Topics

City/Town Government

For Whom Do We Fund Education in Providence, Tiverton, and Rhode Island?

Looking at a charter school debate in Providence and a home schooling question in Tiverton, the guiding principle of the state’s education system appears to be whether special interests can profit from a particular policy.


Selling Compassion Makes the Immigration Issue Intractable

Without the motivation of the government plantation, Americans would find their comfort point and compromise on immigration.


Narragansett Well Positioned to Lower Commercial Taxes

Going to a single tax rate for residential and commercial taxes would help Narragansett businesses, and the town’s high taxes suggest it could be done without raising rates on residents.


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Civil Rights

Selling Compassion Makes the Immigration Issue Intractable

Without the motivation of the government plantation, Americans would find their comfort point and compromise on immigration.


Farewell to Ambiguity About Journalists’ Narrative

Readers of the Providence Journal can move forward, now, fully aware of just how much bias they should read into the newspaper’s handling of particular topics, like race and the president elect.


The Cost of Charters (and Lacking Them) in Providence and the Government Plantation

Providence’s projected loss from expanded charter options uses arguable assumptions, but it inarguably shows how government puts itself first and treats students as produce in the government plantation.


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Congress

Mark Zaccaria: Advice to Senator Whitehouse

Mark Zaccaria suggests that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse should back away from his attacks on Constitutional rights and focus on making a positive difference in people’s lives.


Arthur Christopher Schaper: Checking in with Congressional Sympathy from the West Coast

Arthur Chrsitopher Schaper commiserates with Rhode Islanders as a California conservative represented by an anti-2nd Amendment sit-in progressive.


Distrust in Government Leads to Desire for… Big Government?

Poll findings about trust in government at different levels and in different states might reveal a contradiction for progressives and a dark future for Rhode Islanders.


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Culture & Family

Federalism from the Left Could Be Hidden Globalization

As progressives reverse course and warm to the notion of pushing power down from the federal government toward the states and localities, they may also lean on their urge to consolidate power at international level.


Support and Encouragement on the Right

Conservatives have the structural disadvantage of not wanting to use tax dollars just to support allies or destroy the lives of their opponents.


Moral Self-Licensing and the Anti-Trump Roar

Liberals’ having already prepared reasons not to absolve the United States of sexism just for electing Clinton gives some indication of their outrage when they didn’t even get the outcome they expected.


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Economy

Federalism from the Left Could Be Hidden Globalization

As progressives reverse course and warm to the notion of pushing power down from the federal government toward the states and localities, they may also lean on their urge to consolidate power at international level.


For Whom Do We Fund Education in Providence, Tiverton, and Rhode Island?

Looking at a charter school debate in Providence and a home schooling question in Tiverton, the guiding principle of the state’s education system appears to be whether special interests can profit from a particular policy.


Patinkin Should Turn His Head to the Right

The explanation for Brexit and Trump is not reactionary, in the sense of wanting to turn back the clock, but rather a reaction to the harm of self-serving progressive narratives.


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Education

Support and Encouragement on the Right

Conservatives have the structural disadvantage of not wanting to use tax dollars just to support allies or destroy the lives of their opponents.


For Whom Do We Fund Education in Providence, Tiverton, and Rhode Island?

Looking at a charter school debate in Providence and a home schooling question in Tiverton, the guiding principle of the state’s education system appears to be whether special interests can profit from a particular policy.


The Cost of Charters (and Lacking Them) in Providence and the Government Plantation

Providence’s projected loss from expanded charter options uses arguable assumptions, but it inarguably shows how government puts itself first and treats students as produce in the government plantation.


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Energy & Environment

Using Climate Change to Bring in a Tide of Activism

Three Brown faculty members traffic in questionable statistics in an apparent push to end the deadly scourge of days that are “merely warm.”


Mark Zaccaria: Advice to Senator Whitehouse

Mark Zaccaria suggests that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse should back away from his attacks on Constitutional rights and focus on making a positive difference in people’s lives.


Going to the Heart of Costly Renewable Energy


In this podcast excerpt, I discuss with the Heartland Institute’s Donald Kendal and John Nothdurft the findings of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity’s new report on renewable energy that confirms a very poor cost-benefit return to Rhode Islanders of renewable energy. (Listen to the full podcast of our conversation here.)

Because 98% of Rhode Island’s energy is generated by natural gas, our state already has a comparatively small carbon footprint. Further reducing it to hit purely arbitrary renewable production targets would cost state ratepayers and taxpayers $141–190 million per year in production expenses alone – four to five times the EPA’s recommended cost standard.

