Bob DeLeo guarantees that the legislature's joint committee structure will end this year

This is a couple of days old, but still worth noting.  As you may recall, there’s an ongoing dispute between the House and Senate regarding the joint committee structure, in which most legislation is vetted via committees composed of both House and Senate members.  However, because there are more members of the House than the Senate, the committees are lopsided, and in effect give the House total control over whether or not legislation advances out of the committees.  This is a bad system that, frankly, should have been changed years ago (only a couple of other states still use it), as I’ve already discussed.

Well, House Speaker Bob DeLeo – obviously the current system’s primary beneficiary – decided that the best way forward was to author a Boston Globe op-ed pretty much trashing the Senate.  In DeLeo’s view, the Senate’s desire to have equal ability to bring legislation to the floor is “ill-advised, disruptive, and would be detrimental to the public interest,” and also “an impolitic and manufactured reaction to a non-existent problem and is a significant distraction at a time when the Commonwealth is at a critical juncture.”  It goes on to offer a bunch of arguments in favor of the current system that are so weak as not to merit refuting.  One Globe commenter got it right: “The guy who has used the current rules to claw his way to the top of the pile, and whose power is founded on those rules tells me everything is fine and we should leave the rules just as they are. Sure, why shouldn’t I believe him?”

Not surprisingly, DeLeo’s stink-bomb went over poorly in the Senate, which promptly voted 39-0 to move forward with plans to establish separate Senate committees for reviewing legislation.  Commonwealth Magazine reports that “[o]ne senator said following the vote that the harsh tone of DeLeo’s op-ed pushed some senators who had been ambivalent about exercising the so-called ‘nuclear’ option to support today’s move toward establishing separate committees.”  That reaction was about as predictable as the sun rising in the east.

DeLeo’s frankly childish op-ed is probably a good thing in the long run.  It guaranteed that the Senate will move forward on a separate committee structure that will give it more say in moving legislation forward.  And since the Senate is at the moment the far more progressive branch of the legislature, that’s good news as far as I’m concerned.

I agree 100% with Elizabeth Warren on this

Preach, brother! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Sen Warren periodically pops up and decries Wall Street, Big Banks, Credit Card Companies, etc. Sometimes I’m with her, sometimes I’m not. Periodically though she is on the backs (modern phrase: “up in the grill”) of regulators in the financial industries. When she is, I am the biggest fan. As I am involved in a financial compliance function, I know what my own company must do to follow the rules. Why financial services companies don’t have to do this, is beyond me.

Here’s a link to her latest:


I understand the DOJ has gotten billions in fines from various Wall Street and others. That’s not the point. For many companies fines and penalties are just a cost of doing business. In the nation’s money capital, the motto is probably “so fine us- we’ll just make more.”  Note: these fines are usually against the corporation. It’s only when you really put personal hardship on an individual (including making an example of him) that other individuals will ignore their greedy impulsive and behave as proper participants in our economy. The SEC used to pursue this path against company CFO’s. Basically boot them out, take all their money and make them permanently unemployed. Other CFO’s though twice before any monkey business.

Why have the regulators been slacking? I watched one Warren grilling and they have no  answer- they just hang their heads. I”m sure a long Atlantic article or something could get to the bottom (starting with the revolving door). What doesn’t matter is why, the question is why doesn’t anyone care in this administration? Is it really the Republicans fault, when:

The President has appointed the entire SEC.

The DOJ is an Executive branch.

The President has appointed the entire Fed.

That’s all the regulators. Again, sure they’ve gotten a lot of money out of the offending entities. Anyone think they’ve learned their lesson and won’t do it in the future?

I fully expected in 2009 to see some perp walks. I know they’ve had trouble figuring out how to convict people (your average juror probably can’t figure out interest on a credit card, let alone listen to detailed financial dealings), but I don’t care. Figure out a way. It’s important to our economy. The financial services companies have the most money and top to bottom the smartest people. They are working to bend the rules every day (anyone think high frequency trading is okay?). They have to be countered.

