"Lynch said his proudest accomplishments are ... the precedent-setting public nuisance lawsuit filed against companies that once manufactured lead-based paint." So reported Edward Fitzpatrick in THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL's special campaign section. Incumbent Rhode Island (RI) Patrick Lynch is running against William Harsch to keep his job.
That's how Greek tragedies start out: The smugness, the boast, the myopia. Aristotle says that this unfolding of the crushing of hubris elicits pity and fear in the audience. And, to my surprise, that's essentially what I feel for Lynch. This issue of "the precedent-setting public nuisance lawsuit" will eventually go down in RI history as part of the chain of events which put the state in a downward spiral - and blacken Lynch's legacy.
For 1 thing, the RI lead paint follies are distracting the state leaders from other important matters, like the economy stupid. Currently, RI is at the bottom of the list as a good place to do business. Yeah, right at the bottom, #50. And this is at a time when THE ECONOMIST predicts that the US is galloping into a whopper of a recession. Think the housing bust. Think the collapse of the American auto industry. Think that strain of the deficit.
But that's just the beginning. What about the state's reputational capital or image as enlightened, progressive, yeah, cool. Richard Florida, who advises states on how to keep and attract talent, says that kind of cool is needed. In his breakthrough book "The Rise of the Creative Class," Florida explained how talent clusters in certain areas and not others. Those areas where talent does cluster have reputations for being progressive. The lead paint follies brand RI as anything but.
There's more. Enough to make the gods increasingly angry. Maybe our pity and fear should extend from Lynch to all of RI.