There’s the “Business Community” and There’s the Business Community
In Rhode Island, class differentiation has a high degree of overlap with insiderdom — perhaps because people who aren’t insiders don’t see as much value in remaining, so they’ve filtered out. In that context, comments from one representative of the “business community,” offered in an article about Governor Chafee’s promise of “painful cuts” — are disconcerting:
“I think all of us in the business community expect some level of pain,” said Colin Kane, a developer who is a principal of Peregrine Group LLC in East Providence. “I’m not going to call it pain. I’m going to call it commitment — and sacrifice — toward making the state fiscally responsible and functional.”
Reporter Tom Mooney doesn’t bother to point it out, but Kane is also Chafee’s appointee to head up the commission overseeing the conversion of the land formerly covered by route 195 in Providence, so he’s clearly in the upper tier of insiders. He goes on to say:
And, he said, “I do believe that the public is prepared and willing to make a reasonable sacrifice if indeed they do see a future of getting us below [an unemployment rate of] 10.8 percent.”
“I pay a lot now. I suspect I will pay a lot later,” said Kane. “Let’s face it. Last year in Providence our property taxes on commercial [property] went up 25 percent. So we’ve made the sacrifice… Does it cripple? Yes. But we’re still alive.”
Business survival may be adequate for people who are already financially set, who already have the added perks, locally, of power and influence. But maintaining the status quo is not going to turn things around. As another article on yesterday’s front page points out, Rhode Island has continued to bleed jobs. The most optimistic thing that can be said is that job creation was just barely positive for 2011, after losses for almost the entire second half of the year.
It isn’t enough for Rhode Island to temper its tax increases to keep people like Kane afloat. Any increases at all, at this point, will kill start ups and continue to discourage new businesses from migrating here, while persuading others to continue leaving. Every penny of Rhode Island’s pain has to come through reductions in government spending, taxation, regulations, and mandates, because what’s needed isn’t a painful solution, but a liberating one — one in which the economy grows rapidly enough to overcome the truly horrid decisions of insiders past.