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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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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
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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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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.
Sun, 28 Jun 2009
What about taxes?
I asked the likely gubernatorial candidates what they think about
Rep. Scott Guthrie's proposed amendment to the budget last Wednesday.
This amendment would have frozen the "flat tax" rate at the current 7%
limit and appropriated the savings to revenue sharing for cities and
towns. The amendment failed 23-52. Do they concur with the House
leadership that this was not a good idea?
"We need comprehensive tax reform, and we need to
start by thinking about having a singular, consistent approach, not a
dozen continuously changing tax policies. Our tax strategy needs to
focus on helping businesses, particularly small businesses, create
"No one element of tax policy can be considered in
isolation. What RI needs is a coherent, integrated tax policy that
meets the goals of: fairness to all Rhode Islanders, regional
competitiveness, lowering the tax burden on the middle class and
working Rhode Islanders, and supports a comprehensive economic
These, of course, are not what you'd call answers to my question.
Patrick Lynch and Lincoln Chafee both declined to comment, both
saying it was because they're not official candidates yet.
In other words, none of them were willing to express an opinion
about how our government ought to be funded.
00:47 - 28 Jun 2009 [/y9/jn]
Thu, 18 Jun 2009
The California Budget Challenge
Check out the
Budget Challenge. It's good for one's humility.
19:18 - 18 Jun 2009 [/y9/jn]
Sat, 13 Jun 2009
Bill numbers for Covanta trash bill
The bills that would reverse Rhode Island's incineration ban
and qualify waste-to-energy as a renewable energy source are
H6053 and S933. Please tell your representative or senator to oppose
them. Read below
21:19 - 13 Jun 2009 [/y9/jn]
Tue, 09 Jun 2009
Dept. of Reaping What's Been Sown
On the news that George Tiller's family is not interested in being
picketed, protested or shot. From the Times
Even some abortion opponents, who had long devoted their
efforts to closing down Dr. Tiller's clinic, said they did not wish to
see it happen under these
circumstances. Last week, Troy Newman, the leader of Operation
Rescue, had said that closing the clinic now would send a
worrisome message. "Good God, do not close this abortion clinic
for this reason," he said in an interview with The New York
Times. "Every kook in the world will get some notion."
Wonder where they will have gotten it from?
14:21 - 09 Jun 2009 [/y9/jn]
Fri, 05 Jun 2009
My favorite part of the Cairo speech
It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead
end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at
sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how
moral authority is claimed; that is how it is
I think the moral high ground is routinely undervalued in
discussions of international (and national) affairs. The contrast
between South African and Palestinian history of the last 50 years
could hardly be more stark.
07:53 - 05 Jun 2009 [/y9/jn]
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