Rhode Islanders also cannot afford the cost to the state economy in the form of lower employment levels or in the $670–893 million per year extracted in unnecessarily higher electricity rate payments by private sector businesses and families. When will the status quo learn?

Based on these findings, the Center has strongly recommended that lawmakers reject all proposed new energy mandates and, instead, repeal those that are currently written into law. The EPA’s own cost standard highlighted in the Center renewable energy report demonstrates that state officials can set aside all renewable energy mandates with a clear conscience.


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Gambling

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.


Beware Statists in Libertarian Clothing

Some libertarians have been encouraged to see the liberalization of laws on social issues, but they should go beyond the cliché that politics makes strange bedfellows and wonder why they have the company they do.


Betting the House for Rhode Island

Legislation submitted last week would allow people to gamble their assets (such as houses and investment accounts) at the new state-run casino.


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General Assembly

For Whom Do We Fund Education in Providence, Tiverton, and Rhode Island?

Looking at a charter school debate in Providence and a home schooling question in Tiverton, the guiding principle of the state’s education system appears to be whether special interests can profit from a particular policy.


Unconstitutional Campaign Restrictions Undermine Democracy

Regulation of campaign materials is self evidently an abridgment of speech and therefore makes our entire electoral system illegitimate.


CVS Layoffs – Political Policy AGAIN Comes Home to Roost in RI

[The Gaspee Business Network just issued the following statement/exhortation.]

We are incredibly sad to announce that amid the long standing depressed job market in Rhode Island as well as the worst business climate in the nation, hundreds of moms and dads, struggling young adults, and professionals were laid off today at the CVS corporate office in Woonsocket. The members of the GBN family wish to extend our deepest condolences to those who must now find some means of making ends meet right before the holidays amid one of the worst economies in the country.

The people to blame for these layoffs are the politicians that have run Rhode Island into the ground for decades.

Nothing will change until each and every career politician is removed from office on Smith Hill.

These government bureaucrats have made the cost to employ the hard working men and women in Rhode Island so expensive, companies have no choice but to outsource their labor to other countries.


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Government

Federalism from the Left Could Be Hidden Globalization

As progressives reverse course and warm to the notion of pushing power down from the federal government toward the states and localities, they may also lean on their urge to consolidate power at international level.


Government Pays for Your Healthcare, Government Owns It (And You)

Having lured another 117,000 people into Medicaid, the state government of Rhode Island is going to plug them into an experiment that the progressive faction can use as “ammunition” in its political fight.


Government Universities and Colleges, Where Economics Are Suspended

The argument for higher tuition (or taxpayer subsidies) at RI’s government colleges and universities suggests an alternative world in which a perverse variation of the rules of economics applies.


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Governor

For Whom Do We Fund Education in Providence, Tiverton, and Rhode Island?

Looking at a charter school debate in Providence and a home schooling question in Tiverton, the guiding principle of the state’s education system appears to be whether special interests can profit from a particular policy.


Raimondo Admin’s Dodgy Non-Response to ProJo’s APRA Request

So as you probably know, Rhode Island’s new computer system (UHIP) for qualifying applicants and disbursing social program benefits is a mess. The problems have been well publicized to the point of infamy: a backlog of applications; benefit payments delayed; nursing homes (who have no easy way to stop their expenses) wracking up serious amounts of uncompensated care; even a security “glitch” that could have exposed the personal information of 200-1,000 customers.

It has gotten to the point that the feds were compelled to step in again – this time, breathing fire.

The agency continued to warn that the DHS could soon lose federal funding for administrative costs because of the system’s “failure to meet FNS statutory and regulatory requirements.”

And a Rhode Island House committee held its second hearing into the matter on Monday.

The question is, who is responsible for all of this? Was this a failure by the vendor setting up the new system, Deloitte Consulting? Or did the Raimondo administration force a transition to the new system from the old too quickly? (This, in fact, was a blunt warning by the feds to the Raimondo administration in early September.) If so, why?

In order to shed some light on the matter, the Providence Journal’s ace reporter Kathy Gregg sent the Raimondo administration an APRA request on September 7 for

all correspondence between the state and the company that designed it: Deloitte Consulting.

We pause here to go back, review and note that the subject of Gregg’s request was “correspondence”.

Gregg reports in yesterday’s Providence Journal that six weeks later – on the night before Thanksgiving, to be precise – the Raimondo administration gave her a thumb drive that purported to respond to the request. It contained only reports from Deloitte – and those only through September 6. Critically, the thumb drive contained no correspondence whatsoever between the Raimondo administration and Deloitte.

