The Crapola of Simple Math

Ken Block comments in response to my post suggesting that the state government that has him considering a move out of state is one that he helped bring about:

Enough of this unsubstantiated crapola about me costing Robitaille the election. He lost on his own accord by doing nothing to appeal to the centrist voter.
I have both anecdotal and polling data that show that my support came from across the political spectrum. Can you show me data that says otherwise?
If anything, Caprio really took the victory away from John by locking up a lot of the business vote early on in the cycle.
You run for election – you do not run away from election.
I ran to keep a fledgling party qualified in one of the toughest states to do so. Along the way, a lot of voters thought I was a pretty good choice.
You propose that Robitaille should have won as the ‘lesser of two evils’ candidate.
I propose that centrist voters desperately need a better choice than a bleeding heart liberal or a raging core conservative.
Your image of the ideal candidate does not translate to the vast majority of RI voters.

Sorry, Ken, we don’t quite have the resources to conduct polls, but we can do some basic math related to the election results. Lincoln Chafee won the election by 8,660 votes. Block earned 22,146. That means that if Block’s support “came from across the political spectrum” such that 40% of his vote would otherwise have gone to Robitaille, we might have a different governor. (That’s a minimum, of course, which assumes that none of his other votes would have gone to Chafee, but it illustrates that Block’s results were significant enough to make a difference.)
That doesn’t mean Block didn’t have a right to run. It’s just the way politics and elections work, and as much fun as Ken might have had building his new party, such are the consequences that people must consider when making their political decisions.
Look, I don’t think Block is wholly to blame. Frank Caprio’s implosion toward the end of the race surely helped. I’d also argue that the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition’s endorsement of the Democrat — while certainly proving the stubborn mantra about being nonpartisan and while providing evidence for Block’s note about Caprio and the business vote — was also a factor, perhaps most significantly in giving liberal Democrats a reason to look for another candidate. That is, RISC needs to accept some of the blame, too.
But it isn’t a relevant assessment to place a “lesser of two evils” position on one side of the ledger and a plea for “a better choice” on the other. For one thing, everything that I read during the campaign indicated to me that Block is, himself, a bleeding heart liberal, just one who thinks he can better manage the left-wing dream government. For another, the positions are different in kind; an activist can want a better choice and work toward that end in a way that doesn’t ultimately lead to an outcome that would subsequently drive the very same activist out of the state in protection of his wallet.
It’s cute of Ken to paint me as the purist, here. If his comment is to have any logical coherence, his conclusion must be that it is worth risking the collapse of the state (to the extent that he’s seriously considering escaping it) in order for him to play the role of pure “centrist” candidate for an election cycle. That’s just irresponsible. On election day, only one candidate can win. In a binary race, voters can pick one of two visions. In a broader race than that, their choice must include the degree to which a pure candidate who cannot win is worth a vote.
Moreover, as somebody who lacks the resources simply to up and leave, it illustrates to me the degree to which Rhode Island’s problems are a consequence of the games of the rich. It is entirely reasonable to suggest that Ken Block and his Moderate pals chose a chance for same-sex marriage, an easing of immigration law, and other liberal social issue preferences over a fiscally conservative executive who would counterbalance the special interests who dominate the rest of state government.
That’s a position that they’re certainly empowered to take, but maturity requires that they admit it… or at least the possibility of it. I’d speculate that they cannot because at bottom there is very little room to be fiscally conservative, in a governmental sense, and still hold socially liberal positions in a coherent way. Either government must increase revenue to the extent that it suffocates the economy, or it must limit its activities, and if it limits activities, the culture must do the heavy lifting to create a proper order to society. Merely complaining that corruption and waste seem to go hand in hand with unitary power is like complaining that high expenditures require high revenue.

