Let's #FixRI

The Blockchain Center Development Act

Introduction

Rhode Island can lead the nation, economically and technologically, by becoming the “Silicon Valley” or “Route 128” for the greatest technological breakthrough since the invention of the World Wide Web: the blockchain. The emergence of the blockchain creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Rhode Island, if it moves decisively and agilely, to achieve equitable prosperity and worldwide prestige.

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This rare opportunity has been called by technology visionary George Gilder “the Cryptocosm.” It promises to have an economic and social impact as powerful as computers, computer chips, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and fiber optics, all of which revolutionized the way we live and created trillions of dollars of new wealth and millions of great new jobs across the economy.

Indeed, the founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, Perianne Boring, likens the impact of the blockchain to the invention of electricity.

https://townhall.com/notebook/notebookstaff/2018/03/29/the-conservative-case-for-blockchain-n2466063

Marc Andreessen, inventor of the Web browser and top-tier venture capitalist, interviewed by the Washington Post, called the blockchain a multi-trillion dollar breakthrough:

MA – “This is the big breakthrough. This is the thing we've been waiting for. He solved all the problems. Whoever he is should get the Nobel Prize -- he's a genius. This is the thing! This is the distributed trust network that the Internet always needed and never had.’"

WP – So the business opportunity posed by this "distributed trust network" — as an investor, what do you see that you could potentially —

MA – “Hundreds or thousands of applications and companies that could get built on top.”

WP – Is this, like, a billions-of-dollars kind of industry? Trillions…?

MA – “Yeah.  Yeah!”

Which region will be the leading beneficiary of the jobs, affluence, and influence that will come from leadership in the blockchain sector?  It’s up for grabs right now, but it won’t be up for grabs for long.

The people of Rhode Island should grab this opportunity. Rhode Island’s legislative leaders must stand ready to introduce a package of legislation as early as possible. But this opportunity can only be achieved at scale if the governor gives it due priority and vaults Rhode Island into the national and world leadership position.

How do we make Providence or Cranston or Warwick or Pawtucket – or all of the above -- the epicenter of this technological transformation? How do we make Rhode Island the “genesis block” of those billions and even trillions of dollars in high-paying jobs and investment opportunities?

I am pleased to introduce tonight the Blockchain Center Development Act.

Embedded within it are the four ways to give Rhode Island “first mover” advantage in the blockchain ecology, allowing it to capture the lion’s share of value: education; generating a welcoming business climate; government adoption of the blockchain infrastructure; and creation of an Incubator/Accelerator Cryptocosm Center.

Education

Everyone familiar with the blockchain ecosystem knows that one of the greatest challenges facing the industry is a lack of people who are trained to code the blockchain – mere thousands, compared to the millions of old-style software developers.  Charter and robustly fund a “Cryptocosm Center” at URI and within our other state colleges to train students to code the blockchain and to implement and manage its practical applications. These are great-paying jobs.  Supply?  Meet demand!

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https://dqydj.com/number-of-developers-in-america-and-per-state/

One of the key reasons why the semiconductor industry took root in Silicon Valley was because Stanford University was there.  Stanford, in return, attracted and trained the high density of talented professionals required to dominate the industry.  As co-inventor of the Internet Vint Cerf told the BBC,

It began with Fred Terman, Provost at Stanford, who recognized that federal investment in research led to the winning of WW2.

He leveraged this to expand the engineering department at Stanford by a factor of three and encouraged graduates, such as Hewlett and Packard, to start new companies.

What results is a steady stream of well-trained engineers, business people, marketers, researchers; a vibrant venture capital community; a highly available stock market appetite for stock flotations; and people with experience in business, including how and why business failures happen.

Importantly, business or technical failure is considered experience and not an indelible mark of incompetence.

The Valley is a small place. People know each other: they have worked with one another, or managed or worked for one another.

Forming a new business is pretty easy under Californian law.

It is altogether a remarkable, vibrant and innovative culture that continues to produce dividends decade after decade.

“Produce dividends decade after decade.”  That’s the ticket!

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26041341

The generation of prosperity is not a random event.  It is always rooted in intentionality – whether from visionary government officials or private sector business leaders, preferably both together. Prosperity comes from the cultivation of talent.  At least two Nobel Prizes in Economics have been won by economists recognizing and mapping out “Human Capitalism.”  Let us follow the yellow brick road to prosperity they have laid out.

Set up blockchain coding and management programs at the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and the Community College of Rhode Island – and we will quickly make Rhode Island the world leader in blockchain technology.  Let URI lead a “Cryptocosm Consortium” with CCRI, RIC, plus Brown University, Bryant University, Johnson & Wales University, New England Institute of Technology, Providence College, the Rhode Island School of Design, Roger Williams University, and Salve Regina University to establish Rhode Island as the Capital of the Cryptocosm.

We can readily attract the best talent if we set out to do so. If we do that, prosperity will inevitably follow.  As Shakespeare wrote, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.”  Now is that time.

The people of Rhode Island can thereby gain the great affluence that will accompany that status, much as the people of Silicon Valley achieved affluence and, in many cases, great wealth.