To reiterate: Gregg asked for correspondence. What she got was reports. (In the same way, Gregg might ask a Raimondo-operated fruit stand for a bag of oranges and receive, instead, a small bag of turnips.)

This non-responsive response by the Raimondo administration would appear to conform to neither the letter nor the spirit of Rhode Island’s APRA law. Nor is it the action of a Governor who, in an interview with Rhode Island Public Radio thirteen months ago, claimed to be “deeply committed to transparency”.

I asked the CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (full disclosure: I work with the Center), Mike Stenhouse, if he had a reaction to this. He responded,

A curious, honest, and relentless free-press is vital to preserving democracy in our free society and in holding elected officials accountable to the people. In this case, the administration’s pitiful non-response certainly makes it appear as if they have something to hide.

When a reporter like Kathy Gregg asks questions, she isn’t just asking for herself and her newspaper, she makes the request on behalf of all Rhode Islanders. Something went wrong with the launch of a major new state computer system – a system, remember, that has come in at over triple the originally budgeted cost. We are all minimally owed answers about the why and how of all of this. It is time to move from the dodgy non-responses to the straight answers and transparency to which the Governor herself has indicated that she is “deeply committed”.


Thanksgiving in an Age Without Gratitude

The traditional vision of unity on Thanksgiving — our shared gratitude to a Higher Power — brings new challenges in a time when too many acknowledge on the power of the jealous progressive god of government.


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Healthcare

Raimondo Admin’s Dodgy Non-Response to ProJo’s APRA Request

So as you probably know, Rhode Island’s new computer system (UHIP) for qualifying applicants and disbursing social program benefits is a mess. The problems have been well publicized to the point of infamy: a backlog of applications; benefit payments delayed; nursing homes (who have no easy way to stop their expenses) wracking up serious amounts of uncompensated care; even a security “glitch” that could have exposed the personal information of 200-1,000 customers.

It has gotten to the point that the feds were compelled to step in again – this time, breathing fire.

The agency continued to warn that the DHS could soon lose federal funding for administrative costs because of the system’s “failure to meet FNS statutory and regulatory requirements.”

And a Rhode Island House committee held its second hearing into the matter on Monday.

The question is, who is responsible for all of this? Was this a failure by the vendor setting up the new system, Deloitte Consulting? Or did the Raimondo administration force a transition to the new system from the old too quickly? (This, in fact, was a blunt warning by the feds to the Raimondo administration in early September.) If so, why?

In order to shed some light on the matter, the Providence Journal’s ace reporter Kathy Gregg sent the Raimondo administration an APRA request on September 7 for

all correspondence between the state and the company that designed it: Deloitte Consulting.

We pause here to go back, review and note that the subject of Gregg’s request was “correspondence”.

Gregg reports in yesterday’s Providence Journal that six weeks later – on the night before Thanksgiving, to be precise – the Raimondo administration gave her a thumb drive that purported to respond to the request. It contained only reports from Deloitte – and those only through September 6. Critically, the thumb drive contained no correspondence whatsoever between the Raimondo administration and Deloitte.

To reiterate: Gregg asked for correspondence. What she got was reports. (In the same way, Gregg might ask a Raimondo-operated fruit stand for a bag of oranges and receive, instead, a small bag of turnips.)

This non-responsive response by the Raimondo administration would appear to conform to neither the letter nor the spirit of Rhode Island’s APRA law. Nor is it the action of a Governor who, in an interview with Rhode Island Public Radio thirteen months ago, claimed to be “deeply committed to transparency”.

I asked the CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (full disclosure: I work with the Center), Mike Stenhouse, if he had a reaction to this. He responded,

A curious, honest, and relentless free-press is vital to preserving democracy in our free society and in holding elected officials accountable to the people. In this case, the administration’s pitiful non-response certainly makes it appear as if they have something to hide.

When a reporter like Kathy Gregg asks questions, she isn’t just asking for herself and her newspaper, she makes the request on behalf of all Rhode Islanders. Something went wrong with the launch of a major new state computer system – a system, remember, that has come in at over triple the originally budgeted cost. We are all minimally owed answers about the why and how of all of this. It is time to move from the dodgy non-responses to the straight answers and transparency to which the Governor herself has indicated that she is “deeply committed”.


Government Pays for Your Healthcare, Government Owns It (And You)

Having lured another 117,000 people into Medicaid, the state government of Rhode Island is going to plug them into an experiment that the progressive faction can use as “ammunition” in its political fight.


UHIP and a Picture of Rhode Island’s Feudalism

UHIP waiting lines illustrate state government’s harvesting of human beings and prove how low the minimum wage really is in a system of government dependency (even as elites throw awards at an unpopular governor).


