Content Types

Analysis

Gender Chicken and Occupation Egg on Opiate Overdoses

Trying to reduce opioid deaths in construction fields by taking the masculinity out of them could make matters worse, not better.


Political Rorschach in the Wyatt Protest

If we were inclined to pause and review video of incidents with an eye toward understanding why each person is doing what he or she is doing, maybe we could reduce the level of conflict in our society, but where’s the profit in that?


A Corporatist Partnership to Solidify a Top-Down Society in RI

A new form of government appears to be taking shape in Rhode Island before our very eyes.


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Research

June 2019 Employment: A Pause in the Deterioration?

Viewed in isolation, Rhode Island’s employment results for June were OK, but trends over time and the national context leave little reason to hope we’re looking at a turnaround.


May 2019 Employment: All Downhill (In the Wrong Way)

Some months produce mixed results when it comes to Rhode Island’s employment report; May was not one of those months.


April 2019 Employment: Down in Employment and in JOI

Although the number of jobs based in Rhode Island is up and the official unemployment rate is down, trends in employment and in the Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) bring warnings rather than hopefulness.


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Opinion

Bright Today Educational Freedom Scholarships To Counter Collective Bargaining Inequities

At a cost of approximately $888 per year for each of Rhode Island’s one-million or so residents, a typical family of four is paying over $3500 annually to support the extravagant compensation programs for government workers, while the basic needs of their own families are being ignored by politicians.

Beyond these extreme financial costs, there may be an even more corrosive impact from this kind of political cronyism.


What’s in… What’s out… #WaterFire,#Sharks, #TwinRiver, and more. 8/16/19

A run-down of items in Rhode Island political news for the week.


So, Who Likes the Soaps?

There’s a whole world out there of people who are making other people happy and helping charities while doing it.


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Investigative Report

Advocate Is Victim of Threatening Phone Call from Criminally Insane Asylum

Should the criminally insane have unsupervised access to cellphones while in prison?


Cienki Wins RIGOP Chairmanship Race While Supporters Hope For Rejuvenated Conservative Movement

The process to pick a new leader for the Rhode Island Republican Party is over. After an unusually competitive race for chairman of the RI GOP— the conservative faction has triumphed. Chairwoman Suzanne McGee Cienki has been elected to lead the party for the next two years.


Republican Chairman Candidate Showdown At Providence GOP Meeting

In the final leg of the race for the new chairmanship of the Rhode Island Republican Party, three of the four remaining candidates squared off at the Providence GOP Chair Candidates Forum on Monday night.


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Liveblog

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Longer Twitter

Continuing Education for Professionals

Dan McGowan’s review of some claims that have recently been made about problems in the Providence school district is worth a read.  Broadly speaking, the claims about the school facilities themselves proved to have been exaggerated, while problems with management of teachers were not so much.

This item raises something that I’ve wondered about before — specifically, how much emphasis people really put on “professional development”:

Teachers get one day of professional development a year.

Grade: C

During a series of public forums following the release of the report, Infante-Green often asked attendees the same question: Would you go to a doctor who only received one day of training each year? While it is accurate that the current union contract only requires one professional development day during the school year, more nuance is required. Union president Maribeth Calabro and the Elorza administration maintain most teachers receive significantly more training each year. As an example, Calabro said at least half of her members have attended professional development sessions during their current summer vacation.

To be honest, I’d have no problem discovering that my doctor has only “one day of training each year.”  Doctors spend every day analyzing patients and determining the best treatments for their ailments.  One can expect that they are continually reviewing the latest information that might help them to do their jobs better.

The idea that they’ll simply coast along for their entire careers — doing the equivalent of handing out photocopied worksheets year after year — just seems strange.  Some will be better about this and some will be worse, but the fact that a doctor dedicated more than one day to some government-approved course of study that may or may not be relevant to my health and that may or may not have focused on some medical fad or PC indoctrination would not impress me at all.

