Topics

City/Town Government

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


What If Rhode Islanders Really Had a Say on Budgets, Like Tiverton?

In this video, I wonder what would happen if the people of the Ocean State had a say in the budgeting process. In Tiverton, electors in town have the ability to submit budgets directly to voters. For the third year in a row, a budget that I submitted for the financial town referendum to set Tiverton’s upcoming budget won a strong majority of votes. That makes three years with tax increases under 1%.

By design, Rhode Island politicians at the state level leave the public no time to digest the budget and express their preferences to their representatives, and most of their representatives have no intention of bucking legislative leaders anyway.

Imagine, though, if Rhode Islanders really did have a say, like we do in Tiverton. What do you suppose the result would be?

Watch this new video to learn more now.


Brexit and the Government Town

Brexit and Luton don’t indicate a tension between latent nationalism and a more-enlightened elite, but between an economic model that creates opportunity and one that relies on mutual dependency.


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Civil Rights

RI Foundation’s Sneak-Attack on Free-Speech

Should Rhode Islanders silently accept the corrupt political climate that has failed so many of us? Or should we, as free citizens in our uniquely American democracy, be encouraged to freely speak-out and engage in a battle of ideas so as to help make our state a safer and more prosperous place to live, to raise a family, and to build a career?

It is the Center’s primary mission to stimulate such rigorous public debate about important policy issues. However, the most powerful and wealthy nonprofit organization in our state is asking you to shut up.

As part of its own 100th year celebration, the Rhode Island Foundation this week published and promoted a video, which, in essence, encourages people to remain silent and to accept that the political elite know best about what’s in your and my best interests.

In what initially seems to be a video for kids, it is shameful that the Foundation hides its adult message behind children. With the frequent backdrop of our State House, it is obvious that the video is intended to be political. Under the pretense of “be nice or be quiet”, the Foundation is clear in its message that is directed to all of us – that we should just “stop complaining”.

Stop complaining about Rhode Island’s 48th place ranking on the national Family Prosperity Index?
Stop complaining that so many of our neighbors cannot find or have given up looking for meaningful work?
Stop complaining about the political corruption that continues to embarrass our state?
Stop complaining about the lack of bold and decisive action to do anything significant about it?

I don’t think so.

It is also despicable that the Foundation forces these children to read text that has to be bleeped.


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.


Getting Specific on Election Law and Carnevale

Although Rep. John Carnevale’s case is an extreme one, his eligibility to register to vote in Providence hinges on his “intention,” and we shouldn’t give government agents and judges authority over that.


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Congress

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.


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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Culture & Family

Domestic Violence, Activist Paydays, and Gender Bias

RI politicians are touting their increase of funds to activists working on the issue of domestic violence, but tracing the money shows it to be a profitable activity, indeed, and one that conspicuously targets the fixing of men.


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.


Rhode Island Won’t Thrive While It Ignores Families

The key for Rhode Island society is families, and the approach of public policy should be to encourage them, not undermine them, as a scene outside of a Fall River liquor store illustrates.


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Economy

June 2016 Employment: Not Sinking Isn’t Really Great News

When it comes to Rhode Island employment, we’ve reached the point that not losing ground is the good news.


Hints of Life Independent from Government

Kate Bramson’s article in yesterday’s Providence Journal would make for an interesting case study.  It seems — Doesn’t it? — that so much of news reporting is akin to a corporate newsletter for the government.  Three reasons for this come quickly to mind:

  1. Government confiscates a great deal of tax money in order to pay communications employees to promote its activities, and they make it very easy for journalists by staging events with notable people, finding the human interest characters to populate the stories, and providing all of the background information.
  2. Journalists tend to be liberal or progressive (whatever distinction one might see between the two), so they have an innate sympathy for what appear to be positive actions from government officials, particularly liberal or progressive government officials.
  3. We all have some stake and responsibility when it comes to government, so publications aimed at a general audience understandably treat it as an area of focus.

