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Travis Rowley: RI Needs More Rich People (Chapter 2)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

 

In response to widespread leftist rhetoric concerning “evil corporations” aimed at disparaging “greedy CEOs” (and a mysterious set of people who were suddenly being referred to as “the One Percent”) I made the case in 2011 that “Rhode Island Needs More Rich People”  – a column summarized nicely by the old maxim, “I’ve never been hired by a poor person.”

Several news stories this week gave me an opportunity to follow up on this idea.

Within the same week that WPRI reported that “Rhode Island's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose for the second month in a row to 9.1%," both GoLocalProv and The Providence Phoenix ran glowing coverage of Alex and Ani, a homegrown Rhode Island company headquartered in Cranston.

According to GoLocalProv, a study conducted by the John H. Chafee Center for International Business and The Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University reveals that in 2012 Alex and Ani “directly or indirectly generated nearly 1,100 fulltime jobs in Rhode Island.”

That’s 1,100 new taxpayers.

And now Democrats are suddenly listening. What? More government revenue? Where? Paiva-Weed, grab the net!

Democrats vs. Alex and Ani

Depending on one’s own outlook and personal prejudices, various lessons and action plans could be taken away from this week’s focus on Alex and Ani and its relationship with Rhode Island.

We learned this week that Alex and Ani “grew revenues from $4 million in 2010 to more than $80 million in revenue in 2012.” In 2013, “the company is on pace to exceed more than $200 million in sales” and “may now be generating as many as 3,000 to 4,000 jobs in Rhode Island in direct and indirect full-time jobs.”

While normal people celebrate the exciting new job opportunities, the corporate profits being reported must have irked the average Democrat – people who object to middle-class job creation if those jobs will also benefit the wealthy; people who believe wealth isn’t earned; people who believe in the government’s right to redistribute income; people who agree with President Obama when he says, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen;” people who believe “we are all socialists now” simply because most of us utilize the public roadways, schools, and police. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren explained, “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody! You built a factory out there – Good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.”

Without a doubt, Alex and Ani is the exact type of outfit that Democrats have spent the past several years teaching people to envy, hate, and savage – a successful business.

It is precisely the type of organization that the Rhode Island Left not only despises, but unapologetically repels by refusing to reform Rhode Island’s basic economic structure.

Democrats have spent the past couple of years calling for a greater government share of Alex and Ani’s revenues, and increases to CEO Giovanni Feroce’s income tax rate – on the state level and the federal level.

Progressive activists have assisted the socialist effort by propping up signs that read, “Eat the Rich.” And by portraying high-income earners as “rich bastards who would happily slit your throat for just one more dollar.”

Trickling Down, Up, Across, and Over

As is typical when dealing with leftist rhetoric, the realities on the ground tell a different story.

For the past several years, Alex and Ani has been involved in countless sponsorships across the State, “donated $1 million to both Bryant University’s Chafee Center for International Business…and Rhode Island College,” and launched Alex and Ani University – offering “workshops, Learning Journeys & Courses birthed to awaken, nurture, and inspire human development through self-understanding and systems thinking.”

And in addition to giving millions of dollars to non-profits and local charities, Alex and Ani is experimenting with a “new way of introducing entertainers” by promoting “Colour of London, [a] two-man pop rock group.”

So, basically, Alex and Ani helps to better the community by involving itself in education, charity, job training, and the arts – all areas in which Democrats insist government must take an active role.

I mean, who else would do it? Greedy corporations?

But even if Alex and Ani wasn’t such a splendid “corporate citizen,” would anyone decide that its existence is no longer fair? Is providing jobs not enough?

Free the Market

Alex and Ani may currently be the darling of the Rhode Island Left (evidenced by The Phoenix’s fawning expose), but just wait until Rhode Island runs out of money again.

Without a doubt, Democrats are salivating over the growing amount of tax revenue that Alex and Ani is currently providing the state, and Feroce’s plans to one day be in control of a “multi-billion dollar” company – a surprise source of private wealth for the State House to draw from.

Of course, defenders of governmental power should be asked to explain why the expansion of private wealth must coincide with the expansion of the state.

A wiser policy would be to do the opposite. In the event of a sudden increase in corporate tax revenue, the government should resist the temptation to gather and spend, and instead begin to lower the corporate tax rate to a revenue-neutral position – enabling all Rhode Island companies to reinvest and expand.

The same practice should apply with a sudden increase in income tax revenue.

Alleviating the tax burden on local businesses would also serve to attract more wealth, capital, and corporations to Rhode Island – spawning new job opportunities and placing upward pressure on wages and working conditions, as more and more “One-Percenters” vie for a limited amount of workers.

It remains an economic reality, as well as an economic strategy yet to be unleashed by State House Democrats – that is, that the best way to support and protect “working people” is to combat “evil CEOs” simply by attracting more “evil CEOs” to the region.

For all you liberals out there, this is known as “a thriving business environment.”

Rhode Island needs more rich people. That’s how you put people back to work.

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

 

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