Protecting our Environment

Actions Around NH

Last week during the Shaheen-Brown debate in North Conway, the environmental group NextGen Climate set up a display to draw attention to Brown’s ties to big oil.  Politifact  NH has looked into the claims made by the democratic supporting PACS, in particular Senate Majority and finds the claims  true in that Brown does in fact receive a large portion of his funding from big oil and gas.

nextgen protest scott brown

Of course to most people who pay attention this isn’t really big news since big oil and gas have always supported GOP candidates and races far more than Democrats.  Mostly due to the Democrats long standing tradition of standing up for and funding regulation for healthy people and communities.  While big oil fights government support for renewable energy development, the gas industry has been working double time to ensure continued support for fracking.

The degree to which the oil industry has chips to cash in with New Hampshire politicians should be of concern to residents as the north-east’s dependency on oil is greater than any other part of the United States.  Residents want other energy alternatives but without prioritizing government funds for subsidies or credits for such development, the dream of energy independence cannot be realized.  Geo-thermal and solar, two of the most important renewable energy opportunities still remain far out of reach of most residents and businesses.

Next Gen Climate will be holding actions all over the state during the election season, those interested in participating can contact them through their website at Next Gen Climate.org

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Economics

Carpenters Get Hot on Cheating Contractors

whatever 011On Thursday in Seabrook, NH, the carpenter’s local 118 got busy drawing attention to large contractors cheating labor out of pay and benefits and the state out of revenue. Focusing on a drywall company known as Metro-Walls, the carpenters held what they call a “banner line” to inform passersby of this issue.

The carpenters made their intent clear to remain in front of the construction site as long as Metro-Walls continued operating in violation of the law.

“Missclassification is the biggest problem in the industry right now, its destroying the industry slow but sure. We definitely intend to fight this to the bitter end, we’re not going anywhere, as long as misclassification continues, we’ll be on the front lines.”

“The real victims here are the guys being misclassified and they don’t even know it.” said Johnnie Berry, organizer for Carpenter’s Local 118.

Missclassification of workers involves the practice of cheating works out of workman’s compensation, unemployment eligibility and any future social security benefits.  Since the employer pays either all or a portion of the costs for these programs through payroll deductions, the incentive is high for unscrupulous employers to skirt payment of any of these, keep the employee entirely “off the books” and pay the employee cash instead, or “under the table” as commonly referred to.

We contacted Jim Craig, the Commissioner of Labor whose department handles the enforcement of labor law in New Hampshire. We asked to what extent its a problem in New Hampshire, “It hasn’t been qualified yet in New Hampshire, but I think there’s an enormous underground economy, I think its a national problem.”

We asked about why enforcement seems too slow for many, “You know the trouble with this is these guys move fast, ” explaining that in the construction business in particular a contractor may be on a project for a limited time and also the department handles many investigations that complicate their ability to allocate manpower on just this issue, “We also have to investigate many other labor issues.” he said adding, “We’ve come a long way — we have better enforcement, we have a couple inspectors working just on this issue now.”

We also asked Mr. Craig about the process wherein those found in violation often receive reduced fines and as such operate with labor fines as a cost of doing business, “We’re trying to change that and one way is with attorneys representing the department and we’re working on trying to change the definition of employee, making it more clear.”

As a result misclassification, employers unfairly compete for large contracts due to their reduced labor cost and also avoid responsibility for accidents or injuries on the job.  These costs then fall to the public in lost work time, unpaid medical care and strains on local assistance programs to deal with basic unmet needs to workers and families.

Metro-Walls is one of many companies working on two shopping center expansion projects on Lafayette Road in Seabrook, NH and has a substantial history of labor law violations according to reports made by Local 118 of the New England Regional Carpenters, Manchester New Hampshire.

One of many projects occurring on Lafayette Road.  Metro-Walls is contracted for hanging sheetrock.

One of many projects occurring on Lafayette Road, Seabrook, NH.  Metro-Walls holds the contract to hang sheetrock.

The Department of Professional Employees provides a detailed explanation of the most common types of misclassification on their website here.

More information can be found at the IRS website Independent Contractor (Self-Employed) or Contractor?

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Uncategorized, Undoing Racism

Undressing the N-Word

Moving In, by Norman Rockwell, inspired by integration efforts in Park Forest, Illinois.  How would the utterance of that word effect the potential relationship illustrated?

