Sunday, February 27, 2005
The nation's governors offered an alarming account of the American high school Saturday, saying only drastic change will keep millions of students from falling short.
"We can't keep explaining to our nation's parents or business leaders or college faculties why these kids can't do the work," said Virginia Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, as the state leaders convened for the first National Education Summit aimed at rallying governors around high school reform.
The governors say they want to emerge Sunday with specific plans for enacting policy, weary of statistics showing that too many students are coasting, dropping out or failing in college.
At least one agreement is likely. Achieve, a nonprofit group formed by governors and corporate leaders, plans to announce Sunday that roughly 12 states are committing to raise high school rigor and align their graduation requirements with skills demanded in college or work.
The high school summit drew at least 45 governors from the 50 states and five U.S. territories, along with top names in U.S. industry and education. The leaders broke into groups late in the day to debate ideas, and planned to do the same through Sunday.
Most of the summit's first day amounted to an enormous distress call, with speakers using unflattering numbers to define the problem. Among them: Of every 100 ninth-graders, only 68 graduate high school on time and only 18 make it through college on time, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.
Once in college, one in four students at four-year universities must take at least one remedial course to master what they should have learned in high school, government figures show.
The most blunt assessment came from Microsoft chief Bill Gates, who has put more than $700 million into reducing the size of high school classes through the foundation formed by him and his wife, Melinda. He said high schools must be redesigned to prepare every student for college, with classes that are rigorous and relevant to kids and with supportive relationships for children.
"America's high schools are obsolete," Gates said. "By obsolete, I don't just mean that they're broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools _ even when they're working as designed _ cannot teach all our students what they need to know today."
Summit leaders have an ambitious agenda for every state: to raise the requirements of a high school diploma, improve information sharing between high schools and universities, and align graduation standards with the expectations of colleges and employers. Governors say they're in a position to unite the often splintered agendas of business leaders, educators and legislatures.
But such changes will take what Gates singled out as the biggest obstacle: political will.
Requiring tougher courses for all students, for example, could face opposition from parents and school officials, particularly if more rigor leads to lower test scores and costly training.
Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., said the most reliable predictor of success in college is a student's exposure to challenging high school courses _ and that governors know they must act.
"This is an issue that transcends all those typical things that cause people to split in different directions," Huckabee said.
The governors also planned to meet with President Bush and his Cabinet while in Washington.
The summit is the governors' fifth on education, but the first devoted to high schools. The original governors' education summit, organized by the first President Bush in 1989, is credited with spurring a movement of basing student performance on higher standards.
Warner has made improving high schools the centerpiece of his chairmanship of the National Governors Association, which is co-sponsoring the summit with Achieve. He is considered a possible candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.
Among the more high-profile governors who did not attend Saturday were two Republicans: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Jeb Bush of Florida, the president's brother.
On the Net:
National Education Summit:
What we know for a fact is that in our area is poverty and corruption deforms the lives of the many-through many generations -the local newspapers and media plays a huge role in maintaining the privilege of the few. When you have a forth estate who has become weak and shallow –who doesn’t drive its population toward non corruption and improvement –then special interest deforms the potential of a whole regions. The primary driver of corruption ends up being the weakness of the forth estate.
What this area needs is new competitors against the current set of media player in our area. We should figure out a way to fold in the new way of information dispersal, blogging and the typical forms of information media –newspapers and local cable channel. These new sources of the forth estate should drive a brand new set of political leaders into office.
Did you see the National Governors Association meeting on the national crisis of in high schools –this is the first time that I have admired CEO Gates of Microsoft.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Date: Tue Feb 22, 2005 7:59 pm Subject: Re: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice_II] apparently safe systems can drift into failure
What's the book?
I could make the case that all genocides are generated by scarce resources. The population begins to feel the results of scarce resources –begins to feel they are being unfairly victimized, gets angry, with a political leader coming to the scene flipping the anger onto a subset of the population or neighbor. It is like taking candy from a baby. So are our brains hard wired by evolution to bond together when faced by scarce resources, are predisposed to violence in order to eat –with a skilled leader able to take advantage of this shortcoming? What’s that mean to our modern organizations?
Well from what I’ve seen, it could be looked as in the event horizon of a black hole star. We know the gravitation power of the star sucks light back to itself. From what I understand, that on the other side of the horizon nothing matters, not even the question of what is on the other side. I guess all the properties of the universe breaks down even including time and space.
So, as the problems of a facility increments up, you get the culture to increasingly “rule up” –it eventually leads to an avalanche. By ruling up, I mean the organization across a host of individual and bureaucratic manners begins to limit internal and external transparency –they limit transparency by a set of rules –those that are documented, and those that agreed upon by the individuals. The rules that limit communication are applied over and over again you get to the point that it is internalized. You get into these cold mechanical logic systems –and new information in the worst systems is never allowed in, and the truth is never allowed out. Once you get to the point of no return –much like an avalanche, there is nothing you can do to stop the process until the energy is expended.
Of course, the event horizon can be a continuum, but is it razor thin. Once you are standing on that horizon –you really can’t tell how close you are to the beginning of the avalanche -might have already started that can’t be stopped. Even when you put together in you mind that a future accident is a sure thing, there is nothing you can do to interrupt it because it might have already begun, and the bureaucratic system is automatically set up to block out all information that an accident is around the corner –or begun.
So let say you wake up inside one of these systems, whereby you pose a question asking is a accident around the corner -has it begun– the immunity of the dysfunctional system is already fully geared up, thus there is a huge immunity response such the person who begins to question the system rules is quickly isolated and thrown out. So everyone in the system then recognizes that a non believer will be thrown out.
I can make the cause that the dysfunctional system has infected similar other systems –whereby they have influence the regulators and the politicians. This organization has become extraordinarily dangerous tothe surrounding and society in general.
So a person who has perceived that something is wrong knows enough to go to knowledgeable outsiders –might not realize that the regulator, media and politicians are already been co-opted. So you go to the regulator to make a complaint before the accident –the regulator has already been trained to not accept any new information or you must have absolute quality of information that nobody has.
A person who is a wake in this system has two choices –he either believes that he is the last sane person inthe world or that the he is the only one who is insane.
Do you understand what I am saying –when you get into one of these black holes –none of us has the prior experience or education to recognize what we are in, never mine be able to interact with the system –never mine that there is no independent entities skilled at recognizing, coming in and retraining the organization –don’t forget all the otherorganizations…regulators…politicians…into becoming healthy again.
So can two unrelated dysfunctional organizations come together –then come up with a generic virus to co-opta bigger part of our political system?Thanks,mike mulliganHinsdale, Nh
I mean what is the function of a RCA or any of the other problem analysis?
Are you people dealing with the “idealogs of objective philosophy” managers who demand absolute proof –especially if you run up against one of their interest? Maybe it goes; before you attack me as incompetent manager before the accident and attack the system of self interest that sustains my power –you will have to have absolute proof based on complicated set of rules for evidence gathering. So is RCA based upon looking through the rear view mirror –based on the extraordinary processes of evidence qualification?
I remember working on the issue on our local nuclear plant of high river water temperatures during the drought of 1998/99. We knew the upstream temps were getting near the design limits –and on a national level, we wondered what the meaning of magnitude of licensing changes that up’d the limits by a few degrees in the depths of the NE droughts. You will remember the results of the European adventure with a summertime heat wave –with this threatening the operation of many French nuclear power plants.
So my 6 year old son asked me of go throw rocks in the waters of the Ashuelot River –just a small stream nearmy house. We are skipping stones in the river, and I am mulling the meaning of the extraordinary low flowsof the river, as I see only a sliver of stream water in the Ashuelot -you know my mind is spinning wondering what the meaning of all this is in the issue of global warming. I am really involved with monitoring the flows of the rivers on the USGS web pages during these times.
It is a this point that I notice the water has a milky tint to it. I remember being upstream a few miles the day before looking at the same river –with my mind spinning on the issues of droughts and low flows. I then think in my minds eye that yesterday’s water was clear, while today’s has a milky tint to it.
It came from the puny upstream paper/tissue mill. I called the state environmental people –they are so disorganized I got disconnected from their office phone system six times before I talked to the pollution office. I remember finally getting the inspector to meet me at the site–he tells me with a straight face that this stream of milky white substances bubbling out of the rocks below the sludge lagoon, with him saying straight face to me “everyone thinks this is pollution, but I know it isn’t because I’ve tested it.” I tell him all the little streams that are feeding the river are dry now –we are in a historic drought –how can it be a natural spring. This is coming from that leaking lagoon above us.
This ended up with a 300 to 400 million dollar fraud case and bankruptcy against the CEO of the corporation -believe it was the forth largest tissue maker in the USA.I got them to build a new lagoon. I couldn’t imagine the consequences of this with looking at that tinted water with my son.
So from the get-go I acted on filaments of information –none of it was qualified. Matter of fact, if you would have asked me to put it in a qualified process, it would have inhibited me from acting on the slivers of truth that I though I saw. You understand, my mind was spinning on a completely different issue –but that spinning mind and the innocent pleasure of my son got me to the edge of the stream –one who I had walked by for weeks. So if you would have asked me to qualifythe evidence -you would have limited my minds ability to allow the opportunity of chance.
So let’s say I didn’t have an interest with the river temperatures at the nuclear power plant –I wouldn’t have had the information foundation of the special conditions at hand, or the minds interest that got me to the point of detecting that subtle milky appearance of the water. What gets you to the point, where a thought from the back of your mind says that something is wrong with the color water? How does the mind connect all these subtle differences in unrelated areas by chance? Think about all that wasted neural activity that is designed to catch that 1 and 10,000 chance of success. I tell you something, there is an enormous amount of thinking that goes on in the subconscious level -and it smashes throught the rules that we build.
I think that by depending on the mindset of the typical rules of evidence –you limit these interconnection in you mind.
