Topics

City/Town Government

Public Policy Inefficiencies Can Be a Feature, Not a Bug

Whether it’s removing market signals with a value-added tax or creating incentive to block new children through zoning, public policy shouldn’t remove its red flags and should seek to address original problems, not symptoms.


When “Our” Land Becomes the Government’s Land

The governments of Fall River and Tiverton are utilizing their property for reasons that show shifting property to government doesn’t ensure that it will always remain sacrosanct.


Larry Fitzmorris: Town Audit Covers Up Deficit

Portsmouth Concerned Citizens (PCC) alerts the public to a non-transparent adjustment that the town auditor made to make a deficit disappear without following the legal process.


Back to top



Civil Rights

A Resolution Against a Group That Threatens Our Rights

Senate progressives’ resolution condemning white nationalists seems uncomfortably like shouting at their reflection in a mirror.


Catholic Bishop to Smalanskas: Providence College at a Crossroads

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence has written a letter to the Providence College student under attack for his pro-marriage bulletin board saying that the college must decide a path between Catholicism or being “just one more progressive, secular bastion of political correctness.”


Liberty Bytes: Michael Smalanskas Under PC Fire at PC


Back to top



Congress

A Gift to Rhode Island Families: The Federal ‘Tax Cuts & Jobs Act’

On behalf of the Center, I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! Recently, Rhode Island families have received a gift… the “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act” has passed federally.


Political Monday with John DePetro, No. 38: RI Races for Governor and Senate

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topic was the 2018 campaign season, specifically the races for governor and U.S. Senate.

Open post for full audio.


Leaving Out the Key Number on the GOP Health Plan

Another GOP ObamaCare reform proposal, and another wave of studies and news reports that tilt the numbers so Americans can’t see how desperately necessary reform is.


Back to top



Culture & Family

Underlying Causes of Education Graduation Gaps

A look at differences in graduation rates suggests that we’re not addressing the actual problems that our students face.


Michael Smalanskas: Looking for a Little Kindness from Dr. Michelle Cretella’s Protesters

A presentation on transgenderism by Dr. Michelle Cretella brought protesters to St. Pius V Catholic Church in Providence and taught lessons about tolerance and kindness.


GenX’s Asset Number One

As Baby Boomers set their eyes on Millennials and their efficiency toys, we’ll miss something important if we let GenX indulge in its loner inclinations.


Back to top



Economy

At Least Capitalism Can Be Only an Economic System

Comparisons of capitalism and collectivism are tedious when they assume that they are equal in purporting to provide meaning for people’s lives.


Public Policy Inefficiencies Can Be a Feature, Not a Bug

Whether it’s removing market signals with a value-added tax or creating incentive to block new children through zoning, public policy shouldn’t remove its red flags and should seek to address original problems, not symptoms.


GenX’s Asset Number One

As Baby Boomers set their eyes on Millennials and their efficiency toys, we’ll miss something important if we let GenX indulge in its loner inclinations.


Back to top



Education

Underlying Causes of Education Graduation Gaps

A look at differences in graduation rates suggests that we’re not addressing the actual problems that our students face.


Public Policy Inefficiencies Can Be a Feature, Not a Bug

Whether it’s removing market signals with a value-added tax or creating incentive to block new children through zoning, public policy shouldn’t remove its red flags and should seek to address original problems, not symptoms.


NAEP Scores: Another Unacknowledged Crisis in RI

The word “pleased” should not have appeared anywhere in the statement of Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner upon release of 2017 scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test:

“Nationwide, results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress remained relatively flat, and we saw a similar trend in Rhode Island,” said state Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. “I’m pleased to see us perform better than the national average on fourth grade reading… I hope that our work around early literacy as part of the Third Grade Reading Challenge will speed up that progress going forward.”

That’s like being happy that your child is vomiting a little bit less than half the kids in the sick ward.  Never mind that his or her fever is slightly higher, his or her bleeding out of the eyes is slightly worse, and he or she is slightly more delirious than half the children.

According to the data, Rhode Island students don’t break the 40%-proficient mark in either 4th grade or 8th grade in either math or reading (or science or writing, for that matter).

For some quick perspective take a look at the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s States on the Nation’s Report Card tool, which has been updated to include the latest data.  Rhode Island’s 4th grade reading scores may be above the average state, but we used to have a lead of three points, and that’s now only two.  Worse, the Ocean State’s 8th grade math scores have fallen off a cliff.  Since the 2013 test, RI students’ average score has dropped from 284 to 277.  That’s 2.5%.  In 2013, our children were scoring the same as the average state… no longer.

