Friday, February 08, 2013

The Beige Dictatorship

The reluctance for Rhode Island to help out Providence financially is a perfect example of what Charlie Stross today calls "the Beige Dictatorship:"

It's obviously subtle — we haven't been on the receiving end of a bunch of jack-booted fascists or their communist equivalents organizing putsches. But we've somehow slid into a developed-world global-scale quasi-police state, with drone strikes and extraordinary rendition and unquestioned but insane austerity policies being rammed down our throats, government services being outsourced, peaceful protesters being pepper-sprayed, tased, or even killed, police spying on political dissidents becoming normal, and so on. What's happening?

There is no plausible scenario by which the Rhode Island economy recovers without a strong Providence. The source of our current $5-10 million projected deficit isn't hard to figure out, according to Bryan Principe:

The $4-$5 million request is only about a quarter of the more than $20 million cut in state aid Providence taxpayers absorbed when the state cut the auto excise reimbursement to every city and town in 2010

On the other hand, of course, this isn't really a new problem. As Paul Goodman pointed out fifty years ago, we run this country "like a conquered province."

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