The Tip of the Public Manipulation Iceberg

Katherine Gregg has more on Rhode Island state government’s spending to promote itself and spin its programs to the public in today’s Providence Journal:

Rhode Island taxpayers paid upward of $6,234,093 last year to private companies that do “communications and marketing” for state government in Rhode Island. The “quasi-public(s)” paid another $617,555 to consultants, and expect to pay $987,216 for salaries for their in-house public-relations staff.

That’s on top of the $4.3 million for in-house public relations people.  But this is all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the government’s efforts to get the public to accept its expansion.  After all, if you’re going to include the payment for the Raimondo administration to design its RhodeWorks logo, why not also include the $50,000 the state paid for a predictably positive economic projection from REMI?  For that matter, part of the $1.3 million study the Brookings Institution is currently conducting in Rhode Island will be instructions for how the Raimondo administration can bring agencies, private organizations, and private companies into line with the government’s agenda.

If we opened the net wide enough not just to catch people with the phrase “public relations” in their job description, but all of those activities that have as their goal the persuasion or manipulation of the public, you’d catch not only REMI and Brookings, but GrowSmart, the RI Foundation, and many other organizations known and unknown.  The bill wouldn’t be a few million dollars per year, but tens of millions or more.

This is an inevitable consequence of an expansive government that has its fingers in every activity and massive, indecipherable budgets.  The worst part is that we’ve all fallen asleep on the job when it comes to tracing and pushing back against the manipulation.

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