Chart of extreme poverty since 1850

Private aid is great, but freedom is better.

By Justin Katz | July 8, 2021 |

Rachel Sharrett’s essay for the American Institute for Economic Research on the advantages of using private charity to help the disadvantaged is an interesting read, but the eye-catcher comes at the end.  Explaining the chart used for the featured image of this post, Sharrett writes: The bottom line is, aid has never been and will…

Bankrate's map of best states to retire

RI’s surprisingly good ranking for retirement raises important considerations.

By Justin Katz | July 7, 2021 |

Bankrate has published its “The best and worst states for retirement 2021” and as indicated in the featured image of this post (if you look closely), Rhode Island does pretty… not terribly, coming in at twentieth among the fifty states. As is often the case with these more-broadly-construed rankings, the key conclusions are to be…

Black man reviewing business trends

A public-private partnership focused on businesses by race is inherently destructive.

By Justin Katz | July 7, 2021 |

Attitudes may be changing rapidly on this (or at least the mainstream narrative may be), but the partnership between the administration of Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Foundation focusing on minority-owned businesses is destructive to our state.  From an RI Foundation press release by Chris Barnett (emphasis added): “Supporting and growing our small…

American flag in a field at sunset

A reminder of America’s value to the huddled masses on Independence Day.

By Justin Katz | July 3, 2021 |

If you’re interested in some good Independence Day listening that reminds you indirectly of the innate goodness of the American project, give a listen to Russ Roberts’s interview of University of Chicago Economist Bruce Meyer, who specializes in the study of poverty.  As the episode summary says, the “conversation also addresses broader challenges around measuring…

Map of payday lending rates by state

Beware overconfidence that the morality of issues like payday lending is obvious.

By Justin Katz | July 2, 2021 |

The map used for the featured image of this post comes from an article by Ian Donnis for The Public’s Radio titled, “As some states clamp down, Rhode Island still embraces payday lending with the equivalent of a triple-digit interest rate.” The implied opinion behind the headline pretty well sums up the framing of the issue…

Woman reading in a hammock

There are good and bad reasons to take your time looking for a job.

By Justin Katz | June 30, 2021 |

This news that Charlie McCarthy reports for Newsmax is not surprising: There are about 10 million unemployed workers in the U.S., and more than nine million jobs available, yet only 10% of job seekers say they’re looking actively and urgently, Axios reported Wednesday. About 15% say they’re looking actively but not urgently. About 45% said they’re…

Map of best and worst run U.S. cities

Where Providence is run poorly is where it matters (and Warwick, too).

By Justin Katz | June 25, 2021 |

On first look, Rhode Islanders might not be inclined to despair that our capital city ranks 89 among 150 cities reviewed for on the WalletHub list of “2021’s Best- & Worst-Run Cities in America.”  Our state has been run so poorly for so long that being (roughly) middle-of-the-pack on a list is something of a…

Help wanted sign

Why are so many Rhode Islanders leaving the workforce in the midst of a big recovery?

By Justin Katz | June 17, 2021 |

The headline is, of course, that unemployment dropped to 5.8% in May, from 6.3% in April, which is nice (although it ought to be higher, given that we’re coming out of a pandemic-and-government-driven recession.  But the state Department of Labor and Training’s press release paints a peculiar picture: The number of employed Rhode Island residents…

WPRI coverage of encampment

When did America become the Land of Other People’s Money?

By Justin Katz | June 14, 2021 |

Many things are concerning about the homeless encampment in Providence that has been in the news lately and about the way the issue is being framed, but one thread that really sticks out is this, from Brian Amaral’s Boston Globe story: Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris, who represents the area, said Elorza should call a state of…

Palette of moving boxes on a truck lift

If you’re young, motivated, and moving, the best bet is to go elsewhere.

By Justin Katz | June 11, 2021 |

The clickbait part of’s survey of people who’ve moved is the comparison of states, but that may not be very helpful.  It isn’t clear, for example, whether the ranking of moves on the map is entirely people who crossed borders or includes internal moves.  Indeed, a plurality of respondents moved within the same city.…

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