Moore: Rhode Island’s Falstaff Government

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“The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”–Margaret Thatcher

I was never a big fan of former Governor Donald Carcieri.

But something he told me 10 years ago has me thinking about the new cash grab speed cameras in Providence. Namely, that they’re coming everywhere in Rhode Island.

I didn’t think Carcieri was a strong communicator. He had a proclivity for corporate welfare. And his management style was basically mismanagement.

What’s more, he did nothing to improve the state’s Republican Party. (And Rhode Island suffers due to its one-party rule.)

But he made a really good point one day during an interview when I was a reporter for The Warwick Beacon a decade ago. Talking about taxes, Carcieri said that everyone in Rhode Island who was in favor of tax hikes, always favored them for someone else. Almost nobody wanted to increase the taxes they paid.

He was right.

OPM

There are others who say that we should tax boats. The people who say that aren’t boat owners.

The progressives want to “tax the rich”. They act as if Rhode Island was East Germany before the fall of The Berlin Wall. “The rich” aren’t confined to stay in Rhode Island. Capital goes wherever it is treated the best. Raise taxes on the highest income earners and they’ll leave.

Human nature being what it is, nobody wants to make a tough decision. Why take on a special interest group? The people that comprise the special interest group will hate you. The greater society will benefit, but nobody will be rushing to give you the credit.

When you get down to it–courage isn’t much of a virtue in politics. In Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1, Falstaff put it succinctly, “The better part of valor, is discretion”.

Like Falstaff, nobody wants to make a stand.

Where’s The Courage?

That’s why we have people like state representative Carlos Tobon proposing legislation to pay families that make more than $100,000 a year to move to Rhode Island for $10,000 per year. And you thought progressives like Tobon cared about the poor? Here’s a representative trying to pay rich folks to move back to Rhode Island.

Where is he going to get the money to pay these people? As always, someone else will pay! He’ll get it from the federal government. The reason is, because Rhode Island keeps losing population thanks to its high costs of taxes, utilities, and burdensome regulations, we could lose a Congressional seat.

So, Rhode Island has created massive government that drives away people. The solution: more welfare (bigger government) to bring people back. And Tobon thinks this is a great idea! There’s nothing wrong with his logic, he thinks.

Which brings us to the big brother style speed cameras. They’re not only not going anywhere–they’re going to proliferate. The lure of more revenue to pay off the costs of big government will be irresistible to almost all of RI’s pols.

Tobon’s Brilliance 

Everyone thinks that they won’t have to pay. They’ll be able to avoid the cameras. The bad guys and girls who speed will just add more revenue to the government.

Privacy? Pfft. Who cares? If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.

My friend Pat Ford, who serves as Chairman of the state’s Libertarian Party, likes to joke around saying “I’m in favor of raising any and all taxes that I don’t have to pay.”

He’s only kidding. Too bad everyone else thinks that way, but doesn’t admit it.

Russell Moore
Russell J. Moore is the publisher and founder of rirelevant.com. He’s been writing about Rhode Island since 2005. You should definitely follow him on twitter @russmoore713. If you want to send him email, you can send it to russmoore713@gmail.com
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