 

Unfortunately, though, this running narrative becomes self-reinforcing, as government becomes the central story of our lives.  Bramson’s article, for instance, is about the state government’s program giving taxpayer money to a private company, Electric Boat, to train new employees.  The human interest component is a young woman from Tiverton:

New England Institute of Technology welding instructor Matthew Topper is teaching the trade to Coventry teacher Jamie Cotnoir this summer and recently trained Hannah Cook-Dumas, a Tiverton High School graduate who now works for General Dynamics Electric Boat. …

Cook-Dumas, 19, said she was mostly home-schooled and her father was her first welding teacher. After she tried college and realized her initial career idea wasn’t right, Cook-Dumas got an internship with a welder who used to work for Electric Boat. He urged her to apply to the company.

Hannah was educated at home through tenth grade, and her younger siblings are mostly taught at home, with private high school filling in at the upper levels. (One might reasonably draw conclusions from that change in practice with the younger children.)  She was first in her class at New England Tech, as well as the youngest, indicating not only intelligence but drive.  Yet, the story is that Electric Boat needs $2 million in taxpayer money — with photo ops for two senators, a governor, and an education commissioner — in order to make the eminently wise decision of hiring her?  Come on.

We (ourselves and our media) need to start challenging these unspoken assumptions, because our approach to policy will broaden tremendously, with expanded opportunities and effectiveness.  Step back a moment from the well-constructed tale of the article and the picture takes on other shades.  Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo has, in the past, proposed eliminating funding that allows private-and home-schooled students to borrow textbooks and participate in public school busing services.  Her dual enrollment program, funding college courses for high school students, is explicitly only available to those in public schools.  The same is true of her free-SAT program.  The program in this article gives companies money to shape workers to their own needs as a competitive advantage to other companies, including small shops.

In the progressive Raimondo vision, our “education system” is just the series of public schools in which politicians and bureaucrats have control over the content, and it is mainly a means of promulgating progressive values, shaping the skills of Rhode Islanders to match the requests of high-profile private interests, and (naturally) funding the big-government machine (in the form of union activists).  In a contrary vision, families make decisions specific to their own children and their own situations, students strive to succeed and to find work that satisfies them as unique individuals, and businesses hire them because it makes economic sense to do so.

One of those visions fosters fully formed, independent, and self-valued individuals.  The other fosters dependency and diminishes individual achievement.


Domestic Violence, Activist Paydays, and Gender Bias

RI politicians are touting their increase of funds to activists working on the issue of domestic violence, but tracing the money shows it to be a profitable activity, indeed, and one that conspicuously targets the fixing of men.


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Education

Hints of Life Independent from Government

Kate Bramson’s article in yesterday’s Providence Journal would make for an interesting case study.  It seems — Doesn’t it? — that so much of news reporting is akin to a corporate newsletter for the government.  Three reasons for this come quickly to mind:

  1. Government confiscates a great deal of tax money in order to pay communications employees to promote its activities, and they make it very easy for journalists by staging events with notable people, finding the human interest characters to populate the stories, and providing all of the background information.
  2. Journalists tend to be liberal or progressive (whatever distinction one might see between the two), so they have an innate sympathy for what appear to be positive actions from government officials, particularly liberal or progressive government officials.
  3. We all have some stake and responsibility when it comes to government, so publications aimed at a general audience understandably treat it as an area of focus.

 

Unfortunately, though, this running narrative becomes self-reinforcing, as government becomes the central story of our lives.  Bramson’s article, for instance, is about the state government’s program giving taxpayer money to a private company, Electric Boat, to train new employees.  The human interest component is a young woman from Tiverton:

New England Institute of Technology welding instructor Matthew Topper is teaching the trade to Coventry teacher Jamie Cotnoir this summer and recently trained Hannah Cook-Dumas, a Tiverton High School graduate who now works for General Dynamics Electric Boat. …

Cook-Dumas, 19, said she was mostly home-schooled and her father was her first welding teacher. After she tried college and realized her initial career idea wasn’t right, Cook-Dumas got an internship with a welder who used to work for Electric Boat. He urged her to apply to the company.

