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Judge to Johnson & Wales: Unfair to Expect Students to Be Lawyers

Here’s a Rhode Island story, out of Johnson & Wales University that hasn’t received a lot of notice:

“A reasonable juror could decide that it is not ‘fair’ to require a student who knows little or nothing to figure out what s/he does not know in order to ask productive questions.”

With this finding and many more, a federal judge refused to dismiss an expelled student’s lawsuit against a Rhode Island university for allegedly running him through a Title IX kangaroo court.

One of the core issues in the lawsuit against Johnson & Wales University is the burden the administration put on “John Doe” to understand the finer details of its adjudication process, as if the student were a trained lawyer. It created confusion for John and benefited his accuser, who faced no such burdens.

This ruling, which sends the case to a jury, is procedural and doesn’t appear to get into the details of the incident, but the story may seem familiar to anybody who was once a young adult and who has followed kangaroo relationship-courts on American campuses during the last decade.

Two students were involved in a sexual relationship, which broke off after the female apparently experienced the last two of six sexual encounters negatively.  At some point, the boyfriend of the female (whether subsequent or contemporaneous isn’t clear) went to campus police with a rape allegation on her behalf, but she declined to file.  Three months later, the boyfriend accompanied her to the police station to make a statement.

During the course of the “trial,” the accused was not permitted to question his accuser, any of her witnesses, or her boyfriend and wasn’t even given access to her 18-page written complaint.  Furthermore, the hearing was not transcribed and therefore produced no record.

If these details are accurate, this is clearly a travesty of justice, which leaves the question of what treatment the customer of a private organization deserves in such circumstances.  This question is made more complicated by the importance that we now attribute to higher education in our society.  Any deviation from the standard process of high school to college to grad school or job creates a question mark that can affect a young adult at each step.

Treating a student in this way can therefore have a tremendous effect, and even if “John Doe” cannot recover compensation for the damage to his future and reputation, he can at least reduce the harm by making it publicly known that the judgment of Johnson & Wales is not to be trusted.


Featured image: The show-trial scene in Paths of Glory.


The Draw of Political Violence

The Democrat Congress produced a sham impeachment of President Trump the day after the “secretive court that approves sensitive surveillance issued a rare public rebuke of the FBI on Tuesday, saying the bureau misled the Justice Department and the court when it sought permission to wiretap a former Trump campaign aide.”  Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had to shush her members to stop their shouts of glee at what they had done, thus cheering away any pretense that this was anything other than a political stunt.

A somber moment of answering the call of history to preserve the nation?  Ha!  Anybody who has watched this travesty play out over three years has known since the last election that this was coming.  This is not evidence of the competence of the speaker, as some want to see it.  Had she failed to answer the three-year-old calls of her rabid base for this moment, it would have been a political disaster.  And having failed to use her power responsibly, it is now a moral failure.

A bad situation for her and dangerous times for all of us.

Also yesterday, the Providence Journal gave this headline to an AP article, “MMA fighter says victory over Trump supporter was for the ‘entire world’”:

Kamaru Usman sent a bloodied, bleary Colby Covington spiraling to the ground for the second time. Usman then leaped on him and went to work on Covington’s badly injured face, battering his dazed opponent with hammer fists until the referee mercifully intervened.

Although he had to wait until the final minute, Usman settled his very personal feud with his sharply divisive challenger in perhaps the most satisfying way possible.

“This one is not just for me,” Usman said. “This is for the whole entire world right now.”

The article goes on to explain that antipathy toward Covington is much more about him, personally, than about the President of the United States.  That puts a spotlight on the irresponsible decision of the press to play up a political angle.  They are encouraging violence.

It is unfortunate, in that context, that the last name of the “Trump supporter” is the same as the high school whose Trump-supporting students became the target of a national two minutes of hate, last year.  The coincidence of these names gives the impression of a divine author who is making His connections almost too obvious.  Shame on us if we can’t figure out the lesson.


Regional Opposition to Regional Gas Tax Imposition

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has joined with allies throughout the Northeast in opposition to the proposed Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), which Rhode Island’s Democrat governor, Gina Raimondo, has described as an attempt to make gasoline less expensive so Rhode Islanders will give up their cars.  As the letter that the Center has signed notes:

The TCI Open Letter discusses how the TCI gas tax is “the equivalent of a sin tax – a penalty for engaging in bad behavior” (driving), as defined by radical environmentalists.

“Hard-working Rhode Islanders should not be purposefully punished for driving their kids to school, going to work, visiting family, going shopping, or delivering goods and services,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “We are proud to stand with our coalition partners in opposing this stealth tax on gas. Our coalition letter points out how the TCI Gas Tax will especially harm low-income and rural families.”

New Hampshire has declined to join, and Vermont remains an open question.  In Rhode Island, it would be unconscionable of the governor and/or the General Assembly to deprive their already-overburdened people of the opportunity for some small advantage over their neighboring states.

One consequence of continuing policies that make Rhode Island the poor neighbor of Southern New England should be that we can’t chase after every shiny “green new deal” that makes its way through insider circles.  Our neighbors have healthier economies; if they want to ding their residents with a scheme like this, that’s up to them, but Rhode Island should not follow suit.


Raimondo’s Strange Excuse for Marijuana

Sometimes the explanations that politicians give for their support for a particular policy make you go, “Wait… what?”  Such was the case with Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s response in a recent Providence Journal interview:

The setting: a roundtable discussion with students in one of Rhode Island’s poorest cities, a week after she had signed an executive order temporarily banning the sale of flavored vaping products.

“And the kids said vaping is expensive. ‘We use that as a treat for party nights …. Marijuana is the day-to-day thing.’”

“Like, wow,” Raimondo remembered thinking and maybe saying. “How do you obtain that? And they’re like, ‘Attleboro is 10 minutes away, if you haven’t noticed.’ So we are kidding ourselves if we think we don’t [already] have recreational marijuana [in Rhode Island]. Talk to the state police. They see it on the roads.” …

Yes, for the second year in a row, she intends to propose legalizing the adult use of marijuana — and not, she said, just because of the millions of dollars in new revenue it could provide the state (at least $9.4 million a year, the state estimates) but because she sees unregulated access to the drug as a “safety issue.”