It's Time To Push Hard On Surveillance Reform

Government waste, exemplified. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The part of the PATRIOT Act that has been used to legitimate the mass collection of all of our phone call information, and much else besides, is a wicked awful provision known as “Section 215.” Section 215 allows the FBI – and, it appears, other intelligence agencies too – to collect “any tangible things” that are “relevant” to a terrorism investigation. As it turns out, the intelligence community has argued explicitly that every single call in the United States is “relevant”. So, it appears, if we don’t let the NSA know exactly when I called the Danish Pastry House in Watertown about my one-year-old daughter’s first birthday cake, then ISIS will destroy us all.

Section 215 is also set to sunset on June 1, even though lawmakers have no information on how it’s been used for the last six years.

The intelligence community has gone to Full Fearmonger over this. We hear from lawmakers that, in closed-door sessions, they are literally waving pictures of the burning Twin Towers at our elected officials, and telling them that if Section 215 lapses and there’s another attack, the lawmakers will be responsible for it.

Seriously. That’s what they’re arguing. This is beyond stupid.

There’s actually no evidence that Section 215′s mass surveillance programs have ever stopped a terrorist attack. The best the intelligence community has come up with is that Section 215 may have stopped a San Diego taxi driver, Basaaly Moalin, from wiring $8,500 to al-Shabaab, the East African fundamentalist group. Even there, the point sort of gets lost that he was wiring the money to al-Shabaab fighters in his hometown so that they could fend off a US-supported invasion of the area by the Ethiopian army, but whatever. Al-Shabaab are not good people; but is depriving them of $8,500 really an acceptable trade for allowing the government to have all of our phone call data, for ever?

A carbon fee/dividend for MA

Sen. Michael Barrett has introduced a carbon fee+dividend bill. The intent is to put a price on carbon, and then immediately plow it back into household incomes in the form of a dividend from the state. This will put an economic “signal” on fossil fuels, discouraging their use, thereby encouraging conservation and clean energy — without diminishing people’s actual buying power. The bill is revenue-neutral: The only money the state keeps is that which is necessary to administer the program.

Where this has been tried, the economy has not suffered. Just the opposite, in British Columbia:

The British Columbia tax started at $10 per ton of carbon dioxide and rose $5 a year until it peaked out at $30 a ton. British Columbia officials said the tax works out to about 24 cents on a gallon of gasoline.

In British Columbia’s 2014-15 budget, officials said the carbon tax raised $1.2 billion, all of which went back to residents in the form of lower corporate and income tax rates and cash payments targeted at low-income people. The officials said a family of four earning less than $38,000 a year would receive a check for $300.

Michael Bernier, the parliamentary secretary for energy in British Columbia, said his province’s carbon tax has proven that government can tax carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions without harming the economy. He said fuel use is down 16 percent in British Columbia since the carbon tax was imposed (fuel use is up 3 percent across Canada, he said) while the province’s gross domestic product is up 9.2 percent. “You can have both,” Bernier said.

via British Columbia officials say carbon tax is working – CommonWealth Magazine.

This mirrors the local economic effect of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which has boosted the regional economy and created jobs.

Fossil-fuel-poor Massachusetts might be one of the best places to implement this. Money that we spend on fossil fuels is whisked out of the state, whereas energy conserved keeps money in your pocket. And clean energy tends to be local energy — so local it might be on your roof.

Possible concerns include regional equity, and whether the fee is progressive, and the already high cost of energy in this region. Barrett’s bill does stipulate that residents of designated “rural areas” — those presumably more dependent on gasoline — would receive a 30% higher dividend. And I would like to see attention paid to insulating (hah) lower income residents from the effects of the fee.

Massachusetts already has high energy prices, being at the end of gas pipelines. But building more gas pipeline capacity is like treating a heroin addiction with a bigger needle, compromising our ability to move off of fossil fuels. Again, if the fee boosts conservation and renewables, in the long run it would make local energy abundant, bringing down energy prices.

Finally one might wonder how little Massachusetts, possessing only 6.5 million people, can affect global warming. Of course, we can’t control it in isolation; but we are not alone. If the new EPA rules stand, many states will move into carbon markets like RGGI. California (pop. 38.8M) out of necessity has become an efficiency leader. Germany created demand for the international renewables market simply by force of political will. We’re not alone, not by any stretch.

Stopping an irreversible climate catastrophe requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. The carbon-fee is one thing that we can do, that happens to strengthen the local economy as well.

