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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.
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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.
Thu, 28 May 2009
Basic Educational Plan
Find the draft plan here.
Find the old standards here.
The official comment period for the BEP is now past, but you can see
instructions for comment here,
and contact information for the members of the board are
What's this about? See below.
17:23 - 28 May 2009 [/y9/my]
Sat, 23 May 2009
Nerd stuff: Gini coefficients and the state economy
10:41 - 23 May 2009 [/y9/my]
Wed, 20 May 2009
The Tax Cut Fairy
10:09 - 20 May 2009 [/y9/my]
Tue, 19 May 2009
The value of politeness
is President Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame. It has one of
the best arguments for courtesy in argument that I know
of—humility, consideration, and the ability to see oneself in
And this doubt should not push us away our faith. But it should
humble us. It should temper our passions, cause us to be wary of too
Remember that each of us, endowed with the dignity possessed by all
children of God, has the grace to recognize ourselves in one another;
to understand that we all seek the same love of family, the same
fulfillment of a life well lived. Remember that in the end, in some
way we are all fishermen.
If you've ever composed a letter to the editor or a blog post or a
paragraph of political invective, or if you intend to, read the whole thing.
01:08 - 19 May 2009 [/y9/my]
Sat, 09 May 2009
Choice and Chicago Public Schools
The original study of the school choice program in Chicago, Cullen, et
al, was written up in Steven Levitt's book Freakonomics. A follow-up
in more depth can be read here.
13:53 - 09 May 2009 [/y9/my]
Thu, 07 May 2009
Some sense about journalism.
An excellent essay from Walter
As a copyboy in 1954, fresh out of college, I delivered mail to Hanson
Baldwin, then the Times's highly respected military
correspondent. When Baldwin wrote a news story or a piece of analysis,
it was read in the Pentagon and in Congress. They had to read him
because his years of coverage and his insights made him as expert as
top generals and civilian defense officials. I didn't know it then but
those days had a maor influence on my approach to journalism.
I am a Democrat, and everyone knows it. No one is more aware of it
than I am as I write stories for the Washington Post. I worked for
Senator J. William Fulbright twice in the in the 1960s, when I was lucky to run two
eighteen-month Foreign Relations Committee investigations for him. The
first grew out of magazine articles I had written about lobbying in
the U.S. by foreign governments. The second focused on military
involvement in foreign policy, and grew out of discussions I had with
Fulbright during my initial time with him. Those two sabbaticals were
among the most important and enlightening years of my life, and
influenced my view of reporting on government. They showed me how
little I knew as a reporter about how government really worked.
12:57 - 07 May 2009 [/y9/my]
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