Putting the Rabbit in the Dark, Restrictive Hat
John Kostrzewa explains that Rhode Island’s economy is done harm by “inconsistent, zig-zag public policy decisions that have kept business owners, investors and people from locating” in the state. He’s talking about tax policy, there, but he goes on:
… for yet another year, political leaders have put off the hard choices until well into the new year, with no clear idea of when the budget will be balanced and how.
Elsewhere in the same Sunday paper, Rhode Island Speaker of the House Bill Murphy illustrates his prior wisdom in staying out of the press and out of the public eye:
The lawmakers are hoping for other options, including a possible new round of federal stimulus dollars. “Over several of our budgets, it seems that we’ve been able to pull a rabbit out of a hat. I don’t know if there’s any rabbit left, but if there’s one left down there, we’ll come through,” Murphy said. The governor’s tax overhaul may provide another rabbit.
There you go, Rhode Island. You’re being governed by people whose leadership plan is to hope for tricks that give the illusion of miracles. Apparently, Speaker Murphy doesn’t consider it to be a matter of deep concern that the magician is supposed to be the one who puts the rabbits in the dark, restrictive hat in the first place. The General Assembly is standing on stage reaching through the trap door in the table hoping, just hoping, that somebody else will slip another rodent in the empty space beneath, and all of our livelihoods depend on that bit of luck.
Want further indication of the reason for our state’s collapse? Here’s Murphy, again, on the reason that the Rhode Island public sector doesn’t need to make the same sorts of adjustments to pensions that economic reality has forced on the rest of the economy:
“We’re talking about state government,” he said. “State government is different.”
The speaker continued: “We can control state government. We can’t control what an individual company does.”
In other words, given the power of the General Assembly, the government can simply force taxpayers to continue funding unworkable benefits for unionized special interests, whatever the effects on everybody else. Murphy’s fellow stooge and chosen successor, House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, digs the hole more deeply:
Fox quickly chimed in, saying lawmakers are concerned that Governor Carcieri’s latest proposal — to eliminate the guarantee of annual cost-of-living increases — could hurt future state retirees, and by extension, the state budget and the economy.
Fox believes that a failure to ensure perpetually increasing pensions for the small segment of workers who actually receive them (often residing outside the state) will damage the economy, but a leadership class that has no solutions other than adding to an already oppressive burden on the local economy will not. Perhaps Mr. Fox should devote some meditation time to Murphy’s magician metaphor. After all, the audience is always free to leave and decline to pay for the entertainment thereafter.