To me, this is pretty simple.  There is this mentality in the RI public sector unions that you can retire after 20 years.  Ok, sure, I have no problem with that.  But how did they get that mentality?  It is because that is when their pension is fully vested.  Rather than seeing it as a “vesting date” they see it as a “retirement date”.  I don’t understand that.  Why do we start making payments to people who are retired after their 20 years and still pretty young and healthy?  I’m fine with paying the pension to disabled retirees.  That’s a different conversation.  I’m talking about the people who retire from their job, go on to live a healthy life, or as in some cases, take another job that offers another pension.

Many teachers are able to enter the classroom at 23.  Some police and fire and other municipal employees can start work at 20-25 years old.  So with this current system, they can put in their 20 years and be fully vested at 40-45 years old.  Then what’s the mentality?  Time to retire!  Time to start collecting that pension!  So with most healthy people living well into their 70s or 80s, we’re paying people to be retired for as much as 40 years after they contributed to the system for 20 years.  That math just doesn’t work.

So my change is that people can still retire any time they want, but they cannot start collecting their state or municipal pension until at least 62 years old.  Go do whatever you want in the meantime.  Keep working, take a new job or hang out eating Cheetos and watching Court TV all day for all I care, but we can’t afford to pay people for those extra 15-20 years that they could still be productive members of society.  Let’s dry up that well now.  This one change will save the state billions.

Debt Ceiling


The Associated Press cites: “At least one credit rating agency has already made it clear that unless that agreement includes at least $4 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade, the country’s AAA rating could be lost. Right now, the proposals under discussion cut around $2 trillion or less.”

One problem with these numbers is the scale. They’re so big, we don’t really understand them all, so let’s cut them to a scale we understand:

The federal budget is a little more than $7 trillion a year. The ratings agencies want $4 trillion cut over 10 years, or about $400 billion a year. Let’s just strip off some zeros.

Let’s say you earn, tax-free, $70,000 a year. That’s $5,833 a month. The cut from there needs to be $4,000 a year, or about $333 a month. Will cutting $333 from a $5,833 (still have $5500 a month available) budget be that big a whack? One wouldn’t think so.

Instead, what Obama and the Senate is offering is to cut that $5833 a month by about $167 a month AND to raise taxes.

So who’s being obstructionist now?

Here is the letter to the editor that I submitted to the Valley Breeze and should get published next week:

In a recent Valley Breeze letter to the editor, Congressman David Cicilline makes a great many allegations, all against “the Republican budget”.  Maybe the Congressman forgets something though.  The Democrats are still in control.  The Democrats are the ones controlling the Senate and the final signature on any budget, the Democrats control the White House.

So what is the purpose of Cicilline’s letter?  More scare tactics.  I remember the same tactics during the campaign last year.  All these very sweet grandmotherly looking women talking about how they fear for their Social Security and how “David” will protect it for them.  Cicilline was claiming that the Republicans were looking to privatize and take away current Social Security benefits.  That turned out to be a lie too.  Cicilline has never voted against privatizing the Social Security benefits of retirees because it has never come up!  Another Cicilline lie.

In his letter in the Breeze, I took pause at one phrase that he used, “It’s unfortunate that we are on the brink of breaking the promise…”.  If you’ve been following any of the financial news out of Providence, you know that the city and the rest of the state are on the brink of breaking lots of promises.  Cicilline himself promised us that he left the capital city in solid financial shape.  Another lie.  That all the accounts were fully funded.  Another lie.  That we could afford to pay the police and fire contracts that he recently signed with the unions.  Another lie.

It’s one lie after another with Cicilline.  Based on his history, should we believe everything he says in letters to the Breeze?  Should we believe everything he says in his campaign?  I don’t know why we would, or worse, why should we send him back to Washington?

In the first 48 hours since Osama bin Laden was exterminated, the details on the story have been changed multiple times.  Why?  What this really looks like is they’re trying to hide something.  They killed other people in the house.  They killed OBL’s son and a woman.  They killed OBL’s wife.  No they didn’t, they just wounded her when she charged at the SEALs.  OBL used a woman as a human shield.  No, it was his wife.  No, he didn’t use a woman as a shield.  He shot at the SEALs.  He was unarmed.

So which is it?  We also saw reports that Obama and many in his staff, including VP Biden and SoS Clinton watched the raid in real time.  So they know exactly what happened.  Why is the White House putting out conflicting information?  Why not just explain it all exactly as it happened?  Even better, release the video.  Let the media see what happened.  Then there can be no confusion, no cover up, and even better, there’s your proof that OBL is dead without having to release and gruesome photos that newspapers will splash across their front pages.

