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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Blame Romeny

Date: September 28th., 2005
Published in the Boston Globe

Your columnist, Scot Lehigh, says that no one yet has blamed Romney for the poor take-up of positions for evacuees at Camp Edwards (September 27th., page A15). Let me be the first.
It is not surprising that so few people from the Gulf took up the offer. For the past six months Romney has been barnstorming through southern states telling people how terrible Massachusetts is. Would you come to a Massachusetts whose governor went around running the state down? No.
Link to Globe

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Team player

Date: September 22nd., 2005
Sent to but not published in the Boston Globe

Mr Donald Mills (Letters, September 22nd. 2005) has it completely wrong.
It is the Governor who has abandoned the principles and policies on which he and the GOP ran for Office. It is the Governor who has abandoned the civil union rights for gay people. It is the Governor who abandoned his commitment to facilitate access to contraception. It is the Governor who advocated the abandonment of civil liberties for Moslems.
We really cannot blame Ms Healey for sticking to her principles.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Taking Responsibility

Date: September 15th., 2005
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

When Lord Carrington took responsibility for British Intelligence failures prior to the Falkland war, he resigned as Foreign Secretary.
Is George W. Bush going to do the same? If not, what does "taking responsibility" mean?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Catholic Church and Gays

Date: September 14th., 2005
Sent to but not published in the Pilot (The Newspaper of the Boston Catholic Hierarchy)

Why is the Catholic Church so insistent on removing the civil rights of its fellow citizens?
Surely, to be consistent in its belief that nothing good can come out of gay people (see its witch hunt against gays in the seminaries despite the fact that pederasty has no relation to homosexuality), the Catholic Church should whitewash and cover up the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel -- a marvellous testament to the glory of God and produced by a gay person!


Date: September 14th., 2005
Sent to but not published in the Boston Globe (nor did I expect it to be)

Thank you for today's David D'Alessandro's piece that put a broader perspective on the Kilts' op-ed of last week.
He, more effectively (in terms of both source and content), covered the issues that I raised in my letter ( (unpublished) that I sent last week.
As there were NO letters commenting on Kilts in the paper all week, I was beginning to think he was getting a free pass because he sat on your parent Board.
I am delighted that this was not the case. Thank you.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Gillette Merger

September 8th. 2005,
Sent to Boston Globe but not published

Thank you for giving James Kilts a pulpit from which he can assure the rest of us that the Proctor and Gamble merger with Gillette is a good one (Globe, Op-Ed, September 8th., 2005, A17).
The unanswered question in his piece is: Good for whom?
All of the people he mentions who endorsed the merger represent just one of the many stakeholders in Gillette -- the shareholders. What about the employees -- many of them will lose jobs. What about the cities in which those employees live. They will lose the purchases of those employees with a knock-on de-multiplier effect: the stores and service establishments patronised by those employees will lose business. What about consumers? There is no mention by Mr Kilts of the benefits to consumers that the merged company will provide. If he did not mention them, does that mean there are none?
Of course Mr Kilts, who is now drawing a retainer as a Board Member of the New York Times Company (owner of of the Boston Globe), is the biggest beneficiary of all. He walks away with an enormous $156 million golden parachute.
Let's see what that means in terms that we can all understand. The average salary in Boston is $48,000. So, if Mr Kilts had declined this package, about 3,421 persons could have continued to be employed by Gillette in Boston for a year. Maybe those job losses could have been achieved by attrition rather than lay-off. Mr Kilts, of course, did not mention that in his paean to the merger.
In the interests of full disclosure he should have.
The picture is darker and more complex than that painted by Mr. Kilts. Even if the plant remains, with decision making moving from Boston to the headquarters in Cincinnati, can we be sure that Boston's concerns will be front and center? I am not sure.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

September 6th. 2005,
Sent to New York Times but not published

Government does not have a monopoly of incompetence.
It took 15 years or so for the levees of New Orleans to deteriorate. Here in Boston it took just a few months for the first significant breach to appear in the tunnel walls of the "Big Dig." A large number of major flaws have now been discovered in this project managed and undertaken by private enterprise.
It took three months of reports from health inspectors before Halliburton cleaned up a Mess Hall kitchen in Iraq. Their failure added to the perils faced by our troops.
Even today, two hundred years after Semelweiss discovered how germs were transmitted in hospitals, many doctors and nurses do not wash their hands between patients.
It is time for us all to start acting responsibly.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Language Requirement

September 5th. 2005,
Sent to New York Times Book Review but not published

At Mr Sleeper's University (Yale) the decline in graduate language requirements occurred many years ago. When I was a graduate student in 1964, the Graduate Faculty -- after an impassioned plea to retain the liberal education ideal by Henri Peyre, the distinguished French scholar -- the graduate faculty voted to reduce the language requirement from two to one language. Martin Shubik, the economist, told his colleagues that next year he would be back to propose that one of the permissible languages for study would be Fortran!

Health Care

Date: July 4 2005
Sent to Macleans, Canada

The Supreme Court has it wrong. Technological advances will destroy private health insurance over the next decade.
Once genetic screening techniques are perfected, so that our propensity for each and every disease will be known from an early age, the only form of health insurance that makes sense will be the single payer form. The private health insurance industry will go the way of the dodo, as no responsible Canadian Government will allow an unregulated market in which Insurance Companies can cherry pick for coverage those with a low propensity to get sick while excluding those from coverage who are likely to do so.
We had better start now to develop a Health Care system that takes account of these evolving technologies. At least we have a better base to build on than our neighbours to the south.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Pay at the MFA

September 1st. 2005,
Sent to Boston Globe but not published

Did Malcolm Rogers really accept a pay raise equal to the amount he asked his lowest level employees to give up? Where is the notion of an organization as a community with all sharing the pain when the organization encountered difficulties and all sharing the gain when the organization flourished? That is very much a thing of the past
Of course, to my surprise, Mr Rogers has not violated the Mission Statement of the MFA. To my surprise the mission statement, adopted in 1991, make absolutely no mention of the Institution's responsibilities to its employees.
It is time for the Trustees to go back to the drawing board and craft a new mission statement that takes the contributions of employees at all levels into account.