August 3, 2008

Who's Got Our Back with Taxes

Justin Katz

An interesting response from rasputinkhlyst to my rejoinder to Crowley:

Folks in those states have higher wage and benefit base due to less attacks on workers from right wing nut jobs. Therefore their workers can afford to live there. Salaries for their state workers are higher and the benefits are better in these states. Having a livable wage means discretionary income and therefore the multiplier effect works for these state. RI with a very corporate mentality is a leader in the race to the bottom via Dumb Dumb Disaster Don and the GA enablers. These RI misfits keep thinking that RI is their personal candy store where only they deserve the sweetness. The outcome of this kind of simplistic thinking is obvious. RI was better off when workers were better off. It is a strong middle class that makes the economy work best. Less greed means more for all in the long run.

Most interesting about this is the revelation that the lefty perspective treats the public labor force as the basic determining factor of a state's health. That's a broad topic, though, branching from psychology to socialist theory, so I'll leave it to the reader to speculate.

For my purposes, it's enough to point out that, according to IRS data, Rhode Island relies more heavily on its middle class, and less on its wealthy citizens, than do Massachusetts and Connecticut:

Now, progressives are free to decry this state of affairs in Rhode Island, but they can't have it both ways. They can't cite a healthy middle class as the reason that Massachusetts and Connecticut citizens paid more in income taxes per $1,000 of aggregate income even though both states have lower tax rates on "the rich" while lamenting that Rhode Island's middle class pays a larger percentage of the state's income tax revenue.

The plain summary is that Massachusetts and Connecticut both tax wealthier citizens less, yet wind up collecting a greater amount of the population's total income, largely from the upper brackets. What a mystery!

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Since RI state workers' gross income is entirely derived from other RI'ers incomes (forcibly extracted from them) there is no multiplier effect, merely a redistribution of wealth.

A large public sector workforce is a "canary in the coal mine" of an unhealthy economy (consider the economies of Cuba, the Soviet Union etc. in which everyone was a de facto public sector employee - the only "multiplier effect" has been the multiplication of tyranny and poverty as compared to free market economies).

Finally, the ultimate test is real world experience, and economic "scientific method" if you will. The low tax / low public sector sections of the U.S. - the Southwest / Sunbelt have been growing and are thriving, while the high tax / high public sector employment / high union influence areas of the "Rustbelt" (Michigan, Ohio etc.) and Northeast are declining (RI, NY etc.) - both in relative terms and in real terms.

Posted by: Tom W at August 3, 2008 11:26 PM

"RI was better off when workers were better off. It is a strong middle class that makes the economy work best. Less greed means more for all in the long run."

First of all, you could start by taxing those workers less. Rhode Island's fourth highest tax ranking is comprised of both state and local (i.e., property) taxes, taxes that most people, not just rich people, have to pay.

Further, it has been the Democrat controlled General Assembly which has made this a worker unfriendly state by making it a business unfriendly state. The price for business unfriendly regulations and taxes is fewer and less desireable jobs as companies leave the state (this has clearly been the case in Rhode Island). So it is a price which is ultimately paid by workers.

Posted by: Monique at August 4, 2008 7:36 AM

Tom - well said.

To whom and what does Comrade Patrick "I struggle with basic math" Crowley refer when he writes: "RI misfits keep thinking that RI is their personal candy store where only they deserve the sweetness?"

I assume he is referring to the Entitlement-minded Union leeches who have attached themselves to the public tit and believe they are Entitled to:

- short 35 hour "work" weeks

- an overstaffed "work" force (1 in 6 employees are employed by the Public Sector)

- free, to near free, healthcare

- guaranteed penions that pay 75% or more of their highest 3 years in return of minimal contributions (<10%) and mininmal number of years worked (<30 years and often <25 years)

Posted by: George Elbow at August 4, 2008 7:37 AM

Monique - weren't you warned about repeating things over and over and over and over ....

Posted by: George Elbow at August 4, 2008 7:40 AM

Oh darn. I keep forgetting ...

Posted by: Monique at August 4, 2008 12:37 PM

Actually George, it was your droning repetition of the same talking points, no matter what the subject is, that I pointed out, which has nothing to do with Monique’s always insightful, on-topic commentary.