Moving In, by Norman Rockwell, inspired by integration efforts in Park Forest, Illinois. How would the utterance of that word effect the potential relationship illustrated?

Ran across a well written commentary by writer H. Lewis Smith on why no one should use the N-word in any context in the English language.  While this commentary is addressed to African-American folks most specifically, its range should not be restricted to just that audience.

People of European heritage, that is who have light-colored skin and identify as ‘white’ (a racist construct itself), often express confusion about the use of the N-word.  For some reason they seem to feel that if they hear someone of color use this term to refer to themselves or their peers, then they have a free license to use the word. Why of course, anyone would want to use such a disgusting word in any context is perplexing, but for want of understanding, many do.

Firstly, as Mr. Smith so eloquently lays out and anyone with any understanding of history should know, the N-word embodied the rationalization that allowed the mass brutalization of an entire people by another.

Those of European ancestry who live in America have reaped the fruits of the hard work of those who once were enslaved and often reap the fruits of systemic racism that still exists today.  Statistics and even basic observation shows quite plainly that inequality exists today nearly as grossly as fifty or more years ago.  Those statistics also show that such inequality, while most often economic also derives from social inequality put in place and held in place by old, yet firmly held beliefs, traditions and behaviors of those who have the power to make change where they can.

Recently a poll of ‘white’ folks showed that many have little empathy for or desire to understand the struggle of African-Americans for justice.  Racist language and attitudes don’t touch people of non-African heritage yet surprisingly, many of these same people feel they have a right to pass judgment on when, how and to what degree African-American people should express outrage at their own oppression.  The attitude of prejudice comes from ignorance, the ignorance remains in place due to a social construct that legitimizes one group’s experience while dismissing another’s, called privilege.  In the context of the American social frame, it is known as “white privilege”.

This seems shocking, but its a symptom of the culture; a culture where the dominance of one group over another runs deep.  It runs so deep that non-African people feel they have the right to arbitrate on and decide on the degree to which another group is oppressed.  Privilege is exactly that — having the power to decide right and wrong and where responsibility lies and most importantly, who is allowed to suffer.  What is the difference between this hypocrisy and that of the slave holder of old, who tightly holds the key to the shackles while laughing that his property enjoys their enslavement?

Like Mr. Smith, people take a minute to think agree that use of the N-word trivializes the suffering of those who came before us and built this country with no pay, no credit, not even a thanks.  Use of the N-word excuses injustice and the dehumanization of racism, the N-word grants the lynch mob tacit approval, gives a nod to those who say that racism doesn’t exist and allows it to perpetuate.  Use of the N-word by people of non-African descent, most importantly, practices the same oppression, the same brutalization by repeating and aping the very practice of those who held the slave system in place by their participation in it or obedience to it.

Mr. Smith says that all people of colored skin came from the same place.  Let’s correct that: all humans came from the same place.  Africa is in fact the genetic motherland of all of us.  Science has shown that homo sapiens began in the rich lands of Africa and migrated over thousands of years to different locations as continental plates moved and shifted.  Also, science has now shown that light colored hair shafts (blonde, red) and light colored skin, the hallmarks of people from regions with less sunlit days, were no doubt an evolutionary adaptation to survive.  Light skin and light hair allowed the essential vitamin D to be absorbed into the body, the sun being the only source (until modern chemistry has made it possible as an additive) for this vitamin.  While the development of other features such as nose shape in some folks seems still a debated topic, we should be long beyond any idea that human difference is more than skin deep.

Kwanzaa, the celebration of African unity and pride ended yesterday and in that evening Nelson Mandela passed away.  This seems a fitting time for everyone to consider how their actions, even what seems the smallest, such as word choice can move us forward as a people or keep us all enslaved in ignorance and hate.

Column: “Undressing The N-Word”

By H. Lewis Smith

Nationwide (December 3, 2013) — Over the past year or so, many events have been occurring in the Black Community at the hand of the Black Community that continues to bring continual shame and degradation to the honorable memories, sacred struggle and sacrifice of African-American ascendants. Some may argue against it, but these acts continue to adversely affect the growth, development, and progression of the Black community, on a whole, to this very day. For instance, in November 2013, former NBA greats Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and ESPN commentator Michael Wilborn bowed down to and pledged their allegiance to a word that dehumanized, stigmatized and objectified their ancestors on national TV. That word is the n-word (n**ga).

