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Equal Pay Is Dead, Long Live Equal Pay

The news is everywhere in Rhode Island media that the Rhode Island Senate will not consider the House version of the “equal pay” legislation:

The day began with a pronouncement by the Senate that the “pay equity” bill — which tied the House in knots before a 64-to-9 vote of approval the previous night — was dead on arrival in the Senate, which had passed a much further-reaching bill earlier in the year.

“The Senate prioritized pay equity this session,″ said Senate spokesman Greg Pare. “On April 10, national ‘Equal Pay Day,’ the Senate passed strong legislation to address wage gaps in the workplace. The legislation the House passed last night does not reflect the Senate’s commitment to ensuring equal pay for comparable work and meaningful change for women’s economic security.

“The Senate will not be considering the House bill.”

So, even though the two versions of the bill have substantial overlap, if one chamber doesn’t pass the other chamber’s version, that’s that.  A cynic (which can, with only mild cynicism, be defined as “somebody who has observed the Rhode Island General Assembly for a while”) might wonder how choreographed this performance was.

Prioritizing the issue was an early and somewhat surprising point of emphasis for Senate President Dominick Ruggerio.  This outcome gives him progressive cover, while giving House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello pro-business creds for his first election after nearly being unseated by a conservative challenger, all in the muddy mix of a legislative process that makes it difficult to blame anybody in particular.

Rhode Islanders should welcome the results, though.  The Senate legislation was a radical nightmare that was arguably only in part about reducing a wage gap between men and women, and the notion that discrimination is creating an unfair differential in pay is a myth.  In other words, forcing its mandates on the economy would create a regulatory environment that would be unfair to businesses and to employees whose work would be devalued in order to adjust pay rates that are not based on discrimination as it is.

The inability of the General Assembly’s two chambers to come up with common legislation will now move the issue past the November election, which may very well take some of the hot air out of the narrative’s sails, one way or another.

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The Conditions Under Which Progressives Will Lease Us to Businesses

One last minute bill in the Rhode Island General Assembly, H8324, may or may not be going anywhere, but it’s worth a look as an educational exercise.

Very simply, it would require any “hosting platform” (e.g., AirBnB) that allows people to “offer any property for tourist or transient use” to be responsible for making sure that the rentals are in compliance with state and local laws and regulations.  It would also require the platform operators to take a more active role in the collection and transfer of all relevant taxes.

This little change in law, affecting a narrow portion of a single industry in the state, carries some important questions of the sort that we don’t consider thoroughly enough.  What is the nature of commerce?  Who works for whom?  Who has responsibility for whom?

From a free-market perspective that starts with the individual as the origin of all economic activity, the property owners are responsible for the product that they are offering, and the hosting platforms work for them.  Because they are the constituents of state and local government, they have a say in that government and can arguably be said to have consented to granting it some authority to regulate their activities.

The progressive perspective that has long been insinuating itself into Rhode Island government and encroaching on Rhode Islanders’ rights is very different.  That view doesn’t begin with individuals as autonomous sources of responsibility and power.  The Rhode Islanders seeking to rent their property don’t truly have ownership of themselves.  Rather state and local government has claims on their activities, and the hosting platforms own their rental businesses.  It is therefore reasonable for the government to require platforms to make sure that their workers comply with its requirements.

From a free-market perspective, a government that imposes requirements on people might create incentive for them to hire a contractor to do tasks for them — for AirBnB to provide inspections for regulatory compliance, for example, with an extra fee.  But from a progressive perspective, the government has a right to tell companies that intend to draw profits from its people what conditions they must impose, or else they cannot do business here.

In other words, progressives implicitly believe that the government is renting us out to the companies.

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Learning Lessons from Our Neighboring States

Here’s the Yankee Institute of Connecticut highlighting a Pioneer Institute study out of Massachusetts:

Pioneer Institute’s study “Back to Taxachusetts” tracks ten years of Connecticut data from 2008 to 2017 and is rife with sections entitled “Corporate exodus,” “Stagnant economy,” and “Voting with their feet,” to show Connecticut’s tax policies have left the state failing, whereas Massachusetts has become an economic powerhouse.

