With race riots in Baltimore shocking the nation, streamed in full color and graphic video across the Internet and social media, discussion has turned to the causes.
Speaking two days after the riots began, President Obama blamed the failure of a Republican Congress to pass his agenda. Writing on National Review, Kevin Williamson focuses on the progressive Democrats who’ve tended to dominate cities that are wracked with such uprisings. “They are incompetent, they are corrupt, and they are breathtakingly arrogant.”
Boiled down to core beliefs, there are two mutually exclusive political hypotheses on the table. Either a centralized government can implement programs to raise up struggling communities, or centralizing government creates a font of money and power that will attract the sorts of people who use — prey on — those communities. Both cannot be true.
My article on WatchDog Arena, this week, looks at Rhode Island’s rank of 42nd among states when it comes to return on taxpayer investment in government, according to WalletHub.
Put in Williamson’s terms, poor infrastructure maintenance shows incompetence, green energy boondoggles (not to mention regular arrests of legislators, including the last speaker of the Rhode Island House) show corruption, and the regulatory overreach shows a “breathtaking arrogance” about insiders’ ability to control an entire society.
If only because it shares New England’s typical lack of racial diversity, Rhode Island is not likely to face race riots anytime soon. (Rhode Island is 7.5% black, to Maryland’s 30.1%; Providence is 16% black, to Baltimore’s 63.7%.) That may only mean that the consequences of one-party rule dominated by a big-government progressive philosophy will come in another form.
When people are being pushed into difficult situations by a government that doesn’t serve their needs, and over which they feel they have no control, they can respond in different ways. In Baltimore, large protests of people with few options are turning into riots. In Rhode Island, people with more options are leaving.
The difference may only be a matter of time, though, as the state attracts people who think they need government services, even as those who pay for them exit. Americans from all states should work to ensure that the experiments performed on collapsing and riotous cities don’t have to be tested across the country.