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My State Is So Screwed Up
06/25/2003

The problem in Rhode Island is that the people are so turned around ideologically, so confused by the conflicting demands of the region's liberalism, that they can't muster the will to protest anything that doesn't very specifically target them. Add in the blend of union power, the high proportion of academics, the rich shoreliners, the mobsters, and the tourism moguls, and you've got a population with enough money not to care too much about government waste (and government skimming) and sufficiently insulated from the real effects of their feel-good politics not to understand why money just won't fix it or why that slice of society caught between wealth and poverty objects to additional payments.

And that is why the entrenched crooks in state and local government get away with pretending those who object to their actions don't exist:

WPRO radio talk-show host Dan Yorke brought his microphone -- and about four dozen of his sign-toting listeners -- to the State House yesterday to cheer Republican Governor Carcieri on in his head-butting battle with state lawmakers over the state budget.

"Don't you feel . . . the con job?" Yorke asked the shirt-sleeved governor, who joined him at the microphone in a marble hallway, halfway between the House and Senate chambers.

"It's, 'Hey Don. Hey. You're a good guy.' But, you know what? You don't got a rat's . . . chance of getting anything done. I mean, that's what's going on in this building," Yorke told the governor on air. "You're not getting any respect."

"Well, it's not just me. OK? It's all of these people. It's all of us," Carcieri said to cheers from the ragtag crowd of talk-show fans in Bermuda shorts and sneakers and T-shirts that, in the case of Joe Faella from Johnston, read: "The Budget Sucks."

"I think what happens -- and what these people don't realize," Carcieri said of the state's overwhelmingly Democratic lawmakers, "and I realized shortly after I got here, is that what happens within the four walls of this building often bears little relationship with how people feel or what people care about outside this building.

A large part of the problem is that state workers get their raises and increases in benefits without reference to what's going on with the economy... except when the economy is doing well. In that case, they feel the lift in proportionate disproportionality. Check out this bit of bull from a state Democrat that ought to be considered criminally obfuscatory:

In interviews earlier in the day, House Finance Chairman Paul V. Sherlock, D-Warwick, and Deputy Finance Chairman Steven M. Costantino, D-Providence, denounced the increase in pension contributions as a "tax on one segment of the Rhode Island work force . . . [the] people who take care of people in our hospitals, the people who teach our children in schools . . . all the people who are meeting the needs of the state."

They defended their decisions to increase school aid by $15 million; undo the cutbacks and constraints that Carcieri sought in state payments to the people who run child-care centers, hospitals and senior centers; and leave Newport Jai Alai, the Lincoln dog track and the owners of the greyhounds that race there with enough money to stay and expand.

"To simply say he didn't raise taxes and we did is disingenuous. A tax is a tax is a tax," said Costantino, asserting that Carcieri's efforts to freeze some local aid payments would have forced cities and towns to raise their own local property taxes -- "the most regressive tax there is."

This is how stupid Rhode Island's leaders think their "subjects" are. The government can't cover the costs of its runaway spending? Well then, not to raise taxes on the average person (who has been struggling owing to the economy, and whose plight isn't being helped by the weather's effects on the tourism industry) would be to raise taxes on those whom the government pays. What a scam! In my view, this state representative is no less a liar, no less a con artist, than the grifter on the street.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 10:12 AM EST