Generate a Welcoming Business Climate

With stifling regulations and oppressive tax rates, governments have a sad propensity to “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs,” driving jobs into other places with a sensible regulatory and benign tax climate. Texas, getting it right, in less than a generation raised its GDP from $900B to $1.5T, simultaneously creating a superior climate for upward income mobility.  

Texans climb the ladder of the American Dream into middle-class affluence through hard work, good character, and opportunity.

https://www.deptofnumbers.com/gdp/texas/

http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,2154995-1,00.html 

By improving our business climate to make it more attractive, we can create the opportunity to reverse the “brain drain” and draw jobs from other parts of America and the world to enrich the Rhode Island economy for everyone.

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This principle is not limited to the blockchain.  However, it is especially relevant to a new, sensitive, and emerging entrepreneurial sector which has neither the tolerance for nor luxury to engage with superfluous and expensive red tape.  If we create the most welcoming regulatory climate for the blockchain here, Rhode Island can vault to the top of the list of where entrepreneurs and investors wish to set up the future Googles, Facebooks, Microsofts, Apples and Amazons.  How?

On the regulatory side, let’s exempt utility tokens from state securities laws. Utility tokens are not securities: they are designed to be traded/exchanged for goods and services - they do not trade on traditional clearing and settlement infrastructure. Nor should we force groundbreaking blockchain technology into outdated Wall Street infrastructure.

And let’s exempt blockchain-based assets from Rhode Island money transmitter regulations. The duplicative state-by-state money transmitter regime is a key hindrance to blockchain adoption in the U.S. Not one blockchain exchange has been able to obtain all the necessary licenses in the U.S. By exempting this requirement in Rhode Island, businesses will have one less stratum of red tape to penetrate.

There are abundant other areas where we can cut red tape for startups. We will streamline state regulatory regimes to make Rhode Island a compelling destination for blockchain and other high tech startups.

While at it, exempt blockchain-based assets from state property taxes.

Government Adoption of The Blockchain Infrastructure

Let’s put the blockchain directly to work for the people of Rhode Island by incorporating it directly into the government’s own administrative infrastructure. Make the government, its suppliers in the commercial sector, and its strategic partners in the nonprofit world, a ready customer for blockchain applications. Win-win.

We will thereby accelerate the emergence of the blockchain ecosystem by using market forces -- providing ready customers -- and will benefit from the efficiencies of the blockchain to make the State government more efficient, providing better services at lower cost to the taxpayers. Win-win.

Give every agency an “Office of Blockchain Champions” to identify potential and fast-track adoption. Provide for streamlined, competitive procurement for blockchain providers to minimize red tape so that small businesses can compete with the big players. Win-win.

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Start with health care. Thanks, in part, to federal regulations having to do with privacy, the American health care industry sends 15 billion faxes a year

https://www.summit-healthcare.com/should-the-fax-machine-disappear-from-the-healthcare-market/ at an estimated average cost of $10 (or more) per fax due to the high cost of transmitting and handling. And with lots of lost and misdirected data along the way.  How retro is that?

The blockchain allows better privacy and data security with far greater accuracy at a tiny fraction of the cost.  Let the State Department of Health embrace as its top priority working with the State’s hospitals, clinics, and physicians in coordinated, efficient, and cost-saving ways to adopt the blockchain so as to cut costs to consumers and providers while maintaining the high standards of privacy and data security that are both desirable and required by federal law and regulation.

While we are addressing the health sector, let’s use the power of the blockchain to help combat the opiate epidemic by allowing physicians and pharmacies to track pharmaceuticals on a blockchain to strengthen compliance and better control supply. Blockchain would allow for greater transparency, accountability, and verification of the pharma supply chain.

Then, let’s:

Allow Rhode Island LLC registrants to register on a blockchain. Over 65% of new companies in the U.S. are LLCs. This could attract the technology sector to the state - tech companies, such as those pioneering in artificial intelligence, smart cities and connected devices, could find meaningful benefits to the efficiencies created by having blockchain-registered Rhode Island LLCs

Provide for electronic corporate records – Update/modify Rhode Island’s Business Corporations Act to allow for blockchain-based records storage, shareholder management, and shareholder votes. Legalize corporate authorization, issuance, transfer, and redemption of shares through a blockchain; and protect companies from lawsuits alleging breach of fiduciary duty for utilizing blockchain technology. This would drastically reduce the time and cost associated with internal record-keeping. Allow for the potential of instantaneous transfer of share ownership.

Let’s not let Delaware hold on to its lead in servicing the corporate sector. Move over Dover!

https://statescoop.com/delaware-inks-738-000-blockchain-contract-with-ibm

Direct State regulatory agencies to embrace blockchain technology wherever practical to streamline regulation and reduce compliance costs for regulated entities.

And let’s implement as many of the recommendations from the OECD Working Papers on Public Governance No. 28, Blockchains Unchained: Blockchain technology and its use in the public sector as are applicable, including:

Implementing smart contracts; disbursement of financial aid using a blockchain to confirm eligibility for benefits, thus mitigating fraud risk and automating processes that may have previously involved significant overhead; establish digital identities for citizens, residents, businesses and government agencies, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, drivers licenses and death certificates (as well as referenced separately above, medical records); facilitating inter-bank and international cross-border payments; land title registry; supply chain management, asset tracking, and inventory control; contract and vendor management; smart energy grids; voting procedures; tax collection; streamlining interagency and cross-sector processes; and reducing friction in private sector interaction with government agencies.