But I guess the problem is, how do you persuade the guy next to you to see what you see. I guess we got to that point when the CEO was removed.thanks,mike
April 4, 2013:
The Death Of American Tissue Corporation Oct 6, 2012
Article Published: Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 7:08:25 AM EST
Paper mill lays off help
I was the guy who raised the issue of the defective lagoon back in the 2001 timeframe –it led to the shutdown of the Winchester mill and the bankruptcy of American Tissue in a 300 million dollar CEO scam. Actually, I knew the defective lagoon was just a huge symptom of a regulatory and political dysfunction going across both political parties.
About three months ago 2004/2005- I got fed up again seeing milky white lagoon waste being discharged from their diffuser pipe in Wincheste. I walked into the site and made a complaint, talked to the Keene Sentinel –made a complaint to the NHDES –and then called the Monadnock Economic Development Corp. I left a recorded message on President Jack Dugan message machine –basically saying that with all of your money that you loaned them –that they are going to blow their repayment to you if they are caught polluting again like they did in 2000.
I told him I got insider information, that in response to the pollution case in 2000, they were forced to bring in an outside sampling company to sample the plant discharges –but the facility figured out that the outside company sampled every morning at a specific time -7AM or 8AM –thus for the sample time they could clean up the sample discharge line –then once the outside company left, they could discharge at illegal rates. This was want I’d seen many times recently– a 50 foot plume of waste going down the river. You should asked Mr. Dugan if he heard my message.
I am still confused with grants and loans –grants needing no repayments and these other loan repayments. We were always worried about the restartup of this facility. It is my understanding that the new owner were related to the past owner. We were always worried about it being another fraud being over layered on top of another. In other words, they started up that facility knowing the future life was limited by the old plant equipment and poor business environment of the paper industry –but they wanted to get the public loans, then fraudulently bleed those monies into their personnel accounts. I would now be worried that some of these quasi public bureaucracies being involve in, and having individuals involved in illegal kickbacks.
I remember being called to the Winchester site just before the 2002 startup -telling me to look at what is parked next to the old, old building. There was this brand new black “mile long limo” parked right outside the main office –the plant was not in operation yet. I did send a e-mail to the Keene Sentinel about the limo.
You got the contrast with the empty facility being build before the 1920’s; with employees being out of work for over a year; with the financing being done by the public monies without transparency -and a brand new limo sitting outside supposedly transporting the new owners. What a waste of resources –and it implied the troubles of the employees were just beginning.
Paper mill lays off help
By ANDREW RAGOUZEOS Reformer Staff
WINCHESTER, N.H. -- One of the town's largest employers, Atlantic paper mill, shut down its operation Friday, laying off its entire staff, workers say.
"I've been told by a good source that the factory closed temporarily to improve its equipment, and they plan to re-open ... in a matter of months," Selectwoman Susan Newell said Friday.
"I can't have an opinion until we learn more about what's going on."
Asked if the company had closed, a man answering the phone at Atlantic's Winchester plant on Friday said, "Actually, I can't say anything at this point."
Calls placed to plant supervisor Dean Nutter revealed that his telephone had been disconnected.
"The supervisors called us all in at 8 a.m. to tell us we were all being let go, the whole place, about 60 workers," an employee, who declined to give his name, said. "They're not doing this to screw everybody. It's to better the mill, really -- so they can stop losing money, improve the machines and find more regular customers and re-open."
Atlantic Paper & Foil Corp. purchased the Lost Road mill property in 2002 after the town of Winchester and the Monadnock Economic Development Corp. secured a $700,000 Community Development Block grant to help subsidize the company's move to Winchester.
Once the plant was up and running by March 2003, the town's unemployment rate dropped from 5.2 percent to 4 percent, according to the New Hampshire Rural Development Council.
Monadnock Economic Development Corp. President Jack Dugan said Friday evening that he had not been notified of the closing. "As far as I know [Atlantic has] been making their loan payments," Dugan said. "They obviously know how to get in touch with us. But we haven't been notified about this."
Atlantic Paper & Foil's headquarters is in Hauppauge, N.Y.
Andrew Ragouzeos can be reached at email@example.com.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
I will bet you will be seeing this in the media. So we have a mild to moderate El Niño now –with enormous results up and down the west today, and I do believe what we are seeing in NE is related to El Niño.
So are the consequences for the same size and magnitude El Niño bigger than the past. So as we go up in global warning, a moderate El Niño will lead to severe results –thus a severe magnitude El Niño next time will lead to a 4X severe consequence in the future. So what are the relationships to consequence?
Sunday, February 20, 2005
“The fundamental physical and functional unit of heredity, responsible for specific traits such as eye color. A gene is an ordered sequence of nucleotides located in a particular position on a particular chromosome that encodes a specific functional product (i.e., a protein or RNA molecule). A gene is written in a code of four letters: A, C, T and G, representing four chemicals, and depending on the gene, these letters are repeated a certain number of times. The smallest human gene contains 252 repetitions of these letters, while the longest one repeat them more than a million times. There are approximately 30,000 genes in the human genome. (See also Gene Sequencing)Source : Human Genome Project Information; PhRMA Genomics”
So when I am in utter awe with looking up at the Nevada stars in the desert; when I can’t feel the difference between what I am looking at and my individuality –so I am dealing with the mechanical interaction from a sequence of chemicals that engineered the physical makeup of my body through my chromosomes. So it is the level of my electric impulses in my brain, it’s interaction with the chemical and hard matter of my brain –is that creating the awe, loving and pleasant feeling in my head. So when I think of the quantum side of it –could there be an outside the universe force that I can invite in –such that it interacts with the little machines in my cells and brain.
I think its like going down the road at 30 MPH –seeing the speedometer reading 30 MPH. I mean, you can point to that speedometer knowing you are going 30 mph, but has it been accurately calibrated. Then we know that the car velocity is a factor of the spin of the earth, how fast we go around the sun, how fast the sun moves in the Milky Way, and what the milk way does in the universe.
So I think it’s the closest thing to the universe with having sex with us –is when we, through our own means, discover the more accurate lens in which we see ourselves in this matrix - when we see more accurately the mystery of the makeup of the universe -we we know that we have understood something in a new and differance way.
So I would like to get together more than a few highly educated experts sitting at the edge of our most current knowledge, all speaking in plain language –explaining to us the make up of genes, chromosomes, brain structure and there operations, the chemical and molecular activity - how this fits into the complexity of sub atomic physics and quantum mechanics. So can they explain to us how genes and chromosomes in us works. Isn't there a little more magic in those dual spaghetti strings and t he chemical sequences?
So I think you would find that in the past few years we have discovered amazing new interrelationships in these fields. I would see it as climbing a mountain, where the higher you go up, ever step you increase the view to an amazing degree – but on that next every step of the way, you realize that the “beyond the horizon” gets bigger than what you could imagine.
So if you think our bodies and cells have little tractor trailers running around, those little machines, then the universe would be happy with that. But I think the universe would be more happy with us discovering the seemingly secretes behind the structure of our inner world.
I think the more we discover about the secretes of this universe, the more we will appreciate that we are closer to Jesus (or any prophet in other religions) -"you can be even better than even I"–such that as we get closer to the top of the mountain, we will continuously marvel at infinite beauty of the makeup up of the universe –and this would be a true mirror reflection of how beautiful the universe knows we are.
Need customer service? Just call home
By Diane E. Lewis, Globe Staff February 19, 2005
Not all call center work is going to India; some US companies are shifting customer-service call-center jobs to workers' homes.
Known variously as "homeshoring," "homesourcing," or "onshoring," the practice lets companies avoid medical insurance, overtime pay, and other expenses while guaranteeing a flexible workforce that can be increased or decreased as needed.
"This is the ultimate flexible workforce," says Barry Bluestone, an economics professor at Northeastern University. "It's when we need you, for as long as we need you. It offers tremendous flexibility for the employee, particularly for stay-at-home mothers and people with disabilities."
Yet the practice also has its drawbacks for the home-based worker, according to Bluestone.
"The downside is that it can be incredibly irregular employment in some cases," he says, "and it often comes with no benefits."
Of the 4 million call-center workers in the country, more than 100,000 are based at home, says Stephen Loynd, an analyst at Framingham-based research firm IDC.
Cost savings is the primary reason for the growth in home working, Loynd says. The owners of traditional call centers incur an estimated $31 per hour in real estate, operations, and labor costs, but virtual call centers spend about $21 per hour.
But the practice is also gaining momentum as a reaction to concerns related to sending work overseas.
"Because of the increasingly politicized debate about offshore outsourcing in terms of US jobs as well as concerns about quality and security, there has been a concomitant trend of companies utilizing agents working from their homes," said Loynd.
Already 20 percent of US firms rely on some home-based call-center workers, say consultants Booz Allen Hamilton.
The pay for these home-based workers is generally more than traditional office-bound agents -- $10 to $15 an hour versus $7 to $9 per hour -- although home-based workers are responsible for more expenses, and frequently are working without benefits.
Pamela Brackett, 41, of Bellingham, accepted a job with Texas-based Working Solutions, a firm that provides home-based workers to companies, in September 2003. Previously Brackett worked as a computer support technician and manager. When she was laid off, her rheumatoid arthritis forced her to limit her job search. Brackett is among 22,000 Working Solutions agents who make data entries, transcriptions, reservations, or perform other services from home. The job does not provide her with health insurance or other benefits.
Brackett said that her Working Solutions arrangement is a mixed bag compared to her previous job. "The other job had full-time benefits," she said. "But convenience is everything to me. No matter how badly I might be feeling, I can make it to my phone."
For companies, the advantage of a home-based workforce is clearer. In November, for example, Office Depot, the office supply retail chain, declared plans to shut down several in-house call centers and shift that work to Florida-based Willow CSN Inc., a virtual call center that employs 2,200 home-based independent customer service agents in several states.
"We had about a dozen call centers, and now there are two," said Brian Levine, a spokesman for Office Depot. "We announced that we would be doing this, and we are now phasing it in. We will save in the millions."
