Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Home Heating Help

Anyone who is in tough shape now should look to see if they qualify for a federally funded program called LIHEAP. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Their number is 1 800 632 8175 or go to www.mass.gov/dhcd or www.energybucks.com.

This Veterans Day.

Is unlike any other that I can think of. The Ft Hood massacre will go down in history as one of the most horrific crimes committed on a military base in this country.After watching the gut wrenching "final roll call" and the Presidents eulogy for those who lost their lives, I was reminded of what many feel is their duty to serve this country in a all volunteer army. Is it the bad economy or patriotism?

And while the President decides whether to ship off as many as 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Beacon Hill has passed and awaits Deval's signature, a bill that expands benefits to veterans. Expanded Welcome Home Bonus, substituting relevant experience for state certification requirements, preferences for disabled veterans who own businesses. The bill also makes it easier for vets to cast absentee ballots and the building of group homes for vets. Soldiers will also go through neuropsychological testing before and after tours of duty. The bill also establishes a "Massachusetts medal of Liberty" to be awarded to those families who have lost a soldier killed in action.

All well and good and about time. But there are seriuos deficits on how we treat our vets and while one in three homeless people are vets, so many others have never gotten the respect or help they were once promised by both State and Federal governments. I wonder how many young people realize that before going off to war. Last month, the recruiters announced that they have, for the first time in 37 years, met their recruitment objectives with volunteers, most of which graduated from high school.

There are 2 million vets here in Mass who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan with many more to become veterans. Over 4,000 have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and the number grows daily. 58,000 lost their lives in the Vietnam conflict with still unanswered questions about the POW MIA's from that era. A young soldier from Plymouth and another unidentified soldier with him trying to recovery supplies dropped in a river, who was MIA and feared to be held hostage by the Taliban was recovered yesterday. This follows the deadlist day since the war started 8 years ago, where two Massachusetts solidiers were killed in helicopter accidents.

All the brave men and women who have volunteered to sacrifice their lives on our behalf should never be forgotten or forsaken. Those who read this blog who went to war, have my heart felt respect and admiration, for it is not all Americans who can face up to dying for their country.

And as our commander and chief mulls over sending more troops to Afghanistan, Senator Kerry has sounded the alarm as he did many years ago, in front of the very same committee he's on now, drawing similarities to the Vietnam conflict. And while some say it's not the same as Vietnam, the fact that our mission is not clear to anyone is wrong. Kerry is quoted as saying" The main lesson that Obama must absorb from Vietnam is the necessity to explain our goals in Afghanistan, and to choose clear and realistic strategies to meet them".

I agree with the Senator.... again.

Straight facts on Stimulus spending here in Mass

The Globe today, after reviewing government documents on exactly how many jobs were saved or created as of the end of October, were wildly exaggerated. Groups that received a total of 4 billion stimulus dollars, miscounted jobs, filed erroneous figures or claimed jobs for work that has not started yet. The company from Seattle who's job it is to track the stimulus funds says that some recipients did not report at all and some reported wrong or missing data.

While we are in line to get another 1 BILLION dollars more in stimlus funding for granbts, loans and contracts, I have to wonder, what in the world is happening here. We knew the money was coming, we knew there would be rules to follow and yet, all that money has not produced much of any results in job creation.

In related bad news, the jobs outlook for Mass looks gloomy for 2010, with an estimated 10% unemployment rate. According to the nonprofit think tank, New England Economic Partnership, another 60,000 jobs will be shed the third quarter of 2010... just in time for the elections.

The well touted Plymouth Rock Studios 550 million dollar plan for Plymouth has lost it's finical backer. This project is not dead yet... but may have to scale down to get financing.

Green job growth is still lagging with less than 1% in jobs for Mass and New England. Currently there are 27,000 jobs in Mass related to alternative energy.

On a brighter note, look for growth in big pharma buying up or partnering with smaller bio research companies here in Mass.