Umm… if the point of the story is that the kids are buying marijuana in a state where it’s legal, then it isn’t “unregulated access to the drug.”  It might be regulated badly, but legalizing the drug in Rhode Island will only mean that the kids have regulated access that is more convenient.

This isn’t an argument against legalization, but since the governor isn’t making a rights-based argument, and since her rationale for regulation is foolish, that leaves us with “thou dost protest too much” and the conclusion that, yes, she’s after the money.  (Whether that money is cash for the state government or donations from vested donors I leave for the reader to decide.)

This time of year, my usual analogy is even more apropos.  Our culture has repeatedly warned us about people who make fortunes in the private sector and then take over government to make illicit businesses legal and prominent, as with the alternative Pottersville reality in It’s a Wonderful Life.  But that can happen in the other direction, too, with government making previously illegal industries for profit, and we should all be wary of it.


Next, They’ll Come for Meat

Earlier today, I highlighted Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s intention to make gasoline more expensive because “we have to get off of gas-guzzling cars for the existence of us.”  By pure chance, today, I also came across this indication, in The Economist, of the future of this sort of argument, under the headline, “How much would giving up meat help the environment?”:

IT IS NO secret that steaks and chops are delicious. But guzzling them incurs high costs for both carnivorous humans and the planet. Over half of adults in both America and Britain say they want to reduce their meat consumption, according to Mintel, a market-research firm. Whether they will is a different matter. The amount of meat that Americans and Britons consume per day has risen by 10% since 1970, according to figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

People who want to eat less livestock—but who can’t quite bring themselves to exchange burgers for beans—might take inspiration from two recent academic papers.

Whether we’ll freely take inspiration from those two academic papers, we can predict that somebody else will take inspiration to use government to force us to stop being “meat-guzzlers.”

Once we allow that government can use its power to nudge us away from exercises of our freedom, activists will find an endless series of activities that the world would be better off without.


Raimondo Comes for Your Car

The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is scheduled to put out its initial memorandum of understanding (MOU) today, which the northeastern states will consider signing in order to impose a new gasoline tax on their residents.  It was therefore helpful of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo to be so clear and direct about her intentions for Rhode Island, during a recent Providence Journal interview:

“Yeah, there is going to be some element of a fee on fuel. Now, how do you assess it? What do you assess it at? … What do you [do] with the proceeds? That still needs to be figured out,” she said about the plan, which is modeled on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program for the energy sector.

What’s her message to Rhode Island drivers about the costs of the program being passed on to drivers at the pump?

“It is a fact we have to get off of gas-guzzling cars for the existence of us,” she said. “If we don’t do it, we will all be in much bigger trouble because climate change is here and it is real and we need to meet the challenges.”

She doesn’t know how much the fee will be, how it will be collected, or even what it will be used for.  The whole point is to make gasoline more expensive so you have to give up your car.

She added, “By the way, there will be benefits to consumers. This money will result in more, better, faster electric trains, more electric forms of busing and public transit.”

Isn’t that wonderful?  You lose the ability to afford your car and the freedom that comes with it, and you’ll get public transit in exchange — along with a requirement to trust in and rely on a government that can’t seem to do anything right.

Wealthier people (like Gina Raimondo) will be able to buy electric cars (thus transferring their fossil fuel consumption from gasoline to energy production), which raises the question of whether this is a power grab or a condescending statement.  Is the governor pushing you into a lower class, or is she saying she doesn’t trust you to use freedom responsibly because you are already of lower class?


Political Monday with John DePetro: Progressive Pressure

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for December 16, included talk about:

  • The governor’s Projo interview
  • Where’s all the money go… in Providence and RI?
  • Progressives’ state-killing tax proposal
  • Women’s caucus: another progressive organization

Please consider a voluntary, tax-deductible subscription to keep the Current growing and free.

I’ll be on again Monday, December 23, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.


Chris Maxwell: Tolls – Connecticut’s Governor Continues to Stumble and Bumble Like a Fox

First Circuit Court Decision Stokes Urgency to Pass Truck-Only Tolls and Begin Gantry Roll-Out

Dead wrong as she may be, at least Governor Gina Raimondo made a decision and stuck with a plan.  Her indecisive counterpart next door in the Nutmeg State, Ned Lamont, seems to change his mind on how and who he will toll on a weekly basis.

Governor Lamont’s latest maneuver has Connecticut poised to pass truck-only tolls as emergency legislation in the wake of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week giving jurisdiction on the American Trucking Associations’ challenge to RhodeWorks truck-only tolls back to the federal court.

In an interview Sunday, WTNH’s Chief Political Correspondent, Mark Davis, asked Lamont the following:

One year ago today, five weeks after the election, I asked you if you were still committed to the trucks only tolls, you said you were.  About six or eight weeks later you changed your mind and included passenger cars.  Last month, you went back to trucks only.  Don’t you think that’s a problem for a Governor and a politician?

A very confident Lamont concluded his answer with, “they’re (ATA) not going to win their lawsuit”, apparently parroting the arrogance of Governor Raimondo in the wake of the First Circuit Court ruling.

But unlike Raimondo whose program went live in June of 2018 and is nearing the halfway mark in gantry construction, Lamont has some ground to make up to have a gantry network in place before a decision is rendered.  Lamont contended, in his comments, that the truck-tolling issue will be resolved “in the next couple of years”, which, one would think, will give him ample time to get legislation passed, sign contracts with a tolling entity, get swift EA approvals from FHWA and build enough gantries to reach that much sought after point of no return.

Patrick Sasser, founder of No Tolls CT, has stated

Trying to push through a toll plan that is already being challenged in court is foolish and irresponsible.

The head of the Connecticut Senate Republican Caucus, state Senator Len Fasano, echoed Sasser’s concerns.

“Tolling trucks sets us up for failure and leads us down a path to car tolls.  A lawsuit creates serious financial risks for taxpayers, and the governor’s plan could leave Connecticut with little choice but to expand tolls to cars to avoid legal jeopardy.”

Chris Maxwell is the President and CEO of the Rhode Island Trucking Association.  This op-ed first appeared in the association’s newsletter today.


New Gas Tax: The Governor’s Unwelcome Holiday “Gift” to be Announced This Week

If the Raimondo administration gets its way and bypasses the General Assembly to sign on to a new regional carbon-tax scheme, called the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), Rhode Island motorists will find a plan to increase gasoline taxes in their stockings this year.

