Can Rhode Island Be the Exception to Foolish Consistency?

An interesting juxtaposition.
Reading around the Internet, yesterday, I came across Ed Morrissey’s observation that all ten states that lost seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are majority Democrat states:

Michael Barone’s analysis probably comes closest to the truth: low-tax states attract larger populations, while high-tax, high-regulatory states tend to lose people. That also works in the GOP’s favor, and explains why it resulted in such a resounding win in these midterms.

Elsewhere, Dick Morris echoes the analysis:

High taxes kill states. There can be no better evidence than the 2010 Census. The states that lost House seats — because they’re shrinking, relative to the nation — had taxes 27 percent higher than the ones that gained seats.
Of the seven states that don’t have a personal income tax, four (Texas, Florida, Nevada and Washington) account for eight of the 12 seats apportioned to the fastest-growing states.
New York and Ohio lost two more seats. Other losers — down one each — are Massachusetts, Missouri, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana and Iowa. What do they all have in common? High taxes.

But then, when one turns to local analysis, the lede of a Scott MacKay commentary on WRNI reads as follows:

Rhode Island’s business and political leaders constantly focus on the state’s high taxes as a roadblock to economic development. WRNI political analyst Scott MacKay reminds us that our state has an even bigger barrier to creating good jobs.

The “bigger barrier,” according to MacKay’s assessment, is the inadequately educated workforce, which he blames not on “the teachers, the schools and the government,” but on “the culture of a blue-collar state.” Before taking up that analysis, let’s acknowledge that the two explanations are not mutually exclusive. The same society that tunes its priorities on organized labor and welfare, and tolerates Rhode Island’s brand of political corruption, might be predicted also to place relatively little priority on actual educational achievement. MacKay declares those priorities not to be a factor, but he offers no evidence or argument as substantiation.
Instead, he offers this as the relevant evidence that the problem isn’t the people who run and teach Rhode Island, but the people who live here:

The blue-collar manufacturing jobs have left but the attitudes of that era live on among too many native Rhode Islanders. The percentage of native-born Rhode Island adults with at least a bachelor’s degree is only 25 percent, while 50 percent of Rhode Island residents born in other states have at least a bachelor’s. What this means is that transplants are moving here to take jobs Rhode Islanders are not qualified for.

Unfortunately, I have to repeat my lament that I wish I had the time to research the statistics, but it’s at least plausible to suggest that MacKay’s numbers, wherever he gets them, don’t really have the meaning that he attributes to them. Even if Rhode Islanders set a higher priority on educating themselves, one might expect three-quarters of those raised here to wind up elsewhere — having pursued higher education out of state and looked for work elsewhere. The same is true in reverse: No doubt, a high percentage of “transplants” to Rhode Island arrived here via the state’s colleges and universities and remained. And some of them (me included) took what work the state could provide, regardless of its relation to their degrees.
It won’t surprise anybody that my suggestion is just about the opposite of MacKay’s. I say blame “the teachers, the schools and the government.” Force the first two to reform and the last to get out of the way so that both native Rhode Islanders and immigrants to the state can pursue excellence and create the jobs that will attract RI-born graduates back. The producers will strive to raise or bring the necessary workforce here for the same reason that we all tolerate the burdensome governance in the first place: Rhode Island is a desirable place to live.
Arguably, the initial effect will be a boom in salary levels, as employers compete for workers. A longer-term effect will be a greater emphasis in that ol’ blue-collar culture on the education and training that will procure the higher pay. The first step in changing the color of the state’s collar is to begin governing with an emphasis on personal responsibility, risk, and achievement, which points the finger at precisely the parties that MacKay wishes to exculpate.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
12 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

Wait, so McKay says the reason we’re not gaining population like other states isn’t the taxes, but it’s the blue-collar mentality and the lack of education? Yet Texas and Florida lead the list on gains? So Texas and Florida are better educated than Rhode Island and the northeast? Really? Texas and Florida are less “blue-collar” and more professionally minded than Rhode Island?
Is this guy insane?

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

As one of the recently “departed,” I can tell you exactly why I and my young professional friends have all left Rhode Island.
We grew up here in Providence, Barrington, Lincoln, North Providence. The public schools were glorified prisons for children and many of them didn’t even offer honors courses, so our parents broke their backs to send us to private schools. Brown was too close to home for us, and full of dirty frisbee-playing hippies, so we did the normal thing and got our higher education in neighboring states, planning to come back to our families in RI later.
When we did finally return, masters, doctorates, or law degrees in hand, we found no private job market left to speak of. The few companies we remembered had all packed up and left for nearby MA, NY, or NH, or just closed permanently. When we called up the business owners we knew, they all said high taxes, corruption, and lack of an educated workforce had caused them to leave. All of the jobs left open to us were government jobs, and we were told to start making campaign contributions, or as one recruiter from the AG’s office referred to it: betting on horses. F*** that s***.

