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June 11, 2004

Rhode Island: A Feudal State

In a Providence Journal column, Edward Achorn quotes one of the Democrat senators in the Rhode Island legislature, Stephen Alves:

After 14 years up at the state house I am getting tired of high wage earners complaining about taking care of others, over the last decade we have lowered our tax structure (which benefits high wage earners the most) and decreased services to our poorest and yet the complaints continue.

I guess until we have a 2 class system of the haves and the have knots (at the rate we are going we are almost there) people will continue to complain.

Achorn calls this "garbled thinking," and worse than that, it's garbled thinking directed with arrogance toward a citizen who had written to Alves expressing concern about the direction in which Rhode Island has long been heading. One wonders if this state's rulers are so confident in their constituents' apathy and so full of their own power that they forget that the entity that they govern is only one of fifty in America. As Achorn points out (perhaps hoping that it just hasn't occurred to the poor deluded senator previously):

It's simple economics -- simple enough for many politicians to comprehend. Jobs create the tax revenues that help provide for the poor and other government services. Jobs nurture the middle class. And "hard-working low-income" people benefit from greater opportunities to get good educations and well-paying jobs. The government will never have enough money to help them live well simply by raising taxes through the roof and redistributing wealth.

That is because people have options to locate businesses and live elsewhere -- which is exactly what they do. They aren't the ones "complaining," because they're not even here. The ones complaining are those who love Rhode Island enough to stick it out and fight for something better for themselves, their children and their state.

Achorn is surely correct that, at "some point, Rhode Island voters will wake up and realize the feudal model is not working for them or their children," and I'm inclined to think that point has nearly been reached. The avalanches that ultimately bring down long-accumulating mountains of political phlegm start with fissures along outcroppings. Although I'm entirely unacquainted with internal RI Republican dynamics, it was obvious to me last night that a rupture has begun there, and hopefully the momentum of that shake-up will carry through to the general politics of the state.

Posted by Justin Katz at June 11, 2004 8:39 AM