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History

Moral Self-Licensing and the Anti-Trump Roar

Liberals’ having already prepared reasons not to absolve the United States of sexism just for electing Clinton gives some indication of their outrage when they didn’t even get the outcome they expected.


Using Mal-education to Enslave a People

That American students are learning to believe their country and culture are uniquely bad is evidence of a deliberate attempt to trick them into giving up their opportunities and freedom.


What Is There to Write on 9/11 15.0?

Fifteen years out, the unity following 9/11 seems to have been squandered, but it may simply have been exposed as an illusion of political necessity.


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Immigration

Selling Compassion Makes the Immigration Issue Intractable

Without the motivation of the government plantation, Americans would find their comfort point and compromise on immigration.


The Party of Trump, Which I Cannot Support

Maggie Gallagher succinctly describes the Trump policy platform, inasmuch as it is possible to discern and predict:

Here is the new Party of Trump that we saw in this convention: liberal in expanding entitlements, pro-business in terms of tax and regulations, non-interventionist in foreign policy, socially center-left (with the possible, but only possible, exception of abortion).

Americans who pay attention to politics and policy tend to err, I think, in allowing themselves to be drawn toward the exchange of discrete, independent policies as a form of compromise.  I give you this social policy; you give me that regulatory reform.  That’s how we end up with a worst-of-all-possibilities mix of policies that, for example, encourages dependency while socializing the losses of major corporations, all to the benefit of the inside players who are well positioned to manipulate the system to serve their interests.

Broadly speaking, policies are components of a machine that have to work together, with a basic operating principle.  As the most-charitable interpretation, the machine that Gallagher describes is designed to drive corporations forward in order to generate enough wealth for government to redistribute as a means of providing comfort and accommodating the consequences of an anything-goes society, with the world blocked out at the borders and not engaged in socio-political terms so as to avoid bleeding of the wealth.  (The only difference between that vision and a fully progressive one is that progressives don’t want the machine to be independent, but to be plugged in as a component of a bigger, international machine.)

Put that way (again, most charitably), Trumpian nationalism doesn’t sound too bad.  Unfortunately, the lesson of the past few decades (at least) is that the machine doesn’t work.  The corporations recalculate to the reality that the politicians’ plan makes them (not the people) the engine of the whole machine, while the value of promising entitlements leads politicians to over-promise and the people to over-demand, particularly in response to the consequences of loose culture, while the world outside the borders erodes the supports of our society and allows implacable enemies to rally.

Now add in the stated intention of Donald Trump to actively agitate against members of his own political party because they show insufficient fealty, and the policy mix points toward disaster.  The aphorism that “success is the best revenge” is apparently not good enough for Trump.  More than that, though, from his late-night tweets about the pope to this planned attack on Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and some unnamed foe, Trump shows no realization that these leaders have supporters.  Trump is free not to respect Pope Francis, but his behavior shows that he has little concern for the vast world of Roman Catholics.  His own supporters Trump loves, and he’s happy to condescend to them; those who aren’t his supporters are either enemies or inconsequential.

Nobody should have any trust that they’ll continue to have Trump’s support starting the moment their interests conflict with his, and that has implications for the instructions he’ll attempt to give the machine.

Yes, one of the very few arguments in favor of a Trump presidency is that he may remind certain sectors of American civic society about the importance of the checks and balances designed into our system.  However, Trump’s behavior has also proven that we should not assume he’ll moderate or react well to the reinstated rules of the game.

This isn’t to say that our electoral alternative is any better.  As I’ve written before, more than any I’ve ever seen, this election hinges on the timing of oscillating disgust with the two major candidates.  The wise move may very well be not to invest much wealth, energy, or emotion in the outcome, devoting personal resources instead to battening down the hatches.


Looking at Demographic Trends in Rhode Island

Demographic trends indicate something that Rhode Island is doing wrong, not something that voters and policy makers should consider inevitable.


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Infrastructure

The 2017 Budget for Rhode Island in Historical Perspective


Spending from All Sources, Current Dollars
Spending from All Sources, Inflation Adjusted
Spending from General Revenues, Inflation Adjusted
Spending from Federal Funds, Inflation Adjusted


The Impossibility of Big Government You Can Trust

The impossibility of holding government accountable illustrates a fatal flaw in the progressive approach to society.


James Kennedy: Signs from On High

James Kennedy argues that road design, not signage is the key for assessing and handling traffic, and that a 6/10 boulevard design makes for better design than a DOT-designed tunnel.


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Legislation

Unconstitutional Campaign Restrictions Undermine Democracy

Regulation of campaign materials is self evidently an abridgment of speech and therefore makes our entire electoral system illegitimate.


Sheeple Index – 2016 Rhode Island General Assembly

Despite policies that have caused the Ocean State to suffer with the 50th ranked business climate, the 48th rank on the Family Prosperity Index, and the 48th rank on the Center’s Jobs & Opportunity Index, our new 2016 “Sheeple” Index demonstrates that there is scant dissent among Rhode Island lawmakers who vote for such policies. The 2016 “Sheeple” Index is a collaboration between WatchdogRI.org and our Center. In a healthy democracy, there should be a rigorous debate of diverse policies. Sadly, and conversely in Rhode Island, it seems that when leadership authorizes bills to move forward, legislators feel compelled to automatically support them.

An alarming number of lawmakers vote in lock-step with leadership here in the Ocean State.


The 2016 Rhode Island General Assembly Freedom Index

It is a result of the failed status quo of increased government intervention in our personal and business lives that the Ocean State ranks so poorly on so many national indexes. It is not acceptable that we rank 50th with the worst business climate in the nation, 48th on the national Family Prosperity Index, and 47th on the Center’s Jobs & Opportunity Index. It is up to voters to review all the data, and decide whether or not to hold lawmakers accountable for their voting records this November. This trend is exemplified by continued deeply negative overall General Assembly scores on our 2016 Freedom Index.

Loaded with information that will be useful to voters this fall, the Freedom Index is part of our larger transparency initiative. The index examines legislators’ votes in terms of their likely effect on the freedom in the Ocean State.


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Media

Maleducation and Misinformation

Even if Russian propaganda is in play in the United States, the core problem is progressives’ long-running subversion of American institutions and common sense.


Farewell to Ambiguity About Journalists’ Narrative

Readers of the Providence Journal can move forward, now, fully aware of just how much bias they should read into the newspaper’s handling of particular topics, like race and the president elect.


Condemning Dangerous Hate Speech

While the governor insists there’s no place for divisiveness in Rhode Island and journalists suggesting that anybody to their political right must disclaim a racist fringe, they conveniently ignore the sort of talk on the left that’s actually getting people killed.


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Musings & Announcements

Friday Night Beer: Troegs Troegenator

The Troegenator Doublebock blends alcohol and flavor for an experience of sweet associations.


Friday Night Beer: Troegs Hop Knife Harvest Ale

Troegs’s Hop Knife Harvest Ale accomplishes what a “harvest ale” ought to accomplish: it brings to mind an agricultural past and a sense of heritage.


Friday Night Beer: Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA

Sometimes a beer just fits a dark New England evening, with heavy music on the speakers and a heavy meal on the plate.


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National Security

Maleducation and Misinformation

Even if Russian propaganda is in play in the United States, the core problem is progressives’ long-running subversion of American institutions and common sense.


The Party of Trump, Which I Cannot Support

Maggie Gallagher succinctly describes the Trump policy platform, inasmuch as it is possible to discern and predict:

Here is the new Party of Trump that we saw in this convention: liberal in expanding entitlements, pro-business in terms of tax and regulations, non-interventionist in foreign policy, socially center-left (with the possible, but only possible, exception of abortion).

Americans who pay attention to politics and policy tend to err, I think, in allowing themselves to be drawn toward the exchange of discrete, independent policies as a form of compromise.  I give you this social policy; you give me that regulatory reform.  That’s how we end up with a worst-of-all-possibilities mix of policies that, for example, encourages dependency while socializing the losses of major corporations, all to the benefit of the inside players who are well positioned to manipulate the system to serve their interests.

Broadly speaking, policies are components of a machine that have to work together, with a basic operating principle.  As the most-charitable interpretation, the machine that Gallagher describes is designed to drive corporations forward in order to generate enough wealth for government to redistribute as a means of providing comfort and accommodating the consequences of an anything-goes society, with the world blocked out at the borders and not engaged in socio-political terms so as to avoid bleeding of the wealth.  (The only difference between that vision and a fully progressive one is that progressives don’t want the machine to be independent, but to be plugged in as a component of a bigger, international machine.)

Put that way (again, most charitably), Trumpian nationalism doesn’t sound too bad.  Unfortunately, the lesson of the past few decades (at least) is that the machine doesn’t work.  The corporations recalculate to the reality that the politicians’ plan makes them (not the people) the engine of the whole machine, while the value of promising entitlements leads politicians to over-promise and the people to over-demand, particularly in response to the consequences of loose culture, while the world outside the borders erodes the supports of our society and allows implacable enemies to rally.

