“2. Is Rhode Island continuously improving at a rate faster than its competitors on a long term, sustainable basis?”
Here, again, the question is generic enough to have some application, but the moment Renn begins to explain, he lapses into a bad metaphor:
A second factor to consider is that it took a long time to get into this situation, and it will take a long time to get out. It’s just like losing weight. There is no silver bullet. There is no quick fix. There is no magic pill. We need to make lifestyle changes over the long term to get us where we want and need to be. As local consultant Kevin Hively once put it, “Rhode Island needs to change its diet, not take a shot of 5hr Energy.” And that’s dead on.
Rhode Island isn’t an organism (no matter how much a central planner and progressive might be inclined to see “it” as one). Rhode Island is a geography that is home to around one million human beings. To see how false the analogy is consider that an individual actually does have a quick fix and magic pill to Rhode Island’s problems: to move away. When it comes to the political hang-ups that keep Rhode Island lashed to the bottom of the barrel, a wave election could completely change the circumstances of the state. No gradual shift of habits necessary.
That isn’t to say that such a wave would be easy or that any particular wave would necessarily be for the better. The point is that there are things that could change very quickly, in Rhode Island, that aren’t akin to slowly working off excess fat. To stick with my two policy examples, a child could have a better educational experience this fall, if his or her parents are empowered to change the educational environment, and shoppers could change their habits and keep more of their money today, if the sales tax were eliminated.
The state is not a person; it doesn’t have a lifestyle that some organic brain must accustom itself to changing. It has residents who would eagerly change their lifestyles if given the opportunity (perhaps renewing lifestyles that the powers who be have made impossible for them). The only reason to emphasize gradual change as a general principle is if the first concern isn’t to help the people of the state, but to retain the central planner’s vision of a ruling elite as such an organic brain.
[Read part 3, here.]