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A look at the lousy situation Rhode Island is in, how we got here,
and how we might be able to get out.
Now at bookstores near you, or buy it with the button above ($14,
or $18 with shipping and sales tax).
Contact information below if you'd
like to schedule a book-related event, like a possibly entertaining talk on the
book's subjects, featuring the famous mystery graph.
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RIPR is a (paper) newsletter and a weekly column appearing in ten
of Rhode Island's finer newspapers. The goal is to look at local,
state and federal policy issues
that affect life here in the Ocean State, concentrating on action, not
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Available Back Issues:
Issues are issued in paper. They are archived irregularly here.
- Aug 09 (38) - How your government's
economic policies have worked against you. What a fake nineteenth
century nun can teach us about the tea party protests.
- Jun 09 (37) - Statistics of
optimism, the real cost of your government. Judith Reilly on
renewable tax credits. Review of Akerlof and Shiller on behavioral
- Apr 09 (36) - Cap and trade, the
truth behind the card check controversy, review of Governor's tax
policy workgroup final report.
- Feb 09 (35) - The many varieties of
market failures, and what classic economics has to say about them,
review of Nixonland by Rick Perlstein.
- Dec 08 (34) - Can "Housing First"
end homelessness? The perils of TIF. Review of You Can't Be
President by John MacArthur.
- Oct 08 (33) - Wage stagnation,
financial innovation and deregulation: creating the financial
crisis, the political rhetoric of the Medicaid waiver.
- Jul 08 (32) - Where has the money
gone? Could suburban sprawl be part of our fiscal problem? Review
of Bad Money by Kevin Phillips, news trivia or trivial
- Apr 08 (31) - Understanding
homelessness in RI, by Eric Hirsch, market segmentation and the
housing market, the economics of irrationality.
- Feb 08 (30) - IRS migration data,
and what it says about RI, a close look at "entitlements", historic
credit taxonomy, an investment banking sub-primer.
- Dec 07 (29) - A look at the state's
underinsured, economic geography with IRS data.
- Oct 07 (28) - Choosing the most
expensive ways to fight crime, bait and switch tax cuts, review
of Against Prediction, about the perils of using statistics
to fight crime.
- Aug 07 (27) - Sub-prime mortgages
fall heaviest on some neighborhoods, biotech patents in decline, no photo
IDs for voting, review of Al Gore's Against Reason
- Jun 07 (26) - Education
funding, budget secrecy, book review of Boomsday and the Social
Security Trustees' Report
- May 07 (25) - Municipal finance: could citizen
mobility cause high property taxes?
What some Depression-era economists had to say on investment, and why
it's relevant today, again.
- Mar 07 (24) - The state budget
disaster and how we got here. Structural deficit, health care,
borrowing, unfunded liabilities, the works.
- Jan 07 (23) - The impact of real
estate speculation on housing prices, reshaping the electoral college.
Book review of Blocking the Courthouse Door on tort "reform."
- Dec 06 (22) - State deficit: What's
so responsible about this? DOT bonding madness, Quonset, again,
Massachusetts budget comparison.
- Oct 06 (21) - Book review: Out of
Iraq by Geo. McGovern and William Polk, New rules about supervisors
undercut unions, New Hampshire comparisons, and November referenda guide.
- Aug 06 (20) - Measuring teacher
quality, anti-planning referenda and the conspiracy to promote them,
affordable housing in the suburbs, union elections v. card checks.
- Jun 06 (19) - Education report, Do
tax cut really shrink government?, Casinos and constitutions, State historic tax
credit: who uses it.
- May 06 (18) - Distribution
analysis of property taxes by town, critique of RIEDC statistics,
how to reform health care, and how not to.
- Mar 06 (17) - Critique of commonly
used statistics: RI/MA rich people disparity, median income, etc.
Our economic dependence on high health care spending. Review of
Crashing the Gate
- Feb 06 (16) - Unnecessary
accounting changes mean disaster ahead for state and towns, reforming
property tax assessment, random state budget notes.
- Jan 06 (15) - Educational equity,
estimating the amount of real estate speculation in Rhode Island,
interview with Thom Deller, Providence's chief planner.
- Nov 05 (14) - The distribution of
affordable houses and people who need them, a look at RI's affordable
- Sep 05 (13) - A solution to pension
strife, review of J.K. Galbraith biography and why we should care.
- Jul 05 (12) - Kelo v. New London:
Eminent Domain, and what's between the lines in New London.