(OECD Publishing, Paris, 2018)

https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/governance/blockchains-unchained_3c32c429-en

Creation of a Incubator/Accelerator Cryptocosm Center

Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator provides seed-funding to thousands of startups. Let the State seed an Incubator/Accelerator Cryptocosm Center to be managed entrepreneurially as a GOCO (Government Originated Contractor Operated).

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Properly done, this can allow Rhode Island to enjoy the enterprise edge that comes from making basic infrastructure (offices, professional services, a growing pool of skilled workers, access to further financing, and, most valuably, mentoring and networking) available to budding entrepreneurs.

In success, it will not just create great jobs.  It will also permit the taxpayers of Rhode Island to enjoy participating in the rewards of investment in the successful “unicorns” – billion-dollar successes – and other substantial ventures that will emerge from such a generative space.  (Y Combinator states that its companies have a combined value of $80 billion, higher than Rhode Island’s 2016 $50B GDP.)

Conclusion

The four strategic moves available to vault Rhode Island into leadership of the blockchain revolution are: education; a welcoming business climate; government adoption of the blockchain infrastructure; and creation of an Incubator/Accelerator Cryptocosm Center.

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There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create affluence and raise the standard of living throughout Rhode Island at modest cost and minimal risk.  Let’s make Rhode Island the “Silicon Valley” of the Cryptocosm.

Toward this end, tonight I call upon the governor and legislative leaders to move from talk to action immediately – to meet as soon as possible to draft and enact the Blockchain Center Development Act, including the four-component strategic foundation I have detailed today.

Dispersit capere rediit. (“Seize the Blockchain.”)

" The 21st Century Rhode Island Business Act"

In order to fix Rhode Island and become the best state in the nation for families and business, we need to address things in a comprehensive manner.

  1. Eliminate the personal income tax
  2. Lowest Corp income tax in the nation
  3. Building material tax incentives for new construction
  4. Transportation infrastructure connectivity commitments
  5. Tuition reimbursement credits for companies
  6. No inventory and asset taxes
  7. Moving credits for employees that transfer to RI
  8. “Right to Work" state designation (like 28 other states and counting; let's not be last for once). Work with labor to create a model that is unique and works for us starting in 2025, not right away, but at least signal to all companies we can compete with any state.

In addition we must have a program for all 39 cities and towns to provide municipal infrastructure support:

- technology driven pay systems for transportation and parking
- Free Wifi

Also we need the Real Estate industry to commit to housing concepts of the future

- versatile
- technology heavy
- price point driven

Lots of work to do, but I can do it with your support.
Thank you.

 

Giovanni Feroce

Rhode Island Has It

RHODE ISLAND PAPERS: ONE

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE, PRIME OBJECTIVE, and PRINCIPLES

As governor of Rhode Island, my primary strategic objective – the endpoint toward which all tactical courses of action will be directed – will be prosperity.

To attain and sustain the objective, I shall help develop, implement, and, when exigent circumstances so require, refine pathways to prosperity built on a philosophical foundation of governance originally developed by a certain businessman and entrepreneur whose name is synonymous with our republic.

Professor Edward Lengel of the Wharton School of Business, In his book First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His – and the Nation’s – Prosperity, he brilliantly moves from thesis to antithesis toward a synthesis he summarizes thusly: “The United States was conceived in business, founded on business, and operated as a business.”

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Lengel expanded upon his reasoning. “When I began to look at [Washington] as an entrepreneur and as a businessman, I saw, first of all, that he thought of himself as an entrepreneur and businessman. Secondly, he identified the country’s interests with his own.
“When he became both a general commanding the armies and President of the United States, he naturally thought of the country as a business. When he became President, he said, ‘Building the national prosperity is my first and my only aim.’ Business was central to his approach.” [emphasis added]

Lengel goes on to identify the source of Washington’s business-grounded governance: “[Washington’s mother] inculcated in him principles of thrift, diligence and hard work. She taught him the very basic principle that industry and morality go together. She taught him that the moral man is industrious and vice versa. She taught him that building your own prosperity is, in and of itself, an ethical thing to do.”

Here Lengel implicitly denies the subjugation of the false choice that would ask, “Do you prefer a government predicated upon business principles or moral teachings?” Washington’s answer – one that I echo – is a simple and resounding YES!

For the purposes of this Paper, I reiterate one of Lengel’s most pertinent I insights: “I think [Washington] would have been a huge advocate of the Internet. He was a big believer in gathering information, classifying information and disseminating information and knowledge about business and experimentation. He was a big believer in experimentation. His fundamental ideas related to calculated risk taking, careful account keeping and transparency could all be applied in the 21st century.” [emphasis added]

I have synthesized my business training and experience with the disciplines and skills I developed during my military career and with the moral components of my upbringing (a process that will continue throughout my life). The result is my identification of three paths to prosperity that will open to each of us at different stages of our lives: Education, Work, and Retirement.