“Connecticut provides a real-world, sobering example of how a seemingly attractive tax-the-rich scheme can backfire badly on a state, turning rosy projections of revenue gains to real-life losses, and damaging business confidence in the process,” wrote Gregory W. Sullivan, research director for Pioneer Institute.

The study was authored in response to a “coalition of labor unions, community groups, and social advocacy organizations,” trying impose a 4 percent tax surcharge on individuals in Massachusetts earning over $1 million per year through a “Fair Share Amendment” to the state constitution. The amendment was placed on the voter ballot, but was challenged in court.

Union-aligned progressives are pushing for the same sorts of things in Rhode Island.  So far, the firewall of sanity has held in the Ocean State, but one can only hope Rhode Islanders are paying enough attention to learn the lessons when other states fall for the far-left pitch.

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“Equal Pay”: From the Radical to the Uselessly Disruptive

Fortuitously, the Providence Journal ran an op-ed by me explaining how insanely radical proposed equal pay legislation actually is:

This legislation must, therefore, be about something other than simple fairness in the workplace. Sure enough, the biggest piece making this legislation so radical is its broad scope — going well beyond the battle of the sexes. Indeed, the “equal pay” umbrella extends to the categories of “race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin,” covering all “comparable work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.”

Plainly put, this gives the government power to investigate just about any business and dictate changes to its pay policies, because the only pay differences that wouldn’t have legal risks would be those between people of the same race, religion, sex, orientation, gender identity, disability, age, and nationality. For any two employees who aren’t more or less demographically identical, the lower-paid one could initiate a complaint with the state with the same weight as complaints that the employer withheld pay. The law explicitly puts the burden on the employer to explain it and to prove that no other business practice could erase the difference, even if it’s innocent.

Today, the Rhode Island House will consider an amended version of the bill that gives reason to think that some legislators are not quite as crazy as the original bill would require them to be.  House 7427A limits the scope of the bill to race and gender, exempts companies under 18 employees, and reduces employers’ liability in a variety of ways.

The question now is why the legislature is passing anything at all.  Existing law already covers such things, so all this bill will do is create some new regulatory burdens with unproven legal language that may have unintended consequences.

The only explanation is political: that politicians want to be able to say they did something, even if they did nothing good in practical reality.  This gives momentum to the people who are manipulating the cultural narrative while tangling up Rhode Islanders who are doing their best just to support their families and move our society forward.

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A Big Lesson from a (Relatively) Small Tax Increase

I’ve got an op-ed in the Valley Breeze today taking the opportunity of a new sales tax on software as a service products to illustrate the harmful thinking of our legislators:

In short, the state government is going to tax an innovation that empowers productive, motivated Rhode Island families who are making the most of technology that levels the economic playing field. Even if it’s “only” $4.8 million, why would the state government do that? …

So, when Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, a Democrat from Cranston, tells reporters that “to not expect (the budget) to rise every year is not realistic,” he’s really saying it is unrealistic to expect state government only to grow at the same speed or more slowly than the household budgets of Rhode Island families. If that’s the expectation, then the governor and the General Assembly must find new ways to take more money from Rhode Islanders.

After all, the politicians have to find some way to pay for election-year raises for unionized state employees. If they’re going to increase the tax credits for producers who film movies here, they’re going to have to start taxing your Netflix account. If they’re going to promise a big chunk of the state’s income, sales, and corporate taxes to the PawSox for a new stadium, they’re going to have to increase those taxes even more to break even.

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Sense of the RI Economy: Positive but Discouraging or Discouraging but Positive?

In a brief article in today’s Providence Journal, Paul Edward Parker juxtaposes the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) with URI Economics Professor Len Lardaro’s Current Conditions Index (CCI):

“Rhode Islanders should be happy to see the various measures of employment and jobs improving, and to see fewer Rhode Islanders relying on Medicaid,” said the center’s research director, Justin Katz. “Still, Rhode Island needs to move quickly if it wants to capitalize on the national economic improvement, and we’ve seen no sign that our elected officials understand the urgency or what needs to be done.”

