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April 13, 2004

Ownership of the State

Providence Journal editorial-pages editor Edward Achorn accuses the good people of Rhode Island of being "The biggest saps in America." He's right:

It adds up to a beautiful state that is being served badly -- scandalously so -- by its elected leaders. In Rhode Island, government is costly, taxes are high, people with connections line their pockets at the expense of taxpayers, public education is second-rate, and business development is scared away by the civic culture.

Rhode Island could do vastly better, of course. But it will never change until citizens who are being played for suckers start demanding better.

Young, struggling families — such as those headed by semi-employed conservative writers, just to put an entirely random face on them — can be excused for wondering if they mightn't increase their chances of success exponentially were they to move elsewhere. The problems come from various components of public life and public culture, and they are so thoroughly woven into the mindsets of the citizens that "suckers" is less applicable a description than "drones."

I may not have a completely developed sense of the state, but the impression that I've gotten is that everything is homogenous. The unions, government, and media are monolithic. The major, culture-generating industries are higher education and tourism. The former ensures that mouthing highfalutin liberal policies is a central requirement for public office, while the latter gives an excuse for economy-stifling environmentalism. Both industries are largely characterized by the temporary population that they attract, which must contribute to the approach to monetary and public service policies.

From the time I was a child, I've preferred to take such challenges head on, scorning the option of running away. But frankly, I don't know how much longer even my wife's large local family will be sufficient justification to continue the struggle to squeeze through the economic and cultural barriers that we face.

Posted by Justin Katz at April 13, 2004 5:44 PM

Well Justin, you're not alone. At some point, those of us "from somewhere else" who know what life is like outside of the Ocean State, start looking around and try to figure out exactly why we are subjecting ourselves to this (as you so aptly put) drone state. 66% of the population don't even seem to consider anybody with an "R" next to their name on the ballot, unless it's for Governor. The state has beaten any hope of change out of the lifelong residents. Those of us who have moved in either eventually get similarly beat down or simply leave because we know things are better elsewhere.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at April 14, 2004 7:46 AM