The TCI gas tax is a cap-and-trade tax on gasoline proposed by environmental extremists who purposely want gasoline to become so expensive — estimated at an extra 24 cents per gallon — that you will be financially forced to walk or bike to work and around town. We’re expecting an important announcement this week on the new tax…stay tuned.

Like all far-left contrivances to reduce carbon emissions, the TCI gas tax, a green-new-deal-type agenda, will harm economic growth and will take money out of your pocket. Rhode Island already suffers from an Ocean State Exodus, where far too many of our children and loved ones, business investors, and neighbors are leaving for lower-cost living in other states.

The TCI tax would be one more piece of coal that will drive people out of state (pun intended).

Click here to read more about the TCI Gas Tax and discuss it on the Ocean State Current.


The Advantage of a Generalist

James Holmes plumbs the zombie apocalypse, as described in World War Z by Max Brooks, for strategic lessons, concluding thus:

Resourceful folk fashion new weapons and tactics while unimaginative foes plod along, doing the same thing time after time—which makes a hopeful note to close on. When facing new circumstances, get to know the circumstances and stay loose. Recognize that the nimbler contender is apt to be the victor—and broad-mindedness is the key to staying nimble. I daresay Epstein and Clausewitz would agree.

Being something of a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none type, myself, this paragraph near the beginning of the essay caught my attention:

Maintains [David] Epstein, specialists encounter trouble when tackling the problems characteristic of a “wicked” world. Wicked problems are intricate. They involve variables that combine and recombine in offbeat ways. They defy the boundaries of a single field and often vex specialists. By contrast, generalists hunt for “distant” analogies to challenges. Analogies seldom reveal answers, but they help inquisitors discover the right questions to ask. Asking penetrating questions constitutes the first step toward a solution, toward wisdom.

Exactly right.  We err if we look to analogies for answers, but by our nature we understand situations by comparison, through metaphors — stories.  The closer the metaphor we apply to a situation, the more correct (even if unexpected) conclusions we can find.  Having a broad range of experience allows us to cast more broadly for metaphors.

For example, a social problem will have nothing to do with building a house, but metaphorically, they may have some things in common: the need for a strong foundation on which sturdy framing supports the useful and aesthetically pleasing components.  If your social institutions and artistic productions are crumbling, the metaphor might direct your attention to problems with the cultural foundation that is failing to support it all.  If your popular art is cracked and allowing evil ideas in, they can rot the institutional framing.

Metaphors can be pretty abstract.  We still use the metaphor of particles to understand physics, but we know that the building blocks of material reality don’t act very much like particles.   They can act like waves, they can occupy the same physical space, and so on.  Perhaps a different abstract metaphor — seeing “particles” as identities with certain qualities might help us resolve some of the remaining puzzles.

This is why innovators in particular fields are often newcomers who aren’t bogged down in standard ways of thinking, but bring metaphors from their earlier lives.


Teacher-Prep Enrollment Down… It’s About Time

Here’s a question that Linda Borg conspicuously never gets around to asking, let alone answering, in her recent Providence Journal article about declining enrollment in collegiate teacher-preparation programs in Rhode Island (and across most of the country):  Why is that a bad thing?

Think of your home heating system.  The thermostat on your wall takes the temperature of the air.  When it gets too low, the thermostat sends a signal to your burner, boiler, or whatever appliance generates heat in your house, calling for heat.  The appliance kicks on and runs until the thermostat stops sending that signal.  If your home has multiple floors or areas in which people might want different temperatures — say, an area that serves as an apartment for an elderly family member — each will have its own zone, so the thermostat can call for heat even when other spaces might not need it.

Our education system is like a large home with many floors and living spaces for people who have very different temperature needs, but it has too few thermostats.

The way an economy calls for more of something is through the price that people will pay for it.  In employment, this is the compensation.  If the economy needs more people to pursue a particular career, the organizations that utilize that career find they have to pay more to fill their slots.  This higher pay leads more people to choose that career versus other options, until enough people have entered the career that employers find they can pay less to get employees of the same quality.

Rhode Island sets its teacher “prices” through contracts that allow very little differentiation (if any) between teachers at different grade levels or areas of focus.  This leveling is exacerbated by the fact that the unions work through deliberate strategy to prevent huge variation from district to district.

The combined effect of the unions’ political clout and the desperate need for teachers in hard-to-fill areas means that the compensation level has called for more teachers than were needed in general.  This has made public-school teacher jobs hotly sought, and often procured only through connections or a political process.  It has also (I’d argue) suppressed teacher pay in non-public schools, because of the excessive supply of professionals who have invested in their credentials keep their price low when they are unable to find jobs at the rates that helped draw them into the field.

This imbalance in the state’s education-job thermostat is in further conflict with education policy in the state.  Private schools have been closing, while the creation of new charter schools has been heavily restricted, so the number of new jobs is very limited.  Moreover, union safeguards make it difficult for public schools to switch out current teachers for new ones while also ensuring that older teachers lose their jobs last when there are layoffs.

Add in a shrinking student population, and Rhode Island has every reason to expect — and want — teacher-prep enrollment to decline.  Of course, being in the bottom 10 states by yet another measure suggests that we shouldn’t be complacent, but should figure out what it is that’s making us an outlier.


Let’s Acknowledge RI’s Real Problem

The same people who brought Rhode Island Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s failing economic development policy are now out with a new report fretting that only a few metropolitan areas in the country are seeing growth in the seemingly-all-important “innovation industries.”  As Eduardo Porter summarizes in the New York Times:

The report is by Mark Muro and Jacob Whiton from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, and Rob Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a research group that gets funding from tech and telecom companies. They identified 13 “innovation industries” — which include aerospace, communications equipment production and chemical manufacturing — where at least 45 percent of the work force has degrees in science, tech, engineering or math, and where investments in research and development amount to at least $20,000 per worker.

The authors argue that a broad federal push is needed to spread the business of invention beyond the 20 cities that dominate it. “Hoping for economic convergence to reassert itself would not be a good strategy,” Mr. Muro said.