The center found that Rhode Island continues to straggle well behind the U.S. average on its index and even farther behind the average for New England. …

Meanwhile, Lardaro reports the lowest CCI score since November 2016, but…

“While all of this appears to be rather bleak and foreboding at first glance,” he said, “I believe such a rush to judgement is not necessarily appropriate at the present time.”

He further explained that the April performance “was fairly strong as disappointments go.” He noted improvement over April 2017 in two employment numbers: the labor-force-participation rate and the employment rate.

So, which is it?  Are Rhode Island’s numbers not good enough to challenge long-term skepticism and concern, or are they not bad enough to temper general optimism?

As with all of these index debates, the answer largely depends on what indicators one traces.  I’d suggest that I was correct to warn that our upswing may be a consequence of national trends for which our state government has positioned us poorly.  Lardaro may be correct that positive momentum is moderating, but with continued opportunity for growth.

Either way, the prescription is the same:  Rhode Islanders need to stop settling for broader economic tides and free their neighbors to start rowing.

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Fun-Sized Depends on the Comparison

Have you seen the “Fun-Sized” promotional videos that the state Commerce Corp. is crediting with an up-tick in tourism?  You can watch all 14 videos, here, pretty quickly, because each is only 10 seconds long or so.

Each one starts close in on people doing something fun and then quickly zooms out so the viewer can see that it’s all happening in close proximity to other things.  The idea is clever, and the idea of being able to enjoy a variety of activities across a small state is compelling, for some kinds of vacationers.  Still, the cumulative effect gives the sense that Rhode Island isn’t so much a small state as a large, loosely coordinated resort.

I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad.  I’m not sure how I feel about it, when it comes to promoting tourism.

As a cynical small-government conservative in the Ocean State, though, I’m inclined to dislike the impression on grounds of political philosophy, though.  A resort, after all, tends to be more-tightly coordinated, run by a central authority.  To the extent that the “resort area” is part of the appeal, they’re explicitly catering to customers of the resort.  If Rhode Island is a resort, then the central powers are the driving force.

And of course, there’s the point I’ve made before.  A key reason Rhode Island has such diversity of aesthetics around the state is the independence individuals used to have to define their neighborhoods.  The more we centralize power and concern ourselves with the minute affairs of people who live in other towns and attempt to redistribute wealth from one area to others, the less that diversity will characterize our state.

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The Market Improves Decision Making (For People and Government)

Whether for individuals in a job market or nations dealing with trade, the competition of the market leads us to make better decisions.  The cause is not only the motivation that competition creates, but also the ability to learn from each other.  Such was Richard McKenzie’s argument in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this weekend:

… While some behaviorists support government “nudges” to improve human decision making, politicians and bureaucrats often are no better at making rational decisions than ordinary citizens. Markets are a more effective mechanism for rewarding rational thinking. Persistently irrational decision makers in a competitive marketplace can be expected to misjudge costs and overlook profitable trading opportunities—and, consequently, lose access to resources. They can also be pressed to move from highly competitive markets to low-pressure venues (for example, university and government bureaucracies), leaving markets to more (though not perfectly) rational decision makers.

The more rational decision makers can, by their market decisions, show their irrational counterparts how they can be more prosperous by altering their working heuristics. This means competitive processes can make remaining participants more inclined to consider opportunity costs, ignore sunk costs, and discount future opportunities more accurately.

McKenzie is an emeritus professor, so presumably he wouldn’t argue that “low-pressure venues” do not have value, but his point is an important one.  The dynamics of a collective entity, like a nation, are similar to those of individuals.  People can make irrational decisions, and because government is made up of people, we err if we rely too heavily on them to make decisions for everybody.

And just as individuals thrive when they have to compete and have examples around them of those who are competing better, so too can states or nations advance through rational competition.  If only Rhode Island’s politicians would come to understand competition in this true sense, rather than irrationally focusing on competing on subsidies for major companies and movie producers.

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Bowling Subsidies Now!

Appearing on Rhode Island Public Radio’s “Political Roundtable” show, recently, Rhode Island House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, who is running for governor as a Republican, had an exchange with political analyst Scott MacKay:

MacKay: It sounds, in a way, like you don’t really care whether the PawSox go or not.  Do you realize this is a part of Rhode Island culture and family entertainment that hundreds of thousands of people go to every year?