Hannah was educated at home through tenth grade, and her younger siblings are mostly taught at home, with private high school filling in at the upper levels. (One might reasonably draw conclusions from that change in practice with the younger children.)  She was first in her class at New England Tech, as well as the youngest, indicating not only intelligence but drive.  Yet, the story is that Electric Boat needs $2 million in taxpayer money — with photo ops for two senators, a governor, and an education commissioner — in order to make the eminently wise decision of hiring her?  Come on.

We (ourselves and our media) need to start challenging these unspoken assumptions, because our approach to policy will broaden tremendously, with expanded opportunities and effectiveness.  Step back a moment from the well-constructed tale of the article and the picture takes on other shades.  Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo has, in the past, proposed eliminating funding that allows private-and home-schooled students to borrow textbooks and participate in public school busing services.  Her dual enrollment program, funding college courses for high school students, is explicitly only available to those in public schools.  The same is true of her free-SAT program.  The program in this article gives companies money to shape workers to their own needs as a competitive advantage to other companies, including small shops.

In the progressive Raimondo vision, our “education system” is just the series of public schools in which politicians and bureaucrats have control over the content, and it is mainly a means of promulgating progressive values, shaping the skills of Rhode Islanders to match the requests of high-profile private interests, and (naturally) funding the big-government machine (in the form of union activists).  In a contrary vision, families make decisions specific to their own children and their own situations, students strive to succeed and to find work that satisfies them as unique individuals, and businesses hire them because it makes economic sense to do so.

One of those visions fosters fully formed, independent, and self-valued individuals.  The other fosters dependency and diminishes individual achievement.


The Agenda Behind the Dept. of Education’s Transgender “Guidance”

“Guidance” from the state Dept. of Education claims to be voluntary suggestions for handling the rare and difficult situation of transgender students, but it’s really a mandatory reshaping of government schools’ role in shaping children.


UPDATED: A School Musical and Pushing the Envelope with Your Children

The focal story in this week’s Sakonnet Times begins by noting that Tiverton High School’s now-running student musical marks the first time any high school in the entire state has performed Hair in the half century since it was released.  There’s a reason for that, and it’s the same reason the school felt the need to put a disclaimer on its fliers, warning in bolded all caps: “FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.”

Younger brothers and sisters of the performers… sorry, you’re out of luck.  The public high school is apparently no place for children in Tiverton.

Drama director Gloria Crist notes that she modified the nudity scene, replacing the potential child pornography with something involving glow sticks.  She also notes that there won’t be any depictions of drug use actually on the stage.  As for the script’s profanity, Crist says she took some out, but “kept the rest in, with taste of course.”

Those familiar with the musical — and I had the soundtrack memorized at one point — might question the judgment of taste by somebody who would choose this play for a school production involving children as young as 14 or 15.  I’ve requested from the district a song list and the libretto but have not yet received any reply.

According to Crist, Tams-Witmark Music Library, which owns the rights to Hair, refused to let the school cut the nudity scene, but allowed the glow-stick creativity.  One wonders whether the school was permitted to cut some of the songs, like “Sodomy” (“Masturbation can be fun/Join the holy orgy Kama Sutra everyone”); “Initials,” in which LBJ takes the IRT and sees “the youth of America on LSD,” or “The Bed.”  If individual parents want to validate this sort of content for their own children, that’s one thing, but for a public high school to be giving it a seal of approval is wholly inappropriate.

No doubt much of the most objectionable content has been removed or softened, but even so, “clever work-arounds,” as the article puts it, for content that goes too far even for radicals have a tendency to invite curiosity, especially among children with access to the Internet wherever they go, carrying the implied approval of the public school system.

Even edited, there’s simply no way to tease out the glorification of sex and drug culture in Hair.  Rhode Island is the sixth-highest state in the nation for drug overdose deaths, according to the CDC.  Addressing the counterculture of the ’60s in an academic setting is appropriate, to be sure, but Hair revels in it, promotes it.  Indeed, Crist seems to intend the explicit propagandizing of the town’s children: “It has been so powerful to watch them get it. But they do. They understand what freedom of choice is, social justice…”

This sort of decision by the school department certainly affirms the decisions of many parents who choose private schools for their children, but parents who lack the resources are stuck.  Frankly, if public school is now about pushing the envelope in this way, the case is even stronger for allowing parents to use the funds set aside for their children to make better decisions.

