Mike Stenhouse: Your Family Deserves Better Than 48th

What if lawmakers were to realize that Rhode Island’s policy culture of considering only the material needs of individuals, all along, has been harmful to the family unit? For too long, the status quo in the Ocean State has stood in the way of Rhode Islanders achieving their hopes and dreams. New national research released this month indicates that Rhode Island families are not doing as well as lawmakers may currently believe. The Family Prosperity Index (FPI) measures both economic and social factors to determine the results of our state’s public policy culture on our families.

For example, the often cited unemployment rate, a narrow snapshot of employment only, has declined notably in Rhode Island, giving lawmakers false occasion to trumpet success. When considering broader economic, social, and demographic data, all combined into a single index over a longer period of time, Rhode Island fares very poorly, ranking 48th in the nation on the FPI index for 2015. This new research can be ground-breaking in that FPI broadens the scope of analyzing official government data, that result from public policy on actual families in each state. Your family deserves better than these poor ratings.

Do most Rhode Islanders feel as good about their family’s well-being as the unemployment rate and our politicians might suggest? I don’t think so. With FPI, we now have a measurement that can more fully measure family well-being. We believe that family-level shortcomings, caused by Rhode Island policy culture, are the root causes of the current economic malaise in the Ocean State. Rhode Island does not need to grow the elite, through ‘advanced industries’ as suggested by the recent $1.3 million Brooking Institution report.

Lawmakers can become heroes if they can design policies that actually address the real needs of real families. Rhode Island needs a new vision, one where the people of our state can achieve prosperity through free-market solutions. Your voice can be powerful. We encourage you to speak out about the issues in Rhode Island that are making things more difficult for your family. Free market policy can strengthen our state and our families by giving the people of our state more access to opportunity. Thank you.

[Mike Stenhouse is the CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.]

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