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Travis Rowley: Imagine No Democrats

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Wouldn’t you like Rhode Island to be the lowest-taxed state in the nation? The place that leaves the most wealth in the pockets of those who earned it? The most business-friendly? The strictest welfare requirements?

How about a place where the power of public union bosses is choked, placing control of the government back in the hands of the taxpayers, and ensuring that the pensions of public workers are properly funded? No more Central Falls fiascos. How about that?

How about becoming an economic hub that attracts scores of entrepreneurs, corporations, and members of the CEO class – people who would compete for the state’s labor force, which would place upward pressure on wages? How about an influx of companies that contend for customers, increasing the quality of goods and services while driving prices lower and lower – a strengthening of the average Rhode Islander’s dollar. In one word, growth.

Ah, the free market.

Imagine a scenario that fulfills precisely what Republican US Senate candidate Barry Hinckley reminded everyone of during his first debate with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “We don’t need more taxes. We need more taxpayers!”

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

That’s how you build an economic leviathan – by having the “working people” actually, you know, working. Less redistribution. Less people on SNAP and Medicaid. More people securing themselves within the middle class. Prospering. And helping to fund a government that can then – yes, Democrats – build and maintain roads, bridges, and schools.

Wouldn’t you like to see thousands and thousands of economic busy-bodies (capitalists) engaging in a variety of fields here in Rhode Island – rather than just the freaking “manufacturing” or “defense” industries?

While debating Michael Riley, his Republican challenger, Congressman Jim Langevin (D) pathetically boasted about his major economic accomplishment: Money he brought back from Washington that funds “hundreds” of jobs at Electric Boat.

Hundreds? Oh Yippee.

But guess what, Congressman Langevin, there are a lot of people who aren’t interested in making stuff – trinkets or submarines. So stop trying to “bring back manufacturing.” Central planners atop Smith Hill, stop trying to create a “knowledge district.” Democrats, just get out of the way. Decrease the cost of government, and allow the market (the People) to decide which industries are needed and/or desired. If you can bring yourself to put your faith in free people for a mere second, you may begin to realize that “manufacturing” will come back to Rhode Island when it’s good and ready – when it promises to be profitable for Ocean State businesses.

Imagine Rhode Island benefitting from a diverse jobs market whenever economic downturns arrive, rather than always being “the last to recover” simply because Democrats have created a situation in which the entire Ocean State economy has come to rely on only several favored outposts of production – and still wails from the exodus of its manufacturing base decades ago.

Imagine being something other than a pathetic puppy, waiting to see what Washington scraps that Masters Langevin, Whitehouse, Cicilline, and Reed can deliver.

Imagine a Rhode Island that isn’t precisely as Michael Riley describes, a place that is simply incapable of reviving itself – a state that is dependent upon the economic reverberations of a national recovery.

Imagine some freaking independence for once.

Wouldn’t you like to see Rhode Island undergo a radical transformation – “change”, if I may – from what it is now, to a flourishing community?

It is my utmost contention that this scenario just doesn’t materialize under Democratic leadership. The big-government, liberal ideology simply doesn’t allow for it.

No matter what you hear about some sort of “conservative” wing that exists within the RI Democratic Party, the fact of the matter is that the Party’s most potent power-players – union bosses and progressive activists – are much too resistant to progress. Even the slightest tinkering around the edges of the status quo spawns progressive protests and the fury of organized labor.

It took years, a wake-up call in Central Falls, political solidarity against their union allies – and a focused, funded, and Herculean media effort conducted by a political action committee called EngageRI – to get Democrats to finally reform the state pension system in 2011 before the fate of Central Falls befell upon all of Rhode Island.

All of that political pain and capital, and what did we get? Pension Reform. That’s it. Adjustments to the state pension system that – first of all – didn’t go far enough. And second of all, may still be overturned by a labor lawsuit.

And what did we see in 2012, an election year? Democrats rewired with organized labor, stiff-arming municipalities’ calls for the flexibility to tackle their own unfunded pension liabilities. Democrats instead spent their time increasing the size of the state budget and raising your taxes – again.

With Democrats, at best, we get the tiniest of tweaks to this failed progressive experiment we call “Rhode Island” – simply because the RI Democratic Party is neither driven by sound ideology, or funded by principled activists. A powerful establishment stands guard. Power and paychecks are on the line.

In addition, the Democratic base remains philosophically hostile to capitalists and “corporations” (read: businesses). Instinctively, Ocean State liberals have exiled key ingredients of societal prosperity, creating a scenario in which the state’s primary CEO is now the state itself – funded by a few lagging rich people, and a moribund middle class. Private workers now pay the public workers.

Democrats hate “trickle-down” so much, that they created “trickle-across.”

So why not vote for Republicans in 2012 – people who are already despised by the political establishment, and who would rid Rhode Island of its corporate tax, income tax, and sales tax? What are you afraid of? Becoming Texas? What are the horrors that occur in Republican states that Democrats have convinced you of?

Whatever they are, they can’t be worse than this.


Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the chairman of the RI Young Republicans and author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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