What It Means to Be 45th

justin-katz-avatar-smiling

In all the years I’ve been following Rhode Island’s standing on various national rankings, about the only substantive comeback from the forces of the status quo has been that we do okay when it comes to “quality of life.”  As I’ve pointed out, “quality of life” is only much use to those who can afford to enjoy it, and Rhode Island fails by that standard.  Great restaurants may impress an organization ranking states, but they’re utterly irrelevant to the family that can barely put food on the table.

So, now the buzz is that Rhode Island finally moved from dead last on CNBC’s “Top States for Business” ranking.  Here’s Ted Nesi on WPRI:

“Just one year ago the Ocean State finished dead last,” Cohn wrote. “The improvement is no accident. Every time we rank Rhode Island at or near the bottom, state officials take it to heart.”

The CNBC list and its methodology have plenty of critics, particularly on the left. But Rhode Island’s elected leaders have made clear over the years that they care a great deal about the state’s perennially poor showings on this list and other national business-climate rankings.

Exactly.  It’s been clear for years that state officials in Rhode Island are very concerned about the ranking, but not so much about what the ranking is actually telling us.  Consequently, they’ve sought policies to game the methodology, not to address the underlying problems — policies such as income and corporate income tax “reforms” that lowered rates on paper but wound up increasing the amount of tax collected.  Folks, you’re missing the point.

This is how Rhode Island produces an unemployment rate drop, but only because it’s driving people out of the labor force.

It’s also how we get a change that nobody’s talking about.  Our “quality of life,” according to CNBC, fell from 24th best in the country to 31st.  And observe that our state experienced this drop despite the fact that it includes such measures as health insurance coverage, at which we supposedly excel.

Our politicians may be improving our statistics, but they’re making our lives worse.



  • Mike678

    “Just one year ago the Ocean State finished dead last,” Cohn wrote. “The improvement is no accident. Every time we rank Rhode Island at or near the bottom, state officials take it to heart.”
    I know this quote is taken out of context, but even so it’s illuminating. I feel so secure knowing that our state officials act when we are at or near the bottom. Perhaps if we had officials that cared to take note sooner we could throw caution to the winds and aspire to be mediocre? Perhaps be #24 of 50? :)

    • Rhett Hardwick

      Somewhere in there, there is a great slogan. “Strive for mediocrity” suggests itself.

  • BasicCaruso

    “In all the years I’ve been following Rhode Island’s standing on various national rankings, about the only substantive comeback from the forces of the status quo has been that we do okay when it comes to ‘quality of life.'”

    Not so! Barry Shiller had some great ideas for improving the RI ranking.
    http://www.rifuture.org/modest-proposals-ri-business-climate/

    Seriously though, Justin here is deliberately misrepresenting the “comeback” from those who don’t blindly accept the corporate media reporting of bogus metrics.

    http://www.rifuture.org/cnbc-state-rankings-flawed/
    It seems clear that these rankings of states by various business interests, including corporate entities such as CNBC, puppet organizations such as ALEC and members of the State Policy Network (which includes the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity) and various Chambers of Commerce are are not objective measures of a state’s economic well-being, but are tools crafted to shape public policy to the advantage of large business interests and to the detriment of the poor and middle class.

    The most sensible tactic in dealing with such garbage is to file it accordingly.

    • Mike678

      Thanks Russ! Your ability to ignore what you don’t like never ceases to amaze.

Quantcast