He said the company advised nearly 1,000 full-time call-center workers affected by the change to apply for work at Willow CSN.
Now, said Levine, "We don't pay benefits, so that is good from a business standpoint."
Alexa Bona, a research director at Gartner Inc., the business research and analysis firm, says companies save about 20 to 30 percent by not offering benefits.
Low-cost airline Jet Blue employs about 2,000 home-based reservation agents, virtually the entire department, in Salt Lake City. Unlike many contractors who work from home, the airline's agents receive benefits, said spokesman Gareth Edmondson-Jones.
But labor unions say that, benefits or no benefits, home work arrangements are not a boon to workers. "The employer has no investment in infrastructure and, frankly, workers can become disposable parts of the production chain," said Tony Daly, a researcher at the 700,000-member Communication Workers of America. "Yet, workers bear the risk. They put in their DSL lines; they outfit their offices; they pay for the phone calls or Internet service."
Willow CSN agents receive $13 to $14 per hour or more, depending on the hours. Compensation is based on the number of calls a contractor answers correctly in a certain period of time.
Esther DeJesus, 41, of Orlando, Fla., began working for Willow CSN a year ago. She says she answers calls for Office Depot and two other firms four days a week and some weekends, earning $1,300 to $1,500 every two weeks. She pays $37.50 per month to access the Willow CSN 24-7 computer support desk.
DeJesus relies on her husband's job for health benefits.
Working Solutions pays its contractors $10 to $15 per hour in 15-minute increments. Client estimates of call volume determine how many agents are assigned, said Tim Houlne, chief executive.
To do her job, Brackett uses her computer to connect with Working Solutions' central computer and exchanges information directly with the virtual call center's clients. She splits her hours, working from 10 a.m. to noon, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. because she cannot sit in one spot too long. "I would not be able to work if I could not work from home," said Brackett. "If I had to go out to a job everyday, I could not keep it. I would have to call in sick too often. This allows me to continue to contribute to the household. My body failed me, but my mind did not."
Diane E. Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
"Because of the increasingly politicized debate about offshore outsourcing in terms of US jobs as well as concerns about quality and security, there has been a concomitant trend of companies utilizing agents working from their homes," said Loynd.
“…Additionally, using techniques developed in Japan and elsewhere, the plants of the future will likely employ extensive modular construction techniques, with modules barged in from distant ports to be assembled with massive cranes. This modular construction provides licensees with the opportunity to increase quality and “reduce costs”…. There will be challenges associated with this verification, however, given that the staff may need to inspect modules during their construction overseas since there may be limited access to components once a module is installed at the facility….”
You see these guys have no idea about how our popular political cultural images will interplay with these new techniques –like our trade deficit, illegal immigration, globalization, third world sweat shops without regulations, potential subtle terror sabotage of the modules…ect.
What you are going to get is – do you want a massive Wal-Mart nuclear power plant that was constructed by Indonesian sweat shop labor –by kids being paid 25 cents an hour with no labor or quality laws?
Come on they are going to say it’s going to be unprecedented with the majority of the fuel and construction being done by non American sources. The scandal not even mentioned is how much of the engineering is going to be foreign done on the internet –like in India- whereby they undercut the wages of the USA white collar engineers, architects and designers. Will they say our universities aren't putting out enought engineering graduates in the appropriate the quantity and qualities?
It’s going to be slave labor and slave engineering done on the internet.
“Not Your Father’s Nuclear Regulator”
The Role of the Licensing Process in the Future of Nuclear Energy
Jeffrey S. Merrifield, CommissionerU.S. Nuclear Regulatory CommissionatNuclear Energy Conference:Opportunities for Growth and Investment in North AmericaWashington, D.C.
February 16, 2005
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to be here this morning. Given the dynamic state of the nuclear industry today, it seems quite clear why this conference is focusing on the opportunity for growth. As a Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), I cannot be an advocate of nuclear power. Nonetheless, neither can I ignore the direction this industry is going. To meet our mission of protecting public health, safety and the environment, our agency must be prepared for this changing future. Today, I would like to discuss my personal views on how the NRC’s licensing process will play a critical role in the development of a growing nuclear industry. The process is more predictable than it was in years past, and it has been improved to recognize technological breakthroughs in reactor design and lessons learned from years of operating experience. I would also like to share with you a brief summary of the challenges we have yet to resolve in the licensing of new power reactors.
In the past, the NRC has shouldered much of the criticism for the fact that no new power reactors have been constructed in the United States in the last twenty years. Truth be told, the uncertainty of the NRC’s regulatory and hearing processes was a major contributor to the industry’s decision not to venture in this direction. Regulatory instability, however, is no longer the convenient excuse for the failure of nuclear power plants to be built. Twenty years ago, ten years ago, or maybe even five years ago, that view may have been justified, but today, it is not.
Like those in the military who are faulted for always preparing to fight their last war, individuals who are stuck in the past, but who fail to learn and evolve from those lessons will not be able to accurately understand where they are going in the future. Some of you who have heard me speak before will recognize that I like to weave lessons from the past with my own views of where we are going. More so than any other technology, it is critically important that both the regulator and the leaders of the nuclear sector understand and learn from past successes and mistakes.
From a regulatory perspective, I think it is useful to compare where the nuclear sector is today with where it was twenty years ago. Looking back at 1985, a number of factors combined to portend a very dark outlook for the future of nuclear power. At that time, the nuclear fleet consisted of 89 units, 16 of which had been in an extended shutdown for six months or more. As a whole, the fleet was operating at a capacity factor of 63%. Consumer prices, although lower than the late 70's, were still high by today’s levels with inflation running at 3.55% percent and a prime interest rate of 10% percent. The price of nuclear fuel had skyrocketed to costs averaging 1.28 cents per kilowatt-hour and there was no relief in sight.
This grim financial outlook was only partially responsible for the decline in nuclear power that occurred in the mid-eighties. In 1985, public support for nuclear power was running barely over 50%. A seemingly low percentage, which would be further degraded a year later with the accident at Chernobyl. Construction of new plants, which had previously been predicted to explode during this time period, was coming to a dramatic halt. Costs for those plants still under construction were growing exponentially due to post-Three Mile Island changes imposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the failure of utility managers to hold down costs. The NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board had challenges opposing operating licenses for 14 different reactors on its docket in 1985. By that year, the Shoreham operating license proceeding had already been on the docket for eight years and the Seabrook proceeding had been under review for over three years. The bankruptcy of Public Service of New Hampshire was just a mere three years away. Given these statistics, it is no wonder that utilities decided to pull the plug on the construction of 38 units between 1980 and 1985. Finishing off this bleak picture, Wall Street, which is an enormous player in deciding whether plants will be built, had no stomach and no interest for this technology.
What has changed? Well, for one thing, the NRC has made dramatic changes to the way we conduct business. License renewals and power uprates are two clear examples that demonstrate how the NRC has honed its licensing process to be significantly more efficient and effective. I doubt that anyone would have been willing to place a bet in 1985, or even 1995, that the NRC would be able to renew the licenses of one third of our 103 unit fleet in a period of just over six years, with a review time averaging approximately 22 months for most applications. Nor would it have been anticipated that the agency would have approved over 100 power uprates totaling over 4,000 megawatts electric. Similar efficiencies in licensing spent fuel storage casks, and on-site spent fuel storage facilities demonstrate the agency’s commitment to holistic improvement to our regulatory review processes. While we have had some operational miscues, including the core offloading and safety culture issues at Millstone in the mid 90s and more recently the vessel head degradation at Davis-Besse, I think I can confidently say that the NRC knows much more about regulating these reactors than we did 20 years ago, and the safety of these plants has been significantly enhanced since that time.
All of the examples I just mentioned, however, relate to operations at currently licensed facilities, so I imagine you are asking yourselves “but what about the licensing of new reactors?” As you know, the two-step process by which we historically licensed power reactors was considered cumbersome and unpredictable. First, licensees were required to navigate the NRC’s technical review and hearing processes to obtain a construction permit. Once granted, licensees would sink millions of dollars into constructing the facility. After construction was substantially completed, the licensee was again required to submit to an NRC review process, as well as run the gauntlet of the operating license hearing. This left many of the most controversial issues to the end of the licensing process, often resulting in considerable delay to completion, and in some cases, like the Seabrook and Shoreham facilities, a complete halt to the project.
The NRC recognized the need for a simpler, more predictable licensing process and it had already taken steps to revise its regulations when Congress modified the Atomic Energy Act to provide the statutory authority for a new, progressive one-step licensing process. The NRC implemented this legislation through promulgation of Part 52, which as you well know, can be credited with a significant role in the growing desire in the industry to explore new construction possibilities. The Part 52 licensing process is designed to resolve the more controversial issues earlier in the process, prior to undertaking a huge investment in construction. This change will allow licensees, as well as their investors, to have more financial certainty in making a multi-billion dollar investment.
Licensing Becomes More Efficient
Part 52 established three new pieces of our licensing structure. First, we developed an early site permit process, which allows licensees to seek pre-approval of sites for new reactor units. By obtaining an early site permit, applicants can significantly reduce licensing uncertainty because site-related issues are resolved and presumed final for purposes of litigation. We have already received three applications for early site permits from existing licensees and are currently in the middle of the two-year review and adjudication process for these licenses. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, these reviews should be completed by early next year.
Next, we created standard design certifications. Here, the NRC extensively reviews a reactor design and then approves the design for general use through notice and comment rulemaking. Use of a pre-approved design in a combined license application removes consideration of design aspects from the staff’s licensing review. We have already approved three designs, and the NRC staff has recommended that a fourth design be published for public comment in the next month. The NRC is also engaged in conducting pre-design review or preliminary review discussions with six different companies (GE, AECL, Framatome, PBMR Ltd., Toshiba, General Atomics and Westinghouse), so we could potentially see several more design applications emerge from these efforts in the near future.
