Ocean State Current

June 28, 2013

So What Happened? (View from the Right)

The unexpected twists of the RI House budget debate indicate much deeper changes in Rhode Island's political landscape, and voters should pay attention.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:47 PM

June 27, 2013

Private Schools Are Not Just for the Kids of Government Employees/Retirees

A letter writer opposing school choice legislation fails to mention circumstances of his career (and young retirement) that might be relevant to his opinion.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:23 PM

06/26/13 – House Floor, Budget Round 2

Justin’s back at the State House for round 2 of the House budget debate.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:22 PM

06/25/13 – House Floor: Budget

Justin writes live from the floor of the House on budget night.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:16 PM

June 25, 2013

A Chill on a Hot Day

Using current controversies to contrive a trick for cooling off on a hot day.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:09 AM

Employment in May: Steady as She Doesn't Go

Rhode Island's employment picture is still stagnation, but with plenty of evidence that the state could slingshot back to life if it would stop holding itself down.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:37 AM

June 24, 2013

Roosevelt Society and the Right's Biggest Challenge

The Roosevelt Society's inaugural event, featuring "conservative black chick" Crystal Wright, raised the central challenge of the American Right... even though nobody seemed to see it.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:31 AM

June 22, 2013

For Lack of a Cri de Coeur

Some thoughts on the obligation to be cranky and contrarian in modern day Rhode Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:48 PM

Dollars in the Court Room, Here Come the Judge

A short new addition to the proposed budget creates a slush fund for the judiciary and raises a whole series of questions.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:20 AM

June 21, 2013

Pension Reform Debate: Painkilling Spin About Fantasies

Continued debate about Rhode Island’s pension reform is disconnected from the reality of the pension system, not to mention the steps that the state really has to take to resolve its problems.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:00 PM

Budget Process Reflection

Experiencing the state budget process firsthand gives perspective on what’s wrong with Rhode Island and the apparent illusion of self-governance in the state.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:30 AM

06/18/13 – House Finance Committee (Budget Introduction)

Justin writes live from House Finance on budget-introduction night.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:34 AM

June 14, 2013

The Good of Public Education

The school choice debate comes down to philosophy and priorities, and the education of the public, in its vast diversity, should come first.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:46 AM

June 13, 2013

Watchlist for the Freedom Index

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has released the full list of the 551 bills (so far) that are likely to be on its General Assembly Freedom Index 2013 if they receive floor votes.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:05 PM

Lardaro Should Watch His Credibility Attacks

Len Lardaro's attack on the credibility of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity ought to come with doubts about his Credibility Index.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:29 AM

June 12, 2013

Portsmouth Institute 2013 Conference: “Catholicism and the American Experience,” Day 1, Peter Steinfels

Peter Steinfels offered some intellectually challenging opposition to conservative Catholics at the Portsmouth Institute conference on "Catholicism and the American Experience."

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:49 PM

June 10, 2013

Portsmouth Institute 2013 Conference: “Catholicism and the American Experience,” Day 1, Robert George

Robert George’s opening talk at the 2013 Portsmouth Institute conference on “Catholicism and the American Experience” argued for the necessity of religious freedom, in opposition both to theocratic imposition of doctrine and secular exclusion of existential searching.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:15 AM

June 7, 2013

From Scandals to Tyranny

The mounting scandals of the Obama Administration are washing away the boundaries that we've imagined exist between representative democracy and tyranny.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:56 AM

June 5, 2013

Pretend Money and the Economic Recovery

Segments of the commentariat are proclaiming that signs point to a recovering economy, but there's an alternative interpretation that isn't quite so optimistic.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:53 PM

May 31, 2013

Catholic and American in New England

This year’s Portsmouth Institute conference, next weekend, addresses “Catholicism and the American Experience,” a subject for which Rhode Island has provided fertile ground.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:23 AM

May 30, 2013

Public Education Versus the Public's Education

Reactions to school choice legislation in the General Assembly raise the question of whether "public education" really means the system by which the public educates itself.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:34 AM

May 29, 2013

Growing the GDP with Promises

Pending revisions to GDP appear to treat pension promises as risk-free assets, highlighting the difference between realities of accounting, politics, and resources.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:00 AM

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day's Silent Reminder

A contemplation for Memorial Day, 2013.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:09 AM

May 25, 2013

The Built-In Trap of Progressive Politics

Sam Howard misses the point of questions about who the RIGOP is and who is to blame for both its trouble's and the state's.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:09 PM

May 24, 2013

Substantive School Choice Legislation

Legislation introduced in the RI House would offer a broad school choice opportunity for Rhode Island families and may indicate that the state's dire circumstances might finally be opening fissures for big ideas and bold policies.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:33 PM

May 23, 2013

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.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:48 AM

May 22, 2013

Whose Fault, RI?

The question of blame for Rhode Island's political culture requires an accurate view of how politics (and media) operates in the state. It's not sports or business competition; it's life.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:30 PM

May 20, 2013

Things We Read Today (50): Scandals, Rules, and the Economy

The national scandals facing the Obama administration arguably point to the underlying causes of Rhode Island's economic troubles.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:36 PM

May 17, 2013

April Employment, the Slog and the Skepticism

The most significant change on the employment-data front might be confidence in the numbers, not just in terms of their raw validity, but in terms of increasing understanding that a falling unemployment rate isn't necessarily a marker of economic health.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:21 PM

May 16, 2013

Fairness at the Sales Tax Hearing

Rep. Larry Valencia's question on the relative morality of different taxes points to the question of how tax policy decisions should be made.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:54 AM

May 13, 2013

The Box That's Formed by Being Watched

A "surveillance state" doesn't just snag those who are overtly criminal, and it can affect a society most profoundly by adding risk to creativity.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:58 AM

May 10, 2013

Two Bills: When You've Got Rights, and When You Don't, in Rhode Island

A proposed new quasi-public authority with powers of trespassing and eminent domain bring into question legislators' beliefs about rights, particularly in contrast with another bill to make it more difficult to restrain potentially dangerous patients and students.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:48 PM

Taxing the Rich in Testimony and Looking Forward

Notes from testimony on tax-the-rich legislation raise interesting points about what happened with tax policy and the economy over the past five years and what would be likely to happen under other policies moving forward.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:37 AM

May 8, 2013

Rebranding Manipulation

Some policy strategists on the right are looking to behavioral science for ways to use government to encourage preferred behavior, but conceding the appropriate role of government to manipulate has an intolerable cost.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:52 AM

May 7, 2013

Legislative Control and Distance from Peak Employment

Charting the fifty states' distance from their peak employment along with the party controlling the legislature shows some interesting results, not the least of which is the ability of other states to change their courses.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:51 AM

May 3, 2013

Misplaced Grand Pronunciations of New England Catholics' Practices

A professor of "religion in public life," by his flawed analysis of regional religious affiliation and same-sex marriage, nonetheless raises some interesting points.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:56 PM

May 2, 2013

Medicaid: An Expensive Placebo?

A study finds that Medicaid doesn't measurably improve health outcomes by much, raising questions about why Rhode Island leaps into every government program that becomes available.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:51 AM

May 1, 2013

Valencia's Brand of Equity and Sacrifice

Rep. Larry Valencia wants to tax "the rich" at 10% in the name of equity and "shared sacrifice," but dynamic policy modeling suggests that the sacrifice will mainly be Rhode Island's.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:21 PM

The Mouse That Designs Its Own Trap

A politically correct American Left encourages Americans to turn their eyes away from horrors that illustrate that which euphemisms cover, whether it's infanticide or global jihad.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:05 AM

April 30, 2013

Life of Julius (and the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity)

A Competitive Enterprise Institute video showing unions' harmful effects on "The Life of Julius" cites a study by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:05 AM

April 26, 2013

Appearance on Newsmakers to Talk Same-Sex Marriage

Video (and one-paragraph summary) of Justin's appearance on WPRI 12's Newsmakers show about same-sex marriage.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:29 PM

Back-Yard-Parking State Employee Got Overtime in Prior Years

As in recent articles from the Current, an investigative report from Tim White, of WPRI, shows another state employee whose funding comes from federal and other sources and whose work practices happen to be deserving of scrutiny.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:45 AM

April 25, 2013

Building the Playground Without Evidence of Children

The City of Central Falls, emerging from bankruptcy, is apparently being run by a crew of young adults with a compelling vision for the city that might not be plausible if public dollars weren't so easy to acquire.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:25 AM

April 23, 2013

A Not-So-Minor Change to the Same-Sex Marriage Bill

The language added to the RI Senate's same-sex marriage legislation, which passed out of committee today, is far from a "technical fix," and it may present unexpected challenges for advancing the bill the final few steps to being law.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:11 PM

April 22, 2013

Guest of Honor

A short story from December 2001 is once again (or still) relevant, in the wake of the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:44 PM

Together Again for the First Time

Anchor Rising has joined the Ocean State Current for a joint venture combining their content at the same online location.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:05 AM

April 20, 2013

March Employment in Rhode Island: How Worlds Diverge

Rhode Island's unemployment rate keeps going down, but a look at employment suggests that the picture remains gloomy.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:30 AM

April 18, 2013

Government Employees Get Paychecks, Not Handouts

A letter in today's Providence Journal suggests that I'm equating government employees with the people who receive direct government handouts. That's mistaken; they're different (if overlapping) groups.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:46 AM

April 13, 2013

Redistributive Property Taxes: Who's in the Providence Crosshairs?

The way property taxes work, in Rhode Island, revaluations are little more than a way of redistributing the tax burden, and in Providence, a shift from taxing buildings to taxing land has repercussions for a number of recent issues, from the Superman Building to legislation affecting the entire state.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:55 PM

April 8, 2013

Health Benefits Exchange: What They Mean by Self-Sustaining

Questions about how the state will pay for Rhode Island's health benefits exchange point to more basic (and more profound) problems with the entire business model of the project.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:19 AM

April 4, 2013

Another State Route to Riches: Institutional Attendants Earning Six Figures

Nursing assistants under a particular job title at government-run Eleanor Slater Hospital are taking home up to nearly $115,000 per year, with overtime and other enhanced pay.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:00 AM

April 3, 2013

Minimum Wage Workers and the Threat of Increases

Raising the minimum wage, as some state and federal legislators would like to do, will lead to hundreds, maybe thousands, of lost jobs, all based on the false premise that families are struggling to get by on these low incomes

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:50 PM

April 2, 2013

RIOpenGov Strives to Fill Transparency Void

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has added state payroll to its RIOpenGov.org site. The public deserves access to government information so that it can demand explanations.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:15 PM

March 30, 2013

Note in Response to the Providence Journal

Justin responds to a Providence Journal article that he finds indistinguishable from what an official government communications team might have produced.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:46 AM

March 29, 2013

Rhode Island's Unique Way Out of the Bottom Three

RI employment numbers for February look positive at first glance, but a more substantive review suggests that even the silver lining is pretty dark.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:35 PM

What Dan Harrop Halted

Answering confusion about the import of RIGOP chairman candidate Dan Harrop's withdrawal from the race, a GOP insider explains the options that were on the table for his supporters.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:00 AM

March 28, 2013

Dan Harrop Concedes in Race for RIGOP Chair

After a strange and contentious week, RIGOP chairman candidate Dan Harrop has withdrawn from the contested race, clearing the way for Mark Smiley to begin his tenure in that role.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:05 PM

Government Employee Overtime About Equal to a 38 Studios Every Year

The overtime bill for the state government of Rhode Island is up to around $90 million, with thousands of employees making tens of thousands or even more than a hundred thousand dollars in extra pay.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:00 AM

March 27, 2013

Laundering and Medicaid: State Operations Have Incentive to Be Inefficient

Laundry workers with the state Dept. of Behavioral Healthcare are able to take home six figures of pay in part because state and federal governments spread the cost to different tax bases.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:39 AM

March 21, 2013

The Three Ts Are Proving to Be About Ruling Class Insulation

The father of Governor Chafee's preferred "three Ts" strategy for economic development is beginning to see the limitations and damages of it. A strategy of freedom first would better serve the people of Rhode Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:02 AM

March 20, 2013

Rhode Island Changed Last-Place Unemployment Partners in January

Rhode Island's unemployment rate notched down again, in January, even though it was the first month of employment losses since September 2011. Meanwhile, the nation has overall been stagnant.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:07 AM

March 14, 2013

We Have to Insist on Rules

The argument that House leadership's lawyers are offering for "nullifying" an appropriate and legal vote of the House judiciary committee, concerning government ethics, is specious and indicative of a huge problem in Rhode Island's civic culture.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:09 AM

March 13, 2013

Kicking Off the Office Pool on the Size of the Block-Report Scandal

The waste, fraud, and abuse to which Governor Chafee may (or may not) put an estimate based on Ken Block's analysis will likely fall in the range of $106-185 million, putting 38 Studios at the low-end of this annual scandal.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:01 PM

March 11, 2013

A Revision in Time Saves 1600

Revisions of employment statistics nationwide (at the very least) raise questions about the wisdom of promoting the numbers from month to month.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:57 AM

March 1, 2013

The Mysteries of Employment Statistics

Everybody's touting Rhode Island's revised unemployment rate, but context and explanation turn that silver lining sour.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:39 PM

February 26, 2013

02/26/13 - A Conversation with Bruce Katz

Justin liveblogs from Brookings Institution VP Bruce Katz event with the RI Foundation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:24 PM

February 25, 2013

Things We Read Today (49), Weekend

An article not about what it's about; sequester demagoguery; softening kids for "effort shock"; and the rise of grassroots fascism.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:07 AM

February 20, 2013

02/20/13 - Economic Development Presentation, State House

Another economic development study presentation at the State House, liveblogged.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:50 PM

February 18, 2013

Building It Doesn't Make Them Come

Extremely thin ridership on the Wickford Junction train points to the same conclusion as everything else in Rhode Island: Government needs to let the economy happen.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:11 AM

February 13, 2013

02/13/13 - Senate Finance Committee, Sakonnet River Bridge Tolls

Justin writes live from the Senate Finance hearing on repealing the Sakonnet River Bridge toll.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:59 PM

February 12, 2013

Things We Read Today (48), Post-Blizzard

Economic freedom as the best approach to economic development; what Rhode Island chooses to penalize; the root cause of education decline.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:10 AM

February 8, 2013

Binding and Bound by Legislation

In the midst of wall-to-wall storm coverage, two bills have entered the legislative chute that ought to attract more attention than a local run on milk and crackers.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:39 AM

February 6, 2013

Things We Read Today (47), Wednesday

Taxing sweet drinks; collectively bargained legislation; equal pay for unequal merit; Projo promotes the economy; civil rights from heroism to handouts.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:37 PM

February 5, 2013

The Political Philosophy of Our Governor

The American Spectator is introducing Chafee to its readers, but Rhode Islanders are all too familiar with his brand of independence.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:21 AM

January 30, 2013

When the Insiders' Cut Comes First

Progressives and unions want to make a high tax burden "more fair" by making it even higher. Justin thinks the better answer would be eliminating the "least fair" tax, the sales tax.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:04 AM

January 28, 2013

Selective Standards in Legislation (Uneducated and Unemployed)

Legislation to prevent the use of standardized testing for high school diplomas and legislation to prevent electrical maintenance workers from plying their trade freely give a sense of RI's governance problems.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:30 AM

January 24, 2013

01/24/13 - Senate Improving Rhode Island's Business Climate Summit

Justin liveblogs from the Senate's "Moving the Needle" Summit.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:06 PM

Woonsocket Matters to Rhode Island and the Nation

Woonsocket's budget mess has two lessons for RI: 1) read the Current and 2) pensions are a bigger problem than we're being told.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:05 AM

January 23, 2013

Government as Reporters' Parachute

Congressman Cicilline's hiring of a laid-off Providence Journal employee raises questions about the media's role in civics.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:09 AM

January 18, 2013

December Employment: How to Feel About It...?

Rhode Island's unemployment rate drops, although it is now tied for last, and employment growth, while happening, isn't enough to return the state to health very quickly.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:41 PM

January 17, 2013

01/17/13 - RI House Economic Conference

Justin writes live from a five-hour, four-panel economic conference put on by the RI House of Representatives.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:55 PM

To Save Constitutional Liberty, Save Marriage

Libertarians and moderates should beware that the relatively rapid move to change the definition of marriage could provide a template for issues on which they agree with social conservatives.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:04 AM

January 16, 2013

Legislation Under the Radar - Mo' Money for the General Fund

Legislation just submitted would not only compound irresponsible taxation and spending, but the fine print would create a new source of revenue for the government's pet projects.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:48 AM

January 15, 2013

Burying the Legislative Lead

Legislation described as making a minor technical change to its name would actually put Bryant University on a path to paying full property taxes in Smithfield.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:37 PM

Consequences Schmonsequences, as Long as We Have Control

Government control of Americans' lives brings to mind Daffy Duck's quest for found wealth.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:20 AM

January 14, 2013

Things We Read Today (46), Weekend

Perspective from on high; the empathetic view from my soap box; cover-up as economic development; what happens when that which can't go on forever doesn't.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:57 AM

January 4, 2013

Concluding a Strange Season for Employment Data

National employment numbers mostly show stagnation with an unusual jump before the election. Now revisions and changes in methodology will make it impossible to keep up the running analysis.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:43 PM

January 2, 2013

Things We Read Today (45), Wednesday

Feeling hopeful, RI?; "top priority" is shown, not stated; RI gets fatherless children first; surviving sans regulation; surviving sans net income; and surviving sans a documented framework for working together.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:16 PM

December 31, 2012

Leadership and the Missing Rhode Islander

A joint interview with RI's three most powerful politicians highlights the error in their shared vision.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:33 AM

December 28, 2012

Zero.Zero Sales Tax: Objections and Who's Objecting

Objections to the proposal to eliminate RI's sales tax share the common trait of prioritizing government spending and ruling-class decision making.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:36 AM

December 27, 2012

November Employment: Rhode Island's Peculiar Growth Abates

Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for November shows that Rhode Island's nation-leading employment growth has abated.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:39 AM

December 26, 2012

The Soul That Needs Searching for the True Liberals

A bout of pre-New Year's philosophizing raises the possibility that the political Right doesn't require "rebranding" so much as reaffirmation of principle.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:31 PM

December 21, 2012

Rhode Island's Poor Entrepreneurial Performance

Entrepreneurialism appears to correlate with down economies, except in Rhode Island, which seems to be averse to changes in economic realities.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:15 AM

December 19, 2012

Things We Read Today (44), Wednesday

Government's corrupt pension handling; the discount rate scam; fighting off the zoning inspector; government peeking doesn't count as privacy invasion.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:19 PM

Town-by-Town Single-Family Home Sales, November

The Current updates its monthly review of single-family home sales statewide and town by town. In November, the state seemed to edge a little closer to the turnaround that will begin pushing prices upwards.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:34 AM

December 18, 2012

Things We Read Today (43), Tuesday

Explaining Rhode Island's decline in four brief sections: legal process, the economy, the media, and fashionable graft.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:48 PM

December 17, 2012

Things We Read Today (42), Weekend

The lesson of current events and history; what the 2nd Amendment means; what that means for change; government control and healthcare insecurity; government control and economic stagnation; a couple positive notes.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:01 AM

December 15, 2012

Looking for Reasons

Horrific acts like the school shooting in Connecticut are increasingly characterized by the youth of the perpetrators, and America should look to the deeper causes before forcing its citizens to disarm.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:11 AM

December 14, 2012

Gary Alexander's Long Commute and Rhode Island's Big Compensation

RI resident and PA Secretary of Public Welfare Gary Alexander has come under media scrutiny in both states for using a state vehicle to travel between them. Less-reported information gives context to the issue and to the compensation of government officials generally.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:00 PM

December 12, 2012

Things We Read Today (41), Wednesday

Two narratives on the economy; a health exchange story the media is missing; government as pretend leader; powerful teachers' unions (plus Ted Nesi's Rolodex)

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:37 PM

State Comparisons: Right to Work and Beyond

To the chagrin of progressives, unionists, and the RI media, state comparisons show more growth in right-to-work states; little wonder Obama is cancelling IRS taxpayer migration studies.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:11 PM

December 10, 2012

The Self-Censorship of the Community and a Loss of Rights

A family's Christmas display shows that the push for removing Christianity from the public sphere in the name of tolerance and separation of church and state is getting to a dangerous point for freedom.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:14 PM

December 9, 2012

Things We Read Today (40), Weekend

What subsidizes green?; what the unions want the pension law to say; First Family Holiday Fame; America, the Special.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:29 PM

December 8, 2012

Mortgaging the Economy

Increasing taxes, even by eliminating mortgage deductions, is still increasing taxes and, therefore, removing money from the economy.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:41 AM

December 7, 2012

The Philosophy of Noose Tightening

Harmful tweaks to ObamaCare point the way to less and less freedom (and less and less prosperity).

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:54 AM

December 6, 2012

Things We Read Today (39), Thursday

Critical thinking sexism in Providence schools; a masculine career in disability; indoctrination; gambling on the law; an earnest pun.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:18 PM

December 5, 2012

Things We Read Today (38), Wednesday

Evading the progressive ideology snatchers; under surveillance; the not-employed young; and growing up, one way or another.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:46 PM

December 4, 2012

The Deterioration of New England Local Government (and of the United States)

National results and local controversies point to the problems that have eroded Americans' sense and taste for self governance.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:55 PM

Economic Freedom? Not in Rhode Island.

As the governor embarks on a two-year search for "equitable" and "green" economic development, an index by the Fraser Institute suggests RI could grow its economy 15% faster just by matching the economic freedom in CT.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:29 AM

November 29, 2012

Things We Read Today (37), Thursday

Changing unions' privatization strategy; the government spending ratchet; the government spending racket; and the trap of dependency.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:58 PM

November 28, 2012

Things We Read Today (36), Wednesday

Threats to the economy (cliffs and debts); RI lagging again (yawn); dependors and dependees; Social Security a problem; and a civil right to the war zone frat party.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:42 PM

Rhode Island's Government Payroll: Living Beyond Our Means

State and local workers in Rhode Island receive more than 26% more doing the same work, and with the same experience, as those in the state's private sector. The major area of focus should be on empowering taxpayers to become more prosperous.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:00 PM

November 27, 2012

Things We Read Today (35), Tuesday

Healthcare and what you get for free; making a living trying to fix the dying (state); the dictator prescription; and unhealthily sexist (female) teachers.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:37 PM

November 26, 2012

Things We Read Today (34), Monday

Political theory (watching where you're going); bonds added to the pool of bubbles; safe regions in a pool with dangerous; government as the most dangerous bubble.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:00 PM

November 23, 2012

Things We Read Today (33), Friday

What's up with the Providence charter push; why RI schools lack warmth; how pervasive is progressive destruction; and how an island is like policy knowledge.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:47 PM

Whitehouse's Social Security Blinders

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse offers a succinct recitation of his party's flawed talking points on Social Security.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:21 AM

November 21, 2012

Things We Read Today (32), Wednesday

Taft-Carter takes the Iannazzi mantle; RI back to pre-democracy; the ascendance of unaccountable bureaucracies; and America gone mad (with the Big Blue Bug).