UPDATE (5/19/16; 8:11 a.m.)

Given a resurgence of attention to this post, I should note that the school administration did send me a song list, and I have watched the performance (although the video on YouTube has since been switched to private).  Busy days and other priorities combined with indecision about whether it would be appropriate to publicize an unofficial video of the performance led to the delay of this update.

The songs “Sodomy” and “The Bed,” described above, were removed from the script, but “Initials” was kept, as were other inappropriate songs, like “Hashish,” which lists drugs and ends with “s-e-x, y-o-u” and a euphoric “wow.”  Much of the sexual content of the musical remained, the anti-Catholic parts were actually more aggressive than I would have expected.


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Energy & Environment

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.


Article 18: Another Insider “Deepwater” Scam in the Making? (Corrected)

Despite disturbing new revelations and renewed public criticism about insider legislative grants, cronyism appears to be alive and well at the Rhode Island State House. And once again, Ocean State families and businesses would be asked to foot the bill.

In the budget that got voted out of the Finance Committee early Wednesday morning, alert observers spotted and brought to the attention of the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity as well as the Ocean State Current on Friday an extensive revision to Article 18.

They are correct to loudly ring warning bells about it. If it stays in, state electric ratepayers are in for even higher electric rates than they currently pay.


Benjamin C. Riggs: Fighting Climate Change in Burrillville

Given the realities of economics and pollution, blocking a natural gas plant in Burrillville isn’t a very good strategy if the goal is to fight climate change.


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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

Domestic Violence, Activist Paydays, and Gender Bias

RI politicians are touting their increase of funds to activists working on the issue of domestic violence, but tracing the money shows it to be a profitable activity, indeed, and one that conspicuously targets the fixing of men.


What If Rhode Islanders Really Had a Say on Budgets, Like Tiverton?

In this video, I wonder what would happen if the people of the Ocean State had a say in the budgeting process. In Tiverton, electors in town have the ability to submit budgets directly to voters. For the third year in a row, a budget that I submitted for the financial town referendum to set Tiverton’s upcoming budget won a strong majority of votes. That makes three years with tax increases under 1%.

By design, Rhode Island politicians at the state level leave the public no time to digest the budget and express their preferences to their representatives, and most of their representatives have no intention of bucking legislative leaders anyway.

Imagine, though, if Rhode Islanders really did have a say, like we do in Tiverton. What do you suppose the result would be?

Watch this new video to learn more now.


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.


Back to top



Government

Hints of Life Independent from Government

Kate Bramson’s article in yesterday’s Providence Journal would make for an interesting case study.  It seems — Doesn’t it? — that so much of news reporting is akin to a corporate newsletter for the government.  Three reasons for this come quickly to mind:

  1. Government confiscates a great deal of tax money in order to pay communications employees to promote its activities, and they make it very easy for journalists by staging events with notable people, finding the human interest characters to populate the stories, and providing all of the background information.
  2. Journalists tend to be liberal or progressive (whatever distinction one might see between the two), so they have an innate sympathy for what appear to be positive actions from government officials, particularly liberal or progressive government officials.
  3. We all have some stake and responsibility when it comes to government, so publications aimed at a general audience understandably treat it as an area of focus.

 

Unfortunately, though, this running narrative becomes self-reinforcing, as government becomes the central story of our lives.  Bramson’s article, for instance, is about the state government’s program giving taxpayer money to a private company, Electric Boat, to train new employees.  The human interest component is a young woman from Tiverton:

New England Institute of Technology welding instructor Matthew Topper is teaching the trade to Coventry teacher Jamie Cotnoir this summer and recently trained Hannah Cook-Dumas, a Tiverton High School graduate who now works for General Dynamics Electric Boat. …

Cook-Dumas, 19, said she was mostly home-schooled and her father was her first welding teacher. After she tried college and realized her initial career idea wasn’t right, Cook-Dumas got an internship with a welder who used to work for Electric Boat. He urged her to apply to the company.

