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Stating the Obvious on Economic Incentives

In keeping with frustration that the General Assembly can inspire whenever it meets for the purpose of actually passing legislation, here’s an op-ed titled, “Finding America’s Lost 3% Growth,” which Phil Gramm and Michael Solon recently wrote for the Wall Street Journal:

A tidal wave of new rules and regulations across health care, financial services, energy and manufacturing forced companies to spend billions on new capital and labor that served government and not consumers. Banks hired compliance officers rather than loan officers. Energy companies spent billions on environmental compliance costs, and none of it produced energy more cheaply or abundantly. Health-insurance premiums skyrocketed but with no additional benefit to the vast majority of covered workers.

In a world of higher costs, productivity plummeted. Productivity measures the production of things the market values that flow from the employment of labor and capital.

At the same time the government has made every job in the economy more costly, the authors note, increasing incentives not to work by, for example, “waiving work requirements for welfare,” reduced the incentive of workers to actually work.  This dynamic not only harms us all by reducing opportunity and constraining wealth and social advancement, but it also undermines the availability for many Americans of the dignity of work.

Rhode Island should stop being a case study in this progressive, big-government mentality.

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How RI Government Strangles Opportunity

A Wall Street Journal article in which Jennifer Levitz highlights an interesting corporate trend could almost give hope to Rhode Islanders:

Americans have traditionally moved to find jobs. But with a growing reluctance by workers to relocate, some companies have decided to move closer to potential hires. Firms are expanding to cities with a bounty of underemployed, retrieving men and women from freelance gigs, manual labor and part-time jobs with duties that, one worker said, required only a heartbeat to perform.

With the national jobless rate near a 16-year low, these pockets of underemployment are a wellspring for companies that recognize most new hires already have jobs but can be poached with better pay and room for advancement. That’s preferable to competing for higher-priced workers at home.

These sorts of natural incentives are how the market heals economic wounds and maximizes progress. Unfortunately, if you’re an un-or-under-employed Rhode Islander, your hopes for this sort of rescue are regularly shattered by a General Assembly that year after year after year makes it more difficult and more expensive to do business in your state.  Yesterday brought a doozie, with the passage of the ill-advised and expensive progressive wish fulfillment of a mandatory paid time off benefit for all employees in companies with 18 or more employees.

As I explored in last week’s Last Impressions podcast, transportation and communication technology should be making it easier to relocate businesses and families.  Rhode Island’s natural beauty and location should be a huge advantage in that regard, but our government is determined to eliminate all incentive for businesses to be the ones to do the moving (unless they want to be government-dependents right off the bat with a payoff), so it’ll have to be the workers who move elsewhere, which is exactly what we’ve seen over the last couple of decades.

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Rhode Island Government’s Reverse Robin Hood for General Dynamics

An interesting she-said-she-said slips by in Alex Nunes’s Providence Journal article on the Rhode Island government’s incentive give-aways to Electric Boat (a subsidiary of General Dynamics):

“[Electric Boat President Jeffrey Geiger] was essentially saying to me, ‘Look, we have these new contracts. We need to hire … thousands of people. We want to hire Rhode Islanders, but you need to do your part,’” [Democrat Governor Gina] Raimondo recalled in a recent interview in her office. …

“Nobody’s asking the local, state government, or the federal government to do this [employee training] work for us,” [Electric Boat Human Resources Vice President Maura] Dunn said in an interview at the company’s Groton offices.

That said, Dunn does call the training a “community project,” which implies other people doing at least some of the work.

The debate throws off a lot of numbers, as well as undefined phrases like “doing their part,” but here’s one set of numbers I found interesting:

According to General Dynamics’ annual report, 2016 was a record fiscal year for the company, with $31.4 billion in overall sales and revenues of $8.2 billion in the Marine Systems group, which includes submarine-building.

The company’s market capitalization, a measure of the value of a publicly traded business, also reached $52.6 billion by year’s end on a nearly 26-percent increase in its stock price.

According to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Rhode Island’s GDP for 2016 was $57.4 billion.  In other words, the total market capitalization of General Dynamics is nearly as big as Rhode Island’s economy for all industries.  Does the company really need Rhode Island to take millions of dollars from other industries and individuals and focus it on one business’s narrow needs, profiting its investors at record-setting rates?