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:59 PM

November 20, 2012

October Employment: Boomtime in Rhode Island?

Employment data suggests that, despite the impressions of those who live here, Rhode Island's job market is booming.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:24 PM

November 19, 2012

City Politics, Country Politics

Debate around the Internet is beginning to make the city-suburb divide look like a festering battle along ideological lines.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:19 PM

Inefficiency in Economic Development: Money Looking for Makers

Historic tax credits have a broader effect than is immediately obvious, ultimately harming hard-working Rhode Islanders.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:59 AM

November 13, 2012

Town-by-Town Single-Family Home Sales, October

The Current updates its monthly review of single-family home sales statewide and town by town.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:48 PM

November 8, 2012

Things We Read Today (31), Thursday

On the politics (and policy) of exit polls, social issues, statism, and hugging.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:56 PM

November 5, 2012

Things We Read Today (30), Monday

Pre-election restlessness; race, politics, and advancement; differing job estimates without optimism; situational social issue calculus; old media as the election's big loser.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:46 PM

November 4, 2012

Things We Read Today (29), Weekend

Campaign finance serving incumbents; too common common political wisdom, locally; not hating the opposition; fearing the "common core." Click here

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:06 PM

November 2, 2012

Strange Days for Employment Data

The most accurate summary of today's national employment numbers from the BLS might be "a mixed-but-still-tepid (and strange) picture." Overall results are of modest, insufficient improvement, but employment results are inexplicably rosy.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:33 AM

November 1, 2012

Things We Read Today (28), Thursday

Mainstream reporters chat; the unknown cost of economic development; improving higher education by dumbing it down; a lawless society.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:28 PM

October 31, 2012

Things We Read Today (27), Wednesday

Campaign finance & incumbents; where the buck stops for the bad economy; Obama follows Chafee on a Commerce Czar; and the storm should be a warning.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:04 PM

October 29, 2012

During Hurricane Sandy, Rhode Island Vendors Should Watch Their Prices

The calm before the storm provides opportunity to consider the effect of legislation on behavior during and after an emergency, as well as the priorities of the people who create laws.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:47 AM

October 27, 2012

Universal Sales Pitches to the Voters on Debt for Affordable Housing

The ballot question on bonds for affordable housing illustrates how too much unanimity among representatives of government, advocacy, and media can lead to incremental deterioration of public policy.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:05 PM

October 26, 2012

10/25/12 - Brown University Municipal Pension Panels

Liveblogging discussion of municipal pensions at Brown University.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:31 AM

October 24, 2012

Things We Read Today (26), Wednesday

Mainly on government's bad incentives: bad housing spending in Providence, unlearnable spending lessons for the governor, stimulus corruption, and Medicaid reform.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:28 PM

October 23, 2012

Ballot Questions for the Voters

A brief analysis of the referenda questions that will appear on this November's ballot in RI suggests that the state would be better off reordering its priorities, rather than expanding debt and doubling down on casinos.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:26 AM

October 22, 2012

An Unexplected Surge in Employment

RI's seasonally adjusted employment in September saw the largest one-month increase in the state's recent history and led the statistical national boom, but there's reason to question the results, and the Ocean State still has a long, long way to go.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:34 AM

October 18, 2012

Rhode Island Economy Booming! Or Not.

Employment statistics would seem to suggest that RI's economy is booming. Readers (and voters) should be wary.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:23 PM

October 15, 2012

Deregulation Isn't the Problem; Bailouts Are

Travis Rowley correctly notes that deregulation didn't cause our woes, government backing did, and Justin suggests that such is the inevitable outcome of too-large government.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:53 AM

October 13, 2012

Government Debt and the Danger of Historical Growth

Ted Nesi's suggestion of government borrowing now based on the inevitability of borrowing later is indicative of a deeper problem within a culture accustomed to economic growth.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:16 PM

October 12, 2012

Things We Read Today (25), Friday

Observing the VP debate from within; flight from a failing region; surprising beneficiaries of a government bailout; a fable.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:16 PM

October 10, 2012

Town-by-Town Single-Family Home Sales, August

Updated single-family house sales statistics for August show some improvement, but mostly a mixed picture from town to town.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:13 AM

Cato Gives Governor Chafee a D in Fiscal Policy

A national report card from the Cato Institute gives RI Governor Lincoln Chafee a D.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:20 AM

October 9, 2012

RI Governor Gives Nation a Preview of Obama’s Public Welfare Project

RI Governor Lincoln Chafee's claim to independence at the Democrat National Convention doesn't jibe with his lunge toward President Obama's larger welfare intention with health benefit exchanges.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:00 AM

Projo Tilt on RIVotes.org

Providence Journal reporter Philip Marcelo's article on RIVotes is misleading.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:47 AM

October 8, 2012

Regulation Failure Is a Field, Not a Hole

Contaminated drugs raise the choice between chasing the regulatory tail and beginning to analyze the larger causes.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:20 AM

October 5, 2012

Employment: October Surprise or October Miracle?

Employment leaped up in September, giving President Obama a nearly miraculous hand in his campaign for reelection.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:10 PM

October 4, 2012

Things We Read Today (24), Thursday

West Warwick for all; the essence of education reform; declines in people births; declines in business births; the easy street to dependency.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:34 PM

Things We Read Today (23), Wednesday

Controlling prices across a continent; a look back at erroneous polls; Matthews in the echo chamber; excuse #2 for Benghazi.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:28 AM

October 2, 2012

Things We Read Today (22), Tuesday

Economic development options, from all-government to government-dominated; the heartless-to-caring axis in politics; Southern New Englanders' "independence"; solidarity between Romney and his garbage man; the media coup d'etat.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:02 PM

October 1, 2012

Why Government as Business Doesn't Work, at Least in Rhode Island

Economic development difficulties in Rhode Island begin with flawed thinking, and so residents are finding themselves turning to Massachusetts for jobs, housing, and even free-market commentary.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:01 AM

September 30, 2012

Things We Read Today (21), Weekend

Bob Plain's petit four of class warfare; CA's bid for more pension fund dollars; a martial metaphor for regionalization; a downturn for the never-recovered; Coulter v. View mention of RI.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:51 PM

September 29, 2012

U.S. Grant and the Left-Right Lines

The question of President U.S. Grant's liberality touches on the muddled thinking of modern progressives.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:35 AM

September 28, 2012

Tiverton Toll Meeting Shows Rhode Islanders Have to Stop Fighting Fire with Paper

Tiverton STOP-the-tolls meeting showed the battle as community spirit versus regional politics, with locals misunderstanding the operation of the Rhode Island system of government.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:57 PM

September 27, 2012

RIPEC's EDC Report Another Indication of the Question Not Asked

RIPEC's report on reshuffling the EDC was worse than useless, providing insufficient substance and offering cover to elected officials who wish to pretend that its recommendations count as "doing something."

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:08 PM

September 26, 2012

Things We Read Today (20), Wednesday

Mainly on media culpability and the economy: RIPEC's unquestioned report; skewed polls; the president's reportorial zombies; and the reluctance to invest in the economy.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:27 PM

Things We Read Today (19), Tuesday

Believing the political worst of priests; spinning bad SAT results; the skill of being trainable; the strange market valuation in Unionland.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:02 AM

September 25, 2012

President Obama's Early Inklings of the Dependency Portal

A 1998 recording of then-Illinois-state-senator Barack Obama expressing belief in "redistribution" may be more noteworthy for the evidence that it provides for the motivation behind "dependency portals."

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:40 PM

September 24, 2012

Things We Read Today (18), Monday

Many faces of big government: standardized tests; interest group buy-offs; government as marketing practice; and the United States of Panem.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:47 PM

September 23, 2012

Things We Read Today (17), Weekend

Returning RI to its natural state; RI as a playground for the rich; the gimmick of QE; the gimmick of digital records; killing coal/economy; when "Mostly False" means true.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:44 PM

September 21, 2012

Things We Read Today (16), Friday

The narrative of the candidates; death panels and pension boards; the endgame of government debt; an enemies list.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:15 PM

August Employment Data for Rhode Island and the Nation

Rhode Island's unemployment decrease actually included an increase in workers, in August, but the state is mainly stagnant in a declining national employment picture.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:20 PM

September 20, 2012

Things We Read Today (15), Thursday

Issuing bonds to harm the housing market; disavowing movies in Pakistan and tearing down banners in Cranston; the Constitution as ours to protect; the quick failure of QE3; and Catholic social teaching as the bridge for the conservative-libertarian divide.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:50 PM

September 19, 2012

Things We Read Today (14), Wednesday

Why freedom demands father-daughter dances; the U.S., less free; PolitiFact gets a Half Fair rating for its Doherty correction; and the mainstream media cashes in some of its few remaining credibility chips for the presidential incumbent.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:06 PM

September 18, 2012

Revisiting April: Romney's Themes Were the Same

Video from Romney's April 11 town hall in Warwick, RI, shows that there's not much surprising about the "secret" video purporting to show him disregarding government-dependent Americans.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:53 PM

Things We Read Today (13), Tuesday

Days off from retirement in Cranston; the conspiracy of low interest rates; sympathy with the Satanic Verses; the gas mandate; and the weaponized media.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:34 PM

September 17, 2012

Things We Read Today (12), Monday

Chafee shows his bond cards, Chicago exposes a metric discord, Rhode Island misses the skills-gap/business-cost lesson, QE3 misses the inflation nebula, and college majors miss the mark.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:39 PM

Rhode Island Politics: a Game That the State Can't Win

Ted Nesi's heralding of union organizers as "smart" captains of their political teams gives context for considering Rhode Island's deep, deep problems.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:24 PM

September 16, 2012

Intolerance and Lost Freedom in the U.S.A.

