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Policies So Good, You’re Not Allowed to Say “No”

Kevin Williamson’s “Utiopia’s Jailers” would be good assigned reading for a low-level political philosophy course:

The Left’s heart is still in East Berlin: If people want to leave your utopia and have the means to do so, then build a wall. If they climb over the wall — as millions of low-income parents with children in private schools (very commonly Catholic schools) do — then build a higher wall. …

It isn’t just education, of course. In much of Canada, private health insurance is effectively banned. The existence of private insurance is a very strong indicator that there are some people who are not entirely pleased with Canada’s single-payer system. (Monopolies rarely have happy customers.) So they opt out, at least in part, exercising the right of exit that is the most fundamental of civil rights. This is an affront to progressive values. Solution? Ban private health insurance. …

… try opting out of Social Security or Medicare and see how long it takes for Uncle Stupid to put you in prison as a tax evader. Those metaphorical prison walls are almost always political veneers for actual prison walls.

A more difficult question is why we let them do it.  In East Berlin, there was the little matter of an invading military force, but Americans are letting progressives rope them down like an incrementally compliant Gulliver.  Williamson’s examples give a good indication of the answer.

Acquiescence to the pitiful likes of President Obama and former Governor Chafee, let alone the legions of Whitehouses, Cicillines, Foxes, and so-ons, requires a long-term effort to miseducate the population, promise them things at others’ expense, and gain a patrician’s power over them.  As the wall goes up, the effort of dismantling it becomes greater and greater, making it easier and easier to succumb to the hope that the malicious builders will stop after one more row of bricks.

They won’t.

In Rhode Island, Taylor Swift’s Rights Are Our Rights, Too

The headline for a new statewide property tax proposed by Rhode Island’s Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo is that pop star Taylor Swift will be among the hardest hit.

A few years ago, Swift purchased a $17 million mansion on the Ocean State’s coast, which means the governor is looking to cull around $43,000 from the starlet’s fortune.

In its first year, the tax is projected to collect $11.8 million from the accounts of the 2,359 households who own second properties worth over $1 million.  As Raimondo put it during her recent budget address, the tax “asks those among us who are most able, to pay a little more.”  As if to emphasize the point, the tax is not technically imposed as a tax on property, but on the privilege of owning it, which makes the tax even more radical than it appears on its face.

Continue reading on WatchDog.org.

Progressive Faith in Caesar’s Divine Ratchet

Ross Douthat (who, by the way, will be in Rhode Island for this year’s revived Portsmouth Institute conference) catches something in the attitude of Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer:

Unless, of course, you just define “worked” to mean “changed public policy without the opposition being able to stop us,” in which case we’re just dealing with Caesarism justified by consequentialism, and Pfeiffer’s argument is the boasting of a successful machiavel, unmoored both from constitutional norms and his boss’s own once-professed ideals. Which seems like the more accurate reading of the account he’s giving Chait: It’s less a story of how this president forged a political strategy better suited to our polarized times than it is a story of how Obama realized that a second-term president in an era of gridlock doesn’t need to be politically successful to put his stamp on major policy arenas … he just needs to let go of any principled concerns about what a president can and cannot do.

… expediency is all: A given move is a success if the opposition fails to find a way to block it, the hemmers and hawers are proven wrong if the president isn’t impeached, and the state of your party doesn’t really matter because an unbound presidency is all that progressivism really needs.

Two observations, here.  First, Caesarism wasn’t just an attitude toward the enactment of policies.  It was also a variation of dynastic succession, with the current ruler literally adopting people to put them in line for ascension to the role.  One reason the state of your party might not matter is if the regime has reason to believe that its party can’t lose the newly powerful executive office.  (This puts rumors that Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett cued up the Hillary Clinton email scandal in an interesting context, although the White House has denied it.)

The second observation tempers the conspiracy theorizing somewhat.  Progressives’ worldview is built on many articles of pure faith, but among the chief ones is belief in the ratchet of progress.  They believe that each step of their transformation of society locks in.  To them, a policy like ObamaCare or the FCC’s takeover of the Internet or the absorption of millions of illegal immigrants can never be undone, so straining to get policy to that next tooth on the gear is worthwhile, because the aftermath isn’t reversal, but rest.

