Apathy and Fear in Rhode Island

Most Americans probably know very little about Rhode Island beyond the fact that it is at the wrong end of an awful lot of national economic and civic rankings.
Residents of the state who’ve sought some explanation for its willful decline inevitably come across the concept of “Rhode-apathy.” Under the thralls of what force would a state’s electorate allow its deteriorating condition to persist — indeed, to advance — year after year?
Continue reading on The American Spectator

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Mike
Mike
8 years ago

Thanks for posting Justin. Too true, and the mention of an anti-business website against someone favoring pension reform is why Rhode Island is heading down the drain.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Based on numerous RIFuture posts and links to anonymous websites targeting “anti-labor” individuals during the Pat Crowley years of administering that blog (I remember a particularly nasty one smearing education reformer Angus Davis), we can all take an educated guess regarding which groups are behind such intimidation tactics.
Oops, does that act of speculation violate Bob Plain’s rules of “libel”? Perhaps I should consult an attorney.

Phil Spadola
Phil Spadola
8 years ago

Nice photo. Do you happen to know where that was taken?

ANTHONY
ANTHONY
8 years ago

“According to migration statistics available from the Internal Revenue Service, Rhode Island lost nearly 25,000 taxpayers from 2003 to 2010.”
Justin…good read. Are there any stats on how many people came here in the same period seeking benefits,illegals,etc. There may be a bigger story in that the private sector makers are leaving being replaced with public sector union workers and people seeking (AKA takers) tax payer funded benefits. That will surely turn out the lights.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

ANTHONY, there is a lot of demographic data available in the census. Not always broken down, so you have to compare them yourself between, say the 2000 census and the 2010.
I do recall looking once to see how many Rhode Islanders draw their paycheck from a government (including federal). It was about 22%, which is about the national average. That would be 1 in 4 to 5 to effectuate government. To give that some context, it was Clinton’s first, or second, election when more than 20% of voters drew their paycheck form a government.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
8 years ago

We live in a failed communist experiment-that simple-add endemic corruption and there it is-we wind up with a lousy retard governor stumbling through his life and treating RI citizens as ants to be stepped on-I hope God has plans for that idiot

David S
David S
8 years ago

Is this a meeting of the Blame RI First group? Your motto must be “When the going gets tough we will blame our neighbors!” Apathy? I don’t think so.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

David – Justin’s piece perfectly describes my own experience in Rhode Island and my reasons for leaving, and it matches the eerily consistent rationale provided to me by numerous others who have left the state. I lived in Rhode Island for 26 years so I do have some basis to comment. Whenever I return to visit, it’s like watching a strange reproduction of the Stanford prison experiments on a statewide scale.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz (@justin)
8 years ago

Dan,
To translate David’s comment: “Quit your whining and pay my pension and healthcare while I embark on my second career.”
I imagine the gentry has always and everywhere attributed the peasants’ doubts about the system to weakness and selfishness.

Phil Spadola
Phil Spadola
8 years ago

DavidS
Brother, you have come up in the world. An upjumped member of “the gentry” now if Justin Katz is correct.

David S
David S
8 years ago

Dan Thanks for your comment. Do you think that your reason to leave Ri was totally for political reasons, or, could it have been caused by the fact that you, like many other youngsters, seek new places and new experiences for no other reason than that new experiences are new and exciting and could never be in the place you came from?

Justin Katz
Justin Katz (@justin)
8 years ago

Oh, hey, sorry Phil. I didn’t mean to ignore your questions. The photos were supplied by the magazine, so I have no idea where they’re from or even if they’re in Rhode Island.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

posted by david S.
” Do you think that your reason to leave Ri was totally for political reasons”
It is the reason I don’t live on the East Side of Providence, I don’t think I could warm up to the neighbors. I can just see myself wearing my Red Wings to go shopping so that people would think I was Brown faculty and “with the people”.
If you don’t think this is so, hang out at the Athenaeum for an afternoon and talk to people. It has been suggested to me that I should not park my ’64 Plymouth, with the 3″ exhaust pipes, in front of the Narragansett Boat Club. I switched to my “beater” Volvo wagon.

Phil Spadola
Phil Spadola
8 years ago

Justin
I didn’t mean to dis you. It’s quite the accomplishment to get an essay in the American Spectator. Good luck with that.
DavidS
Since you are now equated with the “gentry”, doesn’t everybody who is anybody have a “beater” volvo?
[snip]

Phil Spadola
Phil Spadola
8 years ago

“I lived in Rhode Island for 26 years so I do have some basis to comment.”
For at least a portion of those 26 years, Dan, it would be reasonable to assume that the condition of your diapers had more to do with your complaints than anything else happening in Rhode Island.

