It is misplaced finger-pointing to blame our politicians for rising taxes and our fiscal nightmare (“R.I. service business owners vent frustration over new taxes,” PBN Morning Call, Aug. 24, 2012).
We, the electorate, are responsible. We keep voting in irresponsible, self-dealing politicians. For more than 70 years, Rhode Island politics have been totally dominated by one party, virtually assuring few checks and balances. Too many of us shrug our shoulders at corruption, a bloated, overcompensated public sector and chronic wasteful spending, as well as just bad decision-making in the public sphere.
So, while the 38 Studios LLC deal is not a chronic condition, it also points to the need for a vigilant electorate. For instance, did a fundamental misunderstanding about business contribute to 38 Studios’ failure?
In a front-page story (“Monitoring upgrades at EDC shelved,” PBN Aug. 6, 2012), author Patrick Anderson said that the primary focus of the agency’s financing system was job creation. As I understand it, 38 Studios had to hit hiring targets to qualify for the R.I. Economic Development Corporation loan guaranty.
No one in his or her right mind starts and operates a business primarily to create jobs. The essential focus of successful companies is bringing to market products and/or services that can be sold at a profit. Jobs are a byproduct of business success. If employment quotas forced 38 Studios to meet a larger payroll than it needed, this well-intentioned but ultimately foolish loan-guaranty condition might well have reduced its odds of survival.
And finally, according to your Morning Call e-newsletter, (“Providence mayor proposes borrowing $40 million to fix streets,” July 12, 2012), Providence Mayor Angel Taveras wants to borrow $40 million to fix city streets. Clearly, that’s bad financial management for a city already deeply in debt. Worse, it avoids dealing with the serious underlying issues. Providence is in a fiscal and infrastructure mess because of lavish compensation to municipal workers, rampant political corruption and high-paying, unnecessary – or outright no-show – public-sector jobs, driven by politicians who put their careers ahead of what’s good for the city.
If Providence voters have to continue to suffer with deteriorating streets, maybe they’ll vote for and hold accountable politicians who will do what’s right for the city, not what’s best for themselves.
Rhode Island is a beautiful state with plenty of potential. If we, the voters, continue to sit on the sidelines, we will continue our slide downhill. Rhode Island’s future is completely in our hands. •