February 2, 2008

Such a Disappointment

Justin Katz

Yesterday, Ian Donnis suggested that my latest Providence Journal op-ed "oversteps in prescribing [ascribing?] an advocacy role to [WPRI's Steve] Aveson, who like [himself] and other panelists, uses various rhetorical devices (the ever-popular devil's advocate, for example) in the interest of posing questions and stimulating discussion." Truth to tell, I didn't see myself as ascribing advocacy to Aveson. My impression was more that he was simply voicing his general opinion.

Yes, the "devil's advocate" defense is always available, but as with journalists' nigh upon pathological use of the word "alleged," that strategy of conducting interviews is generally heavily laden with such phrases as "some people say," and I don't recall Aveson deploying that device at all during discussion of illegal immigrant RIte Care. Indeed, I don't think a fair viewing of that exchange leaves any doubt that Aveson is speaking his own mind. At 3:53 of segment three, here, Aveson turns to somebody whom he knows agrees with the point of view that he's describing, Jennifer Lawless, and asks:

Jennifer, let's rally back to the question of depriving 2,000 kids who are illegal immigrants [sign language quotation marks], by definition, of access to healthcare. It seems like, of all the people that could be criticized for taking... solving the budget deficit on the backs of people, how do you solve it on the backs of kids who aren't able to go out and earn a living, for example.

And before she's even finished her thought, Aveson continues:

I mean, it almost feels a little bit like a harsh carrot and stick: "Okay, we can't solve this problem in a big way, so if we deprive children of this support, then at least they'll get the idea, those parents of those kids, and they'll go away from Rhode Island."

Let me be clear, here: I'm not faulting Aveson for expressing his opinion. I'm faulting him for having that particular opinion. But while we're on the topic of tough interviews, Donnis mentions that he poses a sticky question to Patrick Crowley on tomorrow's edition of Newsmakers (viewable already here). While I won't dispute that Ian's question is not an example of "rolling over," I have to admit that it struck me as pretty mild, considering that he and Aveson had just let Crowley get away with the following package of lies, after Aveson explained that "Governor Carcieri sat here.. and said that the rich are leaving the state":

Yeah, the facts don't bear that out. Since 2004, the number of people with incomes over $200,000 have actually risen in the state of Rhode Island. And while we have lost some population, it is a typical demographic shift, and we are not in any worse position than our neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut. But what we have done is cut our taxes for the upper income people more deeply than Massachusetts and Connecticut has, and that's what's contributing to our economic problem, right now.

Ian should know better. He reads Anchor Rising and presumably skims my Projo op-eds. Even Crowley's latest propaganda (currently being published in local newspapers across the state) doesn't support his claims. In that letter, Crowley claims that the number of such people rose "between 1997 and 2004." The latest data that I've seen shows upper income Rhode Islanders disappearing by the tens of thousands between 2005 and 2006.

It's understandable that Crowley would find it advantageous to spread lies that undermine the reality that I and others have been trumpeting, but it's very disappointing how broadly those lies are enabled — even by respected and respectable media figures.

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i guess you read my comments on N4N and ian's answer to the first one-i have never heard patrick crowley speak nor am i familiar with him beyond his blog entries,but my issue was with the way steven brown gets the soft kid gloves treatment from the local media,not least by the phoenix,and in fact brown is a lying,filthy scumbag -just reference his allegations on the unfortunate suicide that occured in proximity to an ICE operation-brown also allows people to believe he is an attorney without ever actually saying so-i confronted him on radio some years ago and he had to admit he was not an attorney-yet i know actual attorneys who still think he is-he does not correct people when they refer to him as an attorney-he is not elected by anybody to any position,yet he has somehow become an authority to whom some elected officials,like paiva-weed defer on any legal issue-it's easy to tell that brown was never a regular guy who knocked around,got in a few fights,maybe went in the service,got drunk on occasion,etc-he has,i suspect, always been a friendless human cancer cell-kind of like charley bakst,although brown appears to have taken a few more baths than bakst has-bakst is a slob who probably got his lunch money stolen on a daily basis-bottom line is that if you ask these leftists a specific question,they always slither out of it by retorting with a question to you on another subject because they have no good answers that they can back up-i will be interested in newsmakers just to see who pat crowley is and hear what he has to say,although i could care less about gambling in lincoln or anywhere else-did you catch buddy cianci talking about bakst lifting lambchops from a buffet and sneaking them out in his pocket-well,one more grease stain on his clothes wouldn't attract notice anyway

Posted by: joe at February 2, 2008 8:24 PM


You are very right!