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“Negotiations” Over Other People’s Money… Without Mentioning the Cost

I continue to be amazed at the use of the word, “negotiations,” in contexts like Patrick Anderson’s Providence Journal article:

Negotiations between the House and Senate, and labor and business groups, produced a new version of the sick leave bill, which emerged late Friday evening in the House Labor Committee and passed unanimously.

A priority for the General Assembly’s progressive caucus, the bill would guarantee Rhode Island workers up to three paid sick days in 2018, four sick days in 2019 and five days off per year from 2020 onward.

Who’s negotiating with whom over what?  People most of us didn’t elect are “negotiating” with people most of us don’t acknowledge as representing our “community” over costs that will be borne by everybody who operates a business in the state or has any dealings with anybody who operates a business in the state.

The unbelievable mindset — strike that: the all-too-believable mindset — that this is a “negotiation” is put over the top by the fact that nobody involved in the “negotiation” or in reporting on it is putting a cost on the result.  Anderson isn’t alone in this; Steph Machado does the same on WPRI.

If anybody wants a starting point, I looked into the matter (along with other pieces of legislation) last month for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity and concluded that the cost of this program will be about $49 million per year.  Others are free to debate that number, but for the sake of our state, shouldn’t we take it as a warning sign that nobody is doing so?

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PawSox Eminent Domain Language Reminds Us What’s Going On

Some welcome focus on the eminent domain aspect of the proposed PawSox stadium deal should awaken Rhode Islanders to what is really happening, here.   The Associated Press reports:

One of the two bills being considered as part of the legislative package would remove the phrase “blighted and substandard” from the definition of a redevelopment agency. It also changes the wording of state law so that, rather than preventing redevelopment agencies from constructing buildings for residential, commercial, or industrial use, it authorizes them to do so.

To be sure “blighted and substandard” is a subjective guide.  One expects that if the government wants a piece of property, it will find a way to call it “substandard” regardless.  Changing the language, however, is a reminder of the expansion of this mechanism for seizing land or, in this case, giving the government the upper hand in negotiations with a property owner that a private organization wouldn’t have.

Most folks who spend time considering public policy can justify the use of eminent domain to advance public infrastructure.  If some road, track, canal, or whatever would be a huge boon to the area, a single property owner could hold his or her entire region hostage over a property value that would not exist if it were not for the public project.

That rationale begins to wear thin when the government is building something isolated, like a school building or public safety complex.  Still, even some strong conservatives can see their way to accepting that sort of use.  (My view is that it cedes too much to the notion that the government is the real owner of all property, and individuals can only own, at best, inheritable development rights.)

At the other end of the question, a great many people object to the notion that government can take property from one private entity and give it to another simply because it proclaims that the receiver has a better use for it.  This PawSox deal is just like that, only with a patina of justification by keeping ownership in government hands, leasing to a single-use tenant.

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Manufacturing Consent to Spend Our Money

The lede of an article by Kathy Gregg, to which the Providence Journal gave the headline, “Emails show rising public support for PawSox stadium subsidies,” ought to discourage all Rhode Islanders who aren’t making a living off of the government:

Roughly two-thirds of the 138 emails sent so far to the Rhode Island Senate expressed support for the proposed $38 million in city and state subsidies to build a new ballpark for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Is this where we are, now?  Eighty-six emails expressing “at least generally supportive” opinions (some from people who would directly benefit) shows “rising support” and gives a green light to making a million people liable for tens of millions of dollars in debt?  I don’t know that one could find a better illustration of the way political gamesmanship and the news media’s inevitably spotlighted focus generate narratives that lead to substantial public policy decisions at odds with the public interest.

For additional detail on how this process actually works, consider this Facebook post, which Lisa D’Agostino mentions in the Projo’s comment section:

News Update: PawSox Rally at the State House,Thursday September 14th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. All Thursday night apprentices classes are to report at 5:00 p.m. and sign in with respected instructors. Local 51 T-shirts will be handed out to each member. Also, we our encouraging all journeyman and retirees to please attend the rally in support. Let’s work together.

Apprenticeships, incidentally, are required for people who wish to become plumbers, pipefitters, and HVAC technicians, which the UA Local 51 covers.  I haven’t seen a requirement in the law that apprentices be trained in pressuring government to commit taxpayers to debt, but it wouldn’t surprise me to come across one.