- Jun 05 (11) - Teacher salaries,
Veterinarian salaries and the
minimum wage. Book review: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
- Apr 05 (10) - Choosing a crisis: Tax fairness and school
funding, suggestions for reform. Book review: business location and
- Feb 05 (9) - State and teacher
pension costs kept artificially high. Miscellaneous tax suggestions for balancing the state budget.
- Dec 04 (8) - Welfare applications and the iconography of welfare
department logos. The reality of the Social Security trust fund.
- Oct 04 (7) - RIPTA and DOT, who's really in crisis?
- Aug 04 (6) - MTBE and well pollution, Mathematical problems with property taxes
- May 04 (5) - A look at food-safety issues: mad cows, genetic engineering, disappearing farmland.
- Mar 04 (4) - FY05 RI State Budget Critique.
- Feb 04 (3) - A close look at the Blue Cross of RI annual statement.
- Oct 03 (2) - Taxing matters, a historical overview of tax burdens in Rhode Island
- Oct 03 Appendix - Methodology notes and sources for October issue
- Apr 03 (1) - FY04 RI State Budget critique
For those of you who can read english and understand it, the following
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you can't understand it, and that's the point of writing it this way.
The Rhode Island Policy Reporter is an independent news source that
specializes in the technical issues of public policy that matter so
much to all our lives, but that also tend not to be reported very
well or even at all. The publication is owned and operated by Tom
Sgouros, who has written all the text you'll find on this site,
except for the articles with actual bylines.
Fri, 31 Mar 2006
New issue out
- How do we cut health spending when our economy depends on it? by
- What does it really mean that Massachusetts has more rich people
than RI does?
- Why might the median wage in Rhode Island mean something
different than the median wage in Massachusetts or Connecticut?
- Are poor people flooding into Rhode Island to take advantage of
our welfare laws?
- Review of Crashing the Gate
by Jerome Armstrong and
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga.
Didn't you mean to subscribe a while ago?
No time like the present.
09:30 - 31 Mar 2006 [/y6/ma]
Thu, 23 Mar 2006
School choice in Milwaukee
How's it really going after 15 years of experience with vouchers that
allow parents to opt out of the public school system? There was a
column about this by John Tierney
of the New York Times last week, praising the successes of choice in
that city. But last year the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel published a
on the subject. You may be interested to hear what it had to say.
Many thanks to the
12:56 - 23 Mar 2006 [/y6/ma]
Tue, 21 Mar 2006
Defining protectionism down
When, you might ask, did foreign ownership of domestic companies
become equated with international tariffs? "Protectionism"
used to refer only to the second. But now defenders of the Dubai port
deal and many other inequities of the current world economy want it to
refer to the first as well. See
20:56 - 21 Mar 2006 [/y6/ma]
Wed, 15 Mar 2006
Bird flu spreads how?
Bird flu is now found in Europe, after having spread from SE Asia.
Quick, what migratory birds winter in Asia and summer in France?
Answer: probably none, which is why the bird flu is probably caused
and spread by industrial farming practice rather than wild birds and
backyard flocks. See here
for a report from GRAIN an advocacy
group that supports sustainable agriculture, among other things.
11:56 - 15 Mar 2006 [/y6/ma]
Mon, 06 Mar 2006
Are we driving rich people away?
Much is made lately of a statistic that says that 1.86% of Rhode
Islanders report more than $200,000 in adjusted gross income to the
IRS, while in Massachusetts the comparable figure is 3.06%. The
implication is that short-sighted tax policy is driving rich people
from our arms to tax havens like Massachusetts. (These are numbers
for the 2004 tax year.)
This could be the truth. On the other hand, it seems that the
comparable numbers for 2001 are 1.67% and 3.18%. In other words,
we have more rich people now than we did in 2001, and Massachusetts
has fewer. So tell me again how we're driving them away?
To be quite honest about it, the comparable numbers from 1997 are
1.24% and 2.09%. So the rise is almost exactly comparable in both
states. Which is to say that there's no evidence that we're
attracting rich people, but there's little evidence that
we're driving them away, either.
The whole thing is predicated on the idea that more rich people
means more prosperity for all of us. This is just another version of
the trickle-down story that Ronald Reagan's allies sold to a gullible
public in the 1980's. On what evidence do people believe this to be
true? There is little enough that one unavoidably suspects this is a
species of religious belief.
There is counter-evidence, though. The
article just below points to data that show that rich
people have been inimical to the interests of their employees over the
past 30 years. That's data, not religion.
10:02 - 06 Mar 2006 [/y6/ma]
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