Hannah was educated at home through tenth grade, and her younger siblings are mostly taught at home, with private high school filling in at the upper levels. (One might reasonably draw conclusions from that change in practice with the younger children.)  She was first in her class at New England Tech, as well as the youngest, indicating not only intelligence but drive.  Yet, the story is that Electric Boat needs $2 million in taxpayer money — with photo ops for two senators, a governor, and an education commissioner — in order to make the eminently wise decision of hiring her?  Come on.

We (ourselves and our media) need to start challenging these unspoken assumptions, because our approach to policy will broaden tremendously, with expanded opportunities and effectiveness.  Step back a moment from the well-constructed tale of the article and the picture takes on other shades.  Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo has, in the past, proposed eliminating funding that allows private-and home-schooled students to borrow textbooks and participate in public school busing services.  Her dual enrollment program, funding college courses for high school students, is explicitly only available to those in public schools.  The same is true of her free-SAT program.  The program in this article gives companies money to shape workers to their own needs as a competitive advantage to other companies, including small shops.

In the progressive Raimondo vision, our “education system” is just the series of public schools in which politicians and bureaucrats have control over the content, and it is mainly a means of promulgating progressive values, shaping the skills of Rhode Islanders to match the requests of high-profile private interests, and (naturally) funding the big-government machine (in the form of union activists).  In a contrary vision, families make decisions specific to their own children and their own situations, students strive to succeed and to find work that satisfies them as unique individuals, and businesses hire them because it makes economic sense to do so.

One of those visions fosters fully formed, independent, and self-valued individuals.  The other fosters dependency and diminishes individual achievement.


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


Plato, Poverty Inc., and Rhode Island

The reasoning of Plato and the facts of poverty illustrate that all of our knowledge and technology have not prevented Rhode Island’s slipping toward being civic invalids.


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Governor

Hints of Life Independent from Government

Kate Bramson’s article in yesterday’s Providence Journal would make for an interesting case study.  It seems — Doesn’t it? — that so much of news reporting is akin to a corporate newsletter for the government.  Three reasons for this come quickly to mind:

  1. Government confiscates a great deal of tax money in order to pay communications employees to promote its activities, and they make it very easy for journalists by staging events with notable people, finding the human interest characters to populate the stories, and providing all of the background information.
  2. Journalists tend to be liberal or progressive (whatever distinction one might see between the two), so they have an innate sympathy for what appear to be positive actions from government officials, particularly liberal or progressive government officials.
  3. We all have some stake and responsibility when it comes to government, so publications aimed at a general audience understandably treat it as an area of focus.

 

Unfortunately, though, this running narrative becomes self-reinforcing, as government becomes the central story of our lives.  Bramson’s article, for instance, is about the state government’s program giving taxpayer money to a private company, Electric Boat, to train new employees.  The human interest component is a young woman from Tiverton:

New England Institute of Technology welding instructor Matthew Topper is teaching the trade to Coventry teacher Jamie Cotnoir this summer and recently trained Hannah Cook-Dumas, a Tiverton High School graduate who now works for General Dynamics Electric Boat. …

Cook-Dumas, 19, said she was mostly home-schooled and her father was her first welding teacher. After she tried college and realized her initial career idea wasn’t right, Cook-Dumas got an internship with a welder who used to work for Electric Boat. He urged her to apply to the company.

Hannah was educated at home through tenth grade, and her younger siblings are mostly taught at home, with private high school filling in at the upper levels. (One might reasonably draw conclusions from that change in practice with the younger children.)  She was first in her class at New England Tech, as well as the youngest, indicating not only intelligence but drive.  Yet, the story is that Electric Boat needs $2 million in taxpayer money — with photo ops for two senators, a governor, and an education commissioner — in order to make the eminently wise decision of hiring her?  Come on.

We (ourselves and our media) need to start challenging these unspoken assumptions, because our approach to policy will broaden tremendously, with expanded opportunities and effectiveness.  Step back a moment from the well-constructed tale of the article and the picture takes on other shades.  Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo has, in the past, proposed eliminating funding that allows private-and home-schooled students to borrow textbooks and participate in public school busing services.  Her dual enrollment program, funding college courses for high school students, is explicitly only available to those in public schools.  The same is true of her free-SAT program.  The program in this article gives companies money to shape workers to their own needs as a competitive advantage to other companies, including small shops.

