Sweeney’s Plan to Perpetuate Government’s Centrality
In a commentary piece in Providence Business News, Bryant Economics Professor William Sweeney insists that it’s crucial that the Rhode Island government borrow a quarter-billion dollars for targeted investments in small businesses (there’s that slippery “targeted” word again):
To recover from the Great Recession and to expand in the future, [the small-business] sector, while resilient, will require state help.
My proposal for an economic-development plan is designed to place its greatest effort on encouraging local small businesses to expand here. But it should also attempt to lure fledgling, out-of-state companies to locate in Rhode Island. To be effective, such a dual-edged, aggressive, economic-renewal program is likely to cost at least $250 million, based on the number of potential beneficiaries. …
Rhode Island can make an economic metamorphosis, if it puts together an aggressive economic-development program, one that would establish a strong connection with young, fledgling firms captained by entrepreneurs.
In addition, this plan must nurture old-line growth companies as well. These two economic driving forces are always searching for a lower-cost location in which to operate. Rhode Island can exploit this golden opportunity with generous tax breaks and financial assistance to small businesses that have plans to expand in the Ocean State. The net result should be an updraft in the creation of new jobs.
Must we continue banging our head against this wall? Like many others, Sweeney ignores the essential problem that Rhode Island faces (a practice that’s beginning to look deliberate in certain instances). Our local aristocracy lacks the intelligence and objectivity to pick winners. Where they’re not ideologically blinded, they’re bound by personal loyalties and a cliquish mentality. We cannot, therefore, trust them to direct the state’s economy with further money for ideas that they, personally, like and people with whom they, personally, can do business.
Furthermore, government-initiated investments will always bear the risk that politics will wash them aside, perhaps just when businesses most need them. All of the gimmicky solutions to the state’s problems have the taint of the temporary, and our leadership has neither long-term vision or patience.
In short: slash taxes, erase mandates, and lighten regulations. Let the productive make the decisions with their own investments of time and money. Send the signal that Rhode Island is open for business, not for reciprocity. That is the only way forward, and the governing class must be almost completely overturned and the advisory class ignored en route.