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Pat Crowley
Pat Crowley
10 years ago

The one thing Ken Block is right about is that he did not cost anyone but himself the election. If anything he made it closer than it should have been by taking votes away from the eventual winner. His voters were not Caprio of Robitaille voters.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

I’m actually glad that Chafee is governor. The progressives can’t point to anyone but themselves now when it comes to Rhode Island’s steady decline. Every problem used to be “Don this” and “Don that.” The end of Carcieri’s term was like the moment in every House episode when instead of getting better, the patient’s kidney’s fail, demonstrating that the initial diagnosis was incorrect and a radical new treatment is necessary to save the patient’s life.

jparis
jparis
10 years ago

Would it shock anyone here to learn that Ken Block was my favorite candidate after the one I volunteered for (Governor Chafee)?
Point being, I’m really not sure that Mr. Robitaille lost as many votes to Mr. Block as you guys think. His social progressiveness is what I’ve seen folks here complain about, and that’s exactly why I would have voted for him.
As for his “I’m going to pack up my toys and leave” stunt — Mr. Block, I never thought you were one to run away from a challenge, but if you *really* believe that a 6% tax is going to destroy your business, then by all means, you and Alan Hassenfeld and all the other rich people who helped get us into this mess with huge tax breaks can go move to Delaware, where the corporate taxes are free and easy, and the polluted stench of corruption is only mildly palpable 😉

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

“you and Alan Hassenfeld and all the other rich people who helped get us into this mess with huge tax breaks ”
That might be the most ludicrous statement I’ve read on here, and I read all of Tommy’s. So that’s saying something.
It’s the fault of the recipient of the tax breaks and not the legislature’s? So should they not play by the rules and tell RI, “I know your laws say I owe this much, but clearly that’s not enough, here, let me pay more please.” Is that what you’re saying? C’mon.
I think the state legislature is a complete mess, especially with regard to the business taxation system. The problem is the laws on the books are very anti-business in the state and the only way to get a big business into RI is for the business management to negotiate their own tax deal. So then what’s the point of even having tax laws? Why not change the tax laws so they’re competitive with other states and they’re very clear for anyone looking to move in. Currently, if someone from far away looks at RI laws they’d think there’s no way they’d ever move their business here, if they didn’t know that there is a loophole. Simply whine and dine with the State House leadership.
That’s just wrong.
But to blame the guys who get certain tax breaks and point to that as the problem? That’s just a ridiculous opinion.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

I’m agreeing wholeheartedly with Patrick on the ‘rich folks got us into this mess’ idea. Sometimes I feel like I was the only one who knew how to use a mortgage calculator in the early half of last decade. $400K for a fixer-upper with a balloon payment that eventually reaches 98% of my income? I’ll keep renting, thankyouverymuch.
Ken’s business is EXACTLY the kind of high-pay, green, ‘knowledge-economy’ job this state needs to cultivate.
And I support a progressive income tax, for the record.
Also, I think the core conservatives here don’t really have their pulse on the state of the electorate. I myself was a Carcieri voter, I liked his fiscal policy, but after he veered right and got vocal on social issues as a lame duck while the economy burned, there’s no chance I’d vote for his protege.
Rhode Island is moving LEFT. The folks graduating into voting age are farther left than you can imagine. They’ve been raised by teachers telling them that ‘you’re all screwed unless you have a union and a pension, 401ks are useless’, amongst other things. When mommy and daddy aren’t around to help out anymore, they aren’t going to have savings to fall back on, they’re going to vote left. They’re far more likely to rely on government programs like SNAP, heating assistance, and unemployment than they are to purchase property (which they have no interest in since the housing crash), so they won’t even see property taxes in any direct way.
All I can hope for is that in the push leftwards, we choose Really Good leadership. I think Taveras is showing some of that right now. Chafee could use some work, it’s evident he’s never had to really work for a living.

jparis
jparis
10 years ago

@Partrick: If I’m offered a massive tax break, will I take it? Yes. I’m self-interested. So in that way, yes, I retract my ludicrous statement 😉 Ouch man, worse than Tommy, hah.
What I was trying to get at is that although it was President Bush, President Obama, and Congress that lowered Federal taxes on the insanely wealthy, it’s folks like Mr. Hassenfeld and Mr. Block who complain that if Rhode Island tries to make up the difference, they will go elsewhere.
I’m sorry, but as a resident of Rhode Island, if I had the kind of money they do, I’d feel patriotic to pay higher taxes — doing my part to help right the ship that is our great state.
Here’s where I do agree with you even moreso: What’s the point in having “anti-business” tax policies if you are just going to cut sweetheart deals for any business you want to move to the state?
So I agree it would be better to have more lax business taxes, less sweetheart deals, and just tax it all more progressively on personal income 😉

Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

@Pat:
Do you have polling data to support that comment or are you just spewing your opinion.
@jparis:
You’re daring high earners to do what Pat has denied they are doing. That would be vacating the state or as Pat would say, “Not.” In our financial bind, pulling the schoolyard ‘if you don’t like it screw’ tactic probably isn’t economically a sound solution. But then again, those in public sector unions have never had to concern themselves with economically sound solutions.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

“So I agree it would be better to have more lax business taxes, less sweetheart deals, and just tax it all more progressively on personal income”
Throw in a repeal or reduction of Rhode Island’s monstrous sales tax and show me where to sign.
Unfortunately the governor you volunteered your time for is set on accomplishing none of the above.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
10 years ago

Great analysis of the hypocrite, Justin.
He never fooled me for one second; I’ve run into his type many times. He has a Napoleonic complex; always knew he was going to be the Moderate Party candidate.
But this comment by Block is too funny: “He lost on his own accord by doing nothing to appeal to the centrist voter.” This, from a guy who got – what was it…6.5%??? What a j@ck@ss!

bella
bella
10 years ago

Justin, there’s just one thing I’m trying to grasp in your response.
If you believe Block is a bleeding-heart liberal, then shouldn’t all his vote have come out of Chafee’s hide? If anything, Block almost cost Chafee the election, and therefore HELPED Robitaille.
My sense of the Block voter; one who’s sick and tired of Democratic control and considers Chafee a member of the Lucky Sperm Club, but finds the right-wing bent of Carcieri and his protege equally distasteful.
If the better-known Chafee had not run, Block would’ve polled at least 20 percent, maybe his campaign would’ve gotten some of the money Chafee got, and he could’ve been a legitimate threat to win.

Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

jparis: “I’m sorry, but as a resident of Rhode Island, if I had the kind of money they do, I’d feel patriotic to pay higher taxes — doing my part to help right the ship that is our great state.”
I would agree you with jparis if the state were suddenly in an unanticipated bind. But being totally anticipated while knowing that the state will not take any corrective action other than raising taxes and would keep milking me until I die would certainly dull my patriotism.

jparis
jparis
10 years ago

@Max: I’ve gotta ask: Any relation to Dog Diesel on RIFuture?
I am indeed a member of a public sector union (The Massachusetts Teacher’s Association) — but I have also worked in the private sector for the last 3 out of 4 years of my professional career. I’m just asking those people who are showing us the “I’m taking my toys and going elsewhere” card to either do it, or stop with the rhetoric and help us fix the problems. I had the same response to some liberals who threatened to leave the country before President Bush won his re-election. I wasn’t surprised when almost none of them moved.
@Dan: The Governor I volunteered for still has A LOT of work to do before he lives up to the promise I saw in him. That said, if he follows through with reducing our ridiculous socioeconomic imbalances in adjacent communities by empowering them to lower property taxes, I will feel justified in supporting him.
The sales tax SHOULD come down over time — but I agree with the Governor that right now, it’s impossible to run this state without addressing some of the silly tax breaks we have first.
This state is all about granting exemptions to poor policies, rather than being focused on sound policies in the first place. We need to fix that.
@Mike: Would you say he had a Napoleonic Complex if he was a taller man? Seems you have some prejudices there.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

“Help us fix the problems”? Jake, you and your Leftist friends CAUSED the problems, from Detroit to Los Angeles to New York. Your socialist programs are the reason for the budget deficits at federal, state and local levels. You have destroyed millions of families with your welfare programs and encouraged criminals by taking away the rights of peaceable citizens to defend themselves. Your first reaction after 9/11 was to blame America and find ways to explain the crimes of evil terrorists in terms of America’s “guilt”. Your labor laws and tax rates drove American companies to expand offshore rather than here, and Rhode Island companies to move to freer states than ours. Your BS psychobabble fads are the reason the miserable failure of public school education today.
You couldn’t fix a bicycle, much less a complex society.