Tone matters. Someday, you’ll realize that. Or maybe you won’t. But if you want any kind of an audience, you’ll always be coming to forums where most of the participants realize that it does.

Posted by: Andrew at August 4, 2008 4:32 PM


Fair enough, your point is noted.

However, four things you ought consider:

1) Monique's always insightful, on-topic commentary often makes appropriate reference to the fact that RI is amongst the highest taxed states in the nation. If it weren't, I'd venture that this blog may well not exist to the extent that it presently does.

2) It is a fact that one of the key drivers behind RI's outrageously high taxes (with budget & pension deficits despite those high taxes) is the Unsustainable demands of the Entitlement-minded Unions the form of 8% - 20% annual Salary Increases for Bob Walsh's flock of Union Teachers, near free healthcare, ludicrous Guaranteed Pensions with zero Risk in return for minimal contributions and number of years worked, short work weeks, short work days, No-Show employees, etc.

3) {OT droning deleted.}

4) In terms of Tone, I believe the Tone was set long ago by the Unions. {OT droning deleted.}

Posted by: George Elbow at August 4, 2008 11:58 PM

So what does "OT" stand for?

And in terms of "droning", you are certainly entitled to your opinion, as am I.

And, if you don't like my opinion, you can scroll right on past it. That's the beauty of freedom.

But to delete & censor? You got to be kidding. LOL. Beware the slippery slope.

But hey, it is YOUR website / blog; and you are absolutely entitled to make the rules.

That's the beauty of the Free Market ...where too the consumer is free to scroll right on by.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 9, 2008 10:29 PM

"OT" stands for "off-topic," and although the edits to your comment aren't mine, I'm sympathetic to the charge. It serves no purpose but to derail discrete conversations to continually hammer a couple points that you believe to be key whenever there's a wisp of a connection.

I offer this comment, let it be noted, with no intention of making it a point of debate.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 9, 2008 10:59 PM

Justin – thanks for the clarification.

I suspected “OT” stood for “Off Topic”, but given the comments that were deleted / censored out, I couldn’t fathom that was what it stood for.

High Taxes, along with unfair & unsustainable taxpayer funded pay & benefits, are ALWAYS “On Topic”.

The drivers of those high taxes and unfair & unsustainable taxpayer funded pay & benefits (i.e. the Entitlement-minded Public Employee Unions, their leaders and their wholly owned subsidiary, the Gen. Assembly) is therefore ALWAYS “On Topic”.

More importantly, specific and concrete examples of the Entitlement-minded actions of the above noted high-tax enablers are ALWAYS “On Topic”.

It is not good enough to say it is the Union’s fault that the state is on the verge of bankruptcy. Both sides (me included) too often make such broad proclamations.

Indeed, whenever possible, we are obligated to give specific concrete examples supporting our assertions.

With all due respect to the “Off Topic” police, there are few better examples (certainly, to those of us that actually get up and trudge off to work every day) of the Entitlement-minded Union actions that result in us paying higher taxes to support unfair and unsustainable benefits than that of PFD Union Pwesident, Paul Doughty, who for 3+ years did NOT show up to the job that he was paid to do …hence he is legitimately referred to as a “Lazy-ass” and a “No Show”.

Doughty’s Entitlement-minded mentality, along with those of his legion of supporters such as T. Kenney, drove him to actually believe there was nothing wrong with his actions, as he was Entitled to such insanity.

I’d like to see Justin Katz stop showing up to his day job for 3+ years so he could tend to his AR chores and not only expect to keep getting paid, but also think he would be Entitled to keep his day job into perpetuity.

Same goes for Tone. Given that it was the “Off Topic” police that first introduced the notion of “Tone” into the discussion, I find it interesting that the meat of my defense was deleted by the “Off Topic” police.

Again, it is not good enough to simply say that the Union set the Tone long ago (which they did), but it is fair to give examples of them setting the Tone. And one need only attend a Union Teacher’s gathering with NEA-RI and Bob Walsh assistant, Pat “The Finger” Crowley, in attendance to understand the Tone that they have set. Ditto for a PFD “informational picket”.

Lastly (if you are still reading), I would simply say that the “Off Topic” policeman’s approach of “engagement” with the Unions (i.e. Bob Walsh, TK, PD, etc.) is certainly his prerogative. Although, I don’t believe it is the least bit effective in moving the ball down the field.