Finally, we created the combined license which grants an applicant both a construction permit and operating license. This reduces regulatory risk for applicants by limiting adjudication of licensing issues to one hearing, instead of the two required under the previous licensing process. Applicants can further reduce regulatory uncertainty by utilizing an early site permit and design certification in their combined license applications. Three different consortiums of utilities have announced that they want to explore this new licensing process, with even more companies that may choose to go forward on their own.
NRC Safety Reviews Improved By Technology
I am proud to say that it is not only our licensing process that has been improved. Significant changes have been made over the last 10 years to refine the effectiveness and efficiency of our safety reviews. The Commission, on which I have now served for six and a half years, has demanded constant improvement on the part of our staff, while remaining ever vigilant of our safety mission. Virtually every schedule provided by our staff is continually met with one question from the Commission: “Is this the best we can do?”
Evolutions in technology are one of the reasons the staff has been able to reduce the time for safety reviews while increasing staff confidence in our quality assurance findings. Take the example of reactor design reviews. Twenty years ago, one of the complications the NRC faced in reviewing designs for nuclear power plants was the unique nature of the designs provided by our licensees. Faced with designs that were constantly changing and that often had to be modified during the course of construction, the NRC was confronted with significant complications in conducting effective and timely reviews. Such late hour changes also provided yet another opportunity for opponents of these plants to claim that the designs were unsafe and not subject to sufficient NRC review.
Today, the picture is much different. The widespread use of computer-aided design has significantly advanced the quality of the design materials that are reviewed by the NRC staff. This technological advance, coupled with a more advanced nexus between the design and how the construction will actually be carried out, has resulted in the staff feeling more confident in making quality assurance findings. This also reduces the likelihood that a design will need to be changed during construction, thereby reducing licensee costs and workload for the NRC staff. Given the fact that most combined license applicants will reference a pre-certified design that has already been extensively reviewed by the staff, safety reviews for new licenses should be much more effective, predictable, and timely.
Adjudication of License Applications
Another highly significant, but not so obvious process improvement at the Commission is the manner in which we conduct legal proceedings. Without fanfare, last year the Commission issued a change to Part 2 of our regulations, which governs the rules of practice for our adjudicatory process. The amended regulations tailor hearing procedures to the different types of licensing activities in order to better focus the limited resources of involved parties and the NRC. One of the more noteworthy changes was establishment of specific timelines for our judges on how long a legal proceeding should take. This will allow the judges to take a more active role in case management and conduct a more efficient review of contentions brought before the Commission. Another significant change established the use of more informal procedures for the conduct of most proceedings. Now, rather than endless debates between competing experts, and unfocused and unending hearings, our judges will be able to concentrate on the facts and reach common sense, safety-focused decisions in a timely way.
As an attorney, I recognized the inherent weaknesses in our former process, and I am convinced that these changes will improve the efficiency of our legal proceedings. I must mention, however, that shortly after the final rule was published, it was challenged in Federal court by several public interest groups. The crux of the petitioners’ challenge was that the rule violated the Atomic Energy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act by abolishing formal hearings in reactor licensing cases. In December, however, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals struck down this challenge and upheld the view of the Commission.
Our changes to the adjudicatory process did not stop with revision of our procedures for the conduct of hearings. We are also working to bring in new, highly qualified judges to conduct the proceedings. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (Board) is blessed with an excellent Chief Judge, Paul Bollwerk, who has worked tirelessly to replace vacancies on the Board created by the aging workforce issues facing the nuclear industry as a whole. His efforts have also been aimed at ensuring adequate staffing for potential Yucca Mountain proceedings.
The Commission, recognizing the need for outstanding judges, has recently assumed a role where we personally interview the finalists for open Board positions. Within the last year, we have hired three new legal judges and three new technical judges, whom I believe will significantly enhance our capabilities to conduct effective safety reviews. This influx of highly qualified judges, combined with the enhancements to our regulations under Part 2, will hopefully erase some of the lingering concerns about regulatory instability within our agency and establish improvements to our legal proceedings that will endure well beyond my tenure on the Commission.
Construction of New Plants
Improved NRC licensing and legal processes are not the only reasons I see the industry heading into an era of growth. Evolutions in technology will change the way in which new plants will be manufactured and constructed. Computer aided manufacturing allows for an even greater ability to meet customer requirements, and also brings with it a greater confidence that the NRC’s quality assurance requirements will be met. With no existing domestic capabilities to manufacture large components such as steam generators, pressure vessels, or pressurizers, our licensees, as well as our staff, will need to spend time in Europe and Asia assuring that these components meet our requirements. CAD/CAM design and manufacturing, when effectively tied to an excellent quality assurance program, will assure that far distant markets make no difference in producing safe, high caliber components.
Construction of new plants may be approached in a modernized fashion as well. For the first time, detailed engineering of the entire plant will essentially be complete by the start of construction. Additionally, using techniques developed in Japan and elsewhere, the plants of the future will likely employ extensive modular construction techniques, with modules barged in from distant ports to be assembled with massive cranes. This modular construction provides licensees with the opportunity to increase quality and reduce costs. At the same time it presents our agency with opportunities to improve inspection techniques since modules for each plant will contain similar technology. Once the staff verifies the quality assurance and safety of a particular module, it can more easily effectuate safety enhancements for all modules to follow. There will be challenges associated with this verification, however, given that the staff may need to inspect modules during their construction overseas since there may be limited access to components once a module is installed at the facility. As we prepare for the possibility of new plant orders, we are actively working to prepare our staff and modify our procedures to meet these new demands. While unforeseen challenges will invariably arise, we can and shall meet them consistent with our safety mission.
Earlier, I spoke about regulatory instability no longer being a convenient excuse. So as not to appear entirely sanguine about the work our agency has to do, I would focus briefly on two areas that I believe will require the continued attention of the Commission.
The first, which affects both currently operating reactors and new reactors alike, is security. Quite obviously in a post-9/11 environment, our agency has expended considerable time and resources in meeting this challenge. The nation’s nuclear power plants, which were highly secured prior to September 11th, have been required to beef up security by adding a significant number of guards, increased weaponry, improved training requirements, and other numerous and costly security enhancements. According to industry figures, almost a billion dollars have been spent in improving the security at the plants. Despite having handed down a series of orders mandating these changes, the Commission and its staff recognize the progress that has been made, and realize that we need to achieve a new normalcy. In my view, 2005 will be the year where we change our focus from requiring new security enhancements for licensees, to stabilizing our current security requirements for the new world we face. For me, the enhanced, robust security programs of our licensees have achieved just about everything we can reasonably demand of a civilian security force.
The second issue, which could potentially have considerable impact on the construction of new reactors, is management of agency resources. As I mentioned previously, the NRC has several early site permit applications and one design certification under review, several other reactor designs are nearing submission for certification, and three different consortia have expressed interest in testing our combined license process. These submittals, coupled with the regular business of license renewals, power uprate requests, rulemakings, and security issues, have stretched our existing agency resources further than I would have imagined. Add in the possibility of a Yucca Mountain high level waste respository application and we could be facing a significant resource crisis. My fellow Commissioners and I are aware of the potential resource challenges and have tried to address them through the agency’s Strategic Plan and our senior agency management. Nonetheless, this will remain a significant challenge.
Referring back to my earlier comments, it is easy to see how far the nuclear sector has come if you look at today’s statistics. We now have a nuclear fleet of 103 units that is operating at a capacity of approximately 88% with no units in regulatory shutdown. Safety factors at these plants continue to be at very high levels. Inflation is running at 2.68% with the current prime interest rate at 5.5%, which is just over half its level in 1985. The price of nuclear fuel, although higher than the recent past, is 0.44 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is one third of the price in 1985. Today, 65% of the American public is supportive of building new nuclear power plants, which is significantly larger than times past. And as I have said at length, the NRC of today is a far more efficient, effective, timely regulator of the safety of our nation’s nuclear fleet
Today, you may hear some speakers express concerns as to whether the NRC licensing process will work as promised. And I am sure that some of these people will remain concerned about this issue no matter what information I share with you today. Albert Einstein once said that “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried something new.” We are working through a new licensing process and the complications posed by new plant designs. I can’t promise that we won’t make mistakes, but we are committed to meeting these challenges head on. It is my personal belief that the NRC is prepared to review and resolve potential regulatory problems and safety concerns in a timely manner. Compared with where this industry was in 1985, things are far different, and while there may be a myriad of reasons why Wall Street and the nuclear utilities have hesitated to build new nuclear power plants, blaming the NRC should no longer be the principal reason.
Thank you very much.
You mark my words –when the first spade slices into the ground forthe next generation of nuclear plants –the whole way the public and media looks at the industry will change.
Will the NRC and industry be ready for this onslaught -absolutely not. They have been protected from the harsh realities of the truth as seen by the outsiders. All of these political credit card dinners, all of the special Washington relationships, all of the insider monies and all of the monies for the NEI -all the other special interest has done nothing but weaken the industry –its beenpolitical welfare for the nuclear industry and their political friends. So when the first spade slices into the dirt –this whole horrible weak structure is going to collapse. It's going to expose all of the corrupt political interaction of the regulator and the nuclear industry, from decades back to current.
You guys think you got political protection on licensing of the new plants; what a con game of gigantic proportions to the financers of the next plants. It is nothing but an illusion like Enron here–it going to evaporate with the repeated incompetence as seen in theoperational problems with the first generation plants, with thismagnifying the media's need to see more problems in the newconstruction.
We are going to dump new regulation on the industry and it's going to make your head spin –we are going to have the politician's bytheir necks and we won't let go –they are going to be fighting for their political lives through a blizzard of corruption issues. Your competitors are going to superimpose the problems of the old fleet onto this new generation even before they begin operating –the stupid public won't be able to understand the difference.
