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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.
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book's subjects, featuring the famous mystery graph.
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RIPR is a (paper) newsletter and a weekly column appearing in ten
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state and federal policy issues
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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.
Mon, 29 Oct 2007
Random references for issue 28
14:40 - 29 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
Wed, 24 Oct 2007
New Hampshire taxes
For readers coming here from the column in today's newspaper: Scroll down a bit.
09:49 - 24 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
Their own enemies
This publication is on several press lists, and so I receive press
releases from a variety of publications looking for ink. I've been
getting releases from the URI College Republicans for a little while,
with some irregularities in the address that let me know that they
probably got the press list from someone at the statehouse. Imagine
my surprise when I got the following message, with the same
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 19:45:27 -0400
From: "Protest College Republicans"
Subject: URI COLLEGE REPUBLICANS PROTEST
The same URI College Republicans who brought you a White, Heterosexual Male
Scholarship are now bringing you an Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. The
racism, sexism and bigotry continues.
The URI College Republicans must be stopped!
Join myself and dozens of other students as we protest the URI College
Republicans tomorrow night at 7PM when they host Robert Spencer, a
Muslim-Hating, Bush propogandist in the Memorial Union Ballroom.
Let's put an end to this racism, sexism and bigotry!
This man wrote "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam". What a sicko!
What: Robert Spencer Speech
Where: Memorial Union Ballroom
When: Wednesday Oct 24 @ 7 PM
Since this clearly came from the URI College Republicans, I'd
assume that anyone who showed up to protest was a willing tool of that
organization. Wouldn't you?
09:49 - 24 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
Tue, 23 Oct 2007
RIPR 28 Coming soon...
- Corrections budget -- Our curious priorities: Locking up criminals but slighting the
police who are supposed to catch them.
- Book review -- Against Prediction Police and parole
officials try to predict who will commit crimes, but is that a good
way to reduce crime?
- Trying to predict the cost of our flat tax cap for the rich. The
IRS withholds data.
Didn't you mean to subscribe?
07:35 - 23 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
Our flinty neighbors to the north
Answering questions about New Hampshire's taxes.
of NH property tax rates. You can see in it that the vacation
towns tend to have much lower rates than the less fashionable towns.
The cities tend to be on the low end of the high side. But check for
A table of RI
property tax rates. Here, too, is it any accident that the lowest
rates are in places like Block Island and Little Compton?
New Hampshire's property taxes, in aggregate, aren't that much
different from Rhode Island's. But when you look at the non-vacation
areas of that state, they're substantially higher. So New Hampshire
is allowing its out-of-state owners to subsidize a slightly lower
property tax, which is fine for them, but where does that leave a
state whose leaders say we should emulate them?
07:28 - 23 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
Thu, 18 Oct 2007
Trickle-down works after all
14:41 - 18 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
How much is the "flat" tax costing us?
As you may know, in 2006, the legislature adopted a tax cap for very
wealthy taxpayers. The idea is that we shouldn't tax those people any
more than they'd be taxed in Massachusetts. This is supposed to help
our economy somehow, though there is little reason to think so, unless
you think that rich investors power the economy, regardless of the
fate of the workers, customers, inventors, roads, schools, police and
fire departments on which they depend.
But putting those little details aside, there is some confusion
about how much this tax cut will actually cost us. The tax division
put some numbers out in 2006, based on the 2005 tax returns, but they
didn't make any predictions for the future. What's been clear over
the past several years is that the incomes of the wealthy are growing
at a different rate than the incomes of the less-wealthy. This makes
tax projections tricky.
What makes them trickier is that the Bush administration's IRS has
decided it's no longer important to provide detailed tax data for the
states. (They still provide state data, but with far less detail than
since the statistics of income bureau was established.) So there are
some significant grains of salt to take with tax projections. That
said, knowing the cost of this cut is important to what passes for
policy debate around here, so I spent some time this past week
reconstructing my model of income distribution and tax collections for
our state, to take newer data into account.
Here is what I get for the flat tax costs. The second column is
the limit, which is applied to the taxpayer's taxable income:
Caveats: I'd be willing to bet these are within 10% of the right answer,
but no better than that. These are tax year predictions, not fiscal
years. Here's the hit on fiscal years, more useful for discussions of
the state budget:
These are the best estimates I can make with the available data.
When more data becomes available, I will revise them.
08:12 - 18 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
Sun, 14 Oct 2007
Where it all goes
way to look
at the federal government's budget.
21:53 - 14 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
Fri, 12 Oct 2007
Income inequality up
Apparently as high as its been in the US since statistics have been
in the radical rag The Wall Street Journal reports that
researchers say you probably have to go back to the 1920's to find a
15:03 - 12 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
Wed, 10 Oct 2007
Can you trust reporters to report?
Especially when they quote people.
Read about Hillary and torture.
22:13 - 10 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
Mon, 01 Oct 2007
12:00 - 01 Oct 2007 [/y7/oc]
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