Rhode Island: A Case Study in Progressivism

From the New York Times:

Poor Little Rhody. Not only is it the smallest state, it is often a punch line. And in many state rankings, it comes out on top for the wrong things, like having the nation’s highest rate of unemployment. Now comes yet another blow to the state’s fragile self-esteem. A Gallup poll found that of all 50 states, Rhode Island was the least appreciated by its own residents. Only 18 percent of Rhode Islanders said their state was the best place or one of the best places to live.

Rhode Island is heavily Democratic, heavily Roman Catholic and heavily unionized. Some say the state is beholden to its unions, as evinced by its generous pension system. But the high cost of government, said Robert D. Atkinson, the former executive director of the defunct Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, is not matched by a high quality of services. “Rhode Island has the high-cost structure of Minnesota but the low-quality services of Mississippi,” Mr. Atkinson said.

Over the past 80 years of continuous Democratic control of the state, an unshakable alliance of organized labor, progressive social interest groups, and corrupt politicians have tanked the culture and economy of Rhode Island. In addition to having the highest unemployment rate in the U.S., as mentioned above, over the past five years, the state has consistently ranked as the bottom state for business in the U.S. The Providence commercial tax rate is the highest in the U.S. Welfare benefits pay over $12 per hour, among the highest in the U.S. State temporary disability insurance payments costs are among the highest in the U.S.

Welcome to Rhode Island.

In the last three state election cycles, unions donated more money than all businesses in the state combined. In 2011, the state education board granted illegal immigrants in-state tuition at public universities. One in seven Rhode Islanders are on food stamps. In the shrinking private sector of the state, politically directed public loans and tax breaks have created a planned economy where businesses break bread with the governor, house speaker, and senate president before seeking private investment. Bolstering Rhode Island’s existing reputation for political corruption, progressive-endorsed House Speaker Gordon Fox recently resigned after being raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Progressive-endorsed House Speaker Gordon Fox is raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Bringing up the rear in nearly every national ranking there is, Rhode Island is a damning case study in the social and economic effects of longstanding progressive politics. The state serves as an important reminder that, however far liberty has eroded in most states, hand the keys over to progressives and things can get so much worse.


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