Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Data Dump

I've been traveling a little more than usual lately and had a chance over the holiday to sort through a pile of accumulated "to blog about" clippings and old magazines. Here are the choicest parts:

While Gov. Corbett was cutting public welfare and education, he decided to continue funding some capital development projects. This is outlined in “Amid Pa. cuts, $437M to private projects” by Joseph N. DiStefano in the 6/30 Inky. Some are university related or things like the zoo or Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania but others are purely private, such as $10M for a new headquarters for stock broker Janney Montgomery Scott and $12M for apartments on Chestnut Street, seem exorbitant. How can we ask people to pay for private company’s building when we are telling schools to cut full day kindergarten? I know where I’d rather have my money go.

This is an interesting note on international scouting:

Near Ras Lanuf, I had seen teenagers with kerchiefs around their necks helping doctors rush wounded men into the overwhelmed emergency ward, but it didn’t occur to me that they might be actual Boy Scouts. Osama, explained that Qaddafi had once banned the Scouts as an insidious Western influence but later allowed them to reemerge. After the uprising, most police disappeared from the streets, and tens of thousands of migrant workers fled the country. Scouts stepped in to fill public-service jobs, helping at the hospitals, sorting out aid supplies, even directing traffic.
(“Letter from Libya: Sons of the Revolution,” by Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker 5/09/2011

Can this man save this girl?” by Ellen McGirt Fast Company July/August 2011
Another great article from Fast Company on water usage. While this article focuses on the third world I never cease to be amazed that the developed world squanders potable water by using it to flush toilets and fracture rocks for natural gas.

From the May 2011 Fast Company, “The Cure,” by Russ Mitchell on an Oakland hospital turnaround. Lots to be learned here for our local folks. One note, he told workers and unions that he would look at layoffs last if they would help him find any and all other places to save money. They did.

In “The Gulf War,” by Raffi Khatchadourian, New Yorker 3/14/2011we read this:
Rather than create an organizational structure from scratch, the Coast Guard borrowed one from forestry. In 1970, firestorms in California ravaged more than half a million acres, and at one point more than nineteen thousand people from five hundred agencies were trying to put out the flames. Equipment and manpower were marshaled in haphazard ways, and amid the confusion the fires grew worse. The Forest Service, along with other agencies, spent four years working out a solution to such problems, called the Incident Command Systems, or I.C.S. At its most basic level, I.C.S. divides labor into four groups: Command, Planning, Operations, and Logistics. Each team can grow rapidly as more people arrive. If the system is working well, a responder from New York can walk into an incident in Texas, be assigned to Logistics, and know what to do. “There is an elegance about it,” Ed Owens told me. The 9/11 Commission advised that I.C.S. be used in all domestic catastrophes, and in 2003 President George W. Bush made the recommendation law.

While middle class workers, especially public sector workers have been living on flat or lower wages, a Monday, May 9 WSJ headline read “CEO pay in 2010 jumped 11%,” by Joann S. Lublin. If we are going to judge teachers by accountability, can we assume all those company$68.6 million, CBS $53.9 million, Jarden $45.2 million. I’m sure those guys couldn’t possibly afford to pay more in taxes or Social Security. And if we end the Bush tax breaks they’ll be in the poor house. These are not small businesses whose executives would be personally hurt by ending tax cuts. And, honestly, what on earth to they do that is worth that much money?

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