What's this? A Book!
Or buy here: Light
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.
Join the RIPR Mailing List! For a weekly column and (a few) other
items of interest, click here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
an item, suggest an issue topic, or buy a subscription. If you can,
buy two or three (subscribe here).
Search this site
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, 27 Nov 2007
The Big Picture
Curious how our state budget follies fit into the big picture? Do you
know that we haven't had a real federal budget for quite a while? The
president won't sign off on anything, so we continue with "Continuing
Resolutions" which are de facto federal spending cuts. (Except for
17:03 - 27 Nov 2007 [/y7/no]
Sun, 25 Nov 2007
Why this publication exists
Especially read the James Fallows link you'll find there.
16:23 - 25 Nov 2007 [/y7/no]
Wed, 21 Nov 2007
What motivates conservatives?
Have you seen "conservapedia"? This is a wikipedia
for conservatives who feel somehow that wikipedia's definitions are
warped by the godless mass.
list of the most-viewed pages in this fine work. (via Atrios)
07:31 - 21 Nov 2007 [/y7/no]
Sat, 10 Nov 2007
Pouring gas on the fire
As the dollar continues its tumble, here's something to keep it
falling: oil. Oil is still priced in dollars, so it remains one of
the important reasons why other countries want dollars. But it's also
a way in which the US bleeds money out to oil-producing states, like
Venezuela and Iran, not to mention Saudi Arabia. Because the two
effects push in opposite directions, the net effect on
the dollar's value isn't clear. But the effect on the net wealth
of our country vs. the oil-producing states is
15:35 - 10 Nov 2007 [/y7/no]
Fri, 09 Nov 2007
The Tax Foundation
We hear a lot from the Tax Foundation, a group in DC whose goal is
essentially to lobby against all taxes, whatever they pay for. They
publish rankings of the state tax burdens every year, and Rhode
Island's ranking on their lists is a source of concern for state
lawmakers, who use it as a blunt instrument to beat about the head and
shoulders of anyone who suggests that one possible reason for our
state budget crisis is all the money we've given away recently.
about the Tax Foundation and their bizarre methodology. But
(via Pat Crowley at RI Future)
is a much more systematic and thorough takedown of their statistical
People who rely on data like this should be laughed out of any
position of responsibility they hold.
17:37 - 09 Nov 2007 [/y7/no]
Mon, 05 Nov 2007
Wondering about the subprime market?
A very clear (and funny) explanation of what constitutes a "Structured Investment
Vehicle" and the subprime mess can be found
15:59 - 05 Nov 2007 [/y7/no]
How long will the dollar last?
loss to overseas investors from dollar-denominated investments. At this rate, the
dollar won't remain the world's reserve currency for much longer. And
the Fed has shown it will respond to the domestic economy's need for
lower interest rates, rather than the high interest rates needed to
keep dollars attractive, so bond investment yields aren't going
anywhere. If you lived in another country, why would you want dollars?
09:31 - 05 Nov 2007 [/y7/no]
Thu, 01 Nov 2007
Is out. Apologies for the long delay.
- Adding police where there isn't crime, losing police where
they're needed: fighting crime in Rhode Island
- Estimating the true cost of the alternative "flat" tax cut for the
- IRS coverup -- income statistics are no longer being
- Review of Against Prediction by Bernard Harcourt, about
the dangers of using profiling to fight crime.
Didn't you mean to subscribe?
10:05 - 01 Nov 2007 [/y7/no]
Presidential Health Care Plans
Want to get an idea of how candidate health care plans actually
compare? The National Journal circulated a survey among several
health care policy types, and presents a compilation of their comments
about the various plans in
I'm not sure it is wise to dignify a couple of the Republican plans
with the company they keep (Giuliani's "plan", for example, should be
embarrassing -- see comments in issue
27), but it is useful to see them all lined up like this.
10:05 - 01 Nov 2007 [/y7/no]
Ads and the like:
Rhode Island 101
(A funny book you should own)