All of the policies that I support will be designed to put Rhode Islanders on one of these three paths. In the majority of instances the processes will be controversial insofar as they radically undermine shibboleths and demand changes that those invested in maintaining the status quo will attempt to demonize as reckless, dangerous assaults on conventional wisdom.

To them I say this: If George Washington remained enthralled by the conventional wisdom of his day, then today we would be pledging allegiance to the Union Jack.

I acknowledge the work of Professor H. W. Brands, Jr. of the University of Texas at Austin. His multi-discipline approach – Brands is a degreed historian and mathematician – to American history and historiography has led to what author Harlan Ellison might describe as “dangerous visions.”

Brands appreciates the Founders as true radicals unafraid to shake to their foundations established socio-political constructs. He argues that, “In revering the founders we undervalue ourselves and sabotage our own efforts to make necessary improvements in the republican experiment they began. Our love of the founders leads us to abandon and even betray the principles they fought for.”

For Brands, the ever-popular metric of “original intent” when applied to Constitutional analyses is in fact an abject and perilous denial of the founders’ most wisely developed and deeply held intentions. He writes, “The one thing [they] did have was an audacity to challenge conventional wisdom.”

As you read the following Papers and others that I will author and release during the course of the 2018 Rhode Island gubernatorial campaign, you will note that my vision is as deep as it is broad. My proposals are meant to have both immediate and lasting impacts – the latter extending for as long as 50 years. As vehicles for change they will be constructed to incorporate changes brought on by the inexorabilities of time and the evolutions of social, political, cultural, and technological realities.

 

Tactical goals along the pathways to prosperity will be identified. Courses of action will be set in a tripartite fashion so as to identify recommended, good, and adequate methods.

I shall lead, and in every possible instance I shall do so absent buffers between my office and the people. My intentions are to work with and educate fellow politicians and communicate directly with the electorate. Each day of my tenure as governor will be characterized by “marches on Providence” in which recalcitrant politicians and their appointed enablers will be given the choice of either working with us to effect meaningful, lasting change, or finding another line of work.

At this point in our existence as a state, we cannot afford to be satisfied by the comforting illusion of faux radicalism – of “thinking outside the box” and confusing such thought with political action. Rather, we must be prepared to see “the box” as a socio-economic prison, as an intellectual gulag where the walls that we are told exist to protect us in fact have been erected to lock us in to a system that has failed us for generations.

Education. Employment. Retirement. The paths to prosperity. As governor of Rhode Island, I shall act as our state’s visionary. I do not throw people away based upon the dictates of ideological or economic dogma. Washington understood that, in the language of the entrepreneur, the people are our country’s greatest assets. I seek prosperity not for corporate entities or political hegemonies, but rather for the individual. I shall devote the remainder of my public life to caring first and foremost for the youngest and oldest of our brothers and sisters. Their advancement on the path to prosperity must be assured.

I return to a consideration of George Washington and the impact of his personal history on the history of our nation. There can be no prosperity absent peace, and there can be no true and lasting peace absent a prosperous society. I learned this lesson during my tenure in the military. And one more time I return to the insights of Edward Lengel:
“[Washington] was a military man, but he was a combat veteran. I don’t think anybody cares for peace more than a combat veteran. Not because of pacifism necessarily, but because they understand the damage war can do at all levels. President Washington was most certainly a man of peace. He thought that keeping the peace was essential to giving the country, and the American people, a chance to grow their wealth.” [emphasis added]

RHODE ISLAND PAPERS: TWO

BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY FOR RHODE ISLAND

Blockchain is a digital distributive ledger that allows for the tracking, tracing, recording, and transfer of digital assets (tangible and intangible) such as, but not limited to, money, property titles, etc. In its capacity as representative of the next level of digital commerce, blockchain eliminates paper-based systems while providing enhanced access to and security for information and commodities that the Internet cannot match.

Rhode Island can benefit both directly and indirectly from blockchain technology immediately and over the long term. Our state can become a national leader not just in blockchain utilization, but also in educational and technological aspects that directly and positively impact on our socio-economic conditions.

Blockchain will create employment opportunities for engineers, computer scientists, programmers, developers, and educators. We can develop and establish certifications for blockchain professionals. We can develop and establish blockchain course work at trade schools, colleges, and universities where we can create course work, provide scholarships, and educate a workforce with certifications in Distributive Systems unmatched by that of any other state. We can develop and establish blockchain proprietary software.

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Blockchain technology was described thusly by writer Robert Hackett:
“Though it sounds like a series of defensive maneuvers ripped out of an NFL playbook, the blockchain is actually a way to structure data. This coding breakthrough—which consists of concatenated blocks of transactions—allows competitors to share a digital ledger across a network of computers without need for a central authority. No single party has the power to tamper with the records: the math keeps everyone honest. Forty of the world’s top financial firms are experimenting with the tech.”

Forrest Stroud, as editor of ServoWatch, expanded upon the matter:
“Blockchain refers to a type of data structure that enables identifying and tracking transactions digitally and sharing this information across a distributed network of computers, creating in a sense a distributed trust network. The distributed ledger technology offered by blockchain provides a transparent and secure means for tracking the ownership and transfer of assets.