The public is going to utterly lose faith in you people before the main disconnects gets closed for the first time –as this becomes apparent you will have to restrict even more information from the public-with this pissing off the public and media even more. You see, the public will lose faith in our politico's and politician'sability to manage nuclear technology and the nuclear industry, maybefor decades.
It is going to be a national tragedy of historic proportions -the death of your dreams is going to slip right before your fingers. It's going to be an embarrassment of national proportion –the world going to ask why doesn't America have the ability of managing these projects, as the rest of the world does. It is going to be anenormous national embarrassment.
What a joke with the Bush administration, it's absolutely telegraphing political weakness as seen by the politicians; it shows how tenuous the politician's trust of the public with nuclear power. Bush puts all his nuclear power plant cards on the table only afterhe knows he can't get voted into office again –what a horrible signof political and public weakness with the nuclear industry. For the politicians nuclear power is truly radiactive.
You understand what I am saying the technology might be there –but bureaucracy across the board is extremely brittle and sitting on the edge of failure! It won't be a technical failure, it will be another political and bureaucratic failure -it's so sad.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
So I get up there. I had a little trouble getting into the back of the building; I had to run over a snow bank spinning my wheels. I notice a man standing just outside the front door. I get out the truck, the man is saying something about my spinning wheels –he moves his hand in the spinning gesture. To my surprise he is a mentally challenged individual. When I go inside I see five mentally disabled men and one Downs woman –plus a staff member. These men were all happy and smiling. They all ask me a bunch of questions.
One man shows me what room we are going to be working on –he tells me I am going to be bringing out these boxes to my truck. As I grab four our five boxes overloading my hand truck –the pile falls over breaking a ton of bottles. We all have a good laugh over that. These guys are all happily talking to each other throughout my time there. They sort the bottle in the redemption center. What a blessing I’d seen that day.
As to the quality of the job there for these guys –who has a perfect job now a days. These guys were doing something productive to fill up their days. The community was continuously coming in and going –these men were actively interacting with the public and the public was interaction with them. I am certain I didn’t see all the little glitches that happened through the day –I know it is not a perfect setup. But it was very good life from what I have been exposed too with the disabled. It is a template for what I expect with the care of the disabled in the USA.
As far as protecting a person from risk –you are stunting the growth of the disable and non disabled alike when you shield any of us from taking chances and picking up risk. It’s fundament to maturity and learning.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
By STEPHANIE BARRY
SPRINGFIELD - While thousands of low-income applicants languished for years on local waiting lists for Section 8 vouchers, a lucky few waited hardly at all, according to testimony yesterday in an ongoing corruption trial.
A retired manager with the Springfield Housing Authority told jurors that officials there routinely falsified dates on applications for the federal rent vouchers. Section 8 vouchers are supposed to be distributed on a first-come first-serve basis with a few emergency exceptions for homeless and victims of violence. Predating the form allowed the applicant to avoid the long wait.
"I actually handed them out to people at different times," retired rental assistance manager Betty Watkins told jurors yesterday, under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Welch II. "When I was told to do it."
Though brief, Watkins' testimony marked a merger of two separate public corruption probes: the case of four ex-employees of the Massachusetts Career Development Institute on trial in connection with an alleged no-show job scheme at the taxpayer-funded trade school, and the separate indictment of former housing authority executives accused of fleecing that agency for millions.
On trial in federal court are former trade school executive director Gerald A. Phillips, 50; retired president Giuseppe Polimeni, 53; former payroll clerk Jamie Dwyer, 53; and alleged no-show worker Luisa Polimeni, 49. They face conspiracy, fraud and other charges.
Watkins' testimony came after an FBI document expert testified earlier that some curious scribblings appeared on the back of the May 2000 voucher application of Gretchen Ortiz, a former trade school student and sexual partner of Phillips.
The imprints on the back, according to testimony: Please ... A.S.A.P. Gerry Phillips MCDI," denoting the shorthand name for the city-run school.
The document expert also told jurors the date on Ortiz' application - May 24, 2000 - had been covered with Wite-Out; the document bore a July 1999 date stamp.
Ortiz, 30, who told jurors Phillips in 2000 got an apartment for her, helped care for her children and gave her a no-show job, also testified Phillips drove her to a housing authority office. There, she met a tall man, under 30, who had her fill out paperwork. Within weeks she had a new apartment on Forest Street, Ortiz said.
Yohanna Maldanado, 22, another former trade school student who had a sexual relationship with Phillips, testified Phillips also told her he could help get her a voucher quickly. He later reported he could not do it because the FBI was investigating the housing authority, she testified Monday.
Former housing authority executive director Raymond B. Asselin was indicted in July along with eight family members, another executive and three former contractors for allegedly stealing over $1 million through scams big and small, including bid-rigging and quarter-swiping from authority laundry machines. A subsequent federal indictment also accused Asselin and others of bumping applicants up the waiting list as favors to local politicians.
The prosecution is expected to rest today; the trial began Jan. 18.
Copyright 2005 MassLive.com. All Rights Reserved.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
The sin of institutionalization was that the bureaucrats, politicians and members of the public used institutionalization as a tool of isolation –they put them in those facilities to hide the disabled. These bureaucrats and politicians should never have abandoned the disabled in those facilities –we should have been actively engaged in the management of quality of the facilities. They should have used their access of the facilities as tools of public transparencies. It was the responsibilities of the bureaucrats no matter what the cost, to maintain human dignity to the mentally disabled. It is what we are as a country.
So the question is how are we to maintain skills and education levels of the employees –you can do that by making them state and governmental employees. On the other side it could be a private enterprise –it would have to be heavily regulated. So you could have rather large facilities within a rather short distant of the families –you could have all sorts of campus like housing, with all sorts of levels of freedom.
Of course in a large facility –you get an unprecedented concentration of people with all sorts of problems –this is a golden opportunity with education of the staffs and professional people. In a large facility you have a large concentration of the disabled, the employees and the public, coming and going –so if something becomes to go wrong –you always have the opportunity to created a governmental scandal, with government you always having the imperative to be held responsible to the public –meaning transparency.
On the other side of today with deinstitutionalization you get a host of rather small mental health contractors. The country is extraordinarily fracture in the organization of the care of the vulnerable, you get a extremely small oversight with the regulators and a intentional restriction of resources to them –they have very little opportunity to know what is really going on and are highly politicized –and this just so happens to isolate the politicians to their accountability of what is going on. So the disabled are dispersed throughout the community, which makes it hard to get an idea of what’s really going. So in these dispersions you don’t have the ability to see the failure of the system like you would in institutionalization –you have become more blinded to crimes against humanity. More to the point in deinstitutionalization of today, we got a huge shield of privacy of the businesses and the owners of the mental hospitals –whereas this makes us more blinded to the enormous system dysfunction.
So as in the Vermont state metal hospital and governor Douglas –you’re getting a reinvention of the old deinstitutionalization today. All it is about is political protection –keep that dark stain off the politician’s media records and it is the same in both political parties. So what will be the state and federal mental admission criteria for these businesses on the disabled –I say it’s more going to be about some nameless bureaucrat looking at some data sheet in the name of a politician’s self interest and reelections. So in the name of political budgets your going to get cover-ups, extraordinary incomes to the owners of the businesses and professional staffs, who is going to have to proactively cover-up the inhumanity of equating dignity with money, this will fertilize the continues pain of the disabled because they are going to have to protect the politicians. Oh you are going to get cheaper human service budget –but as we have today, the “world” will look at our disgraceful gulag in our jails with incarcerating the mentally disabled instead of humanly taking care of them and protecting them from trouble.
Of course you got to wonder about the legal system that puts these vulnerable people in jail with the lawyers and judges. Do they really think it is justice that they are dishing out? So you got these judges and prosecutors whom mindlessly follow the laws and policies – but they have not a care of what they are sending these people too. You got the lawyers, prosecutors and judges who have no oversight responsibilities of these facilities –no ethical and moral responsibility to go actively looking for injustice, and no individuals moral instinct to force the public and politicians to face up to our responsibilities to maintain dignity to the least of us. Oh, it’s bigger than the lack of dignity of the disabled –it is are ability to know what right and wrong is with our educated elite class. You should be worried when our legal system allows so much human degradations without fight, the biggest fight of their lives in the face of this massive state of injustice.
Will the legal system be depressed and indifferent to an injustice applied against you –will they just mindlessly follow the rules –will they not care about what’s going outside their court buildings –it reminds me of the seeds of Nazi Germany and totalerization.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
How Wall Street Learns to Look the Other Way
By ROBERT J. SHILLER
THE New York Stock Exchange's report on the pay package given to its former chairman, Dick Grasso, made clear the excessiveness of the compensation and the ineffectiveness of the safety controls that failed to stop it. What the report didn't provide, however, was an answer to an obvious question: Why did nobody on the exchange's board look at that astronomical sum and feel some personal responsibility to find out what was happening?
I can't read minds, but I think it's fair to say that to some extent the players in this drama - as well as those in the ones now being played out in courtrooms and starring former executives of Tyco, WorldCom and HealthSouth - have been shaped by the broader business culture they have worked in for so long. And, as with any situation in which we are puzzled by how a group of people can think in a seemingly odd way, it helps to look back to how they were educated. Education molds not just individuals but also common assumptions and conventional wisdom. And when it comes to the business world, our universities - and especially their graduate business schools - are powerful shapers of the culture.
That said, the view of the world that one gets in a modern business curriculum can lead to an ethical disconnect. The courses often encourage a view of human nature that does not inspire high-mindedness.
Consider financial theory, the cornerstone of modern business education. The mathematical theory that has developed over the decades has proved extremely valuable in general. But when it comes to individuals, the theory runs into some problems. In effect, it portrays people as nothing more than "maximizers" of their own "expected utility." This means that people are expected to be totally selfish, constantly calculating their own advantage, with no thought of others. If the premise is that everyone would steal the silverware if he knew he could get away with it, and if we spend the entire semester developing the implications of this assumption, then it is hard to know where to begin to talk about ethics.
