One could easily lose track of all of the mounting costs that Rhode Island’s ruling class is piling on our future.
We’ve got such things as the Medicaid expansion, of course, which will soon receive another boost — along with every other welfare program — when the Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) is fully operational and ensuring that every conceivable recipient is receiving the maximum handout. We’ve got the state’s pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) costs, which will be exploding in the near-to-mid-term future. In a year or two, there will be tolls on trucks, and we can be sure that they will be followed by tolls on cars. And all of this comes on top of the increases in taxes, fees, and costly mandates and regulations that slip through the General Assembly into law each and every year.
And then there’s Deepwater Wind, about which Ian Donnis provides a reminder on Rhode Island Public Radio’s site, today. This part can only lead to shaking heads:
“No one can predict the future,” [Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski] said. “I know what the cost of the Block Island wind farm will be, because I can predict that going forward. But where the rest of the market is, is completely unknown today — and it’s unpredictable. So those projections of what an over-market cost might be are simply speculation at this point.”
This rationale, from somebody deeply and personally invested in this particular special interest, should be a candidate for the best articulation of Rhode Island government’s wrong-headed approach to economic development. Hey, whether our investments are good or bad is “simply speculation,” right? That’s why the people who stand to benefit directly had to get the state government to force everybody else to pay for it.
This is exactly the problem with what some have called “venture socialism.” Private interests make out one way or another, and the public absorbs all of the risk. Politicians who supposedly represent you and me shouldn’t be committing us to “speculation.” Donnis closes the article as follows:
So does this wind power represent a smart investment or a corporate giveaway that will lead to higher bills for electricity? The answer to that question may not be known for many years.
I have yet to see anybody estimate or even describe the upside in concrete terms, but the downside is easy to see, even if we don’t include systematic costs like turning state government into a form of organized crime for theft on a mind boggling scale.