C’mon Mr. President.  People approve of what you did.  Now just tell them what was done and make it the truth.  Otherwise, it’s no wonder why people can’t trust the government.

Seriously?  Teenagers have no idea who Osama Bin Laden is, according to Yahoo Search Blog.

This is a major failure on the part of parents and school systems/teachers.  Are we really that deep into the touchy/feely and PC world where we don’t want to upset anybody or make them feel bad?  I’m not saying that we should be showing execution videos to kindergartners, but any teenager should be completely aware of the happenings of September 11, 2001.

I have an idea, most junior and high school grades have a history class.  School starts in September.  Why not start off the year, up to September 11 of that year, going over the events of what happened and each year, the students can get into it deeper, the whys, the political reasons and then even go further into the history of bin Laden, the war with the Russians, the creation of al Qaeda, the multiple bombings.  Everything that he and his group did.  Every American needs to understand and be taught these things, because

Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it

-George Santayana

We must do everything we can to prevent another attack like September 11, but if we’re not teaching the next generations about it, it will be gone.

Who is Osama bin Laden?  Are you kidding me…

I frequently read articles that make me think, I should blog about that, but then I get distracted by some new shiny object, like a set of keys.  However today’s ProJo article about the dealings of Donald Ianazzi and Senator Dominic Ruggerio (who’s been mentioned before in this blog) are exactly what’s wrong with Rhode Island.

Ianazzi is the head of the local union 1033 who just renegotiated their contract with Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and took on some cuts.  The true depth of the cuts can be debated, but the fact is they did give back something due to them, even if it is temporary.  Does this mean they also get to cut their union dues?  I wonder because while some of them struggle to make ends meet, the man who negotiated those cuts, Ianazzi earned over $265,000 for himself last year.  Sounds like a pretty good deal.

But if that name sounds familiar for different reasons, it should.  His son recently took a job under Senate Majority Leader Dominic Ruggerio, himself “the administrator of another arm of the Laborers’ International union” for more than $88,000 a year.

If that’s not enough, Ruggerio has a son who needed a job as well.  He is employed as a lawyer by who else?  Iannazzi’s local 1033.

So let’s get this straight.  Ruggerio is an administrator of an RI union and he gave an $88,000 a year job to the son of 1033’s head.  Iannazzi, head of local 1033 gave a job to the son of Dominic Ruggerio.  You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

So the taxpayer’s get whacked for $88,000 for this little scheme, and the union members and their dues go to the $265,000 a year salary and a RI Senator’s son.

Nice work if you can get it.

Mass Exodus?


Yesterday Ted Nesi had a blog post about businesses leaving Massachusetts for Rhode Island.  Is this indicative of a changing-for-the-better business climate in Rhode Island?  Conservatives often gnash their teeth about how anti-business RI is and lament that even Massachusetts is better.  One piece of evidence?  Look at the border towns like Seekonk and Attleboro.  Both have a great many strip malls and big box chain stores.  Why?  Because the sales tax in MA was lower than in RI for the longest time, and most Rhode Islanders live within 20 minutes of a border, so why not just jump right over into MA to save a few bucks?

But what is the Nesi article really saying?  He talks about Boston’s WBZ’s Jon Keller tearing into the Mass pols for not fixing their business structure to keep and attract business in MA.  He’s referring to Fidelity leaving and upping their stake in RI as well as the recent move of 38 Studios to Rhode Island.

It all sounds great on the surface, especially if all you hear is Keller’s comments.  But what he doesn’t really go into that Nesi explains is why these businesses find RI more attractive.


Seriously.  No, it’s not the old Rhode Island gangster stuff where politicians are paid off to let a business into the state or improve their business in some way.  Though that does still happen, right North Providence?

The bribe actually works the other way around.  It’s the politicians bribing the business.  How?  It’s because our corporate tax structure is so unfriendly and so confounded that the businesses actually have to meet with our General Assembly leaders and negotiate a better tax deal or financing deal for themselves.

Why does it have to be like this?  Why can’t we just simplify our business tax structure in a way that is transparent and fair so a business owner in Mass or Connecticut or even in California could go online, look it all up, compare it to what they have in their current state and use that information to make a decision on whether to relocate to Rhode Island?  Today if they simply do that, it won’t look so good, and could end at the research stage.  Why all the hoops to jump through?  Why all the politicking?

Just clean it up, make it fair, make it transparent and work to attract all businesses, no meetings required.