News that Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo has moved forward with the economy-rescuing hire of a “Director of Food Strategy” brings to mind the recent Brookings Institution report that is now the basis for Rhode Island’s economic development schemes. There’s this, for example, on page 7:
Design, Food, and Custom Manufacturing: Industrial design provides significant competitive advantages for companies. Driven by rapid technological developments, falling costs, and 3D printing technology, industrial design is an increasingly important part of product and service development. Meanwhile, a burgeoning maker movement is lowering the barriers to designing and manufacturing goods. Particular opportunities for Rhode Island include rising demand for industrial design and growing interest in food manufacturing that stands at the nexus of food and health.
And that’s not all. Page 9:
The state’s quality of place is alluring and increasingly wellknown, and includes not just the shoreline and historic charm but distinctive cities and towns, vibrant food and art scenes, and an increasing “coolness factor.” However, the innovation community remains atomized and lacks the focal points, collaboration spaces, and state-of-the-art “innovation districts” and neighborhoods that are needed to retain and attract talent.
Oh, hey, there’s that “coolness” thing. I wonder how much Brookings’s fondness for all things “cool” influenced the governor’s failed Cooler & Warmer tag line.
The real significance of these few overlapping words is the early indication that: This is what the top-down, experiment-with-Rhode-Island, Brookings approach entails. The public is only as involved as it has to be for PR purposes (because the experts know better… all about “the nexus of food and health”), and food czars and marketing czars gorge on our tax dollars.
More broadly, this is what central planning looks like. We’ve got a report. We’ve got people with our money and collective power who need to implement the plan in that report. And so we get people who can’t possibly have all of the relevant information about our people, our economy, and our interests who have to make decisions because they were told to do so by the planners.
It won’t work, but boy will a handful of insiders, cronies, and politicians get rich and powerful as they fail.