The executive branch of the United States government seems to be distancing itself from the nation's philosophically founding documents.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:19 PM

September 14, 2012

Things We Read Today (11), Friday

Being right about district 1 messaging; PolitiFact prepares for the election; what's a charter; being right about quantitative easing, First Amendment; and Bob Dylan says what he means.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:41 PM

09/14/12 - Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito - Roger Williams Law School

Justin writes live from a "fireside chat" with Supreme Court Justice Alito at Roger Williams University.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:45 PM

September 13, 2012

Things We Read Today (10), Thursday

Madness overseas and at home, lunacy in the Fed, the disconcerting growth of government, and the performance art of public-sector negotiations.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:18 PM

September 12, 2012

Things We Read Today, 9

No deep theme, today, but bad British commentary, union priorities, stimulus as wishlist, the fame of Dinesh, and a response to Dan Yorke's Congressional District 1 analysis.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:33 PM

September 11, 2012

Things We Read Today, 8

Today: September 11, global change, evolution, economics, 17th amendment, gold standard, and a boughten electorate... all to a purpose.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:11 PM

September 10, 2012

Things We Read Today, 7

Today it's debt and gambling, from bonds to pensions to entitlements, with consideration of regionalization, ObamaCare, and campaign finance.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:54 PM

Teacher Walkouts in Chicago, Conspicuous Details

Chicago teacher strike exposes communities' strategies for working around government.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:39 AM

September 9, 2012

Things We Read Today This Weekend, 6

The topics of hope and hopelessness pervaded this weekend's readings, from absurd labor rules in schools, to the likely outcome of Make It Happen, to Spencer Dickinson's insider view, and then to Sandra Fluke.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:38 PM

September 7, 2012

Things We Read Today, 5: Make It Happen Edition

Having done little reading while participating in the RI Foundation's Make It Happen RI conference, Justin uses his end-of-day column for reflection.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:10 PM

September 6, 2012

Things We Read Today, 4

Today, Justin touches briefly (for him) on long-term vs. short-term recovery, who's better off, RI's long spiral (and potential for quick resurgence), and the significance of different ballot types in Cicilline-Loughlin.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:39 PM

Slow Adjustment to the Teacher Union Machine Continues in Chariho

The Chariho school district is the latest to test boundaries in search of budgetary relief from the teachers' union machine.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:00 AM

September 5, 2012

Things We Read Today, 3

Today's short takes address misleading labeling at the DNC, misleading fact-checking, fading national competitiveness, and the September 10 mentality.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:11 PM

Introducing the Concept of Agenda

Political incentives may suggest avoidance of concrete suggestions, but nearly six years since RI's peak employment month, it has fallen to political outsiders to formulate an economic proposal.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:48 AM

September 4, 2012

Things We Read Today, 2

Tuesday's quick(ish) hits find a theme in partisanship and government spending.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:37 PM

Rhode Island at the DNC: Illustration of a Potential Future

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has released a study of employment numbers that should set the context for the nation's response to our governor's convention speech, this evening.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:13 AM

September 3, 2012

Things We Read Today, 1

Justin rustles up some quick hit-posts from his daily reading list.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:12 PM

Leaning Against the Privileged Place of Investments

The common wisdom that outside investment is the start of all productive activity can distort economic policy and political unity.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:27 PM

September 2, 2012

Against Incentivizing Cooperative Strategic Workarounds with Comprehensive Market-Driven Measurables

Step 1 in transforming Rhode Island's economy is to stop talking in jargon and to trust people to forge their own futures.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:17 PM

August 31, 2012

The Brilliance of Clint's Empty Chair

Clint Eastwood's speech to the Republican National Convention set the easy chair of the "messaging elite" rocking.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:42 AM

All of Us Are the Job Generators

While austerity may not be a comprehensive solution, Justin suggests that government's economic gambles are no solution at all.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:08 AM

August 29, 2012

The Risk of Investment Promises May Be Unhedgeable

A spokeswoman for Treasurer Gina Raimondo offers some sparing details on her office's hedge fund strategy, but the outlook for adequate investment returns continues to be gloomy.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:23 AM

August 28, 2012

North Kingstown Employees Strike to Maintain Public-Sector Premium

The North Kingstown janitor controversy provides the latest evidence that taxpayers pay a substantial premium for the workers on their payroll, compared with the private sector.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:58 PM

August 27, 2012

The Environment for RI's Health Benefit Exchange & Medicaid Expansion

Rhode Island's standing in some national comparisons related to doctors and Medicaid add further evidence that the Ocean State is not well suited to be a pioneer in implementing health exchanges and Medicaid expansion.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:01 PM

Dept. of Education Commends Privilege

A closer look at the RI Dept. of Education's ranking of elementary schools suggests that parents and the public at large should consider their schools' results with care.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:00 AM

August 23, 2012

Umm... Who (and What Policies) Got Us into This Mess?

Former President Clinton is characterizing the economic choice as deregulation that caused the bust (Republicans) and another approach that, he claims, caused the boom during his time in office. Staring at an economic chart suggests that's not an accurate presentation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:11 PM

August 21, 2012

Differences in Sources Suggest RI Does in Fact Have Most Burdensome Mandates

Analyzing the sources cited in a PolitiFact investigation of Center for Freedom & Prosperity CEO Mike Stenhouse confirms that Rhode Island does have the most health insurance mandates, and they are the most burdensome in the country.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:00 AM

August 20, 2012

Single-Family Home Sales from Town to Town

An update and expansion of single-family-home sales data for each city and town suggests that Rhode Island's real estate may not have hit bottom yet.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:38 PM

August 17, 2012

Other States Need Much More Misery Before RI Has Company

Rhode Island's employment picture continues to be starkly negative, unless its new motto is, "We hope people leave faster than they lose their jobs."

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:41 PM

August 13, 2012

What the Dependency Portal Changes

Responding to disagreement, Justin expounds on the problem with "dependency portals."

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:00 AM

August 11, 2012

Barro's Welfare Error

Compartmentalizing society, with business tasked with maximizing profit and government tasked with picking up the pieces, is another example of how big finance is distorting both the economy and the government, in Justin's view.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:44 AM

August 10, 2012

10 News Conference - Justin and RIFuture's Bob Plain

Video and an off-stage anecdote from Justin's appearance on 10 News Conference with Bob Plain, hosted by Jim Taricani.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:26 PM

Legislative Votes For and Against Tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge

The Current collects the legislative votes in favor of and opposed to the budget article allowing tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:33 AM

August 8, 2012

On State of the State: Getting RI Involved and on Track

Justin is his contrarian self on State of the State with John Carlevale.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

Bringing the Dependency Portal into Focus

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has created a page to trace the development of Rhode Island's "dependency portal."

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:05 AM

August 6, 2012

Recoveries: The Difference the Debt Makes (Not to Mention the Government's Focus)

The continued sluggish recovery results from the failure of the President and the rest of the political class to pay enough attention to the economy to recognize how current circumstances are unique.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:32 PM

August 4, 2012

08/04/12 - RISC Summer Meeting

Justin writes live from RISC's summer meeting.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:04 PM

August 3, 2012

Mistaking Community Self-Protection with Street Justice

A neighborhood attack on two robbers wasn't street justice; it was crime prevention. And it ought to raise questions about the wisdom of disarming the public.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:32 AM

August 2, 2012

RI Job Count Adjusted Up; Rhode Islanders Not Necessarily the Beneficiaries

According to the RI Dept. of Labor and Training, the state is creating jobs, but it looks like they're going to people out of state.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:17 PM

August 1, 2012

Hopkins Center Milton Party (and Thoughts on the Fuel of Capitalism)

The Stephen Hopkins Center birthday celebration for Milton Friedman raised questions of justice and virtue.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:38 AM

July 30, 2012

What Is Math For? Well, What Is Public Education For?

A New York Times op-ed gets a little too close to the edge of politicizing math education, for Justin.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:07 PM

July 28, 2012

Against Borrowing in Providence or Anywhere

When considering borrowing, voters should step back and question whether the system isn't corrupt at its core, suggests Justin.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:28 PM

July 27, 2012

The Context of the President's Context

Even more context for President Obama's Roanoake speech produces even worse context, in Justin's view.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:49 AM

July 26, 2012

Talking Teen Unemployment and the Minimum Wage on the Dan Yorke Show

Audio from Justin's Tuesday appearance on the Dan Yorke Show.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:29 PM

July 25, 2012

Mancession Recovery... Sexist!

Apparently, just as the silver lining of the recession was that men lost most of the jobs, allowing women to catch up as a percentage of the workforce, the dark side of the recovery is that men are claiming most of the "new" jobs.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:19 AM

July 24, 2012

Chronology of a Chastened Politician

President Obama has modified his "you didn't get there on your own" perspective quite a bit in the past week and a half.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:24 PM

July 23, 2012

Generations Adrift Without the Habits of Working

A new study of teenage unemployment, with an eye on public policy such as the minimum wage, suggests that we might be failing young adults.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:03 PM

Thirty-One Legislators' Pay Does Not a Turnaround Beget

The full list of RI legislators declining salary increases, Justin suggests, only emphasizes the failure of the General Assembly to address the state's real problems.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:08 PM

July 20, 2012

Unemployment Down... and That's Not Good

Rhode Island's improved unemployment rate for June tells a deceiving story; the state's decline continues.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:51 AM

July 19, 2012

Credit for Building, Blame for Dividing

The grammatical debate over President Obama's "you didn't build that" remark risks trivializing the core dispute, which Justin sees as definitional for our times.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:17 AM

July 18, 2012

Nationwide Unfunded Pension Liability Now up to $4.6 Trillion

The latest national unfunded pension liability estimate of $4.6 trillion ought to spark conversation about the meaning (and value) of risk.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:40 PM

July 17, 2012

A Decade of Moving Next Door

Rhode Island taxpayers have been fleeing the state since 2003, bringing their money and productivity with them; the trend can definitely be reversed, but it's a choice that residents will have to make.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:52 AM

July 16, 2012

Wind Turbine Profits Blown Away in Portsmouth

Portsmouth's wind turbine has run into technical problems, and Rhode Islanders should learn a broader lesson about government in business.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:42 PM

July 11, 2012

Costantino, Ferguson, and Roberts Describe "Unified Infrastructure"

The audio in which RI Health & Human Services Secretary Steven Costantino, Health Benefits Exchange Director Christine Ferguson, and Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts describe their vision of dependency portals.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:42 AM

July 10, 2012

Exchanges and Medicaid Expansion Move Health Care in the Wrong Direction

A policy brief for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity finds multiple reasons for the state to pull back from its plans to implement a health benefits exchange and to expand Medicaid.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:01 AM

July 5, 2012

The Conundrum of Consumer Bags

A possible ban of plastic bags in Barrington is one more indication of Rhode Island's governance problem.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:05 AM

July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day?

Independence Day ought to entail reading the Declaration and pondering the relevance that it should have in our times.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:29 AM

July 2, 2012

No Word on What Kind of Tax ObamaCare Is, but a Deduction?

Ramesh Ponnuru characterizes the mandate tax as a deduction, but that neglects the portion of the Supreme Court's ruling that allows an overall increase.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:09 PM

Changing Utilization of Local School Districts in RI Cities and Towns

Rhode Island's regular public school districts are losing enrollment as a percentage of population under 18. The Current explores how each city and town is faring.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:50 AM

June 29, 2012

Lt. Gov’s Press Conference: Personal Responsibility and Free Markets

Two more points from the lieutenant governor's press conference, yesterday, raise questions about the direction of health care and about what freedom requires.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:00 PM

It's a Tax on Your Body

The language of NFIB v. Sebelius ultimately requires the mandate tax to be a sort of property tax on one's body, with a corresponding tax credit applied to income for those who purchase health insurance.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:40 AM

Discussing Health Care on Rhode Island Public Radio

Justin appears on Rhode Island Public Radio's Political Roundtable to discuss the Supreme Court's ObamaCare ruling.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:45 AM

June 28, 2012

David Brooks Doing the David Brooks Thing

A David Brooks column leads Justin to question new and old statements of common health care wisdom.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:32 PM

Lt. Gov's Press Conference, Medicaid Expansion, and Small Business Insurance

Lt. Gov. Liz Roberts's claims that ObamaCare will expand coverage for small-business employees does not address how the law will affect different small businesses.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:16 PM

June 27, 2012

Video: 06/27/12 - Stephen Hopkins Panel on 38 Studios

Complete video from the Stephen Hopkins Center's panel on "Unwinding 38 Studios."

