Unfairness in RI Government’s Priorities


Mike Stenhouse’s recent op-ed in the Providence Journal puts the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Public Union Excesses report in a broader context:

Beyond these extreme financial costs, an even more corrosive impact from this political cronyism is at play. People have lost trust in their government and are fed up with betrayals from lawmakers who have forgotten them, who cater only to special-interest concerns. Lawmakers make it ever-harder for people to take care of their families and reside in Rhode Island.

For these reasons, Rhode Island is not keeping pace with the rest of the nation when it comes to jobs and population growth. After 10 years of perhaps the slowest economic recovery among all states, Rhode Island’s political leaders are failing on their promises to help the average family.

Instead, by heaping more privileges upon those who help get them elected, politicians continue to lose the trust of the people, who are also losing hope for their state. These tragic circumstances have conspired to make it a virtual certainty that the Ocean State will lose a prized U.S. congressional seat after the 2020 national census because of its stagnant population growth.

Rhode Island strangles its families and businesses with taxes and regulations, but often, the sheer unfairness of the system can be the real poison.  As a member of the Tiverton Town Council, yesterday I participated in a “business walk” hosted by the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, which involved stopping in to talk with some business owners around town.

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Of course, we heard about the problem of taxes, but the subjects that really animated business owners would better be classified as injustice.  The cost of government labor was seen not only as a cause of high taxes, but also as a budget imbalance preventing infrastructure improvement.  Similarly, the capriciousness of enforcement, with the rules not seeming to apply fairly to every business and changing depending on which government inspector paid a visit, is irksome beyond the cost.

Even after figuring out how to overcome all the regulatory obstacles that the state throws in their way and even after building high taxes, regulation-driven energy costs, and government bungled healthcare expenses into their business models, they still never know when an inspector will find some new rule to enforce or the legislature will come up with some new fee or obstacle to impose.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    After 10 years of perhaps the slowest economic recovery among all states,

    Sometimes I think about what we lost, and what we are recovering. I have always thought of Rhode Island as a “manufacturing” state . By manufacturing, I think large scale; steam engines, locomotives, shipbuilding and repair. Even “stamping” operations like jewelry and watch cases. Because of my predilection for old machinery (yes, I am building a steam engine) I watched what seemed to be huge number of auctions of second tier operations in those areas, job shops, machine shops, tool and die shops. Many had equipment from the 1930’s and 40’s. These places were already tired and worn out, their customers had disappeared. They have all but disappeared and I have a tough time finding a small machine shop. I have no idea of the percentage of the work force employed, probably small. Perhaps one percent.

    My point is that they are not just coming back, perhaps never will. Simply waiting for the industries that needed them to “recover” is a waste of time. Although I am amused to hear the owner of a c-store refer to his “industry”, we really must make Rhode Island a home for specific industries, as we once did, textiles, jewelry, etc. We have let things trickle away for so long, I cannot even think where to start. But, hair salons, finger nail shops and Spanish music stores are not the answer.

    Increasing, arbitrary regulations. Once you create a bureaucracy it has to grow, usually by creating new regulations. Otherwise, they are “not working”. They are not increasing their budget.

    • ShannonEntropy

      Li’l Rhody really shot itself in the foot when they outlawed indoor prostitution

      Guys used to pour in from up to hundreds of miles away to visit our strip clubs & massage parlors; then drop $millions$ more in liquor stores restaurants & hotels

      The best clubs were Cheaters [ now Wild Zebra ] the Cadillac Lounge and Woony’s K2U Lounge, but they were all basically brothels, as were all the massage parlors. In all their parking lots there were always plenty of vehicles with out-of-state plates. Gone… swept away

      As I always say, all change isn’t necessarily for the better. Donut even get me started on auto key fobs and that feature that shuts the engine off every time you stop

  • Joe Smith

    Justin – Why don’t you push a resolution to make Tiverton a “Sanctuary town” from onerous business regulations?

    • ShannonEntropy

      Cuz they’re all unfunded State mandates that the town has no jurisdiction over

      • Joe Smith

        Shannon – my understanding – and maybe the GOP would be better served pushing this path regarding home rule violations. than stupid one off items like Dan McKee’s travel (when he may be the best “GOP” candidate in 2022)

        You’re right if there is something that applies to all towns, then home rule wouldn’t apply, but items that hit just a few towns (like the firefighter OT) would be ripe for a home rule constitutional challenge.

        Plus, let’s face it..whether it’s immigration or second amendment, these resolutions are more for attention drawing..why not spotlight the “worst” ones through a sanctuary from regulations campaign..especially when the WSJ and others seem “keyed in” on Gina and RI for attention right now. WSJ and others would love a nice follow-up..

    • Justin Katz

      Not a bad idea

      • Christopher C. Reed

        …sauce for the goose…
        But Speaker Mattiello now announces himself to be a strict constructionist as regards the rule of law.

      • ShannonEntropy

        Now that I think about it, it really is a good idea, with no down-side for you or the
        Tiv-Town Council

        After all, the move would be strictly symbolic

        And… you *might* get national news coverage, like Burrillville got after they claimed 2nd Am Sanctuary status

        And if a local business duzn’t get that State-required license / permit or fill out the 300 pages of forms or pay the State fees, it will be the *business* the State ravages, not you town council guys

        Go for it !!