News is out that General Electric has deigned to put an office in Providence, and Rhode Islanders should take the opportunity to give some real thought to how we’re letting our society be governed. Via Ted Nesi’s Twitter stream, for example, comes this take from the Boston Globe:
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo didn’t win the high-stakes battle for General Electric’s corporate headquarters, but she’s coming away with a nice consolation prize.
Raimondo’s office Thursday said the industrial conglomerate would open a GE Digital information technology center in Providence. GE expects to employ 100 people in the near term, with a goal of adding many more over the next several years, state officials said.
Ian Donnis reports that the cost to Rhode Islanders (at least initially) is $5.65 million over 10 years. So, government officials take our money in order to win consolation prizes from major corporations. Who, exactly, is in the driver’s seat, here?
The difficulty in assessing this deal is that we can’t just go the way of of RI Commerce Czar Stefan Pryor and assume that income taxes and other benefits from the prize will be a larger sum than the gift. We also have to imagine counterfactuals.
What if we stopped allowing government to be the dictatorial governing board of all of our lives, and our economy, and made our state the kind of places that individuals and organizations heard about and said, “I want to live there”? The cost might be higher… for special interests, anyway… but we’d be living in a dynamic community that isn’t dependent on the good graces of large companies able to make deals with politicians.