No matter the problem, the folks at Brookings always have the same solution. From their report:

Neither market forces nor bottom-up economic development efforts have closed this gap, nor are they likely to. Instead, these deeply seated dynamics appear ready to exacerbate the current divides.

We should be grateful that the authors are being so straightforward.  What they want is “top-down economic development.”

This is exactly backwards.  When innovation starts and takes hold in a region — for whatever reason — it generates a number of measurable markers.  These might be numbers of workers or jobs in certain industries or types of investments or even specific government policies.  But it can’t be said (at least as a blanket statement across the nation) that these things were the cause.

Take government policies, for example.  If the specific circumstances of an area are conducive to some particular development (because of geography, workforce, accidental mixes of personalities, or whatever), people will increasingly push for changes to help it along, and local politicians will be able to see the tangible advantage.  So, maybe copying those policies elsewhere will have the same effect, or maybe it won’t, because the policies were more of a reinforcing effect than a cause.

We’re talking about every factor in a local society, which puts analysis beyond the ken of analysts.  These things happen organically.  To capture this wind in a bottle, therefore, requires freedom for people to experiment (and profit), which extends from regulatory requirements to the costs that government imposes.  Otherwise, as I argued when the Brookings show came to Rhode Island, you could just reinforce existing problems.

Indeed, look at the three-page table on page 85 of the new report.  It shows the change in employment in “innovation industries” in the 100 largest metropolitan areas from 2005 to 2017.  Providence is in the bottom 15 in percentage terms, tied with eight other metros, having lost 4,672 jobs in this sector.  The next table shows 35 “potential growth centers,” with an “eligibility index” for innovation development, and Providence doesn’t make the list.

Only three years have elapsed since Brookings made its recommendations to Rhode Island, so it might be unfair to saddle the organization with our lost innovation employment.  That said, we should take note that three years of their prescriptions in a growing national economy was not enough to keep the Ocean State away from the bottom of the list.  We would also be justified in wondering why Brookings advised us to focus on something that it is now suggesting we might not be “eligible” to do.


A Far-Reaching Conversation on State of the State

State of the State co-host Richard August invited me on for a full hour of the show to cover a broad range of topics, from Tiverton’s recall election to broad political philosophy.

12-9-19 A Different View of Matters from John Carlevale on Vimeo.


The TCI Tax Looms

Over the coming months, Rhode Islanders will be hearing about the implementation of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), a cap-and-trade scheme for the northeastern states to impose a new tax on gasoline.  A brief that the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity released last week gives some of the details, including a quick look at TCI’s predecessor scheme, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is directed at energy production, whereas TCI focuses on gasoline:

[Then-Governor Donald Carcieri’s] assurances that his policies would not severely hurt Rhode Islanders have proven unreliable. As he made his announcement, Rhode Island was enjoying the second-lowest cost per kiloWatthour for ultimate customers’ electricity in New England, at $13.08. By January 2019, this average price had increased to $20.12, by far the highest in the region. This 54% increase compares with an 18% increase nationwide over the same period (to just $10.47 per kWh) and 17% in New England overall (to $18.22 per kWh).

Despite enduring an increased cost for energy, RGGI states have experienced “no added emissions reductions or associated health benefits from the RGGI program,” when compared with different states that have otherwise similar energy policies, according to David Stevenson, Director of the Center for Energy Competitiveness at the Caesar Rodney Institute in Delaware.

It looks probable that these programs harm the economy and fail to achieve their stated objectives.  Why would the governor charge forward with another one?


How Local Government Controls the Message

The Tiverton Taxpayers Association (TTA) posted another episode of its podcast, Tiverton on Track, earlier this week, with me giving the opening monologue.  While the content is obviously local, some of the points probably have resonance across the state.  We talk about ways town government manipulates meeting rules and use the advice of its legal representation to limit the involvement of the public.

Track 1: The Silence the Public Scheme
Track 2: Heard Out on the Landfill?
Track 3: Mac’s Two Voices on Free Speech
Track 4: Fabisch Fabricates New Rules


Political Monday with John DePetro: Many Forms of Political Performance Art

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for December 9, included talk about:

  • Cicilline v. Trump
  • Energy protesters at the State House
  • Empty Wexford
  • Sports gambling lawsuit goes forward
  • Truck toll lawsuit goes forward
  • The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) tax

Please consider a voluntary, tax-deductible subscription to keep the Current growing and free.

I’ll be on again Monday, December 16, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.


Wexford: A Half-Empty Glass of Promises

Before discussing a Providence Journal editorial about the empty space at the government-backed Wexford Innovation Complex in Providence with John DePetro, I reread an article that Patrick Anderson slipped into the paper at the tail end of November.  This part jumped out at me:

Since opening this past summer, the [Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC)] has attracted more than 40 businesses, with a combined 150 people working there on a given day, according to Joy Fox, a spokesperson for CIC.

CIC customers include five wind energy businesses, law offices, the Boston Globe and Zumper, a San Francisco online real estate company that purchased a Rhode Island software startup and moved them into CIC.

Note the Boston Globe as a CIC customer.  That brings to mind another late-November article in the Providence Journal, this one by Katherine Gregg:

An arm of the Raimondo administration[, the Commerce Corp.,] has in recent weeks been the sole advertiser in a Monday-through-Friday newsletter at the center of The Boston Globe’s Rhode Island expansion drive.

You’ll recall that RI Commerce, headed by Governor Gina Raimondo’s commerce secretary, Stefan Pryor, has been integral in developing her economic development plan, initially with the help of the Brookings Institution, and shuffling around the subsidies to make it happen.  In December 2016, I proposed that a Brookings-Wexford-CIC relationship made the development seem a bit like a branch or franchise of a package, rather than a one-of-a-kind innovation for the Ocean State.

This is not to say there was undo influence with the Globe.  The Wexford building is new and centrally located and hip and topical and… empty.  With the availability of conference and event spaces, one could see its being an attractive rental office for a ramping-up news organization without any nudge needed.

