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Monday, February 4, 2013

What’s In A Name?

RISC changes its name but not who it serves
By Bob Plain in

There’s something refreshingly honest about Ken Block and RISC coming together to form the RI Taxpayers organization. They are both now coming clean and admitting in monicker who it is they are actually advocating for.

Say what you will about Ken Block’s policy proposals – and there some I like and many I don’t – but at least he is no longer trying to fool Rhode Islanders into thinking he stands for something other than what he does.

By and large, he stands for the group of people known as “taxpayers” – in politics this doesn’t mean people who pay taxes, it is code for people who want to pay less in taxes, which is usually made up mostly of people who (think they) don’t need government services. This constituency is also often referred to as “fiscal conservatives.”

Sam Bell recently pointed out in a comment on RI Future that oftentimes political party names don’t match their politics: “For instance, the Liberal Party of Australia is conservative, and so is the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.  And the Socialist party of France is not very socialist.  Many members of Yisrael Beteinu (Israel is Our Home) actually live in the West Bank. Unless Mr. Block seriously pretends that he is not a conservative, there is no harm done.”

That’s where the rub was: Block wasn’t so much pretending his position was moderate as he was pretending that the progressive position didn’t exist. Bell went on the eviscerate Block on that point too which you can read here.

Similarly, by changing its name from the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition to RI Taxpayers, one of the charter members of the chorus of pseudo-think tanks that lobby for the rich and powerful in Rhode Island has also come clean with its actual agenda.

The Rhode Island Statewide Coalition was never a statewide coalition at all. In fact, quite the opposite. It started out being called the Rhode Island Shoreline Coalition and according to Progressive Charlestown was formed in 2003 to win “the vote for out-of-state land owners and fighting the Narragansetts over gaming.”

Will Collette, co-editor of Progressive Charlestown, published a two part investigation into RISC in August when it was moving out of Charlestown and to West Warwick. You can read it here and here.

Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.