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Racking Up Fees from the Working Class Through Licenses in Tennessee

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds is embarrassed to report this, from his home state of Tennessee:

“I never did any other job but hair braiding my whole life,” she said. “I cannot recall a time when I did not know how.”

But in recent years, Tennessee has forced Fatou to pay a staggering $16,000 in fines, simply because she employed workers who did not have a government license to braid hair. Nor is she alone. After examining meeting minutes and disciplinary actions for the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners, the Institute for Justice has identified nearly $100,000 in fines levied against dozens of braiders and more than 30 different natural hair shops and salons since 2009. All of those violations were for unlicensed braiding; none were triggered by any health or sanitation violation.

It’d be interesting to tally up all such fines in Rhode Island, not only for hair braiding but for every other egregious occupational license.

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Getting Turned Around with Progressive Tax Policies

This story out of Seattle provides a teachable moment on the craziness of the progressive approach to tax policy:

The Seattle City Council will once again consider an employee hours tax that’s being recommended by its Progressive Revenue Task Force, after having rejected such a proposal last November.

Rather than approving the proposal last year, which was projected to generate about $25 million annually by taxing businesses grossing more than $10 million annually 6.5 cents per employee per hour, the council decided to create the PRTF to further explore an employee hours tax, or head tax, and other possible new revenue streams.

The PRTF provides three options for an employee hours tax (EHT) in its recently published final report for generating $75 million in new revenue for creating affordable housing and providing emergency services. It provides several more recommendations for the city council to consider for generating another $75 million in new revenue for $150 million total, which the task force states is still grossly inadequate when dealing with the city’s homelessness crisis, but is a “solid start.”

Even on the progressives’ own terms, this is crazy.  So, a city has a problem with homelessness, and this “task force” thinks the solution is to increase the cost of employing people in the city by up to $150,000,000.

Employment and prosperity are the answers.  Incentives function by making it easier for people to do the thing you want while making it more difficult for them to do the things you don’t.  Now, we can certainly argue about the appropriate amount of meddling for government at each tier (local, state, and federal), but we should at least agree that incentive structures should point in the correct direction.

This would be like taxing gym memberships in order to fund obesity programs or taxing vaping products in order to fund smoking cessation activities.

It’s difficult not to conclude that progressives don’t much care how they get money for government; they just want more of it.  They may not even care all that much about what government does with its windfalls, as long as it’s government that gets to do the doing.

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Can We Realize The Destruction Of Families Has Unintended Consequences?

In the Providence Journal this week, Wendy P. Warcholik and J. Scott Moody write, “This growing number of children in Rhode Island without a solid familial foundation should give us all pause. This is not a problem that is going to just go away, and we must find ways to help these children before tragedy strikes, perhaps in your own neighborhood.”

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A State by Any Other Measure

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RI Government Can’t Prevent Erosion Without Looking for Causes

This statement by East Bay Democrat Senator Lou DiPalma, quoted in a WPRI article, struck a note worthy of elaboration:

“We have never seen a proposal where one of Rhode Island’s largest hospital systems would be acquired by a hospital network that is located in a state adjacent to Rhode Island,” DiPalma said in a statement. “The potential for patients, jobs and services to migrate to Massachusetts is a serious concern.” He added, “This proposal presents a unique risk to Rhode Island’s hospitals and health care system.”

Here’s the thing: That migration is already happening.  For reasons I won’t go into, I’ve had reason to hear Rhode Islanders’ candid thoughts about medical care in the area, and just as “everybody knows” you need a federal judge for justice in the legal system, folks also know that you need a Boston hospital for top-notch care.

Some of that is just inevitable, because Boston is a higher-tier city than Providence, but that’s been true for a long time.  But these mergers aren’t under consideration because Rhode Island hospitals are doing great and represent a great buy for an expanding corporation.   Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket hasn’t been doing the dance of closing hospital because people aren’t using it.

As usual, Rhode Island’s government officials are looking to use the power of government to stop erosion when they should be evaluating what it is they are doing that starts the process.  We need freedom and innovation, but that takes power away from political insiders, so… there you go.

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The One Percent… and All the Rest

Clearly, Michael Morse had his tongue in his cheek while writing his recent op-ed thanking the one percent — by which he meant humanity’s innovators:

I like nothing more than to envision myself the great survivor — a person for the ages, one who leads, invents and survives. Truth be told, without the 1 percent who actually do invent, I would be living in a dilapidated lean-to, or worse, I would be skinny as a rail because I have never hunted or killed anything on purpose, don’t know an edible mushroom from a magic one, and probably would be relegated to eating bugs and pine needles. As for leading, my guess is I would lead myself to ruin as soon as I figured out how to ferment wild grapes and berries.

As Morse cleverly implies (and one can’t help but think it’s intentional), the luxury of modern life isn’t only made possible by those few innovators.  Somebody has had to make the products and provide the services that create our luxury, and somebody else has had to provide the products and services that they needed.  And of course, somebody has had to pull together the corporate and (yes) government structures to enable the work, and others have had to provide the investments and take the risks to make it all a reality.

Society is a cooperative endeavor, for which we all ought to be perpetually in mutual gratitude.  How different things would be if we would carry that attitude in defiance of those who dice us into identity and interest groups in order to play us against each other for their own reward of wealth and power.

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Pharma Fumes and Socialism

This, from Clifton Leaf in Fortune, is one reason I find socialized medicine schemes (including, broadly, ObamaCare) so disturbing:

What the chart above shows is simply the percentage of 2017 revenue that derived from products launched in the previous five years. In other words, how much of each company’s sales are coming from drugs fresh out of the pipeline versus how much are coming from older meds?

In that regard, the picture above is worth a thousand words: Nearly all of Big Pharma is riding on fumes, it seems.

Now, a number of open questions make this analysis insufficient.  Historically, for example, what has been the revenue mix?

But those questions aside, the reality is that profit motives spur risk and innovation.  A balance must still be struck, but the class envy and central planning of socialism inevitably force a society to coast on fumes.

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A Unique Revision and Slowed Growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual revision was different, this year, in that employment was actually revised up, but that doesn’t change the slowed rate of growth under Governor Raimondo.

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Standing Against The Progressive-Left

At our Center, we know that the extreme levels of taxation and over-regulation forced on Rhode Islanders by an ever-growing government is the primary culprit in causing our state’s sad performance. Look at it this way— heavy handed action by a state government that mainly seeks to perpetuate itself, actually works against the best-interests of the very individuals it is supposed to be serving.

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