In the progressive Raimondo vision, our “education system” is just the series of public schools in which politicians and bureaucrats have control over the content, and it is mainly a means of promulgating progressive values, shaping the skills of Rhode Islanders to match the requests of high-profile private interests, and (naturally) funding the big-government machine (in the form of union activists).  In a contrary vision, families make decisions specific to their own children and their own situations, students strive to succeed and to find work that satisfies them as unique individuals, and businesses hire them because it makes economic sense to do so.

One of those visions fosters fully formed, independent, and self-valued individuals.  The other fosters dependency and diminishes individual achievement.


Domestic Violence, Activist Paydays, and Gender Bias

RI politicians are touting their increase of funds to activists working on the issue of domestic violence, but tracing the money shows it to be a profitable activity, indeed, and one that conspicuously targets the fixing of men.


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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Healthcare

Social Radicals Use the Law to Affirm Their Worldview, at Children’s Expense

Legislation forbidding any professional services for families seeking help with a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity issues will enforce a particular social ideology.


Raimondo, Healthcare, and Fascism

Fascism is a variety of socialism that allows government officials to blame private businesses that have no choice but to do what they’re told, as Rhode Island is seeing with its health care system.


Rhode Island Foundation’s Money from the State

Claims that $600,000 of revenue from the state to the Rhode Island Foundation was simply a “pass-through,” not a payment for services, appear to conflict with state documents related to the Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative.


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History

The Narrative of the Americas

A narrative of American advance and decline that misses the importance of the rule of law in mediating ideological differences pushes us toward tyranny.


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.


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Immigration

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.


Brexit and the Government Town

Brexit and Luton don’t indicate a tension between latent nationalism and a more-enlightened elite, but between an economic model that creates opportunity and one that relies on mutual dependency.


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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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

Domestic Violence, Activist Paydays, and Gender Bias

RI politicians are touting their increase of funds to activists working on the issue of domestic violence, but tracing the money shows it to be a profitable activity, indeed, and one that conspicuously targets the fixing of men.


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


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


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Media

Gallison Political Autopsy Not Good Enough

Reviewing Raymond Gallison’s corrupt dealings after he’s already out of office is just a flashy reminder of the investigative job that isn’t getting done on a regular basis.


Pope Francis and the Instigating News Media

As always, on the matters of Donald Trump’s faith and the Church’s doctrine on contraception, people should be very slow to take news reports of Pope Francis’s statements at face value.


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?


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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

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.


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


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On a Lighter Note

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.


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.


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Pensions

An Optimistic Economic Story for Rhode Island

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


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.


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Political Theory

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.


Rhode Island Won’t Thrive While It Ignores Families

The key for Rhode Island society is families, and the approach of public policy should be to encourage them, not undermine them, as a scene outside of a Fall River liquor store illustrates.


Plato, Poverty Inc., and Rhode Island

The reasoning of Plato and the facts of poverty illustrate that all of our knowledge and technology have not prevented Rhode Island’s slipping toward being civic invalids.


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Politics

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


RI Foundation’s Sneak-Attack on Free-Speech

Should Rhode Islanders silently accept the corrupt political climate that has failed so many of us? Or should we, as free citizens in our uniquely American democracy, be encouraged to freely speak-out and engage in a battle of ideas so as to help make our state a safer and more prosperous place to live, to raise a family, and to build a career?

It is the Center’s primary mission to stimulate such rigorous public debate about important policy issues. However, the most powerful and wealthy nonprofit organization in our state is asking you to shut up.

As part of its own 100th year celebration, the Rhode Island Foundation this week published and promoted a video, which, in essence, encourages people to remain silent and to accept that the political elite know best about what’s in your and my best interests.

In what initially seems to be a video for kids, it is shameful that the Foundation hides its adult message behind children. With the frequent backdrop of our State House, it is obvious that the video is intended to be political. Under the pretense of “be nice or be quiet”, the Foundation is clear in its message that is directed to all of us – that we should just “stop complaining”.

