History Unexplored and Quality of Life

It’s been a running theme — of accelerating urgency on an individual basis — whether Rhode Island’s vaunted “quality of life” justifies the cost of building a life, here. My view is that high culture, wonderful scenery, history, and so on don’t amount to much for families that must work so hard simply to survive that they can’t take in the sights.
A recent article in the Life section of the Sakonnet Times brought the question to mind:

We walk or drive by remnants of our storied local history every day without giving it a second thought. Some — like the hitching posts along Bristol’s High Street and elsewhere — are “hidden” in plain view, while others are more camouflaged.

The article goes on to list a number of sites and artifacts in the East Bay, and if you’re like me, perhaps you’ll add the search for such things to a list already including various performances, museums, festivals, activities, and readings that you’d pursue if you could just get past the next mortgage with a little money and time to spare. Personally, I’m doubly affected by the desire to incorporate the rich local settings and traditions into stories and essays.
Oh, well. It’s beginning to seem, as the song goes, that “someday never comes.” The question remaining for Rhode Islanders is whether it’s worth fighting for reasonable governance and a thriving economy that would allow folks other than tourists, the rich, and public sector workers to enjoy what Rhode Island has to offer, or whether it’d be better to find a location that would balance what one wishes to do with what one can afford to do.

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Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

>>”y view is that high culture, wonderful scenery, history, and so on don’t amount to much for families that must work so hard simply to survive that they can’t take in the sights.” There’s definitely a variation of the “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” element involved. The ever-decreasing economic opportunity in RI, coupled with the ever-increasing fixed costs of taxation, eventually reach an inflection point compelling relocation. Also, there are many other places in the United States that offer high quality of life, albeit perhaps in different ways: lower cost of housing permitting one to buy a nicer home on the same income; better weather and certainly better prospects for the future as employers / jobs continue to be repelled by RI. Finally, and this is particularly pertinent to younger people: the massive “opportunity cost” paid by those who live in RI. Every year’s $100 dollars, or $1,000 dollars (or more) paid into Rhode Island’s excess income, sales, fee and property tax regime — money that could have been put into a 401k or IRA and generated investment returns over several decades — equates to tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of an individual’s “retirement nest egg” when one factors in not only the principal investments, but more so the investment returns and the cumulative (and geometrically growing) effect of compound interest. The cumulative impact of RI’s excess taxation, incrementally collected over each RI resident’s income over the years, means that for every private sector resident a better retirement / more retirement security (or even the ability to retire at all) is sacrificed to feed the insatiable appetites of the unions and poverty industry. Due to the compounding of investment returns and the cumulative effect on same, this particularly harms those who spend most (if not all) of their… Read more »

John
John
11 years ago

Leave. You wont’ regret it. And your blood pressure will go down.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Leaving is smart. RI isn’t worth martyring yourself on a cross of taxes. The state is too far gone to save. The progressives and public unionists can’t blame the 1% of us who are actually still productive if we get the hell out and move to a state that appreciates us. I’ve already bought my ticket.
Consider signing up for the Free State Project on your way out.

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

I was talking to the couple that ran the web page http://www.newenglandsite.com/ “Southern New England States—A Friendly Tourist Site” and was surprised to find out they had moved out of New England (Connecticut) because the cost of living in the New England States is very high compared to the rest of the nation. They moved to South Dakota to a town just outside Sioux Falls and purchased a house and land for $15,000 (yes only $15,000!) There is no state income tax in SD and sales tax is 4% plus average property tax is $1,000 a year. Unemployment is currently running 4% and SD is one of the most business friendly states in the nation. The weather is about the same as New England weather. They are now running a web site called “North and South Dakota; The Quiet States”: http://scenicdakotas.com/

