Latest Letter to the Editor

The Salem News published my letter. I’ve reprinted it below:

Governor Baker’s concern for the homeless is commendable and I applaud his efforts. I would, however, like to make a suggestion for addressing the issue. The solution for homelessness is not made up of a patchwork system of hotels and shelter beds. Rather, it is accomplished by the seemingly radical step of giving them homes.

This may strike some as a liberal fantasy, a wasteful giveaway, and prohibitively expensive. The success of a program in Salt Lake City in deep-red Republican Utah suggest the opposite on all counts.

In 2005, the city created a program where they gave the homeless homes and found it was more effective and, over the long term, cheaper. Whereas the average homeless person cost the city more than $20,000 dollars a year in shelters, emergency-room visits, ambulances, police, and so on, simply giving them a home cost $8,000 annually.

A study in Colorado reached a similar conclusion. It found the average homeless person cost the state $43,000 a year while simply housing the person reduced the cost to just $17,000.

When addressing homelessness, it’s clear the most effective method is to fix the root cause of the problem rather than treat the symptoms. I hope the Baker administration takes the bold step of doing this in Massachusetts.

Letter to The Editor

The Salem News published my letter. I’ve reprinted it below:


The new parking spot for those wounded in combat

On a recent trip to Panera in Vinnin Square, I noticed the addition of a new special parking space next to the two handicapped spots. It was a spot designated for veterans who had been wounded in combat.

While I applaud the notion, I was left questioning the motives. Please don’t get me wrong — honoring the sacrifice of veterans is absolutely necessary in our society. When it comes to voting for political leaders, I always lean toward the vet who put their lives on the line for our country.

But to me this new spot looks like a solution in search of a problem. A lack of parking for those with limited mobility (caused by combat or otherwise) was never an issue. I’ve never seen both the regular handicapped spots filled in this parking lot and injured vets were always free to park there.

Rather than solving a problem, I believe this new parking spot is just an advertisement for Wounded Warrior, the scandal-plagued charity whose name is prominent on the sign. As one anonymous vet said in the Daily Beast article about the organization, “They’re more worried about putting their label on everything than getting down to brass tacks. It’s really frustrating.”

This analysis was confirmed earlier this year in a New York Times article titled “Wounded Warrior Project Spends Lavishly on Itself,” which found only 60 percent of donations went to veterans; 40 percent went to “overhead.” The organization’s top two executives, Steven Nardizzi and Al Giordano, were fired shortly afterward.

Unfortunately, despite these firings, we appear to be getting more of the same from the company — publicity stunts masquerading as charitable acts. It’s clear funds donated to Wounded Warrior continue to go to advertising for more money, not to meeting the real needs of vets.

I urge those who want to donate to veteran causes to instead look to organizations like Fisher House, which received four stars from Charity Navigator and an A+ rating from Charity Watch. In contrast to Wounded Warrior, Fisher House spends close to 95 percent of its budget on programs that help vets. They spend their time providing real services, not creating phony baloney parking space ad slots.

Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump Vows To … You Know What, Let’s Just Stop

In a major policy speech yesterday, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump vowed to … actually, let’s just stop here. This latest one, I mean, come on. I can’t even type this out. How long do we have to endure this farce?

Alright, looming deadline. Let’s take another stab at this.

I mean, come on. People should be ashamed to think the things that are coming out of this man's mouth right now

Most people would be ashamed to think the things that are coming out of this man’s mouth right now

In a major statement with serious potential implications, a man vying to become the most powerful person in the world yesterday stated … Jesus, this is one is too much. I went into journalism to be a dogged purveyor of truth and righter of wrongs, not to be a stenographer to an idiot.

Come on Dave, you can do this. Alright. Just write it as if it is not really happening. You are in a happy place, not in a country where this bozo is a nominee for President representing the Party of Lincoln.

Here we go.

Despite misgivings about Trump’s latest statement, his supporters praised the latest plan which they called … coffee. I could use a cup of coffee right now. That’ll give me the energy to make it through this. I’m just tired.

Good old coffee. Does it every time. Now where was I.

Although the plan does have some critics … Yes, some critics. Just a few, like EVERY SANE PERSON IN THE ENTIRE WORLD WHO BOTHERS TO USE THEIR HEAD and watches TV shows that aren’t The Apprentice and thinks that a man who sell steaks and bogus real estate investing seminars is not really a billionaire like he claims.

Deep breaths, Dave. Deep breaths. Alright, slow down. There you go. Zen, you studied Zen. Calm. Ohm, the mantra. You can do this!

Speaking before a crowd of thousands, Trump repeated his calls for…oh God, not this one again. I mean, come on. This is so stupid it makes Trump calling a reporter pretending to be someone else look smart.

You know what? Forget it. I can’t do it. From now on, an embargo on all Trump stories. This fever dream will pass in about five months. Call me when it’s over and this enormous, nonsensical distraction is done and we can start talking sense again.

Consider the Source

To the editor:

I read with some interest the May 25 editorial in The Salem News, “For fiscal health, Bay State ranks next to last.” The editorial noted Massachusetts’ poor standing in a recent survey of economic health conducted by an entity called The Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Curious to know more about this organization I had never heard of before and their “market-oriented approach to solving problems,” I did some quick Google searches. It was not long before I discovered the Mercatus Center obtains a significant portion of its funding and support from the Koch Brothers, the billionaires duo with a long history of supporting extreme right-wing policies.

Both the CEO and executive vice president of Koch Industries sit on the Mercatus board and the think tank moved there after a $30 million giveaway to George Mason University from the Koch family.

After reading the ratings of various states on the Mercatus Center website, one has to wonder what criteria this Koch funded think tank used to evaluate economic health. The survey gave low marks to Massachusetts (in 2015 the sixth-wealthiest state in America), Maryland (the wealthiest state in America), New Jersey (the second wealthiest state in America), California (the ninth wealthiest state in America and the eighth largest economy in the world), and New York (home to the wealthiest city in America).

Downtown Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota

Downtown Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota

At the same time the Koch-sponsored survey gave high marks to (get this) Alaska, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. While these states are all very nice, few outside of the Koch sphere of influence would regard them as economic or cultural powerhouses. Given the choice between living in Boston or Fargo, I know which one I, and many others, would choose.

When receiving criticism, it’s important to first consider the source. And when the source of an editorial in a local paper is from an out-of-state, Koch-sponsored think tank devoted to pushing an extreme right wing agenda, I think any rational person knows the proper response.