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  Rhode Island: Athens of America?
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ContributorScott³ 
Last EditedScott³  Oct 24, 2011 07:29pm
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CategoryBlog Entry
AuthorWalter Russell Mead
News DateMonday, October 24, 2011 01:00:00 AM UTC0:0
Description"Rhode Island is looking more and more like Greece, and not in a good way. That is one message of this important piece by Mary Williams Walsh in the New York Times. Years of blue social policy have wrecked local and state government finance in the country’s smallest state, and now the bills are coming due. Services are being cut to the bone and elderly retirees are losing money they thought was secure.

In Rhode Island, it is Democrats, not nasty union-hating Republicans, who are doing the dirty work. Democratic mayors are telling their unions that there isn’t any money — not because they are vicious corporate stooges who hate working people and want to see them suffer, but because There. Isn’t. Any. Money.

Because Rhode Island listened to timeserving blue politicians too long, and union leaders and public sector workers lost their grip on any mathematical realities beyond the numbers at the ballot box, the pension system grew more and more out of control. State and local governments lurched into a crisis. Vote yourself a raise, vote yourself a pension: why not?

But there is financial math as well as political math and in any war with financial arithmetic, the money numbers win. If there isn’t any money, the checks won’t clear. Ultimately, you will have to fire existing workers, stop paying pensions or a mix of both. That is where Rhode Island is now: its economy can’t generate the revenue to support its existing governance system and to pay its pension obligations."
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