“Blockchain uses cryptography to create a distributed trust network wherein each participant on the network is able to manipulate the digital ledger of transactions securely and without requiring a central authority. In a sense, a blockchain serves as a global spreadsheet or ledger that anyone on the network can view at any time. All the transactions are verified, cleared and recorded in a block that is encrypted and saved periodically and is linked to the preceding block, creating a chain.


“The blockchain process of securely and permanently time-stamping and recording all transactions makes it extremely difficult for a user to alter the ledger once a block in a blockchain has been stored.”

For her invaluable counsel, I am indebted to Perianne Boring, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, where she teaches the school’s first blockchain course. She founded the Chamber of Digital Commerce in 2014, which has grown into the world’s largest trade association representing the blockchain industry.

I am prepared to make the following blockchain policy recommendations for Rhode Island.

1. Exempt utility tokens from state securities laws. Utility tokens are not securities because they can be traded/exchanged for goods and services - they do not trade on traditional clearing and settlement infrastructure - nor should we force groundbreaking blockchain technology into outdated Wall Street infrastructure - it will not work and it will kill the industry.

2. Exempt blockchain-based assets from state property taxes

3. Exempt blockchain-based assets from Rhode Island money transmitter regulations. The duplicative state-by-state money transmitter regime is a key hindrance to blockchain adoption in the U.S. Not one blockchain exchange has been able to obtain all the necessary licenses in the U.S. By exempting this requirement in Rhode Island, businesses will have one less stratum of red tape to penetrate. One regulatory body overseeing the spot markets and exchange-related activity would do a much better job of protecting consumers than 53 all fighting for jurisdiction, creating duplication, and draining important state resources. Rhode Island should set an example and urge other states to follow suit.

Infrastructure Recommendations:

1. Allow Rhode Island LLC registrants to register on a blockchain. Over 65% of new companies in the U.S. are LLCs. This could attract the technology sector to the state - tech companies, such as those pioneering in artificial intelligence, smart cities, and connected devices, could find meaningful benefits to the efficiencies created by having blockchain-registered Rhode Island LLCs

2. Electronic corporate records – Update/modify Rhode Island’s Business Corporations Act to allow for blockchain-based records storage, shareholder management, and shareholder votes.  (1) Legalize corporate authorization, issuance, transfer, and redemption of shares through a blockchain; and (2) protect companies from lawsuits alleging breach of fiduciary duty for utilizing blockchain technology. This would drastically reduce the time and cost associated with internal record-keeping.  Allow for the potential of instantaneous transfer of share ownership.

Further, via the application of Thought Leadership Inspiration, we can identify a direct, powerful benefit to be derived by Rhode Island in the area of healthcare3 through blockchain application.

Blockchain can significantly help combat the opiate epidemic by allowing physicians and pharmacies to track pharmaceuticals on a blockchain to strengthen compliance and better control supply. Blockchain would allow for greater transparency, accountability, and verification of the pharma supply chain.

Further, blockchain technology can reduce healthcare costs by eliminating paper-based systems and duplication.

This same concept can be applied to any product, supply, and manufacturing process. For example, Rhode Island producers could guarantee their customers certified Rhode Island products by allowing them to track their Rhode Island origin on a blockchain.

Blockchain facilitates the process of tracking government documents and automating compliance with public-records retention laws.

In terms of electoral politics, blockchain enhances the transparency of campaign finance.

Other industries positively impacted by adoption of blockchain technology include accounting, financial services, legal services, land title, licensing and permits, and many others.

As governor, I shall lead efforts to identify blockchain technology iterations that best address current and anticipated needs in the above and related areas. Among my initial actions will be the naming of a state blockchain technologist.

***

For additional reading, see the following:

Statements from federal policymakers on blockchain:

James Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration:

 

Rep. David Schweikert, Co-Chair, Congressional Blockchain Caucus

 

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), Congressional Blockchain Caucus

 

RHODE ISLAND PAPERS: THREE

THE 21st CENTURY RHODE ISLAND BUSINESS ACT

As governor of Rhode Island, I shall be responsible for the shaping and conduct of what is often – and correctly – described as “the people’s business”.
*****
Professor Edward Lengel, In his book First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His – and the Nation’s – Prosperity, he brilliantly moves from thesis to antithesis toward a synthesis he summarizes thusly: “The United States was conceived in business, founded on business, and operated as a business.”

Lengel expanded upon his reasoning. “When I began to look at [Washington] as an entrepreneur and as a businessman, I saw, first of all, that he thought of himself as an entrepreneur and businessman. Secondly, he identified the country’s interests with his own.

“When he became both a general commanding the armies and President of the United States, he naturally thought of the country as a business. When he became President, he said, ‘Building the national prosperity is my first and my only aim.’ Business was central to his approach.” [emphasis added]

Read More

Lengel goes on to identify the source of Washington’s business-grounded governance: “[Washington’s mother] inculcated in him principles of thrift, diligence and hard work. She taught him the very basic principle that industry and morality go together. She taught him that the moral man is industrious and vice versa. She taught him that building your own prosperity is, in and of itself, an ethical thing to do.”

Here Lengel implicitly denies the subjugation of the false choice that would ask, “Do you prefer a government predicated upon business principles or moral teachings?” Washington’s answer – one that I echo – is a simple and resounding YES!