George
George
10 years ago

From “Hope” to F*** that s***.
Nice job “progressives”.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

“While Massachusetts and, especially Connecticut, pour state resources into public higher education, Rhode Island’s politicians have balanced the state budget by slashing millions from the University of Rhode Island.”
That was from the Scott MacKay piece. And Carcieri wanted to be known as the “education” Governor.

Contrarian View
Contrarian View
10 years ago

But the McKay piece is an obvious effort at propaganda, certainly not any kind of serious analysis. So citing it as an authority is spurious at best.
Besides, pouring money into politicized Leftist training camps to subsidize propagandists who award worthless degrees in junk subjects (for a start, any concentration with the word “studies” in its title) is not a measure of commitment to real education.
The only way to restore honesty to our education system, at both K-12 and higher levels, is to privatize all of the schools and restore the freedom of parents and students to choose their schools based on their willingness to pay for an education that will accomplish their goals. Education is the organ in which the cancer of Leftist Progressivism is most advanced. And the effect of that is becoming more clear to everyone (except the Koolaid-addled Left).

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

“The only way to restore honesty to our education system, at both K-12 and higher levels, is to privatize all of the schools and restore the freedom of parents and students to choose their schools based on their willingness to pay for an education that will accomplish their goals.”
The RI schools are already privatized in effect. In RI, there are only a couple of quality public schools like Barrington High that amount to private schools because the communities they encompass are so affluent and high-tax that only rich or highly dedicated parents can afford them, so it’s no different from paying for a private school. The rest of the public education system is just daycare/juvie for kids to have somewhere warm to go each day and put cheap greasy cafeteria food in their stomachs on the taxpayer dime. Certainly no learning is taking place. Parents who give a damn send their kids to the booming private school market in the state. In Rhode Island, private schools are the ONLY choice for quality education, formed out of necessity as a market response to the unionized dead-end hell-holes that the public schools have become, and everything else is just another form of taxpayer paid welfare for the poor, lazy, or illegal residents of our state. The education market is already there and thriving. The discussion should therefore be about how to end or reform the glorified K-12 daycare for illegals and juvenile delinquents that passes for public education in our state.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

Is this guy insane?
Posted by Patrick at December 28, 2010 9:56 AM
Like all progressives…..yes.

Tim
Tim
10 years ago

MacKay is a liberal Democrat and longtime union hack. He also play-acted being a reporter at the ProJo for years. What a joke that was. Scotso’s opining on any topic is simply comic relief.
The reasons for RI’s plight have been well documented. MacKay is trying to spin the arrow of blame away from the true culprits, i.e. his own ilk.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

“In RI, there are only a couple of quality public schools like Barrington High that amount to private schools because the communities they encompass are so affluent and high-tax that only rich or highly dedicated parents can afford them, so it’s no different from paying for a private school. ”
That’s not true. If someone really wants to live in Barrington, there are houses available for less than $200,000 there. The taxes in Barrington aren’t much worse than most other places and it’s going to be interesting to see what the town does with it’s upcoming windfall from the school funding formula. Currently, the town gets 0 from the state for its schools. Under the formula, it’ll get a few million. Tax cuts? Who knows. We’ll see when it is all finalized.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

“If someone really wants to live in Barrington, there are houses available for less than $200,000 there.”
Only for those who bark and have collars on their necks. Give me a link to just one online listing for a HOUSE (not condo) under $200k.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

Just one Tommy? What’s with the class warfare in this state? So many Rhode Islanders have a huge inferiority complex. I hear it all the time from my relatives in EP. The people in Rumford think they’re better than EP. Really? I’m also told that people in Barrington will look at any “outsiders” differently. The exact opposite of what I’ve found.
So here you go Tommy.
http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/164-Church-Street_Barrington_RI_02806_M35813-08935
http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/192-Church-Street_Barrington_RI_02806_M43109-71015
http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/6-Claremont-Road_Barrington_RI_02806_M43640-09378
So there’s three. And there are more. If someone really wants the Barrington education, they can buy one of those. Or a condo for about $165,000. Not sure why you ruled out condos. The school system there does let children who live in condos go to their schools. They don’t ship them out to Bristol or EP.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

Anyone who thinks Scott McKay might be an oiler raise their hands-ok,ok,enough!!

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.