According to Phoenix Marketing International of Rhinebeck NY that tracks and reports on “Affluent” households and “Wealth”: http://www.phoenixmi.com/about/news/financial_services/2008010908.phtml

The only reason I keep tabs is because Hawaii has long held the number 1 ranking in USA for having the most millionaires per households that have real access to $1 million or more investable disposable fluid funds which explains why Hawaii has so many houses sold for $1 million or more each year. Donald Trump holds the current record (Nov 9, 2006) for selling $700 million of Trump International Tower condos; Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, HI in 8 hours.

Now Justin your old state New Jersey is the number 1 leader of millionaire households in the USA (must all live in Colts Neck).

According to the Phoenix Marketing International spreadsheet between 2005 and 2006 CT gained state-wide households and individual household wealth while MA loss total state-wide households but gained individual household wealth and RI state-wide households stayed the same but gained individual household wealth.(ability to access $1 million or more in fluid assets). Phoenix is talking about people if you ask can hand you $1 million not the ones that have it on paper only.

Between 2006 and 2007 all (CT, MA, RI) three states lost state-wide households but gained households with individual wealth.(ability to access $1 million or more in fluid assets).

As of 2007 RI currently stands at 22,550 households that has the ability to access $1 million or more in fluid assets and Hawaii only has 29,365 households with same access but the new leader New Jersey has 228,442 households with access to $1 million or more investable fluid assets.

Phoenix Marketing International spreadsheet:

Posted by: Ken at February 3, 2008 2:58 AM


Happened to see that Newsmakers show you referenced in your op/ed and clearly recall Aveson's comments because I was taken aback at the vitriolic tone of Aveson's advocacy. Unlike you however I do have a problem with Aveson expressing his opinion. As the show moderator that's not his role or shall I say shouldn't be his role. Yet another example of the ever blurring boundries of media behavior. Everyone in traditional media wants 'their opinion' heard. We see it with Aveson's advocacy. We see it in the agenda driven disinformation campaigns in the Projo. No standards of behavior exist any longer in the world of American journalism. None! And it's why their 'reporting' is not trusted and is no longer taken at face value.
No surprise in Ian Donnis sticking up for Aveson or not standing up to a Ducky Crowley. They all carry the same water and serve the same master. Hilarious how the Providence Phoenix once considered the 'alternative press' is actually quite mainstream here in Rhode Island. Any article written in the Phoenix would fit seamlessly on the pages of the Providence Journal. Ian is so cutting edge. lol
Speaking of our singular tone Pravda like Rhode Island media was quite amusing to see the line-up on the local Sunday talk shows. It's labor day! lol No other media market in this nation gives labor the endless forum and free ride Rhode Island's media does. Simply doesn't go on elsewhere. The union/traditional media coupling here in Rhode island is an incestuous and malignant relationship that keeps the citizenry misinformed on some issues and uninformed on most. Wonder why people vote the way they do? Look who determines what's 'news' on a daily basis then shapes and molds that 'news' for delivery to the average Rhode Islander.

Posted by: Tim at February 3, 2008 9:12 AM

tim-i watched all 3 "union leader"shows-taracani at least asked some tough questions-rappalye didn't measure up that well-george nee is an experienced and slick propagandist for the unions-lucie burdick should keep opening her mouth because she puts her foot in it-the nea is a bad outfit altogether but it's interesting how walsh tries to come across as "reasonable"while crowley gets to do the aggressive stuff and be the flak catcher-there's not a dime's worth of difference between them however as to where they stand-higher taxes to make their members comfy-none of these union bosses give a damn about anything other than controlling the legislature and protecting their own and the public be damned-hummel was over matched even though he is a good guy for the most part-the arrogance of nee,burdick,and walsh in not wanting to disclose specifics of what they want is incredible-they don't represent steelworkers or autoworkers vs.private industry where that attitude would be understandable-they(nee in this particular setting-i know the afl-cio covers a lot of people)are representing people who work for the taxpayers so the secrecy is bullshit-imagine if charley fogarty were governor-nice guy,honest i'm sure,but a product of years in the general assembly and not likely to provide a counterbalance to them as carcieri has -try to picture fogarty vetoing a bill-wouldn't happen-carcieri's vetos are often overridden but it exposes the issues to the public-fogarty would have been a virtual doormat-just think of all those daycare providers being classified as state employees and getting all the bennies-how many are illegal aliens?some,at least probably are

Posted by: joe at February 3, 2008 9:31 AM

"carcieri's vetos are often overridden but it exposes the issues to the public"

Yes, for a lot of reasons, it's important that he does veto bills even if it looks like they are going to be overridden. I applaud him for doing so.