Elizabeth Warren Needs to Give Seth Moulton a Talking-To for His Votes Yesterday

First-term Rep. Seth Moulton, perhaps inviting a primary challenge, cozies up to Wall Street and the .01%: "8 out of the 9 members of the MA House delegation heeded Americans for Financial Reform, Senator Warren, and President Obama and voted against both bill. But one–Seth Moulton (MA-06)–took the opposite route, voting for both. If you live in his district, you should give him a call." - promoted by Bob_Neer

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed two bills to weaken Dodd-Frank, undercut mortgage protections, and open the door to higher fees on borrowers.

The two bills were H.R. 650 “Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act” and H.R. 685 “The Mortgage Choice Act of 2015.”

Americans for Financial Reform wrote to Congress last week opposing these two bills:

H.R. 650, the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act of 2015, would make homeownership more costly for those who can least afford it. It would do this by raising the interest rate and points and fees trigger for protections under the high-cost mortgage protections of HOEPA for manufactured housing loans. This bill would not expand access to sustainable credit, but would strip away protections already created by Congress and implemented by the CFPB. If this bill became law it would permit an interest rate of close to 14% in today’s market for a 15- or 20-year loan on a family’s home mortgage without enhanced protections. In comparison, the going rate for traditional real-estate mortgages is currently around 4%.

H.R. 685, the Mortgage Choice Act of 2015, would reintroduce some of the high fees that borrowers faced in the lead up to the mortgage crisis, fees that the new mortgage rules were designed to prevent. It would create a loophole to the 3% points and fees threshold in the Qualified Mortgage (mortgage affordability) rules by excluding fees paid to title insurance companies affiliated with the lender. Increased loan fees would lead to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in needless mortgage fee expenses for each borrower on such loans, and encourage further price gouging in an already broken title insurance market.

Obama has already said that he plans to veto both bills if they reach his desk (here and here).

Yesterday morning, Elizabeth Warren took to Twitter to criticize the bills as signs of a failure to learn from the financial crisis:


The “Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act” passed 263 to 162. 22 Democrats joined the Republicans here.

The “Mortgage Choice Act of 2015″ passed 286 to 140. 45 Democrats joined the Republicans here.

8 out of the 9 members of the MA House delegation heeded Americans for Financial Reform, Senator Warren, and President Obama and voted against both bill. But one–Seth Moulton (MA-06)–took the opposite route, voting for both. If you live in his district, you should give him a call.

"A State Government That Gets Out Of The Way"

"Neglect and ignore" become Governor Baker's watchwords. - promoted by Bob_Neer

In his campaign for Governor last year, Charlie Baker promised us “a state government that gets out of the way.” And it seems that’s what we are getting.

Right after taking office, Governor Baker announced that one of the ways that state government would be getting out of the way was by not issuing any new regulations for some time. A “regulatory pause” by Executive branch agencies would “enable the administration to implement new guidance that regulations going forward communicate a clear, desired and effective goal.”

This pause was not a surprise. You might say that the notion that regulations are somehow adverse to good government started with Charlie Baker, the Secretary of Administration and Finance as well as the “heart and soul” of the Weld administration. Governor Weld issued the first executive order requiring agencies to pare down their regulations in 1996 (“WHEREAS, the inefficiencies and intrusions resulting from excessive government regulation constitute an unreasonable financial and personal burden on residents of the Commonwealth”). Since then, it has become fashionable in Massachusetts for our governors to begin their terms in office with a similar reproof of the idea that government ought to be in the business of regulating business, as Mitt Romney did in 2003 and Deval Patrick did in 2007.

The right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council offers model legislation for states to trim their inventory of regulations. And our state Legislature got in on the act in 2010, prohibiting agencies from putting out new regulations until they had thoroughly analyzed the potential effect on small business and requiring all agencies to review the need for all of their regulations every 12 years.

