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Latest on the Central Coventry Fire District Includes Threat by Governor’s Lawyers to Personally Sue Fire Board For Standing Up For Democracy

At the height of election fever, let’s not lose track of the latest developments in the disturbing situation involving the Central Coventry Fire District.

The following report, on “Central Coventry Citizens Taskforce for Fire Protection” letterhead and inclusive of two contact names and phone numbers, was sent out via e-mail this afternoon. It appears that at the Monday meeting and in other venues, Governor Chafee has had no compunction in carrying out the almost certainly unconstitutional order of the General Assembly to the taxpayers of the Central Coventry Fire District: – an order that could well come to every fire district in the state: No voting; just shut up and pay.

Progressive Policies Hurting Minorities

Looking at the brief report that the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity released, yesterday, showing some slices of employment data, something struck me about the numbers for labor force participation — that is, percentage of each demographic group that is either working or looking for work:

Notice that a larger percentage of black and Hispanic Rhode Islanders are either working or looking for work.  Inasmuch as the unemployment rate (i.e., those who are looking for jobs) is almost two times higher for blacks than the average and more than two times higher for Hispanics than the average, we can infer that the higher labor force participation rates for those groups result mainly from the unemployed.

That makes sense, of course, because the income levels for these minorities tend to be lower than the average, so their need for jobs is greater.  The gap between people’s need to work and their ability to find work is a humanitarian concern, but it’s also an indication of lost opportunity for our economy.

Here we see another indication of the harm that Rhode Island policies (and progressive policies more broadly) do to the productive class, no matter what race we’re talking about.  These Rhode Islanders want to exchange their productive effort and their talents for money.  Oppressive big-government policies make that exchange more difficult.  High tax rates remove money from the economy and reduce incentive to expand productive activity (both work and investment), and invasive regulations make it more difficult to engage in productive activity legally.

It’s not surprising that minority groups are most profoundly affected by a wrong-headed approach to government.  It is surprising, though, that the votes of different racial groups prove that they haven’t caught on to the abuse, yet.

Gina’s Quantum Position on Raising Taxes; Or, “Dual Nature” Doesn’t Just Describe Matter and Light

On Thursday, Gina Raimondo, democrat candidate for governor, held a press conference during which she accepted the endorsement of Planned Parenthood and expressed a desire to lift the ban in Rhode Island law on partial birth abortion. (Yes, to confirm, contrary to what she lied … er, broadly implied at the press conference, Allan Fung does not wish to change the parameters of Rhode Island’s abortion law, she does.)

This has created some controversy, as well it should, especially on the radio and social media.

On his radio show this morning on WPRO, John Loughlin took a bigger picture perspective to make the case that one of the mistakes candidate Raimondo made at her press conference Thursday was the strategic one of getting off message.

That’s probably true. But there are a couple of additional factors that come into play. Firstly, the General Treasurer is probably pleased to get her candidacy any kind of publicity, even if it doesn’t adhere to her campaign script. (Tomorrow’s episode: “Will She Take Communion???”, co-starring a vociferous cast of advocates, some in the ranks of the press, standing by to canonize her if the Catholic Church moves to bar her from communion.)

RI Income Tax Withholding Shows No Evidence of Employment Boom (But a Bigger Tax Take)

A comparison of income tax withholdings, in Rhode Island, with employment growth indicates that (1) employment statistics have probably been off, and (2) the state’s method of soaking taxpayers is not a wise strategy for economic growth.

Transparency Site Brings Unprecedented Access to Tiverton

A new Web site and open-government application in Tiverton kick off the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s project to provide Rhode Islanders with a nation-leading level of transparency in local government.

RI’s Bad Decisions and Burning Money Instead of Tobacco

My op-ed in today’s Providence Journal places the match of Rhode Island’s experience of the tobacco settlement money (a one-time-fix turned bad debt) on the pile of bad decisions that the state government has made in the past decade or so:

According to a review by ProPublica, Rhode Island has just refinanced some of the resulting debt, with the expectation that “the deal would shave $700 million off a $2.8 billion tab due on the bonds in 2052.” In that regard, it’s a bit like the state’s pension reform, which was marketed as salvation but merely shaved about $3 billion from $9 billion of unfunded liability.

The people who operate Rhode Island’s government are racking up quite a list of these liabilities.

RI’s Bad Decisions and Burning Money Instead of Tobacco

My op-ed in today’s Providence Journal places the match of Rhode Island’s experience of the tobacco settlement money (a one-time-fix turned bad debt) on the pile of bad decisions that the state government has made in the past decade or so:

According to a review by ProPublica, Rhode Island has just refinanced some of the resulting debt, with the expectation that “the deal would shave $700 million off a $2.8 billion tab due on the bonds in 2052.” In that regard, it’s a bit like the state’s pension reform, which was marketed as salvation but merely shaved about $3 billion from $9 billion of unfunded liability.

