Rhode Island Policy Reporter

What's this? A Book!

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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.

Budget Demystification!
Fiscal Derring-Do!
Economic Jiggery-Pokery!

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.

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).

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whole site RIPR back issues

Available Back Issues:

  • 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 economics.
  • 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 news.
  • 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 housing laws.
  • 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 tax incentives.
  • 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
Issues are issued in paper. They are archived irregularly here.

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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.


Creative Commons License Tom Sgouros

Thu, 17 Sep 2009

Wayland Square, Wakefield and Westerly

Update: Due to logistical concerns, the Other Tiger event has been postponed to October 23.

This coming week I'll be appearing at some area bookstores to talk about state government, our economy, and the pickle we're in, and maybe sign some copies of my book. Please come join me at:

  • Books on the Square in Providence on Tuesday September 15, at 7pm
  • Myopic Books in Wakefield on Thursday September 17 at 7pm
  • Other Tiger bookstore in Westerly on Friday the 18th at 5pm

21:27 - 17 Sep 2009 [/y9/se]

Wed, 16 Sep 2009

Income inequality in America

Emmanual Saez has updated his article, "Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States". Here's his rendition of what's been happening to incomes at the top end. One interesting thing is the extent to which the benefits of the past few years have accrued not to the top 10%, but to the top 1%. The tapayers in the 5th through 10th percentiles haven't done so well at all.

10:12 - 16 Sep 2009 [/y9/se]

Mon, 14 Sep 2009

Health care for illegal immigrants?

Many may get it after all. From Mexico. (via)

08:09 - 14 Sep 2009 [/y9/se]

Fri, 11 Sep 2009

September 11

From here:

It still rankles -- a lot -- that Osama bin Laden is still out there. When the attacks happened, and in the days and weeks that followed, lots of notions flew through my mind, most of them wild and fanciful or flat-out insane. But it genuinely never occurred to me to that the main architect of the attacks would still be at large eight years later.

Once again, what matters is not what politicians say, but what government does.

15:27 - 11 Sep 2009 [/y9/se]

Fri, 04 Sep 2009

Come clean up!

Each year the Ocean Conservancy holds its International Coastal Cleanup on the third Saturday in September. Tens of thousands of volunteers will spend that morning picking up trash along the shore. In Rhode Island, there are dozens of cleanups around the Bay and some inland, too (there's one at Lincoln Woods). There's probably one near you. Last year volunteers picked up 8,354 plastic bags, 14,490 food containers, and 47,905 cigarette butts and I'm afraid there's plenty more out there.. This year, the conservancy is highlighting the risks to wildlife of discarded fishing line, which we find in great profusion (2,718 pieces picked up last year).

Call the Audubon Society at 949-5454 to find a location where you can help. Since it's the 21st century and we may as well make the most of it, you can also go online at signuptocleanup.org where you'll find a cool Google maps application that will let you find the cleanup nearest you, or the most scenic. If you're near Wickford, come help me clean up the harbor -- I'm "captain" there. Please RSVP at the phone number or web site, so we know how many people to expect.

13:08 - 04 Sep 2009 [/y9/se]

Thu, 03 Sep 2009

High speed rail: a boondoggle?

Or is the real boondoggle something else entirely. Read here.

17:19 - 03 Sep 2009 [/y9/se]

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