The guiding thread for this week's Goat Rope is fire fighting and El Cabrero's fond memories thereof, although many other topics are covered.
If this is your first visit, please scroll down to earlier entries.
In my days as a volunteer, I was very impressed by the skill and dedication of fire fighters, many of whom are working people trying to balance jobs and family with the many unpaid hours they give to the community.
As a newcomer, I had some revolutionary ideas that didn’t go anywhere. One was just for PR and involved installing a baby on each fire and rescue truck so that we could whip it out and pretend to save it in case the media showed up.
Another was proposed legislation to the effect that, if we had to respond to a motor vehicle accident in bad weather at an ungodly hour and the passengers had the bad manners to get out of their cars themselves, we would get to play with our toys and cut up their cars anyway.
I think the failure of my innovations was due to an irrational conservatism and something about liability.
Before closing, I must address the proverbial elephant in the room. I am referring, of course, to the cat question, an issue that lingers just beneath the surface in any discussion of firefighting. To wit: do we now or have we ever rescued an old lady’s cat from the top of a tree?
The official answer I am supposed to give is probably “No,” although the real answer is that we probably would if we were bored enough. In that case, we might even put the cat up there to start with...
To my dying day I will regret not responding to a call that involved getting a cow down from the second floor of a rickety barn after it partially fell through. I still don’t know how our guys got it out unscathed, but I’m reasonably certain they didn’t plant it there.
My volunteer firefighting career came to an end due to heart problems. I miss it. There is really nothing that can take the place of riding the big red trucks.
St. Paul famously said that when I was I child I spake and acted as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things. In this instance, I must beg to differ. Every little kid knows that fire trucks and fire stations are cool.
And every little kid is right.
THE LATEST REMINDER of the risks both career and volunteer firefighters face is the recent death of Ceredo WV firefighter Christopher Jaros, who died Saturday in an auto accident in his private vehicle while responding to a call. Here's the report from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch about his funeral.
MORE ON THE REAL WALTER REED SCANDAL. The Hightower Lowdown sums up the real issues of the Walter Reed story. Here's an excerpt:
The gross mistreatment of our wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is disgusting, but there also appears to be a scandal behind the scandal.
The Army Times reports that the head of the center warned last year that "patient care services are at risk of mission failure." Why? Because under George W's "competitive sourcing" directive, the Pentagon has been pushing to privatize as much of its work as possible. And in 2006, top officials awarded a $120 million contract to turn the facilities management over to IAP Worldwide Services, run by two former senior Halliburton officials. IAP, which brags that Dan Quayle is on its board, is the contractor that botched the delivery of ice to New Orleans during the Katrina fiasco.
ON A RELATED NOTE here's an item about the damage the Bush administration has inflicted on the Army itself.
TAX DAY. Here's a breakdown from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities about where tax dollars go. Here's a rant on taxes and trickles by Antipode. And here's a comment from the Coalition on Human Needs about the effects of the Bush administration's tax cuts for the wealthy:
The federal tax cuts enacted starting in 2001 have failed both to preserve an adequate amount of revenue and to collect it fairly. The deficit for FY 2004 is estimated at $422 billion. The tax cuts have added more to the deficit than all other new federal legislation combined since 2001. If made permanent, they will cost more than $1.6 trillion over 10 years. Such massive reductions in revenue strangle the government's capacity to meet the nation's needs. Further, the tax cuts worsen the gap between the rich and everyone else. In 2004, half of the combined value of all the tax cuts passed since 2001 will go to the richest one percent. The bottom 20 percent will receive only 1.3 percent.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED