Topics

City/Town Government

Development in Tiverton

Debate about economic development in Tiverton can’t simply be an exercise in hyperbole and NIMBYism.


Halsey Herreshoff: Don’t Let the State and Its RhodeMap Move In on Municipalities

The “Taylor Swift tax” is in keeping with the RhodeMap RI scheme of moving power and money away from local authority.


Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


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Civil Rights

Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


Governor Raimondo’s “Blank Check”

How could a proposed new statewide property tax that’s been given a nickname homage to a part-time-resident pop star not have a parody song?


Raimondo’s Outrageous Statewide Property Tax Actually an Attack on Property Rights

Raimondo’s “statewide property tax” isn’t a tax on property at all, but a tax on “privilege,” which means she thinks the government grants it. That’s an extremely dangerous principle to accept, even if it’s limited (at first) only to “the rich.”


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Congress

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 46 (Congressional Debates)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss the candidates for U.S. Congress from Rhode Island (mostly by way of the issues).


Mark Zaccaria on Issues Facing the US Senate


After his campaign announcement, Republican Senatorial candidate Mark Zaccaria answered questions posed by Anchor Rising on the subjects of:

The guiding principle and vision of American foreign policy.

Where to go on Obamacare, from where we now are.

The institutional way to deal with executive overreach.

The gulf between the elites and the people, on illegal immigration.


Mark Zaccaria Announces for Senate


Mark Zaccaria: “[Y]our taxes, your food and your housing costs are all up as a result of what the Federal Government has done, and Jack Reed has voted yes for every single one of those increases, certainly during the last couple of terms. I contend that Rhode Islanders are ready to vote no, and it’s about high time.

But they have to have a choice to be able to do that, to be able to vote for better monetary policy, or smaller government that costs less, so that it takes less money out of your pockets. You have to have that alternative on the ballot. I hope to be the face of that message to the hard-working, tax-paying men and women of Rhode Island during this campaign.

There is another way, folks. We can do that. And I will be making that point, to anyone who will listen to me, every day between now and the fourth of November…you don’t have to vote for the guy you voted for last time. In fact, it might be better if you voted for somebody new.”


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Culture & Family

Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


Talking About Persuasion After They’ve Shoved You in a Box

Baptist university professor David Gushee misses the core argument in the budding fascism of the same-sex marriage movement against his fellow Christians.


Killing Mutual Accommodation and Pluralism in an Unreasonable Society

Events on the cultural front, in the past week or so, force the truly frightening conclusion that we’ve reached a new era of unreasonableness, in which mutual accommodation and pluralism will be impossible.


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Economy

March 2015 Employment: Returning to Increases… and Skepticism

Just like last year, March employment data is showing huge improvement in Rhode Island. Just like last year, it’s likely to be revised downward, and other factors suggest a continuing decline.


Development in Tiverton

Debate about economic development in Tiverton can’t simply be an exercise in hyperbole and NIMBYism.


Reviewing the Earned Income Tax Credit

Debate about Governor Raimondo’s proposed increase in the earned income tax credit illustrates both the spin of advocates and the danger of making wealth redistribution the province of the political process.


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Education

The Math Works for School Choice, in Rhode Island

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s new school choice economic model projects statewide savings and can help educate the public.


The Adult Education Breakdown

Although it would help the school choice argument, it isn’t clear that RI’s disproportionate adult learners taking basic courses is an education problem, rather than a jobs problem.


Education Proposals Show Progressive Belief in Class Division

General Assembly progressives want to make admission to Mayoral Academies pure chance, while Governor Raimondo wants to take away small transportation and book concessions granted to families that use private schools.


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Energy & Environment

“National Grid sells renewable energy at a profit; customers get credit.” FALSE

Providence Journal environmental reporter Alex Kuffner suggests that National Grid expects to make a profit on its renewable energy and give ratepayers a credit. We rate that False.


Edwards Dances Around the Fact That I’m Right

Rep. Edwards does the politician’s trick of talking all around the fact that a critic is telling the truth.


Politicians, Look to Your Own “Horrendous Impact” on Energy Prices

When the energy market forces National Grid to increase its rates, politicians condemn the company, but expensive energy is a problem to which they’ve happily contributed.


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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

Coming up in Committee: Twenty-Four Sets of Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, April 28 – April 30


1. S0795: Resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention to propose amendments to the Federal Constitution (requiring 2/3 of state legislatures to agree), with an initial scope of narrowing First Amendment protections for political speech. (S Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs; Wed, Apr 29) Half of convention would be drawn exclusively from individuals “currently elected to state and local office” — so this would basically be a convention skewed towards political incumbents, for the purpose of restricting political speech. What could possibly go wrong?

