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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
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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
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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.
Mon, 31 Oct 2005
Record profits at Exxon
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM - news) on Thursday
posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion, its biggest ever and one of
the largest in U.S. corporate history, as it raked in a bonanza from
soaring oil and gas prices.
Are you surprised? Read
22:31 - 31 Oct 2005 [/y5/oc]
Read all about Alito here.
If you have a little time, it's worth a look at the
RIPR July issue
for a look at how much damage one persuasive and intransigent activist
Justice can do. That would be Scalia we're talking about.
15:31 - 31 Oct 2005 [/y5/oc]
Sun, 30 Oct 2005
Tax time is coming up...
The 2006 legislative session is coming soon, and the Governor is
beginning to get into the festive mood by proposing a couple of
terrible tax reform ideas: a "sales tax holiday" for the
busiest shopping days of the year, and a cut in the sales tax.
Because we expect the season to be a busy one, we thought we'd
remind everyone of the real state of our tax system. Click
here to see
the Institute for Taxation and
Economic Policy study about tax fairness. (Or at least the RI
pages. See here for
the whole thing.)
The takeaway message: the system is not what you'd call fair. To
be more precise, in 2002, the richest Rhode Islanders paid about 8.6%
of their income in state and local taxes, and since some of these can
be deducted from the federal tax bill, the effective rate is about 6%.
On the other hand, the poorest folks in the state — which is to
say the bottom 60% — pay more than 10% of their income in
state and local tax. The bottom 20% pay more than 13%.
Since 2002, as the regressive property tax has increased, the
picture has only gotten worse.
20:37 - 30 Oct 2005 [/y5/oc]
Mon, 24 Oct 2005
Trillion dollars in the national
Remember the point isn't that the debt is a bad thing. But debts
are most usefully incurred in order to buy us something that will
become more valuable later. So what did the $2 trillion added to the
debt since 2000 bring us?
23:39 - 24 Oct 2005 [/y5/oc]
Thu, 20 Oct 2005
from US Representative Don Young, Republican of Alaska:
"When a natural disaster, be it a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or
flood, hits a particular region or state, the rest of us can often
feel disconnected because it's happening to 'them' and not 'us,'"
"Buying bonds that are specifically designated for these types of
disasters can help bring together Americans and create a sense of
America has averaged 31 major federal disaster declarations annually
for the past 50 years, Young said.
"We must find a way to meet the inevitable needs that will arise after
future disasters," he said. "We cannot continue deficit
One wonders how he imagines the deficit is financed, if not by
bonds. This is one of the people in charge of our nation's budget.
17:38 - 20 Oct 2005 [/y5/oc]
A generally unheard question
And a good one:
...executives who complain about the high cost of labor in the United
States compared to, say, China, are surprisingly silent about the high
cost of executive talent in the United States compared to, say, China.
What's with that, anyway?
Read more via
15:05 - 20 Oct 2005 [/y5/oc]
Wed, 12 Oct 2005
This makes me feel better. How about you?
Apparently we're supposed to feel better about Harriet Miers because
Good to know about that ol' first amendment.
On the other hand, I suppose it wasn't supposed to comfort
me, since I'm the sort of guy who once imagined church and
state separation was widely considered a good idea.
18:06 - 12 Oct 2005 [/y5/oc]
Tue, 11 Oct 2005
Not for them, from them.
21:19 - 11 Oct 2005 [/y5/oc]
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(A funny book you should own)