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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).
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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
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
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, 30 Nov 2006
Who would have guessed?
in the Journal reports that the Rt 195 relocation project will
eventually cost (counting interest) $775 million, at least. The
article also points out the many ways in which the cost underestimates
were known to be underestimates at the time they were
The other important thing to realize about this project is that
its original rationale was that delayed maintenance on the existing Rt
195 bridge would result in $50 million in bridge repairs, probably
So, to sum up, this huge expense was initiated because of
mismanagement at DOT, and dozens of people in and around state
government knew about the impending problem and chose to ignore it.
And yet, according to the Governor, money spent on helping poor people
is the root of our fiscal woes.
Update. From a memo on the subject, written (by me) in 1994:
About the proposed 195 shift, while it might make India
Point nicer, and the jewelry district too, it is not clear that the
proposed solution will be any more than marginally safer than the
current road, whether it be north or south of Narragansett Electric. It
is also a problem for these reasons: after the Jamestown Bridge, no
one really believes the cost estimates, which are officially nearly
half the ISTEA [Federal transportation dollars]allocation for the
whole state. The potential to have this one project soak up what
chance the state has to begin to finance a rational transportation
system is great.
10:05 - 30 Nov 2006 [/y6/no]
Sun, 26 Nov 2006
Content? How unfashionable.
we learn about a profile of John McCain that actually appears to look
of his views on important matters of public policy. How quaint.
16:04 - 26 Nov 2006 [/y6/no]
Tue, 21 Nov 2006
An interesting graph
The graph below shows all the towns in RI lined up by median income on
the horizontal axis, while the vertical axis is performance on 11th
grade reading tests. As expected, the relationship is pretty clear,
though there are some outliers above and below the overall trend.
The graph is from the
Shape of the Starting Line
report about improving public education in Rhode Island. The data
source is the Commissioner of Public Education in RI.
22:53 - 21 Nov 2006 [/y6/no]
Calling a Race
The important part of an article in the Cranston Herald (details and
Meanwhile, Democrat candidate Michael Napolitano who, at last count,
was up by 71 votes, has begun making preparations to take office on
If either side had any doubt, they could have contacted local
mentalist Rory Raven. Raven, at the request of the Herald, offered a
sealed prediction of the outcome of the race.
The intent was to wait until the election was certified but, given the
situation, the envelope was opened Tuesday afternoon at the Herald
offices. So who won?
According to Raven, Napolitano -- by 70 votes.
The story is missing the picture with this caption:
Above, Herald Editor Elizabeth Seal unfolds Rory Raven's sealed
election prediction as Raven (left) watches. At left, Raven's
handwritten prediction and the envelope it was delivered in. The
envelope was mailed on Nov. 2 and had been on Seal's desk at the Herald
Rory's web site is roryraven.com.
22:35 - 21 Nov 2006 [/y6/no]
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