A Dark Cloud Down the Hill

Such stories are terrible to hear:

Gail Corvello figured that if she and her neighbors held out for about five years, they would be able to get out from under the nightmare of the soil contamination in the Bay Street neighborhood that has had a stranglehold on their lives since 2002.
She was wrong.
On Friday, Corvello will say an emotional goodbye to the last of innumerable children she has nurtured in her home-based child-care center on Bay Street over the last 13 years. …
Now both Corvello and her daughter, Becky, 23, have auto-immune connective tissue disorder. They suffer from severe joint pain and must take steroids and pain killers. Last spring, illness forced Becky to drop out of graduate school at the University of Rhode Island, where she had been studying molecular biology. …
They’ve cashed in their retirement savings, losing 30 percent of the net value, and making settlements with creditors. …
Her husband was working two jobs until he got hurt and was out for 10 weeks, she said.

The family has applied for an Environmentally Compromised Homeowner (ECHO) loan — a program established last year with the Tiverton neighborhood explicitly intended to benefit, and I hope it’s sufficient. I still can’t help but wonder, though, why concomitant infrastructure wasn’t set up for private donations. Why the emphasis on government aid to citizens rather than government’s facilitation of citizens’ helping each other?
As I’ve previously suggested, other approaches to the problem would likely have yielded better results.

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Ken
Ken
14 years ago

Justin,
Just remember, soil contamination gases can accumulate and any gas that is lighter than air will work its way uphill in the soil. Depending on type of bedrock and aquifers liquids (rain soaked soil contamination) in some cases can be sucked up hill.
A recent 50 state survey “An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease” and state health ranking by Milken Institute of 7 diseases placed Rhode Island (44 out of 50) in the top 10 worst states for health. This might be also why (RI State) our healthcare costs are so high.
http://www.milkeninstitute.org/

Rasputin-Khlyst
Rasputin-Khlyst
14 years ago

The history of social welfare in America shows a continual waxing and waning of government services in response to social needs. History has demonstrated that non government intervention has not succeeded as well as government intervention where professionals determine actual need and take appropriate action. The use of non professionals and charities has typically led to uneven funding and poorer results historically. As the radical right proceeds to dismantle the safety net and “defer” to private funding efforts or to profit motive agencies where the profit motive leads to diminished services and poorer quality with consequently worse outcomes, the social changes will effect all classes, albeit unevenly. In the long run the attainment of entire society will be lessened. For example, business expansion is often dependent upon an analysis of risk and the lack of social safety nets inhibits growth. Of course there are parasitic businesses which “outsource” the cost of employee benefits such as health care to the local ER and the society at large. These businesses deserve even more contempt then the ignorant teen who has a baby she cannot afford. The businesses should know better. The middle class is unable to achieve as much upward mobility as service cuts and cuts in higher educational funding helps to undermine upward mobility. The result is less innovation, less business growth and less discretionary income in the middle and lower classes resulting in the further inhibition of social growth. The dearth of social services creates other costs as well. Those who cannot go to college preclude a labor force of needed expertise. Employers complain and need to create expensive training programs or they cannot meet expansion goals. As another example, the cost of private health insurance versus a demonstratively more cost effective universal health insurance inhibits growth. The failure to… Read more »

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Whoa boy. It would be impossible to offer a comprehensive response, Rasputin.
Two points will have to suffice for now:
1. You write as if you’ve historical precedent, but surely today’s broad access to higher education has no historical evidence with respect to decreased funding therefor.
2. I’d argue that there is actually a surfeit of young adults with college degrees. The complaint that I’ve more often heard is that companies still have to train them.

Rasputin-Khlyst
Rasputin-Khlyst
14 years ago

Justin,
1. With respect to education, it is not a historical precedent, it is a cross cultural one looking at relative social standing and life styles within the different cultures dichotomized by educational access as well as evidence based on some data from the CA State College System before and after Ronnie Ray Gun.
2. If companies want certain training not offered, then let them create the courses in a cooperative arrangement with the college or university whenever that is more cost efficient. This has been done to some extend and CCRI has a few examples of this cooperative partnership. Otherwise if there is just highly specific skills needed that are not worthwhile outside of that company’s environment, such training must be a company’s prerogative. I would nonetheless argue that a well educated employee is an asset overall anyway, not just for the company, but for the society at large.
3. Specialization as practiced by many countries may also be very worthwhile here, whether it be similar in nature to the Brooklyn High School of Science or a direct specialization in art, language, music, sports medicine, etc., preening students to be the best they can be in their areas of high aptitude and high interest.
In any event the point is that social safety nets are in the interest of the nation and it is therefore in the best interest of the nation to promote higher education for all that can benefit. It is also in the best interest of the country to maximize the health of its people e.g., health care for all, and so on. Left to private resources there has not been consistent success. In these cases,it is the historical data which shows social good is best promoted by trained professionals serving that good.

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