Content Types

Analysis

Luxury as a Tax on the Rich

From Ancient Rome to the modern day, spending on luxuries is like a valve for wealth, or a voluntary tax paid by the rich, as Edward Gibbon put it.


Updated: About That State Police Report on Cranston

Fact checking Governor Raimondo’s use of the State Police’s 2015 report on the Cranston police department suggests she ought to be careful about accusations of political corruption.


Keeping Perspective on School Safety

If we apply just a little bit of reasonable perspective to the issue of school safety, filling them with paid guards begins to look like less wise of an idea.


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Research

August 2018 Employment: Cooling Already?

The number of Rhode Islanders who say they are employed is still going up, but a one-month job loss and slowing of the rate at which new people enter the job market raise concerns that the boom is already cooling.


July 2018 Employment: Strong Economy Lifting RI… at a Discount

The employment trend in Rhode Island remains positive, although the national results are positive, too, and the Ocean State could surely better capitalize on the national economy.


June 2018 Employment: Still Positive We’re Working

Employment and jobs data continues to be positive for Rhode Island, although the cause appears to be a national wave (and total personal income is actually down).


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Opinion

The Challenge of Getting Back to Basics in Education

Our education conundrum: We’ve layered too much mere stuff in the system and created too many incentives for people to advocate against reform.


To Join or Not? Public Workers Have A Choice

At the Center, we believe that public workers deserve to know that they now have full freedom to decide whether or not it is in their best interest to pay union dues. That if they choose not to pay, these employees cannot be recriminated against by corrupt union officials.


Trillo, Mattiello, the Bully Justin, and the Question of Our Day

However we feel about Joe Trillo or his recent behavior, the story of his 1975 altercation raises questions about the kind of society that we want to be.


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Investigative Report

Progressive Cranston Action Network Holds Pro-Illegal Immigration Rally Outside Cranston City Hall

Under thirty people rallied in front of Cranston City Hall on Monday evening to protest Mayor Allan Fung’s campaign promise to side with Rhode Island families over prisoners who have illegally immigrated to the United States when elected Governor.


Antifa Protest Attendee Arrested for Striking Veteran with Bike Lock (Updated)

Samson Racioppi, an Army veteran and libertarian, was allegedly struck on the back of his neck by a member of Antifa with a bike lock following a protest in front of the Rhode Island State House on Saturday. Alexander Carrion was arrested by Providence Police for the violent attack.


Tolls Force ATA Lawsuit That Could Cost Rhode Island Taxpayers Millions In Legal Fees

After years of citizen outrage against truck-tolls in the Ocean State, the American Trucking Associations and three motor carriers representing the industry are bringing a federal lawsuit against the State of Rhode Island on constitutional grounds likely to cost taxpayers millions.


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Liveblog

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Longer Twitter

When Science Comes with an Underlying Hope

An essay on NRO by Oren Cass is worth a read for the broad-ranging illustration it provides of the state of politicized science these days.  His opening vignette is perfect:

The president of the United States had just cited his work with approval during a Rose Garden speech announcing a major change in American policy, and MIT economist John Reilly was speaking with National Public Radio. “I’m so sorry,” said host Barbara Howard. “Yeah,” Reilly replied.

This was not a triumph but a tragedy, because the president in question was Donald Trump. And the action taken was withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

Trump had cited Reilly’s work correctly, saying: “Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full” using Reilly’s economic projections, “. . . it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree . . . Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100.” But as Reilly explained on NPR, “All of us here believe the Paris agreement was an important step forward, so, to have our work used as an excuse to withdraw it is exactly the reverse of what we imagined hoping it would do.”

In other words, this isn’t about science, but about belief, and in this view, science is supposed to find evidence confirming progressive assumptions.  That’s what it means to “believe in science.”

As Cass elaborates, this is especially a problem for people who profess to believe in data-driven public policy.  If their data starts to raise doubts about their policies, and rather than adjust the policies, they look for new data, the whole thing begins to seem a bit like a scam.  More from Cass:

Some check is needed on the impulse to slice and dice whatever results the research might yield into whatever conclusion the research community “imagined hoping” it would reach. In theory, peer review should do just that. But in this respect, the leftward lean of the ivory tower is as problematic for its distortion of the knowledge that feeds public-policy debates as it is for its suffocating effect on students and the broader culture. Peer review changes from feature to bug when the peers form an echo chamber of like-minded individuals pursuing the same ends. Academic journals become talking-points memos when they time the publication of unreviewed commentaries for maximum im­pact on political debates.