RI-NAEP-Gr8-subjects-2000-2017

More broadly, the fashionable distraction to which state bureaucrats lead, which journalists follow, is to lament that “achievement gaps between white students and students of color continue to remain stubbornly high.”  This emphasis manages to imply that the real challenge isn’t a broken educational system, but institutional racism, and to lead white parents to think the state’s problems belong to other people, but it disguises the more disturbing conclusion.

Combining 4th and 8th grade scores on reading and math, black students in Rhode Island are actually slightly outperforming their peers in the average state.  Hispanic students in Rhode Island do worse than in the average state, but they track closely with black students, which is more typical in our region.

The big drop in Rhode Island is actually among white students, who are the majority.  Managing to keep Rhode Island’s minority students relatively flat has actually helped keep up our scores.  To the extent that Rhode Island has addressed its “achievement gap,” it has been by failing white students even more.

As I wrote in 2015, the data is strongly suggestive of a change during the governorship of Democrat Lincoln Chafee that looks like a ceiling on Rhode Island’s progress in reforming education.  If anything, we can now see that the trends have worsened, rather than improving, under his successor, and the spin should no longer be tolerated.


Back to top



Energy & Environment

Tinnitus Among RI’s Would-Be Overlords

Calling Aaron Regunberg an “overlord” (at least in intention) is not a dog whistle; it’s more like a game of name that tune.


Progressive Vision: A Plan To Take Even More Control Of Your Life

This is a true battle of visions. Their progressive vision would transform our home state into a liberal hell. Rhode Island could become a place where businesses face even higher legal risks and our citizens would be even less free to live their own lives.


Preparing for the Future Without Experience of the Present

If we’re really under threat of cataclysmic climate change, why do the activists have to go back so far for examples and use on-paper predictions to suggest acceleration?


Back to top



Gambling

Last Impressions Podcast Episode 16: The Light of the World

Awards, earned and maybe not yet earned; Fight Club; Twin River; and it’s my birthday.

Open post for full audio


Tiverton Casino: Live by the Government, Die by the Government

Thanks to efforts to restrict the development of a piece of land in Tiverton, a government casino and hotel became its best use.


A Society in Which the Casino and the Government Must Always Win

A gambler under scrutiny for having found ways to tilt the odds in his favor is a good metaphor for taxpayers who are never permitted to win in the rigged game that politicians, labor unions, and other special interests have built.


Back to top



General Assembly

Last Impressions 47: The Balance of Purity and Conversion

How society confuses Kettle, the benefits of religion, and what is “collusion,” anyway?

Open post for full audio.


Hair Braiders Should Have the #RIghtToEarn a Living

Oppressive Regulations Harm Low Income Families. Hair braiding is a generational and practical African-style art-form for Jocelyn DoCouto and her family, which hail from Senegal and Cape Verde. Yet, unable to afford the burdensome levels of fees and training required to receive permission from the government to legally work in a field that presents no safety risks, Jocelyn, as well as other would-be entrepreneurs, are not able to operate a business that would provide them hope to achieve financial independence.


Can We Realize The Destruction Of Families Has Unintended Consequences?

In the Providence Journal this week, Wendy P. Warcholik and J. Scott Moody write, “This growing number of children in Rhode Island without a solid familial foundation should give us all pause. This is not a problem that is going to just go away, and we must find ways to help these children before tragedy strikes, perhaps in your own neighborhood.”


Back to top



Government

Public Policy Inefficiencies Can Be a Feature, Not a Bug

Whether it’s removing market signals with a value-added tax or creating incentive to block new children through zoning, public policy shouldn’t remove its red flags and should seek to address original problems, not symptoms.


Media Complicity in Governor’s Sexism and Political Silencers

On multiple issues, the Rhode Island news media seems either to inhabit a different universe or to be deliberately skewing Rhode Islanders’ perspective of reality.


Standing Against The Progressive-Left

At our Center, we know that the extreme levels of taxation and over-regulation forced on Rhode Islanders by an ever-growing government is the primary culprit in causing our state’s sad performance. Look at it this way— heavy handed action by a state government that mainly seeks to perpetuate itself, actually works against the best-interests of the very individuals it is supposed to be serving.