For the purposes of this Paper, I reiterate one of Lengel’s most pertinent I insights: “I think [Washington] would have been a huge advocate of the Internet. He was a big believer in gathering information, classifying information and disseminating information and knowledge about business and experimentation. He was a big believer in experimentation. His fundamental ideas related to calculated risk taking, careful account keeping and transparency could all be applied in the 21st century.” [emphasis added]

*****
“Industry and morality go together.” I can think of no more comprehensive distillation of my philosophy of governance. The people of Rhode Island are the shareholders in my model. The General Assembly is the board of directors who serve at the pleasure of the shareholders. And the governor is chairman and CEO. By definition, then, policies that lead the people along paths to prosperity benefit the corporate-shaped state at its bottom line.

Toward precisely that end, I propose to introduce The 21st Century Rhode Island Business Act. It exists as a function of change – that most emotionally difficult of human experiences to accept. To paraphrase the great American writer Peter Matthiessen, those who seek comfort in a dysfunctional status quo are akin to light-frightened lobsters backing into the safety of the trap.

I categorically reject the notion of change for its own sake; an adage concerning a baby and bathwater comes to mind. But with equal fervor I oppose the rejection of necessary, long overdue change on the grounds of partisan political expediency.

My executive office will serve as a bully pulpit for the systemic change required to take Rhode Island from the red to the black. Conventional political constituencies across the ideological spectrum will go to great lengths to deny change that undermines their power bases. They will toss around terms like “radical” and “fantasy-driven.” When these actions inevitably emerge from the board of directors, I shall take my arguments directly to the people – to the shareholders.

Here is a concise listing of the changes I shall propose under The 21st Century Rhode Island Business Act:

  1. Elimination of the personal income tax.
  2. Institution of the lowest corporate income tax in the nation.
  3. Implementation of building material tax incentives for new construction.
  4. Commitments to transportation infrastructure connectivity.
  5. Provide tuition reimbursement credits for companies.
  6. Elimination of inventory and asset taxes.
  7. Provision of moving credits for employees transferring to Rhode Island.
  8. Designation of Rhode Island as a “Right to Work” state by working with Labor to create a model to begin in 2025.
  9. Installation of technology-driven pay systems for transportation and parking.
  10. Provision of free Wi-Fi.
  11. Provision of municipal infrastructure support systems for all 39 cities and town.
  12. Encouragement of the real estate industry to commit to innovative, versatile housing concepts that will be technology-heavy and price point driven.
  13. Elimination of the estate tax.

Each of these points is worthy of a dedicated Paper – documents that will be issued over the course of my campaign.

International entrepreneur Richard Branson said, “We need government and business to work together for the benefit of everyone. It should no longer be just about typical ‘corporate social responsibility’ where the ‘responsibility’ bit is usually the realm of a small team buried in a basement office - now it should be about every single person in a business taking responsibility to make a difference in everything they do, at work and in their personal lives.”

Beyond a mere expression of need, I shall demand action – from shareholders and board members of the 21st century business-modeled government of the State of Rhode Island.

RHODE ISLAND PAPER: FOUR

FROM HIGHER EDUCATION TO WIDER EDUCATION

Until institutions of higher learning – a term we shall challenge shortly – replace exclusivity with inclusiveness as the prime indicator of their true worth, America’s massive workforce will continue to be to corresponding Asian and European generations what the coal industry is to developing technical- and IT-dominated economies.

Let us never forget that absent the ability to manufacture – that is to say, without a practically/vocationally trained flesh-and-blood workforce – the most highly advanced technological innovations remain pure theory in search of socio-economic relevance.

There can be no industry without the industrious. To re-educate American manufacturing’s workforce, we must first re-manufacture American education. And what is true of manufacturing is true for every other segment of the American workplace.
It has been written that today it is more likely that a relatively modestly gifted student from a socio-economically privileged family will go to college than a very bright student from a socio-economically disadvantaged family. The resulting, so-called American education “achievement gap” – the inability of low-income children (especially children of color) to access effective schools – has been termed “the greatest civil rights injustice of our generation.”

As I noted in Paper One, George Washington knew that the moral man was industrious, and vice-versa. So I approach the need for a reassessment of the structure and value of American higher education from the twin perspectives of the entrepreneur and the moralist.

Writing in her Acuity of Poverty: Looking into the Inequality of Access (Outskirts Press, Inc.; 2011), Nevine Gulamhusein, PhD noted, “We live in an overcrowded planet with shrinking resources yet we share a common destiny. A weakness or pain in one corner has the tendency to rapidly transmit itself across the globe ... it is incumbent upon every individual to assist in improving the other’s condition. Instability is infectious.”

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She continues, “Local communities, especially the poor, must have a significant role in the design and implementation of programs that are meant for their economic and social upliftment. Unless the poorest have the collective strength to affirm their interests, they are not likely to benefit much from any new initiative.

“We cannot let it be said in history that the difference between those who survived and those who were marginalized was nothing more than poverty, age and skin color.”