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:49 PM

06/27/12 - Stephen Hopkins Panel on 38 Studios

Justin writes live from the Stephen Hopkins Center's panel discussion on the 38 Studios deal and its aftermath.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:33 PM

June 26, 2012

New RI Health Care Law Barely Affected by ObamaCare Ruling

The claim that recent health care legislation signed into law last week adjusts depending on the Supreme Court's pending decision on ObamaCare is a bit of an overstatement.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:45 PM

June 25, 2012

Union Lawsuits, Those Pesky Discount Rates, and the Economic Game

An attempt to consider whether Treasurer Gina Raimondo's investment assumptions are reasonable leads to deeper (frightening) considerations.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:41 PM

June 21, 2012

Non-Union Charters Do Better in Math and Science

With Education Commissioner Deborah Gist recommending that the charter expire for one of Rhode Island's charter school specifically on the grounds of its math scores, the question arises whether private-sector methods and non-union teachers might underperform their public-school peers. Comparing several charter high schools in RI shows that the lesson may be the opposite.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:23 PM

June 20, 2012

Americans Losing Confidence in Institutions, Especially Public Schools and News Media

A Gallup poll finding American confidence in public schools at an all-time low also points to a disconnect between Americans' opinions of various institutions and the priorities of government.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:54 PM

The Ever-Growth Unfunded Liability

Various national organizations have attempted to calculate unfunded liabilities for Rhode Island and other states across the nation. The differences are dramatic and indicate reason for concern.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:36 AM

June 19, 2012

Ev'rybody's Talkin' 'bout ALEC-Seein', Rep. Jon Brien, Taxes Bein', Workers' Pleadin'

A New York Times mention of Woonsocket's problems has the state buzzing; Justin suggests that everybody should look a little more deeply into the heart of Rhode Island's problems.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:56 PM

June 18, 2012

Watching the Choice of Decline Being Made

Reviewing the latest budget in terms of RI's rankings according to various criteria puts the state's choice of decline or turnaround in clear terms.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:44 PM

Payday Loans and Government Expertise

An unspoken assumption of advocates for payday loan reform leads Justin to question the ability and right of government to meddle.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

June 15, 2012

MA Comparison Overwhelms One-Month Improvement in RI

RI's employment slide stopped in May, but comparison with MA shows just how much ground it has to recover.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

General Assembly Budget Gradually Undoes State Workforce Cuts

Under the radar, the state government of Rhode Island has gradually been reversing the workforce reduction achieved during Governor Carcieri's second term.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

June 14, 2012

K-12 Enrollment Versus Expenditures in RI and Woonsocket

Although enrollment is down in almost every Rhode Island city and town, expenditures have continued to grow at several times the rate of inflation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

June 13, 2012

Afterthoughts

Still over-tired from the General Assembly's final night in session, Justin draws some lessons from the experience.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:24 PM

June 12, 2012

06/12/12 – The Whole Mad Jumble of the Last Day

Justin writes live from the final day of the legislative session.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:00 PM

Nationally Recognized Investigative Reporter Joins the Ocean State Current

Kevin Mooney has appeared on Breitbart and Glenn Beck.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

June 11, 2012

06/11/12 – Senate Floor and Committees

Justin tries to keep an eye out, live, during what may be the second-to-last night of the legislative session. EBEC, casino, budget, campaign finance, and felony dog leashing rules.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:00 PM

Netroots & Rhode Island More Alike than Patinkin Admits

In Justin's view, the similarities between Netroots and Rhode Island extend to similar internal contradictions.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:29 PM

June 7, 2012

The Titles of Offices or Offices of Titles?

Justin muses about the inappropriateness of honorifics in American politics... especially in Rhode Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:45 AM

June 6, 2012

Poll: Teachers' Union Opinion Downslide

NEA Executive Director Robert Walsh may disagree with findings of deteriorating opinions of teachers' unions, but technology and events of recent years suggest reevaluation may be in order.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:05 PM

The State GDP Growth Race and Some Taxing Milestones

Trends in GDP growth for Rhode Island and three other New England states suggest that its general policy approaches during the last decade might be worth reconsidering.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:22 AM

06/05/12 – House Floor & Committee on Environment and Natural Resources

Justin whiles away the evening writing from the State House floor (campaign finance) and House Environment and Natural Resources Committee hearing (EBEC).

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:20 AM

June 4, 2012

Trading Budgetary Restraint for Economic Recovery

Projections of a sales-tax phase-out in Rhode Island show a stark decision for the people of the state, with a little government restraint yielding accelerated economic recovery.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:27 PM

June 1, 2012

Video Blog: Counting up the Discount Rates

In a mildly whimsical video blog, Justin explains pension fund discount rates and the risk associated with shooting too high.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:53 PM

Educating in America Is Not Like Educating Elsewhere

Teacher unionization may work in smaller, less-diverse systems, but that's proof that those systems are different, not that the United States should match them.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:24 AM

05/31/12 - House Finance Committee

Justin writes live from House Finance Committee; House budget.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:20 AM

May 31, 2012

Gallogly: Discount Rates and the Oversight Spotlight

Dept. of Revenue Director Gallogly comments on pension issues and communities on the brink of state oversight.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:36 AM

Tax Credits Need Transparency

Channel 10's Bill Rappleye interviews Justin about hidden profits from tax credit programs.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:34 AM

May 30, 2012

With Budget Commission, Woonsocket Deficit Problem Nearly Doubles

Addressing city's pension shortfall, Woonsocket budget commission faces another $7 million annual deficit, addressing $46 million gap over five years.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:50 AM

May 29, 2012

05/29/12 - Joint House & Senate Finance Committees

Justin writes live from a joint House & Senate Committee Hearing on casino legislation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:07 PM

The Real Disconnect in the "Skills Gap"

Continuing talk of the "skills gap" in RI's labor force (with the call for more resources) further defines the extent to which advocates are on the wrong path entirely.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:00 PM

Woonsocket's Unique Pension Woes Prove Deeper Problems

As public officials debate the appropriate next steps for Woonsocket, the city's local pension plan provides an example for caution.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:07 AM

May 28, 2012

Memorial Day, 2012: Until the Best of Us

A Memorial Day reflection in verse.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:12 AM

May 25, 2012

Table Games: A Big Change for a Sliver of Improvement

The state government's negotiated take from proposed casino games at Twin River and Newport Grand would provide a sliver of relief from a swath of loss and may not be worth the shift to full-scale casinos.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:14 PM

052412 - House Floor Debate, S2872 Woonsocket Tax Recommit - Video

Video of Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt moving to recommit S2872, an act authorizing a supplemental tax increase in Woonsocket.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:46 AM

Despite DE Status, RI Will at Least Receive $500 Minimum Tax from 38 Studios

Despite legally residing in Delaware, 38 Studios will be subject to Rhode Island's $500 minimum corporate tax.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:43 AM

May 24, 2012

Rhode Island Cities and Towns, Where They Are and Where They've Been, Part 3

The final part of this series groups communities by income and population change, finding clear distinctions suggestive of different strategies for moving the state forward.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:35 PM

In (Partial) Defense of the RI Mainstream Media

News media too often goes for the flash, but Justin suggests that the impulse begins with the audience.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:04 AM

May 23, 2012

Putting the EDC in the Wind Farm Business

A quasi-public wind farm proposal is still flying below most Rhode islanders' radar and changing shape from month to month, the latest idea being to make it a subsidiary of the EDC.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:37 PM

Rhode Island Cities and Towns, Where They Are and Where They've Been, Part 2

Part 2 of The Current's long-running review of population and employment data assesses population, employment, and income trends across the cities and towns to develop a sense of how communities are shifting.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:50 PM

May 22, 2012

Rhode Island Cities and Towns, Where They Are and Where They've Been, Part 1

The Current's long-running review of population and employment data can lead to better understanding of who is being affected by public policy in Rhode Island and how. Part 1 reviews how the cities and towns compare right now.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:32 PM

May 21, 2012

Policing for Profit, from Google to the Little Guy

An example of civil asset forfeiture in Northern Massachusetts adds punctuation to Justin's concerns about the local forfeiture windfall taken from Google.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:40 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Westerly

Westerly's unemployment rate is better than RI's, but the reason appears to be the willingness or ability of its residents to drop out of the labor force when they aren't working.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:21 AM

May 18, 2012

Rhode Island Doubling Down in Risky Economic Development

38 Studios has brought into stark relief the problems of government-run economic development.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:59 PM

RI Sees Largest Year-Over-Year Employment Decline

Not only has RI's sharp drop in employment continued, but its trend is increasingly opposite that of the nation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:44 AM

Raimondo Raises Concerns About Central Falls Transfer into MERS

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo expresses concerns about a bill to bring Central Falls and other struggling pension systems into MERS.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:48 AM

May 17, 2012

05/17/12 - Committee on Finance

Justin writes live from the RI Senate Committee on Finance, including Central Falls retirees and a path to MERS.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:48 PM

Senator's Wife Caught Up in RI Licensing

Sen. John Tassoni's wife lacked a license for her day care center, but he won't comment about whether RI's licensing regulations are too burdensome.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:20 PM

Common Sense and the Google Windfall

Using a police windfall award to (possibly) eliminate pension problems may seem like common sense, but when the dynamics of government are considered, Justin suggests rationality goes in the other direction.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:30 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Richmond

Richmond has the second lowest unemployment in Rhode Island, but its longer term trends are arguably the healthiest.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:51 AM

May 16, 2012

The High Cost of Mandates, Wind, and Energy

Rhode Island has the seventh highest energy costs, and renewable energy standards are a likely contributor.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:53 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: North Kingstown

North Kingstown's low-for-RI unemployment rate disguises a town that hasn't grown much and now has an historically low number of employed residents.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:37 AM

May 15, 2012

A Little Perspective on the 38 Studios "Hook"

It is definitely a matter of concern that 38 Studios may cost RI some large portion of the debt that it guaranteed, but Justin suggests a little perspective might be in order to learn from the experience.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:09 PM

One Group Leaving RI: Young, Single, and College Educated

During no period, from 1965 to 2000, did young, single college graduates increase in number in Rhode Island, according to the U.S. Census.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:06 PM

"Did You Know" All Presidential History Points to Obama?

President Obama's staff has been promoting his agenda on the biographical pages of previous presidents.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:32 PM

Backstopping and Insulating Local Pensions via Legislation

Legislation bringing Central Falls and other municipalities into MERS limits pension cuts to 25% and may set precedent for repeated state bailouts.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:36 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: New Shoreham

New Shoreham's March unemployment of 29.5% (not seasonally adjusted) is high by any measure, but it may be more concerning that both summer peaks and winter troughs have been lower than any time since 1994.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:36 AM

May 14, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Narragansett

At 8.5% (not seasonally adjusted) Narragansett's unemployment rate is low, for RI, but the reason is that its labor force adjusts more than usual to gained and lost employment.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:36 PM

Government Second Only to Finance for Fraud

Government and public administration has moved up to 2nd on a list of fraud-prone industries, with health care and education climbing quickly.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:08 PM

Fiscal Oversight as a Path to MERS, Central Falls and Beyond

A bill by Sen. Crowley and the Dept. of Revenue would allow cities and towns to use the state oversight process to move retirees into the state-run MERS pension system.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:45 AM

May 12, 2012

Moving Forward, Double Dip or Not

The specter of a double-dip recession brings into stark relief, for Justin, the lack of vision among those leading the state.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:07 AM

May 11, 2012

Kauffman/Thumbtack: RI Small Business Friendliness an F

In keeping with past experience, Kauffman/Thumbtack study finds RI to be dead last in the nation for small business friendliness.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:55 PM

Clarification on Pension Projections

The General Treasurer's office clarifies, for the Current, a chart showing a brief period of pension investment returns below expectations.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:02 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Hopkinton

Hopkinton grew, in population and economically, over the last decade, but since 2010, employment has stagnated as the labor force recedes.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:58 AM

May 10, 2012

A Math Technique Custom Made for Government

New methods of math education remind Justin of the math that professionals and politicians are using, even now, to conceptualize pension funds.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:45 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Exeter

Throughout the '90s and most of the last decade, Exeter was on a path of growth, but 2007 brought an end to employment increases, and 2008 lost jobs. Now, the town's unemployment rate is 12.2% (not seasonally adjusted).

