A Bit of Jujitsu to Come from Brookings

Ted Nesi included an intriguing item in his Saturday column, this past week:

Brookings’ Bruce Katz told me one of their major themes is going to be how to improve Rhode Island’s tax and regulatory climate – a perennial complaint, yes, but not necessarily a focus you’d expect from the generally center-left Brookings. Katz and his colleague, Mark Muro, have also found Rhode Island lacks strong independent groups outside government that can build consensus and take action. “There’s an excessive focus on the government to design, finance and deliver everything,” Katz said.

Readers’ first thought might be to wonder why a group of Gina Raimondo supporters would spend over $1 million for conclusions that plenty of people have been offering for free for decades.  A closer look may provide clues as to why.  Brookings may lament the lack of “strong independent groups outside government,” but one can safely wager that the think tank isn’t going to disappoint their funders or their big fan, Gina Raimondo, but promoting the notion that Rhode Island government should just get out of the way.

No, when Brookings complains that there aren’t enough non-government groups in Rhode Island, one can expect a solution that includes some mix of two approaches:

  1. Government must take the initiative to spark independent action, which will (no doubt) conveniently dovetail with the ideas of government planners and which is really just a way of disguising the degree to which government continues to be the main driver.
  2. Non-government groups must somehow be empowered to make decisions that are binding on everybody else, which is just a way of moving government outside the reach of the electorate.
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