The current political movement to provide free public higher education to Rhode Island students – education that, in workforce development and practical, job-securing terms, is not worth the paper on which diplomas are printed – is wrong-headed and utterly counter-productive on multiple levels. Put aside for a moment the failure of such a system to instill in recipients of public largess the life-long values of hard work and self-sufficiency. How, I wonder, do traditional higher education models incorporate classic, innovative, and custom-designed workforce development paradigms within the context of a broader, affordable, accredited, degree-granting higher education program?

Political and educational “leaders” seem biologically predisposed to reject the notion that anything could be wrong with their centuries-old models. Prospective students, however, are growing more wary of systems that, once navigated, leave them stranded in unemployment lines where they can spend their time conceiving letters of application in perfect iambic pentameter.
Desperate to find and climb realistic career ladders, students are driven to enroll in non-regionally accredited, prohibitively expensive, non-transferrable certificate training programs that boast dismal retention and placement rates and incur high student loan debt that is unpayable due to the absence of job placement.
Recall that “Education” and “Work” are two of my three identified primary paths to prosperity. Accordingly, I have identified as a key course of action for both paths is the creation of a higher education model that incorporates Associate and Bachelor degrees in Education, Business and Applied Management, Human Resource Management, Life/Health Sciences, Information Science, Public Administration, Leadership and Diversity, Supply Chain Management, Advanced Manufacturing, and a wide array of trades training. The latter should be combined with a degree program in Business and Applied Management. College Preparatory programs to address skill gaps (ESL, GED) and Adult Education programs directly relevant to workforce development issues also should be provided.

In December, 2014, the then-Rhode Island Governor-elect convened an “Economic Summit” at which pressing issues relating to education and workforce development were addressed.

As has been the case in similarly focused meetings held over the previous six years, problems were identified and solutions offered. But core impediments to the applications of those solutions were not noted.

I quote extensively below from a December 17, 2014 report on the meeting published in the Providence Journal:
“More than 40 people — representing a host of non-profits, community groups, labor and private businesses — gathered in a second-floor classroom with no shortage of concerns and ideas on how to improve the state’s workforce.
“The group seemed to agree that while the state has numerous small job-training programs that prove effective, it lacked a singular, well-defined program that worked on the needed large scale.
“Participants suggested revamping the state Department of Labor and Training, opening vocational schools for evening classes and soliciting businesses for what specific skills their workers needed to have — and then teaching those specific skills.
“Participants acknowledged several challenges confronting employees. Many young people today, they agreed, lack basic “soft skills” all employers require: punctuality, appropriate dress, manners and free from drug use.
“Many of the suggestions called for more public funding and some participants said private industry needed to invest more in job training since they benefited from a well-educated worker.
“But some business representatives said that profit margins today are so small, companies resist taking the risk to spend money on training and internships for marginal workers who don’t succeed. Some suggested offering tax breaks as an incentive.
“The discussion began with what programs now work well in helping people find employment.
“Among several mentioned was a state program that redirected up to $6,000 in unemployment benefits toward a temporary internship at a business, instead of a cash payment to someone. The cooperating business matched the amount and sometimes has hired that intern for more permanent work.
“They called for mandatory technology training in school, such as computer coding, and they agreed that the stated mission of the Community College of Rhode Island should be broadened to clearly state it is a job training school as well as a college preparatory school.”

Four years have passed.

As governor of Rhode Island, I shall place among my top priorities the identifying and tapping of the most innovative educational minds on the planet and set as a primary objective of my administration the development of a new, sustainable, affordable model for education that is as wide, in terms of its ability to address the full spectrum of contemporary workplace needs and opportunities, as it is high.

As an example of the kind of perspectives and insights I shall seek, I offer the following commentary from writer Ryan Jenkins. These ideas require deeper vetting in terms of their applicability to the realities – shortcomings and potentials – of Rhode Island higher education models.

7 Ways Generation Z Will Replace a College Education

1. MissionU

MissionU is a one-year college-alternative program that has no upfront costs. MissionU only gets paid once students earn at least $50,000, then students pay back 15 percent of their income for the first three years.
Each MissionU major is designed to prepare students for specific, high growth fields. Their highly specialized curriculums are developed with industry experts to give students the skills and experience they need to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow. MissionU was founded by Adam Braun, the entrepreneur who also founded the nonprofit, Pencils of Promise, that has built over 400 schools across the world.

2. Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS)

CAPS is reimagining learning. According to the CAPS website...
“The Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) programs are nationally recognized, innovative high school programs. Students fast forward into their future and are fully immersed in a professional culture, solving real world problems, using industry standard tools and are mentored by actual employers, all while receiving high school and college credit. CAPS is an example of how business, community and public education can partner to produce personalized learning experiences that educate the workforce of tomorrow, especially in high skill, high demand jobs.”
Programs like CAPS are really compelling for Generation Z who is really interested in making a strong and relevant connection between what they are learning and how it will apply to their future.
UnitedHealth Group (UHG) is a company benefiting from their involvement in CAPS programs. Pat Keran, senior director of innovation at UnitedHealth Group, said, “These kids are talking about careers at a young age and we want to expose them to potential ones at UHG. We realized that the technology skills that our college students had were developed young. As we dug a little deeper, we realized that high school students would be equally as competent. So if we are going to get the same output in the end, why not get on the radar even sooner?”
The experience Generation Z derives from participating in a CAPS program is so strong that many are considering forgoing college.