Back to top



Governor

Vulnerability in the Social Services Shell Game

Reporting about the budget’s change in payments to hospitals for uncompensated care raises more questions than it answers, pointing to the complexity of government spending and the vulnerability of taxpayers.


Political Monday with John DePetro: A State for Sale

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topics were the state’s Amazon HQ pitch, insinuations about Channel 10, and the PawSox opening day.

Open post for full audio,


Political Monday with John DePetro: Turmoil in the Governor’s Race

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topic was both sides of the aisle in the governor’s race.

Open post for full audio.


Back to top



Healthcare

Vulnerability in the Social Services Shell Game

Reporting about the budget’s change in payments to hospitals for uncompensated care raises more questions than it answers, pointing to the complexity of government spending and the vulnerability of taxpayers.


An Indictment of Bureaucracy in a Silver Lining

Leveraging the inefficiency of government to create incentives for good behavior is brilliant, but only highlights how backwards we’ve gotten things.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Insiders, Money, and Casual Dinners

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topics were the high-powered dinner about chit-chat, the lunacy of “Medicare for All,” and money sloshing around to insiders in Providence.

Open post for full audio.


Back to top



History

GenX’s Asset Number One

As Baby Boomers set their eyes on Millennials and their efficiency toys, we’ll miss something important if we let GenX indulge in its loner inclinations.


Last Impressions 46: Obvious Things We Obviously Can’t Say

Birtherism versus RussiaRussiaRussia, proper humility for kids, mutual discomfort in the co-ed workplace, American aspiration, and aggregate parenting.

Open post for full audio.


Last Impressions 45: Coming to Our Own Conclusions

Radical individualism, young conservatives’ political naivete, brain coupling, and disease in the social media city.

Open post for full audio.


Back to top



Immigration

Political Monday with John DePetro: Hidden Rhode Islanders, Hidden Candidates

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topic was a Census immigration question and a quiet gubernatorial debate.

Open post for full audio.


Binding Up the Immigration Issue with Heartstrings

Jorge Garcia’s story brings out the battle between illegal aliens and fluffy animals.


Population Change: The Government Plantation in Action

Every year, Rhode Island replaces its residents (who leave) with foreign nationals (who immigrate), revealing the short-sighted decision of the state’s political elite.


Back to top



Infrastructure

School Choice and the Scheme of Crumbling Schools

Crumbling schools show that the government’s priority has been other spending (mainly on unionized employees), and more school choice could change the equation in students’ (and taxpayers’) favor.


Chris Maxwell: RIDOT’s Inadequate Environmental Assessment Intended to Accelerate Toll Bait Lawsuit

[Below are the prepared comments of Chris Maxwell, President of the Rhode Island Trucking Association, for the RIDOT toll gantry workshop Tuesday evening. The video of Chris’ actual comments, abbreviated due to time constraints, can be viewed here. For the sake of the news outlet that erroneously reported that public comment Tuesday night was mostly a re-hash of old objections and omitted all on-topic comments from their story, Ocean State Current has bolded all of Chris’ comments that pertain to the Environmental Assessment that was the subject of Tuesday’s workshop.]

Good evening. My name is Chris Maxwell and I represent the Rhode Island Trucking Association and all local trucking companies adversely affected by truck-only tolls.

Our opposition to this plan from its introduction in the spring of 2015 is well-documented. And despite the justified rancour that still exists, our industry’s willingness to contribute to infrastructure improvement remains steadfast – even beyond our existing contributions which are considerable.

In 2016, the trucking industry in Rhode Island paid roughly $70 million in federal and state roadway taxes.


Hearing Tuesday on First Toll Gantries With Acute Case of UHIP-itis

RIDOT has identified the locations of the first two proposed toll gantry locations in southern Rhode Island. This Tuesday, they will be holding a workshop and taking public comment on their newly-released (not to say rushed out the door) Environmental Assessment of the locations. The problem is that the assessment suffers from exactly the same serious flaw as the ill-fated UHIP system: it was released before it was ready. “Continue Reading” to learn why – and for deets about attending the hearing.


Back to top



Legislation

Vulnerability in the Social Services Shell Game

Reporting about the budget’s change in payments to hospitals for uncompensated care raises more questions than it answers, pointing to the complexity of government spending and the vulnerability of taxpayers.


A Resolution Against a Group That Threatens Our Rights

Senate progressives’ resolution condemning white nationalists seems uncomfortably like shouting at their reflection in a mirror.