Ken Block
10 years ago

Only two comments worth making in this whole mess, and then I am done with this topic for good:
1) @jparis – Hell yeah! 6% of my gross revenues is equivalent to what I spend on buying health insurance for my employees – a 6 digit expense! Since I have long term contracts at a fixed cost – I have no choice but to move out – right across the state line to save 6 digits when these tax increases will have no hope of solving our desperate long term fiscal condition. Any right thinking business person would grind the numbers and realize that RI was no longer the place to do business with that kind of math.
2) @ Justin and everyone else banging this ridiculous drum – get over it. A line that I have seen many follks use here with regard to Pat Crowley comes to mind: repeat the lie, repeat the lie, repeat the lie.
If Robitialle had squeaked out a win he would have had as little perceived support of the majority of Rhode Islanders as you perceive that Chafee has now. The only difference is that someone that you find acceptable would have won the job. Granted – Robitialle would not have proposed the tax nightmare that Chafee has proposed, but I suspect he would have gone off the reservation in different ways that a great many people would have found objectionable.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
10 years ago

If Block had squeaked out a win with… never mind, he wasn’t even close.

jparis
jparis
10 years ago

The ability to block BobN’s rants would be appreciated (AR, are you listening?) — but luckily I saw his name and ignored what I can only assume were ad-hominem attacks are gross generalizations. Carry on, my very crazy wayward son.
@Ken – Whether or not you will be back to read this is up for debate, but I’ll respond all the same.
If you actually move through with your action, I can’t doubt your intent. If this really would kill your business, you gotta do what you gotta do. But you’re saying this one singular tax expense is not offset by any other competitive advantages… your rent and other costs won’t increase in Mass?

Ken Block
10 years ago

@jparis –
Virtually everything is less expensive in southern MA than RI. Property tax, income tax, UI insurance, electricity, cell phone tax, etc.
Without the 6% potential proposed services tax on my consulting hours, I can already save a pile of money by moving across the border. A $100,000+ additional hurt makes the math imperative – I would have to move.
I know too many business owners who have already made the move to MA.

jparis
jparis
10 years ago

If that’s really the case Ken I wish you the best of luck. Fall River really isn’t so bad a commute from Barrington, should you decide to stay living here for the good school system.
Interesting question — do any other states tax professional consulting services as if they were sales?
I can’t even imagine the taxes my former consulting company would have to pay if that’s the case.
And I’m sorry for coming down so hard on you for the rhetoric — but after hearing how the rich will abandon us earlier this year, perhaps I am becoming a bit too reactionary.
There are a number of specific line items in the Chafee tax plan I DO disagree with. I assumed you were being nabbed by the proposed computer software tax, which seems reasonable to me as a delivered piece of writing, same as a book.
I just wish people didn’t think the entire plan needs to go out with the bathwater — I mean really, we shouldn’t be taxing aircraft purchases? Or “Coins”, which I can only assume doesn’t mean taxing each penny? Precious metal bullion?
These are not things we should have exemptions for. This overly complex tax code is neither progressive NOR good for business. It actually offends both groups, albeit for slightly different reasons.
Lastly Ken: You know I’m still glad you were in the race, and would hate to see you not be a part of RI politics.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
10 years ago

Actually, Ken, it’s Crowley who uses that line to disingenuously dismiss his opposition. I’m truly saddened to find myself unsurprised that you would mimic the tactic.
Take a cold, objective look at your comments above… you know, as somebody who claims to be centrist, moderate, and interested in coming to rational conclusions should be able to do. It is absolutely clear that you would invalidate a governor who would have vetoed this sort of tax increase in a heartbeat… so much so that no legislator would have proposed it if there was a chance that he or she lacked a supermajority… in order to support your dogmatic liberal social positions.
I wonder: would you move your business if Rhode Island lowered its taxes but explicitly defined marriage in the traditional way and adjusted its abortion positions to the right?

bella
bella
10 years ago

Remember, even though only 36 percent backed Chafee, 66 percent of Rhode Island voters backed candidates who supported same-sex marriage.
If Rhode islanders felt supporting SSM was as “dogmatic” as Justin does, Robitaille would’ve won in a landslide.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
10 years ago

Bella,
A little reading comprehension would go a long way. That Block’s liberal positions are dogmatic doesn’t mean that they are dogmatic on their own merits.

riborn
riborn
10 years ago

It’s hard not to feel like running from RI in these times, but I expect someone who considered himself to be the most qualified person to be elected governor of the State of RI to be more committed to the State.
There are lots of us who love this state enough to stay, to keep on trying, to support good candidates with our pocketbooks and on the ground work on campaigns, to keep our heads to the grindstone to keep our businesses afloat and employees working – although we are certainly not getting rich doing it – hopefully to help bring RI to prosperity, or at least back from the brink of failure.
I never thought Block had the leadership abilities to be governor, his arrogance seemed to have a touch of mean to it. But that he would abandon RI so soon after his failure – that speaks volumes. You came out of nowhere, talked the big talk, lost, and that’s it?

Chuck
Chuck
10 years ago

Ken Block:
You were the last best hope for Rhode Island. I am a proud gay fiscal conservative business owner.
And I’m outta here. If I wanted homophia spewed, I’d move to Mississippi (I have other plans, tho).
The mix of christian morality and politics has to end. If you got a problem with god, see Jesus. If you got a problem with Chafee, see the polling booth.
Don’t matter none to me. This is a corrupt little inbred state. You either are a tax and spend liberal or a hate mongering nazi. Sorry, but I surrendered my swastika when my forbears left Deutschland (also due to religious persecution).
Bye bye ya’ll, looking at a 2-3 month window before I leave Rhode Island to you nutcases for good
You all say that the left is the problem; but you hate mongers alienate the entire populace that would otherwise embrace practical, sensible fiscal responsibility.
Proof is in the puddin’.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Chuck – Tommy Cranston is the only person I know of here who hates gays. A few have some strange views on gay marriage, but it’s not due to bigotry as far as I can tell. A lot of us are atheists, so it’s strange to hear you talking about religious persecution.
I applaud your decision to leave the Rhode Island business graveyard, where ambition and integrity go to die. Check out Northern Virginia if you want to live in a beautiful, low-tax, gay-friendly state with rising home values and lots of jobs.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

The smugness and hatred that are typical of RIF, where JParis feels more at home, make my “rants” seem like whispered sweet nothings. Tell me, JParis, do you equally abhor the taunts and rants posted here by Russ, Phil and Lefty? If not, please explain why they are different.
I am sorry that JParis takes everything so personally – is that due to his solipsism? Just asking…
Perhaps he doesn’t like being associated with the Left. But how then would he explain all the Leftist (you might prefer “Liberal” but we know that is the same thing) positions he takes?
Anyway, JParis, what would you propose to do to “fix the problem” other than “raise taxes on the rich”?

bella
bella
10 years ago

Apologies, Chuck. You just found out the hard way that there’s no room for even a gay economic conservative in Rhode Island’s righty tent (I don’t say Republican tent, because a goodly number of Dems reside there, too).
Take solace in the fact that those who shunned Block just because he wasn’t homophobic enough shot themselves in the foot Nov. 3. If they’re unhappy Chafee won, they only have themselves to blame.

jparis
jparis
10 years ago

@Chuck – While I would certainly agree there’s WAY too much homophobia ingrained into this state’s culture (how many times do you walk down the street and hear “That’s so gay”?) — I’m not sure that the AR folks are part of *that* particular problem. In fact, equal rights are one of the few issues we’ve seemed to agree on in principle many times.
That said, I can see why you’d want to leave. Dan’s suggestion of Northern Virgina isn’t a bad one. It really is its own state — not to be confused with the rest of Virginia. Terrible roads and bad traffic, but great property values, good schools, and a business-friendly environment. I enjoyed living there.
And I’d just like to point out, Virgina has NO ANNUAL CAR TAXES either.
: I think you didn’t give Bella enough credit there — I’m still not sure why you call Mr. Block’s stances on social issues “dogmatic”.
Maybe Mr. Block has taken a stance on issues like women’s choice and marriage equality because he’s seen evidence that these practices lead to a more healthy and cohesive society? Do you personally know one way or the other for sure? I don’t.
Just throwing it out there that one may take stances on social issues without them necessarily being dogmatic.

Camille
Camille
10 years ago

I see the slimedog Pat Crowley is weighing in on Anchor Rising. I hope he sees this right now because I am watching testify in favor of destroying the few remaining jobs in RI as he supports combined reporting legislation introduced by his pals in the progressive movement. Yes, there is evil in this world and it is right here in our midst… recognize it RI.

Mike
Mike
10 years ago

COuldn’t agree more Camille. Combined reporting if implemented, will harm RI greatly… and result in less expansion and possibly even destroy jobs. Crowley doesn’t want any private sector job creation; he only wants to suck the taxpayers dry so that the teachers can get paid more.
As for Ken Block, he is in denial. For all his brilliance, he fails to realize that the moderate party bears true responsiblity for helping destroy the RHode Island economy by helping CHafee get elected… same for Chris Little who never had a chance in hell of winning but he served up a hack extraordinnaire as our new attorney general. The bs arguments that you don’t run “from elections” but for it is simply empty rhetoric and undeserving of any respect.

RemoteView
RemoteView
10 years ago

Ken Block = R.I.’s own 2010 Ross Perot

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

Why,with all the really significant problems going on in RI,are people so obsessed with same sex marriage?
It’s a collateral issue to most people.
The GA needs to vote up or down on it and live with the results.That’s what they’re elected for.
If they still refuse and hide behind”held for further study”,which is nothing but a cowardly position on almost any issue of signifigance,then I guess there will have to be a referendum.
I think that’s the poorer alternative,but we can’t waste more time on this question when taxes and unemployment are the greatest dilemmas we face.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

Check out Northern Virginia if you want to live in a beautiful, low-tax, gay-friendly state with rising home values and lots of jobs.
Posted by Dan at April 6, 2011 8:30 PM
Virginia gay friendly-LOL.
I take it you never left Arlington County.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

Chuck – Tommy Cranston is the only person I know of here who hates gays.
Posted by Dan at April 6, 2011 8:30 PM
Oh you really can’t be THAT naive…
These criminals are pretty much reviled by all but the “progressive” remnants of the dying Western world.
Ironically, the world’s 4 remaining Atheist Left countries (Cuba, China, Vietnam, N. Korea) have a more moderate view on Freakshow Marriage than the founder of the “Moderate” party here in RI-our own Tom Thumb; Little Kenny Block.

riborn
riborn
10 years ago

I don’t see the SSM bill as a priority in these times of economic disaster, but I admit I miss the connection between SSM and job creation or the economy. In any event, as long as the GA sits on it, the more divided the public’s attention will be and the wearier we’ll all get of trying to keep up with what they are doing with the budget, taxes and other ways of raising the cost of business and living in RI.
I agree with JB: the GA needs to vote and get it over with, up or down, just do it and move on.

jparis
jparis
10 years ago

Wow, something we all seem to agree on: getting an actual floor vote on Marriage Equality and then getting on to more business.
I’m kinda surprised I have to write this, but here’s the connection between SSM & the economy: The wedding!!!
Photographers, music, designers, dresses, suits, food, location rental, marriage contract fees, etc. etc. Sorry — you don’t see the connection between marriages and the spending of money? I’ll assume you’ve never been to a wedding?
@Tommy: Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties are also quite nice. I’ve been pretty much everywhere between DC and Richmond in VA — and yes, on the whole they are more gay-friendly than Rhode Island generally seems to be.

bella
bella
10 years ago

If Virginia’s too liberal for you, Tom, there are 82 other countries where homosexuality is illegal and you can sleep at night.
Try Puerto Rico. Or Cayman Islands, where it’s illegal for men but you can still float your boat watching lesbian strippers and grab some ones from your friendly secure offshore bank.

bella
bella
10 years ago

I stand corrected – PR falls under US law and Caymans recently legalized. But there’s still Barbados, UAE, Oman, Dominica and some other nice places.

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