3. Thiel Fellowship

The Thiel Fellowship is intended for students under the age of 23 and offers them a total of $100,000 over two years, as well as guidance and other resources, to drop out of school and pursue other work.
Recently the Wall Street Journal reported some impressive results of this “build new things instead of sitting in a classroom” effort: “64 Thiel Fellows have started 67 for-profit ventures, raised $55.4 million in angel and venture funding, published two books, and created 30 apps.” The Thiel Fellowship was founded by PayPal cofounder, Peter Thiel.

4. UnCollege

UnCollege aims to change the notion that going to college is the only path to success. UnCollege encourages Generation Z to get out the classroom and into the real world where they learn through experimentation, coaching, and mentors. UnCollege replaces the typical freshman year with a real world experience and is a fraction of the cost of one year at college.

Participants spend ten weeks living abroad; another ten weeks attending workshops, networking, and building a portfolio that will impress future employers while living in San Francisco; and then twelve weeks involved in an internship putting their newly developed skills to use.
Dale Stephens is the founder and ironically a recipient of the Thiel Fellowship.
Travel, learn, and intern is a college-alternative formula Generation Z can get behind.

5. altMBA

The altMBA is an online leadership and management workshop. Founded in 2015 by bestselling author Seth Godin, the altMBA uses digital tools like Slack, WordPress, and Zoom to engage more than 100 students in an intense four-week process.

Each session of the workshop is led by a cadre of coaches, who engage with students in individual and group work. During the workshop, each student publishes the results of the 13 assigned projects on the public altMBA site. The program is synchronous, with regular deadlines, group discussions, and face-to-face video calls. The tuition for the program is $3,850.
When Generation Z is at an age to consider an MBA, the altMBA or other options like The $100 MBA will be more prevalent and appealing to this cost conscious and digital-first generation.

6. WeWork

WeWork, the office-sharing giant, is launching a private elementary school for “conscious entrepreneurship” inside a New York City WeWork next fall.
In the pilot program, Generation Z students will spend one day a week on a farm outside of the city for hands-on experience. The rest of the time they will spend in Manhattan, where they’ll get lessons in business from both employees and entrepreneur-customers of WeWork. The founders hope the school will encourage kids to become “disruptive” as young as possible.

7. Mishmash

Generation Z will leverage their online resourcefulness to uncover the right learning platforms to level-up their know-how and skill sets.
Resources like General Assembly, Lynda.com, Udemy, Udacity, Coursera, and YouTube are already giving Generation Z the learning edge to leapfrog college.
I would be remiss if I did not indicate an eighth replacement for traditional college education: military and other forms of public service.

***
In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury wrote, “It doesn’t matter what you do ... so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

RHODE ISLAND PAPER: FIVE

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: RHODE ISLAND AS A MAJOR SPOKE IN BOSTON’S HUB

As governor of Rhode Island, my primary strategic objective is for every man, woman, and child in our state to achieve posterity as they move along three pathways: education, employment, and retirement.
Toward this end, I have asked myself how the median household income and per capita income in Rhode Island can match that in Massachusetts. First, let’s look at the numbers.
The median household income in Massachusetts is $70,628. In our state, it is $58,073.
The per capita income in Massachusetts is $36,593. In our state, it is $30,830.
There are two answers to my question: either we can wait interminably for an economic miracle that will result in major corporations identifying Rhode Island as a prime candidate for relocation – an eventuality that will depend upon radical overhauls in education and governance – or we can redefine Rhode Island as the ideal “feeder” for Boston-based industry.
As governor, I shall drive with vigor toward the latter option.
Imagine simultaneously enjoying the relatively low cost of living in Rhode Island and the high wages garnered from working in Boston (and environs).
Imagine the radical economic growth attendant to the relocation to Rhode Island of high tech job seekers who recognize the “best of both worlds” opportunity available here.
Imagine the economic and cultural benefits of a workforce highly trained in a redesigned Rhode Island educational system and with access to state-of-the-art mass transportation to take them from their affordable Ocean State lifestyle to their high-paying Boston jobs.
The first step in turning this dream into reality will be psychological in nature. In 49 states, Rhode Island’s cities and towns would be in the same county as a Boston. There are no border checkpoints or walls between our state and Massachusetts; we must be willing to weigh the “disadvantages” of a 45-60 minute commute against the benefits of significant increases in per capita and household incomes deriving from employment in Boston.
Let us begin to think of the city-state of Rhode Island and Boston as twin cities the likes of Dallas and Fort Worth, Newark and Manhattan, etc. Let us envision T.F. Green and Logan airports as the region’s JFK and La Guardia.
Let us commit financial and human resources to the upgrading of infrastructure and reconceptualization of higher education necessary for the “best of both worlds” scenario to become real.
And so we return to consideration of my primary objective. By no means am I suggesting that we cease and desist from creating in-state environments conducive to the attraction of business, or from supporting the growth of existing Rhode Island businesses. Yet prosperity deferred is prosperity denied. And as governor, I shall neither delay nor deny prosperity.