Kate Bramson has checked in on Rhode Island government’s “Wavemaker” program, which bribes college graduates to live in the Ocean State:
The state has selected 224 college graduates to receive personal income tax credits under the state’s Wavemaker Fellowship program, which would defray their student loan debts totaling about $868,000 while the recipients work in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design jobs in Rhode Island. …
This year’s average annual tax credit is approximately $3,875 per student, but recipients earn varying amounts based on their education levels. Those with associate’s degrees are eligible for up to $1,000 of credit each year, while those with postgraduate degrees are eligible for up to $6,000.
The working class and underemployed in the state must be very comforted by the knowledge that they’re helping to give a $6,000 bonus to a Ph.D. in a high-paying job. But that’s the key to living in Rhode Island: do something (or be something) that local elites like. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. You’re a nobody loser.
Many of us have watched in disbelief every time some government-employed or otherwise-connected schemer walks away from an impropriety scot-free, but the mystery is solved when once one understands a quirk about Rhode Island culture. Just as many Americans romanticize mafiosi, Rhode Islanders tend to look up to those who “got theirs.” The insider crooks are the archetypes around which we build our entire system of government. The political message is, “Vote for me, and I’ll get you yours just like my pal got his.”
Sure, it is odd that the same folks who implicitly acknowledge that we have to pay people to live here and companies to set up shop here also tend to insist that the tax-and-regulatory burden doesn’t drive people out. But that seeming contradiction only underscores the principle: Doing something for insiders means you’re not a mooch, but somebody deserving of support. If you just want to mind your own business and keep what you earn, then you’re a mooch.