So the question, then, is why we shouldn’t expect the same from teachers.  They have a 180-day work year.  Why should we assume that if we don’t use up some of those days for “professional development” instead of teaching, they’ll just let their skills atrophy and knowledge become antiquated?


The Best Way to Ensure a Long-Term Morality

My post this morning, about the incentive for those who rely on Minnesota trees to ensure the long-term health of Minnesota forests, came right up to the edge of a much bigger topic.  The most-important factor guarding humanity against the tragedy of the commons — wherein individuals use up natural resources because the incentive to preserve never outweighs the incentive to profit for any one person — is that the human beings involved think forward to the future beyond their own personal needs and desires.

As I wrote earlier, we can expect people not to poison their own well, so to speak, by destroying the resources on which they rely, but only within a certain range.  If the activity (like cutting down trees) is relatively difficult and the people able or willing to do it are relatively few, it is more likely they’ll collectively recognize their long-term incentives.  If something is easy to do and many people are doing it, then it is less likely that they’ll delay immediate profit for longer-term stability, because somebody else can come along and edge in.

Obviously, it also matters how far into the future the players are looking.  If people are desperate to have a meal today, they’ll be more careless about the resources.  The selfish, childless businessman of progressive fantasy need only preserve the resource to the extent that he can capitalize on it.

This is where the topic expands.  A business owner who sees him or her self as building a multi-generational source of income will worry about critical resources indefinitely into the future.

That principle extrapolates beyond businesses, too.  People who are thinking about their own children and their children’s children have a living, breathing reason to figure the future into everything they do.  That is, making families and children central to personal and cultural meaning has philosophical benefits for the entire society.

This realization points an interesting light at secular progressivism, which is fundamentally anti-family in its philosophy.  When progressives find it necessary to appeal to a long-term perspective for their political advocacy, as with the environment, they have to resort either to abstractions (the good of humankind) or to a religious elevation of something else (like the planet) as an object of concern in its own right.

Neither alternative can compete with the incentives that come from love of one’s children.


The Once-ler Protects His Long-Term Interests

As part of a series called “Capitalism Is Saving the Planet,” Isaac Orr reviews the forestry industry in Minnesota for the Center of the American Experiment:

Did you know that Minnesota’s forests are flourishing? According to research from the U.S. Forest Service, forests account for 17.7 million acres of land in Minnesota out of a total of 54 million acres, meaning forest cover about 35 percent of the state. Furthermore, this number is increasing due in no small part to the fact that 51 percent of forested land in Minnesota is owned by the timber industry.

From 2012 to 2017, Minnesota’s forested land area increased by 755,000 acres, which equates to an increase of 1.7 percent. During this time, the number of live trees increased by one billion trees, increasing from 14 billion to 15 billion, which is a 7.1 percent increase in the number of trees in our state.

The image of the industrialist Once-ler denuding the world of Truffula trees for his own selfish gain does not appear to apply.  The companies are trying to balance their profits with preservation, utilizing new technologies and techniques to be more efficient.

The forestry industry has incentive to preserve the resource on which it depends.  So, even if we disregard people’s sense of right and wrong (which we shouldn’t do), self-interest is not divorced from reason.  Just so, workers who come into your home have incentive not to steal from you because the long-term benefit of trustworthiness is more valuable than just about anything in your house.

We should recognize, however, that all of this may apply only in a limited range of economic activity.  Cutting down and milling trees is a relatively difficult activity, so the barriers to entry are high, the participants relatively few, and the cutting relatively easy to track and regulate (whether through government or industrial practice).  In circumstances in which the profits are high and the players many, the tragedy of the commons will be more likely.

In other words, what this case study does most effectively is to remind us of the danger of blanket analyses and categorical thinking.  A moralistic children’s story can create a humanoid monster willing to destroy the planet for just a little profit, but we shouldn’t apply him for cookie cutter analysis of every business.


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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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