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Travis Rowley: Union Politics: One Big Racket

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Almost a year ago we discussed just how valuable an ignorant underclass is to the Democratic Party . And this week, several issues have served to remind us of a related political observation: Liberalism is the ideology of the mindless and emotional.

For proof of this allegation, we can observe the Left’s favorite activity – taking from some in order to give to others.

Redistribution is linear and visible. Infants have the capacity to understand it.

Grab. Give.

Conversely, is a child likely to imagine a way in which a poor man could improve his lot in life without direct redistribution? How about millions of poor people simultaneously?

Comprehending free market capitalism – how millions of individuals pursuing their own separate interests can secure and deliver resources for vast numbers of people – is not so simple; which is probably why it took thousands of years for humans to figure it out.

For people to resist the temptation to have government directly assist the poor is an unnatural discipline.

Conservatism is learned. Liberalism is trite, and derived from our most basic instincts.

The Politics vs The Reality

Cheer up, liberals. Because the politics of this ideological competition doesn’t favor the free market apologist – particularly as the culture of individualism continues to erode.

This week conservative Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer analyzed the issue of hiking the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour – the populist rallying cry Democrats have chosen for the 2014 elections. After the Congressional Budget Office reported that the Democrats’ plan “would lift 900,000 workers above the poverty line” but would also “cost 500,000 jobs,” Krauthammer explained, “We know that Democrats like to redistribute income, and they pretend it’s always from the rich to the poor. What the CBO has shown, absolutely clearly, is that when you raise the minimum wage, you’re redistributing income from one set of low income people to another set of low income people…There are going to be about half a million people who go from $7 an hour to zero…They’re going to be destitute.”

Krauthammer is exactly right. But that won’t stop Democrats from pretending that there are no costs or tradeoffs in the real world, and that Republicans are disinterested in assisting the poor – instantly whipping up enthusiasm among the emotional, the envious, and the ignorant this election season.

Here in Rhode Island

If Rhode Islanders want an up-close look at how progressives manipulate the uninformed, they can head over to the Hilton Hotel in Downtown Providence, where socialist agitators continue to harass the Procaccianti Group – an Ocean State employer – in an attempt to form an officially recognized union.

Accompanied by City Councilman Luis Aponte (D) and City Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (D), dozens of employees allowed themselves to be organized into rally formation once again this week.

Curious minds had to wonder: By what measure do these workers contend that supporting the efforts of Unite Here – a prominent outfit of organized labor – will benefit them as a whole? On what grounds do they believe that these labor religionists are truly fighting on their behalf?

Have they forgotten that union-Democrats have held dominion over Providence’s City Hall and the RI State House for decades?

Continuously considered to be “the worst place for business,” Rhode Island’s minimum wage is among the highest in the country. So is its corporate tax rate. Providence businesses suffer from one of the highest commercial property tax rates in the country – second only behind the folded City of Detroit.

These are hardly the hallmarks of a region being trampled by its business leaders. In fact, just over a year ago, RIPEC cited the State’s high “cost of doing business” as a major obstacle to an economic recovery – the very thing that unions openly attempt to increase.

Today “more than a fifth of children in Rhode Island are living in poverty, and over 10 percent are in extreme poverty.”

Providence fares even worse. “More than one in three children…[are living] in poverty.” And the average annual income for Providence residents is short of $22,000.

Rivaling certain Providence neighborhoods, it was reported during the summer of 2011 that the “unemployment rate across the building trades [was] running between 25 and 40 percent” across Rhode Island. The secretary-treasurer of the RI Building and Construction Trades Council, Scott Duhamel, called this “unheard of” in the summer, when the unemployment rate is typically between 5 and 10 percent.

Yup, it’s a real “workers’ paradise” around here (well, perhaps for well-off union leaders it is).

But the progressive record matters little in Rhode Island. Unite Here – “through organizing” – specializes in turning “low-wage jobs into good, family-sustaining, middle class jobs.”

Thousands of Rhode Islanders are still buying that crap. They want “fair wages.” And they know of only one way to achieve them.

Grab. Give.

That’s all they know. That’s all they understand. And that’s all progressive Democrats want them to understand.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


Related Slideshow: Timeline - Rhode Island Pension Reform

GoLocalProv breaks down the sequence of events that have played out during Rhode Island's State Employee Pension Fund reform. 

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In the five years before Raimondo was elected, pension changes included a decrease in established retirement age from 65 to 62, increased eligibility to retire, and modified COLA adjustments.
Read the Senate Fiscal Office's Brief here.
(Photo: 401(k) 2013, Flickr)
Prev Next

January 2009

Governor Don Carcieri makes pension reform a top priority in his emergency budget plan. His three-point plan included:

1. An established minimum retirment age of 59 for all state and municipal employees.

2. Elimination of cost-of-living increases.

3. Conversion of new hires into a 401(k) style plan.


See WPRI's coverage of Carcieri's proposal here.

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Rhode Island increased mandatory employee contributions for new and current employees. New Mexico was the only other state to mandate current employees to increase their contributions. 


Read the NCSL report here

(Photo: FutUndBeidl, Flickr)

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Rhode Island's state administered public employee pension system only held 48% of the assets to cover future payments to its emplyees.

"This system as designed today is fundamentally unsustainable, and it is in your best interest to fix it" - Gina Raimondo


Check out Wall Street Journal's coverage here.

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November 2010

Gina Raimondo defeats opponent Kernan King in the election for General Treasurer of Rhode Island using her platform to reform the structure of Rhode Island's public employee pension system. She received 201,625 votes, more than any other politician on the 2010 Rhode Island ballot. 

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April 2011

Raimondo leads effort to reduce the state’s assumed rate of return on pension investments from 8.25 to 7.5%.