Hair Braiders Should Have the #RIghtToEarn a Living

Oppressive Regulations Harm Low Income Families. Hair braiding is a generational and practical African-style art-form for Jocelyn DoCouto and her family, which hail from Senegal and Cape Verde. Yet, unable to afford the burdensome levels of fees and training required to receive permission from the government to legally work in a field that presents no safety risks, Jocelyn, as well as other would-be entrepreneurs, are not able to operate a business that would provide them hope to achieve financial independence.


Back to top



Media

Vulnerability in the Social Services Shell Game

Reporting about the budget’s change in payments to hospitals for uncompensated care raises more questions than it answers, pointing to the complexity of government spending and the vulnerability of taxpayers.


Media Complicity in Governor’s Sexism and Political Silencers

On multiple issues, the Rhode Island news media seems either to inhabit a different universe or to be deliberately skewing Rhode Islanders’ perspective of reality.


Kettle Predictably Resigns, Tin-Pot Legislators Remain

Senator Kettle has responded to the threat of an unpleasant ejection process by resigning; unfortunately, even districts that haven’t been deprived of representation are still stuck with the rest of the Senate.


Back to top



Musings & Announcements

The 2017 Ocean State Freedom Banquet

On Friday, the Center held our first inaugural fundraising banquet -the 2017 Ocean State Freedom Banquet. At the banquet, a capacity crowd of 200 people were on hand to hear the keynote address by Grover Norquist, famed DC anti-tax warrior and President of Americans for Tax Reform.


Last Impressions 30: Keeping in Touch… for Various Reasons

Sympathy for the racist; learning how (not what) to think; in favor of price gouging and dismantling unions; and saying goodbye to an old friend

Open post for full audio.


A Fixed Mower and a Good Heist

Who’s happier: the family man who mows the lawn and reads a good book, or the thug who gains notoriety for a profitable crime that he then blows because he’s a degenerate?


Back to top



National Security

Media Language and a Virtue-Signaling Lie

A small example of political “news” can illustrate the language by which journalists promote partisan and ideological positions.


An “Adaptive” System of Leaks Depends on Trust and Consequences

Journalists who support leaks have a point about their value as a safety valve for government abuse, but that safety valve requires that the consequences for breaking the law be real.


Never-Trump Right Gets Us to the Hub of the Matter

When it comes to Don Junior’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, it seems a lot of the key questions, the “and so”s, are being left out of the arguments.


Back to top



On a Lighter Note

Harry Potter and Muggle Fly-Over Country’s Conservative Stories

The Harry Potter novels are in some regards liberal wish fulfillment, not only that magic exists, and not only that the elect can be whisked away to an exclusive world, but also that we can ignore the obvious and profess progressive beliefs.


Last Impressions Podcast Episode 19: The Tides of Liberty and Attraction

What is government for? What turns me off about libertarianism, and what turns some men on about lesbianism? And a poetic response.

Open post for full audio.


Deception and War in Walking Dead

Avoiding war (or entering it justly) requires actively working to bring about and maintain peace, and a willingness to acknowledge when a state of war already exists.


Back to top



Pensions

The Next Pension Crisis Approaches

Beware the gathering clouds of state pension fund “endangered status.”


Last Impressions 39: Children of the Law

The sexist children of the General Assembly, blue states as a fleet of Titanics, Rand got God wrong, and a progressive contradiction.

Open post for full audio.


Making Up for Pension Losses

Just as appliance consumers need a practical guide for decibel levels, news consumers need a better sense of what pension return numbers actually mean.


Back to top



Political Theory

At Least Capitalism Can Be Only an Economic System

Comparisons of capitalism and collectivism are tedious when they assume that they are equal in purporting to provide meaning for people’s lives.


Public Policy Inefficiencies Can Be a Feature, Not a Bug

Whether it’s removing market signals with a value-added tax or creating incentive to block new children through zoning, public policy shouldn’t remove its red flags and should seek to address original problems, not symptoms.


Another Way to Say What We Mean

Arthur Brooks’s use of language might set off warning signs for people on the Right and the Left, but that’s simply evidence that we’ve learned not to hear what other people are trying to say.


Back to top



Politics

Political Monday with John DePetro: A State for Sale

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topics were the state’s Amazon HQ pitch, insinuations about Channel 10, and the PawSox opening day.

Open post for full audio,


The Cohen Raid Along Our Political Fault Line

The two interpretations of the feds’ raid against Trump lawyer Michael Cohen could set off another explosion along the political fault line that divides our country.