The View the Left Has of “Conservative” Judges

One really must wonder where folks like Art Corey get their ideas:

Congratulations to Republicans on their big Supreme Court win. Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation could ensure GOP control over the court for a generation. Who could have imagined that obstructing Merrick Garland would result in not one but two hard-right conservatives joining the court?

“Hard-right conservatives”?  What?  Kavanaugh was the more-moderate pick, and the whole thing about “conservative” jurists is that they rule according to the law, not ideology or a party’s contemporaneous requirements.  The GOP won’t “control” the court; the court will ensure that legislative changes to the law happen in the legislature, whichever party happens to control it.  That’s why this is so wrong:

But the Republicans’ lust for power has blinded them to the truth that the court derives its legitimacy from the belief that it is above politics.

If the court is above politics, it has to be because it rules according to the written law, whether or not a particular ruling is politically popular or corresponds to the temper of the time.  The entire “living Constitution” idea pushed by the Democrats and the Left more broadly is what makes the court inevitably political.  That is why the progressive wing of the court has ruled much more in lock step than the conservative wing and why this seems either disingenuous or naive:

So now any liberal group with business before the court could rightly question the legitimacy and impartiality of its decisions.

Corey would do well to recall that progressive Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg regrets making injudicious statements about Donald Trump not because she allowed herself to have political thoughts, but because it was “incautious.”  In other words, she should have kept her bias well hidden.

But nobody is fooled any longer, which is why conservatives seek originalist judges who will rule impartially and restore legitimacy to the court.  Every judge has bias; what’s needed is a legal philosophy that really does leave that aside.  Conservatives’ hope is that the experience of his confirmation will provide Justice Kavanaugh with some inoculation against the social pressures that sometimes push judges toward the elite (which is to say, progressive) understanding of the law.


National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Calls Out Kilmartin, NEARI

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today called out Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI) and its Bristol-Warren local for attempting to mislead government employees in the Ocean State:

The notice comes after Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin – who signed onto an anti-Janus brief at the Supreme Court and received major support from union officials in his runs for public office – made the false claim that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling “only affects non-union members” and does not apply to union members.

The Attorney General is wrong. Under Janus all government employees have the right to resign their union membership and immediately stop any financial payments to union officials. Because the Supreme Court decision made it clear that public workers must opt-in to any union payments and explicitly waive their constitutional rights, union members cannot be restricted if they seek to resign from the union and stop the payment of any union dues or fees.

The Bristol-Warren Education Association (BWEA) and the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI) also issued a letter blatantly misleading teachers about their Janus rights. The letter claims that union nonmembers must pay a NEARI attorney to file a grievance against the union. However, as the Foundation’s notice states, unions are legally obligated to provide grievance service to both members and nonmembers as part of its exclusive monopoly bargaining status.

The BWEA and NEARI union officials’ letter also incorrectly claims that nonmembers are unable to request days from the Sick Leave Bank, even though the BWEA’s monopoly bargaining agreement establishes the Sick Leave Bank for all teachers, including nonmembers, covered by the agreement.

National Right to Work’s statement is in line with the analysis offered in this space in August.

Government employees in Rhode Island who want more information about their rights can visit MyPayMySayRI.com or National Right to Work’s MyJanusRights.org, where employees can also request free legal assistance.

It shouldn’t be too much to ask that the state’s lead law enforcement agent would offer accurate legal opinions to the public and that labor unions would be more truthful with their own employees.


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Interviews & Profiles

Bishop Tobin on Priests’ Right and Responsibility to Speak Out

On Thursday, August 30, 2018, the Ocean State Current sat down with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence, Thomas Tobin, to ask about controversies in the Church at the state, national, and international levels. This portion of the interview addresses the environment for parish priests in this challenging environment.


Bishop Tobin on His Responsibilities in Pittsburgh

On Thursday, August 30, 2018, the Ocean State Current sat down with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence, Thomas Tobin, to ask about controversies over his statement to local news media that sexual abuse issues in Pittsburgh were not within the scope of his official responsibilities.


Tobin Addresses Controversy Among Catholic Hierarchy, Up to Pope Francis

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has called on Pope Francis to actively resolve internal conflicts among the church hierarchy with an investigation of allegations against high ranking prelates, including the pope, himself.


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