Stop complaining about Rhode Island’s 48th place ranking on the national Family Prosperity Index?
Stop complaining that so many of our neighbors cannot find or have given up looking for meaningful work?
Stop complaining about the political corruption that continues to embarrass our state?
Stop complaining about the lack of bold and decisive action to do anything significant about it?

I don’t think so.

It is also despicable that the Foundation forces these children to read text that has to be bleeped.


Battle for the Title of Least Terrible Presidential Option

The experience of watching Hillary Clinton avoid consequences for her mix of corruption and ineptitude may push reluctant conservatives toward Donald Trump.


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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

Hints of Life Independent from Government

Kate Bramson’s article in yesterday’s Providence Journal would make for an interesting case study.  It seems — Doesn’t it? — that so much of news reporting is akin to a corporate newsletter for the government.  Three reasons for this come quickly to mind:

  1. Government confiscates a great deal of tax money in order to pay communications employees to promote its activities, and they make it very easy for journalists by staging events with notable people, finding the human interest characters to populate the stories, and providing all of the background information.
  2. Journalists tend to be liberal or progressive (whatever distinction one might see between the two), so they have an innate sympathy for what appear to be positive actions from government officials, particularly liberal or progressive government officials.
  3. We all have some stake and responsibility when it comes to government, so publications aimed at a general audience understandably treat it as an area of focus.

 

Unfortunately, though, this running narrative becomes self-reinforcing, as government becomes the central story of our lives.  Bramson’s article, for instance, is about the state government’s program giving taxpayer money to a private company, Electric Boat, to train new employees.  The human interest component is a young woman from Tiverton:

New England Institute of Technology welding instructor Matthew Topper is teaching the trade to Coventry teacher Jamie Cotnoir this summer and recently trained Hannah Cook-Dumas, a Tiverton High School graduate who now works for General Dynamics Electric Boat. …

Cook-Dumas, 19, said she was mostly home-schooled and her father was her first welding teacher. After she tried college and realized her initial career idea wasn’t right, Cook-Dumas got an internship with a welder who used to work for Electric Boat. He urged her to apply to the company.

Hannah was educated at home through tenth grade, and her younger siblings are mostly taught at home, with private high school filling in at the upper levels. (One might reasonably draw conclusions from that change in practice with the younger children.)  She was first in her class at New England Tech, as well as the youngest, indicating not only intelligence but drive.  Yet, the story is that Electric Boat needs $2 million in taxpayer money — with photo ops for two senators, a governor, and an education commissioner — in order to make the eminently wise decision of hiring her?  Come on.

We (ourselves and our media) need to start challenging these unspoken assumptions, because our approach to policy will broaden tremendously, with expanded opportunities and effectiveness.  Step back a moment from the well-constructed tale of the article and the picture takes on other shades.  Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo has, in the past, proposed eliminating funding that allows private-and home-schooled students to borrow textbooks and participate in public school busing services.  Her dual enrollment program, funding college courses for high school students, is explicitly only available to those in public schools.  The same is true of her free-SAT program.  The program in this article gives companies money to shape workers to their own needs as a competitive advantage to other companies, including small shops.

In the progressive Raimondo vision, our “education system” is just the series of public schools in which politicians and bureaucrats have control over the content, and it is mainly a means of promulgating progressive values, shaping the skills of Rhode Islanders to match the requests of high-profile private interests, and (naturally) funding the big-government machine (in the form of union activists).  In a contrary vision, families make decisions specific to their own children and their own situations, students strive to succeed and to find work that satisfies them as unique individuals, and businesses hire them because it makes economic sense to do so.

One of those visions fosters fully formed, independent, and self-valued individuals.  The other fosters dependency and diminishes individual achievement.


Domestic Violence, Activist Paydays, and Gender Bias

RI politicians are touting their increase of funds to activists working on the issue of domestic violence, but tracing the money shows it to be a profitable activity, indeed, and one that conspicuously targets the fixing of men.