Still, it’s at least an indication of the damaging optics that government can bring when it gets involved in economic development and subsidization.  Other tenants working in the Wexford building whom Anderson mentions create that general impression:

  • Wind energy businesses, which tap into heavy government subsidies as an industry
  • A state-backed business incubator with involvement of the state’s university
  • Brown University
  • Johnson & Johnson, which has been subsidized in the space and still hasn’t bothered to move in

Even look at the spokesperson with whom Anderson spoke:  Joy Fox.  She came into public view as Gina Raimondo’s PR person back when the governor was just the treasurer.  Now a free agent, she has been engaged as a PR consultant, CIC confirms.  When an “innovation center” has repeated ties back to the state executive, one has to wonder where the subsidization and special deals end and the actual economic activity begins.

These are questions Rhode Islanders should ask themselves, especially as the state government ramps up to promote a heavily subsidized soccer stadium and expansive development in Pawtucket.  We can bet that the stadium and public infrastructure pieces won’t be the only ones taxpayers will be forced to subsidized, and it’s a matter of some doubt whether anybody who doesn’t have connections to state government will overlook the state’s terrible business climate and move in.


Governor’s Back Door TCI Tax Would Cost You At The Pump

The prices for gasoline could soon rise dramatically for your family if the Raimondo administration undercuts the authority of the General Assembly, and moves forward with its plan to sign-on to a new stealth carbon-tax scheme – the TCI Tax… a move that would necessarily increase costs on families and business at the pump, and that also could lead to Constitutional legal challenges.
Center No TCI Tax
This tax – a green-new-deal type government mandate – is also a regressive fuel tax that will disproportionately harm low-income families, who will struggle much more than the wealthy to pay the higher gasoline prices.

We are already suffering through a great Ocean State Exodus because of the worst business climate in the nation. Imagine instead our Ocean State as a more attractive home and destination of choice for families. The Governor cannot unilaterally force motorists to pay higher gasoline taxes if there is zero resulting environmental benefit?

Click on the link here now to read more on the TCI Gas Tax threat on


How the TCI Tax Will Steal Christmas

Every regular American likes driving a lot,
But greenies, like Rhode Island Governor Raimondo, do not.

The greenies hate driving!  The whole idea of freedom!
Go-doers might go do things greenies think to be dumb!
They know they know better; they know it’s just wrong,
All of that driving, with a smile and a song,
To get to our meetings, to movies, to football,
And to jobs where we profit, which is most dreadful of all.

For greenies like Raimondo one season is worst:
Christmastime, when bellies and shopping carts burst.
When that festive time comes, gasoline makes it work,
From the Black Friday sale to the office-party perk,
Getting kids to their pageants and gifts from the store…
Raimondo stares at a paper that will help make it no more.

“They’re going out shopping,” she snarls with a sneer.
“Then they’ll fill up their cars to drive there and drive here!
Just like every Christmas season — All year, without end! —
They zip all around to see family and friends.
They go to their jobs and motorbike for recreation…
I must make our gas prices highest in the nation!”

And there on her desk — what the greenies want her to do —
Is a pen to sign that paper, a sly M.O.U.,
A Memorandum Of Understanding that Rhode Island says “yes”
To the Transportation & Climate Initiative at a price we can’t guess.
A new TCI tax is just what they’ll do.
They say it’s an “allowance,” but it’s a “tax” through and through.

Everything that you do, every good for every buyer,
Every fun you might have, would have costs that are higher.
Every family, person, and business would of course feel the pinch,
Every George Bailey, Santa, Scrooge, and even the Grinch.
With snow on the ground and tinsel on her fake Christmas pine,
Let’s hope the Whos of Rhode Island tell Gina, “Don’t sign!”


Vaping Shows How Quickly They’ll Take Away Rights

Note this, from Guy Bentley on Reason:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has finally identified a primary suspect in the wave of vaping-related lung illnesses and deaths.

Examining lung tissue samples of patients hospitalized with vaping-related illnesses, 100 percent tested positive for vitamin e acetate, often used to cut marijuana oils. This was not a surprise to those who have been arguing that the cause of these illnesses is not the commercial e-cigarette market, but the illicit market for THC vapes.

Now recall that Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo moved quickly to hurt Rhode Island businesses by unilaterally banning a legal product that even then looked likely not to be the culprit.

Yes, we’re decades into a campaign by government to create a superstitious dread of nicotine products, but still… part of me can’t help but feel like every incident like this is a test to see how willingly Americans will give up their rights and their freedom.  The results of this test were not encouraging, at least in Southern New England.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Shaking Up the Personalities

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for December 4, included talk about:

  • The return of Laffey (?)
  • RI’s suffocating labor unions
  • Progressive tricks with statistics
  • Getting a kick out of soccer stadiums
  • Smiley’s pay-cut stepping stone

Please consider a voluntary, tax-deductible subscription to keep the Current growing and free.

I’ll be on again Monday, December 9, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.


Hyperlocal Podcasting to Hold the Power-Hungry Accountable in Tiverton

People who are politically active locally in Rhode Island — especially those who aren’t plugged in to the state’s special interest, insider machine — may have noticed that technology and the general direction of our culture are making it increasingly difficult to get information to rise above the noise of social media and its amplification of the old-school rumor mill.

One way in which the Tiverton Taxpayers Association (TTA) is working to address that problem is through its new weekly podcast, Tiverton on Track.  Episodes will be available as they’re released on BuzzsproutiTunesSpotifyStitcherTuneIn, and a variety of other services that can be found via the Buzzsprout page.  Episodes will also be posted on the group’s blog, Tiverton Fact Check.

For the most recent episode, special guest Richard Rom joined me and Town Council members Donna Cook and Nancy Driggs.  Rom is the chairman of the Tiverton Republican Town Committee, a member of the Tiverton Library Board of Trustees, and the initiator of recall petitions to remove council President Patricia Hilton, Vice President Denise deMedeiros, and member John Edwards the Fifth.  Rom’s goal is to return the council to the TTA control that voters chose before the political stunt of an unjustified recall election in October that removed me and the council president.  (Note that I’m not involved in the second recall, thinking there are more effective ways to spend time holding the power-hungry of Tiverton accountable.)


Charles Callanan: Is East Greenwich Better Off Than A Year Ago? No.

Mission creep, scope creep, ratchet effect… it has many different names, but the end result is continued loss of your rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. While this sounds all very lofty and high minded, it exists in the very communities in which we live and affects our lives daily. We live in a country right now that is under constant attack by people who want to control or profit from the government that is supposed to serve you. They do it in many different ways, but the end result is always the same. Various groups count on the fact that you, the citizen, are asleep at the wheel and/or too busy to pay attention to what they are doing.

