The People Are Leaving. Be Angry.

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A major theme of Sunday’s Providence Journal is that people are leaving Rhode Island.  Specifically, it’s people who are trying to build their lives, what I’ve frequently called the “productive class” — those Rhode Islanders at a point in their lives that they’re looking to start energetically trading their time for money and their potential for achievement.  It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with an argument that these are the most important people to an economy.

The paper starts off (first page, above the fold) with large bold letters: “Millennial Flight“:

“I applied for anything and everything I even remotely qualified for, including many jobs I would be considered majorly overqualified for, and even tried to work with a temp service,” said [John] DosSantos, 26. “I would say I averaged at least five applications and submissions a day. I finally realized I would be better off seeking employment in another state.”

Elsewhere, G. Wayne Miller follows up on a struggling Rhode Island family the paper profiled in May. (At the time, I highlighted the fact that they’re a charter school family.)  Here’s where the Maziarz family is now:

“I’ll miss Rhode Island,” Josh said before heading west early Friday morning in a U-Haul truck. His wife and sons Cade, 6, Jack, 4, and Charlie, 2, flew to Indiana on Tuesday.

And still elsewhere are letters from readers responding to the Projo’s running articles about the “Middle Class Squeeze.”  Kevin Audette, of Warwick, voices my feeling about the matter:

Everyone knows what’s needed, but it’s not going to happen here. It’s been studied over and over again … and it’s just common sense.

A redistributionist state, with high taxes, poor weather, no jobs, and unions calling all of the shots politically. Fewer people pull the load … and more and more people freeload in R.I.

I am also preparing to leave for Texas or Florida.

When I first started writing about who was actually leaving Rhode Island — back in 2007, when everybody was arguing over whether the rich were leaving the state — I was worried.  I thought that, if we could settle the debate about the numbers, fixing the problem would be the obvious next step. I thought that if we could change the conversation to acknowledge the reality, the state would have to change.

Nowadays, these stories just make me angry.  I’m in the middle of reading all of the legislation that received a floor vote in the General Assembly (most of which is now law); this is the third year I’ve done so.  And for the third year in a row, the most appropriate word for the legislature and governor is “relentless.”  Every single year, they make life a little more difficult and a little more expensive.  That is, they make life harder for people who want to be productive and build a future.

I haven’t gone through most of the House bills, but I have read everything that was transmitted to the governor from the Senate, and so far, I tally $168.07 million in new debt that the state government has authorized cities and towns to incur.  That’s on top of the $248 million in new debt that the legislature and governor will ask voters to approve in November (which they typically do).

That’s the financial burden.  The thousand paper cuts come with regulations, from requiring licenses for music therapists to imposing expensive new green-energy programs on Rhode Islanders.

Things have to change in the Ocean State… right away.  Yesterday.  But for that to happen, Rhode Islanders themselves are going to have to get more involved and to change their habits when they are involved, ceasing to support the same old insiders.

And the state’s media, the Providence Journal most notably, is going to have to stop seeking to undermine anybody who emerges to challenge the status quo and stop promoting those who’ve done so much damage to the state, damaging untold numbers of lives in the process.  There are reasons over 50% of legislators in the RI House have no opponents in the upcoming election, and none of those reasons are agreement with the direction of the state, and only one of them is that so many viable candidates have moved away.