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:38 AM

May 9, 2012

Rhode Island, nos trata a todos como extraños

Al igual que un conductor que no sabe donde los edifi cios que solían ser, los que no conocen los canales secretos del gobierno de RI tienen tres opciones

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:18 PM

RI 14th Most Licenses for Low/Mod-Income Professionals; 22nd in Overall Burden

RI requires licenses for the 14th highest number of lower-income occupations in the U.S., imposing the 22nd greatest overall burden, disproportionately affecting men and minorities, whom the recession has hit hardest.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:27 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Charlestown

Charlestown's unemployment puts it well above the overall rate for the state and results from more than four years of continual employment declines.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:37 AM

May 8, 2012

05/08/12 - Tiverton School Committee Meeting

Justin liveblogs from a Tiverton School Committee that promises controversy over tactics used while advocating for particular budgets.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:21 PM

Various Lifestyle Stories Vaguely Related (Taking Our Treats Away)

A jumble of news and commentary headlines leads Justin to wonder where the cause and effect lie in entitlement and nanny-statism.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:46 PM

Tax Breaks for the Trendy, Not the Ordinary

Tax breaks for artists raise the question of why all Rhode Islanders shouldn't have more control over their own destinies

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Woonsocket

Woonsocket's number of employed residents has never been lower, in the 22 years of DLT data, and the only thing keeping its unemployment rate steady is the rapid decrease in labor force.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:38 AM

May 7, 2012

Shrinking Government? Not Quite.

The New York Times' claim that President Obama has shrunk government shrivels under examination.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:39 PM

Transportation Infrastructure: Making a High Priority Low

Local transportation funding is vulnerable to federal vicissitudes because it is entirely federal dollars build on a bed of local borrowing. That ought to raise questions among voters about the management of the state.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:38 PM

Medicaid Waiver Reform Saved Tens of Millions, Although ObamaCare/ARRA Curtailed Savings

Despite some local journalists' reports, RI's Medicaid Global Waiver reform has saved $55.2 million within the first year and a half of implementation, and would have saved more but for ObamaCare and federal stimulus legislation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:34 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Smithfield

Smithfield's unemployment rate has improved a little since 2010, but the reason is that its labor force has fallen off while its number of employed residents has mostly stagnated.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:01 AM

May 4, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Scituate

Scituate's employment and population trends aren't far from the typical RI town, and its not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is below the state's overall number. However, the town has been on a consistent downward drift for a number of years.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:00 AM

May 3, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Providence

Although no employment pictures are positive, in Rhode Island, Providence's is a mixed bag. Still, all positive spin must be tempered with the fact that so few of its residents are interested in working, with only 40% actually employed. Its unemployment rate would be around 30% if it were like other cities and towns.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:00 AM

May 2, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Pawtucket

Standing in static comparison with other RI cities and towns, Pawtucket's employment statistics are bad, but not state-leading. It's the longer-term view of the city's decline that ought to be a matter of concern.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:00 AM

May 1, 2012

The Technocrats' Deal with the Devil

The intricate machinations suggested by Gary Sasse in the "tax-the-rich" debate raise the question of whether RI can afford the risk (or the wait) involved with technocratic designs.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:56 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: North Smithfield

North Smithfield's unemployment rate of 10.1% (not seasonally adjusted) is largely attributable to the rapid growth of its labor force during the last decade.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:57 AM

April 30, 2012

As State Legislatures Go, the General Assembly Is Pretty Liberal

Empirical data related to the ideology of state-level legislators suggests that, yes, Rhode Island is very liberal.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:13 PM

What's Nuttier than a 7% Rate of Return Expecation?

Polemics can give a sense of the debate concerning reasonable predictions, and investment returns are no different.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:26 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: North Providence

North Providence's low-for-Rhode-Island unemployment rate masks the fact that the city's number of employed residents has never been lower in the DLT's 22 years of data.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:47 AM

April 29, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Lincoln

Lincoln's employment trend over the last decade was along the typical Rhode Island line, with labor force growing substantially while employment receded. Since 2010, however, the town's situation has not improved, although it remains better situated than the state overall.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:22 PM

April 28, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Johnston

At 12.9% (not seasonally adjusted), Johnston has among the highest unemployment rates in Rhode Island. Like some other cities and towns, however, Much of the employment gap results from the presence of additional people in the workforce.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:55 PM

April 27, 2012

Even Minimal Take from Table Games May Be Overstated

Ian Donnis has looked into RI's negotiations for its share of prospective casino revenue, and pulling all the data together suggests that table games may only mean $9 million per year to the state government.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:01 PM

What's the Complaint, with ALEC?

In some circles, local ties to ALEC have been hot news this week, but Justin isn't sure that the complaint against the group is really what it's being articulated

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:29 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Foster and Glocester

In a comparison that plays out in other competing communities in RI, Foster and Glocester exhibit an interesting dynamic. Foster has significantly higher unemployment, but its number of employed residents is up, while Glocester's is down. The difference is the number of people who want to work.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:35 AM

April 26, 2012

When Is a Sleazy Politician Non-Partisan?

The Providence Journal publishes an entire article about him without letting on that John Edwards is a Democrat, much less that he was almost vice president on that party's ticket.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:13 PM

04/26/12 - Senate Floor and Some Committee or Other

Liveblogging from the Senate floor session and House Finance.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:08 PM

Giving the Regulator the Power to Police

S2680, from Sen. Walaska, appears to open the door for the PUC to act as a police force. Senate Judiciary hears the bill, today.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: East Providence

Not seasonally adjusted, East Providence's unemployment rate of 12.8% is well above the state's average. With its total employment near a record low and its labor force nearly there, as well, it's even more concerning that unemployed residents remain near the high.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:46 AM

April 25, 2012

Using Providence for Pension "Liability" Perspective

Pension actuaries use the word "liability" differently than the layman would. The total actuarial accrued liability of Providence's pension system has been given as $1.3 billion, with about $0.4 billion in assets, but the liability as most people would probably conceive of it is more likely $5.7 billion, with the same $0.4 billion saved up to date.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:33 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Portsmouth

In terms of employment change from 2000 to 2010, Portsmouth is pretty much the typical RI town. The town weathered the recession well, until 2010, and its seasonal swings create an interesting comparison with the rest of Aquidneck Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:51 AM

04/24/12 - House Finance Committee

The House Finance committee hears a variety of tax proposals, mainly concentrating on taxing "the rich"; Justin writes live.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:16 AM

April 24, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Cumberland

Cumberland is somewhat unique in Rhode Island, in that from 2000 to 2010 it gained employment. Still, its labor force grew more quickly, so its unemployment is still high, and all numbers are down from their boom-time peak.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:34 AM

April 23, 2012

Providence Budget Illustrates Pension Charade

Inflated assumptions for pension system rates of return mean that the budget that Providence Mayor Angel Taveras unveiled this evening (and all current RI budgets) amounts to an accounting trick to disguise future tax increases and pension cuts.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:38 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Cranston

Cranston's unemployment rate is below that of RI overall. Most interesting, though, is how trends in employment compare with those in Warwick, for very different results.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:54 PM

Tax Reform and Medicaid Money-Go-Round

RI's income tax reform affected taxpayers with little income beyond what they pay for medical care. As the state seeks to fill in the gap for low-income Medicaid recipients, the gravity of government complexity grows.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:23 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Central Falls

The not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for Central Falls was 15.6% in March and would be much higher if the same percentage of the population were in the labor force as in other RI cities and towns.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:33 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Burrillville

Burrillville's unemployment rate equals the statewide average of 11.8% mainly because the town's employment has not matched its growing labor force. Consequently, unemployment is near the town's all-time high.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:42 AM

The Current Week, 04/16/21-04/21/12

A weekly roundup of Ocean State Current articles and posts.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:00 AM

April 21, 2012

Two Economies, or One with Exceptions?

Is it the bull or the bear for Rhode Island? Justin suggests that if Rhode Island is to cease to be a drag on its region, the model has to be quite different.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:52 AM

April 20, 2012

If They Know What to Do to Fix Education, Why Not Do It?

A consulting group under contract with two of RI's most-struggling cities is sufficiently confident in its turnaround estimates to proclaim a specific dollar amount; Justin suggests they just go ahead and find the money.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:42 PM

Scariest Unemployment Fact: It's a Trend

RI's accelerated decline in labor force and employment continues and now constitutes a full-quarter trend; combined with poor housing market results, the trend ought to be of great concern to Rhode Islanders, especially in their capacity as voters.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:54 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Tiverton

Tiverton's employment trend is characterized by ten-year growth in population and labor force that wasn't matched by employment. In recent months, improvement in unemployment results only from a fast-falling overall labor force.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:30 AM

April 19, 2012

Lower Unemployment in Alabama Corresponds with Immigration Law

Correlation is not causation, but Alabama's employment picture has improved in the wake of its stringent immigration law.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:46 PM

04/18/12 - Video of Ron Paul at URI

The Current's full "Video on the Go" from Congressman Ron Paul's campaign appearance at the University of Rhode Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:02 PM

Central Falls Charter Panel Selected (Not Elected)

The process for selecting charter review commissioners in Central Falls has Justin concerned that an important lesson in self-governance is being missed.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:18 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Newport

Newport joins its neighbor, Middletown, in having very high unemployment, as well as a dramatic downward trend in its population and employment data.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:11 AM

April 18, 2012

04/18/12 - Ron Paul Town Hall

Justin writes live from Ron Paul's town hall event at URI.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:39 PM

First Quarter Single-Family Home Sales Picture Mostly Bleak in RI

Reviewing William Raveis data for single-family home sales in each Rhode Island community, Justin finds that the picture isn't rosy.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:47 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Middletown

Middletown's February unemployment is high compared with the rest of the state, at 13.4%, and January's was the highest in 22 years of data. More concerning is that those numbers were achieved even as the total labor force shrank.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:48 AM

April 17, 2012

Rhode Island Treats Us All as Strangers

Operating in RI government is like following directions based on where things used to be; Justin says outsiders are disadvantaged and vulnerable.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:19 PM

The Labor/Left Strategy: Shore Up Revenue

RI's unions are behind efforts to increase state revenue through gambling and "taxes on the rich" in an apparent effort to counter the effects of Massachusetts casinos, but the state will have to decide whether the consequences are worth the attempt.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:11 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Little Compton

Although Little Compton is among Rhode Island's wealthiest communities, the town has seen an above-average drop in employment and its unemployment rate is higher than the state's overall number.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:55 AM

April 16, 2012

04/16/12 - Don Watkins at Brown

Justin writes live from Don Watkins talk to the Brown Republicans on entitlements.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:16 PM

The Downer Side of Centralization and Lost Social Capital

An interview with Charles Murray leads Justin to muse on the possibility that avoiding judgmentalism in the name of tolerance might just make it less likely that others will have the opportunity to judge us good and worthy of advancement.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:27 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Jamestown

According to RI Dept. of Labor and Training statistics, the number of employed residents in Jamestown fell 7.6% from 2000 to 2010. The town's number of employed residents has almost returned to its level before the new bridge to the mainland eased travel to the island in 1992.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

Kennedy Describes "Quid Pro Quo" White House

Former district 1 congressman Patrick Kennedy tells the New York Times that big donations from special interests is how the business of politics works, with implications for local campaign finance initiatives.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:51 AM

April 15, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: West Warwick

West Warwick leads Kent County in unemployment, in part because its total labor force grew 4.1% at the same time that the total number of residents working or looking for work (its labor force) increased 4.9%.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:48 PM

April 14, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: West Greenwich

West Greenwich's employment data (while of limited confidence, given the small population) tells a story of consistent growth, until the current recession moved its unemployment rate above that of the state overall.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:19 PM

April 13, 2012

More About When a Marriage Begins than Whether Cohabiting

Couples who are engaged when they move in together are more likely to stay married than those who are not, but interesting gender differences in the survey data suggest that it matters whether one spouse has been married before.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:35 PM

The Meaning of "Legislation Last" in Pension Reform

Argumentation about the concept of "legislation last" when it comes to municipal pension reform appears to be an example of two sides talking past each other.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:32 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Warwick

Warwick's employment story appears to be one of lost population and lost employment. As with some of RI's other cities and towns, Warwick's number of employed residents has never been lower in the twenty-two years of data.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:16 AM

April 12, 2012

04/12/12 - RI Senate Finance Committee Hearing

Justin writes live and extemporaneously from the Senate Finance Committee hearing on Gov. Chafee's municipal relief package of legislation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:28 PM

Fighting Over Numbers in the Public Debate

A pair of articles point to the use of statistics in public policy debates, and Justin encourages everybody not to lose sight of the points being made.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:59 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: East Greenwich

Given its reputation among Rhode Island towns, it's surprising that East Greenwich has a higher-than-average unemployment rate. The explanation likely lies in the growth of its population and labor force, which exacerbated the smaller decrease in employed residents.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:40 AM

April 11, 2012

04/11/12 - Romney Town Hall

Justin writes live from Mitt Romney's town hall in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:16 PM

Who Are Legislators to Save Our Lives?