Which brings us to Sunday’s Globe article on Baker’s further pursuit of regulatory cutbacks in a new Executive Order. The moratorium on new regulations he announced in January is to continue until further notice. And there’s lots more. Baker has often likened government regulations to the junk that accumulates in your basement and which, in the interests of good housekeeping, you need to clean out every so often (as the Legislature had already concluded in mandating a top-to-bottom review every twelve years). The Executive branch agencies are going to be very busy making sure that every state regulation passes a lengthy series of tests before it may continue to be in effect. The most controversial of these tests is that no regulation may exceed what the federal government requires:

Baker, in a March 31 directive to all state agencies, is requiring a yearlong review of nearly all state regulations, with a mandate that none should exceed federal requirements, which in many cases are far less stringent than the state’s. He wants only regulations that do not “unduly and adversely affect Massachusetts citizens and customers of the Commonwealth.”

This apparently means that if the federal government is not ready to say that the chemical perchlorate, a persistent, inorganic anion found in industrial pollutants that interferes with thyroid function if ingested in significant quantity, is unsafe, then Massachusetts will stop saying it is unsafe and will rescind the current regulation (in place since the Romney administration) capping the amount of perchlorate that safe drinking water may contain. The people of Massachusetts, especially those living in the towns where perchlorate has been found in the drinking water will be on their own, happily unburdened by excessive regulation.

Place a quid on next month's big election?

Promoted in part to celebrate the greatest protest song in the history of British politics, or maybe ever.
- promoted by david

Okay, I’ll admit, quid is the only “Britishism” I could work into the title.  But the UK election right now is more fascinating than anything we’re likely to see over here.  Some highlights:

  • The Scottish Nationalist Party lost a sovereignty referendum, but looks to almost entirely dominate Scotland.  Who wants to get in bed with a bunch of people looking to leave the country?
  • Every election promises to be the one where the Green Party breaks out.  It never happens.  But maybe this time?
  • The UK Independence Party has been given exclusive rights to loathe the EU in the election.  They are also a bunch of anti-immigrants who leave voters with that icky feeling.
  • The Liberal Democrats were the sensible, smart choice for many voters…until they threw in with the Conservatives in government.  Now they get all the blame, none of the credit.
  • The Conservatives and Labor.  The “winner” gets to try to assemble and maintain a governing coalition.
  • And that doesn’t even get into the three candidates who will be elected to Parliament, and never take their seats.

If none of that made sense to you, this introduction from is a good place to start.  That said, what’s your take on the race?  What do you want to have happen?

Looking at the future of the Boston Olympics from the 5th Floor of Government Center.

Thanks for the write-up, Ryan, and comment sabutai. It was a long, substantive, forthright conversation and Ryan described a lot of the gist of the challenges that confront Boston 2024 right on the mark, I'd say. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Bob, Sabutai, Hysterprynne and I sat down with Mayor Walsh and his Chief of Policy/fellow BMGer, Joyce Linehan, today.

It was actually pretty great timing for me. I had been working on a post about the Olympics a couple weeks ago, just before I was told about the meeting, and it just so happened to be on what it would take for Boston 2024 to have any hopes of getting the 50%+1 of the voting population it needs to catch Olympic fever.

I thought it was a tall order then and, in truth, I still think it is now, but I feel pretty reassured about my original points — to the point where I can see a path, even if it’s a narrow one. I think Mayor Walsh gets most of them, even if Boston 2024 still has plenty of room to improve.

So, if Boston 2024 wants to have any chance of a Bean Town Olympics going forward, here’s a list of some of the things it should strongly consider.

1. Be competent. Unlike the Chicagos and Detroits of the world, Boston has by and large been an extremely well managed city — so that’s the good news. We’re a city that cares about creating jobs and maintaining our AAA bond rating — and because we’ve had our share of steady hands and forward-thinking individuals (including many on the 5th Floor of Government Center), we’ve neither been afraid to reinvent ourselves nor lacked the resources to do it.

That’s the reason why Boston has been able to pivot along with the economy, and that’s the reason — the only reason — why we’re even in the conversation for having the Olympics today.

I say all this because while I think Boston 2024 has stumbled out of the gates — to put it mildly — the city is competent, so there’s hope… depending on who really runs this thing.

If Boston 2024, the USOC and the IOC is running the show, I’m going to have my worries. But, if the city of Boston takes charge, tells the IOC that this is going to be run the way we like it or not at all — and sticks to our guns — then it is possible, however unlikely, that a sensible Olympics could actually happen. I mean, we’re talking about hitting bullseye shooting at womprats on our T-16s here, but it could be done.