Political Monday with John DePetro: Hidden Rhode Islanders, Hidden Candidates

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topic was a Census immigration question and a quiet gubernatorial debate.

Open post for full audio.


Back to top



Regulation

Public Policy Inefficiencies Can Be a Feature, Not a Bug

Whether it’s removing market signals with a value-added tax or creating incentive to block new children through zoning, public policy shouldn’t remove its red flags and should seek to address original problems, not symptoms.


Hair Braiders Should Have the #RIghtToEarn a Living

Oppressive Regulations Harm Low Income Families. Hair braiding is a generational and practical African-style art-form for Jocelyn DoCouto and her family, which hail from Senegal and Cape Verde. Yet, unable to afford the burdensome levels of fees and training required to receive permission from the government to legally work in a field that presents no safety risks, Jocelyn, as well as other would-be entrepreneurs, are not able to operate a business that would provide them hope to achieve financial independence.


Can We Realize The Destruction Of Families Has Unintended Consequences?

In the Providence Journal this week, Wendy P. Warcholik and J. Scott Moody write, “This growing number of children in Rhode Island without a solid familial foundation should give us all pause. This is not a problem that is going to just go away, and we must find ways to help these children before tragedy strikes, perhaps in your own neighborhood.”


Back to top



Science

Last Impressions 45: Coming to Our Own Conclusions

Radical individualism, young conservatives’ political naivete, brain coupling, and disease in the social media city.

Open post for full audio.


The Latest Frontiers of Mad Scientist Ethics

At the very first stages, what precisely constitutes a human life? Will our society even bother to think much about that question?


Limits on Government’s Ability to Define Your Life Only Go One Way

The commentary of legislators supporting a ban on “conversion therapy” shows that they’re pushing an ideological agenda more than they’re trying to help actual people.


Back to top



Sports

Political Monday with John DePetro: Budgets, Cronies, and Women

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topics were the governor’s budget proposal, the March for Women, and the politics of PawSox subsidies.

Open post for full audio.


Political Monday with John DePetro, No. 36: Legacies and Baseball Homes

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topics were Judge Flanders’s announcement and chances, the PawSox thoughts of Attleboro, and the Raimondo-bomb of UHIP.

Open post for full audio.


Soccer Salaries and the Outrage Contagion

The gender-war angle doesn’t provide very good perspective for economic issues; indeed, it might make sense for U.S. Soccer to increase gender pay disparities in the short term.


Back to top



Taxation

Public Policy Inefficiencies Can Be a Feature, Not a Bug

Whether it’s removing market signals with a value-added tax or creating incentive to block new children through zoning, public policy shouldn’t remove its red flags and should seek to address original problems, not symptoms.


Vulnerability in the Social Services Shell Game

Reporting about the budget’s change in payments to hospitals for uncompensated care raises more questions than it answers, pointing to the complexity of government spending and the vulnerability of taxpayers.


When “Our” Land Becomes the Government’s Land

The governments of Fall River and Tiverton are utilizing their property for reasons that show shifting property to government doesn’t ensure that it will always remain sacrosanct.


Back to top



Unions

Public Policy Inefficiencies Can Be a Feature, Not a Bug

Whether it’s removing market signals with a value-added tax or creating incentive to block new children through zoning, public policy shouldn’t remove its red flags and should seek to address original problems, not symptoms.


Some Points on Arming Teachers

Discussions about protecting students in school, perhaps by arming teachers, should be conducted maturely, not by listening to kids saying the darndest things.


Sabitoni’s Slippery Statistics to Justify Loose Rhetoric

If Laborers union rep Michael Sabitoni wants to accuse the Center of wanting people to die, perhaps he should be a little bit more thoughtful with his numbers.


Back to top



Welfare

Vulnerability in the Social Services Shell Game

Reporting about the budget’s change in payments to hospitals for uncompensated care raises more questions than it answers, pointing to the complexity of government spending and the vulnerability of taxpayers.


Can We Realize The Destruction Of Families Has Unintended Consequences?

In the Providence Journal this week, Wendy P. Warcholik and J. Scott Moody write, “This growing number of children in Rhode Island without a solid familial foundation should give us all pause. This is not a problem that is going to just go away, and we must find ways to help these children before tragedy strikes, perhaps in your own neighborhood.”


Last Impressions 43: Innovating With and Without the Military and Monopolies

Taxes, entitlements, and innovation.

Open post for full audio.


Back to top



Quantcast