Letter from the Krell Family Think Tank

A new diarist over at the RIFuture blog has an extended response to Justin Katz’s most recent editorial in the Projo.

From Mr. Krell:

On Saturday, 4/5/08, the Belojo printed an editorial by Justin Katz of Anchor Rising. The title was “RI’s economic clock runs down.�

To add insult to injury, Anchor Rising was described as a “public policy think tank.”

Outraged by this description, as well as the bad thinking, I wrote the following letter in response. However, in its wisdom, the Projo did not publish it. [full text]

The letter is quite good, but as Pat Crowley notes in the comments, it is rather long. Still, I hope the information can be formed into a rebuttal of suitable length and resubmitted to the Projo.


4 thoughts on “Letter from the Krell Family Think Tank

  1. Quite good? By all appearances, the guy barely read the piece to which he intended to respond. Krell:

    It’s also worth noting that Mr. Katz did not state where he got his numbers.

    My op-ed:

    (U.S. Census American Community Survey) … (IRS Migration Data)


    Between 2001 and 2005 the group making between $25 and $35k declined 9%; the group making between $35 and $50k declined by 12%; and those making $50 – $75k declined by 1.4%. … In numbers the net result is that, between 2001 and 2005, the number of households making less than $75,000 fell by 32,380. In the same period, the number of households making over $75,000 increased by 32,534. For those of you keeping score at home, that is a net increase of 154 households making more than $75,000.

    My op-ed:

    Two complicating factors deepen the story. First, Census data for 2005 actually shows a 21,754-person spike in people over three times poverty. Second, overall trends for households earning above $75,000 per year have been positive, albeit with shrinking increases.

    Indeed, that Krell sticks to 2005 data illustrates that he’s either too eager to prove me wrong based on my worldview (and not on whether or not I’m actually, you know, wrong) or simply unable to participate in this sort of discussion.

    Come on, folks. We can’t have a real discussion about these important questions unless you’re able to muster the patience to take the other side seriously enough to be able to summarize their points before responding.

  2. That’s sad. You cherry pick a couple of things and claim he’s wrong overall.

    As I see it, your piece claims that RIers are “fleeing” to Mass because RI taxes are so high. You offer nothing to support this. IOW. you point out a statistic, and then speculate on the cause.

    Then you use this speculative cause–which you have not proven is even related to your statistic–to demand a specific public policy.

    OTOH, Krell posits an alternative thesis. But then he produces several reasonable premises to support his alternative. It could be about the housing market, the job market, the higher pay in Boston, and seems to be related to critical career points.

    Whom should we take seriously here?

    And he does cite his source for numbers, which only cover the period through 2005. Did you actually read the thing?

    And what does the whole thing about the 3 times poverty and the shrinking increases actually mean? This whole paragraph doesn’t actually say anything. That the picture is complicated? No doubt. But it’s your job to try to puzzle it out, not throw up your hands and say it’s beyond you. Do some more research.

    You see, in order to be taken seriously, you have to present a reasonable case with reasonable support. You don’t. If I want to say the moon is made of green cheese, you would be justified not to take that seriously.

    Just so: you start with Crowley’s data, add a bit from the IRS, and neglect the overall picture.

    IOW, you made a wild claim without a shred proof or evidence, and then complain that you’re not taken serioualy.

    Why should we? What have you done to establish your credibility? Nothing. Without evidence, nothing you say deserves to be taken seriously.

  3. It’s very difficult to respond to you, because you’re just shooting scattershot, and I can’t even tell how you get to your response from what I’ve written. For one thing, I’ve made no claim about why Rhode Islanders are fleeing; I’ve cited a decrease in taxes as one way to make the state more attractive starting now. Much as with Krell, there’s not much reason for me to go beyond “cherry picking” this observation, because most of what follows in your attack is premised on a faulty foundation.

    In his case, Krell sticks with 2005 data which, when placed in the context of several cuts and sources of data through 2006 proves to have been an anomalous year. Fine: he’s got “alternative theses” to explain the trends as they appeared that year, but central to my point was the fact that those apparent trends were deceiving.

    Relatedly, since I’m not arguing causes but future strategies, it doesn’t harm my argument to suggest that population flight “could be about the housing market, the job market, the higher pay in Boston.” But even if I were arguing that our tax regime is driving people away, it’s hardly accurate to see taxes as unrelated to housing, jobs, and pay.

    I’ll again offer you the choice: you can rant and not read, or you can consider that maybe I’ve actually said something that you’re missing.

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