Could it be that the status quo’s defenders just don’t get the economics?
University of Rhode Island Economics Professor Len Lardaro reminds us of the magic by which the state makes its employment numbers look good:
To me, the apologists for the status quo are the scariest part. Saying, “Oh, don’t worry. People are just retiring,” completely misses the point.
If Rhode Islanders are retiring, shouldn’t their jobs remain for somebody else to fill? That’s the problem. RI is not generating a sustainable path for continued economic health.
If somebody wants to stay here, for whatever reason, he or she has to find a way to make money. If their jobs stop when they do, they weren’t really “Rhode Island jobs.” They were always “that-person jobs.” The state is not creating opportunity; it’s just cashing in on the people who happen to live here and whatever it was that kept them around.
I’ve been making variations of this point for nearly 25 years, now. (Sometimes, I’ve had to argue with Lardaro about it.) States must provide opportunity that draws people to them and sustains jobs distinctly from the people who currently hold them. This is especially true for a state, like Rhode Island, that has built so much fixed operating cost into its economy in the form of government.