Now add in the stated intention of Donald Trump to actively agitate against members of his own political party because they show insufficient fealty, and the policy mix points toward disaster.  The aphorism that “success is the best revenge” is apparently not good enough for Trump.  More than that, though, from his late-night tweets about the pope to this planned attack on Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and some unnamed foe, Trump shows no realization that these leaders have supporters.  Trump is free not to respect Pope Francis, but his behavior shows that he has little concern for the vast world of Roman Catholics.  His own supporters Trump loves, and he’s happy to condescend to them; those who aren’t his supporters are either enemies or inconsequential.

Nobody should have any trust that they’ll continue to have Trump’s support starting the moment their interests conflict with his, and that has implications for the instructions he’ll attempt to give the machine.

Yes, one of the very few arguments in favor of a Trump presidency is that he may remind certain sectors of American civic society about the importance of the checks and balances designed into our system.  However, Trump’s behavior has also proven that we should not assume he’ll moderate or react well to the reinstated rules of the game.

This isn’t to say that our electoral alternative is any better.  As I’ve written before, more than any I’ve ever seen, this election hinges on the timing of oscillating disgust with the two major candidates.  The wise move may very well be not to invest much wealth, energy, or emotion in the outcome, devoting personal resources instead to battening down the hatches.


Culture War Must Focus in on Mutual Understanding

The West and the Muslims within it need an open discussion of how peaceful people and jihad-fighting terrorists can come to such different conclusions from the same text.


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On a Lighter Note

Katz’s Kitchen Sink: #WeKnowBetterRI

As part of its 100-year anniversary self-promotion, the Rhode Island Foundation has been spreading around a video by Nail Communications that is slap-in-the-face offensive.  It begins by putting swear words in the mouths of children reading statements from (quote) actual Rhode Islanders; it tells Rhode Islanders to (quote) stop complaining and if they don’t have anything nice to say, well, be quiet.

Let’s be blunt, here.  Given Rhode Island’s parade of corrupt officials and its stagnant economy, we would be shirking our responsibility as citizens if we didn’t complain.  Now, if Nail Communications were to make another video about the view of Rhode Island’s insiders, it might go something like this.

[Advisory: In keeping with the original Nail Communications/RI Foundation video, the following contains bleeped swears.]


Katz’s Kitchen Sink: But Bountiful Parody Song

As the fiscal year comes to a close for the State of Rhode Island and most municipalities in June, it’s ever more clear that civic life in Rhode Island revolves around government budgets.  For insiders, town, city, and state budgets represent their hopes and dreams — often their livelihoods.  For everybody else, though, they can be a time of dread, as the impossibility of real change is affirmed, cherished programs are threatened (if you’re on that side of the ledger), or more money is confiscated from your bank account (if you’re on the other side of the ledger).

Herewith, a parody song to the tune of “But Beautiful,” inaugurating a somewhat regular new video series, “Katz’s Kitchen Sink,” which will feature whatever sort of content I think might be useful to throw at the problems of the Ocean State — songs, short skits, commentary, or whatever.

Download an mp3 file of this song.

But Bountiful

A budget’s taxes, or it’s pay
Handouts are credits or giveaways
We’re investing, or we save
But bountiful

Bountiful, our industry’s bureaucracies we run
It’s a budget you have no choice but to fund

A budget appropriates, or it steals
Votes are traded in backroom deals
Nobody’s sure just what’s real
But bountiful

And I’m thinking if I had chips, I’d cash them in for gold
And take them to a more bountiful abode


Shout Down the Hate

When a mob of Brown University students brought their politically correct disease down the street to Rhode Island’s State House, they made it near impossible to resist writing a parody song about their symptoms.


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Pensions

HealthSource and Pensions: The Center Was Right (Predictably)

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity (among others) was able to pick out the problems with HealthSource RI and the state pension reform, while those in government had incentive to pretend impossible systems would work.


Separate Topics (Somewhat): RI Bitterness and Pensions

Ted Nesi’s weekly column misses an important distinction between what is good and what is bad about Rhode Island and goes too far in accepting state government pension spin.


An Optimistic Economic Story for Rhode Island

A brief forward-looking story describing a positive vision for all Rhode Islanders.


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Political Theory

Federalism from the Left Could Be Hidden Globalization

As progressives reverse course and warm to the notion of pushing power down from the federal government toward the states and localities, they may also lean on their urge to consolidate power at international level.


Support and Encouragement on the Right

Conservatives have the structural disadvantage of not wanting to use tax dollars just to support allies or destroy the lives of their opponents.


Moral Self-Licensing and the Anti-Trump Roar

Liberals’ having already prepared reasons not to absolve the United States of sexism just for electing Clinton gives some indication of their outrage when they didn’t even get the outcome they expected.


Back to top



Politics

Moral Self-Licensing and the Anti-Trump Roar

Liberals’ having already prepared reasons not to absolve the United States of sexism just for electing Clinton gives some indication of their outrage when they didn’t even get the outcome they expected.


Government Pays for Your Healthcare, Government Owns It (And You)

Having lured another 117,000 people into Medicaid, the state government of Rhode Island is going to plug them into an experiment that the progressive faction can use as “ammunition” in its political fight.


Selling Compassion Makes the Immigration Issue Intractable

Without the motivation of the government plantation, Americans would find their comfort point and compromise on immigration.


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Science

Using Climate Change to Bring in a Tide of Activism

Three Brown faculty members traffic in questionable statistics in an apparent push to end the deadly scourge of days that are “merely warm.”


Mark Zaccaria: Advice to Senator Whitehouse

Mark Zaccaria suggests that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse should back away from his attacks on Constitutional rights and focus on making a positive difference in people’s lives.


What’s Really In Your Best Interests? Aimee Gardiner On The No HPV Mandate Movement

On this episode of “What’s Really In Your Best Interest?” I interview Aimee Gardiner, director of Rhode Islanders Against Mandated HPV Vaccinations, on the movement against the HPV Mandate in the Ocean State. Rhode Island parents deserve the freedom to make private family choices without government involvement. The mandate on the HPV vaccine for Rhode Island students is an important and symbolic violation of our rights.

Recently, the RI DOH undertook a marketing campaign directed at the children of our state. Do you think this is a proper use of taxpayer dollars? The government should include parents in the discussion when dealing with minors, not bypassing our families! This is a very disturbing trend. The #NOHPVmandateRI movement stands to reverse the HPV vaccine mandate in RI. Please watch the new videos of our interview now.


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Sports

Shut Down the NCAA

The NCAA handed down a one half of one game suspension for current Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for taking money for autographs. However, they have a bit of a history with giving out much longer suspensions for lesser offenses. It’s time to shut down the NCAA.


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Taxation

For Whom Do We Fund Education in Providence, Tiverton, and Rhode Island?

Looking at a charter school debate in Providence and a home schooling question in Tiverton, the guiding principle of the state’s education system appears to be whether special interests can profit from a particular policy.


Raimondo Admin’s Dodgy Non-Response to ProJo’s APRA Request

So as you probably know, Rhode Island’s new computer system (UHIP) for qualifying applicants and disbursing social program benefits is a mess. The problems have been well publicized to the point of infamy: a backlog of applications; benefit payments delayed; nursing homes (who have no easy way to stop their expenses) wracking up serious amounts of uncompensated care; even a security “glitch” that could have exposed the personal information of 200-1,000 customers.

It has gotten to the point that the feds were compelled to step in again – this time, breathing fire.

The agency continued to warn that the DHS could soon lose federal funding for administrative costs because of the system’s “failure to meet FNS statutory and regulatory requirements.”

And a Rhode Island House committee held its second hearing into the matter on Monday.

The question is, who is responsible for all of this? Was this a failure by the vendor setting up the new system, Deloitte Consulting? Or did the Raimondo administration force a transition to the new system from the old too quickly? (This, in fact, was a blunt warning by the feds to the Raimondo administration in early September.) If so, why?

In order to shed some light on the matter, the Providence Journal’s ace reporter Kathy Gregg sent the Raimondo administration an APRA request on September 7 for

all correspondence between the state and the company that designed it: Deloitte Consulting.

We pause here to go back, review and note that the subject of Gregg’s request was “correspondence”.

Gregg reports in yesterday’s Providence Journal that six weeks later – on the night before Thanksgiving, to be precise – the Raimondo administration gave her a thumb drive that purported to respond to the request. It contained only reports from Deloitte – and those only through September 6. Critically, the thumb drive contained no correspondence whatsoever between the Raimondo administration and Deloitte.

To reiterate: Gregg asked for correspondence. What she got was reports. (In the same way, Gregg might ask a Raimondo-operated fruit stand for a bag of oranges and receive, instead, a small bag of turnips.)

This non-responsive response by the Raimondo administration would appear to conform to neither the letter nor the spirit of Rhode Island’s APRA law. Nor is it the action of a Governor who, in an interview with Rhode Island Public Radio thirteen months ago, claimed to be “deeply committed to transparency”.

I asked the CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (full disclosure: I work with the Center), Mike Stenhouse, if he had a reaction to this. He responded,

A curious, honest, and relentless free-press is vital to preserving democracy in our free society and in holding elected officials accountable to the people. In this case, the administration’s pitiful non-response certainly makes it appear as if they have something to hide.

When a reporter like Kathy Gregg asks questions, she isn’t just asking for herself and her newspaper, she makes the request on behalf of all Rhode Islanders. Something went wrong with the launch of a major new state computer system – a system, remember, that has come in at over triple the originally budgeted cost. We are all minimally owed answers about the why and how of all of this. It is time to move from the dodgy non-responses to the straight answers and transparency to which the Governor herself has indicated that she is “deeply committed”.


Selling Compassion Makes the Immigration Issue Intractable

Without the motivation of the government plantation, Americans would find their comfort point and compromise on immigration.


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Unions

For Whom Do We Fund Education in Providence, Tiverton, and Rhode Island?

Looking at a charter school debate in Providence and a home schooling question in Tiverton, the guiding principle of the state’s education system appears to be whether special interests can profit from a particular policy.


The Cost of Charters (and Lacking Them) in Providence and the Government Plantation

Providence’s projected loss from expanded charter options uses arguable assumptions, but it inarguably shows how government puts itself first and treats students as produce in the government plantation.


Tiverton Police Scandal Should Lead Officials to Humility with Taxpayers

Additional details about the Tiverton police lieutenant under investigation for stealing time — and additional police officers’ activities — give new perspective on town officials’ statements about how much taxpayers owe employees.


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Welfare

Raimondo Admin’s Dodgy Non-Response to ProJo’s APRA Request

So as you probably know, Rhode Island’s new computer system (UHIP) for qualifying applicants and disbursing social program benefits is a mess. The problems have been well publicized to the point of infamy: a backlog of applications; benefit payments delayed; nursing homes (who have no easy way to stop their expenses) wracking up serious amounts of uncompensated care; even a security “glitch” that could have exposed the personal information of 200-1,000 customers.

It has gotten to the point that the feds were compelled to step in again – this time, breathing fire.

The agency continued to warn that the DHS could soon lose federal funding for administrative costs because of the system’s “failure to meet FNS statutory and regulatory requirements.”

And a Rhode Island House committee held its second hearing into the matter on Monday.

The question is, who is responsible for all of this? Was this a failure by the vendor setting up the new system, Deloitte Consulting? Or did the Raimondo administration force a transition to the new system from the old too quickly? (This, in fact, was a blunt warning by the feds to the Raimondo administration in early September.) If so, why?

In order to shed some light on the matter, the Providence Journal’s ace reporter Kathy Gregg sent the Raimondo administration an APRA request on September 7 for

all correspondence between the state and the company that designed it: Deloitte Consulting.

We pause here to go back, review and note that the subject of Gregg’s request was “correspondence”.

Gregg reports in yesterday’s Providence Journal that six weeks later – on the night before Thanksgiving, to be precise – the Raimondo administration gave her a thumb drive that purported to respond to the request. It contained only reports from Deloitte – and those only through September 6. Critically, the thumb drive contained no correspondence whatsoever between the Raimondo administration and Deloitte.

To reiterate: Gregg asked for correspondence. What she got was reports. (In the same way, Gregg might ask a Raimondo-operated fruit stand for a bag of oranges and receive, instead, a small bag of turnips.)

This non-responsive response by the Raimondo administration would appear to conform to neither the letter nor the spirit of Rhode Island’s APRA law. Nor is it the action of a Governor who, in an interview with Rhode Island Public Radio thirteen months ago, claimed to be “deeply committed to transparency”.

I asked the CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (full disclosure: I work with the Center), Mike Stenhouse, if he had a reaction to this. He responded,

A curious, honest, and relentless free-press is vital to preserving democracy in our free society and in holding elected officials accountable to the people. In this case, the administration’s pitiful non-response certainly makes it appear as if they have something to hide.

When a reporter like Kathy Gregg asks questions, she isn’t just asking for herself and her newspaper, she makes the request on behalf of all Rhode Islanders. Something went wrong with the launch of a major new state computer system – a system, remember, that has come in at over triple the originally budgeted cost. We are all minimally owed answers about the why and how of all of this. It is time to move from the dodgy non-responses to the straight answers and transparency to which the Governor herself has indicated that she is “deeply committed”.


Government Pays for Your Healthcare, Government Owns It (And You)

Having lured another 117,000 people into Medicaid, the state government of Rhode Island is going to plug them into an experiment that the progressive faction can use as “ammunition” in its political fight.


Selling Compassion Makes the Immigration Issue Intractable

Without the motivation of the government plantation, Americans would find their comfort point and compromise on immigration.


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