Johnson, Kristin [faculty advisor, Department of Political Science]
politics, Rhode Island, election, economy, education, private enterprise
No one would argue that the economy in the United States has been faltering in recent years; due in part to global factors, and even with stimulus plans offered by the Federal Government, there is increased burden on states to find forms of revenue. More and more, states must compete not only with other states, but also on the global market, for a share of decreasing revenues. Since the decline of manufacturing and a move towards a service economy, states like Rhode Island which in the past depended heavily on the manufacturing sector to provide jobs for its’ citizens, have scrambled to find “niche markets” for job growth. Unfortunately, the aforementioned factors make Rhode Island particularly susceptible to positive and negative swings in the economy. Those upturns and downturns historically exceed national averages in important categories like unemployment. Other factors have worked against Rhode Island as well. Competing interests of a part-time General Assembly and full-time General Officers, like the Governor, as well as competing interests within the House and Senate, have only added to the State’s sluggishness in responding to an economic crisis. Add to those factors the unprecedented “Great Flood of 2010”, and one has a recipe for disaster. This study consists of several videotaped interviews that were conducted, during the Summer 2009, Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 semesters, with politicians, educators, and businessmen. Every member of the Rhode Island General Assembly, General Officers, Congressmen, Senators, Vice-President Biden and President Obama were formally invited to participate in short fifteen minute interviews regarding The Future Of The Rhode Island Economy. Obviously, not all responded. However, the resulting documentary, as well as the individual interviews, exposes the inner thoughts of those social leaders in a way that is meant to stimulate thoughtful civic participation by the viewer.