Who's Going to Get Fulfilled at Amazon's New Fulfillment Center?

Food for thought, delivered instantly. Any real profits from the center's operations will flow to Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered. Then again, the center won't have many of the social demerits charged to another recent much discussed source of new jobs: casinos. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Amazon is coming to Fall River. The on-line giant announced last week that it will occupy a million-square-foot building that’s going to be built on the Fall River-Freetown line. The new warehouse, which in Amazon-speak carries the name “Fulfillment Center,” will join 50 or so similar facilities around the country.

So who among us can look forward to being fulfilled by the Fulfillment Center?

For starters, Amazon customers in Massachusetts, who can look forward to next-day delivery of their $600 premium foosball table with enamel screen-printed graphics or their Natura Bisse Oxygen Cream (immediately softens the most dehydrated skin, $88 for a 2.5 ounce jar).

Second, Amazon itself, which in addition to its profits gets more than $6 million in state and local tax breaks for choosing the Fall River site.

Third, Governor Charlie Baker, who’s pretty excited about it all (as is the predominantly Democratic Fall River area legislative delegation).

Anybody out there who’s not going to be so fulfilled?

Well, construction companies in Massachusetts, which lost out on the building contract.  That went instead to a company from East Rutherford, N.J.

And the people who will be working in the new Fulfillment Center? Amazon is promising 500 full-time jobs at an average salary of $35,000. Which might well sound good to people in Fall River right now, where the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. But that average salary will still leave a Fall River family of four about $25,000 short of what they need to live on (and 500 jobs is only half the number of jobs Amazon was promising Fall River a year ago).

Then there’s the issue of the working conditions at Amazon’s Fulfillment Centers. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, Morning Call newspaper has been covering the working conditions at Amazon’s nearby Lehigh Valley Fulfillment Center for the past five years. Anybody contemplating an Amazon job in Fall River and anybody who is unequivocally keen on Amazon’s arrival in the state might want to take a look at the Morning Call‘s stories about life in an Amazon warehouse: punishing productivity quotas that result in the firing of workers unable to meet them and injuries to many who try (keep in mind that workers must cover a warehouse that’s the size of 21 football fields); a management structure in which the real employer is not Amazon itself, but a temporary help agency called “Integrity Staffing Solutions,” which can take advantage of laws that limit its liability for unemployment insurance and can help reduce the risk of encroachment by labor unions through constant employee turnover; triple-digit temperatures in the warehouse during the summer (on this point, Amazon was at pains to say that it had arranged for paramedics to be in ambulances parked outside the warehouse to treat the severely dehydrated).

If you take another look at Governor Baker’s enthusiastic comments about Amazon’s arrival, you’ll notice that he’s very excited to help Amazon meet all its needs — and that the Massachusetts residents who will be working there are a mere afterthought:

“Our collaboration and partnership with Amazon is a good example of where the state has worked with, and will continue to work with, companies and help them meet their needs for everything from tax incentives to training new employees to permitting so that they can continue to grow in the Commonwealth.”

Points for honesty.


(Cross-posted here.)

We need a RGGI for Transportation

If you drove to work this am and think our transport system is adequate, you are out of your mind. Also too, global warming. Let's have a triple-win. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Last week, 5 Northeastern states along with Washington, DC announced their intention to explore a market-based program similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (or RGGI) to reduce emissions from transportation.

This is a great idea and I hope that Massachusetts joins these states in creating a strong regional program to cover transportation.

Why is this a great idea?

The short answer is that creating a market-based program like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the transportation sector would help create a cleaner, more efficient transportation system for the region. In the process, we can create jobs, save consumers and businesses money, and drive economic growth.

According to the report issued by the Georgetown Transportation and Climate Initiative, when combined with existing state and federal policies, a market-based system could help reduce emissions by 40%, save consumers up to $72 billion and create over 90,000 jobs in the region by 2030.

The long answer requires a bit of background on the RGGI program and some of the core challenges facing the region in transportation and climate policy.

What is RGGI?

RGGI is a regional program created by a network of states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. The core of the RGGI program is a requirement that big utilities that emit large quantities of global warming emissions purchase allowances sold at regional auctions. The requirement to purchase these allowances holds utilities accountable for their emissions and creates an economic incentive to reduce pollution as much as possible. Moreover, by limiting the total number of allowances available, RGGI guarantees overall regional emission reductions.

