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Government Good Intentions Edge in on the Family

Breakfast in school for lower-income children is not a public policy that many people are inclined to spend time arguing against, this author included.  That said, something in Bob Plain’s RI Future article promoting the program is worth highlighting:

Too many schools in Rhode Island are leaving federal money on the table when it comes to providing free breakfast to their students,” said Governor Gina Raimondo, who recently visited Veazie Street Elementary to draw attention to its breakfast program. “We know students can’t do their best work if they’re hungry.”

We should be careful not to lose the distinction between two things in the governor’s statement:

  1. Students who are well fed do better in school.
  2. Schools are missing out on money.

While I’ve forgotten the details, I recall from local discussions some years ago that districts can make their food programs into a bit of a profit center.  On the money front, the range goes from a well-intentioned effort to secure funding in order to feed children who otherwise wouldn’t be fed to a more-cynical plan to maximize money for the district for whatever purposes districts use money (mainly personnel).

Wherever a particular advocate or school district falls in that range, however, we ought to spare some sensibility to be shocked at something that is never mentioned in this context.  Nobody appears even to think of the possibility that some of the students for whom districts could collect money are adequately fed at home and that, by pushing the program, the government is pulling children away from a potentially family-boosting interaction.  At the very least, they’re transferring some of the child’s sense of who provides for him or her from the parents or guardians to the government.

We see this with government-subsidized child care.  On average, studies suggest that students receiving such care perform worse, particularly in behavior, and one explanation is that they draw children into a classroom setting instead of leaving them with parents, grandparents, or other individuals with direct relationships with the children.

We’re far too cavalier about the potential side effects of using government as a cure.

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The Calciphylaxis of Union Contracts

Tim White provides the numbers for the long-term leave benefit that allows state employees to change jobs with a right to return to the jobs they left:

More than 1,600 positions in state government are effectively on hold, with employees having the right to return to them and potentially bump the worker who holds the job now, according to data reviewed by the Target 12 Investigators.

For the record, 1,600 jobs is about 11% of all authorized full time jobs in the state budget.  More telling, though, is this:

“The Leave to Protect rule was developed really in large part as a management tool to encourage employees to accept promotions, take a chance on a new opportunity and later if they did not pass the exam for that opportunity they would still have the ability to go back to their former position,” [Deputy Director of the Department of Administration Mark Dingley] said.

Merit exams are no longer common with promotions in state government, Dingley said. Yet the Leave to Protect policy has expanded to cover more employees as another job protection prized by organized labor.

Merit exams go away; this aristocratic benefit just keeps on going.  Just so, the benefits and stability that used to be the public sector’s compensation for its lower pay remain in effect though government work has become increasingly lucrative.

These provisions are like calcification in the blood stream, sticking to the walls and forcing us to work harder to push the blood through.  Once again, it appears that they don’t work for us; we work for them.

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The Important Caveat on Rhode Island’s Virginity

As Ted Nesi reports for WPRI, Virgin Pulse, which bought the RI-based start-up ShapeUp not long ago, has provided Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo some much-needed blush for the otherwise sickly cheeks of Rhode Island’s economic news:

“If we want to attract Millennials fresh out of college to come and bring energy to our company, if we want to get the best and brightest, this is the place to find them,” he said. “People are moving to cities. They want to be part of a culture, they want to have access to great entertainment and great food and a city with a great lifestyle, and this is a place where we can find all those things.”

“I believe in the city. I believe in the state,” [ShapeUp founder Rajiv] Kumar added. “We saw at ShapeUp over the years just how supportive the environment, the culture, has been for our business. And I knew that Virgin Pulse would thrive in a place like Rhode Island.”

The notion of a “supportive environment” is important, here, recalling a couple of posts I wrote almost exactly a year ago.  In them, I noted that ShapeUp had relied pretty heavily on the many means of collecting taxpayer dollars from the state.  Even as ShapeUp, under various names, registered as a corporation in Delaware, it collected $100,000 directly from the Commerce Corp. and $18,750 from the Department of Health.  Disgraced former Democrat Speaker of the House Gordon Fox also directed $12,000 in legislative grants the company’s way.

That was all before Raimondo promised the company $5.7 million in tax credits as it started jobs in the state.  So, yeah, maybe some of the glowing assessment of Providence is genuine, but let’s not forget how integral government dough has been for the company.