One of the great deficiencies of progressive thought, though, is precisely its failure to comprehend the importance of maintaining the culture and mores — Douthat’s “principled concerns.”  Putting too much pressure on the ratchet can cause it to break, leaving the society vulnerable to invasion or simple collapse.  And lunging to reach that next step means that the activists don’t have the institutional strength to hold power and prevent their sacrifice of the rule of law from becoming a pretext for a dictatorship that even they wouldn’t like.

Fiddling While Conspiring and Oppressing

The cliché of “fiddling while Rome burns” suggests that a leader is engaged in petty activities while his society falls apart.  What I didn’t realize (or at least did not remember having learned, if I once did) is that the metaphor implies much more of relevance to the current experience of the United States.

According to The Annals by Tacitus (this translation), it wasn’t just that Emperor Nero was rumored to have been “at the very time when the city was in flame… on a private stage [singing] of the destruction of Troy,” but that he was also rumored to have been behind the starting of the fire.  “It seemed that Nero was aiming at the glory of founding a new city and calling it by his name.”

Indeed, during a purge at the end of the book that might remind modern readers of the purge at the end of a mafia movie, one of the targeted soldiers tells Nero, “I began to hate you when you became the murderer of your mother and your wife, a charioteer, an actor, and an incendiary.”

Moreover, the aftermath of the fire presents the first appearance of Christians in Tacitus’s narrative.  (For context, the fire occurred around the same time as the death of St. Paul in Rome.)

… all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order.  Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.  Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.  Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths.  Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car.  Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

Of course, we’re much more civilized, these days, and powerful people have much less gruesome means of distracting the public and transferring mockery and blame to people who observe the world mainly by the reflection that they see with their eyes turned to Yahweh.

Reconnoitering the Pay of the Federal Bureaucracy’s Legions

Sifting through the federal payroll data available on FedsDataCenter.com, a service ofFedSmith.com, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin comes to mind for multiple reasons, the first of which is a modified version of his famous question about the Roman Catholic Church: How many divisions has the federal bureaucracy?

According to the Washington Post, the answer in 2010 was 2.7 million executive branch civilians.  Breaking out the 600,000 U.S. Postal Service workers separately, FedsDataCenter lists 1,091,400 federal employees for that year, so it’s a partial list, for whatever reason.  Even so, whatever transparency data one can get is always instructive.

Continue reading on WatchDog.org.

Education savings accounts give parents choice, save public money

In February, Politico mentioned Rhode Island on a list of states considering the “radical new idea” of education savings accounts (ESAs) to provide parents with educational choice for their children.

It’s rare for the Ocean State to be mentioned among advocates for limited-government policies.  This particular list might seem even more unlikely, considering that Rhode Island has the fifth most powerful teacher unions in the country, according to the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

In actuality, Rhode Island has been on the list of school choice states for quite some time — since passage of a tax credit scholarship program in 2006.  That program is, however, extremely small, serving only a few hundred students even after the better part of a decade.  To understanding why Rhode Island would lead — and then lag — on such a policy is to understand why even broader school choice is so critical for the state’s children.

Continue reading on WatchDog.org.

Exhausted Liberalism Is Actually Dying Liberalism… or Undead

Jonah Goldberg had a good article, the other day, suggesting that liberalism (which proponents have been rebranding as “progressivism”) is “exhausted.”  He errs, though, in presuming a future for the ideology.

Meanwhile, the cultural Left has disengaged from mainstream political arguments, preferring instead the comforts of identity-politics argy-bargy. You judge political movements not by their manifestos but by where they put their passion. And on the left these days, the only things that arouse passion are arguments about race and gender.

Such critiques may seem like a cutting-edge fight for the future among the protagonists, but looked at from the political center, it suggests political exhaustion. At least old-fashioned Marxists talked about the economy.

Of course liberalism isn’t dead; it’s just resting.

I don’t know.  It was pretty obvious more than a decade ago — about when the rebranding to “progressivism” really began — that liberalism was dying.  Only fools and con artists could possibly believe the worldview on which it is built, meaning that most adherents were simply taking it on faith and not thinking it through.

Naturally, one can be a gratuitously educated fool.  If you believe you can completely construct your reality, then there are columns and arches of rationalization to support whatever structure you want to believe in, for whatever reason you want to believe in it.  As it happens, the Obama Era has been an excellent illustration of the consequences of denying reality — an illustration, that is, for everybody except for those who can’t see the world around them because the walls of their liberal temple block the view.