Let’s take East Greenwich. On the surface… a very desirable place to live with good schools, solid tax base, low crime. A quintessential New England town, by all accounts. What’s really happening (and how did it happen)? East Greenwich is broke, its borrowing money it doesn’t have, pensions are insolvent and the public sector unions are feeding at the trough like it’s all you can eat at the Golden Corral Buffet, and as far as I can see nobody is stopping it. In fact, its being encouraged.

The groups that brought you this are counting on the fact that you haven’t noticed, or if you have, they will do anything to you shut up. I also have a few specific questions for our local government. Are we better off financially than we were one year ago after the so-called referendum election? Has the firefighter overtime issue been solved? What are our legal costs, and what have been our settlement costs? Do we have convicted felons working in our financial office? Are we really so well off we can afford 20-year bonds on equipment that will long be out of service?

The average citizen in EG falls in two categories for simplicity: the locals and those who came for the schools. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about either group, but both are being adversely affected. Many of the locals who have spent their lives, and even generations, here are slowly being taxed out of their homes or are unable to conduct business. This is due to the high cost of doing business, with ever-rising state/local taxes. The school crowd tends to be more upwardly mobile, professionals, young kids, fast-paced lives with very little time for mundanities of local government and aside from school issues are largely disengaged. Let’s face it: Life is pretty good in the EG, and most are unwilling to put a toe in the boiling political waters.

What has always been around Rhode Island is the onerous government in all its forms constantly feeding off its citizens. Politicians passing out patronage jobs, no bid contracts, insider info, supporting “evergreen contracts,” essentially everything to keep them fat and happy. Now, here come the Progressives. Every half-baked social-contract idea you could imagine and not pay for!

These zealots are wild-eyed and extremely well organized, pushing an agenda most people are not warm on. Here’s the rub: Progressives are very effective in taking you into their agenda, and if you don’t buy in, they are even better at bullying you to shut up. So, what we have here is the “perfect storm.” Unions were only too willing to embrace these people in exchange for approving whatever the unions wanted. Progressives were happy to take the money and lead the rest of us into “enlightenment.”  In the end, however, the taxpayer and the average citizen pays for it… until he can’t.

Here’s the problem, “perfect storms” inevitably make landfall and wreck things. It’s not fun after a long day to go sit in a town meeting. It is boring to read budgets, much less understand them.  It is painful to stand up in a crowded room filled with aforementioned groups and make a case while they shout you down even as they tar and feather you on social media. I get it.

Sooner or later though the wheels will come off the wagon; it is inevitable. The townies will be pushed out, and the transients will no longer come because the tax base is gone, housing has become too expensive, and the schools fail. Please explain to me how you can buy one of the McMansions across Route 2 at $1.2 million and expect to get your money out after all the improvements have been made and you are still staring at a $30,000 tax bill.

To say nothing of all the other “affordable” housing at $500,000, which buys you 1,200 square feet. At least the locals breezed out of town with a little cash in their pockets to a red state.

Freedom isn’t free. It needs an engaged citizenry to ensure liberty is preserved, not just for us, but all those that come after. We are merely stewards of our great country, and it is our sacred duty to take care of it.


RI’s Civic Society Needs a Breathing Tube

Lynn Arditi’s latest Boston Globe story — “Rhode Island EMS crews brought patients to the hospital with misplaced breathing tubes: None of them survived” — is more disturbing than the headline itself can convey.  If Rhode Island doesn’t respond to the relatively easy diagnosis of its civic illness, then the state won’t long survive.  What makes the story so worrisome is that it brings out the deeper, metastasized corruption behind the most straightforward part problem.

The surface issue is the power of insiders (in this case, the firefighters’ unions that represent most of the state’s emergency medical service workers) to shape public policies in ways that look self-interested.  In Arditi’s telling, a Rhode Island doctor conducting some research on the effectiveness of different care strategies came across a tangential concern:

In the world of emergency medicine, an unrecognized esophageal intubation is a “never event,” meaning that it shouldn’t happen under any circumstances.

In Asselin’s study, the rate of unrecognized esophageal intubations was about 4%.

An esophageal intubation can occur if an EMS provider accidentally misplaces the breathing tube or if the tube slips out of place during chest compressions or while the patient is being moved. EMS providers are supposed to confirm the tube is properly positioned by using special monitoring devices, as well as listening for breath sounds.

As Dr. Nick Asselin worked to bring appropriate attention to this finding, the unions and associated special interests swung into action, overwhelming a push for reform, even getting their friends in the General Assembly to change the makeup of the Ambulance Service Coordinating Advisory Board in their favor, cutting out the state Health Department.  One hearing left Asselin shocked:

Paul Valletta Jr., a lobbyist for the firefighters union, also denounced the proposal [to restrict intubations to paramedics, rather than EMT-Cardiacs] to the board, saying, “we’re the experts … not doctors who are doing it when they’re in nice ORs or nice ERs with bright lights and a lot of people helping them.”

People in the audience applauded.

This attitude, combined with the information that RI is one of only a few states that bucks national standards to let non-paramedics intubate, can go straight on the stack of factors that make Rhode Islanders question whether our way of doing government makes our state a wise investment with our lives.

But the problem isn’t only the plain power of special interests.  That would be bad enough, but look at how Valletta frames the issue in stark language of conflict with people his union’s members ought to consider to be on their team trying to save residents’ lives.  This isn’t how organizations or systems identify and fix problems for the good of all; it’s how thugs keep people from questioning them… ever… if they know what’s good for them.

Worse yet, it’s not just Valletta, whose horrible reputation needs no recitation, here.  Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena (himself a former EMT-Cardiac) uses the same framing.  “The cardiacs are under a full scale attack,” he told the advisory board.  Changing policies would “punish” EMTs, which he suggested was part of a power grab from doctors.  “I might as well give you the keys and you can run the town hall!”

This attitude is arguably at the core of all of Rhode Island’s problems.  It poisons everything.