Morgan: I do understand, and I have taken my children, as well, to the PawSox stadium, but I still believe it’s a private company at this point.  We can’t build a facility for every private company.  I mean, why don’t we build bowling allies; a lot of families like to go bowling.  Why don’t we build miniature golf entertainment areas?  At some point, we really have to keep taxpayer monies for the things that actually are economic development, will actually build good jobs in Rhode Island.

Morgan should have concluded that thought by saying we have to keep taxpayer monies for things that are actually government responsibilities, but her point is otherwise right on.  The problem, however, is that conservatives can’t win this sort of reductio ad absurdum argument with progressives, because the latter will happily say, “Go ahead.”

Perhaps progressives won’t generally have the personal affection for bowling or mini-golf that they have for baseball, but nobody should doubt that they’d be happy to use government resources for family entertainment if somebody were to credibly propose doing so.  After all, family time is very important.  Why shouldn’t government build facilities to foster it?  Isn’t government supposed to do everything important for us?

Of course, the conservative reply might be that the lack of a private market for a bolling alley in a particular area is simply evidence that people aren’t interested in that activity in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile.  But however inexpensive the activity is, there might be some families that would jump at the chance if the price came down a little and who, without that opportunity, instead spend their time doing unhealthy things isolated from each other.  And hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders have fond memories of bowling with their families.

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Another State Edging Toward Licensing Reform (Including for Hair Braiders)

Occupational reform catches on in Pennsylvania:

Being a barber, an auctioneer, or even a “campground membership salesperson” in Pennsylvania requires a state-issued license.

That should change, says Gov. Tom Wolf.

Wolf, a Democrat, called Thursday for the state legislature to abolish 13 occupational and professional licenses, following the completion of a year-long review of Pennsylvania’s licensing laws. In place of some of those licenses, the Wolf administration says workers could be required to register with state boards. For others, such as hair-braiders, the administration has recommended eliminating the state’s role entirely.

Is Rhode Island going to take the lead on economic freedom for its residents or be among the last states holding on to insider deals?  Sadly, that isn’t difficult to predict… unless voters start surprising us.

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RI Middle of the National Pack for Life Expectancy

Compared to our usual experience on national rankings, Rhode Island’s having the 19th-best ranking for life expectancy is good news, although that puts us second to last in New England, before Maine.  Writes Bill Murphy:

People in Minnesota live the longest in the United States: 78.7 years old on average. Mississippi ranked 51st (the study includes Washington, D.C.). Live expectancy there is just 71.8 years. That’s a 9.6 percent difference.

It should be noted that the leading causes of death are lifestyle-related, such as smoking, drinking, and eating poorly, so this is another area in which the best prescription may be a healthy economy.

Given the hot topics of the day, however, this bit from the underlying research is interesting:

Other notable findings seen in Table 1 are declines in deaths [from 1990 to 2016] from self-harm by firearm (13.2%) and physical violence by firearm (28.5%) but an increase in self-harm by other means (16.9%).

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FY19 Budget: When Government Outgrows the Governed

With the House budget released, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has updated its annual chart showing how the state’s spending has actually grown during this century versus inflation and population.  As you can see, it isn’t a pretty picture:

RI-expendituresallfunds-2001-2019

 

For some perspective, the state budget has grown at a compound annual rate of 3.9% per year.  Inflation’s growth rate, by comparison, has been 2.0%, and the population’s has been 0.0%

Granted, for the ease of the comparison (and making it easy to repeat), we’ve just used the national inflation rate, here, and people periodically argue that some other metric would be preferable.  Well, using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal income in Rhode Island has grown at a rate of 3.0% per year, and the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at 3.1% per year.  (Both of those are current, unadjusted dollars.)

That means year after year, the state government eats up more and more of the Rhode Island economy and takes more of Rhode Islanders’ real income.  Over the period shown in the chart, the state government has grown to the point that it’s taking another two percentage points of income and GDP out of the economy each year.

Even worse:  This isn’t just a loss to the people right now.  It actually affects broader economic growth, and likely plays a significant role in Rhode Island’s economic growth rate coming in below the national GDP rate of 3.8% over these two decades.