Arguably, liberalism is manifestly dead, but it’s also undead.  Through ritualistic lies and propaganda on a scale most often seen in totalitarian nations, the true believers of liberalism, large portions of whom hold jobs (frighteningly) in industries designed to explain to others what is real, managed to raise up the charming deceiver Barack Obama as president, and he’s striving to suck the blood out of the ailing husk of the Founders’ America.

The problem is that the arts of progressive vampirism don’t produce powerful offspring in the image of the charismatic figures who took their souls, but rather something more like zombies.  Reality simply doesn’t make sense for a society whose heart has stopped beating, and the core impetus for its re-creators is the power to control those who have been remade.

You end up with confused masses, unhinged from the old morality of the living, who exist under the influence of increasingly lunatic leaders drawn to their roles not by some lingering quest for purpose, but simply because they want to wield the power.

A Novel Idea on Transportation Budgeting

This is the eye-catching line from Jenifer McDermott’s Providence Journal story on transportation funding:

“We need to take a comprehensive look at solutions, everything from public-private partnerships to tolling,” she said. “We also need to ensure that we are delivering highway and transit projects quickly and cost-effectively, so that we get the maximum benefit from the federal funding provided.

Here’s a simple idea that one never hears the politicians suggest or the news reporters ask about:  Put all expenditures on a prioritized list, start funding everything at the top of the list, and stop when the money runs out.

That sort of approach is off the table, though, because the list that the public would want to see wouldn’t at all resemble the list that politicians want to be reality.  The former would start out something like this:

  1. Safety
  2. Law enforcement
  3. Transportation

And the latter would look more like this:

  1. Handouts to political friends
  2. Vote-buying schemes
  3. Personal pet projects

Learning from the HealthSource Experience

This is a predictable result of letting government run businesses:

The most common complaint into the Call 12 for Action Center over the past three months has been problems with HealthSource RI – so Consumer Reporter Susan Hogan went straight to the source to try to get some answers.

Customers are getting angry with the state-run Obamacare marketplace, saying critical health decisions are being put on hold because they can’t get a straight answer.

It’s bad enough that the government spent nine figures (that means over $100 million) putting together an organization and Web site expecting to have to handle several times more customers and is still having trouble managing the fraction that it actually has.  The real travesty, however, is that anybody with authority thought it would be a good idea to begin with.

Lest we forget, the Affordable Care Act (ACA; ObamaCare) was pushed through  by President Obama and Congressional Democrats on a party-line vote on Christmas Eve using procedural gimmicks and without having been vetted by the legislators, let alone the public.  In Rhode Island, the exchange came into being not as legislation, by an executive order from ideological governor Lincoln Chafee, and without significant public debate, and the accompanying expansion of Medicaid, which is now a major budgetary problem for the state, was pretty much a bureaucratic decision without the visible input of elected officials, at all.

Read Hogan’s article.  These aren’t insurmountable business problems, but it isn’t clear how well government agents can or will surmount them.  In a private business setting, a company that was having such problems after a year of operation despite having many fewer customers than projected would have to fix them pronto or go out of business, but for HealthSource to go out of business it takes major political battles, legislation, and horse trades for other legislation and other political incentives that have nothing whatsoever to do with healthcare.

And HealthSource represents a relatively mild leap into lunacy compared with legislation that some elected officials would like to pass.  Take H5387, for example, with lead sponsors Aaron Regunberg (D, Providence), Teresa Tanzi (D, Narragansett and South Kingstown), Arthur Handy (D, Cranston), Shelby Maldonado (D, Central Falls), and Gregg Amore (D, East Providence).

The legislation would create a new agency that would automatically register Rhode Islanders in government healthcare and collect premiums from them, while forbidding private insurers from offering competing products and setting prices for all doctors and other healthcare providers.  Picture a mandatory HealthSource that wouldn’t even have to risk going back to elected officials to raise money, if it were failing.

If a bill like that were to pass, it would be devastating for the people of the state, and it’s an indication of just how dangerous it is to elect such people to office.

Health care exists in a supposedly ‘free’ market where government sets the prices

The other day, my Medicare-eligible father took the position in a discussion between us that centrally managed health care was superior to free-market health care. He cited the state of American health care as his proof.

