The Flush Heard ‘Round the World

As some of you have already noticed, The Economist is the latest broad-circulation publication to offer a summary of Rhode Island’s economic woes. The attractiveness to writers is easy to see; a mere list of gloomy facts and figures can fill an entire article.

Today almost no homes, opulent or otherwise, are being built in Rhode Island. Only 16 permits for single-family dwellings were issued in February in the whole state. In March 633 homes were in foreclosure. The job front looks even worse. Last September Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate in the country, exceeding even Michigan. In March the rate was the sixth-highest in the country, 10.5%, compared with 8.5% nationally.
Almost every sector has been affected. Jobs are so scarce that 200 people turned up recently at a job fair hosted by Foxy Lady, a Providence strip club. But the current misery comes on top of long-term decline. The state’s once thriving manufacturing industry has been fading for decades, with production slowing and working hours cut. Manufacturing lay-offs were persistent, even during good times; and good times have not been seen in the state for almost two years. Rhode Island entered the recession six months before the rest of the country.

And on and on. One can’t help but think of state Rep. Elizabeth Dennigan’s suggestion that Rhode Islanders have to stop complaining about the state’s current circumstances (audio at the twelfth bullet point here). Too many who live in the state may choose to look away from the problems, but apparently, the rest of the world is keenly interested.

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Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

Denigan is spouting the same old “we have a great quality of life” canard to avoid the herd of elephants in Rhode Island’s room.
Yes, there are many positives about Rhode Island. Icing on the cake to swing employers’ decisions to locate here IF all other things were equal vs. competitor locales.
But everything is not equal. Not even close.
The proof is in the pudding – if Rhode Island’s “quality of life” was enough then this state wouldn’t be vying with Michigan for worst economy in the country.
Among the herd of elephants:
Subaverage public education system producing burger flippers rather than biotech workers – a system that will stay that way due to the General Assembly’s fealty to the teachers unions.
Gross governmental incompetence – incapable of rudimentary tasks such as maintaining roads and bridges (among the worst in the country), in spite of some of the highest taxes in the country.
Hostility to business and employers and middle class aspirations of upward mobility (see, e.g., RI Future; Senator Charles “Isn’t it nice to be white, bourgeois and working for the Chamber of Commerce?” Levesque).
Pervasive political corruption, from the soft corruption of patronage (see “A Family Business” a few days ago on Anchor Rising) to the hard corruption of Operation Dollar Bill and RISDIC.
Due to the General Assembly’s corruption and incompetence, fiscal weapons of mass destruction ticking away, that will destroy what is left of the middle class in Rhode Island via higher taxes: continued welfare magnet status that will ensure increasing “social services” demands and billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities for public sector pensions and retiree health care.
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, Denigan and her band of thieves at the General Assembly aren’t part of the problem, they are the problem.

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