Worrying about minor conflicts of interest in government planning misses the point that progressivism is an ideology built around the idealization of conflicts of interest.
The appearance of Attorney Vincent Ragosta as both a “neutral arbitrator” for the state police and an important piece of the state police’s case against Cranston Mayor Allan Fung shows how Rhode Islanders cannot take any information from their state’s employees at face value.
From the wow-that-didn’t-take-long department, the Providence Journal’s Kathy Gregg, in a piece of kick-butt journalism yesterday, reports that the tolling of all vehicles is now on the table as an option. It seems that, at Speaker Mattiello’s suggestion, Governor Gina Raimondo is carrying out an “economic analysis”.
In recent months, the administration also commissioned an “economic analysis” of Raimondo’s truck-toll plan and a variety of other possible revenue-raising options that could, potentially, include: other new “user-fees,” gas taxes and a revived effort to toll all vehicles — not just big trucks — on Route 95 near the Connecticut border.
Rhode Island’s job market continues to explode… at least according to one Bureau of Labor Statistics measure. If true, that means the Ocean State is the one saving grace of the Southern New England economy.
Employment data for June shows Rhode Island somehow leading the country in employment growth while actually losing jobs based in the state.
Employment and labor force numbers for Rhode Island are still booming, but it remains difficult to believe they won’t be revised significantly, meaning that celebration of a low unemployment rate would be premature.
Conspicuously absent from the list of Jewish Congressional Democrats who have come out against President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is Rhode Island’s David Cicilline, and Arthur Christopher Schaper wonders what’s taking him so long.
Matthew Bruenig offers a helpful illustration of how progressives mix ideology and equations in ways that dehumanize people for their benefit and search for power.
A discussion of the correct understanding of economics within Catholic teaching may hinge on the origin of our right to private property.
Park Avenue Bridge: Did the Wood Even Need to be Replaced? Was the Correct Part of the Bridge Repaired? “Lieutenant Colonel” Columbo Has a Few Questions
With the completely unacceptable, lose-lose for Rhode Island prospect of across-the-board vehicle tolling suddenly on the table, let’s take a closer look at a high-profile toll-related incident from a couple of months ago: the closure by RIDOT of the Park Avenue Bridge.
You may recall the WPRI investigation last month by Ted Nesi on the timing of the Park Avenue Bridge inspection. RIDOT had ordered an inspection – it turned into three inspections – of the Park Avenue Bridge in Cranston, a bridge just down the road from Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s office. The inspections resulted in the abrupt closing of the bridge at the height of Governor Raimondo’s attempt to get her tolling program passed by the General Assembly.
Following the money around the Rhode Island Dept. of Health’s decision to require all Rhode Island seventh graders to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease reveals the big-money game of politics and government health.
Representative Cale Keable, a landlord with properties in Mapleville, is seen in an online video forcibly opening an entry door, despite the request of the tenant’s minor son for him to return when his mother is home.
In the Wall Street Journal, Lanhee Chen takes a look at some of the steps that will be necessary in order to undo all of President Obama’s unilateral actions:
With a stroke of a pen, the next president could roll back efforts to expand the reach of labor unions, mandates requiring the expanded use of renewable energy by the federal government, and Mr. Obama’s foolhardy reconciliation with Iran and Cuba.
Then there is the formal rule-making process, which has produced far-reaching policy change through agency-promulgated regulations. A review of this activity could begin on day one of a new presidency but will be more time consuming and challenging to reverse.
Taken as a whole, Mr. Obama’s use of executive orders, presidential memorandums, agency directives and guidance to achieve his policy aims is without precedent in its disregard for the people’s elected representatives.
Of course, the problem is much bigger than this. Consider John Hinderaker’s commentary on Obama’s habitual stonewalling of investigations. That indicates a much larger problem.
The regular ebb and flow of the American electoral mood might give Republicans an opportunity to undo Obama — a possibility that is probably more likely than the Republicans actually doing so. That would only be a reprieve, though, until the next time the cultural forces in the news and entertainment media, on college campuses, and basically all of the social institutions that have been overrun with Democrat operatives who pretend not to be partisan push the electoral mood back in their party’s favor.