2. We have to make this bid about being different. Like, that should be the whole freaking theme of the bid. It should be our entire messaging — both to the IOC and the public.

We have a pretty good history with that, from reinventing our economy to that whole starting-the-American-Revolution thing to turning the Back Bay into a land mass and carving tunnels so we could have parks and see the sky — so let’s be different now.

What this really means is we need to send the IOC a final bid that challenges all the Olympic Conventions of the past 15-20 years, of overspending, massive corruption, gross incompetence and excessive parties for the .01%, along with all the huge cost overruns that come with that.

We need to send the IOC a bid that we’re entirely happy with — and let the IOC know that if it continues down their dangerous path of awarding those who finish first in a race to the bottom, they’re going to have no where else to go but dictatorships and hack governments to host in the near future. That’s a path paved with a few glimmering games toward the slow march of death of the modern Olympic movement.

Our bid needs to loudly, clearly say that to the IOC — rebuking its past practices — and send a message that the games should be about the Olympic spirit and not who can build the most ostentatious pool.

That may mean we won’t win the Olympic bid in the end, but if that’s the case, oh well.

3. We have to make the bid process inclusive. If there’s a sense that the elites of the elites have been in control of this thing every step of the way, and haven’t deigned it worth their time to consult us plebes on any of the decisions, that’s because it’s true — and whatever efforts are underway to change that aren’t working.

If Boston is going to host the Olympics, Boston has to host the Olympics. Not Suffolk Construction, Harvard University or the State Street Bank.

It’s time to have fewer CEOs and VPs on the bid committee and a lot more representatives from neighborhood organizations, with deep Boston roots and who care about what happens before, during and after any Boston Olympics. We should not only allow concerned citizens to ask questions at forums, but invite many of them into the planning committees for everything from venues to security to transportation.

Small businesses need to be reassured that they won’t be locked out of their own city for the length of the Olympics or worried that they’ll be sued if they sell Olympic-themed cookies at their bakery.

Invest neighborhood groups, concerned citizens and small businesses in the process, let them use their on-the-ground expertise and understanding of the city to help make this a better bid, one that benefits all, and then they’ll have something to care about, because this will be their games and not John Fish’s.

4. Lots of officials are saying this won’t cost anything like Sochi or Beijing or even London, so let’s put that in writing. There’s been plenty of talk about taking out an insurance policy to cover us for any cost overruns, but I’m having a hard time seeing any insurance company want to take that bet when even London’s costs spiraled by a factor of 2-3.

We, the People, are not going to pay billions of dollars for this game, period. How we put that in writing doesn’t much matter, as long as its ironclad and protects us in the here and now, as well as future generations of Bostonians and Bay Staters to come.



If those four things happen, there’s an actual chance that the public could be convinced, and that Boston could throw a nice party at a reasonable cost.

But it’s going to be a long, difficult road to get there. I have my doubts, but I’m willing to be proved wrong.


RFK Jr. loses the plot (Which is: Vaccines save lives)

It’s common sense that parents should be required to inoculate their children: as logical as “I don’t want polio, a scourge of America’s past, to paralyze countless children,” and “Newborns should not die preventable deaths from measles, as millions used to do annually.” But as proof that dangerous delusions can afflict heroes of the left as surely as neocons, observe Robert F. Kennedy Jr. apologizing today for comparing children with autism to the Holocaust. Guardian:

Robert Kennedy Jr apologized on Monday for describing the growing number of children identified with autism, which he links to the use of vaccines, as “a Holocaust”.

Kennedy, the nephew of President John F Kennedy and son of his murdered brother Robert Kennedy, is campaigning against a bill introduced in California that seeks to stop parents opting out of having their children inoculated against diseases such as measles and whooping cough.

When he addressed the audience at a screening of a documentary on the subject, Trace Amounts, in Sacramento last week, the high-profile vaccine skeptic made remarks that set off a firestorm of protest.

Kennedy said that pharmaceutical companies and the government could not be trusted over the ingredients in vaccines and added of children that he claims get sick as a result of having their jabs: “They get the shot, that night they have a fever of 103 [degrees], they go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone. This is a Holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

As the newspaper explains:

The bill introduced in California would prevent parents opting out of vaccines for their children for personal or religious choices. The legislation was introduced after an outbreak of measles that started at the Disneyland theme park in the state late last year infected 100 people and was blamed on falling vaccination rates.

