What's the Matter with Rhode Island?
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It's not a very important state, but I notice that Rhode Island, in the heart of southern New England, seems to be slowly drifting toward the bottom of state-by-state statistics, turning into the West Virginia of Blue State America. And yet, unlike the Mountain State, the Ocean State has seemingly favorable topography: flat land, a remarkable number of miles of coastline per square mile (that's why Robber Barons built their "cottages" in Rhode Island), and weather, that while bad, is less bad than Massachusetts'. Culturally, Rhode Island has an Ivy League university and four centuries of architecture.

Is it just that everybody ambitious in Rhode Island heads to New York or Boston? Or is something else going on?

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