It is this sort of pervasive 18th century slave mentality, blindness to such behaviors, and misuse of influential power – much-made possible by the blood and sacrifices of their own ancestors, that prompted writing the book Undressing of the N-word: Revealing the Naked Truth About Lies, Deceit and Mind Games. It is high time that Black America stop the antics, halt the selfish mentality of “I got mines”, and really use all resources they have to demand respect for the entire race within and without the community. Ignorance is no longer acceptable or the calling card to bring attention to Black America; rather, Black America must take the time to educate themselves, and in so doing, reality will be made clear.

The following are excerpts from one of the chapters in my soon-to-be released book entitled, Undressing The N-word: Revealing the Naked Truth About Lies, Deceit and Mind Games.

Forbiddingly, you learn today that your mother was brutally and unmercifully bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Now close your eyes and think about this for a moment: think about the heinousness in the act; see your mother screaming for her life and doing everything in her power to defend against and fight off her unrelenting attackers; think about all of the pain and anguish she endured as blow upon blow of the hammer welled down on her, before the final bit of life was unrightfully snatched with that last thud. Can you see it? Can you see the multiple plugs imprinted into whatever part of her body the hammer unforgivingly fell upon? Can you empathize with that dreadful moment in time?

Click to continue reading H. Lewis Smith

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Uncategorized

Sears/K-Mart Owner Shuts Store Down for Thanksgiving

A K-Mart store owner in Plymouth, NH defies the corporate mandate from K-Mart by closing the doors of her store for Thanksgiving.  K-Mart, Sears, Wal-Mart and other giant retailers intend to ignore the national holiday and schedule their employees to report to work.  As everyone knows, retail workers’ pay falls substantially below the living wage mark.  In addition, retailers like to keep their workers part-time or near close to it, causing most to take whatever hours they can to get their take-home wage as high as possible.

In addition, most low wage work requires short training periods and the unemployment rate in the country still remains high.  Perfect conditions to remind workers that complaints about work schedules or hours will garner little sympathy and could cause one to be out the door.  So much for that old saw about the open market place of the job and worker choice.

The whoring of the holiday is evident with a google search “stores open on Thanksgiving” bringing up headliners such as:

Reuters: “Eyeing holiday sales, more US retailers to open on Thanksgiving...Meanwhile, many Wal-Mart Stores Inc U.S. locations will be open all day…”

Latino Fox News: “Can’t Wait For Black Friday? More Stores Than Ever Now Open On.While stores like Walmart have been open on Thanksgiving for the past 25 years, others like Macy’s are opening for the first time on Turkey Day 

Retailindustry.about.com: “Complete List of Retail Stores Open Thanksgiving Day – Pre-Black  Best U.S. Retail Promotions‎  Thanksgiving Day is the new Black Friday, with some of the largest U.S. retail chains opening their retail doors and starting their Black Friday sales promotions …”

Isn’t that wonderful? Thanksgiving Day is the new Black Friday!  Your corporate masters shall decide when you will rest and when you won’t! Get up slaves and work!

Think Progress has compiled a list of retailers that will stay closed on the holiday, Your Shopping Guide to Stores That Won’t Ruin Worker’s Thanksgivings

We at Progressive Action NH urge everyone to stay home, relax and spend the day with friends and family.   Happy Thanksgiving.

PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — Many stores are planning to be open on Thanksgiving, but the owner of a Sears store in New Hampshire says her store is staying closed.

Franchise owner Holly Cassiano in Plymouth tells WMUR-TV (http://bit.ly/1ghrTuG) said she had one reaction when the Sears corporate office told her she had to be open on Thursday: anger.

She said she’s not going to let corporate retailers rule over family values on the holiday. She sent a letter to Sears with her reasons for staying closed, but hasn’t heard back yet.

‘‘I value my employees enough that I wouldn’t have them have to work on a day that’s mean to be spent with family,’’ she said. She’s also starting a petition calling on state legislators to pass a law allowing for franchise owners the flexibility to close on holidays.

She plans to open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

A Granite State Poll shows that a majority of New Hampshire residents don’t like the idea of stores opening on Thanksgiving. The poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows just 9 percent approved of stores opening on the holiday, while 54 percent disapproved.

Full Story: boston.com

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Uncategorized

We’re Back!