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Government and Media Focus Too Much on Unemployment Rate

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Pay No Attention to the Consequence Behind the Curtain

Felix Fernandes recently posted a video from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show in which the host is debating a DNC advisor about federal transgender guidance for schools across the country.  The short clip is definitely worth watching in full:

The most glaring point of interest is the extremity of the left-wing position:  a simple statement of belief about your sex can change your sex.  The only objective consideration that the DNC advisor will entertain is the fact that a person in front of you is, at this moment, telling you that he/she is a woman/man.  Plainly put, this is an elevation of subjective feeling over any tangible reality.

Perhaps more important in the long term, though, is the guy’s response when Carlson takes the obvious step of pointing out the consequences when verifiable biology is made immaterial in the face of personal assertions.  Can I proclaim the same about my race?  Answer: No.  What happens if I apply for loans, scholarships, sports teams, et cetera, dedicated to those whose biology is different?  Answer: That’s an irrelevant question.

Carlson’s interlocutor just won’t acknowledge the validity of contrary claims — claims so irrefutable that they would have to be the basis of any logical consideration.  Instead, he breaks out the totalitarian catch phrases of the Left that bully people into submission, even having the audacity to charge Carlson with pseudoscience for asking how it all relates to biology.

To the extent that progressives are able to pull our society along in this emperor-has-no-genitals delusion, we’re signaling a willingness to gamble our entire civilization on the premise that the entire universe is a flexible social construct.  A much healthier path is simply to note that people who express such views are plainly insane.  They’ve already ruled out debate and common ground, so the wise choice is to side with reality.

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Why Not the AttSox?

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To Lift All Boats, the Tide Has to Come In

What’s your first thought upon reading the following, from a Linda Borg article in the Providence Journal?

The rising tide of economic recovery has not lifted Rhode Island’s poor, the 2017 Report on Hunger in Rhode Island found.

Rhode Island, at 12.8 percent, has the highest rate of poverty in New England, with 130,000 people living in households with incomes below the poverty line. One-third of the jobs created in Rhode Island last year have an annual wage of $26,529, the study says.

Unless you believe the politicians’ rhetoric that our state’s economy is strong — in which case, you’ll see these 130,000 as inexplicably slipping through the cracks — you’ll probably conclude that Rhode Island’s economy needs to improve so the tide actually is rising.  As the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) shows, it’s not.

But Borg’s article, which is essentially promotion of a Rhode Island Community Food Bank report, never challenges our state’s approach to economic development.  Rather, it advocates against Republican policy proposals in Washington and spares a word to chide the state government for the UHIP debacle.

Charity is an important part of the equation when it comes to helping our fellow human beings, but the higher goal — mentioned whenever the topic comes up — should always be to get folks on their own feet and in a condition to be charitable toward others.  That is how the rising tide works, and too much reliance on government suppresses it.

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All But Admitting That RI Has Not Been In Compliance With Federal Election Law

At its Monday meeting, the Rhode Island Board of Elections directed its lawyer to propose fixes to the loophole created in 2008, which no longer required proper identification for those registering, in person, to vote … as required by 2003 federal law. Despite baseless attacks against Ken Block, it turns out that his research was accurate.

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… By the Way, RIDOT’s New Tolling Study Has Major Problems, Too

At about the same time they issued a not-ready-for-primetime Environmental Assessment of the first two proposed toll gantry locations in southern Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) also issued an “investment grade tolling study” of the entire RhodeWorks toll plan – a study, we should note, which cost the taxpayers of Rhode Island a cool million dollars.

During their show, “Changing Gears”, yesterday on WPRO, Mike Collins and Chris Maxwell broadly hinted at major problems with this tolling study. Maxwell remarked that the state “would have been wise to put it through the shredder because it is very favorable” to the truckers’ anti-toll position.

Stay tuned on this – or drop by RIDOT’s hearing on Tuesday to hear about it first hand. That’s when the Rhode Island Trucking Association (represented by Maxwell) and the American Trucking Association (represented by Collins) will point out chapter and verse how RIDOT’s own toll study apparently torpedoes Governor Raimondo’s highly destructive, wasteful and unnecessary RhodeWorks toll plan.

Remember, Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly are only going to toll trucks! *snort*

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