Her proposal includes plans to suspend the Cost of Living Adjustment (which allows for raises corresponding with rates of inflation for retirees), changing the retirement age to match Social Security ages, and adding a defined contribution plan.

Prev Next

May 2011

Raimondo releases “Truth in Numbers”, a report detailing the pension crisis and offering possible solutions. She continues to work to raise public support for her proposal.

"Decades of ignoring actuarial assumptions led to lower taxpayer & employee contributions being made into the system." - Gina Raimondo (Truth in Numbers)


Read GoLocalProv's analysis of the report here.

Read the Truth in Numbers report here

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October 2011

Governor Lincoln Chafee and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo present their pension reform legislation proposal before a joint session of the General Assembly.

“Our fundamental goal throughout this process has been to provide retirement security through reforms that are fair to the three main interested parties: retirees, current employees and the taxpayer…I join the General Treasurer in urging the General Assembly to take decisive action and adopt these reforms.”- Gov. Lincoln Chafee

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October 2011

Head of Rhode Island firefighters’ union accuses Raimondo of “cooking the books” to create a pension problem where one did not exist. Paul Valletta Jr. states that Raimondo raised Rhode Islanders’ assumed mortality rate to increase liability to the state, using data from 1994 instead of updated information from 2008, and lowered the anticipated rate of return on state investments.

“You’re going after the retirees! In this economic time, how could you possibly take a pension away?” Paul Valletta Jr (Head of RI Firefighters' Union)

Read more from the firefighters' battle with Raimondo here.

Check out the New York Times' take on RI's  pension crisis here.

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November 17, 2011

The Rhode Island Retirement Security Act (RIRSA) is enacted by the General Assembly with bipartisan support in both chambers. RIRSA’s passing is slated to reduce the unfunded liability of RI’s pension system and increase its funding status by $3 billion and 60% respectively, level contributions to the pension system by taxpayers, save municipalities $100 million through lessened contributions to teacher and MERS pension systems, and lower the cost of borrowing.


Read more from GoLocalProv here.

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November 18, 2011

Governor Lincoln Chafee signs RIRSA into law. According to a December 2011 Brown University poll, 60% of Rhode Island residents support the reform. Following its enactment, Raimondo holds regional sessions to educate public employees on the effects of the legislation on their retirement benefits.


Read about how Rhode Islanders react to RIRSA here.

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January 2012

Raimondo hosts local workshops to explain the pension reforms across Rhode Island. She also receives national attention for her contributions to the state’s pension reforms.  The reforms are given praise and many believe Rhode Island will serve as a template for other States’ future pension reforms.


Read about the pension workshop here.

Read Raimondo's feature in Institutional Investor here

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March - April 2012

Raimondo opposes Governor Chafee’s proposal to cut pension-funded deposits. She continued to provide workshops on the pension reforms.

“The present law is sound fiscal policy and should remain unchanged.” -George Nee (Rhode Island AFL-CIO President)
See WPRI's coverage of Chafee's attempt to cut pension fund deposits here.
Prev Next

December 5, 2012

Raimondo publicly opposes Governor Chafee’s meetings with union leaders in an effort to avoid judicial rulings on the pension reform package.  In response, Chafee issues a statement supporting the negotiations.


Read more about Raimondo's opposition here.

Read about Chafee's statement http://www.golocalprov.com/news/new-chafee-issues-statement-supporting-pension-negotiations/">here

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March 2013

Led by the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters, unions protest the 2011 pension reform outside of the Omni Providence where Governor Lincoln Chafee and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo conduct a national conference of bond investors.


Read about Raimondo's discussion of distressed municipalities here

Prev Next

April 2013

The pension plan comes under increased scrutiny as a result of the involvement of hedge funds and private equity firms. Reports show that $200 million of the state pension fund was lost in 2012.

"In short, impressive educational credentials and limited knowledge of investment industry realities made Raimondo ideally suited to champion private equity’s public pension money grab." - Ted Seidle (Forbes)


Read GoLocalProv's coverage of the State Pension Fund's losses here

Read Ted Seidle's criticism of Raimondo in Forbes.

Prev Next

June 2013

Reports show that the State’s retirement system increased in 2013 by $20 million despite the reforms being put into effect the previous year.


Read GoLocalProv's investigation into the rising pension costs here.

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September 2013

Matt Taibbi publishes an article in Rolling Stone detailing Raimondo’s use of hedge funds as a questionably ethical tool to aid with pension reform. 

Read Taibbi's article in Rolling Stone.

Read GoLocalProv's response to Taibbi here.

Prev Next

October 2013

As Raimondo eyes the role of Governor of Rhode Island in 2014, more behind-the-curtain information about the 2011 pension reform comes to light.


Read more from GoLocalProv about the players in the pension battle here.


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Poor Mr. Rowley. Doesn't realize he's a tool of the 1%...a chicken backing Colonel Sanders if you will. Mr. Rowley wants us to emulate the economic conditions of China with no labor unions or environmental laws....or air to breathe. We can all walk around with smog masks on after 18 hour work days then head back to the factory to our cozy bunk beds on the factory floors with our exhausted children who just finished the night shift at our side as we awake to a new day of exploitation and humiliation. Mr. Rowley doesn't know his history or he would understand that without unions there would be no middle class and you can trace the decline of the middle class in direct proportion to the decline of unions. Mr. Crowley also doesn't realize that if it wasn't for unions, he would be living out of a refrigerator box underneath the rt 95 underpass.
Now for the facts. The Walton Family has a collective wealth equal to the bottom 40% of the country. 95% of all economic gains since CEO and president George W Bush brought this country to the brink of a second great depression following Mr. Rowley's philosophy, have gone to the top 1%.
If you believe in Mr. Rowley's utopian economy in which one person would own all the wealth and the rest of the country was left to raise chickens in their backyards, then by all means follow this buffoon and destroy what's left America's middle class and what's left of America and democracy for that matter.

