Content Types

Analysis

A 3.0% Sales Tax Is A Superior Reform

Imagine Rhode Island as place where all of our state’s families could achieve their hopes and dreams. Sadly, there are many obstacles in the way of making this a reality. Here is a big one– the sales tax is a tax on business.


Deception and War in Walking Dead

Avoiding war (or entering it justly) requires actively working to bring about and maintain peace, and a willingness to acknowledge when a state of war already exists.


Idiocracy and Economic Development in Rhode Island

Watching Rhode Island decision-leaders continue to make decisions based on a mix of selfish interest and ideological delusion is frustratingly like watching Idiocracy


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Research

For Sales Tax Reduction and Better Government in General

Elected officials in Rhode Island move forward without considering the possible effects, perhaps doing more harm than good as they take more and more of Rhode Islanders’ income away.


January 2017 Employment: Job Slowdown, New Pre-Revision Blip

The governor’s spin (as reprinted in the New York Times) notwithstanding, Rhode Island’s employment picture is bleak.


Digging in on Graduation Data

The data for dropouts and graduation from Rhode Island public schools adds to the impression that government education is increasingly about keeping enrollment up as long as possible.


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Opinion

On Air Politics with John DePetro, No. 2: Unions and Trump Effect on the Scales

Last week on John DePetro’s WADK 1540 AM show, John and I discussed a teachers’ union’s merging with the Democrat Party and the Trumpian lessons for the RI GOP.

Open full post for audio.

I’ll be on again tomorrow (Tuesday, March 28) and probably every Tuesday at the same time.


Transcripts & A No-Bid Contract: Governor Raimondo Has Politicized RI State Police

An editorial in Friday’s Providence Journal correctly deplores the awarding, in contravention of state bidding procedures, of a no-bid contract by the Rhode Island State Police. But is there any doubt that Colonel Ann Assumpico did so at the instruction of Governor Gina Raimondo? No, there isn’t, especially in light of the clear ties of the winning firm back to the Governor, who is also known to have aspirations for the national political stage.


Moving Away from Church Fosters Darkness Across the Political Spectrum

Peter Beinart may not see it, but secularism makes the Left less tolerant, too.


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Investigative Report

Withheld FTE’s? Has State of RI Contributed to Delay of DMV Computer?

Did the State of Rhode Island contribute to the ten year old DMV computer saga by failing to provide adequate manpower for data migration? The Ocean State Current asked some questions – and got answers (of a sort).


The Wexford-Brookings Franchise in Rhode Island

The seemingly separate commercial and non-profit activity of organizations involved with Rhode Island’s centralized economic development plan has markers of a pre-designed package that will make its salespeople rich… rather, make them richer.


Employment Shrinks as Commerce Corp. Proves RI Is No Virgin

Over three years, Virgin Pulse will introduce enough new jobs to undo this one month of employment increases, even as it continues ShapeUp’s practice of relying on government handouts.


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Liveblog

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Longer Twitter

Reversing a Deadly Cultural Cliché

Betsy McKay raises a central puzzle for America in a Wall Street Journal article about death rates among white adults:

The increase in mortality rate for working-class whites can’t be explained by declining income prospects alone. Blacks and Hispanics face many of the same income struggles but have experienced declines in mortality over the same period, the two economists argued, though their findings reveal more recent troubles for blacks, with gains stagnating the past couple of years amid an increase in drug overdoses and stalling progress against heart disease.

“This doesn’t seem to be about current income,” Ms. Case said in a call with reporters. “It seems to be about accumulating despair.”

It’s about demoralization.  This trend results from the combination of economic hardship, the elites’ undermining of traditional family structures, and, as a final assault, the handling in the popular culture of white men as always the ultimate source of evil.  Dysfunctional families are easier to survive when there’s money in the equation, and cultural opprobrium is easier to laugh off when you’re advantaged.

To some extent, the problem is the inertia of cultural clichés.  It takes a while for the message that circumstances have changed to filter throughout those who make decisions throughout our institutions, arts, and media (often requiring the change of entire generations at the helm).  And the Left pushed this particular cliché unreasonably hard, because they liked the pose and the political upside.

In the meantime, our society will continue to fail in its role of uplifting its disadvantaged members.


How Might Education Be Doing If Government Hadn’t Made It So Backwards and Bureaucratic

Well, this is a curious finding, articulated by Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit:

The takeaway here is that people who didn’t go to school at all did as well as or better than people who did. Considering the huge amounts of money, and other social resources, that we invest in K-12 education, that’s kind of a big deal. Of course, you’d want to do a bigger study before taking this too seriously on a policy level, but it ought to spark at least a bit of rethinking.

Of course, an important caveat is that “unschoolers,” as they’re called, are bound to be a self-selecting group, the last paragraph of Reynolds’s source article puts well:

In sum: “The findings of our survey suggest that unschooling can work beautifully if the whole family, including the children, buy into it, if the parents are psychologically healthy and happy, and if the parents are socially connected to the broader world and facilitate their children’s involvement with that world. It can even work well when some of these criteria are not fully met.”

Education is so dependent on individual circumstances that a changing world will inevitably require freedom to adapt.  Unfortunately, we’ve built a massive, self-interested education establishment that may be among the most resistant-to-change institutions in our society.

One wonders how we’d be doing, right now, if the progressive sentiments of the last century didn’t put education into such a backwards, bureaucratic model.  Parents would have sought the best opportunities for their children — because, if you haven’t noticed, parents tend to love their children and want what’s best for them more reliably than anybody else in the world — and communities would have figured out ways to guide families along, helping where needed — because that’s what communities tend to do.

Sadly, there are always those who think they know better and care more (conspicuously benefiting themselves through the process of dictating to others).


Correlation of Business Friendliness and Voting Habits

Readers may already have come across Fayetteville State University Accounting Professor Robert McGee’s new ranking of states for business friendliness:

This study is the first annual McGee Report on the best and worst states for business. The fifty states are ranked based on the extent to which they facilitate business creation and expansion. This study incorporated the data collected from five other studies, which included the examination of hundreds of variables. Utah was found to be the most business friendly state; California was least business friendly. States that voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election tended to be more business friendly than states that voted Democratic.

Rhode Island, if you couldn’t guess, is in the bottom five — 46th, to be specific.

Pepperdine University School of Law Tax Professor Paul Caron emphasizes just how much voting habits tend to correlate with business friendliness:

The Best And Worst States For Business: 90% Of The Top 10 Voted For Trump; 80% Of The Bottom 10 Voted For Clinton

Of course, how one looks at these results will depend a great deal on how one looks at the world.  Some would (correctly) note that business friendliness is not the only important measure of a region and point out the advantages of California and the Northeast, where most of the bottom states are located.  Others would (even more correctly) argue that the biggest advantages of those regions have nothing to do with their style of governance and that business unfriendliness correlates with general suppression of people and, especially, their ability to improve their plight.

The epithet I used to hear a lot about Rhode Island was that it’s a playground for the rich.  Business unfriendliness tends to indicate that that’s still the case.


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Interviews & Profiles

Arthur Christopher Schaper: Cicilline’s “Grand Theft Auto” Sanctuary City

Arthur Christopher Schaper asks illegal immigration expert Jessica Vaughn about the consequences of sanctuary city policies under former Providence Mayor David Cicilline.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 46 (Congressional Debates)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss the candidates for U.S. Congress from Rhode Island (mostly by way of the issues).


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 45 (Secretary of State Debate)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss a debate between candidates for RI Secretary of State and related topics.


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