This is why Rhode Islanders often feel like they are serving the government, not the other way around.  Few people would complain about the growth of government if the people of the state were becoming relatively wealthier, but that it’s the other way around.

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Missouri Takes the Obvious Step for Hairbraiders

Missouri has taken a step that Rhode Island should follow:

Previous state legislation in Missouri had required people who wanted to braid hair for profit to obtain a cosmetology license — which required the completion of 1,500 hours of training.

This requirement was time-consuming, expensive, and created an unnecessary obstacle that made using one’s knowledge and skills to earn a living more difficult. Furthermore, it mostly affected women of color, who primarily make up both the customers and the braiders.

The requirement was yet another example of the ways regulations hurt everyday Americans’ ability to provide for themselves and to pursue their own economic liberty.

We can discuss in a more rigorous way when licensing is needed.  Is the use of chemicals a line?  Should it be a matter of life and death or contagion?  But surely, when one person consents to give money to another to braid her or his hair, the government doesn’t have to be in the middle of that transaction, especially to require a license for something that hair braiders don’t actually do.

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When Blackouts Come, Will We Remember to Blame the Right People?

Valley Breeze publisher Tom Ward has an important warning related to the latest government-backed wind project in Rhode Island:

I’m OK with wind turbines miles offshore. But when the May 31 Journal story ran out of political high-fives and got to the end, it came to our daily reality. Wrote Alex Kuffner, “The price of power from the Revolution project is still uncertain.” Its cousin, the Block Island Wind Farm, “will ultimately cost ratepayers (that’s us!) hundreds of millions of dollars in above-market costs.”

One day later, an opinion column also appeared in the Journal, by Meredith Angwin, of Vermont, a physical chemistry researcher and pro-nuclear power advocate. The headline: “We’ll lose power in the winters ahead.” In it, she detailed the now well-known facts surrounding the coming closing of many of New England’s traditional electric plants. …

What I know with 100 percent certainly is this: If in eight years rolling blackouts come to New England during the winter, families who live here will have been put in danger by radical environmentalism and the politicians who practice that religion. Short-sighted decisions from a decade earlier will come home to roost as energy costs explode, children shiver, schools close, and businesses grind to a halt. Those who caused the problem will be long gone. Reasoned people need to demand predictable power today.

In too many areas, across too many levels of government, we’re simply failing to take the future into account.  The incentives of big government all but ensure that this will be so.  Our government is very skeptical about the goodness of people and our ability to guide our own lives, but it ought to be skeptical of its own ability to micromanage the universe.

Look to any socialist country to see what happens when the predictable consequences of big-government policies come to pass:  They scapegoat the people who are trying to keep things going, nonetheless, particularly those in industry, perpetuating a cycle.  We can already see the beginnings of this process with all of the ideological legislation that treats business owners as if they are morally suspicious characters.

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As the General Assembly Releases Its Budget, at Least the National Economy Is Improving

On a sunny Saturday morning, while another depressing state budget dominates the local media’s output, this is a nice bit of news to recall from the week:

While the DC press corps worries whether Trump was booed at a White House event and curates elaborate conspiracy theories about Melania, a slightly more important story isn’t getting enough pixels. The economy is doing so well that, for the first time ever, there are now more job openings in the US than unemployed Americans.

Of course, this is national news, and my employment and Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) research suggests Rhode Island is not (let’s just say) maximizing the advantage.

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How Could Natural Hair Braiding Be So Difficult to Free?

I don’t doubt that Jocelyn DoCouto will eventually win her issue with the State of Rhode Island.  What’s astonishing is that it should take years of advocacy and lobbying to get it done:

I have spent my life mastering the art of African-style, natural hair care. As a young girl, I learned to braid and even practiced on my own head. I later learned more advanced techniques from my aunt. My knowledge has expanded to include weaving, crocheting, extension braiding and many other natural techniques — all collectively referred to as “protective styling.”

I started receiving clients at home, based completely on referrals, and now have customers of all ages. I have even been lucky enough to use this art to give clients who have recently undergone chemotherapy the protective, natural styles they have always wanted. And I strive do the best job possible for every client who walks through my door, because my customers’ satisfaction literally determines whether my business lives or dies.