Phil Spadola
Phil Spadola
8 years ago

DavidS
What can the right do to explain their latest electoral defeat except blame those who did not buy their argument. We heard nationally and here in RI that the voters were either bought off, uninformed (stupid), or, as in this case, apathetic. The people have grown so accustomed to their lot in life that they are hard to rouse to the right’s causes goes the argument made here and at the “Current”. The “Current” which has virtually no traffic at all would want to explain that fact by suggesting that those who are reading and not commenting is due to apathy rather than rejection. How that site remains functioning is anyone’s guess, let alone how it pays salaried writers, one of whom is still smarting from his own electoral defeat.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz (@justin)
8 years ago

Phil,
You’ve gotten kind of schizophrenic. “I didn’t mean to dis you, but let me do so now pretty heavily.”
I’m continually perplexed by the Left’s focus on politics over policy. I suppose I shouldn’t be… it’s more about power than anything else for you guys, it seems.
But Rhode Island’s problem is longer standing than a single election, and it is indeed a head-shaker why voters here would continue to ask for more of the same. It is inarguable that a good number are simply bought off with handouts and pay and pensions. Most of the people who didn’t “buy” our argument have never heard it. That’s in part our fault, but it in part isn’t.
As to my own campaign, I was actually relieved at my personal results, although I was hugely disappointed at the rest of the local ballot. I was willing to trudge through four years of personal attacks and stare down the other side’s deliberate strategy of making people who don’t go along with the establishment and the unions feel like pariahs in their own neighborhoods (what I’ve called “grassroots fascism”), but the opportunities of those years opened wide when I lost.
Thanks for the kindly comment, though. Such writings always help to set things straight.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Phil – You’ve long been a critic here, but this is the first time I’ve witnessed such intense and personalized hostility from you. The viciousness of the RIFuture crowd might be rubbing off. I can only imagine the cognitive dissonance you must experience as the ever-dominant Democrat-progressive-union alliance wins victory after victory over the waning conservative/libertarian influence left in the state, and yet things just continue to get worse and worse for Rhode Island, contrary to all leftist predictions. Like all “elite”-run top-down control states around the world, I’m sure you’ll join with propagandist-in-chief Bob Plain and the like in blaming various traitors and outside influences rather than examining the root cause of your side’s failings. I see from today’s headlines you are now number one in the nation in unemployment; when I packed my things and left the state was still only second “best.” David – I had every intention of practicing in Rhode Island after completing my formal education. All of my prior work experience and training was performed in-state with the idea of making connections and preparing for a career there. While at the same time being disgusted by much of what I witnessed along the way, I was very much aware of what it meant to be an “insider” and believed that was what I wanted at the time. The Great Recession put a hard finger on the severe underlying problems of the state, but I hoped it might serve as a wake-up call for Rhode Island’s citizens. It soon became obvious that was not the case, and the state would continue it’s steady decline under the central planning and misguided arrogance of the General Assembly. All the while, I saw the vicious personal attack campaigns from organized labor against reformers, and politician after politician was… Read more »

Phil Spadola
Phil Spadola
8 years ago

Justin Katz
“You’ve gotten kind of schizophrenic. “I didn’t mean to dis you, but let me do so now pretty heavily.””
First I see nothing schizophrenic about paying you a compliment, and disagreeing with what you write. Secondly I would appreciate that if in the future if you wish to use a quote of my comments that you do so accurately and not add to or doctor them in the way you have done here.
“I’m continually perplexed by the Left’s focus on politics over policy. I suppose I shouldn’t be… it’s more about power than anything else for you guys, it seems.”
That power may be what motivates some politicians is undoubtably true, but since I am not one of those, that statement does not apply to me.
“But Rhode Island’s problem is longer standing than a single election, and it is indeed a head-shaker why voters here would continue to ask for more of the same. It is inarguable that a good number are simply bought off with handouts and pay and pensions.”
This statement completely agrees with what I wrote:
“We heard nationally and here in RI that the voters were either bought off, uninformed (stupid), or, as in this case, apathetic.”
On reflection perhaps I should not have included your electoral defeat in my comments, but I was attempting to show that like the national bitterness expressed about their last rejection at the polls you also had a personal reason to feel that way.

Monique
Monique (@monique-chartier)
Editor
8 years ago

” but I was attempting to show that like the national bitterness expressed about their last rejection at the polls you also had a personal reason to feel that way.”
How to explain, then, that Justin’s reservations about the condition and operation of the state (reservations that many of us share) long precede his recent defeat at the ballot box?
Further to the larger theme, how would silence on Rhode Island’s condition – high taxes, bad highways, very generous public sector pay and benefits, lackluster performing schools, school budgets that inexplicably rise significantly as student population falls – help matters?
Phrased another way, if we don’t point these things out, ask for change and make suggestions, how are they going to change?

helen
helen
8 years ago

Fear. Justin,you have put the pointer on the exact nerve.
Recently,I had a conversation with my adult son,who lives in another,more prosperous New England state and makes over $100k a year without having a college diploma.
He very much wants us to improve our circumstances and move.
He said “Mom,you have a big bull coming at you and across that bull’s head is the word financial fear. It’s because of your fears about the government raising taxes and fees. You have to face that bull and make your move for your own best interests.”

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