His proclamation of evidence is nothing if not debatable (see here and here, for example), but even to acknowledge that much goes too far.  The debate starts from a false premise.

Continue reading on WatchDog.org.

Pensions Lesson in Government’s Incentive to Spin

If more citizens–in towns, cities, and states–understood the calculations and rhetoric of the pension systems dependent on their taxes, they’d be kicking out incumbents at the nearest opportunity.

When then-General Treasurer, and now Governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo, embarked on her “Truth in Numbers” campaign, enough people understood the problem to help her push through a reform of the state’s pension system, for which she received national recognition.  But not enough people had learned the lesson of skepticism, and thusly believed her when she announced the problem had been solved.

Complexity is only one side of the wooden nickel that ought to make Americans wary of allowing government to grow beyond some basic responsibilities.  The other side is incentives.

Continue reading on Watchdog.org (and feel free to leave comments over there, too)…

The Real Estate Fruits of Progressive Governance

This is one predictable result when progressives capture both state and federal governments:

The median house price in Rhode Island for 2014 as a whole was $215,000, the highest in six years, yet the number of sales was nearly unchanged — up only 0.25 percent compared with 2013, according to statistics from the state Realtors’ association. 

For Rhode Island’s luxury market, however, 2014 was a very good year. For homes priced at $2 million or above, sales volume was up by more than 20 percent, according to John Hodnett, principal broker/owner of Lila Delman Real Estate. This small segment of the market is largely fueled by buyers from out of state.

The policies pursued by the likes of Barack Obama and Lincoln Chafee — whether regulatory, fiscal, monetary, or social — although sold as helping “the working people” wind up helping the very rich (sometimes making a whole new sort of person very rich).  It’s an obvious consequence of the incentives and restrictions that they impose on the economy, so it seems likely to be deliberate… for any of them who aren’t intoxicated on the rhetoric that they peddle or of, let’s say, insufficient intellectual capacity.

Note, for emphasis, this line farther down the article:

“As property values build, it’s getting better,” McCarthy said. But another problem holding back the Rhode Island market “is the tax structure [high property and income taxes],” he added. “That’s the killer.”

History May Not Repeat, but It Sure Does Echo

Continuing my quest to work through all of the books that I’ve inherited and should have read already, I’m now enjoying Tacitus’s complete works.  This is from Book I of The Annals:

When after the destruction of Brutus and Cassius there was no longer any army of the Commonwealth, when Pompeius was crushed in Sicily, and when, with Lepidus pushed aside and Antonius slain, even the Julian faction had only Cæsar left to lead it, then, dropping the title of triumvir, and giving out that he was a Consul, and was satisfied with a tribune’s authority for the protection of the people, Augustus won over the soldiers with gifts, the populace with cheap corn, and all men with the sweets of repose, and so grew greater by degrees, while he concentrated in himself the functions of the Senate, the magistrates, and the laws.  He was wholly unopposed, for the boldest spirits had fallen in battle, or in the proscription, while the remaining nobles, the readier they were to be slaves, were raised the higher by wealth and promotion, so that, aggrandised by revolution, they preferred the safety of the present to the dangerous past.  Nor did the provinces dislike that condition of affairs, for they distrusted the government of the Senate and the people, because of the rivalries between the leading men and the rapacity of the officials, while the protection of the laws was unavailing, as they were continually deranged by violence, intrigue, and finally by corruption. …

… At home all was tranquil, and there were magistrates with the same titles; there was a younger generation, sprung up since the victory of Actium, and even many of the older men had been born during the civil wars.  How few were left who had seen the republic!

Thus the State had been revolutionised, and there was not a vestige left of the old sound morality. Stript of equality, all looked up to the commands of a sovereign without the least apprehension for the present, while Augustus in the vigour of life, could maintain his own position, that of his house, and the general tranquillity.

The Surveillance State Is Creepy

Whether Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was being fair (or how unfair he was being) to Mormons in his first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, I don’t know.  The story did, however, reinforce a cultural aversion to being spied upon by authorities, and we could definitely use a bit more reinforcement of that suspicion.