I wanted to open my own salon, but Rhode Island would not let me. Under state law, I am not allowed to braid hair without a cosmetology license, which requires 1,200 hours of irrelevant training and can cost upwards of $17,000.

As I wrote earlier, Rhode Island can have a vibrant, innovative economy, or it can have its insider system, but it can’t have both.  It is well past time for us to let people like Ms. DoCouto explore their areas of specialty, even if it means some comfortable people have to compete a little harder.

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The Two Options for Keeping New-Economy Companies

A Ted Nesi WPRI article related to Pinnacle Logistics, an Amazon distribution company moving from Rhode Island to Connecticut, has me thinking that the Ocean State really has only two options, when it comes right down to it.

The termination letter, provided by an employee who asked to remain anonymous, said Amazon “has elected to terminate its PVD operations” due to “business reasons unrelated to PVD’s performance.” The employee said workers were stunned by the news in light of how busy and high-performing the facility appeared to them. …

State officials had said last fall Pinnacle planned to develop “a permanent facility in the near future on the airport premises,” and it’s unclear why the company changed its mind. T.F. Green spokesman Bill Fischer said the airport learned of Pinnacle’s decision Friday morning. …

“I know Amazon is a notoriously anti-union company and has been fighting unions in its various facilities since 1994, so it would not surprise me to learn that Amazon and Pinnacle decided to close this operation in retaliation for the union activity,” [Teamster lawyer Marc] Gursky told Eyewitness News.

Gursky said the Teamsters filed a new complaint against Pinnacle on Friday afternoon, alleging that the company had engaged in unfair labor practice by closing the plant to retaliate for the unionization effort.

I’d suggest a little bit of skepticism that any company running away from labor unions would head to Connecticut, which tends to come up higher on lists of labor union strength.

Be that as it may, we who live in Rhode Island can think of dozens of areas of insider leverage that might have made our state unacceptable to this sort of company.  That leads to our two options, of which we can only pick one:

  1. A vibrant, innovative economy in synergy with economic advances.
  2. An insider system that gives enhanced leverage to special interests like labor unions, quasi-public companies, and countless fiefdoms.

One suspects that most people would choose option #1, if given the chance, but then, our electoral system has evolved to limit that chance.

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A More Competitive United States Means Better Lives

One never knows how much weight to put on these sorts of indexes, but this is good to see:

The U.S. dethroned Hong Kong to retake first place among the world’s most competitive economies, thanks to faster economic growth and a supportive atmosphere for scientific and technological innovation, according to annual rankings by the Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Center. . . . The renewed top ranking aligns with the positive U.S. growth narrative over the past year. Growth averaged 2.9 percent in the four quarters through March, versus 2 percent in the prior period.

The mind boggles at the notion that Americans would be content to give up that title.  Of course, the complexities of our electoral system mean it’s never that straightforward, and to the extent that there is such a choice, a fair people will often accept a little bit less competitiveness in the name of helping others.

The missing piece, therefore, is awareness that this is a false choice.  A more competitive economy is one in which there is more opportunity and more churn in who is on top.  It’s one with higher prosperity, which means more money flowing around and a greater capacity for charity, too.

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Confusion on “Pay Equity”

It’s difficult not to feel as if you’re missing something while reading Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White’s recent op-ed in the Providence Journal.  On the one hand, she insists that “[e]nsuring pay equity is crucial for organizations to function successfully” and offers some suggestions for legislation currently working through the General Assembly.  On the other hand, she lists ways companies can achieve “pay equity” without “government overreach.”

The impression, overall, is that White is signaling that some tweaks to the legislation could be enough for her organization to sign on as supporters, but that she has to take a tone of opposition for the benefit of her members.

The whole debate, however, has this feel of missing something, at least in Rhode Island.  For starters, the wage gap is a myth.  It isn’t real.  Remove from the equation factors that should legitimately affect pay (like career choice, hours worked, and so on) and it evaporates.  White’s op-ed doesn’t go there, but she does proclaim that “pay equity” is critical for businesses to function.  If that’s the case, then why would they discriminate?

