss away $800 million of taxpayer dollars in RI, you, not me, need to explain how it should be spent. Bad enough it will be spent in my opinion.

EMT
EMT
12 years ago

Then we got the feckless George W. Bush, shoved into the Oval Office by a corrupt Supreme Court.
Yeah, right. Would they have been corrupt if it was 5-4 the other way?
It was 8 years ago. You lost. Then you lost again. Time to get over it.

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

“Would they have been corrupt if it was 5-4 the other way?”
Why, no, EMT. A 5-4 Supreme ruling the other way would have been hailed as a tormented yet very wise decision by the august body.

Chris
Chris
12 years ago

OK, let’s get back on track. This isn’t about Bush or Obama. It is about how the mayors listed want to spend this “extra” money. We have failing students, crumbling schools and roads and the best these mayors can come up with are new trolleys (while RIPTA bus service is being cut), a new bridge and boardwalk (while Pilgrim High’s roof is leaking), and a skateboard park (while Pawtucket is laying off workers)! Is yearly maintenance factored into these projects. The maintenance of these projects will increase their city budgets every year. Where will this money come from? Maybe we will just ignore the maintenance needed and just let them fall into disrepair. These three mayors show how little they grasp the severity of this economic recession we are in.

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