Well its been a bit since anyone has posted here now hasn’t it?  Judging from our stat ticker, unbelievably enough people have been checking in with us and we appreciate your faith in our possible resurrection.   We intend to post at least twice a week, maybe more often.  Coming up on a new legislative session in New Hampshire, the end of the government-has-hostage debacle (for now) and the continuing rage of Tea Baggers nationally and Free Staters locally will gives us plenty to stay up at night and worry over. 

So without further ado, we’ll let Susan the Bruce weigh in on the latest happenings from the shut-down to the impending antics of our many ALEC tools in the state house:

 

Government by the Petulant

The government shutdown has ended and the possible default has been averted. For now. We’ll be going through democracy-by-hostage-taking again in just a few months. The Republicans have ample time to figure out their next round of demands. (Make me a sammich or we’ll shut down the gummint!) The Tea Partiers were ready to play Russian roulette with the global economy just because they hate Obama. The next time the US tries to impose democracy on some other country, the rest of the world is going to laugh in our collective faces. And they should.
 
This shutdown was brought to us by the party of fiscal and personal responsibility. That’s $24 billion of our tax dollars wasted by a bunch of 3rd grade playground bullies stomping their expensively shod feet about a law they don’t like. These are not statesmen, doing the work of the people. These are petulant and vindictive men who were willing to make the whole world pay because they didn’t get their way. This is why any person running for any office (local, state, national) who says they hate gummint should be immediately and permanently disqualified.
 
Will the party of fiscal and personal responsibility be taking up a collection to reimburse the taxpayers for the $24 billion? Don’t hold your breath. The poor lambs planned the shutdown for months, and then got miffed when a shutdown meant actually shutting things down. One take away from all this? We should really stop waiting for Texas to secede and take preemptive action. If they want to elect dunderheads like Ted Cruz, Randy Neugebauer, and Louis Gohmert to state government that would be one thing, but sending them to DC where they can mess with all of us? Sorry, Texas. This just can’t be allowed to go on.
 
As for GOP fiscal responsibility, we’re seeing it right here at home. The 2014 legislative session will begin in January, where they will have 638 bills to contend with. So far. The Senate cut off for filing LSRs is October 30, so we can count on a last minute flurry of filings. The average cost of an LSR (legislative request/potential bill) is $1500. Representative JR Hoell, of Dunbarton, is this year’s winner in the most bills filed category, at 21. That’s 21 bills, at a cost of $1500 each – Representative Hoell is going to cost NH taxpayers $31,500. Given that he’s a remarkably ineffectual legislator, we can be sure that few if any of these 21 bills will be passed.  In 2013 Hoell sponsored 12 bills. None of them passed.
 
Hoell is not a member of the Free State Project, but he’s the next best thing. He’s part of the extremist libertarian crowd. They worship at the altar of Koch, Rand, and Paul (pere et fils.) They hate gummint, so they work tirelessly to become part of it. To show their contempt, they file endless nuisance legislation, to waste the time of their colleagues, and taxpayer dollars. They claim to hate wasteful spending, but they do it themselves at every opportunity. They also claim to hate the nanny state, but they are desperate to play stern patriarch to the uterus bearing population of NH. A sardonic tweet the other day (from an observer of the nanny state uterus brigade) read: “It’s not uterYOU, it’s uterUS.” To summarize Hoell’s bills, he wants everyone, everywhere to have unrestricted access to guns, wants to eliminate the judiciary and the police, and he wants women to serve as involuntary incubators. He might want to rethink giving the involuntary incubators unrestricted access to guns.
 
Coming in at 19 LSRs is Rep. Dan Itse, from Freemont. That’s $28,500 worth of taxpayer waste. Itse is another extreme libertarian, not a Free Stater, but certainly an ally. Many of Itse’s bills are aimed at ensuring that food produced in NH is exempted from the Food Safety and Modernization Act. These folks hate gummint regulation, and feel that in the free market, you should be able to choose for yourself what you buy. If you want to buy contaminated food, that should be your decision. If you buy it unknowingly and get sick or die, well, next time you won’t buy from that guy!
 
Itse also wants to recodify education laws, laws relative to law enforcement personnel, and wants to eliminate proprietorships from the business enterprise tax. He also wants to prevent students from voting. The extreme libertea crowd hates law enforcement and hates the judiciary. They sympathize with the crowd of whiny wife beaters who feel hard done by that they have to pay child support, but they don’t get full custody. Still, this year Itse made an effort to reel himself in. Last year he sponsored 42 LSRs, at an estimated cost of $63,000. Not a single one of them passed. I’m sure we’re all happy to know that fiscal conservatives like Itse and Hoell are looking out for us.
 