2A. S0382: Government takeover of the siting and management of health provider networks in Rhode Island, giving the state health commissioner authority in such areas as hours of operation, staffing placement, criteria for evaluating doctor performance, approval of contract terms between health insurers and providers, etc. (S Health and Human Services; Tue, Apr 28)

2B. S0619: Charges the state health commissioner with “monitoring a transition away” from the use of private health insurance for primary care medicine and replacing it with a single-payer system. (S Health and Human Services; Tue, Apr 28)

2C. Bud. Art. 5: Some seemingly rigid medicaid price controls, e.g. “for the twelve (12) month period beginning July 1, 2015, Medicaid fee-for-service outpatient rates shall not exceed ninety-five percent (95.0%) of the rates in effect as of July 1, 2014. Also, amongst other items, Bud. Art. 4 sets a limit of $136.8 million to be paid out in “disproportionate share hospital payments” under the “uncompensated care” section of the law. (H Finance; Thu, Apr 30)

2D and 3A. Bud. Art. 28: Allows the secretary of Health and Human Services to directly impose taxes on the sale of small employer and individual health plans without General Assembly approval, with revenues earmarked for the Rhode Island health benefits exchange. (H Finance; Wed, Apr 29)

3B. H6095: Establishes a “Sustainable packaging advisory council…as a public body corporate and politic, constituting an instrument of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation and exercising essential governmental functions”, and grants the council power to assess taxes on the owners of businesses with gross sales of more than $1M that sell products or materials in RI that result in waste packaging — “whether or not the producer is located in the state”(!). (H Environment and Natural Resources; Thu, Apr 30)

4. H5472: Creates a statewide individual retirement account program, that RI workers will be automatically enrolled into (and have at least 3% of their paychecks put into) unless they specifically opt-out. (H Labor; Thu, Apr 30)

5. S0816: Prohibits the “state guide plan” from establishing any affordable housing provisions beyond those already set in state law, and removes federal government officials from eligibility to serve on the state planning council. S0818 exempts municipal plans from having to comply with the state guide plan. S0819 requires that the state guide plan be approved by the General Assembly. S0820 allows cities and towns to opt-out of the affordable housing programs contained in the state guide plan. (S Housing and Municipal Government; Wed, Apr 29)


Coming up in Committee: Proposed Constitutional Amendments Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, April 14 – April 15


1. Proposed constitutional amendments, requiring voter approval if passed by the legislature, being heard in the Rhode Island General Assembly this week:

  • S0173: Subjects the General Assembly to the state Ethics Commission, while changing the composition of the commission so that 6 of its 11 members are appointed by the Governor from lists of candidates submitted by “the speaker of the house of representatives, the majority leader of the house of representatives, the minority leader of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the majority leader of the senate, and the minority leader of the senate”, and allows Ethics Commission decisions to be appealed to the courts. (S Judiciary; Tue, Apr 14)
  • S0056: Subjects the General Assembly to the state Ethics Commission and that’s it. (S Judiciary; Tue, Apr 14)
  • S0057/S0059: Line-item veto for the Governor of Rhode Island. (S Judiciary; Tue, Apr 14)
  • S0062: Extends state Senator and state Representative terms to four years, in return for creating a term-limit of three terms. (S Judiciary; Tue, Apr 14)
  • S0436: Mandates instant-runoff voting for the state’s general officers (but doesn’t specify the details of the process, though that could reasonably left to legislation). (S Judiciary; Tue, Apr 14)
  • H6027: Eliminates the requirement of 30 days of residency at an address, before being allowed to vote in an election as a registered voter at that address. (H Judiciary; Wed, Apr 15)

Coming up in Committee: Gun Rights/Gun Control Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, April 14 – April 15


2. Of this year’s raft of gun rights/gun-control bills, this one is the most significant:

  • H6017: Changes concealed carry permitting authority for the RI Attorney General from a “may issue” basis, to a “shall issue” basis, provided that the permit applicant passes a background check, and meets all criteria laid out in a detailed application specified in the law. (H Judiciary; Wed, Apr 15)

The other bills being heard are:

  • H5872: Extends the ban on individuals convicted of committing crimes of violence “purchasing, owning, carrying, transporting, or having in his or her possession any firearm” to individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors. (H Judiciary; Tue, Apr 14)

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Government

Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


Keable-entering and the Law, as Written

The plain language of Rhode Island law suggests that Rep. Cale Keable might face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years for breaking and entering, but that fact creates incentive for law enforcement to find him innocent prior to prosecution.


Coming up in Committee, Tuesday, February 3: House Rules for 2015-2016


2. H5258: Rules for the 2015-2016 Rhode Island House of Representatives. (H Rules; Tue, Feb 3)

There are at least three major changes of note:

  • A change to rule 12(f) makes clear that a vote to hold a bill for further study sends the bill to the Phantom Zone, where rank-and-file legislators are powerless to recall it, and only the super-powers of House leadership can bring it back.
  • A change to rule 12(a) gives House leadership the power to deny a hearing to a bill, according to a subjective criteria that “the issues presented…are substantially similar to those matters already heard”.
  • A change to rule 12(e) gives committee chairs, with approval of the Speaker, the power to cancel a bill hearing “at any time…[if] the bill is not ready to be heard in the committee”.

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Governor

Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


Governor Raimondo’s “Blank Check”

How could a proposed new statewide property tax that’s been given a nickname homage to a part-time-resident pop star not have a parody song?


Raimondo’s Outrageous Statewide Property Tax Actually an Attack on Property Rights

Raimondo’s “statewide property tax” isn’t a tax on property at all, but a tax on “privilege,” which means she thinks the government grants it. That’s an extremely dangerous principle to accept, even if it’s limited (at first) only to “the rich.”


Back to top



Healthcare

Correction on Getting Away Without Paying the New HealthSource Tax

HealthSource RI has asked me to clarify my statement about how many Rhode Islanders will have their payments of the proposed new tax covered by their federal subsidies.


UPDATED: Gruber’s Brief Dealings with HealthSource RI

A contract and correspondence with MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber show that HealthSource RI cut his project short and used earlier estimates that he had called “rough.”


UPDATED: Jonathan Gruber Behind Flawed HealthSource RI Projections

Jonathan Gruber’s remarks about the “stupidity of the American voter” have revealed the deception behind ObamaCare, and his involvement in the planning process for HealthSource RI raises the question of how pervasive his attitude has been among government agents locally.


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History

The World the West is Creating with Vladimir Putin


Is there a better way than political authoritarianism and stunted economic growth that Vladimir Putin’s subjects (including high-ranking oligarchs) might want to consider? Western elites might not like to admit this, but ratcheting up an “uncivilized” tribal strategy may be an effective way for Putin and current Russian leadership to answer this question in the negative, by boosting the morale (at least in the short term) of his Russian followers, and by frightening an “internationalist” coalition away from being willing to take the steps necessary to slow his expansion.

The ultimate effectiveness of this strategy depends on the strength and the nature of the coherence of the adversary that Russia faces.


Immigrant Children as Political Chips

Progressive historians will one day attribute the Obama Administration-facilitated humanitarian crisis on the border to the racist evils of the United States.


Dorr Was Cool, Until He Wasn’t

Steve Ahlquist has published a portion of the testimony he will be giving in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Senate Bill 2641, which is an attempt to revoke Rhode Island’s current Voter ID law. Calling upon the memory of “Governor” Thomas Dorr, Ahlquist writes: Arguably, next to Roger Williams, no Rhode Islander has […]


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Immigration

Terry Gorman: Sympathetic Providence Journal Article Encourages Illegal Immigration to Rhode Island

[Terry Gorman of RIILE sent the following e-mail to Providence Journal reporter Karen Lee Ziner in response to her front page article of Saturday. It has been lightly edited for style.]

Regarding your April 18 article in the Providence Journal, “Fight over Obama’s orders“, so much for “HIDING IN THE SHADOWS“. Two women here Illegally delivering 5 children that by current law are U S Citizens. Free pre-natal care, childbirth, post-partum care and long term family planning for two years (evidently not working) all at the expense of taxpayers. Just how much does this group cost US taxpayers and how is it justified in these lean times?

I think this article will only serve to ENCOURAGE many more pregnant illegal alien women to flock to Rhode Island. Why wouldn’t they come if they can arrive Illegally, have as many children as they wish, work Illegally or just not work, receive workers compensation, get free care for a child’s autism, receive subsidies for the new U S citizen children in the form of welfare, SNAP etc., now that it’s been basically ADVERTISED on the front page of a major newspaper? Thanks.


Steve Ahlquist, the Oppressors’ Heir

In attacking Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, Steve Ahlquist gives reason to believe he’d have been a different kind of oppressor in a different time.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 37 (WJAR Gubernatorial Debates & Immigration)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the first Republican and Democrat gubernatorial debates on Channel 10, WJAR, with some emphasis on the illegal immigration crisis.


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Infrastructure

Politicians, Look to Your Own “Horrendous Impact” on Energy Prices

When the energy market forces National Grid to increase its rates, politicians condemn the company, but expensive energy is a problem to which they’ve happily contributed.


RhodeMap Brings Eminent Domain One Step Closer

Analysis of the state law purporting to protect Rhode Islanders from eminent domain suggests that RhodeMap RI makes government takings significantly easier.


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.


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Legislation

The Math Works for School Choice, in Rhode Island

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s new school choice economic model projects statewide savings and can help educate the public.


Correction on Getting Away Without Paying the New HealthSource Tax

HealthSource RI has asked me to clarify my statement about how many Rhode Islanders will have their payments of the proposed new tax covered by their federal subsidies.


Amazon: Failure to Lure or RI Out of the Question?

Nobody’s mentioned it, but the decision of Amazon.com to place a major distribution center in Fall River (rather than Rhode Island) may be a ripple of consequence from the General Assembly’s 2009 attempt to grab money from the company’s sales.


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Media

Terry Gorman: Sympathetic Providence Journal Article Encourages Illegal Immigration to Rhode Island

[Terry Gorman of RIILE sent the following e-mail to Providence Journal reporter Karen Lee Ziner in response to her front page article of Saturday. It has been lightly edited for style.]

Regarding your April 18 article in the Providence Journal, “Fight over Obama’s orders“, so much for “HIDING IN THE SHADOWS“. Two women here Illegally delivering 5 children that by current law are U S Citizens. Free pre-natal care, childbirth, post-partum care and long term family planning for two years (evidently not working) all at the expense of taxpayers. Just how much does this group cost US taxpayers and how is it justified in these lean times?

I think this article will only serve to ENCOURAGE many more pregnant illegal alien women to flock to Rhode Island. Why wouldn’t they come if they can arrive Illegally, have as many children as they wish, work Illegally or just not work, receive workers compensation, get free care for a child’s autism, receive subsidies for the new U S citizen children in the form of welfare, SNAP etc., now that it’s been basically ADVERTISED on the front page of a major newspaper? Thanks.


Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


“National Grid sells renewable energy at a profit; customers get credit.” FALSE

Providence Journal environmental reporter Alex Kuffner suggests that National Grid expects to make a profit on its renewable energy and give ratepayers a credit. We rate that False.


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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

The World the West is Creating with Vladimir Putin


Is there a better way than political authoritarianism and stunted economic growth that Vladimir Putin’s subjects (including high-ranking oligarchs) might want to consider? Western elites might not like to admit this, but ratcheting up an “uncivilized” tribal strategy may be an effective way for Putin and current Russian leadership to answer this question in the negative, by boosting the morale (at least in the short term) of his Russian followers, and by frightening an “internationalist” coalition away from being willing to take the steps necessary to slow his expansion.

The ultimate effectiveness of this strategy depends on the strength and the nature of the coherence of the adversary that Russia faces.


Watching the President from the Other Side

Many among the conservative commentariate have quickly gotten past their brief flirtation with “I told you so” and are moving toward a tone of slow, aching disconcertment.


Government United in Surveillance, People Divided

An opportunity for unified action by all Americans looks likely to be thwarted by the discord that the government and political agents have sowed.


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On a Lighter Note

Friday Night Beer: Ommegang Valar Morghulis

A dubbel ale by Ommegang offers enjoyable flavor with mild buzz and a tie-in to the world of fantasy novels.


My Non-Epic Soccer Post


I’ll side with the Ancient Romans over Ann Coulter, but soccer’s powers-that-be should really lighten up on the substitution rules.


$5,000 – or .000022 – Worth of Sunday Morning Grins & Giggles Courtesy PolitiFact RI

On a personal note, I’d like to sincerely thank PolitiFact RI for starting my day with a big smile this morning, though perhaps they would not be altogether pleased at the reason.

In today’s Providence Journal, they’ve rated a statement by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (hereinafter “the Center”) pertaining to the $224.5 million in wasteful spending identified by the Center in the governor’s proposed 2015 budget. PolitiFact is not questioning that the state gave away the $5,000 example offered by the Center of an expenditure item in the Governor’s Workforce Board from a prior year. PolitiFact is only saying that the Center did not fully explain what the $5,000 in hard earned taxpayer dollars was spent on.


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Pensions

Retiree Liability and What You Owe

If the people of Rhode Island are going to come to grips with their pension and OPEB problem, journalists (and their editors) are going to have to figure out how the math works.


Coalition Radio Introduces Three Fiscal Topics into the 2014 Campaign


Issue 1: Do any candidates for Rhode Island Governor or Rhode Island General Assembly support modifying or repealing Governor Chafee’s Wall-Street-first law regarding municipal priorities?

Issue 2: Will any of the candidates for Governor of Rhode Island have their fiscal staffs look immediately into the possibility of a Providence receivership. Will they tell us if they do?

Issue 3: Buddy Cianci, according to some research done by Michael Riley, once advocated for pension obligation bonds to help finance Providence’s pension system. Might he do so again?


A Public-Sector Sense of Unfairness

A retired teacher and Providence Journal contributor thinks pension reform gave her a raw deal. Looking at the numbers, it’s difficult to see her deal as a public employee as anything short of spectacular.


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Political Theory

Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


Talking About Persuasion After They’ve Shoved You in a Box

Baptist university professor David Gushee misses the core argument in the budding fascism of the same-sex marriage movement against his fellow Christians.


Killing Mutual Accommodation and Pluralism in an Unreasonable Society

Events on the cultural front, in the past week or so, force the truly frightening conclusion that we’ve reached a new era of unreasonableness, in which mutual accommodation and pluralism will be impossible.


Back to top



Politics

Terry Gorman: Sympathetic Providence Journal Article Encourages Illegal Immigration to Rhode Island

[Terry Gorman of RIILE sent the following e-mail to Providence Journal reporter Karen Lee Ziner in response to her front page article of Saturday. It has been lightly edited for style.]

Regarding your April 18 article in the Providence Journal, “Fight over Obama’s orders“, so much for “HIDING IN THE SHADOWS“. Two women here Illegally delivering 5 children that by current law are U S Citizens. Free pre-natal care, childbirth, post-partum care and long term family planning for two years (evidently not working) all at the expense of taxpayers. Just how much does this group cost US taxpayers and how is it justified in these lean times?

I think this article will only serve to ENCOURAGE many more pregnant illegal alien women to flock to Rhode Island. Why wouldn’t they come if they can arrive Illegally, have as many children as they wish, work Illegally or just not work, receive workers compensation, get free care for a child’s autism, receive subsidies for the new U S citizen children in the form of welfare, SNAP etc., now that it’s been basically ADVERTISED on the front page of a major newspaper? Thanks.


Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


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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

Development in Tiverton

Debate about economic development in Tiverton can’t simply be an exercise in hyperbole and NIMBYism.


Terry Gorman: Sympathetic Providence Journal Article Encourages Illegal Immigration to Rhode Island

[Terry Gorman of RIILE sent the following e-mail to Providence Journal reporter Karen Lee Ziner in response to her front page article of Saturday. It has been lightly edited for style.]

Regarding your April 18 article in the Providence Journal, “Fight over Obama’s orders“, so much for “HIDING IN THE SHADOWS“. Two women here Illegally delivering 5 children that by current law are U S Citizens. Free pre-natal care, childbirth, post-partum care and long term family planning for two years (evidently not working) all at the expense of taxpayers. Just how much does this group cost US taxpayers and how is it justified in these lean times?

I think this article will only serve to ENCOURAGE many more pregnant illegal alien women to flock to Rhode Island. Why wouldn’t they come if they can arrive Illegally, have as many children as they wish, work Illegally or just not work, receive workers compensation, get free care for a child’s autism, receive subsidies for the new U S citizen children in the form of welfare, SNAP etc., now that it’s been basically ADVERTISED on the front page of a major newspaper? Thanks.


Reviewing the Earned Income Tax Credit

Debate about Governor Raimondo’s proposed increase in the earned income tax credit illustrates both the spin of advocates and the danger of making wealth redistribution the province of the political process.


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Unions

Labor Union Hotel Boycotting Sure Doesn’t Seem to Be Cooperative

A union boycott letter being sent to Providence Hilton customers raises puts into question what an “unfair labor practice” actually is.


Clarity in the Obama Era (How Reasonable People Let It Happen)

Increasing evidence that the federal government is using its powers to further political and ideological ends illustrates how a reasonable, civilized society sinks into totalitarianism.


Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


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Welfare

Reviewing the Earned Income Tax Credit

Debate about Governor Raimondo’s proposed increase in the earned income tax credit illustrates both the spin of advocates and the danger of making wealth redistribution the province of the political process.


Correction on Getting Away Without Paying the New HealthSource Tax

HealthSource RI has asked me to clarify my statement about how many Rhode Islanders will have their payments of the proposed new tax covered by their federal subsidies.


Gary Morse: PolitiFact RI Wrong on Stenhouse Statement

The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development is very concerned about fairness, and its definition falls within Mike Stenhouse’s characterization of it.


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