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


Back to top



Unions

Hints of Life Independent from Government

Kate Bramson’s article in yesterday’s Providence Journal would make for an interesting case study.  It seems — Doesn’t it? — that so much of news reporting is akin to a corporate newsletter for the government.  Three reasons for this come quickly to mind:

  1. Government confiscates a great deal of tax money in order to pay communications employees to promote its activities, and they make it very easy for journalists by staging events with notable people, finding the human interest characters to populate the stories, and providing all of the background information.
  2. Journalists tend to be liberal or progressive (whatever distinction one might see between the two), so they have an innate sympathy for what appear to be positive actions from government officials, particularly liberal or progressive government officials.
  3. We all have some stake and responsibility when it comes to government, so publications aimed at a general audience understandably treat it as an area of focus.

 

Unfortunately, though, this running narrative becomes self-reinforcing, as government becomes the central story of our lives.  Bramson’s article, for instance, is about the state government’s program giving taxpayer money to a private company, Electric Boat, to train new employees.  The human interest component is a young woman from Tiverton:

New England Institute of Technology welding instructor Matthew Topper is teaching the trade to Coventry teacher Jamie Cotnoir this summer and recently trained Hannah Cook-Dumas, a Tiverton High School graduate who now works for General Dynamics Electric Boat. …

Cook-Dumas, 19, said she was mostly home-schooled and her father was her first welding teacher. After she tried college and realized her initial career idea wasn’t right, Cook-Dumas got an internship with a welder who used to work for Electric Boat. He urged her to apply to the company.

Hannah was educated at home through tenth grade, and her younger siblings are mostly taught at home, with private high school filling in at the upper levels. (One might reasonably draw conclusions from that change in practice with the younger children.)  She was first in her class at New England Tech, as well as the youngest, indicating not only intelligence but drive.  Yet, the story is that Electric Boat needs $2 million in taxpayer money — with photo ops for two senators, a governor, and an education commissioner — in order to make the eminently wise decision of hiring her?  Come on.

We (ourselves and our media) need to start challenging these unspoken assumptions, because our approach to policy will broaden tremendously, with expanded opportunities and effectiveness.  Step back a moment from the well-constructed tale of the article and the picture takes on other shades.  Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo has, in the past, proposed eliminating funding that allows private-and home-schooled students to borrow textbooks and participate in public school busing services.  Her dual enrollment program, funding college courses for high school students, is explicitly only available to those in public schools.  The same is true of her free-SAT program.  The program in this article gives companies money to shape workers to their own needs as a competitive advantage to other companies, including small shops.

In the progressive Raimondo vision, our “education system” is just the series of public schools in which politicians and bureaucrats have control over the content, and it is mainly a means of promulgating progressive values, shaping the skills of Rhode Islanders to match the requests of high-profile private interests, and (naturally) funding the big-government machine (in the form of union activists).  In a contrary vision, families make decisions specific to their own children and their own situations, students strive to succeed and to find work that satisfies them as unique individuals, and businesses hire them because it makes economic sense to do so.

One of those visions fosters fully formed, independent, and self-valued individuals.  The other fosters dependency and diminishes individual achievement.


You Deserve Better Than a Losing Team

Lawmakers must understand that the people of Rhode Island are demanding that we move in a different direction. As the General Assembly session comes to a close, we have seen another year where the insiders ignore the voice of the people and continue to further their own special interest laden agenda. The big spending in the state budget must end, the backroom deals must end, and the public corruption must end if we are ever to see our state become prosperous again. Rhode Island families are being harmed by the lack of opportunity created by the elitists and the failed public policy culture.

What does the average family have to cheer about in this budget? The few provisions that offer minor relief to some are overwhelmingly outweighed by the huge special interest and corporate welfare spending. Things do not have to be this way.


Brexit and the Government Town

Brexit and Luton don’t indicate a tension between latent nationalism and a more-enlightened elite, but between an economic model that creates opportunity and one that relies on mutual dependency.


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Welfare

Brexit and the Government Town

Brexit and Luton don’t indicate a tension between latent nationalism and a more-enlightened elite, but between an economic model that creates opportunity and one that relies on mutual dependency.


The Impossibility of Big Government You Can Trust

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


Universal Basic Income and Stacked Balls of Flaw

James Kennedy raises an analogy from physics to support a universal basic income, but he’s got the analogy wrong.


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