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

One mistake I think we all make is to harken back to the “good ole days” which may or may not have ever existed. The boom days of RI were when most people were dirt poor and worked in factories – mostly foundries and textiles. This involved both children and women working and regular schedules of 6 days a week. Even when conditions improved, life was quite hard. The entire state was crisscrossed by electric trollies, which allowed the poor and middle class to travel to the seaside easily. These, of course, were ripped up by the automobile corporate interests. Thousands of Rhode Islanders worked to serve the 200 or so wealthy families who summered in the state. Fast forward to today. Rhode Island retains the bay, the sea, the landscape, the seafood and many other of the good things. Housing can be had for a relatively reasonable price – consider proximity to the ocean and bay. Being a city-state, it does not have the size or flexibility to have vast amounts of high paying industries. Rather, it must be looked at as part of a region which includes part of CT and MA. Such a small place cannot be everything to everyone. If one enjoys the lifestyle…then, like Justin and many others they can work out a way to make their life here. Sure, they’d make more money elsewhere, but they would not be able to surf at second beach. So pay your money and take your chances. Oh, BTW, Dan…my friends from SC are here staying with me now. Things are so bad there – in many of the resort areas (which support the state), that there is absolutely no bottom in sight. Billions of dollars – no, tens of billions or hundreds of billions, of properties are… Read more »

David S
David S
11 years ago

I tried to go back to one of your early posts- about walkin’ the dog in a glorious setting – not your’s- you made a point of that- and you concluded that it was better to be able to enjoy the view than to own it. Very spiritual. So, what gives now? Why the change of heart?

Justin Katz
11 years ago

David,
I’ve written a number of things on that theme, here, on Dust in the Light, and elsewhere. I don’t see this as in contrast. My complaint, here, has nothing to do with ownership. It has to do with having the time to explore these things and, indeed, to write about them. Just living in Rhode Island (and, obviously, working to improve the state) is so time consuming as to disallow the leisure and the pursuit of interests.

David S
David S
11 years ago

thats too bad. You had at one point a moral compass. Now you sound like the polititians you chase.

John
John
11 years ago

David, Cheap shot. Every reformer ultimately has to look in the mirror and ask her or himself if it is worth it. Worth the time not spent with spouse and children, the time not spent on hobbies, the time not spent with friends,the insults and threats from the interest groups who benefit from the current system, and, ultimately, the foregone income and leisure time that could be yours if you would only move away from RI. At some point, these musings arrive at a cold, hard assessment of the likelihood of success. In my view, the probability of ever putting together a reform majority — sufficient to change the power dynamics of the General Assembly — has been declining at an accelerating rate for at least a decade, if not longer. In my view, the collective votes of the public sector unions, the welfare industry, and private sector businesses who depend for their survival on “knowing a guy” and “having an in” with the state or town collectively constitute an unbeatable majority in RI politics. I strongly suspect Steve Laffey’s polling has shown the same conclusion. So where does that leave actual and potential reformers? Asking themselves whether noble failure is a worthy goal for their sacrifices and efforts. And you know what? More and more of them decide it isn’t, and have and are leaving RI for greener pastures, rather than wait for the inevitable tax rises, debt defaults, and municipal bankruptcies that lie ahead. Stuart, I don’t disagree that there is now and will continue to be enormous destruction of wealth at the top end of residential property markets across most of the US. The jumbo mortgage market (outside of FHA limits) is dead, and potential borrowers have become much more sanguine about the real risks of taking… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>>It has to do with having the time to explore these things……
So how does that fit in with fighting tooth and nail against unions and higher wages and all the things which allow people to have more time?
It doesn’t!
Justin, I hope you can someday put all your words and thoughts together into a sustainable view of the world which actually fits. It’s one thing to be like Dan, who hates everyone and everything and thinks that the wolves should be able to consume the weak – quite another to be a spiritual person and love ALL YOUR brothers and sisters and nature without abusing them.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I don’t know why Stuart has convinced himself that I’m moving to South Carolina. I most certainly am not.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Katz
People are fighting in two wars as you wrote those lines. There are people severely disabled who struggle every day under brutally difficult conditions. In West Virginia the graves of miners are the sad early spring plantings. Now you were saying…

