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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
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Mon, 27 Feb 2006
The paper mentioned by Paul Krugman's column today is here.
In it, the authors argue that virtually all the benefits of
productivity growth in the US economy over the last 40 years, has
accrued to the top 10% of the income distribution, with the top 1%
taking by far the lion's share of that. So if you're wondering why
your wages don't keep up with the cost of living, well, the reason is
that someone else is taking the gains that would have helped you do
Via this blog,
I also learned about
study, which is an international comparison of income
distributions and their changes over time. English-speaking countries
have seen an explosion in the top end over the last 30 years, not
shared by other European countries. What's also interesting is that
the top end is now occupied by wage earners, instead of capital-gains
takers. In other words, CEOs and other denizens of the highest
rungs of the corporate management ladder.
09:28 - 27 Feb 2006 [/y6/fe]
Tue, 14 Feb 2006
New issue out
- Accounting changes mean bad news ahead in state and city
- A sampling of what you'll find in the Governor's FY07 budget.
- Reforming property tax assessment (by David Segal, City
Council member in Providence)
The issue is at the printer's now, and will be mailed on Thursday.
Wouldn't now be a great time to subscribe?
13:43 - 14 Feb 2006 [/y6/fe]
Mon, 13 Feb 2006
More tax calculations
The arrival of the Governor's budget may have rendered the House tax
cut proposal inoperative, but time will tell. But here is a little
more information about what they proposed.
The data isn't public
to make this very precise, but I can put a reasonable minimum on the
numbers. The following is based on the assumption that the stated cost
of next year's income tax cut is about right. The proposal, to recap,
is to allow the wealthy to choose between our current system, and a
"flat" system like they use in Massachusetts. The proposal
starts the alternative tax at 7.5%, but then lowers it in successive
years. The table contains my estimate of how much revenue is lost
compared to the current system, with the tax set at different levels.
|"Flat" Rate||Cost in tax revenue|
|7.5%|| $9 million|
|7.0%|| $26 million|
|6.5%|| $43 million|
|6.0%|| $62 million|
|5.5%|| $104 million|
|5.1%|| $131 million|
Given all the uncertainties involved, the error in the above is
about 20-25%. So that $131 million could be $100 million, or it could
be $160 million.
12:30 - 13 Feb 2006 [/y6/fe]
Wed, 08 Feb 2006
Social Security reform redux
President Bush has finally come up with a proposal to "fix"
Social Security. A press release? An announcement? A mention in the
State of the Union address? Nope. But it's there in the budget
waiting for approval in Congress.
16:50 - 08 Feb 2006 [/y6/fe]
Fri, 03 Feb 2006
How much will this cost?
Calming down a bit, I whipped out the ol' statistics of incomes
spreadsheets and did a little figuring. Making only conservative
estimates, as much as a third of the income tax Rhode Island collects
is collected from people who earn more than $200,000 in AGI. (This is
the top 2% of taxpayers, and in 2003, they had about 18% of the total
AGI in the state.) Since we collect about a billion dollars in income
tax overall, this means that a one-percent cut for these people will
cost us about $3 million.
The press release and the press so far describe what is proposed as
a $10 million cut in taxes on the wealthy. I can't tell yet from the
press and the press release exactly how to calculate the changes, but
if we're talking about a 10% cut for the wealthy, that's a $30 million
hit, not $10 million.
Possibility 1: They are only proposing a 3% cut in the taxes on the top
2% of taxpayers. I which case, I'm not sure why bother. It's hard
to imagine a 3% cut as much of an incentive to anything.
Possibility 2: They are full of, um, incorrectitude.
08:54 - 03 Feb 2006 [/y6/fe]
Thu, 02 Feb 2006
The House leadership today
that they are going to be proposing a large package of tax cuts this
year. This is pretty funny, since the word is that the state deficit
is supposed to be huge this year. We haven't even seen the Governor's
budget yet (two weeks late) but that normally energetic tax-cutter is
said to be foregoing proposing tax cuts this year, because there
isn't enough money.
One wonders where they think they'll get the money for tax cuts,
when they can't manage to find money for affordable housing, health
care for poor children, heating assistance and all that. Not to
mention the disaster of funding for our schools, and the over-reliance
on property taxes.
At the press conference announcing this travesty, Gordon Fox, the
House Majority Leader, said "I'm supporting this and I'm a
liberal Democrat." I'd suggest instead that self-identification
isn't always the most reliable. That is, I know someone who considers
himself witty and charming. No one will tell him that the
important factor isn't his own judgment on the point, and the
weight of evidence isn't really in his favor.
23:34 - 02 Feb 2006 [/y6/fe]
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