Fiscal Condition Versus Making a Living: Live Free or Die


Rhode Islanders should be pleasantly surprised to find their state coming in at number 38 out of 50 on the Mercatus Center’s ranking of the states’ fiscal condition.  Any list that keeps the Ocean State out of the worst 10 is apt to be received with either relief or suspicion among the people who live here.

Of course, this particular list was sweetened by the fact that Rhode Island came in second best in New England — behind only New Hampshire, which southern New Englanders tend to see as an impossible-to-replicate land of low taxes and “live free or die” liberty. As WPRI reporter Ted Nesi put it, Rhode Island’s placement is “not great, but notably higher than Connecticut (#47) or Massachusetts (#48).”

Given this unexpected result, though, there’s reason to wonder whether Mercatus’s methodology misses the ways in which Rhode Island games every system.  After all, comparing states’ employment levels with their pre-crash peak, Massachusetts is nowthe fourth best in the country.  In’s “Best and Worst States to Make a Living 2015,” Massachusetts is #20, while Rhode Island is in its more-familiar territory in the bottom 10 (at #42).

Shouldn’t the health of a state’s economy bear some relation to its fiscal health?

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  • ShannonEntropy

    If you toss this study into a meta-analysis of all the studies that rank Li’l Rhody either dead last or in the bottom five of whatever category being studied, it would barely move the needle

    There are always gonna be worthless studies. That’s why results have to be duplicated before anyone takes them seriously. Good Luck finding another needle of an optimistic study in the haystack of bad news about this place

  • Warrington Faust

    The business world is full of “Standard Accounting Practices”, I am sure they exist for governments. This should permit apple to apple comparison. I doubt that the studies made use of them, or “cherry picked”.

    I recently read a “Best Places to Live” study. Their criteria was explained and very subjective. Also, in a small group (10) scoring three 8’s and a lot of 4’s can give you a better position than a lot of 5’s and 6’s. Also “beaches” are scored equally with “fiscal solvency”.

    • guest

      Believe it or not, outside of your Fox News-driven echo chamber “fiscal
      solvency” isn’t exactly in the forefront of everyone’s daily thoughts.

      • ShannonEntropy

        But “beaches” are ??

        This may come as shocking news to you, guest, but we actually do have a major problem attracting &/or retaining top talent here … precisely because the types of folks we need here DO pay attention to stuff like fiscal health, business climate, tax rates, etc …

      • Mike678

        Fox News has the most trusted network and cable news coverage in the United States, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday. But network TV is much less trustworthy than it was in the days of Walter Cronkite, American voters say.Mar 9, 2015
        Poll: Fox News most trusted network – Nick Gass – POLITICO…/fox-news-trusted-network-poll-115887.html