At the notorious Aug. 7, 2003, board meeting in which Mr. Grasso was given the right to pocket $139.5 million, questions of whether the compensation was too high were aired but got nowhere. Maybe it is not too surprising that they were ignored: executive compensation has been soaring in recent years, and to people today, it may well seem that these increases must be entirely the result of respectable "market forces."
Modern business education often encourages excessive respect for anything that can be considered a result of the free market. For example, the leading corporate finance textbook, "Principles of Corporate Finance" by Richard A. Brealey and Stewart C. Myers, lists the efficient markets theory ("security prices accurately reflect available information and respond rapidly to new information as soon as it becomes available") as one of the seven most important ideas in finance. The other six are even less personal, models of perfect markets that only mathematicians can fully appreciate. It should not be surprising that those who were trained by books like these would not consider the possibility that there could be a bubble in executive compensation.
The book does not have anything kind to say about regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, the regulatory agency that strives to make sure that we can trust the securities we buy. The commission is rarely mentioned, and then only as a source of a few bothersome rules that must be followed, without giving any clue as to the reasons for the rules. (It is worth noting that it was the commission that asked the stock exchange's board to disclose Mr. Grasso's pay package; otherwise, the controversy might never have come to light.)
Yes, some business school curriculums have been improving over the years. Many schools now offer a course in business ethics, and some even try to integrate business ethics into their other courses. But nowhere is ethics seen as a centerpiece or even integral part of the curriculum. And even when business students do take an ethics course, the theoretical framework of the core courses tends to be so devoid of moral content that the discussions of ethics must seem like a side order of some overcooked vegetable.
I like to assign my finance students "Take On the Street," an account by Arthur Levitt of his efforts, as chairman of the S.E.C. in the 1990's, to clean up the sleazy side of Wall Street. I wish more professors assigned it. But most of my colleagues tell me they do not have time for it; too many formulas to cover.
Ultimately, the problem at the university level is a tendency toward overspecialization. Each professor gains expertise in a certain kind of research skill; that is how subject matter is defined. The specialty of financial theory has largely come to be defined by skills manipulating a narrow class of mathematical models of purely selfish behavior. Business ethics is just another academic specialty, and can seem as remote as microbiology to those studying financial theory.
Whatever happens with Mr. Grasso - and with Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco and the other avatars of corporate misconduct in the headlines these days - we should be reminded that ethical behavior for many business people must involve overcoming their learned biases. Perhaps these scandals would be a little less likely, and the rationalizations for them a little less tenable, if more of us professors integrated business education into a broader historical and psychological context. Would our students really fail to understand the economic models if we treated the subject matter not as an arcane specialty, but as part of a larger liberal arts education?
Robert J. Shiller, the author of "Irrational Exuberance," has taught Economics 252, Financial Markets, at Yale College since 1985
It is interesting… could those who are generally good…altruistic…in the eyes of god… Mahatma Gandhi…Jesus… MLK… all our recent heroes…Mother Teresa…a living saint like Nelson Mandela … those that endured the unspeakable…those that sit way outside the human experience…a president… –have they got a brain defect?
You start thinking about all the horrible defects that lead to evil, the disconnection from horror, the absolute disconnections from the expectations of our culture… the focusing on a single prize with all rational thinking that you got a 1 and 300 million chance of being a president...give them your other cheek…didn’t Jesus say he would create more bloodshed than love…of changing the directions of a country and our planet…. the mindless focus over years on single feeling or ideal against the interest of self, of paying the irrational price of being in jail for a life time –what’s the difference between evil and sacredness, in the basic functioning of the brain. ...Wow…
February 8, 2005
For the Worst of Us, the Diagnosis May Be 'Evil'
By BENEDICT CAREY
redatory killers often do far more than commit murder. Some have lured their victims into homemade chambers for prolonged torture. Others have exotic tastes - for vivisection, sexual humiliation, burning. Many perform their grisly rituals as much for pleasure as for any other reason.
Among themselves, a few forensic scientists have taken to thinking of these people as not merely disturbed but evil. Evil in that their deliberate, habitual savagery defies any psychological explanation or attempt at treatment.
Most psychiatrists assiduously avoid the word evil, contending that its use would precipitate a dangerous slide from clinical to moral judgment that could put people on death row unnecessarily and obscure the understanding of violent criminals.
Still, many career forensic examiners say their work forces them to reflect on the concept of evil, and some acknowledge they can find no other term for certain individuals they have evaluated.
In an effort to standardize what makes a crime particularly heinous, a group at New York University has been developing what it calls a depravity scale, which rates the horror of an act by the sum of its grim details.
And a prominent personality expert at Columbia University has published a 22-level hierarchy of evil behavior, derived from detailed biographies of more than 500 violent criminals.
He is now working on a book urging the profession not to shrink from thinking in terms of evil when appraising certain offenders, even if the E-word cannot be used as part of an official examination or diagnosis.
"We are talking about people who commit breathtaking acts, who do so repeatedly, who know what they're doing, and are doing it in peacetime" under no threat to themselves, said Dr. Michael Stone, the Columbia psychiatrist, who has examined several hundred killers at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in New Hampton, N.Y., and others at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, where he consults and teaches. "We know from experience who these people are, and how they behave," and it is time, he said, to give their behavior "the proper appellation."
Western religious leaders, evolutionary theorists and psychological researchers agree that almost all human beings have the capacity to commit brutal acts, even when they are not directly threatened. In Dr. Stanley Milgram's famous electroshock experiments in the 1960's, participants delivered what they thought were punishing electric jolts to a fellow citizen, merely because they were encouraged to do so by an authority figure as part of a learning experiment.
In the real world, the grim images coming out of Iraq -the beheadings by Iraqi insurgents and the Abu Ghraib tortures, complete with preening guards - suggest how much further people can go when they feel justified.
In Nazi prisoner camps, as during purges in Kosovo and Cambodia, historians found that clerks, teachers, bureaucrats and other normally peaceable citizens committed some of the gruesome violence, apparently swept along in the kind of collective thoughtlessness that the philosopher Hannah Arendt described as the banality of evil.
"Evil is endemic, it's constant, it is a potential in all of us. Just about everyone has committed evil acts," said Dr. Robert I. Simon, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School and the author of "Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream."
Dr. Simon considers the notion of evil to be of no use to forensic psychiatry, in part because evil is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, shaped by political and cultural as well as religious values. The terrorists on Sept. 11 thought that they were serving God, he argues; those who kill people at abortion clinics also claim to be doing so. If the issue is history's most transcendent savages, on the other hand, most people agree that Hitler and Pol Pot would qualify.
"When you start talking about evil, psychiatrists don't know anything more about it than anyone else," Dr. Simon said. "Our opinions might carry more weight, under the patina or authority of the profession, but the point is, you can call someone evil and so can I. So what? What does it add?"
Dr. Stone argues that one possible benefit of including a consideration of evil may be a more clear-eyed appreciation of who should be removed from society and not allowed back. He is not an advocate of the death penalty, he said. And his interest in evil began long before President Bush began using the word to describe terrorists or hostile regimes.
Dr. Stone's hierarchy of evil is topped by the names of many infamous criminals who were executed or locked up for good: Theodore R. Bundy, the former law school student convicted of killing two young women in Florida and linked to dozens of other killings in the 1970's; John Wayne Gacy of Illinois, the convicted killer who strangled more than 30 boys and buried them under his house; and Ian Brady who, with his girlfriend, Myra Hindley, tortured and killed children in England in a rampage in the 1960's known as the moors murders.
But another killer on the hierarchy is Albert Fentress, a former schoolteacher in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., examined by Dr. Stone, who killed and cannibalized a teenager, in 1979. Mr. Fentress petitioned to be released from a state mental hospital, and in 1999 a jury agreed that he was ready; he later withdrew the petition, when prosecutors announced that a new witness would testify against him.
At a hearing in 2001, Dr. Stone argued against Mr. Fentress's release, and the idea that the killer might be considered ready to make his way back into society still makes the psychiatrist's eyes widen.
Researchers have found that some people who commit violent crimes are much more likely than others to kill or maim again, and one way they measure this potential is with a structured examination called the psychopathy checklist.
As part of an extensive, in-depth interview, a trained examiner rates the offender on a 20-item personality test. The items include glibness and superficial charm, grandiose self-worth, pathological lying, proneness to boredom and emotional vacuity. The subjects earn zero points if the description is not applicable, two points if it is highly applicable, and one if it is somewhat or sometimes true.
The psychologist who devised the checklist, Dr. Robert Hare, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said that average total scores varied from below five in the general population to the low 20's in prison populations, to a range of 30 to 40 - highly psychopathic - in predatory killers. In a series of studies, criminologists have found that people who score in the high range are two to four times as likely as other prisoners to commit another crime when released. More than 90 percent of the men and a few women at the top of Dr. Stone's hierarchy qualify as psychopaths.
In recent years, neuroscientists have found evidence that psychopathy scores reflect physical differences in brain function. Last April, Canadian and American researchers reported in a brain-imaging study that psychopaths processed certain abstract words - grace, future, power, for example - differently from nonpsychopaths.
In addition, preliminary findings from new imaging research have revealed apparent oddities in the way psychopaths mentally process certain photographs, like graphic depictions of accident scenes, said Dr. Kent Kiehl, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale, a lead author on both studies.
No one knows how significant these differences are, or whether they are a result of genetic or social factors. Broken homes and childhood trauma are common among brutal killers; so is malignant narcissism, a personality type characterized not only by grandiosity but by fantasies of unlimited power and success, a deep sense of entitlement, and a need for excessive admiration.
"There is a group we call lethal predators, who are psychopathic, sadistic, and sane, and people have said this is approaching a measure of evil, and with good reason," Dr. Hare said. "What I would say is that there are some people for whom evil acts - what we would consider evil acts - are no big deal. And I agree with Michael Stone that the circumstances and context are less important than who they are."
Checklists, scales, and other psychological exams are not blood tests, however, and their use in support of a concept as loaded as evil could backfire, many psychiatrists say. Not all violent predators are psychopaths, for one thing, nor are most psychopaths violent criminals. And to suggest that psychopathy or some other profile is a reliable measure of evil, they say, would be irresponsible and ultimately jeopardize the credibility of the profession.
In the 1980's and 1990's, a psychiatrist in Dallas earned the name Dr. Death by testifying in court, in a wide variety of cases, that he was certain that defendants would commit more crimes in the future - though often, he had not examined them. Many were sentenced to death.
"I agree that some people cannot be rehabilitated, but the risk in using the word evil is that it may mean one thing to one psychiatrist, and something else to another, and then we're in trouble, " said Dr. Saul Faerstein, a forensic psychiatrist in Beverly Hills. "I don't know that we want psychiatrists as gatekeepers, making life-and-death judgments in some cases, based on a concept that is not medical."
Even if it is used judiciously, other experts say, the concept of evil is powerful enough that it could obscure the mental troubles and intellectual quirks that motivate brutal killers, and sometimes allow them to avoid detection. Mr. Bundy, the serial killer, was reportedly very romantic, attentive and affectionate with his own girlfriends, while he referred to his victims as "cargo" and "damaged goods," Dr. Simon noted.
Mr. Gacy, a gracious and successful businessman, reportedly created a clown figure to lift the spirits of ailing children. "He was a very normal, very functional guy in many respects," said Dr. Richard Rappaport, a forensic psychiatrist based in La Costa, Calif., who examined Mr. Gacy before his trial. Dr. Rappaport said he received holiday cards from Mr. Gacy every year before he was executed.
"I think the main reason it's better to avoid the term evil, at least in the courtroom, is that for many it evokes a personalized Satan, the idea that there is supernatural causation for misconduct," said Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist in Newport Beach, Calif., who examined the convicted serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, as well as Lyle and Erik Menendez, who were convicted of murdering their parents in Beverly Hills.
"This could only conceal a subtle important truth about many of these people, such as the high rate of personality disorders," Dr. Dietz said. He added: "The fact is that there aren't many in whom I couldn't find some redeeming attributes and some humanity. As far as we can tell, the causes of their behavior are biological, psychological and social, and do not so far demonstrably include the work of Lucifer."
The doctors who argue that evil has a place in forensics are well aware of these risks, but say that in some cases they are worth taking. They say it is possible - necessary, in fact, to understand many predatory killers - to hold inside one's head many disparate dimensions: that the person in question may be narcissistic, perhaps abused by a parent, or even charming, affectionate and intelligent, but also in some sense evil. While the term may not be appropriate for use in a courtroom or a clinical diagnosis, they say, it is an element of human nature that should not be ignored.
Dr. Angela Hegarty, director of psychiatry at Creedmoor who works with Dr. Stone, said she was skeptical of using the concept of evil but realized that in her work she found herself thinking and talking about it all the time. In 11 years as a forensic examiner, in this country and in Europe, she said, she counts four violent criminals who were so vicious, sadistic and selfish that no other word could describe them.
One was a man who gruesomely murdered his own wife and young children and who showed more annoyance than remorse, more self-pity than concern for anyone else affected by the murders. On one occasion when Dr. Hegarty saw him, he was extremely upset - beside himself - because a staff attendant at the facility where he lived was late in arriving with a video, delaying the start of the movie. The man became abusive, she said: he insisted on punctuality.
Saturday, February 05, 2005
I’ve updated the 2/6 entry –what I added is very important -you should read it again.
So here I sit in Maine. I was glad to leave my house today -I love driving- it is a distraction about the worries with my community.
I get in my tractor trailer truck -I think I haven't eaten yet today. I stop in the Boston Market right off the I 93 interstate in Concord NH. I didn't get far at all -maybe 1.5 hours down the road. It's about 3PM. I can see the capital buiding's from the highway.
I walk in the restaurant. I notice right off the bat that there are two people in a corner table -one in a wheel chair. I notice the person in the wheelchair is rather small, about 100 pounds, but she seems rather old with grey hair. She's about in her 50"s -her attendant is about 25 years old. I can tell right off the bat that she has cerebral palsy palsy(CP) by looking at her face and the positions of her hands. I walk past them as I got to go the bathroom.
I notice the woman in the wheelchair quickly turn towards me, she looks me right in the eyes with a big bright smile. I smile back at her. I've got a lot of experience with making a snap judgment on how bright a disabled person is. You know this is off the cuff judgment -isn't not always right. I think she is kind bright if you know what I mean. I leave the bathroom -and her head and her bright eyes are still following me.
I taken many of the disabled into Boston Chicken throughout the area. I have taken a few adults who were extremely low functioning into Boston Markets. Would I have funny stories to tell.
So I get my dinner -I sit a few tables on the side of them. I recognize them as a personal care attendant and a disabled. You see, I know how amazingly special it can be out in the public on a Sunday afternoon eating in a public establishment with the disabled.
I start picking up a one way conversation -"did you have enough to eat". Then I hear -"you didn't get enough to eat -I can't believe somebody as small as you could want more?' You always eat more that your size. There is no effort to get any more food or desert. I pick up a strange tone of talk with the attendant.
A few minute laters I hear a series of question from the attendant, who is this, what is that. I look up at their table, it has lots of papers and pictures on the table. I think isn't that nice talking about pictures -but the tone of her questions are bothering me. I am beginning to see that the attendant is frustrated about something. I hear no talk from the woman in the wheelchair -I don't think she is able to speak -may be signing of some sorts. I get the feeling the attendant is overbearing.
I see the CP woman beginning to move her hands down to the chair wheels. I see she is trying to unlock the brakes. She is having some difficulty getting to it -but she unlocks the wheels. I watch her push away from the table -she gets about a few feet away. I think the CP women is done -she wants to go out or home. I hear the attendant say quite condenscending, loundly, you can't just run around in a restraurant, you know that. She just grabs the wheelchair and pushes it back to the table.
I notice this young attendant woman has a short height -and she is huge weight wise. She is dress nice in slacks. I get the vibs she is pushy and extremely self centered. I think with her huge weight -she has distrupted relationships. She is most likely a single woman who doesn't have very many relationships -her whole world is about taking care of the disabled. I know for a fact she doesn't have much interpersonal skills -she is immature and dysfuctional herself -she is not at all empathetic and perceptive -she is just a cheap caretaker who probaly doesn't have much of a vision in herself. She is in a dead end job and that is the best that she is going to be able to do.
Can you imagine living with a disability with all these banal slights- all of these dysfuctional and inmature caregivers -who have a innate need to treat the disabled as a juvenile -to elevate a dysfuctional attendant's life into something it is not. I seen this all the time folks.
The employees don't get a lot of money -there is no benefits -they don't have any status in society -their employer treats them with disrespect and as slave. There is an extremely high percentage of the population of the caregivers who are dysfuctional -they are cheap to hire, easy to mold as emplyees -and the inmature employees have a innate need to control another person life -it makes them feel big. The turnover of employees should be a clear signal to us. You understand -the first line managers are a breed of dysfuction apart too.
Why don't I see a nuclear engineer or rocket scientist working as a care attendant and the resultant professionalism?
I haven’t fully developed this yet –but here is an early perception. I’ve always wondered about this –is it because of the poor economics we end up this high proportion of the dysfunctional population in the care of the disabled, or is something more intelligent going on.
I am reminded of the industrial meat slaughter houses when they hire the powerless illegal emigrants, where the UN says this sets up the working conditions of immoral secrecy and inhumanity, and where there is an enormous power mismatch between the employer and employee, because to the legal status of the emigrant.
In the absence of governmental oversight –are the human service contractors intentionally hiring the dysfunctional in our population such that the contractors and even the government itself ends up with a similar power mismatch – where the mangers of the care of the disabled knowingly do this to maintain a immoral employee and disabled culture. So for the contractor and governmental overseers, indeed the governmental managers of state facility; do they know that the dysfunctional are easily manipulated; does the intellectually dysfunctional have a hard time using the governmental instruments of employee and disabled protection.
I am telling you for a fact they have to hire a morally dysfunctional manager –one who knows that our government isn’t providing adequate money and training for the care of the disabled. These first contact managers knows that in many ways they are operating in an illegal manner –not meeting all the rules. They know the state overseers can come around to selectively, persecute a particular business and any employee in the care of the disabled in the singular defense of an official’s and politicians self interest. I am telling for the fact that for no other reasons than to protect an official's career’interest –when all the bureaucrats and politicians know the system is overstuffed with legal, policy and rules violation on a day to day basics.
I mean these people (employees) don’t need to see in right and wrong filtered through the bureaucratic processes of policy and rules violation… but they can’t see it even in that. They, and we, should see it in the atrocious behavior maladjustments… could see it in preventable illnesses, sickness, excess hospitalization, pain of the disabled and excess doctor’s fees …could see it in the preventable deaths of many thousands and in the wastage of tax payer’s monies on a grand scale.
You see what I am getting at, in defense of this stinking rotten putrid system, it is at the interest of the immoral system to hire dysfunctional employees – it is at the interest of the system when known rule violation becomes seen to the outsiders –you get the compliant dysfunctional employees who you can charge with a rule violation– he is making that violation because of a lack of education, status and resources -these scape goats protects the whole rotten system.
Few people have ever experience this –I try to explain it best I can. So you might be taking care of a low functioning Downs syndrome 15 year old child –I could make the case that the majority of low functioning behaviors is created by the system –don’t think these might be soft behaviors –but like hitting and frustrations with a lack of communication skills. So in this selfless mindset you are taking care of our most vulnerable population; our whole society might have abandoned them; and you might have in your background being employed in a highly dysfunctional and abusive children’s institution -even god and the state has abandoned them.