Posted by: Monique at February 3, 2008 9:53 AM


That's interesting data, but wouldn't the main lesson of that Phoenix spreadsheet be that, between 2005 and 2007, the number of RI millionaires increased (from 18,101 to 22,550), the percentage of the RI population in that category increased (from 4.22% to 5.32%) and RI's ranking among other states also increased (from 20th to 17th).

That is to ask, where is the evidence of capital flight that Justin is talking about? And this was before RI cut it's cap. gains tax below Mass', wasn't it?

Posted by: Chalkdust at February 3, 2008 2:57 PM


I've actually been looking at this and related data throughout the day, and the first thing I'd note is that (in part stirred by the unionist/welfarist propaganda currently being pushed throughout the media) there's a heavy mixing of terms and a jumbling of statistics. When it suits their needs, they alternately cite the top 1% (averaging $757,000 in income) or those making over $200,000.

For the most part, they're looking at data from the tail end of boom times (2004 and 2005), whereas the statistic that I've been citing most has been households' relative to poverty level from 2005 to 2006, for which the highest grouping is 5x poverty (or somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000 for a family of 4).

How ought millionaires fit into the picture?

Well, for one thing, I imagine the capital gains tax has much to do with the millionaire data cited here, which isn't income, but liquid assets. As it happens, 2007 was the first year during which capital gains on assets held for at least five years would be taxed at 1.67%. That may help to account for Rhode Island's three-rank step.

If that's a bit of light in a gloomy environment, fantastic. It's money being invested within the state that might have been invested elsewhere (and as that Campaign for Rhode Island's Priorities report vaguely explains, "a significant portion of capital gains revenue was raised last year from out of state residents").

But note that the capital gains tax is one of the targets of the unionist/welfarist machine. Heck, the wealthy are their central target.

As a percentage of population, Connecticut and Massachusetts are consistently in the top 5 on this millionaires list, and our tiny state, hovering between them, is only slightly ahead of the median. I'll concede that the modest pro-wealth, pro-growth advances that the governor has made have most helped the very wealthy, but that only emphasizes how far behind our state is, and how much the powers that be have halted reforms that would help those who are wealthy, but not so wealthy as to be insulated from our horrid public policies.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 3, 2008 3:41 PM

Just thinking out loud, here:

I suspect evidence could be found that the ultra-rich make up the greatest source of capital investment, as a source of ready funding for profitable projects, while the wealthy (say, those over $200,000) and the comfortable (say, those between $100,000 and $200,000) contribute the greatest numbers of actual entrepreneurs and business-founders. In other words, it seems likely to me that the lower group is the larger creator of jobs and wealth, while the higher group is their main enabler.

If this general sense is at all accurate, then this peculiar mix of data, with the ultra-rich increasing in number even as the merely wealthy and comfortable flee elsewhere fits nicely, but is all the more disturbing. It only does so much to have a low capital gains tax if those who can turn investments into profits are located elsewhere.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 3, 2008 3:59 PM

Here’s a question that’s food for thought.

Justin you know New Jersey like the back of your hand and you know New Jersey as a state has had some rocky times. New Jersey is positioned between New York and Pennsylvania just like Rhode Island is between Massachusetts and Connecticut.

It would be interesting to find out what the New Jersey government did to change the state around and gain so many millionaire households and wealth?

Posted by: Ken at February 3, 2008 5:19 PM

Ken, take it easy on Justin.
Explaining New Jersey's economic success might require him to praise the work of Jim McGreevey, which, given Justin's views on social issues, would be the equivalent of making him drink arsenic. And praising Jon Corzine would be alomost as difficult.
Please spare him. It's a difficult morning in New England.

Posted by: rhody at February 4, 2008 11:15 AM
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