December 10, 2008

Hitting Snooze on the Economic Alarm Clock

Justin Katz

Perhaps there is reason for hope if Bob Kerr and I are beginning to have similar reactions to policy proposals:

Desperate times call for desperate measures. As Rhode Island leaders look for ways to squeeze money from previously untapped sources, the possibilities for creative income growth seem darn near unlimited.

Short of a tax on the air we breathe and the sidewalks we walk, almost anything could carry a price tag.

Let's call it the Rhode Island Pay Off Fiscal Folly program. Or RIPOFF. A bit of a stretch, but it works.

I note that Kerr neither defines the problems made up our drunk-like government structure nor offers suggestions to avoid the darkest of the days to come, and I'm sure he'd still balk at mine. Waking up to reality doesn't happen with the first alarm, though.

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Kerr will never, and I mean never, bring himself to acknolwedge what are Rhode Island's three biggest problems. 1) We pay our public sector employees far more than we can afford.

2) we give away far more money than we can afford to poor people.

3) we have ridiculous costs associated with management at every level of government (and yes, this includes that fraud Don Carcieri, who talks a good game but has a cabinet full of Democrats).

MEMO TO YOU Republicans on the "platform committee". Adopt a platform that would resolve those problems and your plight will improve. I have a feeling I won't hear much about that at tonight's State Central Committee Hearing.

Posted by: Rasputin at December 10, 2008 2:17 PM

"Let's call it the Rhode Island Pay Off Fiscal Folly program. Or RIPOFF. A bit of a stretch, but it works."

It certainly does. Good one, Bob.

Posted by: Monique at December 10, 2008 4:42 PM

Actually, a platform of cutting spending seems as unlikely to succeed politically in RI as one that simply proposes raising taxes and other fees.

The middle ground is one that has recently been proposed for the national Republican Party: finding ways for government to deliver more value with the same level of resources.

Of course, that would likely involve consolidation, radical changes in union work rules, and a radical revamp of everything from the way construction projects are managed to the way the Registry works to the way that "clients" are managed by our welfare system. And it would also likely be the case that many people now employed by government would lack the skills and attitude to function effectively under the new system.

But it strikes me that this "middle ground" is much closer to what people really want from government today, and nobody in RI has yet seized it.

Posted by: John at December 10, 2008 7:22 PM

John, your plan makes too much sense. In your "naiveite," you forget that people are more concerned with lobbing cheap shots than offering real solutions. You're asking people to actually think here.

Posted by: rhody at December 10, 2008 10:56 PM

John, I mostly agree with your comment. I agree with your read on what people want from their government. On the topic of government worker's lack of skills and attitude- I think many government workers can and will acquire the new skills needed for what you are describing. As far as attitude goes, I think government workers are similar to many other workforces- there are some hard case attitude workers and there are others that bring a lot of good to their jobs. I get the feeling that many workers in government would welcome a more productive and efficient workplace.

Posted by: David at December 11, 2008 7:40 AM
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