A century ago, General Electric and its financier J.P. Morgan were among the handful of key figures whose business practices created a market opportunity for the progressive activists and politicians who have been striving ever since to make government the biggest industry — and a cartel, if not a monopoly, at that — in the United States. The robber barons paid insufficient attention to the human value of their employees and communities and to their responsibility (yes, responsibility) to live the principle that we’re all in this world together, and in the fire of their avarice, they helped birth the monster that has eaten so much of our liberty and that may be on course to plunge us into civilizational failure.
Now, here we are, in one of the states in which the progressive mindset has seized the most firm grip, lamenting that Providence and Rhode Island couldn’t compete with Boston and Massachusetts to give General Electric $140 million in taxpayer dollars to locate its headquarters here. Government has striven to make every person and organization dependent on it — from low-income families that can’t make ends meet without subsidies for food and health care to small businesses that can’t make their models work without subsidies for workforce development and other things. In that environment, it’s little wonder politicians would like to be able to claim that they, with their pitches and incentive packages, managed to secure economic development for their states.
Quoth the Boston Globe: “It’s a major victory for Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, whose aides worked closely together for several months to lure GE to” the city.
The bottom line is that Rhode Island will never be able to compete on a dollar-for-dollar basis with states that are simply bigger. So, why not try something radical and new, but conservative in principle? Why not break up the state-government monopoly and empower every Rhode Islander to build his or her own empire, however he or she defines it?
Dramatically reduce taxes. Take a shredder to the regulation books. Propel our families forward with school choice. Above all, return to the principle of constitutional order in a representative democracy with clear, comprehensible, and consistent rules for the operation of government.
In that way, Rhode Island won’t need $140 million to woo mega-businesses from other states. And smaller businesses will see the Ocean State as a location from which they can compete with the giants. And individuals will be able to chase their dreams — maybe inventing the next revolutionary product or business model that redefines how we see the world, even though politicians and regulators, with their narrow vision and avarice, don’t understand it.