Originally written as a letter to the editor December 18, 2013 Greg Gerritt
On December 18, 2013 in a remarkable juxtaposition the Providence Journal had an article “Analysts say income gap impedes growth”, an op-ed by by Steven Frias “Warnings of RI Stagnation go way back”, and an op-ed by John J. Colby “Wage regulation okay for the well to do”. Mr Frias repeats the tired old cliches about the business climate saying that the only way to move the RI economy forward is to cut taxes on the rich and remove regulations that protect the public health and the environment. The problem with Mr Frias’s argument is that there is absolutely no correlation between a good business climate and a healthy economy, and that if Rhode Island obeyed the business climate shysters what we would end up doing is increasing inequality further, which even economists and the pope are starting to realize harms the economy, as well as destroying democracy.
Mr Colby points out just how inequality has harmed our economy, the poor are unable to be the consumers our consumerist economy seems to demand. But considering the state of the Earth, and the likelihood that changes in the climate due to overconsumption are likely to overwhelm the effects of any boost the 1% will get from adopting the greed is good model, a model based on consumerism is unlikely to help our communities. Even the World Bank knows that ecological healing and economic justice are likely to produce better economic results than anything else in marginalized communities. Time for Rhode Island to learn that too.