Small Reasons to Stay and Fight

I know of several people who’ve taken Tiverton’s recent financial town meeting as evidence that it’s time to pull up stakes and leave or, if they’d already intended to flee, to redouble their efforts. Much was made of claims that the presentation of the school department’s budget left the town liable for funding amounting to a maximum of a 22% tax increase, but really, a seven percent increase in the current economy is affront enough.
The town’s tax levy has doubled in the past decade. The Town Council was satisfied with “zero impact” contracts with its employees, without pursuing actual savings. The teachers’ union clearly is not intending concessions, and the School Committee is unable to extract them. (Truth be told, none but one on the School Committee have any real desire to achieve concessions.) Moreover, the combined forces of public officials, the unions, a compliant local media, and a largely apathetic public that is therefore susceptible to well-rehearsed maneuvers from the other groups leave substantive change unlikely.
So, once again, I find my town to be a microcosm of the state. Schools and infrastructure will continue to underperform and deteriorate, while expense goes up, and the people who must be rallied to stop the process decrease in number year after year. Rhode Island has been at the national forefront in population loss for years, and those who are leaving are those who would back necessary reforms were they adequately presented and initiated.
This is to suggest that those of us who’ve been pointing to the problems that must be resolved have been remiss in neglecting to incorporate into our polemics reasons that people should stay and fight. It would be unreasonable to expect positive messaging from the RIGOP or any of the good government groups — much less, from Anchor Rising — to counterbalance a family’s calculation that the opportunity cost of hanging in there (in here) overwhelms the benefits of Rhode Island life. But those benefits do exist, and it affects the fundamental message of reformers if they do not often mention them.
Why do you want reform? Out of principle, or because there’s something worth saving? If wholly the former, then people on the fence might fear that principle will trample quality of life — as guardians of the status quo have been anxious to claim that any change of operations will do.
Such have been my thoughts as I’ve taken alternate routes home from work, recently. The contrast is stark between the suburban stop-and-go of West Main Rd. in Middletown and the largely empty back roads that flow past beaches and high-end waterfront manses and farms — at the cost, ultimately, of mere minutes of travel time. It would be a travesty to mar such views as this:

If there’s a threat to these constituent parts of Rhode Island’s character — in this case, “hanging rock” in the Norman Bird Sanctuary across the street from the Middletown beaches — it lies along the path of inadequate reform. The choice is not between total change and minimal change; it is between incompatible qualities of the state as it exists. Preservation requires a healthy economy and residents with the resources of time and money to take care of and enjoy all that the state has to offer.

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BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Personally, I don’t fear leaving to watch the Progressive/Socialist/Fascist government continue to ruin the economy from afar. I don’t want to, and therefore am actively working for a conservative victory in November. but
The natural beauty of Rhode Island will endure, and we’ll be able to buy waterfront property very cheaply after the economy collapses and the place is in chaos seeking a return to originalist American values to restore it. Sort of like buying property in Spain or Portugal after their dictatorships toppled.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

The Lorax didn’t leave forever after the Once-lers destroyed his homeland. We Rhode Islanders can always leave, then come back and rebuild after the Progressives and corrupt politicians succeed in destroying our state’s economy and have no one else to blame for it. It might take several decades, but staying will only prolong the struggle.
If there was nowhere else to go, we would stay and fight of course. But there are so many other relatively low tax, pro-business, pro-individual liberty states that there is no glory in martyring oneself in Rhode Island. It’s too late for this state, and nothing will change this election season. If you stay then you are just wasting your life away pushing things up against the ocean state’s tide. New Hampshire actually has a chance to turn things around via the Free State Project. If you want to see the kind of mass coordinated effort and super-activism that is necessary for that to happen, look there. We don’t have even 1% of what it takes here in RI.
20 days and counting until my flight leaves. Everyone else should book theirs today and save. I can only describe the feeling as getting your hope back.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Recall, Dan, that the Lorax doesn’t come back in the book, and the only hope that he ever will is a single Truffula seed that the Once-ler gives to a boy.
The problem is that, in collapsing, the state is likely to bring down much that people like about it. Preserved lands and historical sites will evaporate quickly when public lands must be sold off each year and budgets cannot fund preservation efforts. That’s why I’m saying Rhode Islanders have to start making choices about what they want to preserve: the state or the political and economic strictures that have brought it to its current condition.

Kathy
Kathy
11 years ago

It was good to see a bunch of young faces at the RIGOP convention get up to the stage to be recognized. We need fresh blood to tap in to fight the good fight.

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