Comment #1 by Jonathan Bainsworth on 2014 02 22

"Yup, it's a real workers paradise here (well, perhaps for the well-off retired State Troopers it is). I love when the Beaver spouts off on unions but fails to mention that he was brought up with all the benefits of the worst union whore of all, the son of a trooper who never paid a dime into his own pension!

Comment #2 by lupe fiasco on 2014 02 22

Nothing new here folks. just more of Rowley's weekly, regurgitated, tired, old, right-wing-nut talking points, What utter nonsense,
70+ years ago, FDR signed the minimum wage law, since then the Right-Wingnut-rubes have strongly opposed every increase (even of just pennies per hour) with false predictions of economic doom, In those 70+ years, the American economy has grown to be the largest economy in the world. While millionaires like Limbaugh and Trump, and many others on the Reight, have called for the total abolition of the minimum wage.
They want the USA to be more like the conservative paradise Bangladesh were folks earn 17 cents and hour. and Children are paid 7 cents an hour, or less
What really creates poverty? How about things like the draft-dodging Mitt Romney outsourcing of jobs, conservatives who hire illegal alien labor, Republican opposition to minimum wage increases , Bush's , tax policy that creates incentives to close factories and move them overseas, etc. Good paying jobs are the best cure for poverty and the GOP stands firmly in opposition to anything which would actually create good paying jobs. They prefer a race to the bottom

Comment #3 by Sammy Arizona on 2014 02 22

The top 1% mantra.....When theres a lot take a lot....When theres a little? Take it all. Whether or not you care for unions, the reality is they protect the middle class. I fear the future of the republic. Thomas jefferson wrote of the wealth being concentrated in the few, as a great danger to the country! The last time the discrepancy of wealth was so great? Right before the great depression. So whats the answer? The rich are not doing it themselves, wages and benefits for the average worker is at an all time low. The right thinks this is great! They pass laws that limit the power of unions, they get their trailer park, bible belt voters to toll the party line. Why? Because they will benefit? No because the left kill babies. Because there is a war on Christmas. Because they want to teach creation in their schools. All the while, people like Travis are laughing all the way to the bank. Ask yourselves this, how has the policy of unfettered capitalism done for you? Has your job been sent to India? China? We already know the wealthy have had no problem in this crappy economy. Then it's the unions, look what they have. I used to have that but they took it away, so I jealous of your benefits and want to steal them from you.

Comment #4 by Stephen DeNinno on 2014 02 22

Mr. DeNinno, wages and benefits are down. "The right thinks this is great!" ????

You see, this is the problem. "Unfettered capitalism" didn't bring us here. Democrats and unions run RI. Obama and Dem policies have steered the nation for 5 years. The results are in. It's a pure disaster for the poor and middle class. The "right" resisted all of the policies that brought us here, but you are still under the impression that the "right" loves to see poor people suffer. Unbelievable.

Maybe Rowley is right. All you know is "Grab, Give"

Comment #5 by Gip H. on 2014 02 22

Liberals can keep saying that the unions "created the American middle class" all they want. It's still not true. The American middle class was strong and thriving well before unions showed up on the scene. History.

Good article this morning, Mr. Rowley.

Comment #6 by William Suffik on 2014 02 22

Did Sammy really just say this? "Good paying jobs are the best cure for poverty and the GOP stands firmly in opposition to anything which would actually create good paying jobs. They prefer a race to the bottom"

Sammy, did you even read the article? The minimum wage hike will cost 500,000 jobs! This is what it is like to talk to you liberals. Republicans are concerned that the poor will lose their jobs. So they resist the legislation. And all you can conclude is that the GOP doesn't want to create good-paying jobs. You guys are just weird.

Comment #7 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 22

Gip H:

You've just summarily refuted all of the comments above yours in a short simple paragraph.

RI is and has been a Progressive, union-controlled paradise for decades. The Progressives have gotten virtually everything they've wanted. So the relevant questions to ask are:

Why is the state at the bottom for economic prosperity? Why is RI's middle class struggling? Why are many cities and towns near bankruptcy?

I would love rational, non-emotional answers.

Comment #8 by Art West on 2014 02 22

Yes, Rhode Island's unions are so powerful. Gina Raimondo brags that the maintained 95% of the original scam reform. The powerful unions after months of negotiations get a few crumbs and even agree that unreturned ballots will count for a yes vote.....wow they are so powerful. Lets recap the powerful unions over the last ten years as they represented state workers. The state workers have had to take several furlough days, lost longevity, lost our pensions and haven't seen a cost of living raise in years. If they become any more powerful State workers will have to work for free.

Comment #9 by Jonathan Bainsworth on 2014 02 22

The answer is tax the wealthy to the hilt and then when you're done tax them more . I they leave the state hit them with an exit tax and when they return (which they always do because no one wants to live business friendly states like Mississippi) hit them with a return tax and penalize them twice over for being ungrateful selfish bast#$@5!

Comment #10 by Jonathan Bainsworth on 2014 02 22

Jonathan, pointing to isolated battles that organized labor "lost" is pure distraction. The RI economy is by union/progressive design. Adjustments to pensions (done by DEMOCRATS! Even the Dems are sort of waking up.) is small potatoes. We're talking about how the economy is designed. All the laws favor the unions. Min Wage. High taxes. No right-to-work. Unfunded mandates. Etc, Etc, Etc

If you're still in denial, try to think of a more powerful entity than organized labor in the state? Who else has more influence at the Statehouse? Please.