The only thing being moved down the field is the problem.

Bob Walsh and his ilk are expert at “putting everything on the table”, at talking & studying the issues. In other words, they are expert at kicking the can down the road, while placating fools that think they are “discussing the issues and are open to real change”.

But the reality is that NOTHING ever gets done, quite simply because the Entitlement-mentality of the Union flock is engrained in their DNA. You are wasting your time trying to change the minds of the Union. Only when we go bankrupt will they possibly make changes, but then it will be too late.

Contrary to the “Off Topic” police, I prefer to find concrete examples of the Union’s Entitlement-minded insanity and beat them over the head with it, over and over and over again.

The aim (i.e the purpose) being that hopefully the fools that have to trudge off to work every day to support these leeches (i.e. the Taxpayers) will relate and react in some way to the over the top Entitlement BS that is being heaped upon them and will therefore stand up and say No F’ing More.

Very simply, I am trying to incite a few Taxpayers with examples of the screwing they are getting. If, at the same time, I incite (or offend) a few Union hacks, so be it. Consider it a bonus.

And the next time Bob Walsh admonishes AR for “tolerating” the likes of George Elbow, I would humbly suggest that the answer should be that AR will be tolerating the GEs of the world as long as NEA-RI continues to not only tolerate, but employ, the Pat “The Finger” Crowleys of the world (i.e. the self-described “Punk with an imagination”).

Posted by: George Elbow at August 10, 2008 10:48 AM


For someone who uses the word "market" so often, you show very little understanding of what it means. You can whine about this being persecuted by the off-topic police, but then again, so can the anonymous spammers who keep leaving comments pointing people to their oxycontin websites, and I'll be similarly unmoved.

The point you miss, and you really shouldn't, if you truly believe in markets, is that the personal attacks you choose to continually repeat have no market value. If you disagree with this appraisal -- because the blogosphere is a free market -- you are free to deprive the comments section of Anchor Rising of their value by taking them elsewhere. If they have any value, then Anchor Rising will suffer. But I don't think you can find a buyer who has any blogospheric capital who's willing to take them. And I think this point is so obvious, you're not willing to waste any time trying.

The value in the Anchor Rising comments section is in its being a place where people with differing opinions can feel a degree of comfort in honestly expressing themselves. Your repeated personal attacks, mainly your insistence on attacking individuals that have nothing to do with a particular thread, detract from that value. Sorry, but I'm not obliged to let you drain the value of the Anchor Rising comments section, however large or small it may be, for the pursuit of your personal vendettas.

If you think this is a too haughty a description of what the Anchor Rising comments section is, or why comments sometimes get edited, then by all means, start your own blog where you can post anything you want with no interference from the "off-topic police" and tell us what kind of audience you draw.

(And a charge of censorship? I suppose you think the fact that any newspaper that didn't print the UNABOMBER's manifesto in its entirety was censorship too.)

Posted by: Andrew at August 11, 2008 12:35 AM

For someone as bright as you appear to be, you do seem to struggle with the English language sometimes.

I wrote: "But hey, it is YOUR website / blog; and you are absolutely entitled to make the rules."

I understand the Free market perfectly.

It is YOU that has taken the risks and invested the Capital in the website and therefore it is YOU that is Free to make the rules.

I and others are Free to decide if we agree with them or not.

My comments are NOT personal attacks. Rather, I am merely providing support for my assertions with real life examples (perhaps dressed up in flowery language).

Perhaps the real problem is that if the examples to which I point were somehow defensible, the “targets” wouldn’t need “editing” assistance from you.

And to compare my comments to the Unabomber’s manifestos, well, let’s just say again that you seem to struggle with the English language sometimes and leave it at that.

Lastly, since it is clear that I can not defend myself to you via logic and you insist on characterizing my comments as “personal attacks”, allow me to use my Scotch / Irish heritage as a defense.

There is an old Gaelic proverb that says “If you want an audience, start a fight”.

I know you don’t agree with that approach, but surely men (?) with names like “Walsh”, “Kenney” and “Doughty” should understand and appreciate that.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 11, 2008 7:18 AM
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