There are at least a dozen gun bills proposed, because, after all, in a state with 500 bridges that are on a red list for structural impairment, the only possible solution is guns and more guns. The unemployment rate is at a firm 5%, and obviously the best way to deal with that is GUNS!
 
 
The northern Carroll County delegation has managed to comport itself with admirable restraint. No one has filed an epic number of bills, no gun bills, or anything that (so far) seems like nuisance legislation. A pity that can’t be said of the legislators from the southern part of the state. We sell the good people of Massachusetts cheap booze and cigarettes, mock them for being socialists, and they thank us by sending their misanthropes to populate southern NH where they run for the legislature. Massachusetts gets the last laugh.
 
 
“This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.”  Charlie Pierce
 
Can’t get enough of Susan the Bruce? Visit her website at: SusantheBruce

 

 

 

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Protecting our Environment

What’s a Little Oil? Tarsands That Is…

From a blog on Cape Cod Today by writer Joe Quigley, his observations on the recent Arkansas tar sands spill which Exxon oil has managed to dodge clean-up costs for.  Also, as he says, let’s not forget the 2010 tar sands oil spill from a pipeline that crossed the community of Kalamazoo.  Joe’s article is chock-full of information on tar sands and the already present national struggle to deal with its effects on our environment and our lives.

While much emphasis has been placed on the XL Pipeline in Texas, the same nightmare is looming for construction hear in the Northeast with the Trailbreaker Pipeline.  We provide links for more information after the fold to the article.  Also, there will be an event here in New Hampshire on Saturday, April 20th, put on by our good friends in the North Country of New Hampshire.

What’s a Little Oil?

I am sure most of us are familiar with that man named Jed. He was that poor mountaineer who barely kept his family fed. Then one day he was shooting at some food, and up from the ground came the bubbling crude. Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea. We are also aware that since he owned the land where he found the oil, he was able to walk away and move to a fancy neighborhood.

Last Friday in Arkansas, Jed’s home state, up from the ground came the bubbling crude, but since the people do not own the pipeline from which it flowed, they do not have Jed’s option to just up and move.

Read more:  What’s a Little Oil? by Joe Quigley

 

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wind money
Protecting our Environment

Wind Industry Insider Speaks out Against Subsidies

An editorial from April 1st, in the Wall Street Journal written by functionary in the wind industry speaks his mind about the flood of federal subsidies for wind turbine development.  Its worth a read and prescient to the experience across the country of people finding the development of wind power taking a turn down the old slippery slope of greed.  The wind industry has woven itself into the hearts and minds of most Americans who remain unaware of the environmental hazards that the current designs of wind turbines present.  In addition, as the writer, Patrick Jenevein says in his own words, the industry has, in their hunger for profit, forgotten their original mission which was in fact to assist in preserving our planet from further industrial destruction.

Wind Power Subisidies – No Thanks!

by Patrick Jenevein for the Wall Street Journal

The sequester has led to dire warnings from many camps, including advocates of clean energy, who argue that Washington’s modest cuts could derail America’s green future. But from my vantage as a CEO in the wind-power business, the sequester offers Washington a rare opportunity to roll back misguided subsidies and maybe help reverse wind power’s stalling momentum.

Since 2009, as part of the president’s stimulus, wind-farm developers have been able to get a federal cash grant or tax credit covering up to 30% of their capital investment in a new project. This is especially attractive compared with another tax credit that rewards wind farms based on how much power they actually produce. Through May 2012, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Washington spent some $8.4 billion on these cash grants.

But under the sequester, Uncle Sam is cutting the cash-grant program by 8.7% between March 1 and Sept. 30. Advocates of clean energy should welcome this haircut and urge for even more fundamental policy change.

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Barbara Kelley

Government subsidies to new wind farms have only made the industry less focused on reducing costs. In turn, the industry produces a product that isn’t as efficient or cheap as it might be if we focused less on working the political system and more on research and development. After the 2009 subsidy became available, wind farms were increasingly built in less-windy locations, according to the Department of Energy’s “2011 Wind Technologies Market Report.” The average wind-power project built in 2011 was located in an area with wind conditions 16% worse than those of the average project in 1998-99.

Read more at the site: Wind Power Subsidies? No Thanks!

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