The deeper problem is cultural. Americans allowed our social institutions sell us on the scam of Obama and our news media to cover up for his demagoguery, corruption, incompetence, and usurpations. That’s the real problem.
We need to reengage with our civic society and with our social institutions with renewed confidence in our heritage. That’s going to take more than the stroke of a pen. It’s going to take the decision of millions of Americans to turn away from distractions and take some minor risks with their lives in order to assert their values.
In a certain sense, the abstraction and often-indirect benefits of higher education ensure that students can always get what they pay for. I mean:
In his “Introduction to Multicultural Literature,” for example, professor John Streamas informs students in his syllabus that he expects white students who want “to do well in this class” to “reflect” their “grasp of history and social relations” by “deferring to the experiences of people of color.” …
A second Washington State faculty member, Selena Lester Breikss, warns students in her “Women & Popular Culture” course this semester that they risk “failure for the semester” if they use the terms “male” or “female.” . . .
“Students will come to recognize how white privilege functions in everyday social structures and institutions,” Breikss adds.
When a student is fed that sort of nonsense by people who make a lot of money at institutions for which those students and their families are spending serious money or incurring mammoth debt, the tendency will be to believe — to want to believe — that they aren’t spending all that time and money to be spoon fed intellectual mush that will make them into good little progressive slaves. Look at it from their point of view: It’s outrageous enough to put so much time and money into an education that provides no career and no real occupational skills. Having to admit that you were suckered in the bargain might be too much to take, and so the young adults head out in the world as if they bring with them the finest wisdom.
I wonder if that mightn’t be the real reason Huck Finn has lost favor on American campuses.
Donald Devine makes some interesting points about Donald Trump and political science, following Aaron Wildavsky in his theory about “four fundamental political types”: egalitarians, individualists, social conservatives, and fatalists. That last group, he says, don’t often vote, partly because they see the world as a chaotic mess, so what’s the point? They will vote, though, for an autocratic hero whom they believe will be able to grab the reins.
The key paragraph in Devine’s essay, though, is this one:
Pollster Frank Luntz came reeling out of one of his distinctive focus groups the other day crying “my legs are shaking” from seeing the depth of commitment of the Trump supporters he interviewed at the session. “I want to put the Republican leadership behind this mirror and let them see. They need to wake up. They don’t realize how the grassroots have abandoned them. Donald Trump is punishment to a Republican elite that wasn’t listening to their grassroots.” He even showed the audience unflattering images of and statements by Trump meant to turn them off. It did not work. At the end they were more committed than at the beginning.
I wonder if this is the fatal flaw of elite technocrats who think they’ve got everything all figured out and locked up. If so, it can apply to much more than just politics (such as the economic gear spinning of the Fed). At a certain level of analysis, people stop being people and become data points. Actions stop being taken because of their effect on people, and people’s responses to them, but because the formulas and the analysis suggest that they will bring advantage at a particular time.
Making a statement of a particular sort will produce a desirable reaction from group X and an undesirable reaction from group Y. At this political moment, the value of the positive reaction is (a) and the detriment of the negative reaction is (b), so if (a)X > (b)Y, you make the statement. Considerations such as the etiquette of the political system and the truth of the statement don’t get any more value than what the equation suggests that they should.
The problem is that people aren’t automatons; we have emotions as part of a nature that helps us learn and adapt, and we exist along a spectrum. At some point, when tossing aside the etiquette of the system and a culture that prioritizes truth, the elite reaches a point at which somebody who is even more shameless than they are steps in, and the folks along the spectrum who would normally be able to sniff out the falsehood have learned that truth can’t be expected, anyway.
Interviews & Profiles
Arthur Christopher Schaper asks illegal immigration expert Jessica Vaughn about the consequences of sanctuary city policies under former Providence Mayor David Cicilline.
Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss the candidates for U.S. Congress from Rhode Island (mostly by way of the issues).
Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss a debate between candidates for RI Secretary of State and related topics.