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Alexion Closure… Centralized Economic Development Not Cutting It

Back in 2012, just as the Town of Portsmouth was beginning to crow about the profitability of its taxpayer-subsidized wind turbine, government officials had to eat that crow when the unit failed, with a fix priced at more than the supposed profit.  That anecdote came to mind when I read of Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ plan to close up its Rhode Island shop.  According to WPRI’s Nancy Krause:

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Tuesday morning it is closing its plant in Smithfield and moving manufacturing operations to other sites in the United States and Ireland.

A spokeswoman told Eyewitness News Alexion has 250 employees at the location, which the company said has been a key manufacturing site for Soliris – a high-priced treatment for two rare genetic disorders – over the past 10 years.

Add that 250 to the 715 Benny’s employees now set to lose their jobs, and it begins to appear that the economic winds might blow away every single job increase that Governor Gina Raimondo’s Commerce Corp. has bribed, or will bribe, companies to create in the state.

Of course, we can’t know whether anything that the State of Rhode Island could have done would have saved the nearly 1,000 jobs that are now going to be erased from our local ledger from just these two companies, but if the economy is shedding jobs while only creating them when heavily subsidized, that’s a very strong signal that we should try another approach.  Simply change the state’s focus to making it easier for residents to live and do business, and companies will have more incentive to stay and innovate here.

All those bribes would have gone a long way toward making such refocusing possible.

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One Thing is Clear: The Progressive Agenda Is A Failure

Despite the false hopes expressed by lawmakers based solely on a reduced unemployment rate, Rhode Island families are hurting. The Ocean State suffers under a terrible business climate, and remains stuck 48th rank on our Center’s Job’s & Opportunity Index. Just this week, it was announced that Benny’s, a Rhode Island institution, is closing.

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Benny’s Is Another Warning Sign for Rhode Island

Like other Rhode Islanders, I’ve got my stories of finding just the right thing at a Benny’s.  As Ted Nesi reports in his weekend column, this is probably a point of commonality across the state:

“Like so many Rhode Islanders, I am heartbroken,” Governor Raimondo said after the announcement Friday – a somewhat remarkable statement about what is, after all, a store; there will still be places to buy Christmas lights or snow shovels after December. But of course it’s not about that. It’s about community, about the institutions and traditions that bind us together, especially at a time when it’s easy to feel closer to people across the country than across the street.

That is why our sense of pre-nostalgia melancholy at the closing of the entire chain should be secondary to a higher degree of concern, even urgency, at the direction in which we’re heading.  This isn’t just a matter of watching institutions crumble under the weight of an evolving future.  The profound lesson has to do with our passivity in the face of change.

A few years back, when the RI Foundation hosted its Make Rhode Island Great Again summit (or whatever it was called), Mike Stenhouse and I happened to sit at a lunch table with one of the higher ups from Benny’s.  Given that it was an area of central focus for us at the time, Stenhouse raised the topic of eliminating the sales tax, and the Benny’s executive offered a somewhat muttered reply and soon thereafter excused himself from the table.

Now, I’ll never gainsay the possibility that Stenhouse and I are simply frightening to behold, and perhaps the businessman wasn’t in the mood to be pitched for a donation.  My impression, however, drawn mostly from the substance of his muttering, was that he wouldn’t support something so disruptive of the status quo.  Indeed, that was the view expressed in no uncertain terms by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s representative on the legislative commission to study  sales tax elimination.

Of course, one can’t say with certainty that the boom of an eliminated sales tax would have saved Benny’s from the Amazon tidal wave, but my wager would be that it would have.  More importantly, such a reform would have opened up new possibilities for the company.  Being the kind of state that isn’t afraid actively to get out of the way of its residents’ needs could make all the difference.

And it’s a difference we need to start making, otherwise the only Rhode Island institutions that will remain will be government and the outsized benefits of its employees.

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Against Becoming “Rhode Island and the Amazon Plantations”

The buzz is all around:  Corporate giant Amazon is in the market for a second headquarters — HQ2 — and the governments of cities and states across America are widely expected to make a competitive play for the honor of housing it, even if those same governments have only proven capable of keeping their current populations under H2O.

Americans should find this whole development disturbing.  Consider the implications of this paragraph from Ted Nesi’s WPRI reporting:

Bids for the new headquarters are due Oct. 19 to Amazon’s Office of Economic Development in Seattle. The company will announce its choice next year.

