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Twitter: @SteveAhlquist

Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

4 responses to “The ugly side of the 2017 RI Small Business Economic Summit”

  1. Lobbying on steroids: The 2017 RI Small Business Economic Summit

    […] There is a dark side to the Summit. Much of the language used by the speakers is based on debunked and dangerous economic ideology. Perhaps the worst example this year were some statements by North Smithfield Town Administrator Gary Ezovski. I write about that in detail here. […]

  2. salgal

    I found Ezovski’s comments frightening, unenlightened, mean spirited, and ignorant. Oh, and dangerous.

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  3. Greg Gerritt

    I have dealt with Mr Esovski on several occassions. There is little to like about him. In addition, the entire business climate mania is built on a lie. There is absolutely no correlation between a busines climate and the performance of an economy.

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  4. FlyingSquirrel42

    I’m getting to the point where even just phrases like “pro-business” and “business climate” make me suspicious, because I worry that it just ends up meaning more neoliberal dogma about tax cuts, deregulation, and the like.

    One point I’d like to see somebody make, at some point, is that the whole “the market will sort it out” philosophy seems reliant on the idea that people have and understand a lot more information than they actually do. In theory, yes, it’s in a fast food restaurant’s best interests to offer employee sick time, because otherwise an employee might pass an illness to customers and nobody wants to eat at a place that’s going to make you sick.

    This is when the speaker at an event like this should turn to everyone assembled and say, “How often, by show of hands, in the last five years, have you or someone you know gotten sick, traced it back to having patronized an establishment with insufficient employee sick time allowances, and then spread the word to others about this establishment and seen it have a noticeable effect on their bottom line? [If they’re being honest, I suspect few if any hands would go up.] Because realistically, that’s what it takes if you really think that the free market alone is going to sort these things out.”

    Speaking for myself, I can remember all of two incidents like this in the thirty-nine years I’ve been alive: the Jack-in-the-Box E. Coli controversy in 1993, and a case where a Taco Bell employee was found to have a form of hepatitis and everyone who had eaten there recently was advised to get vaccinated. But more “mundane” illnesses like the common cold, the flu, or gastroenteritis? I can’t ever recall hearing of a contagion being traced back to a particular business and its sick time rules in a way that became widespread public knowledge.

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