We’ve Already Maxed Out the Beauty Quotient

Just about every workday, I drive by the Black Goose Café in Tiverton and think about how much I love their pumpkin chai, but with the beverage priced at $4.50 a pop, except in the most freewheeling moods, I pass right by. Oh, I continue to have a positive opinion of the business, based on this one drink, but that opinion does them little economic good when I determine that my money would be better spent on milk, shampoo, or gasoline.
Something similar is at play in another Dear Mr. Chafee post on Ted Nesi’s blog, wirtten by RI Council for the Humanities Executive Director Mary-Kim Arnold:

Surprisingly, the most important factors to most residents were not economic. From city to city, the top three factors that people identified were:

  1. the availability of social offerings — places to meet, arts and cultural opportunities and the sense that people care about each other;
  2. a sense of openness — how welcoming the community is to different types of people, including families with young children, minorities, and talented college grads; and
  3. aesthetics — the physical beauty of the community, including parks and green spaces.

The study in review notes these as qualities that increase “emotional attachment,” and Arnold’s point is that, as governor, Chafee should “consider factors beyond the state’s rankings and beyond the immediate economic data.” It’s a sentiment with which it’s difficult to disagree; leaders should consider a broad range of factors, but the insinuation that social offerings, openness, and aesthetics should be the leading guides is disconnected from our particular time and place. (Put aside questions about the ability and prudence of government’s involvement in them all.)
The Black Goose could make its cups more appealing; it could put out a big side reading, “Conservatives Welcome!”; but that won’t overcome, for folks in my situation, a price tag equivalent to a meal. Just so, Rhode Island has already squandered the advantages that its residents’ substantial emotional attachment provides. The premium is already too high. The great desire that Rhode Islanders have to remain in their state is what enables governance that is corrupt and overly generous to specific special interests..
In other words, just because, all things considered, love of a place will benefit its GDP does not mean that all things needn’t be considered. At a certain point — which our state is already well past — emotional attachment just isn’t enough, especially when a critical goal of policy has to be the attraction of new people and businesses that don’t yet know how attached they could become.

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