Close vote against Olympics in Hamburg

It will be interesting to see whether, going forward, only autocratic countries are able to host the Olympics. - promoted by david

Since it was quite the topic here a few months back, readers might be interested to know that voters in Hamburg and Kiel are split on the 2024 Olympics, with “no” leading by a very slim margin (51.9%), and counting still going on.  If that is the final result, it will be a surprise, as polls showed a clear majority in favor.  However, the attacks in Paris and the costs of the refugee crisis seem to be damping down enthusiasm for the Games.  They are projected to cost over 11.2 billion euros (about $11.9 billion) with a lot of urban development for Hamburg wrapped up in that price. Some background at http://www.dw.com/en/hamburg-votes-on-2024-olympics-bid/a-18882770

If you read German, there is a live blog from NDR up at https://www.ndr.de/sport/olympia/Ja-oder-Nein-Die-Olympia-Entscheidung-im-Live-Blog,referendum122.html

So Let's Go Ahead And Say It Aloud: The Democratic Leadership In This State Had A Bad Year

Weekend rumination. - promoted by david

The policy outcomes are being derailed by the politics inside the building.

That was state Senator Daniel Wolf’s assessment when he spoke to the Boston Globe shortly after the 2015 legislative session ended last week.  That article emphasized how the “legislative session sputtered to an end,” and, indeed, it did.  But our leaders on Beacon Hill were quick to stress the need to take a longer view.  “If you look at our body of work, it has been good,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo, presumably with a straight face.

Now back at their districts, he and others will undoubtedly spin the same narrative to their supporters at various fundraisers and local party breakfasts.  And most of us in attendance will clap, clap clap and heap praise upon them when they do.  But it’s far past time for those of us who give a damn to call out this nonsense.  It was a bad year for the Democratic leadership in this state, generally, and for the House leadership, in particular.

At the start of the year, as our state’s public transit system faltered, House Democrats made DeLeo Speaker For Life, abolishing the term limits that he placed on his Speakership just six years ago.  In doing so, they stressed the need for experienced leadership in the House.  Five weeks later, as entire rail lines remained shut down, that wonderfully experienced House Leadership scoffed at the idea actually doing something it.  Meanwhile, a host of well-connected Democratic leaders from across the state backed several half-baked versions of a Boston 2024 Olympics proposal and consumed much of the remaining local political oxygen in the process.  And as that effort halted during the first half of the year, so too did activity on Beacon Hill.  In fact, the Legislature took the fewest number of roll call votes during that time span in a generation!

The progressive case for Hillary Clinton

... is a lot stronger than the progressive case for any GOP nominee :-) - promoted by Bob_Neer

I figured I’d start another diary rather than further sidetrack the one about HRC’s position on and reaction to the ISIS threat.  I want to directly address the objections some have made to the idea that Clinton is progressive and flesh out more why I think claiming she is otherwise is an unproductive appeal to purity and absolutism, or as I have been known to put it, the Democratic equivalent of the “Tea Party” (which, too be fair, some have argued is exactly what the doctor ordered).

There are two websites that I find to be thorough and instructive both in placing various candidates on the political spectrum and in comparing them to each other.  The first is Project VoteSmart which, inter alia, lists the rankings various interest groups have assigned to those who have been legislators during the course of their careers.  Not all the groups are well-known and I would argue some are even misnamed.  (For example, I’m sure if the “Campaign for Working Families” really were that, HRC would have a much higher ranking from them.)  However, even if you just go by the groups listed in the liberal and conservative categories you would find that she is much better identified with the former than the latter.  You can also click from the linked page to find votes, speeches, and funding sources.

The second website is OnTheIssues which lists a series of statements followed by legislative history, but for a quick visual scroll to the bottom and you will find that HRC is positioned pretty close to the left corner, in the left-liberal segment with plenty of room to spare.  If you scroll through the itemized list and check those you agree with you may find yourself surprised (as I was) how liberal she really is on some things.  This site spans an entire career, in this case including statements made while still working at Rose Law Firm.  For fun, take the quiz yourself and drop results in the comments.  I was most closely matched to HRC with 78% compatibility though other quizzes have matched me with Sanders.

Both of these sites cover all candidates and electeds and not just for the presidency, so look around, click through, compare Clinton to others, etc.  I am in no way arguing that she is more progressive than Sanders (In fact, he is directly planted on the far left corner in the OnTheIssues diagram.), but I really hope this can put to bed once and for all the myth that Hillary Clinton is not a progressive.

Charlie Baker: Is That All There Is?

Promoted for the very interesting discussion in the comments. The question of how to think about the 2018 election, while a tad premature, is nonetheless a good one. Baker's popularity will inevitably slip from its current stratospheric heights, but assuming (as seems reasonably likely) that he stays fairly popular, does it make more sense to go the Mark Roosevelt route (a sacrificial lamb with little chance of winning), or to go all-in with a popular, rising-star Democrat, such as Maura Healey, Katherine Clark, or Seth Moulton, who might nonetheless lose? - promoted by david

[Cross-posted at planetgrafton.com]

A good friend of mine asked me a couple weeks ago what I thought about Governor Baker so far.

“He’s been okay,” I said.

“I really like him,” he replied.

“Quick, what was Charlie Baker’s greatest accomplishment his first year in office?”

Blank stare.

Exactly.  Which isn’t to say that Charlie Baker hasn’t accomplished anything his first year in office.  But it does serve as a reminder that great poll numbers are not, in and of themselves, actual accomplishments.  Rather, great poll numbers serve as political capital to institute a Governor’s vision for the Commonwealth.

But what is Charlie Baker’s vision for Massachusetts?

The Governor’s best moments so far have come in crisis-management moments.  He was rightly critical of the MBTA in the wake of last year’s costly public transit meltdown, and has since instituted a plan for improved service.  He has instituted policy reforms at DCF in the wake of the Bella Bond tragedy that even people within the agency are heralding as “long-awaited.”

Governor Baker’s pattern thus far is read and react.  He’s a management professional who reads institutional failure and moves forward quickly and unequivocally to institute common-sense management reforms.  Frankly, Massachusetts needs someone with that skill set as Governor right now.

The question is though:  Is that all there is? Is he just picking low-hanging fruit at this point?  Is it enough to simply respond to an agency failure?  At some point, shouldn’t there be a vision of what we want government to do before it fails us?   Does he even have a vision of Massachusetts that goes beyond tweeking state agencies and banning Syrian refugees from settling here?

Baker’s style is interesting to contrast with former Governor Deval Patrick’s style.  Patrick was, essentially, Baker’s opposite.  Patrick was a visionary who had an ideal in mind for Massachusetts and pursued it doggedly, often to the chagrin of Beacon Hill insiders who didn’t like his personality.  Specific agency management reforms were not, however, a strong suit.

With Patrick, you got education reform, pension reform, CORI reform, transportation reform and legalized gaming.  Big picture stuff.  But because of his relationship issues with two straight Speakers of the House (and others), his detractors will never let you forget about the Cadillac or the drapes.  He nixed a legislative pay-raise on his way out the door and the next thing you know, there’s an investigation about “secret accounts” leaked to the Herald.

Charlie Baker, meanwhile, has a fantastic relationship with our legislators.  They can’t stop talking about him in glowing terms.  One local Democratic pol told me how much easier it is to work with the new Governor, contrasted with the old one.

So, now freed from the imperial reign of Governor Patrick and his chaffing management style, how much has the legislature accomplished with a friendly face in the corner office?  Well, next to nothing, actually.

So much for all that.

I’m not trying to be needlessly contrarian in the face of a 74% approval rating.  That’s swell.  But the point of governing isn’t to be popular.  The point of governing is to govern, which can sometimes be decidedly unpopular.

So, the question about Governor Baker becomes: Is that all there is?

Boston Waterfront Development Must Address Climate Change

  - promoted by david

by Peter Shelley

Senior Counselor, Conservation Law Foundation (CLF)

It’s no news that Boston will likely face unprecedented environmental and public health threats associated with climate change. We know that sea levels will rise significantly. Even before rising sea levels start to threaten the Massachusetts coastline, we know that there is a high probability that the waterfront will see record storm surges. And we know that Boston is ranked as the sixth most vulnerable city in the nation for environmental damages associated with climate change.

Developers have proposed a large-scale luxury hotel complex out over the water at the end of Lewis Wharf in Boston’s North End—right in the center of the projected storm surge bull’s-eye.  The complex will itself be significantly at risk to flooding and storm damage but also will be one likely to exacerbate risks of damage to existing properties and neighborhoods. The area already floods, and this project would increase flooding—not stop flooding.

While it is one thing for a developer to put its own capital, customers, and employees at risk by constructing in an unsound location, it is completely another matter if there is even a risk that the development would increase the severity or frequency of storm-related or climate change-related effects to others.

For many in the immediate vicinity and the North End, this is personal. But this is not merely a local development fight. For us at Conservation Law Foundation, this comes down to whether the City of Boston and the state are committed to taking real action to increase resiliency of the waterfront to climate change or whether it will be business as usual.  Developers should not be allowed to build in high-risk flooding areas in the city; and development of present or former state tidelands should several the broadest public interests, not cater to private interests.

Increasingly intense and frequent storms surges and sea level rise are the new normal. The Lewis Wharf project and any other new waterfront development around Boston Harbor will define how seriously Massachusetts and the City of Boston intend to address and mitigate those coming threats. The proposed luxury hotel complex is not the right approach; it is irresponsible and dangerous to move forward with this project.


“Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!”

The Guardian has helpfully assembled a selection of quotations from Republican leaders that outline their position on climate change and helps to explain why the GOP, a party that unites tens of millions of Americans, including Governor Baker, has become the “anti-science” party:

Donald Trump
Tweeted in November 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

Tweeted in December 2013: “Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!”

Tweeted in January 2014: “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice” and “Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet!” …

Marco Rubio …
Said in September 2015: “We’re not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our climate. America is a lot of things, the greatest country in the world, absolutely. But America is not a planet.”

Ben Carson
Said in November 2014: “There’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on. As far as I’m concerned, that’s irrelevant. You can ask it several different ways, but my answer is going to be the same. We may be warming. We may be cooling.”

Ted Cruz
Said in October 2015: “Climate change is not science. It’s religion. Look at the language, where they call you a denier. Denier is not the language of science. Any good scientist is a skeptic. If he’s not, he or she should not be a scientist. But yet the language of the global warming alarmists, ‘denier’ is the language of religion. It’s heretic. You are a blasphemer.”

John Boehner
Said in May 2009: “Every time we exhale we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know when they do what they do you’ve got more carbon dioxide.” …

When you hear any politician promoting "Jobs and a Growing Economy", remember this:

Something wrong with the American workplace when we can't make use of qualified, experienced people. Hang tough John & co. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

In September of this year, my supervisor gave me the news that the company was making changes, going in a new direction, and my services were no longer needed.  I was 60 years old and out of work.  It was more of a relief than a surprise.  I had been living under threat of being laid off for months.  Now, it was finally over.  It was back in March that I suspected this day would come.  In April, I knew for sure  The company hired a new group of younger managers and I received my first ever negative job review.  No specifics were given, just broad generalities. I asked how I could improve without knowing what was wrong and was told, “Don’t worry about it.  Everyone is getting this review.  We all need to work together.”  I did what I could to become more efficient, eating my lunch at my desk, arriving early, staying late.  In April, I asked how I was doing and I was told, “Just great.”  The next week my desk was moved from a small office to a corner of the hallway.  I faced a building column.  I was told they needed the space.

I saw the handwriting on the wall, or in this case, the column, and looked for another job.  Right then, I knew my days were numbered.  I found a few places with job offerings that were similar to what I had.  I even received two job offers.  The problem was that these jobs paid 30-45% less than what I was making.  I sure my employer knew this as well.  No doubt he compared notes with his business friends and tried to cut costs whenever possible.  As far as the company bottom line was concerned, I was no different than a uniform supply company or a case of toilet paper. If he could get the same thing for less, he went with it.  As the saying goes: nothing personal, just business

I turned down the job offers and continued to search for more in the hope that I could find that needle in the haystack.  I cleared all my personal belonging out my “office” and waited for the eventual moment that arrived in September

Fortunately, being laid off without cause allowed me to file for and receive unemployment  I learned that I could work part time, earning no more than one third of my weekly unemployment payment, and make a few extra dollars, as long as I also continued to search for a full time job.  In November, I got that part time job, working as a clerk in a large retail outlet.  What I learned there inspired me to write this report.

I am 60 years old. I was Service Coordinator at major industrial products company.  I’ve been laid off for two months and been searching for a suitable job ever since.  Unable to find one, I have accepted a job as a stock clerk in a large retail store; a wee bit over minimum wage, twenty hours a week, no benefits.

It’s here that I met Manny.  Manny is in his late-50’s one kid in college, one in high school.  Manny was an Analyst for a major financial company and lost his job in 2008.  He is now working full time as a stock clerk and training me.

When I was having difficulty with the time clock (had not used on in over 40 years), Roberta helped me out.  She worked in the department next to me.  She told me she’s been working here for a year and still can’t get used to a time clock.    She used to be a Project Manager at a nearby medical device company.  Now at 62, she is a retail clerk.

I met Fred in the break room.  I had seen him there a few times, never speaking with anyone.  He looked to be in his late 60’s or early 70’s.  I sat next to him and struck up a conversation.   The axe fell for him back in 2001 when the company he worked for went bankrupt.  He lost his pension and much of his savings were in company stock. He got a check for $11 in the end.  A local apartment complex hired him as a maintenance man but when the recession of 2008 hit, he lost that job and just four years ago, was hired on here as a maintenance man.  I tried to console him with “At least you have a job” and he said, “Yeah, and I’m alive”.  Three of his coworkers at the bankrupt company had committed suicide.  He described what each one of them had as careers, family, hobbies, and then described the consequences of their life and how they killed themselves.  It seemed he did so out of respect for them, almost a eulogy.

Here are, all in out late 50’s to early 70’s, all well qualified, honest, industrious –  and working for minimum wage or close to it, just trying to bridge the gap until we might possibly be able to retire. The more I look around me the more of us I see.  At least we’re still here, I remind myself.  The fact is that an alarming number of us are just dying.   Here in the United Stated of America, people who have worked for the majority of their life are being devalued, cast aside, and taking their own life.

At the same time presidential candidates in both parties fail to address this issue with any more than lip service.  Some Republicans are even calling for increasing the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile the economy continues to “grow” and there are “new jobs” as politicians in both parties promise, but they fail to mention that little if any of that growth will go to any of us.  And the jobs?  I just told you about four of them.

Joke Revue: "Trump’s Focus on Muslims Distracting Him from Campaign Against Mexicans, Supporters Fear"

Seamus memorial edition. R.I.P. old fellow.


Trump’s Focus on Muslims Distracting Him from Campaign Against Mexicans, Supporters Fear

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—There are growing fears among supporters of the Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump that his new focus on Muslims is distracting him from his campaign against Mexicans.

After the billionaire said he would consider shutting down mosques if he were President, supporters expressed concern that such signature proposals as a wall with Mexico and mass deportations were being lost in the shuffle.

Carol Foyler, who viewed a recent Trump appearance on television, said that she was “alarmed” to hear him talk about closing mosques “without mentioning the wall with Mexico even once.” “I just worry, I guess, that with all of this talk about Muslims he’s really forgetting about Mexicans,” she said. “It feels kind of like a bait-and-switch.”

Another Trump supporter, Harland Dorrinson, agreed. “Shutting down the mosques is a great idea, sure, but he shouldn’t do that if it’s going to divert resources from forcibly deporting eleven million immigrants,” he said. “I would be very sad to see that happen.”

But Tracy Klugian, a die-hard Trump volunteer who is working for his campaign in Iowa, called such criticism of her candidate “misguided.” “You don’t get to be a successful businessman like Donald Trump without being able to multitask,” she said.

Carson Announces Detailed Plan to Google Syria

DES MOINES (The Borowitz Report)—In a major foreign-policy announcement on Wednesday, the Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson unveiled a detailed plan to Google Syria. …

He said that “Google holds the key” to many questions about Syria. “Where is it? Who lives there? How many square miles is it? These are all things that have to be pinned down,” he said.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Last night, Bobby Jindal announced that he is dropping out of the race for president. I guess that after talking it over with family and friends, he realized that even THEY didn’t know he was running for president.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Bernie Sanders will deliver a speech tomorrow, which pundits say will seek to clarify his identity as a Democratic socialist. He’ll explain that ‘Democratic’ means he believes everyone should have an equal say, and ‘socialist’ means he’s not getting elected.” –Seth Meyers

“Governor Chris Christie said in an interview yesterday that New Jersey would not accept Syrian refugees. Which is too bad, because Syrian refugees would be the first people ever to arrive in New Jersey and say, ‘Hey, this is MUCH better!’” –Seth Meyers

“The Democratic candidates went head-to-head Saturday night in their second debate, where unlike the Ronda Rousey fight, we saw a woman knock out TWO opponents.” –Jimmy Fallon

“If you watched the debate on mute, it looked like Bernie Sanders spent two hours angrily sending his soup back at the deli.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Lately, Trump has been pretty cranky about losing his lead in the polls over retired neurosurgeon and ‘Guy who sits next to you in an otherwise empty theater,’ Ben Carson. Evidently, people have been looking at Trump and thinking, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t elect a man who shouts crazy things. Maybe we should elect a man who whispers crazy things.’” –Stephen Colbert

“First Ben Carson said he attacked his mother with a hammer, now Ben Carson’s mother is saying she’s the one who attacked Ben with a hammer. I don’t know about you, but that’s going to be one awkward Thanksgiving at the Carson house.” –Conan O’Brien

“Ben Carson did say he’s tired about answering questions about his personal history. The last thing Ben Carson needs is to be even more tired than he already appears to be.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Donald Trump said Ben Carson is wrong about the Egyptian pyramids being used to store grain, because the pyramids are solid. And that, ladies and gentlemen, perfectly sums up the Republican presidential race.” –Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump weighed in on the controversial decision by Starbucks to remove Christmas imagery from their holiday cups, saying, ‘If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again.’ Though the only way I could see Donald Trump saying ‘Merry Christmas’ is if he’s correcting someone who just said ‘Feliz Navidad.’” Seth Meyers

“SeaWorld is phasing out its killer whale show. Or as Fox News reported it, ‘More killers set free under Obama.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Dr. Ben Carson is drawing intense criticism after reports have surfaced that he may have embellished his history of violence as a teen, his scholarship to West Point, and other parts of his life story. Not only that, but it turns out the twins he separated were fraternal.” –Seth Meyers

“The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree arrived on Friday. They’re calling the tree ‘Jeb’ because it’s a dying bush.” –Seth Meyers

Defining the safety challenges of the fire service.

Let's talk about first responders. Kathy Crosby-Bell is the mother of firefighter Michael Kennedy, who lost his life in the Back Bay fire on March 26, 2014. I met her at a fundraising concert a few weeks ago and asked her to post here about the work of the Last Call Foundation. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta


Last Call Foundation in memory of my son Firefighter Michael Kennedy is working to shine a light on the safety issues firefighters face on the job that the public is unaware of.  Visit our web site for more information www.lastcallfoundation.org

Fire Hose

Most of us were unaware that fire hose currently used across the country is not fire proof or even fire resistant. In fact as the on going study LCF funded at WPI Fire Engineering Program recently uncovered, fire hose fire resistance qualities have not been improved on in over 100 years. NFPA 1961 established a single thermal testing criteria which it would appear has served to suppress inovation. Not surprisingly research and development dollars have not been spent on this critical issue, hose manufacturers are well aware fire departments across the country are grossly underfunded and cannot afford to purchase supperior products. Clearly with todays (and yesterdays) technologies fireproofing can and should be applied and required for fire attack hose.

Cancer in the Fire Service.

I was shocked to discover that despite all the scientific studies the Federal Fire Administration does not consider firefighter cancer to be job related. Because of this the NFPA cancer related death reports are horribly skewed. NFPA simply reports statistics from the Federal Fire Administration. Sadly 14 states have failed to recognize cancer as job related. Disgracefully many states that do have cancer presumptive laws have failed to fund them! Using figures provided by the IAFF and the Firefighters Cancer Network which are far more accurate, I was shocked to discover that 60% of career firefighters (I have been unable to find studies of volunteer firefighters) will be diagnosed with some form of cancer over the course of their careers. In the city of Boston this number jumps to 67%.  I don’t believe there is another profession where this would be tolerated. Last Call Foundation is currently joining forces with Dr. Michael Hamrock and the PFFM to bring the very successful award winning Cancer Awareness and Prevention Program created by the Boston Fire Department state wide. We are going to provide every firefighter in Massachusetts access to this critically important program.

One of the obvious every day exposures to cancer causing agents is the gear meant to protect firefighters, after a fire, bunker gear can be laden with carcinogens. Touching and breathing in the air borne particles is an everyday occurrence. Last Call Foundation is working to provide every City of Boston firehouse with an industrial washer for decontamination of bunker gear. This critical and basic need is unfunded in most fire districts.

Lack of Funding

The deplorable conditions of many firehouses would not be tolerated in any other profession. Old is not necessarily bad if properly maintained and periodically updated. Regrettably constant budget cuts and deferred maintance have put firehouses across the state in such poor repair that many would and should be condemned if required to meet the same standards and building codes as every other building in the state. (Why aren’t they?)

Politicians are empowered to allocate tax dollars, human nature being what it is, if election support is missing or personalities get in the way, whole departments suffer gross underfunding. As a result the fire service infrastructure is quite literally crumbling.

It is time for a fire service direct funding source that has no political affiliation.

FYI – the cost of treatment for one firefighter with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma – one of the cancers firefighters are commonly diagnosed with, is $ 800,000 the first year and upwards of $ 1,000,000 the second year, the individual prognosis determines treatments and costs from there. Added to that the cost of sick pay, replacement personnel…


A peculiarly American fascism

Bumped from when I first wrote this in September. In light of his recent pronouncements on Syrian refugees and American Muslims (see update in the post), the notion of Trump as an American fascist seems more salient than ever. - promoted by david

What is it, exactly, that Donald Trump is selling?  In substantial part, it’s himself – as my co-editor Bob puts it, Trump is trying to “feed his bloated idiot-sized ego.”  Trump loves to talk about how rich he is, how much he personally “cherishes women” and other groups, about how successful he’s been in business, etc.  There’s no doubt that he’s peddling, in part, a cult of personality.

But there is more to it than that.  The trademarked slogan of his campaign is “Make America Great Again.”  He is, of course, the GOP’s biggest purveyor of nativist, anti-immigrant rhetoric.  He rails against leaders who have supposedly turned America into a “loser” (“we don’t have victories anymore,” he said recently).  Also – and this is important – some of his economic proposals are intensely nationalistic and hated by big business.  The NY Times reports that some conservatives are concerned about Trump’s proposals to raise taxes “on corporations that he believes do not act in the best interests of the United States” – for instance, “Mr. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on American companies that put their factories in other countries … [a]nd he has vowed to change laws that allow American companies to benefit from cheaper tax rates by using mergers to base their operations outside the United States.”

That is a marked difference from Republican orthodoxy, which generally puts the interests of big business first and foremost.  The GOP is, essentially, pro-corporation, but Trump is nationalist first, corporate second.

Trump has also adopted a surprisingly populist position on taxes.  He wants to close the infamous “carried interest” loophole that lets hedge fund managers pay very low taxes.  And on a flat tax:

“The one problem I have with the flat tax is that rich people are paying the same as people that are making very little money,” Mr. Trump said. “And I think there should be a graduation of some kind.”

Another part of Trump’s platform (if you can call it that), as I’ve said before, is his apparent belief that the “welfare state” is not always a bad thing.  He supports Social Security and criticizes his opponents for wanting to dismantle it.  He has said he opposes cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  He has said that “we have to take care of the people that can’t take care of themselves,” which sounds a lot like some form of government-run health care.

Yet another departure from GOP orthodoxy is Trump’s stance on the current state of our political system.  He has said repeatedly that the system is broken, and he uses his personal wealth to demonstrate that he is independent of it.  This criticism applies to his own party as well as to the Democrats – he recently blasted both sides, saying “[a]ll of the money that’s going to Hillary, and Jeb, and Scott and Marco? They’re totally controlled. Totally.”  Trump is saying, in effect, that the entire two-party system as we know it is corrupt, and it’s time for something else.

So.  Let’s talk now about fascism – not in the pejorative sense, but in terms of what the fascist ideology actually is.  There is some disagreement as to how “fascism” should be defined – the word, after all, comes from the Italian word for a bundle (fascio), which in the late 19th century came to refer to a wide variety of Italian political groups or “leagues” known as fasci.  Only later, when Benito Mussolini consolidated some of these movements into the Partito Nazionale Fascista and took power in the 1920s, did fascism come to be synonymous with Mussolini’s particular ideology, and there have been other fascist movements that don’t line up exactly with Mussolini’s.  But, to the extent that the Wikipedia article on fascism can be seen as authoritative, let’s see how it stacks up with Trumpism.