Consider that the EMTs might have a reasonable point to make.  Arditi appears, for some reason, to be content to rely on Asselin’s assertion that misplaced breathing tubes are a “never event” that just shouldn’t happen, and therefore 4% is outrageously high. Even a cursory search suggests that might not be reasonable.  A study published in HealthAffairs finds misplaced or dislodged breathing tubes to be found in 3% of cases.  A smaller study found misplacement in 25% of cases.
A summary essay published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the National Institutes of Health notes that finding as an outlier, citing other research with a range of 0.4% to 12%, which the authors suggest may be somewhat lower than reality.

Whatever the actual number may be, the point is this:  Rhode Island’s civic system leaves residents with no reason to be confident in its ability to evaluate critical questions and find the best answer.  For that, we would need everybody to feel encouraged to bring potential problems into the light and propose solutions.  We would need other stakeholders — even special interests like the labor unions — to address suggestions and criticism with a collaborative attitude, not confrontation.  And we would need journalists to report all of the relevant information so members of the public and decision makers could come to their own conclusions.  (In fairness, that’s a lot easier for journalists in an environment in which all sides bring forward evidence rather than emotion-laden us-versus-them sneers.)

Until Dr. Asselin stumbled upon his data, we (as a community) had no idea how much of a problem misplaced breathing tubes might be, and we still don’t really know.  Shouldn’t we?  Isn’t it in our interest to track these things and have various constituencies periodically reviewing them?  Of course it’s in our interest, but it’s not in the interest of special interests.  For them, tracking and debating data always carries the risk that somebody might find a problem that leads to a reduction in their compensation and their political power.


It’s Okay to Think Selfish Is Too Much

Retired Providence firefighter/EMT Michael Morse has a brief post on Rescuing Providence making the reasonable claim that “it’s okay to get paid”:

Without decent pay and great benefits I would have been forced to take my ability and passion for helping people elsewhere.

Morse’s argument is a bit of a strawman, however, and it’s one that labor unions tend to expand into a false dichotomy.  Nobody seriously argues that firefighters in communities that need or want something more extensive than a volunteer department should not be well compensated.  The tricky question is how much that should be.

Yes, in a more or less free market, it would be reasonable for employees to argue, as Morse does, that “it is okay to be selfless for selfish reasons.”  And if a community isn’t providing pay and benefits that attract workers, it will have to increase the pay.

The problem is that unions are designed to push beyond this dynamic.  We saw evidence earlier this year when legislation from Tiverton Democrat Representative John “Jay” Edwards the Fourth interfered with local negotiations to forbid firefighter union locals from continuing to negotiate contracts that the state and national unions don’t like.  (Edwards was very clear about who holds the power.)  This makes the compensation artificially high.  It takes whatever level of pay would not force Michael Morse and his peers to take their abilities elsewhere and then keeps going.

In those circumstances, one might reasonably suggest that it is not okay to be selfless for selfish reasons selfishly.  The unions would have us believe that workers who are not grabbing everything they can possibly get, by whatever means they can possibly get it, will inevitably be underpaid.  That perspective causes Morse’s reasonable point to evaporate and creates a society in which neither side can ever be content.


The Tragedy of a Halted Development in Providence

There may be no better illustration of Rhode Island’s central problem than the foolish people celebrating the halt of a redevelopment project in Providence:

[Jim] Abdo’s request for a tax stabilization agreement, or TSA, was met with opposition from labor unions and progressive groups. Members of the groups applauded when the plan was tabled Tuesday night.

“I know Mr. Abdo is going to make out tremendously from his investment, with or without the TSA,” Nancy Iadeluca, the Rhode Island director for UniteHERE Local 26, said at a hearing about the TSA earlier this month. “What are we getting back?”

Mr. Abdo is looking to develop the former Providence Journal building and another next door, but he says he can’t secure financing for the project, pegged at $39 million, unless there’s a $2.7 million tax break.  According to the developer (who has reason to present his case in the best light, of course), property taxes resulting from the project would have been $5.7 million, anyway, in addition to more than $20 million in various state taxes.  All that comes with jobs and economic activity.

The article does not say, but one wonders, given labor’s involvement, if Mr. Abdo declined to promise to use union shops for his project.  Be that as it may, he says he’s going to hold on to the asset, undeveloped, whether or not it takes 20 years for him to do something with it.

Many Rhode Islanders oppose these special deals that make an inhospitable economic climate tolerable for hand-picked investors, but even we might see this outcome as tragic — if only as an indicator of things we don’t see.  Imagine how many deals are not being done in the Ocean State because of the environment progressive policies have created!

This is more than just tragic, though; it’s frightening, because under the progressives’ glee is the expectation that this is a step toward their “progress,” not an obstacle.  Note this comment from the Providence Preservation Society’s director, who supported the deal:  “These two buildings are eyesores in the core of downtown. They drive down the sense of positivity.”

Abdo says he’s patient, but his patience might be misplaced.  What the progressives may understand is that an “eyesore” is “blight,” and our society has given the government authority to confiscate properties on which they can pin that tag.  As Providence’s economy gets worse and worse, it may be that progressives are counting on being able to take Abdo’s property away from him, using public dollars to redevelop it into some delusional hipster dream (with expensive union labor), and taking the money to do it from the rest of us suckers who haven’t fled the state.


Were There Empty Chairs At Your Thanksgiving Dinner Table?

Far too many Rhode Islanders are fleeing our state, leaving a swath of empty chairs at our family dinner tables.

If we want to keep our loved ones at home with us and give those who have left a reason to return, we must take bold action to reform our approach to public policy and to civil society.
Center Dinner Table
Imagine our Ocean State as a more attractive home and destination of choice for families: A state that offers financial security today and opportunity for prosperity tomorrow, where individuals and businesses are successful in increasing the overall wealth of our state’s economy and enhancing the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders.

P.S. This holiday season, please consider a gift to our Center. We are the only organization that delivers a consistent conservative voice here in the Ocean State. Click here to give now.


Out-Progressiving Raimondo’s Progressives

The Providence Journal has an op-ed from me today, about progressive Democrat state Senator Samuel Bell’s freedom to use irresponsible rhetoric as leverage against the progressives in the administration of progressive Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo:

At the end of the day, Bell is just objecting to Raimondo’s efforts to buy off companies so that they’ll tolerate our horrible business climate, which he is free to do because his economic ideas are fantasy.

Gina Raimondo, Stefan Pryor and Bruce Katz are progressives who are responsible for implementing the central planning policies that progressives demand. Samuel Bell is a progressive with no real responsibility who is therefore free to be more irresponsible in his demands.

If it weren’t so harmful to our state, this would all be a laugh riot.


Adversity and SATs Makes for an Interesting Scatterplot

The plans of the College Board to begin assigning SAT takers “adversity scores” so college admissions boards could take “diversity” into account in a seemingly more-objective way met with public outcry.

For one thing, there’s something unseemly about the implicit statement that a high score is not an achievement in the absence of adversity.  For another thing, adversity is so broad and individualized as to not be appropriate.  That is, a student who is advantaged by the College Board’s definition may be overcoming severe adversity in something else that the College Board knows nothing about.

Put these two considerations together, and you can see the injustice of telling a white student from Barrington High School that his 1240 SAT score is worth less than the 928 score of a student at Central High in Providence.  A teenager from Barrington can have a challenging home life, physical difficulties, psychological hurdles, and so on, while a teenager from Providence can have huge advantages that don’t register on a demographic survey.  We do grievous harm to our society if we start encouraging either to promote their disadvantages as a surreptitious way to maximize their advantages.

All that said, the Wall Street Journal has a neat interactive tool plotting schools’ median SAT scores on the y-axis and their adversity scores on the x-axis.  Applied to whole schools, and utilized by people with additional information about the communities, this could actually be a useful device for families as consumers of their children’s schools.

So, for example, my town of Tiverton is just shy of the national median SAT score, at 1030, and comes in right at the middle, with a 51 adversity score.  Westport, just over the Massachusetts line, does slightly better than median on the SAT, with 1060, despite being slightly more “adverse,” so to speak, at 55.  More dramatically, Barrington High School’s 1240 median SAT is almost exactly the average for schools that share its low adversity score of 1.  This compares with Providence Central High’s 800 SAT, which is much worse than the average for schools that share its 97 diversity.

The tool allows a leap to private schools, too.  Near Tiverton and Westport is a relatively low-cost Catholic high school, Bishop Stang.  There, an 1170 median SAT matches up to an adversity score of 61.  Such schools, in other words, offer both more diversity and relatively high scores.  La Salle Academy in Providence, by contrast, also has significantly better SAT results than nearby public schools, at 1120, but on adversity, it scores 39.  This looks more like an option for families interested in escaping some of the adversity of their city if they can afford it.

Readers should bring more skepticism to another feature of the interactive tool, although it is still intriguing from the perspective of a consumer.  The Wall Street Journal worked with Georgetown professor Jeff Strohl to weight the SAT scores to show how far schools are from the median among their adversity peers.  In other words, if we equalize things such that the median SAT score at 1-adversity schools counted the same as a the median SAT score at 99-adversity schools, how much does a particular school add to or fall short of the mark?

By this measure, Barrington is dramatically under-serving its students.  As mentioned above, its median SAT is exactly in the middle for schools similarly lacking adversity, but according to Strohl, that is entirely a function of its demographics.  With average adversity, the school’s SAT would be a substandard 1029.

When its SAT score is weighted, Central High School in Providence improves significantly, from 800 to 928, but this is only about half of the distance to the median.  In other words, not only do students at Central suffer from their adversity, but their school system is failing them above and beyond that challenge.

Again, to stress the point, these generalizations make too many assumptions and sweep aside all of the individualism that comes with educating teenagers.  Still, that sort of objection applies most sharply when the intended use of the tool is either the redistribution of wealth through government or the discounting of unfashionable applicants by an institution of higher education.  If we start to think of families as active consumers in an environment of educational freedom (as we should), many of these objections evaporate, and we just have another useful datapoint as we figure out where to send our children to be educated.

By capitulating to progressive-union pressure, and despite disingenuous claims that no broad-based taxes were imposed, Ocean Staters will once again bear increased burdens to pay for new taxes and regulations, more spending, and more union giveaways. Lawmakers chose to appease, rather than resist, the progressives’ job-killing, big-spending agenda.

Expanding Big-Government Programs Increases Taxes

Well, this news isn’t exactly surprising:

On New Year’s Day, the state Temporary Disability Insurance tax rate will rise from 1.1% to 1.3% of pay, according to the state Department of Labor and Training. That means someone making $50,000 per year should expect to pay $650 in TDI tax next year compared with $550 this year.

The biggest reason is that Rhode Islanders are beginning to take advantage of a 2013 change in the law that allows them to use the disability program to take time off in order to take care of other people who are injured or sick, or to “bond with a new child.” The sponsor of that legislation insists it’s a small price to pay, and she works diligently every year to make it a little less small:

Sen. Gayle Goldin, sponsor of the 2013 bill that created caregiver insurance, said Tuesday that more people taking advantage of the program is a sign that it’s working and that taxpayers are getting good value.

“It’s a very small [tax] increase to pay for a benefit that helps people when they need it the most,” said Goldin, a Providence Democrat.

Going from 1.1% of pay to 1.3% is actually an 18% increase.  What should families forgo in order to cover a benefit that people in 46 other states somehow manage to live without?

Naturally, the state’s army of spokespeople spins it as a positive:

“It is not surprising that improved income conditions would increase claims; more employed workers result in more individuals eligible, therefore, more potential users,” Angelika Pellegrino, spokeswoman for the Department of Labor and Training, wrote in an email.

That comment has two layers of deceit.  First, the program is funded by a percentage of total payroll.  More people working means more people paying into the system, which shouldn’t have to be adjusted if it’s designed well.  Of course, if Rhode Island is only creating low-paying jobs, then new tax contributions would be less likely to cover the cost of coverage.

Second, the increase in employed Rhode Islanders cannot possibly account for an 18% increase in the rate.  The number of people employed has barely budged year over year, and the number of jobs based in the state is up only 1.5%.

We should also remember that these policies pile up, including, for example, more-recently-mandated paid leave for employees.  That policy arguably froze and reverse employment increases in the state.

This 18% increase in the TDI tax is a visible warning sign for what we can’t see.  We can’t know all the jobs that would have been created or the raises that would have been given in the absence of these progressive policies.  And we can’t forget that employers (and potential employers) can’t only adjust for the policies that have been passed; they have to plan for all of the new burdens their betters in the General Assembly are likely to impose every year.