The people who operate Rhode Island’s government are racking up quite a list of these liabilities.

Don’t Abort a Constitutional Convention Over Scare Tactics

Government insiders want to do to the constitutional convention what they do to any opposition that comes their way — kill it before it can be born.

Illegal Alien Juveniles: And Rhode Island’s Total Rises to 148

Breitbart’s Tony Lee has obtained updated numbers from the United States’ Office of Refugee Resettlement as to the number of illegal alien juveniles released by the federal government for the period of July 7 to July 31 – July 7 being the last date for which we had those figures. The state by state breakdown indicates that Rhode Island’s total has risen from 129 to 148.

Our elected officials – those who support illegal immigration – have been acting as though this has been a completely unforeseen, one time wave of children, such as might be due to an earthquake, flood or other natural disaster.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

These children are being drawn here – are being sent here, more accurately – by the willful actions and inaction of our national leaders: 1.) more generally, the United States has substantially reduced its enforcement of the immigration laws currently on the books and 2.) more specifically, the action of the President of the United States, who has effectively turned on a beacon by making it clear that his administration is extremely reluctant to deport any illegal children who come here. (You don’t suppose word will get out about the data that backs this up, do you? Naw!)

It probably doesn’t hurt that the federal government has rolled out the red carpet for at least some of the illegal alien juveniles.

Accordingly, as things stand, there is no reason for this stream of illegal arrivals, nor the strain on public budgets nor the erosion of our sovereignty, to end.

The question now, closer to home, is, what is Governor Chafee doing to stem the tide of illegal aliens into Rhode Island and the corresponding stream of money out of state and local tax coffers? Has he offered objection to the federal government to the arrival in Rhode Island of these and any additional illegal alien juveniles, an action that would also help to address the larger problem by discouraging illegal immigration? If not, has Governor Chafee identified what he would like to see cut from budgets, both local and state, none of which have much leeway in the expenditure column, to pay for the expenses – minimally, education and Medicaid – associated with these arrivals?

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 39 (A Providence Income Tax)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the notion of a municipal income tax in Providence

The People Are Leaving. Be Angry.

News that productive people seeking to build a life are leaving Rhode Island is not new, but Rhode Islanders have to start being angry about it.

The Education Legacy of the Chafee Era

NAEP scores and comparisons of trends across the country suggest that the stall of education reform during the Chafee era has not been good for Rhode Island’s children.

Rally Tomorrow To Oppose The Disbursing of Illegal Alien Children to Rhode Island

RIILE, Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement released the following alert this afternoon via e-mail.

Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement invites all concerned Rhode Islanders to gather tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the Smith Street side of the Rhode Island Statehouse to protest the Obama administration’s plan to disperse illegal alien minors to Rhode Island.

“Two planeloads of illegal aliens have already landed at Hanscom Air Base in Massachusetts, only 45 miles away, and Massachusetts has declined to accept them,” said Terry Gorman, president of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement. “This may be our only chance to express our concerns to Governor Chafee and to discourage him from overwhelming our state with an unknown number of additional people needing government social services.”

Governor Chafee so far denies having been asked by White House administration officials to harbor the illegal alien minors in Rhode Island.

With the ink barely dry on a new state budget, Rhode Island is clearly in a fragile economic condition. Concerning illegal aliens, there exists a thriving underground network of grayscale government policy that combines passive sanctuary, benefit compensation, and lax, selective law enforcement. Accepting an unplanned influx of undocumented, unimmunized, and unsupervised aliens of minor age – all of whom illegally crossed the United States border to gain entry and none of whom can provide for themselves – is not an acceptable course of action for any state government, but especially not Rhode Island’s.

“We are not a people lacking in compassion, but this is a practical matter of survival and the obligation we have to Rhode Island citizens. Suicide is not noble and compassionate – it’s reckless,” Gorman said.

State Taxes and Economic Health

The effect of taxes on a state’s economic health is one of those repeated questions that is never resolved.  The obvious reason (I’d propose) is that it’s one of those areas that depends hugely on specific circumstances, but the ideological intentions of those having the discussion tend to promote specific findings as broad conclusions.

The last sentence of the most recent academic contribution to the debate, by Pavel Yakovlev of the Mercatus Center, probably captures about the broadest statement that can be made:

… not all tax variables exhibit a significant correlation with the selected measures of economic activity, but when they do, the relationship is usually negative.

