Yesterday, the takeaway about Governor-elect Gina Raimondo’s plan for an economic summit was that most of it would be closed to the news media. Today, it’s that she has relented and decided to open the doors to the whole thing. That’s for journalists. It’s still a closed event in the sense that only invited guests can participate in the sessions, and that’s a problem indicative of the entire strategy of Rhode Island’s ruling class for our shared economy.
The purpose of this summit, per Raimondo’s spokesman, appears to be not to better understand what Rhode Islanders need, but to get some expert feedback on how to supply the things that Raimondo already presumes to know that Rhode Islanders need:
He said the media is invited to the beginning of the meeting because Raimondo wants reporters to hear the “assignment that she’s laying out for the evening.”
Because people have asked, I’ll say that I’m not aware of anybody I know who was invited to participate. We’re not, apparently, among Raimondo’s understanding of the top 80 “thought leaders” in the state. (How many articles and TV news segments have to appear about one’s ideas to count as qualification for being a “thought leader” has not been explained.)
As I’ve been saying for years, now, Raimondo is a progressive. In terms of organizing society, that means that she likely sees society in terms of groups of people, and progressives tend to organize by finding (or appointing) people who are treated as representative of their groups.
The theory is that those representatives bring the concerns of their peers back to the central planner, who weighs all of the feedback according to his or her sense of balance and makes decisions for the good of the whole society. Two problems with this approach are obvious (at least to anybody who’s watched Rhode Island operate for any length of time:
- The individuals selected as the representatives are not perfectly representative of everybody in their group (often barely so), and they have their own interests. Whether their motivation derives from their particular companies or from their particular factions within their social groups, they are likely to use their platform to shape society’s rules to their advantage. A businessperson will see things that serve his or her own business model and increase its competitiveness as being critical for that industry as a whole. A member of a demographic group will tend to use his or her representation of the whole as a way to win internal disagreements.
- When the central entity is as domineeringly powerful as the government in Rhode Island, the select few will stop representing their groups to the government, and instead begin representing the government’s insider system to their groups.
In short, it appears that Raimondo intends to formalize as official policy the approach that is destroying her state. Of course, that assumes that this isn’t all just window dressing around her plans to do whatever she wants to do for political reasons.