Regional governments are bidding to the economic development office of a private company for the privilege of serving its headquarters.  What does it mean for elected officials to be chasing the Amazon cornucopia in that fashion?

For one thing, the process sounds a bit like state governments’ applying to the federal government for competitive grants, and that exercised has proven to be one of the key ways in which the federal government has nudged states to adopt policies that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

Moreover, allowing our government to take the position of contractor to the company would make us all vulnerable to losing our state.  Even if Amazon only puts Rhode Island in the running, none of our petty concerns about our own lives will even rate.  Our entire system will be transformed to serve Amazon, and our government will become little more than a middleman between us and the company.  No, thank you.

Instead, we should be trying to make Rhode Island the sort of state that a company like Amazon would approach independently.  That would put the leverage in the right direction.  And even better:  Such a state would attract companies of all sizes and create the environment for the creation of the next Amazon.

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Magellan and the Cost of Business in RI

Good news, Rhode Islanders!  We paid another company to locate in Rhode Island jobs that it already planned to create:

The Commerce Corporation board approved up to $2.1 million in tax credits that Magellan can receive over 10 years if it creates 75 new jobs. An additional 25 full-time jobs are also expected to be added by the company. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor said an outside analysis showed the deal will be revenue-positive for the state.

In case you don’t have a calculator handy, that’s $28,000 per job.  This is madness.  Bureaucrats and political operatives are playing the big shots with our money with no real skin of their own in the game.

If we have to subsidize companies to the tune of $28,000 per job to locate in our state, we’re clearly making it $28,000 too expensive to create jobs in Rhode Island.

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Don’t Like the Economic Results, Revisit the Government Policy

Neil Irwin’s New York Times article comparing the condition of a janitor at Kodak during its prime with one at Apple today came before me by multiple routes yesterday:

Eastman Kodak was one of the technological giants of the 20th century, a dominant seller of film, cameras and other products. It made its founders unfathomably wealthy and created thousands of high-income jobs for executives, engineers and other white-collar professionals. The same is true of Apple today.

But Kodak also created enough working-class jobs to help create two generations of middle-class wealth in Rochester. The Harvard economist Larry Summers has often pointed at this difference, arguing that it helps explain rising inequality and declining social mobility.

In contrast, Apple — like most big companies, these days — focuses on its core competencies and hires contractors to do the rest.  The unmistakable insinuation:  Greedy companies are motivated to make their executives and shareholders richer and lack the concern for employees and sense of community that industrial giants once had. Somehow, I don’t recall the culture’s glorification of those companies back when they were at the top.

All-in-all, this article is an interesting read, but it misses two things.  First, it’s easy to trace the successful person who managed to get into Kodak at the bottom.  The consequences of the inefficiencies of that management approach we can not so easily trace.

Second, progressive government policy does much to make the injustice possible.  The cleaning company gets away with lower, less-personal compensation because of a lack of competition and a high amount of low-skilled immigration.  Employees are easily replaced and have less negotiating power.

Additionally, regulations (notably health care mandates) and taxes make it much more difficult for an employee to start a competing service, which would not only keep prices low, but also give the employer incentive to keep employees happy.

Thus, the gains from these efficiencies are going to a smaller group of high-skilled workers and (of course) people who are able to live off of the government behemoth that acts as the central planner ushering favors back and forth.  It’s been a booming few decades for Washington, D.C., after all.

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Who Pays for Wasted Money?

A friend of mine has a favorite story about a coworker — both in a career for highly intelligent professionals — who seemed sincerely convinced that the government could help the economy by building jet airliners and flying them into the ocean.  Obviously, that’s an extreme iteration of a common economic ignorance that one would hope would cause most people to pause and think, “No, wait, that can’t be right.”

The anecdote came to mind while reading an AP story by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, about the big ObamaCare increases facing those who receive no subsidies for their individual plans:

“We’re caught in the middle-class loophole of no help,” said Thornton, a hairdresser from Newark, Delaware. She said she’s currently paying about $740 a month in premiums, and expects her monthly bill next year to be around $1,000, a 35 percent increase.

“It’s like buying two new iPads a month and throwing them in the trash,” said Thornton, whose policy carries a deductible of $6,000.