If only there were a vaccine against irresponsible scions of famous families.

California, for reference, currently allows parents to put the lives of innocent people at risk because of a belief in witchcraft opt out of vaccinating their children under a “personal belief exemption.” Massachusetts doesn’t allow that, but it does allow parents to put everyone else at risk because of a “religious exemption.” Just as dangerous practices are not given religious protection in other areas of society, so all Massachusetts parents should be required to vaccinate their children before they go to school.

Join us in Boston on Tuesday to Fight for $15!

Do protests like this lead to increases in workers' wages? - promoted by Bob_Neer

By: Veronica Turner, Executive Vice President
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

On Tuesday the City of Boston will become the global launching point for two days of massive protests that will unite tens of thousands of workers on six continents in a call for greater economic justice.

It’s fitting that Boston will kick off the demonstrations, one of the first cities where the Fight for $15 became a rallying cry across industries. On this day, thousands of workers across the Commonwealth from the home care, higher education, transportation, fast food, retail and other industries will come together in Boston to protest low wages, highlight legislative priorities and place a spotlight on bad employer practices.

These demonstrations are needed now more than ever. While workers earned major victories in 2014 with a hike in the minimum wage, earned sick time and a domestic workers bill of rights, much work remains to be done when it comes to combating growing wage inequality.

The challenge is particularly striking here at home. A recent study by the Brookings Institution found that Boston is the third most inequitable city in the nation, with the top 5 percent of households earning 15 times what the bottom 20 make.

The only one who matters is now officially "Ready for Hillary"!

Added the video, which I think is pretty good. Quite different from other announcement videos, and in a good way. - promoted by david

After months of speculation that morphed into bet-the-house assumption, the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State announced that she is indeed running for President in 2016.  Her video is actually mostly about the aspirations of others.  She seems to be channeling Elizabeth Warren a bit in her own statement.  The RNC is clearly afraid of her and Wayne LaPierre was on a tear at the NRA convention.  The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has also made it clear they haven’t forgotten the 1990s and will make sure we don’t either.  She is my candidate for much the same reason she was in 2008.  She is hands down the best prepared to be President, and even more so now after a term as Secretary.  I eagerly await news of office openings in NH.

As April 15th Approaches, Every time I hear someone (especially Democrats) complain about paying taxes, I want to sit them down and set them straight.

Personal history. - promoted by david

It was 2001 and I had just moved to Massachusetts from Western New York.  I was puzzled at how many people wanted to know if I was a Yankees fan.  The fact is that I don’t follow baseball at all and had no idea that it was so important to the locals.  I guess they were afraid of having a traitor or spy in their midst.  The reality was that I did feel like a spy, but not because of baseball.

At that time, I was a Rush Limbaugh listening, Fox News watching, National Review subscribing Republican who saw moving to Massachusetts as just a few degrees shy of moving to Moscow.  In my thirst for conservative news and entertainment while I was on the road during the long hours of my sales job in the Bay State, I discovered a talk radio station where I could identify with the “best and brightest” audience of Jay Severin. My car radio was glued to WTKK which, coincidently, meant that I sometimes stumbled on the radio program of Margery Egan and Jim Braude.

It was during one of those moments listening to the Eagan and Braude program that I heard Jim Braude say, “Hey, I like paying my taxes!”  As a right winger, I thought, okay, where’s the punch line to this obvious joke?  Instead, I heard Jim Braude list a long line of services and people in his town, state and country that he was proud to support and grateful to have at his disposal.  It made me pause and think for a while.  As evidenced by this post, I never forgot it.  Still, I dismissed it as liberal nonsense at the time as I awaited Severin’s indoctrination of ignorance that is the stuff of right wing radio.

In 2002, in the space of a few weeks, I lost my job and my wife got get sick.  We had spent much of our savings on moving to Massachusetts. We had two children in grade school.  .  We were not broke, but close to it.  In 2002 we paid nothing in federal taxes because both my wife and I were out of work.  At one time, both of us were in the hospital.  Yes, we were “takers”.