Readers may have come across the news that the RI Taxpayers group is discontinuing its activities. As the rebranded Rhode Island Statewide Coalition (RISC), RI Taxpayers has provided a daily newsletter, statements on events and policies of current interest, and commentary for various news media. Recently, the group’s most visible representative has been Anchor Rising-Ocean State Current contributor Monique Chartier.
While it’s discouraging to watch one of the key players on our side fall off the board, time may prove that resources and talent can be salvaged and won’t be lost.
A systemic point is important to make here, however. Because the payoff in money and political advantage is direct and focused, there is no shortage of groups to advocate for taking taxpayer money and imposing requirements on everybody in the state. Indeed, taxpayers are forced to fund much of that advocacy whether directly, as grants, or indirectly, through subsidies to colleges that set them up, through union dues, and through a variety of more subtle means.
Those who seek to limit taxes and government impositions, by contrast, mostly run on dedication. Especially in our state, where business associations like the chambers of commerce have been fully bought off and incorporated into the insider system, few individuals or entities benefit in a direct, focused way from the center-right policies. The benefits of freedom and prosperity are widely dispersed.
I think of my efforts, locally, to limit taxes. Through two alternate budgets, my friends and I have saved taxpayers $1.3 million per year. That’s great, and many people in town have expressed their gratitude, but those savings are dispersed across around 16,000 people, so it would be difficult to create even a part-time job out of advocacy. In contrast, by its third year, the latest teacher contract will have added about $900,000 annually to teacher compensation, distributed to about 180 union members, for an average $5,000 each, and they’re all required by law to fund the negotiation efforts.
Of course, the union organizations don’t just negotiate. They’re deeply involved in political fights and advocacy across the board, from labor rules to same-sex marriage and abortion, spreading their resources and talent across their progressive alliance.
From one way of looking at things, it’s a testament to the truth of our views that conservatives do even as well as we do against such overwhelming odds. Imagine what we could accomplish, though, if we could comfortably support even one strong organization, let alone more than one.