To the Editor:
In a recent "Letter to the Editor" published in your paper, it was suggested that the policy recommendations of our RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity are nothing more than a disguised attack on workers.
Nothing can be further from the truth. If anything, the policies we support would remove the government imposed barriers to success in our state and would free up workers to be able to gain more control over their lives via enhanced job security, higher wages and increased job choices.
First, in reducing the most burdensome level of health insurance mandates in the country, our state would provide consumers with more insurance options to choose from, and would reduce costs for many individuals and employers who purchase insurance. Not everyone, for instance, would choose to pay for coverage for hair prosthesis, breast reconstruction, contraceptives or fertilization. You don’t have to be an economics major to understand that mandates such as these drive up costs for everyone. More importantly, isn’t it best if the patient, not the government, decides what coverage is best for them?
Similarly, “right to work” is nothing more than providing more freedom for our state’s workers by removing the restrictions we currently place upon them. We have a long-standing freedom-of-association principle in this country and who would honestly object to the concept of letting workers themselves decide whether or not paying union dues is in their own best interests? Rhode Island would be the first New England state with such freedoms for workers, and we all should be able to see how a better environment for workers and businesses could become a huge competitive advantage for our state.
Regarding taxes, Rhode Island ranks among the highest in the nation in many categories, helping create the country’s worst business climate. Indeed, lower corporate and individual taxes would spur our economy to become a bigger pie, creating new jobs and higher wages. How would raising taxes on the wealthy help our economy if it drives them out of our state? When the wealthy move to another state, they pay “zero” taxes to Rhode Island … and the pie shrinks. As it turns out, our main economic stimulus policy is to phase out the state sales tax, one of the taxes that disproportionately affects lower income families; a tax, if eliminated, would benefit all of us.
It doesn’t take a graduate from an Ivy League school to realize that lowering taxes will grow our economic pie, creating a larger tax base and higher tax revenues so we can adequately educate our youth, maintain our infrastructure and provide for the truly needy and the elderly.
Should we base our state’s public policy on research and proven economic theory or on class-envy and special interest motivated political objectives?
As a Harvard University graduate with an economics degree, I ensure that our Center’s policy recommendations are based on solid research and a trust in the free-enterprise system – the most beneficial economic model for workers at all income levels ever developed on this earth. In this case, my critic’s arguments are not supported by the facts, and unfortunately, are just more of the same tired special interest culture that is ruining our state. There is no proven “middle-out” economic model, and I am quite certain I never studied one in Cambridge.
Rhode Island can, and will, recover. But it will take bold reforms and an informed citizenry that supports those reforms: worker- and market-friendly reforms that encourage the wealthy to invest; that provide workers with the freedom and opportunity to earn an honest living; and that free up educators to educate our children.
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity