Topics

City/Town Government

How Long Will Rhode Islanders Take the Abuse from Government?

Public sector pay, tolls, and regulation of political activity all point to a dangerous, unstable future for Rhode Island.


Bipartisan Legislation Against Free Speech and Civil Rights

Legislation targeting every individual who becomes active in local direct democracy for campaign finance reports should disqualify its supporters from public office.


Another Government Office… Yeah, That’s the Ticket

Treasurer Seth Magaziner’s debt-oversight proposal and the Providence Journal’s endorsement of it avoid the fact that we can’t trust state government.


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Civil Rights

Progressive Housing Policy and Economic Inequality

Joel Kotkin points out some interesting factors worth considering on the subject of housing and inequality, but we might learn more from his apparent errors.


The Established Religion of Broad Rock Middle School in South Kingstown

At Broad Rock Middle School in South Kingstown, school authorities apparently interpret the Will of the Universe in order to “re-teach” behavior that will turn the school into a “nirvana” as defined by local government employees.


How Long Will Rhode Islanders Take the Abuse from Government?

Public sector pay, tolls, and regulation of political activity all point to a dangerous, unstable future for Rhode Island.


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Congress

Rhode Island’s Brand: Don’t Even Try to Make It Here

Today’s edition of the Providence Journal offers an end-of-the-year snapshot of why the state is struggling and likely to continue doing so.


A Warning in Three Steps

The warning signs for civil unrest are all there, plain to see, but America’s ruling class is marching along nonetheless


Whitehouse Soldiers on Against Freedom of Speech

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, from Rhode Island, isn’t backing off his suggestion that government should investigate his political opposition.


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Culture & Family

Progressive Housing Policy and Economic Inequality

Joel Kotkin points out some interesting factors worth considering on the subject of housing and inequality, but we might learn more from his apparent errors.


The Established Religion of Broad Rock Middle School in South Kingstown

At Broad Rock Middle School in South Kingstown, school authorities apparently interpret the Will of the Universe in order to “re-teach” behavior that will turn the school into a “nirvana” as defined by local government employees.


Can’t Battle Full Fantasy Socialism with Quasi Self-Serving Socialism

Those who fear the threat of Millennials’ full socialism must embrace a more-full conservatism.


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Economy

Ocean State Job Lot? You Didn’t Build That.

RI Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor puts President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” philosophy into practice when asked whether Ocean State Job Lot is justified in complaining about the state’s unilateral change of the terms of its Rhode Island operation.


Ackerman’s Full Communication

The full communication concerning her pro-toll vote that one of Representative Mia Ackerman’s constituents forwarded to The Current.


Progressive Housing Policy and Economic Inequality

Joel Kotkin points out some interesting factors worth considering on the subject of housing and inequality, but we might learn more from his apparent errors.


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Education

The Established Religion of Broad Rock Middle School in South Kingstown

At Broad Rock Middle School in South Kingstown, school authorities apparently interpret the Will of the Universe in order to “re-teach” behavior that will turn the school into a “nirvana” as defined by local government employees.


The Fruits of Halting Education Reform

Through the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, I put out a one-page report today, time to coincide with National School Choice Week. Using data available through the Center’s interactive application to review state-level results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, the one-pager points out something that I’ve noted before: Rhode Island actually gained ground through much of the last decade, particularly among disadvantaged students, but hit a hard ceiling when reforms were halted. Here’s one of the charts from the report with an added political dimension that’s quite striking:

RI-NAEP-averagescores-bygroup-wgovernors-2003-2015

As the General Assembly promises to knock around charter schools this session (with some reforms that I actually break from school choice allies in supporting), Rhode Islanders should rouse themselves at least a little bit to insist that the special interests who control our state — in particular, public education — must be made to step aside in the interest of real, secure, long-term school choice that stops funding government-branded schools and starts funding education. In other words, we need real school choice in the Ocean State.


Key Question: A Western Decline for Whom?

Thinking through the incentives of global trends reveals that protectionism and divisiveness is designed to keep power where it is, rather than disperse it in response to competition.


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Energy & Environment

A Dog Not Barking in the Cold Streetlights

When the government finds “no brainer” deals like Providence’s streetlight grab, you can be sure somebody’s selling the benefits of wealth redistribution.


RI Report Card: Rhode Island Government Still Failing Its People

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Competitiveness Report Card for Rhode Island is less of an indication of how Rhode Islanders are doing than what insiders are doing to us.


Whitehouse Soldiers on Against Freedom of Speech

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, from Rhode Island, isn’t backing off his suggestion that government should investigate his political opposition.


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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

Ackerman’s Full Communication

The full communication concerning her pro-toll vote that one of Representative Mia Ackerman’s constituents forwarded to The Current.


The Car-Toll Referendum is a Perfect Example of Something that Belongs in the State Constitution


Subtitle: A rebuttal to Governor Gina Raimondo’s appearance on Newsmakers.

And which concludes with…If Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island lawmakers truly believe that tolling passenger vehicles should be placed beyond the reach of the legislature and are not merely slipping a few words into the law as meaningless political theater, then according to the most basic tenets of constitutional democracy, the referendum requirement needs to be placed into the constitution. And in the absence of a constitutionally-required referendum, it is entirely fair to describe legislators who support the current truck-toll legislation as supporting tolls on trucks now, with a legislative option for tolls on cars later.


Constitutional Amendment Limiting New Tolls to be Heard Alongside the Rhode Works Bill


Today, the Rhode Works plan, which creates a system for tolling trucks across the network of Rhode Island highways, will have its first hearing in the RI Senate Finance Committee….the Senate Finance Committee will also hear a bill today to send to the voters a constitutional amendment which would require that any future car tolls be directly approved by voter referendum….and there is no reason why both bills shouldn’t move through the legislative process together — unless, of course, the plan all along has been to use truck tolls as a stepping stone towards car tolls.

Any legislator who votes for the Rhode Works bill without also voting for the constitutional amendment will be voting for truck tolls now with an option for car tolls later.


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Government

Progressive Housing Policy and Economic Inequality

Joel Kotkin points out some interesting factors worth considering on the subject of housing and inequality, but we might learn more from his apparent errors.


Minimum Wage and a Delayed Diagnosis

Whether it’s the minimum wage, tolls, or some progressive social issue, the advocates of the Left follow the pattern of a Seventeenth Century bureaucracy denying the arrival of the plague.


How Long Will Rhode Islanders Take the Abuse from Government?

Public sector pay, tolls, and regulation of political activity all point to a dangerous, unstable future for Rhode Island.


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Governor

Picking a Strategy That Suits the Governor, Not Her State

Governor Raimondo’s approach to economic development is to force a lower-skilled, lower-income population to subsidize jobs for higher-skilled, higher-income people from other states.


James Cournoyer: Tolls – Resist the Urge to Create a Big Bang Wrapped in the Worn Flag of “Economic Growth” and “Creating Jobs”

Dear Members of the General Assembly,

Please vote against Governor Raimondo’s and Speaker Mattiello’s Rhodeworks plan that calls for Tolls and more Debt.

RI may have the worse roads and bridges, but we are also saddled with one of the highest Debt burdens in the nation – both on a per capita basis and as a percentage of Gross State Product. We simply do not need more debt.

The Governor explained to us in October that the RIDOT, which has a stunning $450+ million budget this year, was “dysfunctional” and that they “never produced start-to-finish budgets and schedules”. That is precisely the reason our roads are in such disrepair. It is NOT due to a lack of funding; rather, it is due to a lack of planning and oversight, and gross mismanagement.

Tolls will simply add to RI’s already notorious national reputation of being “anti-business”.


How Long Will Rhode Islanders Take the Abuse from Government?

Public sector pay, tolls, and regulation of political activity all point to a dangerous, unstable future for Rhode Island.


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Healthcare

The Mystery of Central Planning in Healthcare

Ted Almon, a personally invested advocate for government-controlled healthcare, expresses awe at the complexity of making his industry conform to a central plan.


Clarity of Objectives on Rhode Island Healthcare Policy

Why would it hurt healthcare in RI to have more providers using innovative delivery techniques? Because it would hinder wealth redistribution and government control, of course.


What Rhode Island Politicians Have Been Building Toward

Whether in Chicago or Rhode Island, the progressive project is a society in which government officials have power to force their own policies on the people and collect lots of money.


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History

James Baar: Study Ignores How Spin Erodes RI Credibility

The Brookings Institution study recommending steps to reinvigorate Rhode Island’s economy conspicuously leaves out suggestions about how to overcome state government’s addiction to spinning the people.


Having to Relearn the Lessons Learned Throughout History

Some brief examples from early U.S. history illustrate the importance of the free market and raise the question of whether the lessons of history are being deliberately mis-taught.


Thoughts on Kenneth Colston and Pleasurable (and Voluntary) Asceticism

Kenneth Colston traces the significance of Saint Francis and Franciscans in the works of Shakespeare, Manzoni, and Chesterton and applies them to Pope Francis.


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Immigration

Can’t Battle Full Fantasy Socialism with Quasi Self-Serving Socialism

Those who fear the threat of Millennials’ full socialism must embrace a more-full conservatism.


Quick Thoughts from a Rhode Island Republican, on the Presidential Primary Vote


Really quick thoughts: Saying no to Donald Trump, and choosing between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.


The Slippery Ground of Driver’s Licenses and Voting

The barriers between driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and their ability to vote are not very daunting, and citizens who suspect the rule of law has eroded should be concerned about the government’s intentions.


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Infrastructure

Ocean State Job Lot? You Didn’t Build That.

RI Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor puts President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” philosophy into practice when asked whether Ocean State Job Lot is justified in complaining about the state’s unilateral change of the terms of its Rhode Island operation.


Ackerman’s Full Communication

The full communication concerning her pro-toll vote that one of Representative Mia Ackerman’s constituents forwarded to The Current.


The Car-Toll Referendum is a Perfect Example of Something that Belongs in the State Constitution


Subtitle: A rebuttal to Governor Gina Raimondo’s appearance on Newsmakers.

And which concludes with…If Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island lawmakers truly believe that tolling passenger vehicles should be placed beyond the reach of the legislature and are not merely slipping a few words into the law as meaningless political theater, then according to the most basic tenets of constitutional democracy, the referendum requirement needs to be placed into the constitution. And in the absence of a constitutionally-required referendum, it is entirely fair to describe legislators who support the current truck-toll legislation as supporting tolls on trucks now, with a legislative option for tolls on cars later.


Back to top



Legislation

Ackerman’s Full Communication

The full communication concerning her pro-toll vote that one of Representative Mia Ackerman’s constituents forwarded to The Current.


Minimum Wage and a Delayed Diagnosis

Whether it’s the minimum wage, tolls, or some progressive social issue, the advocates of the Left follow the pattern of a Seventeenth Century bureaucracy denying the arrival of the plague.


The Car-Toll Referendum is a Perfect Example of Something that Belongs in the State Constitution


Subtitle: A rebuttal to Governor Gina Raimondo’s appearance on Newsmakers.

And which concludes with…If Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island lawmakers truly believe that tolling passenger vehicles should be placed beyond the reach of the legislature and are not merely slipping a few words into the law as meaningless political theater, then according to the most basic tenets of constitutional democracy, the referendum requirement needs to be placed into the constitution. And in the absence of a constitutionally-required referendum, it is entirely fair to describe legislators who support the current truck-toll legislation as supporting tolls on trucks now, with a legislative option for tolls on cars later.


Back to top



Media

When Journalists’ Power Can Be Taken for Granted

In Washington and Rhode Island, journalists have been complaining about an increasing lack of respect among elected officials (mainly Democrats) for their authority, but will it change the fundamentals of their coverage?


Fitzpatrick’s Obama Blind Spot Regarding Mussolini and Trump

Comparing Donald Trump to Italian Fascist Benito Mussolini should cause a giant light bulb to go off for liberal journalists about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.


The Real Outrage in Donald Trump’s Statement

The greater outrage in Donald Trump’s statement about excluding Muslims from immigration is that he’s correct in questioning whether our country’s representatives know what’s going on.


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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

Quick Thoughts from a Rhode Island Republican, on the Presidential Primary Vote


Really quick thoughts: Saying no to Donald Trump, and choosing between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.


A Warning in Three Steps

The warning signs for civil unrest are all there, plain to see, but America’s ruling class is marching along nonetheless


Balancing Moral Calculations: Checking in on Refugees and National Security

The issue of Syrian refugees may be of minimal practical consequence, in Rhode Island, but it’s an excellent case study in defining what actions morality requires of us.


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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

Another Government Office… Yeah, That’s the Ticket

Treasurer Seth Magaziner’s debt-oversight proposal and the Providence Journal’s endorsement of it avoid the fact that we can’t trust state government.


Not-So-Good-News from 2011 Pension Fund Projections

Pension fund data is complicated, so it’s risky to proclaim silver linings without knowing what caused the appearance of them.


With Woonsocket, Will They Start Listening, Now?

Woonsocket’s budget and pension woes continue their slow crash, the folks in charge continue to ratchet their denial, and the people are still unwilling to accept reality.


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Political Theory

Ocean State Job Lot? You Didn’t Build That.

RI Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor puts President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” philosophy into practice when asked whether Ocean State Job Lot is justified in complaining about the state’s unilateral change of the terms of its Rhode Island operation.


Progressive Housing Policy and Economic Inequality

Joel Kotkin points out some interesting factors worth considering on the subject of housing and inequality, but we might learn more from his apparent errors.


The Car-Toll Referendum is a Perfect Example of Something that Belongs in the State Constitution


Subtitle: A rebuttal to Governor Gina Raimondo’s appearance on Newsmakers.

And which concludes with…If Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island lawmakers truly believe that tolling passenger vehicles should be placed beyond the reach of the legislature and are not merely slipping a few words into the law as meaningless political theater, then according to the most basic tenets of constitutional democracy, the referendum requirement needs to be placed into the constitution. And in the absence of a constitutionally-required referendum, it is entirely fair to describe legislators who support the current truck-toll legislation as supporting tolls on trucks now, with a legislative option for tolls on cars later.


Back to top



Politics

Ackerman’s Full Communication

The full communication concerning her pro-toll vote that one of Representative Mia Ackerman’s constituents forwarded to The Current.


Minimum Wage and a Delayed Diagnosis

Whether it’s the minimum wage, tolls, or some progressive social issue, the advocates of the Left follow the pattern of a Seventeenth Century bureaucracy denying the arrival of the plague.


Ten Thoughts on Ted Cruz

With Ted Cruz in the lead in the GOP primary race, Erica Grieder’s profile suggests he’s pretty much what you’d expect him to be, if you thought about it.


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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

Ocean State Job Lot? You Didn’t Build That.

RI Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor puts President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” philosophy into practice when asked whether Ocean State Job Lot is justified in complaining about the state’s unilateral change of the terms of its Rhode Island operation.


The Car-Toll Referendum is a Perfect Example of Something that Belongs in the State Constitution


Subtitle: A rebuttal to Governor Gina Raimondo’s appearance on Newsmakers.

And which concludes with…If Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island lawmakers truly believe that tolling passenger vehicles should be placed beyond the reach of the legislature and are not merely slipping a few words into the law as meaningless political theater, then according to the most basic tenets of constitutional democracy, the referendum requirement needs to be placed into the constitution. And in the absence of a constitutionally-required referendum, it is entirely fair to describe legislators who support the current truck-toll legislation as supporting tolls on trucks now, with a legislative option for tolls on cars later.


Constitutional Amendment Limiting New Tolls to be Heard Alongside the Rhode Works Bill


Today, the Rhode Works plan, which creates a system for tolling trucks across the network of Rhode Island highways, will have its first hearing in the RI Senate Finance Committee….the Senate Finance Committee will also hear a bill today to send to the voters a constitutional amendment which would require that any future car tolls be directly approved by voter referendum….and there is no reason why both bills shouldn’t move through the legislative process together — unless, of course, the plan all along has been to use truck tolls as a stepping stone towards car tolls.

Any legislator who votes for the Rhode Works bill without also voting for the constitutional amendment will be voting for truck tolls now with an option for car tolls later.


Back to top



Unions

James Cournoyer: Tolls – Resist the Urge to Create a Big Bang Wrapped in the Worn Flag of “Economic Growth” and “Creating Jobs”

Dear Members of the General Assembly,

Please vote against Governor Raimondo’s and Speaker Mattiello’s Rhodeworks plan that calls for Tolls and more Debt.

RI may have the worse roads and bridges, but we are also saddled with one of the highest Debt burdens in the nation – both on a per capita basis and as a percentage of Gross State Product. We simply do not need more debt.

The Governor explained to us in October that the RIDOT, which has a stunning $450+ million budget this year, was “dysfunctional” and that they “never produced start-to-finish budgets and schedules”. That is precisely the reason our roads are in such disrepair. It is NOT due to a lack of funding; rather, it is due to a lack of planning and oversight, and gross mismanagement.

Tolls will simply add to RI’s already notorious national reputation of being “anti-business”.


How Long Will Rhode Islanders Take the Abuse from Government?

Public sector pay, tolls, and regulation of political activity all point to a dangerous, unstable future for Rhode Island.


Bipartisan Legislation Against Free Speech and Civil Rights

Legislation targeting every individual who becomes active in local direct democracy for campaign finance reports should disqualify its supporters from public office.


Back to top



Welfare

Progressive Housing Policy and Economic Inequality

Joel Kotkin points out some interesting factors worth considering on the subject of housing and inequality, but we might learn more from his apparent errors.


Key Question: A Western Decline for Whom?

Thinking through the incentives of global trends reveals that protectionism and divisiveness is designed to keep power where it is, rather than disperse it in response to competition.


Rhode Island’s Brand: Don’t Even Try to Make It Here

Today’s edition of the Providence Journal offers an end-of-the-year snapshot of why the state is struggling and likely to continue doing so.


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