Putting Rhode Islanders in the Slow Lane

Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what to say about an idea. Such is the case with the following example, in which Bridgewater State College Economics Department Chairwoman and Massachusetts Council on Economic Education President Margaret Brooks endeavors to illustrate how Rhode Island can “find new and creative ways to raise revenue that don’t cause undue burden to businesses or homeowners”:

… why not have a speed-pass system at the Department of Motor Vehicles that gives people the option of moving to a fast-track line by paying a $50 or $100 premium? Like the speed passes offered at amusement parks, this type of system would extract additional revenue from those who place the highest value on time, and who could most afford to pay. If we put our heads together, we can generate creative solutions such as these that will help us successfully navigate through the state’s economic crisis.

As if a trip to the DMV isn’t demoralizing enough without having to watch rich people skip on through. You rearrange your workday to sit in a painful plastic chair for untold hours, and they swing by between tennis and spa.
Class envy aside, it is supremely discouraging to see an economics professor so enamored with gimmicks. Of all people, such academics should be able to identify the state’s long-term problems and suggest corrections.
If anybody’s interested, here’s a solution that I just thought up: How about we cut taxes, eliminate mandates, and lighten regulations? It doesn’t take a dozen words to describe my official title, but I think something like that just might work. Although, if we’re going to “put our heads together” in the fashion advised by Ms. Brooks, my suggested gimmick would be to offer preassembled packages of documents that would assist productive Rhode Islanders in cutting ties with the state.

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Tom W
Tom W
11 years ago

Ah, it’s not surprising to see that things haven’t changed in RI. Here in FL I drove over very well maintained roads (potholes are rarer than a fiscally responsible Democrat) to get my FL drivers license, and was in and out in about one-half an hour. Good roads, reasonably convenient government services, no state income tax and a pro-business / pro-jobs environment. I’ve yet to see a radar trap trying to extract more money from citizens; there’s free parking at the beach, i.e., one doesn’t get the sense that government is always trying to find yet another way of getting its hands into your wallet — exactly the opposite of RI. I say this not to gloat, but to point out that if you work in the private sector there’s a better life to be had away from Rhode Island. Rhode Island is structured for the benefit of the tax consumers / Democrat constituencies — public sector employees and welfare dependents. Not for you. Plus RI’s economic future is extremely bleak — the political lords obviously are not going to deal with the structural issues of unfunded pension liabilities and RI’s status as one of the worst states in the country to be an employer. It is, and will remain, in long-term decline. RI COULD be prosperous, but the special interest constituencies, acting through the Democrats who control the General Assembly, will never allow that to take root. So let the Democrats and their constituencies live with the consequences of their actions. I would not consider moving back, and highly recommend that you consider moving out … for a better “quality of life.” I know a number of people who’ve voted with their feet, and not one has expressed a desire to return to RI — more like regret for… Read more »

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I’m with you Tom. Looked for a job recently in RI and there was jack squat, all the businesses have left and the unions run everything. Lots of opportunities elsewhere. I was sad about leaving my birthplace at first because it is so damn familiar, but after I had a long think on it I realized that it was my bad fortune to be born in this corrupt hellhole in the first place. Leaving will probably be the best thing I ever do. And the GA should be happy, they’ll have driven away another productive, highly skilled individual who wants genuine positive change for the state.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“why not have a speed-pass system at the Department of Motor Vehicles that gives people the option of moving to a fast-track line by paying a $50 or $100 premium?”
Here’s a better idea. If you’re going to impose upon us by mandating that we register our vehicles and obtain a drivers license – and pay to do so – why not set up offices with staff sufficient to get us in and out in less than an hour? WITHOUT the foolish surcharge “creative solution” that this person suggests.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Here’s a better idea. If you’re going to impose upon us by mandating that we register our vehicles and obtain a drivers license – and pay to do so – why not set up offices with staff sufficient to get us in and out in less than an hour? WITHOUT the foolish surcharge “creative solution” -Monique
If “offices with staff sufficient to get us in and out in less than an hour” were set up would that not increase the size of government? I happen to agree that government could and should ease the burden of those who are unemployed with the type of jobs that you are proposing. We the taxpayers would have to spend a little more to have more effcient services, but we would also be putting people without jobs back to work and stimulating the rest of the economy. Finally Monique you and I can agree about something.

Pragmatist
Pragmatist
11 years ago

Well at least we know, Justin, that class envy on the right lives on as well as it does on the left. Your disdain for market-based ideas speaks volumes about your political philosophy, as if your attacks on everything you deem elitist wasn’t enough already.
So tell us, Justin, which taxes would you cut? By how much? Ande which expenditure items would you reduce to balance the equation? And no cop outs like “cut public employee pay or lay them off.” Lay off which employees in which departments? Abrogate which labor contracts under what theory?
I’ve been reading your flippant rants about state government for years, and I’m waiting for your first concrete idea.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Pragmatist, in order to clean out a messy basement it is not necessary to know ahead of time which specific items will be staying and which will be donated to goodwill or put out on the curb for trash pickup. The important step right now is getting everyone in the family on board with the idea of a clean-up and committed to doing their part. Right now the three children of the household are still listening to ipods in their room, texting, and playing Xbox360. Until we can get people to see that the answer is not more government but less, that it is not more public spending but less, naming specific items is fruitless except as examples of the most egregious waste to inspire people to make change, which this blog does a good job of doing in my opinion. First we need people to “get mad.”

Bob
Bob
11 years ago

What do you expect from an “economics” professor at a third (fourth?) tier college ?
She’s probably still teaching Keynesian economics, and using Paul Samuelson’s discredited text…prime the pump with more government dollars.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

A concept that wouldn’t occur to to Rhode Island’s political class, though used everyday in the private sector: online and/or kiosk based transactions, in which the customer can input data 24/7.
After that, registry personnel need only verify completion of data input and ID (reluctantly in RI, lest we discourage illegals from obtaining licenses and benefits).
We’d get faster service, and require FEWER personnel.
Which is why it’d never fly in RI, since government here sees its main role as not serving the public, but as a revenue collection mechanism to provide patronage / nepotism jobs, public sector dues units for unions, and benefits for the welfare class.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

” online and/or kiosk based transactions, in which the customer can input data 24/7.”
Replacing man with machine? A corresponding reduction in operating expenses and the potential to lower taxes??
Ragin’, are you feverish???

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

here’s a solution that I just thought up: How about we cut taxes, eliminate mandates, and lighten regulations?”
lol
“Rant” on, Justin.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Monique
I think you should pass on the next round.

Dick Tuck
Dick Tuck
11 years ago

Sure, DOT, raise the fees, and while you’re at it torpedo “that Auto Club” arraignment
where folks can get stuff done and thumb their noses at the “don’t kill the job” DOT lines. Yes, correct, there are those “downtown” who want to
do that because “the state is losing money to the AAA”.

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