Comment #11 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 22

So let me get this straight, Obamacare destroys jobs, the leftists running the EPA are destroying jobs, that communist banking bill known as Dodd-Frank is killing more jobs than anyone realizes, and the unions and leftists supporting all of this socialist garbage, claim the right is hurting the little guy/middle class??? The unionistas want to blame big corporations for destroying jobs and moving them overseas, but it's the unions themselves that created that dilemma - move or go bankrupt. In the face of Detroit, that petri dish of failed union/leftist policy, the left continues to spout that populist rhetoric, no different that Chavez/Maduro in Venezuela, or Castro in Cuba, purely designed for the ignorant. What don't you retards get….you owned Detroit and it is f'n DEAD!

Comment #12 by James Hackett on 2014 02 22

Yup james, unions killed Detroit? Busiest Fire department, probably in the world, no raise in 10 years, starting pay 30K. Do me a favor, order the documentary BURN, Then tell me how unions killed Detroit. Funny thing about the rich, its so bad in the Democrat states, that's where most of them live! And we don't use the word retard. Let us get something straight, the rich have made more money, and paid less taxes than ever in history. I am not anti rich, however paying 15% taxes on investment income,(sitting on your fat ass) is ridiculous. Or 13% for Mitt.

Comment #13 by Stephen DeNinno on 2014 02 22

In Rogue Island, the union workers are the new 1%'ers. They are making more money than private sector in every conceivable measuring metric that you wish to choose. Additionally, the union benefits and pensions are also substantially above private sector. Of course, these expenses need to be funded through taxes and fees on private sector businesses, but have now gotten so exorbitant that businesses and jobs are being driven away. This is fact, not opinion. Look at the unemployment rate, look at the tax rates. Unions have trashed RI.

Comment #14 by Dave Johnson on 2014 02 22

Let's stay on topic. The union/leftist cabal is precisely what destroyed Detroit. The city has been run by radical left-wing socialist Democrats since 1962, all supported, wholeheartedly, by the unions. No Republicans - not ONE!!! The rich people fled. It's all your people who ran this pathetic city into the ground over the last 50 years. Watch all the little Michael Moore type propaganda you want. You are in denial, if you can't see what happened. "Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it." Rather prophetic for RI.

Comment #15 by James Hackett on 2014 02 22

if the minimum wage increases, many employers will replace those jobs with machines or figure out a way to have fewer employees at the same overall cost.

you have an employee, they get sick, vacation, ealth insurance, payroll taxes, minimum wage increases, workers comp costs ,etc....

replace them with a machine - one time cost and the machine lasts for years. can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. it can pay for itself in one year.

is this a good thing? not really but this is what will happen. the fast food industry does not want to charge you $10 for a hamburger and their customers don't want to pay $10 for a hamburger because of an increase in minimum wage. they have no choice but to cut labor costs or they go out of business.

you have democrats that are so detached from the real world, they don't even realize this.

there used to be 3 people on a garbage truck now there is one driver and a robot picks up and empties the barrels.

the us economy is really hurting. everything is made elsewhere now - thank you nafta,etc..can anyone tell me one single thing Obama has done to help the us economy long term. just one thing.

if the economy picks up then all of a sudden labor is in short supply and you have to pay workers more. that's moving forward, not jamming minimum wage increases down our throats.

Comment #16 by john paycheck on 2014 02 22

Mr. Hackett with all due respect, you are an incredible idiot. Your bagger friends due everything possible to obstruct government from working and then when it doesn't work complain. Unions did not destroy Detroit. Wall Street and George W. Bush destroyed Detroit by bringing us to the brink of a second depression. Detroit just never recovered from all the fed money that dried up to bail out Wall Street. Once again, 95% of all economic gains since CEO and businessman George W bush crashed the economy with your policies Mr, Hackett, have gone to the top 1%. But I know how much you right wing nut cases hate facts.

Comment #17 by Jonathan Bainsworth on 2014 02 22

Obama tried stimulus money which is what we did to get out of the first great depression caused by Wall Street, but bagger nut cases obstructed him at every turn for total political reasons.

Comment #18 by Jonathan Bainsworth on 2014 02 22

Jeremy do you want to know who has much more influence at the State House? The TeaParty. Just because a representative says he's a democrat it doesn't mean he or she is. The overwhelming majority of Democrats in the State House are DINOs (democrats in name only). From leadership on down they have done everything the Tea Party asks. The Progressives and liberals in RI are a small ineffective minority...believe me.

Comment #19 by Jonathan Bainsworth on 2014 02 22

First to respond to James, you are just an ignorant bastard. Burn is a documentary following the only people trying to save Detroit, it's firefighters, the dangers they face and how they love their city. it also follows a Detroit firefighter paralyzed in a building collapse, and how he may lose his pension. To the burgers will cost 10 dollars crowd, Cheeseburgers are cheaper now than 10 years ago, so it really seems that with increased wages, comes cheaper prices. A study on that subject, claimed the price of a cheeseburger may rise 4 to 8 cents. Not 10 dollars like you idiots think. In New york state, 80 percent of bank tellers qualify for food stamps. This from a bailed out banking industry. The bottom line is, not how good an employee you are, but how much the rich can squeeze out of it's employees. This goes into every pay grade. Companies are doing more with less employees. Ask for a raise? Ha, there hundreds waiting to take your job. Good luck, keep eating what the rich are feeding you!

Comment #20 by Stephen DeNinno on 2014 02 22

My guess is that Jonathan Bainsworth and Stephen DeNinno are union employees. It's completely understandable that you are in abject denial. Heck, I would be spouting the same rhetoric if I was a union guy.

But I'm a private sector guy, struggling like crazy to keep up with all the taxes, fees and endless regulations that the union-controlled GA keeps pouring out at me. I have no problem at all with union folks making fair wages. But there also needs to be fair opportunity for guys like me in the private sector to earn money, much of which is then siphoned off to pay you union guys.

A balance of give and take no longer seems to in effect in RI. As far as the GA/unions/state are concerned, it's all "take". Like I said, I really have no issue with you making/taking a fair share, but it's no longer fair. You guys are taking too much. Yes, I know you'll call me names and such, but just look at the numbers and all the recent state surveys in the past few years. RI economy is in the dumper, Providence is heading down exact same path as Detroit, and no one seems to care. We've got a bunch of ostriches in the GA, with their heads buried in the sand.....

Comment #21 by Dave Johnson on 2014 02 22

I don't think it's really worth talking to people who, in order not to have to reconsider their liberalism, will insist that the TEA PARTY has more influence over the RI Statehouse than the UNIONS (Bainsworth)

Or people who are blaming Detroit's bankruptcy on GEORGE BUSH and WALL STREET and the lack of BAILOUT MONEY available (Bainsworth).

Or people who think they're making a good point when they tell you just how many fires the firemen fight in Detroit (Deninno)....Who is STILL not recognizing that the CBO predicts that 500,000 people will lose their jobs with this minimum wage hike. Who cares how much the price of burgers will be? Who cares how busy or heroic the firefighters are?

As Gina Raimondo so eloquently puts it, this is about "Truth In Numbers"... But look how emotional Deninno and Bainsworth try to make everybody, speaking about the "1 percent" and how much firemen "love" Detroit.

Grow up, guys. This is how children think.

Comment #22 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 23

Yours is an emotion laden response meant to divert attention from the issue. The issue is the cause, not the effect. Were we arguing the effect, you have valid points. But we're not.
The cause of the problem in Detroit was a radical leftist, union supported Democrat bunch of thieves. Stephen, let me state it again, since you obviously have no understanding of relevant facts - NOT ONE REPUBLICAN IN THAT CITY FOR 50 YEARS!!!
They're all your people!!! Just what don't you get?? Your pathetic insistence on bringing into the argument the bogeymen of cheeseburgers, the rich, etc, is nothing but the typical leftist diversion when they have no answers, and, in fact, have a guilt complex.
Slimy, corrupt left-wing Democrat politicians bought off with union money destroyed Detroit. That is exactly why so many deserving men and women are losing their pensions.

Comment #23 by James Hackett on 2014 02 23

How is the Republican's can blame Democrats at will without looking at their own faces in the mirror? Huge tax cuts to the very wealthy and corporations without cuts to services? Plus the two unjust wars we were involved in? This division we are seeing right here in this blog is an example of what's wrong. You claim you are a republican, but when minimum wage employees have to use TAXPAYER FUNDED WELFARE PROGRAMS.....Crickets? I am in agreement with you on Democrats weakness and the entitlement crowd. They are responsible for 50% of the state budget. Even Providence is in the social service business, which they should have no part of. James, I was a fire Captain in charge of 42 men and woman. My weekly salary for that responsibility was 944 per week. I hold a BS in organic chemistry, and could have made much more in the private sector. I took the job for the retirement security it provided. Now after I retired, you pull the rug away? They will not give my job back so what to do? Everyone had a hand in what happened in Detroit and in Providence. Democrats and Republicans. Ideological differences aside.

Comment #24 by Stephen DeNinno on 2014 02 23

I totally agree with Stephen DeNinno about the tax cuts to the wealthy and the two horrid, useless wars that have killed/maimed thousands of our bravest young patriots.

However, the Democrats have had TOTAL control in Detroit and Rhode Island. It's not fair to say the GOP needs to share the blame. In those two disaster areas, the onus falls on Dems.

Comment #25 by Dave Johnson on 2014 02 23


1. Just look at all the topics you drift off into when others are trying to stay on just one. That is the liberal way. But allow me to confront each one of your irrelevant points.

2. "Everyone had a hand in what happened in Detroit and in Providence. Democrats and Republicans." To the extent that this is even remotely true, the point is this: LIBERAL policies have guided these cities. If any Republicans had a hand in it, it was only to serve the UNION BIG GOVT way.

3. Unjust Wars: Democrats supported the war efforts, no matter how much the left tries to rewrite history. War isn't just a Republican policy. You can keep pretending that it was "Bush's War," but the Dems are just as "neo-con"

4. Detroit: We're talking about Detroit, and you slither out of this pointed topic by pointing to a national policy of the GOP (tax cuts). This had nothing to do with the collapse of Detroit.

5. Min Wage employees use welfare: This could be your most egregious argument. You're pretending as if welfare is a Republican program. Hey, Stephen, guess what!! Republicans aren't for welfare either!!! Seriously, how dare you blame Republicans for WELFARE!! How's that for "crickets" ?

Stephen, you are a self-deceiving liar. I know for a FACT that the following was explained to you two weeks ago. The incentive to pay higher wages is lost if employees can nourish themselves off of the govt. You never responded to this reality. You had no answer to this basic lesson of Econ 101. Instead, you showed up two weeks later entirely ignoring it.

The argument that liberals want to increase the minimum wage in order to keep low-wage workers off of welfare is total bullshit.

6. And, dear God, someday, please, address the fact that the CBO predicts that 500,000 low-wage workers will lose their jobs if the min wage is increased. You STILL choose to ignore this.

Comment #26 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 23

Dave, there were few problems in cities and towns before the Republican Don Carcieri cut millions in state aid. This was the downfall of cities and towns. A small state tax raise would have saved homeowners thousands and saved Central Falls. (highest tax rate in state after BR) At least everyone would have shared the pain. Lastly, how did the pension systems get gutted? Was it the working guy, or the bankers and Wall st? And which politicians do they support? Please don't tell me Republicans didn't have anything to do with RI's problems. Tea party republicans and the sequester costs cities and towns millions in discretionary spending. And for all, almost every fire and police dept in the country, including Texas, have the same retirement system with same retirement age. So whats the problem?

Comment #27 by Stephen DeNinno on 2014 02 23

Almost forgot one:

7. "I took the job for the retirement security it provided. Now after I retired, you pull the rug away?" ... I assume you're talking about the fact that Republicans have always been the ones most willing to reform public pension systems (even though Democrats in RI have FINALLY come along, but only once the shit hit the fan)

Stephen, for your future use, here's the reality timeline of RI public pensions. For years, you contributed to your pension. Taxpayers also paid the taxes that were necessary to fund the pensions. The state was also supposed to contribute. But the state didn't contribute.

All along the way, Republicans warned of what was going to happen someday (the funds would dry up, and you would lose your pension). Union Leaders, Union Workers, and Democrats ignored the warnings and called Republicans "greedy" and "only for the rich." And YOU fell for it.

Over the years, taxes have been increased to delay the doomsday. RI Taxpayers have been raped by the government's malfeasance to the point that they are now among the highest taxed in the country, and they now suffer from the worst business environment in the USA. The average private salary in RI is 41k. The average public salary is 75k (plus pension and healthcare)

I hope you figure it out before "Central Falls" happens to you. Good luck.

You see, Republicans aren't trying to "pull the rug away"...Democrats and unions have been "pulling the rug," slowly, for years. Republicans tried to warn you.

So go screw yourself. You can't have any more extra tax dollars from me to pay for your unfunded pension system. Yes, you were robbed by Democrats and your own union leaders. But it's also your own fault at this point.

Comment #28 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 23

"there were few problems in cities and towns before the Republican Don Carcieri cut millions in state aid."

Holy shit! RI had the highest property taxes in the country BEFORE Carcieri! RI initiated the "property tax cap" in the 1980s in response to this trend!

Carcieri was faced with multi-hundreds of millions in budget shortfall. Wisely, he refused to raise state taxes...AGAIN!!!... for the sake of the unions. RI was OUT OF MONEY. He made cuts, and tried to give the cities and towns the "tools" they needed to cut their own budgets. What were those "tools"??? The release of unfunded mandates that unions levy from the Statehouse that tie the hands of municipalities. Who wouldn't give them those "tools"....UNION DEMOCRATS.

Deninno, stop listening to your stupid union leadership. You have no clue what you're talking about.

Comment #29 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 23

"A small state tax raise would have saved homeowners thousands and saved Central Falls." - S. Deninno

Holy Shit, again! Who is feeding you this nonsense??

"Lastly, how did the pension systems get gutted? Was it the working guy, or the bankers and Wall st?" - S. Deninno

Holy SHIT! The bankers and Wall St didn't fund the pensions?? Only a RI union fireman can come up with this stuff.

"Tea party republicans and the sequester costs cities and towns millions in discretionary spending." - S. Deninno

Holy SHIIIIT!! The sequester of 2013 caused RI's fiscal problems that have been in the works for decades?? The Tea Party? The sequester was OBAMA's idea! And it didn't "cut" anything. It was a decrease in the rate of federal spending.

"And for all, almost every fire and police dept in the country, including Texas, have the same retirement system with same retirement age. So whats the problem?" - S. Deninno

HOOOLLYYYY SHIIIIT!! What's the problem? Seriously? Stephen, OUR pension system's ARE NOT FUNDED!!! Oh. My. God.

People, this is how they (union leaders and progressives) teach our fellow unionized RI neighbors how to think. This is they kind of stuff that passes for informed and smart over there on the Democratic side of the aisle. Total ignorance.

Comment #30 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 23

Detroit died decades ago. the 1967 riot tipped the exodus out of the city.

Comment #31 by john paycheck on 2014 02 23

Haters like little Johnny Bainsworth can sure twist up histry. To bad some of us have lived here long enough to know he's full of it. Trying to place blame on GW Bush for the incompetence of generatons of dumbocrat handout artists makes me ROFLMFAO.

BTW, I'd say Travis ought to take a well considered shot at public office some day. How woould the SOMA peddling "Regressives" deal with that...by ignoring anything hw has to say and calling him names.

Comment #32 by G Godot on 2014 02 23

Haters like little Johnny Bainsworth can sure twist up history. To bad some of us have lived here long enough to know he's full of it. Trying to place blame on GW Bush for the incompetence of generatons of dumbocrat handout artists makes me ROFLMFAO.

BTW, I'd say Travis ought to take a well considered shot at public office some day. How woould the SOMA peddling "Regressives" deal with that...by ignoring anything hw has to say and calling him names.

Comment #33 by G Godot on 2014 02 23

Cranston firemen, retired and living in FLORIDA who still get a UNIFORM ALLOWANCe aren't part of the problem, oh no.

Comment #34 by G Godot on 2014 02 23


Thanks for your concerted effort to explain things. Maybe there are some independent thinkers reading this comment section who can see the truth in what you're saying.

I'm not sure the folks in the liberal/progressive/union camp are being disingenuous and rhetorical when their arguments about today's realities center on stuff like the one-percent, George Bush, taxing the wealthy, more government spending and the Tea Party. I think those thoughts come from a mindset that is seeped in envy, heavily conditioned, and one that cannot be penetrated with reason or common sense.

So it goes.

Comment #35 by Art West on 2014 02 23

Jeremy, I never said wall st didn't fund the pension. What wall st did do was sell bad mortgage securities. It cost RI pension system 2 billion dollars in assets. It cost Providence 200 million dollars in assets. Plus the gains that money may have made. This was out and out fraud. But who got the bail out? BTW, I blame the Democrats in the GA for not funding the state pension system properly. I blame Buddy Cianci for not funding our pension at all or very little. We took him to court. Oh he was a Republican his first term and independant for the remainder. BTW although they didn't pay, I payed every single week, 10% of my pay and extra for the COLA we have not been getting. Laws need to be changed, and cities and towns with their own pension systems must be made to pay in fully funding the system. I would have loved to have control over my money but even when the system made returns in the 20 to 30 percent range, they gave me 5% on my deposits. The siquester was an example of why other cities around the country are having some difficulties. Not the cause of RIs problems. PS Providence pensions do not include clothing pay, holidays or overtime. But please don't tell me the Republicans have all the answers. Most conservitive think tanks want to steal our pensions and feed it to wall st.

Comment #36 by Stephen DeNinno on 2014 02 23

What a hyperbolic blow hard. Its simpletons like you and Travis that break everything down to a meaningless either/or arguments. Your like a bunch of religious whack jobs. And I'm not supporting this mindset from the Progressive camp either (which can be viewed daily on this site). You and the progressives deserve each other. Maybe you'll feed on each others young and the rest of us can be left alone by you depraved devolved simple minded apologists.

Comment #37 by bill bentley on 2014 02 23

You union hacks better get your story straight...your hack union bosses USED to blame Bruce Sundlin for "spending all the pension money on the Credit Union bailout". Looks like that whopper has fallen from favor.

Comment #38 by G Godot on 2014 02 23

Thanks Bill.

Comment #39 by Art West on 2014 02 23

Sorry, Bill. That statement just won't do. Nice try, though.

You'll have to explain exactly where you think Art/Travis went wrong. You know, rather then pretend you're above the whole debate -- and all the debates within the debate.

Please tell us, Wise One, where the "simpletons" are going wrong.

Comment #40 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 23

Its the "hooray for our side" either/or mindset. Like if the country was just turned over to rational conservatives then everything would be peachy. Is that clear enough for you?

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong...
What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Comment #41 by bill bentley on 2014 02 24

Jeremy and Art,

We have always been in awe of Bill's superior intellect, but no one is more in awe than than Bill himself. You both make a big mistake asking for rational discussion from Bill. Jeremy is right, Bill is way above such mundane things. Isn't he great!

Comment #42 by Michael Byrnes on 2014 02 24

I Am great, thanks. its about time my superior species, the Übermensch, is recognized amongst the Herd.

Comment #43 by bill bentley on 2014 02 24

That's a great philosophy, Bill. Nobody's right. Pure brilliance.

Get a life.

Comment #44 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 24

Conservatives: 2+2 = 4
Liberals: 2+2 = 7

Bill Bentley: You're all fools. I'll even quote a hippie folk song to prove it.

Comment #45 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 24

"Almost a year ago we discussed just how valuable an ignorant underclass is to the Democratic Party."

Hard to image why the "vote for us, you morons" strategy isn't working. And let me get this straight, you think liberals are the elitists? Keep up the good work, Travis!

Comment #46 by Russ C on 2014 02 24

It's hard to imagine that the union rank and file haven't realized they are being betrayed. Unions have lost their clout in RI and we saw that with the pension reform that took place. Our Democrats have figured out they can do whatever they want. Who are the union members going to vote for??? The GOP? Look at who voted for the pension reform. Then look who received campaign contributions from the unions. The unions paid a lot of money to get those Democrats elected. Your union dues were used to elect people so they could make a run at your pension. Think about that.

Comment #47 by Ted Geisel on 2014 02 24

Jeremy Soninjer is not mincing any words, LOL. But I gotta admit, I agree with Jeremy on most everything he's said so far.

In the great DeNinno vs Soninjer debate - I award the gold medal to Jeremy Soninjer!

Comment #48 by Dave Johnson on 2014 02 24


I assumed the concept would be a bit much for an intellect such as yours. Maybe you should contemplate the words instead of trying to support your syllogistic mode of thought process.

Comment #49 by bill bentley on 2014 02 24

There is a place for unions. They do protect workers from wage and workplace safety abuses. BUT...public unions need to accept the fact that local taxpayers can only pay so much until they become the ABUSERS of the regular working class people of RI. It's not that the 1% does not like payer exhorbinant taxes. The whole 50% of people in RI who actually work don't like to pay higher taxes than most other states. The 50% who don't go to work, don't pay taxes for years on end, and still live really well? Time to cut those benefits too! I don't see this Democratic Dictators in the General Assembly in any hurry to help stop the tax abuse that is rampant in RI. So, vote differently.

Comment #50 by Katy Sloop on 2014 02 24


This won't work AT ALL:

"The answer is tax the wealthy to the hilt and then when you're done tax them more . I they leave the state hit them with an exit tax and when they return (which they always do because no one wants to live business friendly states like Mississippi) hit them with a return tax and penalize them twice over for being ungrateful selfish bast#$@5!"

All it will do is make the top tax payers in RI run for the exits even faster than they already are. You want a state full of entitlement takers? Good luck attracting any employers with that promotional campaign.

Comment #51 by Katy Sloop on 2014 02 24

Your comments are hardly too difficult for me to understand, Bill. You have a cynical point of view: Everyone (except for you, of course) is a dishonest, self-interested, hyper-partisan.

I got it.

Unfortunately, you can't escape your own intellectual trappings. Even if what you say is true, those who agree with you would now make up your own "party"...And now you are wide open to your own cynical outlook, and discredit right from the outset of all further conflicts.

So why don't you just man-up, and participate in pointed discussions. Tell us where you stand, rather than portraying yourself as an omniscient being. If nothing else, it's just annoying.

Comment #52 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 24

Poor confused Jonathan. Never talked to an tax preparer in his whole life and probably never paid any taxes either. It might surprise him to find out that the "wealthy bastards" he rails againt are already "taxed to the hilt." Income taxes are near 40% for the actual wealthy. US business taxes are the highest in the world. What, you want to get 60% from them so all your non-working, non taxpaying buddies can sit around and bitch about the 1% of income tax they pay? Get a good paying job. You'll think otherwise about taxes when you see how much of your hard work is taken by the government.

Comment #53 by Katy Sloop on 2014 02 24


1st, my philosophy of ideas is like shell fishing with a rake, you pick up a lot of dirt to get to what you want. Everyone has, well most everyone, has a bit of the truth. The challenge is to work through the bullshit to get the clam.

2nd, if you have to categorize me, yes I may appear a cynic, but actually I consider myself a pragmatic optimist; a quasi Libertarian; and neither Democrat/Progressive nor Republican/Tea Party.

3rd, the point is that if everyone is categorically denouncing the other side then whose right? I say its you who are the cynic and really contributing very little to pragmatic solutions that try and take in as many varying points of perspective as possible. Just because you have an opinion, doesn't make you right.

Staying with me here?

Comment #54 by bill bentley on 2014 02 24

1. All I hear is someone whose personal philosophy openly declares that truth can never be discovered. Why? Because someone's personal "opinion" will eventually align with that truth. And, heck, that would just be someone's opinion!

You're weird, man. Go to your room and think this whole thing through again.

2. What makes you think that I mindlessly "categorically denounce" the other side? It's pretty arrogant to assume I don't approach each issue on its own merit. What the hell do you know? All you have is assumptions, and an elitist attitude that assumes you're the only one who has ever done any real thinking. Again, re-think this whole thing.

Comment #55 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 25

Try reading. I do agree that I think truth can be a difficult thing to approximate when talking about people's beliefs. That being said, I believe I said that the truth can be found in its small places, the example of Quahoging with a rake. What I have a problem with is declaring that any one ideology has a the whole truth and anyone who disagrees is wrong.

As to my comment about opinions, my point is that their like assholes everyone has one. Having an opinion doesn't make that opinion right, its made right by investigation and examination. When held up to the light of reason, the truth will be revealed.

If you supporting Travis, then you support categorically denunciation. Here are a couple of his quotes in the article to make my point.

"And this week, several issues have served to remind us of a related political observation: Liberalism is the ideology of the mindless and emotional.
Conservatism is learned. Liberalism is trite, and derived from our most basic instincts.
Grab. Give.
That’s all they know. That’s all they understand. And that’s all progressive Democrats want them to understand."

Comment #56 by bill bentley on 2014 02 25


Seems to me that "Grab. Give." is very accurate and observable.

The authentic conservatives and libertarians want to leave me alone and let me keep more of what I earn. The liberals and progressives want to use government force to tax me as much as they can and distribute the money to people who vote for them. They invariably want to increase spending and remain resistant to less costly and more efficient ways of doing things such as appropriate privatization of essential services and the alignment of budgets with actual revenues.

Unless you're living via a tax-free underground economy or live off a government check, that's objective reality, not opinion or belief. My wallet tells me so.

Comment #57 by Art West on 2014 02 25

Art: ever ask yourself why we have social programs? Again, this either/or logic solves nothing. And I have freely admitted its not just conservatives engaging in these ridiculous uncompromising positions.

Comment #58 by bill bentley on 2014 02 25

Like singular ideas, not all ideologies are equal. To call liberalism "trite" and conservatism "learned" could be completely accurate (I happen to agree). But doing so doesn't have to mean that everything a liberal says is completely false.

You're misinterpreting Rowley's message, Bill. In fact, on a number of occasions I've seen Rowley agree with liberals, and criticize conservatives. So that sort of blows your whole argument out of the water.

Also, liberalism and conservatism don't just speak to a set of ideas, but also very different political cultures. If you value reasoned debate in order to discover truth, look to the Right. If you value political correctness and bullying, look to the Left.

Comment #59 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 26

You forgot, "some of Travis's best friends are (fill in the blanks)." Are you kidding me? Oh, and so now we have a cultural war, great. How about you all you insane fuckers leave the rest of us alone. Maybe we can carve out a few obscure quasi-states where all you hate filled assholes, including the Progressives, can embrace each other in misery.

Comment #60 by bill bentley on 2014 02 26

Obamacare short you on your meds. Your arguments seems increasingly categorical, but that can't be as you just accused others of such an irrational position. Additionally, you need to chill out and come back to a more civil and civilized manner of discussion. A little tolerance would not hurt either. I don’t hear those who argue with you using terms like: hyperbolic blow hard; simpletons; religious whack jobs; an intellect such as yours; insane fuckers: and hate filled assholes. But then they are just common folk who don’t know an awful lot and maybe just don’t have the extensive vocabulary that you are blessed with. Why is it that they have to move to the obscure quasi-states and you do not? Sounds unfair. Get some rest.

Comment #61 by Michael Byrnes on 2014 02 26

Bill, if you're looking to be "left alone," look to the Right as well. Look to the conservative ideology.

FOR THE MOST PART, conservatives/libertarians are the ones attempting to strip the government of its power over the individual.

Comment #62 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2014 02 26

LOL Jeremy. Bill, you walked right into that one!

I agree with Jeremy >>> Just because someone is a "Republican," and is naturally caught debating Democrats, that doesn't necessarily make that person a partisan hack who is necessarily being disingenuous and necessarily straying far from the truth. He just might be, well, a REPUBLICAN! >>>> And, Bill, whenever you think you're onto something, and you think you're schooling everyone down here, just remember this: That is just YOUR opinion.

But I understand >>> You're one of the enlightened ones. You "rake" for your thoughts. LOL. So, exactly how elitist are you?

Comment #63 by William Suffik on 2014 02 26

Elitist enough to recognize when the herd is cowing.

Comment #64 by bill bentley on 2014 02 27

Jeremy: Your a deluded individual. Fascism does not elevate the individual. And conservatives and libertarians are not the same animal.

Comment #65 by bill bentley on 2014 02 27

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