The point that needs to be stated is that it doesn’t make the waste any more palatable when other people are receiving those two trash-destined iPads per month courtesy of the U.S. government.  The number of people throwing out metaphorical iPads for which they’ve paid may be small, but adding all of the subsidies up amounts to a lot of airplanes at the bottom of the ocean.

Of course (to be fair), all that money isn’t just producing garbage but is buying insurance against risk, albeit at an exorbitant cost with unjustifiable increases.  Acknowledging that the money is buying somethinghowever, only directs our attention back to the underlying injustice:  The government is just forcing some Americans to buy something for other Americans… and undermining our rights and increasing our overall risk in order to do so.

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Rhode Island Costs Take Years Off Your Retirement

Ted Nesi highlighted a telling finding about how long $1 million in retirement savings will last you from state to state:

It’s not easy to save $1 million for retirement. But if you do, the money will last you nearly two decades in Rhode Island.

A new study by GOBankingRates, a personal-finance website, estimates that $1 million will last a retiree 18 years and 2 months in Rhode Island. That’s less than most states – Rhode Island ranks 42nd out of 50 for how long the million can stretch – but about a year longer than Massachusetts or Connecticut.

The difference between Rhode Island and Mississippi (the top state by this measure) is eight additional years of having to work in order to stay in the Ocean State.  A Rhode Islander willing to move to Mississippi, Tennessee, Indiana, Texas, or a variety of other states could retire in his or her 50s, rather than at 65.

Putting it that way brings our political problems to the fore.  For those who have bought into the state’s insider network, mainly as employees of state and local government, the corrupt system allows them to retire in their 50s anyway, if they want.  And they can still move to a more congenial state when they’re ready, having “gotten theirs” while here.

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Rhode Island Motto: “Hope for Bribery to Live Here”

Kate Bramson has checked in on Rhode Island government’s “Wavemaker” program, which bribes college graduates to live in the Ocean State:

The state has selected 224 college graduates to receive personal income tax credits under the state’s Wavemaker Fellowship program, which would defray their student loan debts totaling about $868,000 while the recipients work in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design jobs in Rhode Island. …

This year’s average annual tax credit is approximately $3,875 per student, but recipients earn varying amounts based on their education levels. Those with associate’s degrees are eligible for up to $1,000 of credit each year, while those with postgraduate degrees are eligible for up to $6,000.

The working class and underemployed in the state must be very comforted by the knowledge that they’re helping to give a $6,000 bonus to a Ph.D. in a high-paying job.  But that’s the key to living in Rhode Island: do something (or be something) that local elites like.  Otherwise, you’re out of luck.  You’re a nobody loser.

Many of us have watched in disbelief every time some government-employed or otherwise-connected schemer walks away from an impropriety scot-free, but the mystery is solved when once one understands a quirk about Rhode Island culture.  Just as many Americans romanticize mafiosi, Rhode Islanders tend to look up to those who “got theirs.”  The insider crooks are the archetypes around which we build our entire system of government.  The political message is, “Vote for me, and I’ll get you yours just like my pal got his.”

Sure, it is odd that the same folks who implicitly acknowledge that we have to pay people to live here and companies to set up shop here also tend to insist that the tax-and-regulatory burden doesn’t drive people out.  But that seeming contradiction only underscores the principle:  Doing something for insiders means you’re not a mooch, but somebody deserving of support.  If you just want to mind your own business and keep what you earn, then you’re a mooch.

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While Politicians Demagogue Energy, They Ensure Higher Rates

Although it’s not entirely unique in this respect, energy policy is incredibly complex, which makes tracing the effects of policy very difficult.  But how could this, as reported by Ted Nesi on WPRI, not drive up the cost of energy and (therefore) everything else in the Northeast?

Rhode Island and the eight other states that are part of a decade-old compact to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions announced Wednesday they have reached an agreement for further cuts through 2030.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) said the governors have agreed to an emissions cap of 75.15 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2021 and a 30% cut from that level over the subsequent decade. If successful, by 2030 the initiative will have reduced carbon emissions in the Northeast by more than 65% since it began in 2009, officials said.

Our governments (which one might reasonably hesitate to characterize as “representative”) continue to set policies that close down nearby energy production and hinder the importation of energy from elsewhere.  Then they turn around and blame greedy private corporations when they have to raise prices.