Doyle’s claim is that early-Utah-settlement Mormons had a sort of secret police to enforce adherence to the faith, and its reach extended well beyond just Salt Lake City.  From the point of view of one convert to the faith (who converted rather than be left to die in the desert), the knowledge of this mysterious group was somewhat creepy, but livable… until he ran afoul of the Elders.  His adopted daughter wanted to marry a man outside of the faith, and the preferred options of the authorities were not tolerable.  Flight and murder followed.

And so it is throughout history.  As long as the civic structure allows people a certain degree of comfort, and as long as the rules that put one at risk of being a target are clear, many people will simply accept that those with power take liberties against their freedom.  The rules have a way of expanding, though, so it’s important for a free society to have a deep distrust of the mechanisms that can close in when they do.

When we learn that government agencies are developing extensive real-time road surveillance tools, it ought to worry us.  (License plate tracking technology is one of the regular bills hiding in the mass of the General Assembly’s legislation, as if awaiting a moment to slip into law.)  Sure, most of the uses of the system might seem unobjectionable, at first (although I find it abhorrent that the system was build for government property grabs):

The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document. But the database’s use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects, say people familiar with the matter.

Increasing revelations about false accusations of rape give a direct example of how the dragnet can thicken, but the concern is not necessarily direct.  We can be certain that, over time, the list of items for which the system is used will expand, making it less and less possible for us all blithely to assume that we will never run afoul of the authorities.

Freedom’s Thinking Machine, Versus an Ignorant Elite

Of the various commentaries I’ve seen, Kevin Williamson wrings the most truth out of the embarrassing display of a debacle that is Davos:

Conservatives are generally inclined to make a moral case for limited government: that transfers are corrupting, that taxes should be collected only to the extent that they are essential, that regulation is a necessary evil and that as such it should be kept to a minimum. That is generally true and persuasive, but the more important argument is the problem of ignorance. Even if Congress were populated exclusively by saintly super-geniuses, there is only so much that 535 human beings can know and understand. The more that decision-making is centralized in political agencies, or even in elites outside of formal government, the more intensively those decisions will be distorted by ignorance. This is true of market-oriented institutions, too, in the sense that big businesses make big mistakes. One of the lessons of the 2007 financial crisis is that the guys who run the banks do not actually know that much about how banks work, even if they know 100 times what the banking regulators know. Free markets offer a critical, if imperfect and partial, corrective to that in the form of financial losses and business failures, which is why things like cars and computers consistently improve while schools and welfare programs don’t. Big markets with lots of competing buyers and sellers are the biggest thinking machines we have, offering the broadest epistemic horizon that our species has figured out how to achieve.

The part about “elites outside of formal government” has been edging its way into my consciousness, lately, for Rhode Island issues.  Among a few of us, it’s almost become a game to spot the Brown graduates in government and its satellites.  From a certain point of view, the audacity of Governor Gina Raimondo hasn’t been so much that she’s looked out of state to hire, but that she’s upped the number of framed Yale certificates on the walls of state offices.

The whole distorted mess of Rhode Island governance is beginning to be revealed as something cooked up (by hired help) at a casual-attire intercollegiate social among people who are about as ideologically diverse as the Amish.  Politicians and bureaucrats in state government make the pronouncements, which are explained and supported in the best of lights for the slightly-less-insider readership of the Providence Journal and other news media, with all of the gears greased with Rhode Island Foundation money.  I’m simplifying for effect, of course, but not by as much as it may seem.

The bottom line is that Rhode Island won’t escape its rut until it’s possible for people who didn’t make it to the social (and people who wouldn’t have gone, even if invited) to win policy battles every now and then.

Why Do Planners Plan?

Commenting on a recent post on this site, “Mangeek” expresses the socialist planners’ rationalization for undermining democracy:

Politicians generally prefer votes over growth, because votes are useful right away, whereas decisions to maximize growth often take longer to materialize; sometimes longer than an election cycle.

“How… do we suddenly get “good planning”?”

By insulating the planners from the voters and politicians, and recruiting/retaining good ones? I guess I’m a bit of a technocrat. If things like RhodeMap, Obamacare, and the EDC are properly done, they’ll have better outcomes than the hyperlocal model Justin seems to champion, because they’ll be backed by research and statistics instead of popular opinion and votes.

As I commented briefly in reply, just one more step in reasoning and a little more historical knowledge would bring this faith in government crashing down.  Stalin, for example, was a master planner insulated from voters and politicians.  How’d that work out?

