Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 5 of 6


[Following up on the fourth post responding to Aaron Renn’s “toolkit” for Rhode Island policy.]

“5. Is Rhode Island promoting and de-risking entrepreneurship and the scaling of local businesses inside the state (vs. targeting large corporations and luring businesses from elsewhere)?”

This is another question that points generally in the right direction, but it is therefore conspicuous in the degree to which its conclusions conflict with others of Renn’s prescriptions.  He notes that Rhode Island gained its initial wealth through “home grown businesses.”  So, what’s the best way to capture that spirit again?

It isn’t for the State to determine what direction its people must pursue.  Rather, the state government should get out of the way when Rhode Islanders look around their lives and see what it is about them and their environment that they can transform into prosperity.  The greatest obstacles to any given innovation might be things that make Rhode Island “worst in class,” like the unemployment insurance system.  Or they might be things that are merely burdensome, like the necessity of registering and collecting sales taxes, or just overcoming the lack of a competitive advantage when it comes to other states and the Internet.

Or they might be things like a statute-hardened near monopoly on educational services.

Or they might be things like having to adhere to the social-spending priorities of a progressive activist “you,” rather than shifting altruism across time… being “selfish” while building a business in order to be generous when it succeeds.

Or they might be things like an unaccountable class of labor union organizers whose thumbs have broken the scale.

Or they might be things like this pervasive urge — among just about every person whose life orbits government, on either side of the ideological aisle — to come up with a solution that all Rhode Islanders must follow.

Which all brings us to…

[Read part 6, here.]