RI Report Card: Rhode Island Government Still Failing Its People


The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity released its annual Competitiveness Report Card for Rhode Island, today.  Now that we’re four years into the iterative project, we’ve produced some year-to-year comparisons, and I’ve reworked the spreadsheet so I can run the results for every state in comparison with any five other states.  The first chart at the above link shows that one could make the case that the state has improved a little over the years, but this chart of all of the subcategories that make up the final grades shows that it’s primarily a consolidation in the D- and D range:

As the person who collects the data, I can tell you that even this minor improvement has to be adjusted downward for two factors:

  • In some cases, we’ve replaced some subcategories with others that covered different areas or that are simply updated more frequently, so the first-year baseline might have been different.
  • More importantly, Rhode Island’s results improved in a number of categories not because our policies or outcomes improved, but because other states slipped.

The most-telling thing about the chart above is that grades above C- have not increased in number.  This shows, in my view, that decision makers in Rhode Island like things just fine the way they are.  It’s more important to them to preserve whatever little wellsprings they may have claimed for themselves than to allow Rhode Islanders to make the state the incredible place it should be.  As I write in the post on RIFreedom.org, it’s questionable whether the metaphor of a report card is really applicable.  The grades don’t really show how Rhode Islanders are doing; they show what the insiders are doing to Rhode Islanders.

Persistently trailing the country with high taxes, a stormy business climate, and a mountain of spending and debt shows a failure of social justice.  A lack of employment and educational opportunity and secure, affordable access to energy is an affront to our civil rights.  Allowing our infrastructure to crumble while those who feast at the government table, in one seat or another, are the envy of their peers across the nation is simply not fair.  And putting government first in a way that infringes on our access to health care and ability to live in the state undermines our choices and our freedom.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the insiders’ wellsprings have to be dried up or covered, first, before they’ll allow the rest of us to cultivate sources of sustenance sufficient for our whole community. If we fail to take that step, the condition of the state will fully be our fault.