Of course, the politicians are aided in this endeavor by activists.  This is from another WPRI article, by Ian Opaluch and Shiina LoSciuto:

“They want to build a biomass plant [in Somerset],” Connie Brodeur of Coalition for Clean Air South Coast said. “Bio sounds very green, but it’s not.”

“We’d like to see Somerset go into a different direction, away from burning things,” she added.

Here’s a thought:  If that’s what you’d like to see, then get some money together and start a business.  Compete for a share of the energy market, rather than interposing yourself between people trying to supply energy and the people who rely on it.

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Conservatism and Liberalism on Economic and Social Scales

For years, we’ve heard politicians and other political actors promote themselves as “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative.”  (Let’s call it the “soli-fico” position.)  Nationally, this impulse has seemed to be driven (at least in part) by donors.  Business elites are more likely to fall in that category, and the Koch Brothers were notable funders of the right with a libertarian mandate.

Recently those who’ve tried to remain at least palatable to the soli-fico advocates have been reconsidering.  On principled grounds, soli-fico is maybe the most cold of philosophies, leaving vulnerable people lacking the protections of both government intervention and social stability.  Once soli-ficos could claim that getting government out of the way would let society address cultural issues, but after many libertarians embraced the use of government — mainly the courts — to redefine marriage nationwide and then proved, at best, ineffective in keeping at bay early persecution of objecting Christian businesses, that balance proved illusory.

On financial grounds, the right has many donors who are not socially conservative, and they were arguably under-served during the soli-fico years.

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, F.H. Buckley highlights a study reinforcing this recent turn:

Most Hillary Clinton voters were deeply liberal on both [the economic and the social] axes. The surprise was the Trump voters, who were very conservative on social issues but moderate on economic ones. By Mr. Drutman’s count, 73% of all voters were left of center on economics. Most of the remaining Trump supporters were quite moderate on economic questions. …

While the great majority of voters were liberal on economic issues, a small majority (52%) were social conservatives at the top of the diagram, enough to swing the election to Mr. Trump. Only 3.8% of voters were libertarians in the lower-right quadrant, socially liberal and economically conservative. They split their votes evenly between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton.

The scatterplot that Buckley reproduces and other charts from the study are worth reviewing.  Soli-fico voters make up just 4% of the electorate.  Moreover, the opportunity for social conservatives to win over voters by explaining why their policies will accomplish the same goals as economic liberalism is greater than the opportunity for social liberals to win over economic conservatives.

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Universal Basic Income and Our Aspirations

Once upon a time, folks actually hoped that a universal basic education plus a prosperity-driven increase in free time would draw people toward intellectual pursuits and self improvement.  I’m sure there’s data on such things, but for my purposes, here, let’s just speculate that most folks’ general sense would be that it hasn’t quite worked that way.

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Dan Nidess asks why we would expect a universal basic income to have a different effect.  Indeed, he suggests that the policy “addresses the material needs of citizens while undermining their aspirations”:

At the heart of a functioning democratic society is a social contract built on the independence and equality of individuals. Casually accepting the mass unemployment of a large part of the country and viewing those people as burdens would undermine this social contract, as millions of Americans become dependent on the government and the taxpaying elite. It would also create a structural division of society that would destroy any pretense of equality.

UBI supporters would counter that their system would free people to pursue self-improvement and to take risks. America’s experience over the past couple of decades suggests that the opposite is more likely. Labor Department data show that at the end of June the U.S. had 6.2 million vacant jobs. Millions of skilled manufacturing and cybersecurity jobs will go unfilled in the coming years.

Notably, Nidess uses the term “productive class,” which I’ve been using for years in attempting to describe what populations have been leaving Rhode Island.  Basically, the Ocean State has been attracting the poor and (largely) holding on to the wealthy while driving out those who are looking for some way to transform their smarts, brawn, and effort into wealth.

Put in those terms, it’s clear that Nidess fears the UBI would bring about a national version of what I’ve called the “government plantation” or “company state,” whereby the government draws in dependents in order to provide services billed to somebody else.  Whatever arguments and motivations may underly such policies, they certainly don’t have the feel of being healthy for our society.

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Center Blasts Newest Truck Toll Tyranny; RIDOT’s Laughable Denial

It has come to light that, on August 11, RIDOT *corrected* requested a hearing, scheduled for today, to issue commercial truck route restrictions within the state. The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (for whom I am Communications Manager) has just issued a statement strongly condemning this. It says, in part,

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