Even if you think it’s too much of a leap from Rhode Island’s Kevin Flynn to Stalin, it raises the question:  Once we’ve “insulated” the planners from public accountability, what do we do if we happen — by some horrible twist of bad luck — to have bad (even wicked, self-interested) planners in place?

The disconnect may be the incorrect sense that mere planning is a benign, passive, objective activity.  That’s the substance of Mangeek’s subsequent reply, in which he supposes that only the state government has the resources to pay people to do the research, so planners should be insulated to do that, but local governments should be free to ignore the plans.

That misconception, too, would fall quickly upon scrutiny.  First of all, local volunteers appointed to planning boards do plenty of research, and political opponents do more, between which the public must judge.

More importantly, what’s the point of insulated planners if their suggestions have to be ratified by the popular will anyway?  No, if we’re going to create a technocratic class of planners, then it must be assumed that their “good plans” will be implemented.  That’s why RhodeMap RI includes plans on how to get communities to adopt the plan. 

As Glenn Reynolds summarizes, while posting an excerpt from an essay by Alicia Kurimska, “urban planning is about control.”  As Kurimska argues, Soviet planning designed communities in a manner intended to force people to structure their lives as the planners wanted… with the values that the planners demanded.

Reynolds follows the excerpt with this: “The planners promise more than they can deliver, time after time. And someone else pays the price, time after time.”

We must stop accepting the pretensions of the planners simply because they claim to have expertise and good intentions.

Raimondo and the I-195 Land, Farther Into the Hole

In his Sunday column in the Providence Journal, John Kostrzewa gave voice to this local bit of common wisdom cum mythology about Gina Raimondo that probably isn’t going to die any time soon:

They are right-of-center Democrats with conservative leanings in their philosophy of government who understand that business, and private investment, drive the economy.

The other half of the “they” is RI House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D, Cranston).  While the jury’s still out on his political philosophy, only a mainstream journalist could think that sentence can be written about Raimondo as if it needs no evidentiary support.  She let us know it wasn’t true when she accepted an award for pension reform from the Manhattan Institute and told an anecdote about a fellow church-goer thanking her for bolstering Rhode Island’s faith in… government.  And she let it be known when she launched her campaign proclaiming the need for “a bold progressive agenda designed to jump start Rhode Island’s economy.”  And she’s letting it be known in some of her early actions as governor, for instance:

Raimondo wants government leaders to decide how the land should best be used. She calls it a “game-changer opportunity,” in agreement with past city and state leaders who have said the land is one of the state’s best assets for improving its stalled economy. She has said she doesn’t want to rely on the current approach to let the free market decide what gets built on 19 developable acres. …

She said she’d consider giving away the land, which the commission is now charged with selling.

Only a progressive could believe that organizations (like Stanford University, which she’s apparently already contacted) that are able, but not willing, to purchase land would make the most productive use of it.

Believe whatever you want about progressivism, but by definition it isn’t a “philosophy of government” that indicates “conservative leanings.”  It’s indicative of Rhode Island’s deep, deep problems that a prominent business writer would either ignore all evidence (and Raimondo’s own statements about herself) in order to maintain his own premature judgment of her nature or, worse, actually believe that anybody who concludes that government can’t always pile more money into its problems without changing direction must be “right-of-center.”

Boston Traffic Shutdown and Dumb Protesters

Well, this must be a lovely way for hard-working people to start their frigid Thursday:

Protesters have shut down Route 93 north and south heading into Boston, during the Thursday morning rush hour, according to the Massachusetts State Police. …

The state police tweeted, “The I 93 protesters have attached themselves to 1200 lb barrels. Officials working to clear roadways. Avoid area seek alt route.”

The Left isn’t known for its economic sense or compassion for other people (meaning real people, as opposed to abstract characters that they create in their minds).  Blocking traffic to a major city during rush hour is hugely disruptive to a great many lives, and somewhere in the chain reaction that this wrench sets off in the economy, somebody will suffer because of it.

If they’re even this aware, the protesters probably comfort themselves by thinking that it’ll be the fat cats who bear the brunt of the disruption.  That isn’t likely, and given their ideology, even progressives ought to be able to understand how consequences roll downhill.

Somewhere in the scheme of things, there are struggling families who will have to struggle even more because of these idiots’ self righteousness.  Unfortunately, they’ll probably never know whom to blame.