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Your point is what, Phil? That suffering in the world means I shouldn’t question whether the reduced quality of life in Rhode Island is worth the difficult of staying here? That Rhode Islanders should submit to corruption and simply bad government because people life can be painful and dangerous? That’s pretty inane, even for you.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>>Stuart, is a national one, that will, as you note, affect different states to different extents. But, as happens in every credit crisis, the writedowns and losses will eventually be taken ———————– Nice line, John! It makes it seem as if some corporations somewhere will take the writedowns, when said corporations long ago moved most of the risk to Wall Street, who then sold the stuff to investors (people) who were unaware. In other words, your simply declaration of the “market” is a tacit approval for the wolves feasting on ALL of us! As to a “national problem”, not true at all. My point is that these other states are as bad or worse (not sustainable) and that they have grown fat at the well of Funny Money. RI and MA and CT, etc. have a better shot, not a worse shot, at sustainability IMHO. People have been leaving RI, NYC, CT, NJ, Philadelphia and MANY other places for decades – and that is part of the problem! The USA way seems to be NOT to be a civic minded person, but rather to use the system…for instance, stay in RI while your kids are in school and then move to FL so you don’t have to pay for others – as per the social contract. That is a recipe for disaster, whether now or 30 years ago. Sure – RI being a tiny city-state, I know LOTS of people who have left it. I would not expect anything else. But to assume something is vastly different now – other than a national Great Recession and Corporate Flight (everywhere) to the Islands and other Countries…..seems wrong. Now, here is where we might agree. When all the selfish people leave for greener shores, the folks who tend to stay are the… Read more »

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

Hmmm, let’s see. Remaining in RI and paying high taxes to support grossly out-of-whack politically-bought (ref. George Nee) public sector union compensation; low-quality public schools; armies of patronage hacks; coddling armies of baby-mamas and anchor-baby producing illegal aliens; provide the fuel (taxation) for a corrupt political machine (RI Democrat Party); potholed roads and collapsing bridges is noble, part of a “social compact.”
While “voting with one’s feet” to move to states that offer better-quality public services and lower prices is a demonstration of greed and/or ingratitude toward Rhode Island.
Such is the worldview of Rhode Island’s “progressives” (a/k/a Marxists, Communists, Socialists, Fascists).

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Katz, you wrote this:
My view is that high culture, wonderful scenery, history, and so on don’t amount to much for families that must work so hard simply to survive that they can’t take in the sights.
I offered some perspective and got this:
Your point is what, Phil? That suffering in the world means I shouldn’t question whether the reduced quality of life in Rhode Island is worth the difficult of staying here? That Rhode Islanders should submit to corruption and simply bad government because people life can be painful and dangerous? That’s pretty inane, even for you.
Posted by Justin Katz at April 19, 2010 6:51 AM
Is it inane to point out to someone who is complaining about hard work and limited resources and lack of time to spend in the manner that they wish that others have lives infinitely more difficult? Obviously I missed the point that you were attempting to make. Is it that the quality of your life is so determined by the political environment you percieve to be present that you would have more time and money to pursue other interests in a different environment? Would you make so much more money in the same type of work that you are presently engaged in somewhere else? Would the demands of your time ease enough to satisfy you if there was some other political environment more to your liking.
I guess I end up feeling a little bad for you, if indeed you are being prevented from doing the things that bring you peace and happiness. Often when someone complains in this manner the one whom they should direct the complaint to is the one they see in their mirror.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

” low-quality public schools; armies of patronage hacks; coddling armies of baby-mamas and anchor-baby producing illegal aliens; provide the fuel (taxation) for a corrupt political machine (RI Democrat Party); potholed roads and collapsing bridges is noble, part of a “social compact.””
Why, yes, Ragin. It’s also called “fair”. You’re not opposed to fairness, are you?

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Monique,
You wrote; ” low-quality public schools; armies of patronage hacks; coddling armies of baby-mamas and anchor-baby producing illegal aliens; provide the fuel (taxation) for a corrupt political machine (RI Democrat Party); potholed roads and collapsing bridges is noble, part of a “social compact.””
My question to you is because you name the RI Democrat Party for all the ills what has the RI Republican party added over the last 21 years in the Governor’s office with one known corrupt jailed Republican Governor Ed Diprete verses the one Democratic Governor only in office 4 years of the total 25 years or are you implying all Republicans walk on water with clean hands staying out of the public bathrooms, being faithful to their spouses and not handing out $100,000 to $250,000 RI patronage jobs?

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