Matt Allen's petition for repeal of the primary-offense seat belt law leads Justin to consider the real consequence of such legislation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:53 PM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Coventry

Reviewing the unemployment picture for RI cities and towns, the Current finds that Coventry's exploding unemployment rate can be explained by increases in population and labor force rather than a decrease in the overall number of residents who are employed.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:45 AM

April 10, 2012

State Pension Projections Versus Actual Results

At this morning's workshop, Treasurer Raimondo's news that the state pension has only been earning 2.28% return on its investments jarred disconcertingly against the actuary's projections of what 7.5% and 5.0% returns mean for the future.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:54 PM

04/10/12 - General Treasurer Guide to Comprehensive Pension Reform Part II

Justin writes live from General Treasurer Gina Raimondo's second comprehensive pension reform workshop for municipal leaders, Part II: Creating a Secure & Sustainable Pension Plan.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:56 AM

April 9, 2012

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Bristol and Warren

Reviewing the unemployment picture for RI cities and towns, the Current finds that Bristol has actually been gaining population and workers, over the past decade, but they're finding jobs in insufficient numbers. And the circumstances for Warren appear dismal from every angle.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:20 PM

The Obscurity of Appointed Public Boards

Objections that low state contributions to public institutions of higher education should mean low authority over their operational activities raise the question of what the relationship between the schools and the state actually is.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:23 PM

Legacy Media Woes Point to Larger Political Dynamics

Reason's Matt Welch measures cutting-edge media against legacy media worries about the death of their industry, and reviewing the local playing field, Justin gives an example of how public policy can give them a cudgel (even inadvertently).

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:49 AM

State in Decline, Employment in RI Cities and Towns: Barrington

Reviewing the unemployment picture for RI cities and towns, the Current finds that Barrington lost 3% of its population from 2000 to 2010 and almost 7% of its employment. Meanwhile, in the quarter leading up to February, 1% of all residents left the town's work force.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:54 AM

April 7, 2012

The Conservative Message of Hunger Games?

Colleen Conley finds a metaphor for D.C. in the Hunger Games; Justin hopes it indicates a shift in political understanding.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:25 AM

April 6, 2012

Only the First Lawsuit Is Necessary to Erase Culture, Apparently

Three incidents of public-school censorship lead Justin to conclude that "offense" is trumping a heritage that fostered social health and progress.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:21 PM

Bill Centralizes School Budgeting a Piece at a Time

Governor Chafee's legislative package for municipal relief includes a bill, S2823, that would expand and deepen the Dept. of Education's authority over school budgets, including general oversight of municipal budgets, as well.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:55 AM

Two Views of Government on the Projo Opinion Page

Justin points out the interesting contrast of two opinion pieces in Tuesday's Projo, one an unsigned editorial and the other a column by Ed Achorn.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:35 AM

April 5, 2012

04/05/12 - House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources

Justin writes live from the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources hearing, including (for one thing) creation of a new public consortium with powers of eminent domain.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:14 PM

Gambling as a Regressive Tax

Justin wonders why the concern of left-wing commentator Robert Reich that state-run gambling is a regressive tax receives no voice in Rhode Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:24 AM

April 4, 2012

Unabridged Video of Sen. Pres. Paiva Weed's Short Presser; DUI Victim & Candidate Keith Anderson Goes Beyond "No Comment"

Sen. President Teresa Paiva Weed and Sen. Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio have issued releases insisting that we move on from the latter's DUI and its aftermath. GA candidate Keith Anderson, victim of a drunk driver's poor judgment, expresses disappointment.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:10 PM

04/04/12 - Senate Committee on Special Legislation

Justin writes live from the Senate Committee on Special Legislation, with particular interest in casino-related legislation submitted on behalf of the attorney general.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:49 PM

Caps on College Loan Interest Shift Pressure Away from the Problem

Democrats in Congress are looking to slow the expanding cost of financing college while people are beginning to notice the questionable priorities of the institutions that ultimately collect their money. Justin suggests that it would be better to rethink the entire system.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:07 AM

The General Fund Revenue Surplus Continues to Disappear

Updated "budget to actual" numbers show that the extra state revenue once heralded as a sign of economic recovery continues to fade.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:19 AM

April 3, 2012

Paiva Weed on Senators' Misconduct; the Rhode Island Way; and National Popular Vote

Justin reacts to Sen. President Paiva Weed's latest Ruggerio statement with an explanation of the end-all-be-all of political consequences, which don't exist in Rhode Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:42 PM

Video for 04/02/12 Central Coventry Fire District Meeting

"On the go" video from the Central Coventry Fire District special meeting on 04/02/12.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:00 PM

AG's Gambling Bill Leaves State Lottery to Self-Police

A bill originating in the attorney general's office transfers all authority over casino gambling in RI to the Division of Lotteries and omits "conflict of interest" rules for its employees.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:58 AM

Government Legal Action Isn't About the Money (But Isn't the Money Grand?)

Justin expresses concerns that a windfall forfeiture from Google to government agencies is further evidence of dangerous incentives for an entity that has the authority to tax, regulate, imprison, and kill.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:59 AM

April 2, 2012

04/02/12 - Central Coventry Fire District Annual Meeting

Justin writes live from a contentious Central Coventry Fire District annual meeting in Coventry.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:52 PM

Rep. Trillo: Casino Research Should Seek Equal Revenue, Include Allens Ave.

Rep. Joseph Trillo supports a casino ballot question, but he has submitted legislation for a broader study of ways to increase RI's gambling revenue, possibly including a casino on Allens Ave. in Providence.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:50 PM

The Supply Chain Is Not Immortal

From digital cameras to cancer treatments, the supply chain is not immune to disruption, and the drive to build the perfect system cannot rely on an assumption that the status quo will hold.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:14 AM

Education Formula for Results, Not Just Funding

Observing some points in the national education debate, Justin suggests a shift in how we align funding with measures of success.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:45 AM

April 1, 2012

The Weekend Distraction of Hunger Games

While determining whether to let his daughter read it, Justin found himself with an opinion about The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:19 PM

March 30, 2012

Hoodie Protest Comes to Providence

A handful of hoodie protesters outside the State House, today.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:32 PM

Loans for Kindergarten, Another Middle Class Bubble

Justin sees a trend for private-school loans, even at the kindergarten level, as an indication of a staggering civic society, not a faddish excess of the 1%.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:06 PM

Superior Court: North Kingstown Schools Cannot Knowingly Overspend

A Superior Court Ruling in Town of North Kingstown v. North Kingstown School Committee requires the school department to live within its budget but solidifies legal precedent requiring town governments to cover losses in state aid unless the budget makes estimates "expressly contingent" on actual revenue.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:31 AM

March 29, 2012

03/29/12 - David Carlin on Christianity and Party Politics in 2012

Justin writes live from a speech talk by David Carlin on Christianity and Party Politics.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:26 PM

Tax Hike Kills Four Times More Jobs than Resisting Casinos

Comparing job loss estimates related to casino gambling with those related to taxing the rich shows that the latter will be four times more destructive than avoiding the former. However, in one case, the government's incentive is in opposition to the workforce's.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:38 PM

Newport Grand Casino Legislation Quietly Amended Based on Twin Rivers Study

In the space of three minutes, the Senate Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs had amended and approved legislation calling for a public vote allowing state-run casino operations in Newport Grand and Twin River without further economic analysis.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:24 PM

Conspicuous Timing Between Alinsky and Unfruitful Spending

Noting a chronological coincidence of Saul Alinsky's influence on teachers' unions and leveling results (with higher expenditures), Justin suggests that reevaluation might be wise

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:40 AM

March 28, 2012

03/28/12 - Senate Special Legislation Hearing

Justin checks out a (warm and uncomfortable) Senate Special Legislation hearing concerning Newport Grand table games.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:39 PM

The State Table Games Corporation Nears Reality

Justin notes the movement of Newport Grand casino gambling through the General Assembly and suggests that a government-run casino may not benefit the people of Rhode Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:35 PM

House Labor Committee Calls Out Ocean State Tea Party in Action... Again

Reps. Williams and Guthrie opened yesterday's House Labor hearing with an objection to a legislative alert from the Ocean State Tea Party in Action that inferred legislators' opinions on teacher-related issues. Reviewing the transcripts allows readers to decide who is misrepresenting what.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:53 AM

Engineering Complexity into Healthcare

Justin worries that increasing complexity of health insurance arrangements that attempt to factor in patient outcomes take a more dangerous path than just allowing patients to find (and pay for) the doctors who suit them.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:20 AM

March 27, 2012

03/27/12 - House Committee on Labor

Justin writes live and extemporaneously from the House Committee on Labor hearing concerning eVerify.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:47 PM

Teacher Steps in the Law, Not Above the Law

Step increases for teachers are, indeed, mandated by law, but that does not change them into something other than raises or present the public with a single path forward.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:27 PM

Consolidation Becomes a Battle for Power in North Kingstown

Proposals from North Kingstown school superintendent Philip Auger could change a balance of power that some already see as out of whack.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:44 AM

March 26, 2012

Large Field of Central Falls Charter Review Commission Applicants Still of Ambiguous Import

Justin considers whether a flurry of applicants to Central Falls' Charter Review Commission is evidence that the city can yet avoid the hard lessons of self governance.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:51 PM

On Dan Yorke to Discuss Woonsocket Raises

Audio of Justin's appearance on the Dan Yorke Show relates to the larger questions of structure and strategy that Rhode Island has to answer.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:26 PM

Contrary to Left-Leaning Analysis, Tax Rates Do Correlate with a Healthy Economy

A study being touted by left-leaning think tanks defines economic health dubiously by leaving out population and workforce growth.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:06 PM

Woonsocket Teachers Receive $4.7 Million in Raises and Bonuses in Current Contract

Far from receiving "no raises," the increases in pay of the teaching staff in Woonsocket amount to $4.7 million over the period covered by their current contract.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:25 AM

