Executive Summary 2017

Every state strives to identify and implement the best approach to creating a productive public- private environment where individuals and families can thrive. Over recent decades, Rhode Island has implemented comparatively generous public assistance programs as shown by it’s poor 2017 FPI rankings on the Medicaid (47th) and government burden (39th) sub-indexes. While such programs are well-intended, what if we were to realize that this long-held public policy approach — which mainly seeks to address the material hardships of our state’s residents — has actually led to the unintended consequence of diminishing opportunity and overall prosperity of families by ignoring their cultural and familial needs? What if this omission served to diminish the overall well-being of many families and, simultaneously, forced other Rhode Islanders to migrate to states that o er an improved sense of hope and prosperity?

The government’s attempt to fight poverty, via a massive system of social welfare and social engineering programs, has crowded out the roles that the private sector and civil society has traditionally played in facilitating prosperity and a sense of personal dignity by creating a sense of over-reliance on government assistance. What if we actually reduced the opportunity for upward family mobility? 

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