Yakovlev concludes his summary in a way that’s probably more comprehensible to the average person:

Not all types of tax increases can be expected to significantly harm economic outcomes, but higher taxes are generally correlated with lower standards of living.

In the phrasing of a popular meme: I don’t always affect the economy when I increase taxes, but when I do, it usually hurts.

Another important variable that Yakovlev mentions in the course of presenting his findings is the quality of public services provided.  It is assumed that in some circumstances (or at least to some people) the trade-off of higher taxes for quality government services favors the latter.  Presumably, it is less common for people to want to have high taxes in order to finance poor government services.

Throughout the study, Yakovlev looks at two competing ways of calculating the correlation of variables that can sometimes serve to support different ideological preferences.  On the government-spending side of the ledger, the results find a positive correlation between taxpayer migration and education spending, but negative correlation of migration with infrastructure spending, public health spending, and public welfare spending.

Especially on the infrastructure count, that finding might be counter-intuitive, because we tend to think of better roads and bridges as a contributor to economic health.  One plausible explanation for the results is that the amount of spending on infrastructure doesn’t translate well into results.  In other words, over a basic minimum of spending on roads and bridges, additional dollars are wasted.

Of course, an objective viewer of Rhode Island would have to conclude that this level of discussion is mostly moot in the Ocean State, as the latest competitiveness report card from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity illustrates.

All of our taxes are high.  Most of our services are poor.  People are generally leaving; opportunity remains difficult to find.  And the hope of substantive change is limited.

Illegal Alien Children: Governor Chafee’s Strangely Narrow Statement

The latest regional development in the disbursement of illegal alien children from the southern border, drawn to the United States in part due to a dramatic drop in deportation of other such children over the last five+ years, is that the state of Connecticut has declined a request by the federal government to house children in the Southbury Training School.

This morning, I called Governor Chafee’s office and urged him, via a staff member, not to accept illegal alien children into the state. I was given a response that it turns out had also been given to WPRO and which Bill Haberman and John Depetro had read on the air. It was, simply,

No federal entity has reached out to the State of Rhode Island requesting assistance with housing undocumented immigrants.

My follow up question for the gentleman on Governor Chafee’s staff whom I spoke to, to preclude confusion over terms, was “or refugees” and he agreed that the statement also applied to “refugees”.

But the Governor’s statement, specific and brief as it is, leaves a couple of large loopholes. No “federal” entity has reached out to the state. Have any other entities or individuals done so? If not to request assistance with “housing” undocumented immigrants, how about “temporarily sheltering” them?

It is not pleasant to have to parse the words of one of our elected officials this way but the narrowness of the statement compels us to do so.

Much as we sympathize deeply with the plight of these children, there are huge ramifications, budgetarily and public health-wise, to any state accepting dozens or hundreds, much less thousands, of illegal alien children, even if – especially if! – it is framed as a temporary situation. It is to be hoped that Governor Chafee will act accordingly and not out of a completely misguided sense of compassion.

Illegal Aliens and RI Social Programs: Qualifying Documentation Ranges from Strong to Alarmingly Weak

… In response to an inquiry from Ocean State Current-Anchor Rising, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services sent over several documents. One of those listed all of the documents that an applicant for social services can submit to verify citizenship qualification for those benefits.

Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 5 of 6

Part 5 of a response to Aaron Renn: What kills the entrepreneurial spirit in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 3 of 6

Countering Aaron Renn’s central planning in Rhode Island. Part 3: What’s unemployment insurance have to do with the price of gasoline in Seekonk?

From 8,143 Deportations to 1,669 – Another Way the President Precipitated This Flood of UAC’s (Unaccompanied Alien Children)

Justin describes the situation on the southern border and how those children have become “political chips”.

Let’s add deportation figures, supplied by the Los Angeles Times.

The number of immigrants under 18 who were deported or turned away at ports of entry fell from 8,143 in 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, to 1,669 last year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data released under a Freedom of Information Act request.

This portrait of alarming (and deliberate?) inaction become even more acute when considered in the context of rapidly rising arrivals.



According to the Border Patrol, unaccompanied children apprehensions increased from 16,067 in fiscal year (FY) 2011 to 24,481 in FY 2012 and 38,833 in FY 2013.

President Obama has used this crisis to call on Congress to

fix our immigration system once and for all

a fix that the President clearly envisions as some variation of amnesty.

But an enormous question is posed by this “fix”. How would it do anything other than exacerbate the problem of illegal immigrants – of all ages – coming here uninvited? Accordingly, how could it possibly be called a fix?