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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
intentions or talk.
If you'd like to help, please contribute
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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
is an email address you are welcome to use. If you are a web bot, we hope
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.
Tue, 19 Dec 2006
A Terror Trial...
... finally concludes with a conviction. Didn't you hear about it?
Wonder why. Read here.
09:30 - 19 Dec 2006 [/y6/de]
Mon, 18 Dec 2006
Because the issues aren't strictly related to RIPR's mission, but more
related to the accident of where the editor makes his home, a sub-blog
has been established here to deal with matters that pertain to the
town of North Kingstown, and the town government there. For example,
Budget Advisory Group report of last year is there. See here.
00:56 - 18 Dec 2006 [/y6/de]
Tue, 12 Dec 2006
New issue out:
- Who's responsible for the state of the state budget?
- Why is being so irresponsible about the budget thought to
be good politics?
- Quonset rears its ugly head again.
- We are adopting Massachusetts's tax code. Shouldn't we know more
about what's going on there?
Wouldn't now be a good time to subscribe?
09:02 - 12 Dec 2006 [/y6/de]
Mon, 11 Dec 2006
The honor roll
of last Friday listed a few people who were, of all things,
right about the War in Iraq in 2002. Along with the few
hundred thousand of us who were in the streets of New York and DC. It
wasn't that hard to make what turned out to be the right decision.
00:00 - 11 Dec 2006 [/y6/de]
Fri, 08 Dec 2006
DOT director resigns
The funny part about the plaudits awarded Director Capaldi upon his
departure is that DOT is a fiscal nightmare, and has dragged the rest
of the state budget down with it. DOT excesses have put us so far
into hock it will be years before we get out. But the article is all
about his far-seeing innovations that allowed us to get even further
in debt under his watch. But the cleanup will happen when Mr. Capaldi
is on the beach in Florida, sipping whatever they sip down there.
But the funniest part yet about all this is that the dimensions of
the DOT disaster were first described to me by none other than James
Capaldi, in a meeting in his office in 1998. Since then, of course,
he's done precisely nothing to right the excesses he described to me
then, and has only contributed to making them much much worse.
There's more in the current issue of the Reporter. Why not subscribe?
22:48 - 08 Dec 2006 [/y6/de]
What might happen
A Projo story about the possible consequences of the state
government's deficit. Dire, yes. A surprise? Not for anyone who was
involved in writing the budget last spring. You were looking for
honesty in the budget? You cast
your vote based on the charade of the budget? Oh, dear, I'm so sorry to hear it.
22:48 - 08 Dec 2006 [/y6/de]
Thu, 07 Dec 2006
Where is this from?
[C]ities and towns are facing a long-term financial crunch
caused by increasingly restricted and unpredictable local aid levels,
constraints on ways to raise local revenue, and specific costs that
are growing at rates far higher than the growth in municipal revenues.
Municipal managers and elected officials across the state---regardless
of whether they live in cities, towns, resort communities and rural
hamlets---understand that municipal government is nearing a crisis
point. Citizens are feeling increasingly sour toward local government
because their family's property tax bill has increased dramatically,
they are now paying fees for many services that used to be covered by
general revenue, and, still, core local government services are being
Sound familiar? It sounds like any number of recent reports about
Rhode Island, but this is about Massachusetts, and is quoted from
Local Communities at Risk: Revisiting the Fiscal Partnership
between the Commonwealth
and Cities and Towns, a 2005 report from
the Municipal Finance Task Force, a group convened by the Metro Area
Planning Council, the umbrella planning authority for greater
Boston. The task force was chaired by John Hamill, the President of
Sovereign Bank New England, so the report is occasionally called the "Hamill
There's more about this in the upcoming issue of RIPR, out tomorrow. Wouldn't
now be a fine time to subscribe?
11:37 - 07 Dec 2006 [/y6/de]
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