Dexter Liu’s All-Too-Common Story


An op-ed in today’s Providence Journal by Portsmouth resident Dexter Liu is a story I’ve heard time and again in my years writing in Rhode Island:

Rhode Island has been home for 30 years. I’ve enjoyed working in Newport, raising a family in Portsmouth and being part of the Aquidneck Island community. Our roots run deep here, so the decision to move is terribly bittersweet. We’ll miss friends and favorite haunts, but alas, it’s farewell, Rhode Island.

The early comments to the post are all-too-common, as well.  One sentiment is that people who find it too difficult to live or do business here should just take off.  (One hears similar sentiments when some business objects to new regulations that are supposedly “for the worker,” as if the state has such a healthy economy that it can dismiss any business that can’t thrive in the worst business climate in the country.)  Another sentiment is that there must be some bigger reason for the move.  As Mike Berry puts it: “No one leaves just because they don’t think the state government is running efficiently.”

This is the problem, though.  People don’t leave only because of taxes or regulations.  They generally leave (or don’t come in the first place) at times of transition or decision.  So, yes, a son graduating high school and heading off to college is a time of transition, but deciding what to do during that transition is an open question.  And it explains quite a bit about Rhode Island if people see life changes as an opportunity to escape the state.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I agree that Rhode Island is beautiful and convenient place to live. But, perhaps it is time for a longer view. It may be time to encourage people to beat feet, without the makers and the shakers Rhode Islands will collapse. Perhaps Then a rebirth might be possible. I imagine waterfront property in Detroit is relatively inexpensive. Given that Newport, Watch Hill and Little Compton are already suburbs of New York, perhaps it can become a state without resident taxpayers.

    • twisted

      Aaaah, who is John Galt?

      • Rhett Hardwick

        I wasn’t suggesting that Rhodents leave for a hidden valley in the Rockies.

  • Mike678

    The middle class doesn’t leave RI because it’s better somewhere else or because the State Government is badly run. They leave based on simple cost-benefit analysis. This is a state with good natural resources–ocean front, etc. This which is a double edged sword: it’s harder to leave so you put up with more BS.

    Many leave because they have lost hope…they cannot effect change and see an elite class becoming increasingly controlling–dare one say totalitarian. As things begin to degrade, they will increasingly tax, toll, and impose fees. I predict a supplemental tax to fix the pension shortfall soon–money that will end up in the general budget.

    The smart ones are leaving now–before home values begin to fall as supply exceeds demand.

  • twisted

    I don’t think businesses are making profits off the back of the working middle class because hardly anyone is working, except at minimum wage jobs, unless you know a guy!