March 24, 2012

Doggedly on the Leftist Message

Justin finds in an RI Future post by Bob Plain evidence of the rhetorical method of barricading the door to discourse.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:48 AM

March 23, 2012

RI on a Spree of Losing Jobs and Giving Up

Unemployment only "ticked" up, this month, but the overall labor force dropped more from December to February than it has since the dot-com bust. Public officials looking for a turnaround should consider the power of their message.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:55 PM

Living an Ethical Life, Beautifully

Justin takes the opportunity of a gorgeous afternoon to muse about beauty in ethics.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:11 PM

House Labor Chairwoman Williams Vents to Tea Party in Action

House Labor Committee Chairwoman Anastasia Williams paused a hearing, on Tuesday, to criticize an email that she had received, but sender William B. Palazzo disputes her description of the content.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:58 AM

March 22, 2012

Residents Need Incentive for Civic Involvement

Apathy in Central Falls leads Justin to further questions about the long-term wisdom of bailouts and receiverships.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:53 PM

A Movable Threshold for Municipal Pension Adjustment

An argument about pension fund discount rates by the Mercatus Center and RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity illustrates the difficulty, and risk, of setting thresholds on the availability of pension reforms.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:10 PM

Council Ratification Foes Layer on Technical Objections

Technical objections raised to legislation that would give town/city councils authority to ratify employment contracts appear to have been overstated or incorrect.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

A Free-Market Catholic's Conversation with the Bishop, Part 3 of 3

The Current interviews Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin, part 3 of 3: illegal immigration; perceptions of an oppressive state.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:00 AM

March 21, 2012

Meals Tax Tea Party Video

Video of the speeches from the meals tax tea party protest.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:46 PM

03/21/12 - Meals Tax Tea Party

Photos from the rally against Governor Chafee's proposed tax increase on meals and beverages.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:09 PM

Keith Anderson, Teacher and Right-to-Work Advocate, also Candidate for General Assembly

East Providence High School teacher Keith Anderson is running for the district 29 House seat, from Coventry.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:01 AM

A Free-Market Catholic's Conversation with the Bishop, Part 2 of 3

The Current interviews Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin, part 2 of 3: no political box; healthcare and political lessons; school choice

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:00 AM

March 20, 2012

03/20/12 - House Committee on Labor

Justin writes live and extemporaneously from the House Committee on Labor, addressing teacher layoff notifications, right-to-work for teachers, city/town council approval of school labor contracts, and others.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:34 PM

Being Fine with Good Guys Gone Bad

Mistaking the content implied by a David Brooks headline leads Justin to a stark juxtaposition showing the deadly danger of relativism.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

Death by 1,000 Government Bills

A letter by Providence business owner John Palmieri might provide a good indicator of the problems that Rhode Island fundamentally needs to address.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

A Free-Market Catholic's Conversation with the Bishop, Part 1 of 3

The Current interviews Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin, part 1 of 3: welfare and charity; "a global authority"; solidarity and subsidiarity; giving authority over to the state.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:00 AM

March 19, 2012

Inadequate Government Solutions Are the Fault of the User

Justin offers Tiverton's experience in the garbage-bag business as evidence of the risky difference between government services and those available on a free market.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:53 PM

New Group of Health-Industry Insiders Seeks Leverage in Exchange

Legislation to review healthcare mandates is scheduled for House Corporations Committee review; meanwhile, the local insurers and business interests are forming a group for leverage in the impending healthcare exchange.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:35 PM

Real Hourly Earnings on the Decline, Due to Inflation, but RI Might Be Doing a Little Bit Better

BLS data shows real earnings on a slide, nationally, and although RI might be doing slightly better by this marker, it's hardly enough to overcome unemployment problems.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:59 AM

Betting It All to Force a Turnaround

The Providence Journal is pumping up the common wisdom on how to turn RI around, but Justin suspects the project is going in the wrong direction from the start.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:57 AM

March 16, 2012

Chafee's Municipal Plan: A Giant Leap Toward Technocracy and Town Solicitor Invoices

Justin takes the highlighter and red pen to Governor Chafee's proposal for "municipal reform and relief."

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:59 PM

Social Issues, Economic Issues, and Marriage

In Justin's view, marriage as a social issue is inevitably bound up with other policies as small-government issues, and in a way that both "economically conservative social liberals" and "big-government traditionalists" ought to consider.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:45 PM

3.5% of RI Land Preserved

In the past few months, the Department of Environmental Management has purchased land or the development rights for nearly 100 acres of land at a cost just under $1 million.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:01 AM

March 15, 2012

03/15/12 - House Finance Committee

Justin writes live and off-the-cuff from the House Finance Committee hearing on retirement contributions, dept. director salaries, corrections, board compensation, and holidays.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:54 PM

Winners, Losers, and Losing More

The 2010 tax reform had winners and losers in every income range. Increasing taxes this year, even if only on wealthier residents, would arguably represent two straight years of tax increases.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:31 PM

Iannazzi (and Taxes) Did It

Every bit of legislation raising taxes, every apparently corrupt action, contributes to the culture and sense of hopelessness that is driving people away from Rhode Island. Justin argues that that's the first thing that has to change.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:30 AM

March 14, 2012

Differing Interpretations of Tax Effects Play into Local Decision

Experts disagree about whether the seven legislative proposals to increase personal income taxes on "the rich" will have an adverse effect on Rhode Island's economy, but the complexity of such changes requires a more local debate.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:36 PM

Bringing the Right Lesson from Chelsea, MA, to Central Falls

Even with the direct comparison of Chelsea, MA, with Central Falls, Justin finds that Rhode Island learns the wrong lesson.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:00 AM

March 13, 2012

The Bureaucratic Office Has the Last Light to Go Out

Justin cites James Lileks' illustration of the absurdity of bureaucratic spending in a down economy.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:00 PM

Unemployment Down in RI, but Labor Force Down More

Rhode Island's unemployment rate fell, from December to January, but the exodus from the labor force has accelerated.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:24 AM

Merging with MERS Not so Simple, or Even Beneficial

As RI leaders begin to explore the possibility of moving local pension plans in the MERS, the only matter getting any clearer is that there's no simple fix.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

March 12, 2012

Memo to EDC and 38 Studios: Economic Development Is More than Just Money

As Mark Patinkin notes, in a Sunday Projo column, the EDC and 38 Studios need to realize that it isn't enough for Rhode Island just to be a place with some buildings in which stuff happens that makes money.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:00 PM

Owner Liability and Renter Trust in H7136 and S2212

Foreclosure-related legislation illustrates the need for in-depth debate between advocates for and against the proposals. Even those that appear to be common sense may have unintended consequences affecting the public at large.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:24 PM

Societal Structure (Including Boys and Men) and Societal Health

Educational imbalances and legal bias against boys and men and the corrosion of cultural mores illustrate why small-government, fiscal conservatism requires a dose of social conservatism, as well.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:13 PM

03/08/12 - House Labor on Binding Arbitration: Carnevale Provokes Nadeau

Video of Rep. John Carnevale provoking Warwick School Committee Member Eugene Nadeau during House Labor's hearing on binding arbitration.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:41 AM

March 10, 2012

Video of 2012 RISC Winter Meeting

Video of RISC's 2012 Winter Meeting, featuring Central Falls Receiver Robert Flanders, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, Woonsocket Mayor Loe Fontaine, Providence advisor Gary Sasse, and Rep. Larry Ehrhardt.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:39 PM

03/10/12 - RISC Winter Meeting

Justin writes live from the RISC Winter Meeting at the Radisson Hotel.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:25 AM

March 9, 2012

RNC Co-Chair: Optimism, Work, and Tools, but No Money

On a visit to Rhode Island, RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day promises local Republicans tools, access, and optimism, but not money.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:41 PM

Unemployment Unchanged... but at Least It's Not Bad News

Unemployment held at 8.3% in February, indicating stagnation no matter how one slices the numbers.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:53 AM

In the Mood for Binding Arbitration?

The insider take is that the General Assembly wants to avoid controversy, after pension reform, but last night's House Labor hearing gave the impression of a different kind of show.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:45 AM

March 8, 2012

Campaign Finance Reform Targeting National Organizations Worries Local Groups

Campaign finance reform legislation currently under review in the RI General Assembly targets large national organizations and companies but has small local groups fearing that their speech (and donations) will be chilled.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:48 PM

March 7, 2012

Taxing the Rich Raises Taxes on All

Efforts to increase the top tax rate shouldn't be viewed in terms of the current tax system, but the system before the tax reform that is just kicking in. In that case, it represents a massive increase on more than just "the rich."

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:59 PM

Measuring the Inflation of Government

Local political analyst Tom Sgouros asserts that government ought to be measured against income, rather than in line with other expenses, but it isn't as reasonable a premise as it may at first seem.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:20 AM

03/06/12 – RI Senate Judiciary Hearing

Justin writes live from the RI Senate Judiciary hearing, including bills addressing campaign finance and straight-ticket voting.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:18 AM

March 6, 2012

School Budgets to Town/City Councils: Derailing Reform Still Suggests a Forward Motion

A labor-friendly senator proposing reform-minded legislation indicates the need for the careful consideration of unintended consequences as Rhode Island shifts the way it does business.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:19 PM

Attorney General Settlements as Corporate Shakedowns

Forty-nine of 50 states participated in legal action against five mortgage banks resulting in a $25 billion settlement. The public should wonder, first, what the banks gained from the settlement and, second, whether the whole process is wise to encourage.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:36 AM

Star Kids for the Children Left Behind

The Star Kids Program, in the East Bay, helps the children that Rhode Island might otherwise leave behind to close the graduation gap.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:00 AM

March 5, 2012

Incentive for Psychoses in a Therapeutic Culture

A Swedish man disabled by his love of heavy metal illustrates how, as community standards are pushed closer and closer to the closed-door home, the police of the public sphere are apt not only to defend, but to subsidize material they like.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:00 PM

Each Family a Royal Family, but Only If Rights Persist

Family and voluntary associations (including those defined geographically, like villages) are a necessary source of authority to oppose ever-expanding government.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

Complete Streets Legislation Takes Build-It-and-They-Will-Bike Approach

The General Assembly is considering legislation that would require Department of Transportation preference of "complete street" designs, but it isn't clear that another law on the books is really necessary.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

March 2, 2012

The End of an Era (But Not Fast Enough)

As impossible as it may be to deny the necessary changes in public policy related to the economy and government spending, the will to reform is not strong enough for due speed.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:45 PM

Mobility Has Held, but Perception and Perspective Have Changed

Economic mobility has improved or held steady over the past half-decade, but public perception is otherwise. Arguing hopelessness or dependence may reinforce the trend.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:30 PM

Laffey Movie Catches Mood, but That Might Be a Different Kind of Success than Hoped For

Justin reacts to an initial screening of Stephen Laffey's movie, Fixing America.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:28 PM

March 1, 2012

Tax Foundation Runs Some Test Firms Through the RI Ringer

A new Tax Foundation study exposes some of the flaws in RI's economic development practices.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:31 PM

Sen. Whitehouse on the Left-Right Scale and Chafee on the Left

National Journal ranking of liberal and conservative legislators points to politics and posturing.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:48 AM

Cranston Police and Fire Retirees Receiving up to $900 on Holidays

Cranston police and fire retirees are receiving double-and-a-half time for holidays that they do not work and would not be working, anyway.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:52 AM

February 29, 2012

Catching on the Danger of Municipal Dictators

Central Falls Receiver Robert Flanders' performance, both on stage and in his job, should spark reevaluation of theories of governance and political expedience.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:28 PM