Matrician Raimondo: Partisan and Wrong


Two points may strike a reader of Edward Fitzpatrick’s Sunday Providence Journal column, yesterday, one political and one a matter of governing philosophy.

On the political point — the theme from which the column drew its headline — one must wonder at the free hand the columnist gives Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo.  How could Fitzpatrick let her get away with saying “she’s increasingly convinced that Republican nominee Donald J. Trump is not fit to be president” — that his rhetoric is “not American” and “the prospect of his presidency… scary” — and not challenge her on the fitness of proven liar Democrat Hillary Clinton, who was (at the very least) extremely careless and blind to the appearance of corruption in her time as secretary of state?  There’s no way Fitzpatrick would have let a Republican governor get away with declaring Clinton “not fit to be president” without responding, “Well, what about Trump?”

The philosophical point has to do with Raimondo’s understanding of government’s role in developing Rhode Island’s economy.  Raimondo insists that she has to engage in corporate welfare because other states are doing it, and she “can’t put our people at a disadvantage.”  A disadvantage of what?  Well, it’s kinda like the disadvantage that an overbearing mother thinks her children will face if she doesn’t shape them to be what the bosses in town want them to be.

The funny thing about this particular policy question is that a slight change of perspective, even of the words used to talk about it, transforms an obvious thing that a state government must do into an obscenity.  From Raimondo’s point of view, the government’s job is to actively look after the well-being of every Rhode Islander, and that’s going to require taking some decisions out of individuals’ hands and assuming that the leaders with the centralized plan are better positioned to use Rhode Islanders’ money in order to create a healthy environment — economic and otherwise.

The opposing point of view holds that this is not government’s role, that government cannot possibly be better positioned than all individual Rhode Islanders to figure out the best way to use their resources, and that it’s dangerous to give government this level of totalitarian authority.  The governor is taking money away from all Rhode Islanders (in multiple ways) in order to give it to major, multi-billion-dollar corporations.  With taxes and regulations, whether imposing them in a targeted way or imposing them broadly and then giving targeted exemptions, the state government disadvantages individuals and businesses that don’t fit its big-government–big-business centralized plan.  And then the governor’s education and training efforts seek to change Rhode Islanders so that they’re more what the big businesses need.

Again, seen this way, the governor’s progressive approach is obscene.  She’s taking care of all of us because we’re not able to take care of ourselves.  She’s Big Mommy, getting out our clothes for us and sending us out the door to jobs that she lined up for us.  Consider this:

She said she took her children to the Charlestown seafood festival recently and talked to young carnival-ride workers who said they wanted “real jobs.” She said, “Once upon a time, those young people could have gotten a job in a factory and done OK.”

Or maybe in an economy that left more individual freedom to experiment and make one’s own way than does her matrician scheme, those kids would have taken the path I did after dropping out of college and working menial jobs for a couple of years and found in themselves the motivation to work toward a better path.  Maybe they’d have returned to college, now with a motivation originating from within (rather than the weaker motivation that comes from the sense that mom or the government has made everything easy), or maybe they’d have found some innovative way to build their own businesses, making money and improving our world in a way that even an Ivy League financial executive couldn’t imagine.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    “She said she took her children to the Charlestown seafood festival recently and talked to young carnival-ride workers who said they wanted “real jobs.”

    This is a nonsensical example. When I was a kid, which now seems like just after the Civil War, carnivals still traveled from town to town. The rides were staffed by, somewhat shiftless, kids. I think the chief attraction was sex and alcohol. I think most people will still recognize the expression “ran away with the circus”.

  • Jonathan Flynn

    Many Republicans think Donald Trump is unfit to be President

    • Mike678

      And many Democrats feel that Clinton is also unfit with much more factual material to back up their opinions, but that was not the point of the article, was it?

      • Jonathan Flynn

        I don’t see or hear of any Dems for Trump. The alleged billionaire is dangerous on so many levels.

        • Mike678

          You really need to work on your reading comprehension.

  • Kevin Hoyle

    I totally agree with your line, “…those kids would have taken the path I did after dropping out of college and working menial jobs for a couple of years and found in themselves the motivation to work toward a better path.”

    I took the same path, hunger and the possibility of being homeless is a great motivator. I never understand those who accept failure and expect the system to bail them out.

    Regarding grants and corporate welfare, Gina and the EDC are very unequal in the assistance awarded. The goal appears to be getting the most press coverage as opposed to actually helping the state prosper. Bring in GE, because it is a recognizable name, or ‘save’ ATCross and JobLot when they threaten to leave and it is PR.

    Think of all the small and midsized businesses that you don’t hear about. These are the companies that provide the majority of jobs and Tax revenue to the state but they are not worthy of a press release so they go largely ignored.

    Yes, I have first hand knowledge, I run a high tech global, (but very low profile), company based in Rhode Island. We employ about 70+ professional employees, and we can’t even get the Governor’s staff (not the Gov… her staff), or CommerceRI to return an email.

    Kevin Hoyle