February 19, 2011

More a Never-Ending Winter than Groundhog Day

Justin Katz

For the most part, I agree with Ed Achorn's sentiment about Rhode Island:

It's not too late. Rhode Island can defuse the pension time bomb, perhaps the way businesses have had to, even though few workers were happy about it — by moving public employees into 401(k)-style plans. The state can move toward competitive taxes and regulations that would give businesses a good reason to start up and stay here. Leaders can show the courage to stand up to special interests on behalf of better schools, instead of handing over to them the keys to public education.

We can do these things, but the politicians must first hear that voters actually care.

Until that happens, it seems, it will be Groundhog Day every day in Rhode Island.

The reference, of course, is to the Bill Murray movie in which he's a TV weatherman trapped in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on the aforementioned holiday... over and over with no change except in his own actions. The typical summary of the plot contains some variation of the idea that Murray's character must "get it right," but that's a bit ambiguous. I've preferred to see it as a requirement that he become the type of person whom his love interest in the film could love.

Be shades of interpretation as they may, I'm not so sure it's the apropos analogy for Rhode Island's circumstances. After all, Murray's character didn't know what he had to do to escape his purgatory; there was no remedy toward which he could work, so it was merely a matter of occupying himself each day until he happened to gravitate toward a less selfish preoccupation, as it were.

The more appropriate reference would be, I'd say, to the Narnia of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where it was always winter, but never Christmas. In that case, the unhappy state of the land was imposed by the White Witch, and it could only be remedied by breaking her power. Granted, within the world of the book, such a thing was only possible with the assistance of the messianic lion, Aslan. In the real-life circumstance of Rhode Island, what's needed is broad attention interested residents and a revivication of civic action.

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It's not too late, in the sense that you can replace every part in a junkyard car and have a new car. Or you could just buy a new car (move to another state).

Posted by: Dan at February 19, 2011 6:25 PM

My money is on the messianic lion if there is to be any hope.

Posted by: John at February 19, 2011 7:13 PM

RI will be the LAST state to enact real pension reform-as opposed to the chimeras that have been enacted in the last decade. Illinois, Mass. CT, MD and California are all in the running for the silver medal but no one can beat us for the gold.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at February 19, 2011 7:18 PM

Every time I read Ed's column I think of Groundhog Day. We started a pool, whoever guesses the word count where he blames public sector unions for everything wins.

Posted by: michael at February 20, 2011 11:08 AM
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