In my-your head, I’ve never experience such a enormously overpowering emotion; you might be changing the diaper of an adult; you might be helping a 15 year old child showering :you are doing one of the most selfless acts that a human being can do on the face of this planet and you know it. I‘ve never felt such emotional exuberance and inebriation in my life. It is not hopeless inebriation –you need the resources, skills and education to tame these raw emotions.
Can you see the embers of a human abuse violation of a magnitude that is unimaginable? Can you see ABU GHRAIB? Can’t you see how you could do it yourself! We are not all that far, each one of us, from those ovens…
So you become embedded into these dysfunctional bureaucracies with very little structures like rules and adequate resources. Chaos ensues, order must be maintained, the outsiders know this… So secrete special rules are created outside the system that are justified… rationalized … normalized… then there becomes special rules that you create for yourselves … You create order… stability…the outsiders recognize… they then back out of it… they distant themselves from it … they create plausible deniability…everyone knows all the way up that we don’t have enough resources, people, training… I got my family and career as my primary concern … mistakes are made… covered up…accepted as normal…the system is so dysfunctional I got to do this to survive…Everyone else is doing it –who am I to stop it… So we create a systems of mindless rules… violations leak out…more rules…more scape goats…more isolation of the managers …depression …indifference …hopelessness…a continuous stream of new employees…training and skills decline…not enough resources…not meeting the requirements…more cover-ups…more cover-ups…more cover-ups… All in the name of survival and in the interest of my family… A darkening cloud descends on you…you end up picking up isolated rules in defense of your immorality, in defense of your company…in defense of your oversight responsibilities… in defense of your political management responsibilities…all in the name of your family…your career … the public wants it… so does the nation and endeed the world...
….most of all in defense of that wonderful spiritual feeling of selflessly taking care for the disabled….
Then you have another type of employee…many times these are empty nested housewife’s… Those who have devoted their whole lives into selfless giving to their family ... who created magnificent children and communities… and who have served their husbands without question. These women have nothing to do –they have an empty house with nothing to do…never worked outside the house …I am now a useless person with nothing to do… So you get a job as keeper of the disabled…you are giving again… you are magnificently giving again… you are needed…everyone depends on you…….I am somebody again…. You see then nothing alse manners; you don’t care about how much money and benefits you make, your husbane has taken care of you, you don’t care to care about the structure of the system behind your company… the overseers… If see something that is wrong you fix it… you become indespencible… Your company uses you as a role moddle –endeed they show you off to the public and the governmetnal overseers.
Then it becomes why aren’t all the employees like you…why are the rest of our employees so money grubbing and selfish…so demanding of dignity… why aren’t they selflessly satisfied with giving to the helpless and vulerable…
….So then we got to make all our employees like you… and undermine everthing that is good about human dignity in the name of selfless alturism…
I’ve been picking on the female dysfuction a lot in the last few days, The majority of caregivers are female. The male game goes like I am a failure to even be working in this industry –so I don’t care about anything….
"Evil is never "radical," ...it is only extreme, and... it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension... It is "thought- defying"...because thought tries to reach some depth, to go to the roots, and the moment it concerns itself with evil, it is frustrated because there is nothing. That is its "banality."Hannah Arendt, 1964"
Right, we are feeding into our culture of ego expansion -into our media training of turning our world towards -holding our world hostage singlely to our indivegual self interested needs. The end point is the CEO of Enron: where the moral philosophy of my enormous needs of self appreciation ends up being the driver of benefiting the world; effectively give me a billion dollars, this would make the world better.
You understand what is at the root of this is? It is the horrendous primal fear in all of us with: what if it was me. That is why we don’t want to look at it –indeed we can’t look at it.
You can’t sell a consumer product with that! You see how our consumer culture fits into this?
Oh man I got colors here!
New 2/6 ---
Wait a minute –I am putting the newspapers in a juvenile role – that they are just blindlessly banging around the issues without purpose. If I put them in a more significant mature role –it means they are highly attuned to the needs of their community and the advertisers. I mean they know what product the public and advertisers want -to maximize the circulation of the paper. So if I was an editor –I’d want to game the stories such that it would enhance the circulation and not disturb their long term relationships with my friends and community leaders –thus that enhances the economic value of my business.
Yep, it’s always more about the seemingly rational system relationships and economics. It’s never nothing personal. It’s what I found in all of the huge scandals I’ve been involved in.
It’s always about the good people –and very little about the crooks. One wonders what role the non profits and state agencies play in shaping the stories of the vulnerable in the newspapers. You see what I am getting at, it’s always ends up with enhancing the public imagine of the businesses, governmental agencies and non profits…the liberals –because image primarily drives careers and funding…..profits….it’s never about telling the truth and protecting the lives of those who are least able to take care of themselves.
Are we involved in creating a phony and falsified image for the whole state of Hew Hampshire in defense of our incomes and self interest?
You catch what I am getting at here –it’s a pervasive immoral system in which the good people are involved -in they are making invisible a segment of our society. The happy good people, the ones who shape and speak for the system, the one who speak for the vulnerable, the one who in the name of the vulnerable only speak for their own self interest and the interest of the self interested dysfunctional system that they are entrained in.
So the media and newspapers are dysfunctionally responding to the public wants of making invisible a segment of the population –it a pervasive immoral system that we are all involved in. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
I have no faith that this community will be able to drag themselves out of the hole they dug for themselves. The community is under enormous economic pressures, which are at the bottom of this. They think they can only feed three of their four children –better it be not one of their own children –but a nameless powerless huttled child in the corner.
It truly is “Crimes Against Humanity” here –and the whole community is involved in this immoral and unconscionable act…..
I hope the United Nations gets involved …indeed I pray for that…because we can’t handle it ourselves…
This is the symptom of a pervasive regional disease. What the reporter tried asking -was how are the vulnerable doing with housing –what the bureaucrats interpreted it as - was how competent are we in doing our job and how competent is our organization at housing the specific population of the vulnerable -notice we aren’t talking about housing the "whole" vulnerable population. Of course they are going to say in their words; we are doing a great job and the all the vulnerable are humanly taken care of –we deserve to keep our jobs.
They are not talking truthful and fully. You’ll notice there is no talk about after their 5 years in public housing and all that help –how effective is that program. Come on folks they are mindless putting the vulnerable through a procedure or program – they think the program rules are the ethical and moral end point.
What you got in Keene with the human service agencies is an extremely inclusive and inbred culture –these employees are extremely fearful of cutbacks –and all the employees perceived the area as having very little other employment opportunities.
My understanding is the managers of the programs have extraordinary powers –fire at will in NH –they got the power to blackball the employees in all the human service jobs throughout the area –they intimidated the employees with that. We got a pervasive abuse of power issue coming form Concord and the politicians –going through the local bureaucrats.
So what you got is a highly dysfunctional, extraordinary abuse of power issue here –and all the employees refuse to tell you what is really going on –or worst yet, as an employment survival tactic, they had to isolate themselves from the realities –thus they can’t perceive accurately anymore. They are all playing they game of framing the story to meet some external needs.
I still can’t figure out what the needs of the newspaper is –my understanding they go though reporters quicker than diarrhea –maybe they just don’t have the skills and the relationship experience –but I have the fear that they don’t want to dig in and find the “not happy” stories, in there search for revenues from the advertisers.
Collectively they have made this population invisible…. And that is always a percurser to "Crimes Against Humanity" –that means the whole community and nobody is innicence…
Saturday, February 05, 2005Region assessing latest HUD cuts
KAREN SANBORNSentinel Staff
The latest round of punctures in the federal Section 8 housing program have left housing authorities all around the country plugging holes, but New Hampshire appears to have emerged relatively unscathed.
Section 8 is the name of the program that provides housing-choice vouchers to low-income families and elderly people, who then lease safe, decent and affordable rental housing.
The vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies, which receive money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to run the program.
Though the department’s budget for vouchers increased in 2005, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group, says the increase doesn’t keep up with the rising cost of rental housing.
Last week, David A. Vargas, director of HUD’s voucher program, sent a letter to housing authorities, saying Congress set aside $13.4 billion for the program when it needs $13.9 billion to run.
That’s a 4 percent chop that may not sound like much, said P. Curtis Hiebertn, director of the Keene Housing Authority, but it means tens of thousands of people won’t get vouchers this year.
The cuts didn’t surprise Keith F. Thibault, director of housing and economic development for Southwestern Community Services.
“We’re seeing it all over the place,” Thibault said. “They’re particularly exacerbated in the Northeast because housing costs are so high.”
While the 4 percent squeeze has sent housing authorities scrambling in New York City and Boston, it appears New Hampshire will do better.
“We came out pretty even,” said Jane Law, communications administrator for the N.H. Housing Finance Authority, which covers towns that have no housing authorities. “We’re still sort of analyzing what it means for us as we break it down, area by area. But we should be able to keep things as fairly status quo.”
That’s because the federal housing department applies an inflation formula that affects each state differently, Law said. On average, New Hampshire experiences a 5 percent inflation rate, which translates roughly into breaking even, Law said.
But she said if the finance authority does end up losing federal money, vouchers simply won’t be issued to new families this year.
Like New Hampshire, the Keene Housing Authority avoided the federal pinch because it’s conducting a special pilot program called Moving to Work.
Rather than providing 70 percent of rental payments year after year to low-income tenants, the way most housing authorities do, Keene’s operates on a graduated system.
Each year for about five years, the authority’s contribution to rental payments decreases until the voucher-holder is prepared to move on. All the while, Hiebert said, the authority helps families straighten out credit reports and develop work and school skills.
Hiebert said the program saves taxpayers money and also helps 40 more families than the authority could under the traditional Section 8 system.
The Keene Housing Authority now has 440 vouchers out.
Hiebert attended a conference in Miami last week to talk about how the pilot program works.
He said the hope is that the federal department will be able to start the graduated system everywhere, because it’s more flexible, less complicated and less expensive than the programs of the past.