Content Types


Meaning and the Hierarchical Climb

Human beings may tend to be most satisfied when they’re within a hierarchy, but it would be mistaken to assume that it’s actually the hierarchy that gives them purpose.

Minimum Wages and Welfare Programs Don’t Help Poverty

Negative effects from minimum wage increases, no long-term benefits from welfare programs, and questions about the earned income tax credit show that there is no subsidy for freedom and prosperity.

Supreme Court Ruling a Bigger Slice of the Religious Liberty Cake

The Supreme Court didn’t decide the Masterpiece Cakeshop case as narrowly as many in the mainstream are suggesting.

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May 2018 Employment: Annual Phantom Boost or National Wave?

Rhode Island employment and jobs numbers are looking good, but to the extent that the increase isn’t revised away in the future, it appears to be part of a national trend, not something native to the Ocean State.

April 2018 Employment: Absolutely Positive, Relatively Slow

Rhode Island’s economic results were improved in April, but because the same numbers improved more in other states, we lost some ground.

March 2018 Employment: Mixed, but Lagging

Rhode Island’s employment and jobs results were mixed for March, but compared with the country, mixed means falling behind.

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The Slowly Changing Tastes of a Music Enthusiast

Letting a Rolling Stone top 500 list set the background music for a while brings both nostalgia and perspective.

The Public Radio Journalist’s View of the United States

A local political analyst for public radio uncritically promotes a Facebook post slandering the United States with no analysis anywhere to be found.

Political Monday with John DePetro: Everywhere a Process Crime

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, about Carnevale’s prospects, the Mattiello crew’s subpoena, and the mayor’s tangle.

Open post for full audio.

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Investigative Report

Providence College Responds to Questions on Goodwin’s Restraining Order

Providence College responds to questions from the Current on Vice President Kristine Goodwin’s restraining order against Michael Smalanskas.

PC or PC? Vice President Goodwin Takes Out Restraining Order Against Smalanskas

Michael Smalanskas, who was recently the center of an open debate battle with progressive activists over a bulletin board he posted educating students about traditional Catholic marriage, has been barred from campus and has had a restraining order taken out against him by Vice President for Student Affairs, Kristine Goodwin.

Catholic Bishop to Smalanskas: Providence College at a Crossroads

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence has written a letter to the Providence College student under attack for his pro-marriage bulletin board saying that the college must decide a path between Catholicism or being “just one more progressive, secular bastion of political correctness.”

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Longer Twitter

The Beneficiaries of Toxic Masculinity

Incensed by the latest hogwash about “toxic masculinity,” Gail Heriot writes on Instapundit:

I looked up the death toll on the Titanic.  Sure enough, according to the figures I found, the survival rate for women was high–74%.  For men, not so much.  Only 16% survived.  And it wasn’t just a class thing.  Third-class (steerage) women were more likely to survive (49%) than first-class men (32%).  N.B.:  The reason for the difference was not that women are better than men at treading water.

Keep in mind that the steerage sections were blocked off from the other sections (where the lifeboats were), which may not have all been unlocked as the ship sank.  Interestingly, the most deadly thing to be was a man in the second-class section.  According to the data Heriot uses, only 8% of them survived.  Breaking up class by the cost of the ticket is probably not a very exact measure, but one could roughly categorize this as the middle class.

Although exact statistics would be impossible to find, we could reasonably assume that the men who died had no wage advantage over the women who survived after the tragedy, even in aggregate.  Of course, that’s an unfair quip, but blending past tragedy with modern times does make me wonder:  What would these numbers look like now?  Will modern men still give women preferential status in a life-or-death situation?

In total, 488 of 1,300 passengers survived.  Of the passengers who boarded the ship, 319 were in first class, and 272 were in second class.  If we’ve erased the impetus for half of the population to step aside to benefit the other half, according to a category that cuts across class, would the lower or even middle income people even have a chance?

If we’re inclined to answer in the negative, then a common theme of progressive social change emerges.  The greatest beneficiaries are those who are already most advantaged.  On the Titanic, wealthier men would have survived, and wealthier women would have kept their husbands.  On the campuses of elite colleges, advantaged minorities benefit while disadvantaged people lose even their limited opportunities.

Maybe discarding traditional norms wholesale isn’t such a good idea.

Keeping Tabs on the Flynn Story

Given his connection to Rhode Island (he grew up in Middletown and went to URI), General Michael Flynn’s involvement with the Trump White House and plea bargain after special counsel Robert Mueller accused him of lying to the FBI has been a big topic for the local news media.  The Providence Journal’s G. Wayne Miller even won an award for a profile titled “Before the Fall.”

Given that this local interest seems to have petered out as the Mueller investigation has come into question, including around Flynn’s plea bargain, it’s important to note how the story is changing for this local boy who made it big.  Lawyer/blogger John Hinderaker has followed the story in detail and believed the case against Flynn was “incredibly weak,” in part because the evidence is all in summary notes made by FBI agents, rather than recorded or transcribed.  Now he highlights the following detail published in The Hill:

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) suggested Thursday in an interview wth Hill.TV’s “Rising” that evidence may have been tampered with in the case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. …

Meadows suggested one focus is whether FBI interview reports — known as 302 reports — about Flynn were altered to improve the chances he’d be prosecuted.

We don’t know what evidence Meadows might cite, but given recent revelations about political corruption in the FBI, especially with Peter Strzok, one of the agents who interviewed Flynn, it isn’t difficult to believe that they set him up for a process charge so Mueller could squeeze him for information that might snag the President of the United States, whom they despise.

Equal Pay Is Dead, Long Live Equal Pay

The news is everywhere in Rhode Island media that the Rhode Island Senate will not consider the House version of the “equal pay” legislation:

The day began with a pronouncement by the Senate that the “pay equity” bill — which tied the House in knots before a 64-to-9 vote of approval the previous night — was dead on arrival in the Senate, which had passed a much further-reaching bill earlier in the year.

“The Senate prioritized pay equity this session,″ said Senate spokesman Greg Pare. “On April 10, national ‘Equal Pay Day,’ the Senate passed strong legislation to address wage gaps in the workplace. The legislation the House passed last night does not reflect the Senate’s commitment to ensuring equal pay for comparable work and meaningful change for women’s economic security.

“The Senate will not be considering the House bill.”

So, even though the two versions of the bill have substantial overlap, if one chamber doesn’t pass the other chamber’s version, that’s that.  A cynic (which can, with only mild cynicism, be defined as “somebody who has observed the Rhode Island General Assembly for a while”) might wonder how choreographed this performance was.

Prioritizing the issue was an early and somewhat surprising point of emphasis for Senate President Dominick Ruggerio.  This outcome gives him progressive cover, while giving House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello pro-business creds for his first election after nearly being unseated by a conservative challenger, all in the muddy mix of a legislative process that makes it difficult to blame anybody in particular.

Rhode Islanders should welcome the results, though.  The Senate legislation was a radical nightmare that was arguably only in part about reducing a wage gap between men and women, and the notion that discrimination is creating an unfair differential in pay is a myth.  In other words, forcing its mandates on the economy would create a regulatory environment that would be unfair to businesses and to employees whose work would be devalued in order to adjust pay rates that are not based on discrimination as it is.

The inability of the General Assembly’s two chambers to come up with common legislation will now move the issue past the November election, which may very well take some of the hot air out of the narrative’s sails, one way or another.

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Interviews & Profiles

Liberty Bytes: Michael Smalanskas Under PC Fire at PC

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).

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