Another consideration that conveniently gets left out of this discussion is that Rhode Island already has laws against sex-based discrimination.  Without actual evidence of a systemic effort to skirt those laws, making them more stringent is a reckless imposition.

Of course, reckless imposition appears to be the real objective, inasmuch as the most significant action of the legislation on the table is to expand existing sex-based-discrimination law to cover just about every identity group.  Why is nobody acknowledging that reality?

Out of homage to political correctness, nobody seems to want to address the lies at the center of this debate.  Consequently, they’re conducting this surreal discussion as if debating how best to patch a roof that isn’t leaking.  Meanwhile, the foundation of our society is eroding and Rhode Island’s economic walls are crumbling — notwithstanding the governor’s frantic efforts to board them up with corrupt hand-outs.

Well might the Providence Chamber’s members be concerned about this issue, not the least because their spokeswoman is inevitably setting them up by failing to insisting that the state government legislate from within reality.

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Another Left-Wing Threat to Rhode Island Businesses

Don’t miss my essay on so-called “equal pay” legislation in the Providence Journal this week:

The corruption is twofold. First, many political leaders understand the danger to business, yet they may advance the legislation anyway — fearful of being tagged as “anti-woman” from petulant progressives. Worse, to remain in the good graces of the political elite, many prominent insider business groups, who pretend they represent the overall business community, are providing cover for lawmakers, making believe that their negotiated watered-down version is somehow acceptable to other employers across the state. It is not. This is exactly what happened last year with the free-paid-time-off legislation. And this repeated corruption is exactly why Rhode Island suffers one of the worst business climates in the country.

We are also fed the bogus argument that other states have passed similar laws, so Rhode Island must follow suit to remain competitive. False. To gain a competitive advantage, Rhode Island employers should have more freedom than their counterparts to hire workers on mutually agreeable terms, rather than have their hands tied with more government-imposed red-tape.

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Toward an Extended Stay in the RI Economy

Paul Edward Parker’s report of “Strong demand for Providence hotel rooms” is (probably) good news, with this part standing out (and inspiring my parenthetical note):

Extended-stay hotels — the two under construction would be the first downtown — appeal to business travelers who will be in town for more than a few days and to families who want more room to spread out, such as those attending the frequent youth-sports competitions at the convention center. Besides usually having larger rooms, they typically include a full kitchen.

“It’s sort of in the sweet spot of the American consumer,” Freitag said. “It’s the gig economy,” he added, where workers, especially in tech fields, are often hired for jobs that only last a few months to a couple of years. “Those people need a home away from home.”

The second paragraph makes it seem as if these hotels are a step down, not a step up.  The appearance is this:  Rhode Island’s economy isn’t producing jobs or opportunities that would lead people to move here permanently, so they need short-term housing.  Imagine if Rhode Island could get rid of its regulatory problems.  Then, even a gig economy might predictably produce so much work that people could expect to stay here for the long haul.

And regarding those business travelers and families that utilize extended-stay hotels for somewhat less-extensive periods, imagine if we eliminated our sales tax!  Whether they’re here for other reasons or not, families could turn their trips into shopping sprees.

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When an Administration Cares About Regulatory Reform

In the Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard points to an under-reported achievement of the Trump administration:

When he came to office, Trump promised to cut two regulations for every new one he imposed.

The duo said that the percentage is actually 3.75 to 1, an unprecedented reduction.

Trump believes that cutting regulations, while it receives few headlines, is one of his team’s biggest accomplishments and a driver in the improving economy and investment in the United States.

Contrast this with Rhode Island’s efforts.  Here, it takes years to create a special commission that takes years to get rolling in order to produce a short list of licenses and regulations that can maybe be taken off the books, which list the legislature will trim before it becomes law, after which the special interests that benefited from the existence of the regulations will agitate to put them back.

This shouldn’t be so hard.  Rhode Island overtaxes and over-regulates.  We need a strong, quick push that changes the impression of our state into one barreling in the right direction, and the right direction is not extending limited taxpayer subsidies to counteract the effects of our taxes and regulations for hand-picked companies willing to cut deals with politicians.

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