Posts Tagged ‘California Progress Report’

Like a Disco Inferno, But Without the Disco

July 16, 2009
Put away that hose, you fool! Can't you see these people are poor?

Put away that hose, you fool! Can't you see these people are poor?

The big fire story in today’s news was the release of the shocking video of Michael Jackson’s head going up in flames, but here’s another fire-related tidbit that may have flown under your radar. Fire departments in California might stop helping each other put out fires, because they’re too broke.

Via San Diego Union-Tribune:

“…with the debt-saddled state issuing IOUs instead of providing cash reimbursements, a growing number of fire chiefs are warning that the day may come when they have to check their bank balances first before dispatching crews far from home to assist Cal Fire.”

Ok, so firefighters are always trying to scare us when they’re having budget problems by warning us that our houses are going to burn down if they don’t get more money… but shit is finally getting so bad that it might actually be true this time. To make matters worse, the federal firefighting budget was slashed so deeply during the Bush years that the US Forest Service firefighters—who are often the first on hand to battle California’s infamous wildfires before they rage out of control—are working with increasingly smaller crews despite the greater risk of catastrophic blazes resulting from another little problem called “climate change.”

Good thing our pals in the insurance industry have got our backs. Chubb Group, for example, recently “began offering fire protection to its clients in 13 Western states as long as their homes have a replacement value of at least $1 million.” Hell, yeah—once again, privatization to the rescue!

If you would rather support a “local business” rather than one of those faceless corporate giants, just give Golden Valley Fire Suppression a call, and for only $30,000, they’ll make sure your house stays nice and cool while your poorer neighbors watch their shitboxes go up in flames (Serves them right for relying on “the government” to protect them – suckers!)

But for real, you know fire departments are tapped out when they can’t even afford clothes for their hard-working firefighters anymore. These poor fellows don’t even have the money for shirts!

Change? Got any spare change?

Change? Got any spare change?

If You Thought Toxic Assets Were Bad, Just Wait Until Your Face Melts Off

June 4, 2009

Keeping in line with this week’s theme of California’s economic implosion, check out this clip from Jill Replogle’s California Progress Report article “Toxic Risk Assessment Could Be Thrown Out With the Budget Dust”:

“To the dismay of environmentalists, and health and consumer advocates, the one state office responsible for assessing the risk of toxins in the environment, consumer products and food could become a victim of California budget cuts. Scientists and public health workers are alarmed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to eliminate the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)…”

Here’s the kicker: Under Schwarzenegger’s proposal to disperse OEHHA’s duties among other state agencies, the taxpayers could expect to save the whopping sum of…“well under $150,000.” Just to put this in perspective, we’re facing a $24 billion budget gap.

OK, so maybe Arnold thinks that we all want to be orange-haired mutants like him, but the article makes a good point that there are a lot of industries that don’t really want there to be an effective government agency screening consumer products for toxins and maybe they had a little something to do with this seemingly idiotic proposal. After all, industries whose products contain dangerous chemicals don’t exactly have the best track record of looking out for the public’s safety.

This just seems destined to come back and bite us in the ass, and cost waaaay more money than it “saved.” After the toxins regulators are laid off, how long could it possibly take for some public health crisis to emerge as a direct result? It’s like back in February when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was making fun of spending money on monitoring volcanoes and then a volcano blew up the following month and covered Alaska in ashes.

Maybe it would take a horrible accident to teach Schwarzenegger the dangers of not monitoring toxic chemicals, but it isn’t likely to happen before he terminates the OEHHA and, come to think of it, would we really be able to tell the difference…

"Now I am really the greenest governor... because I glow in the dark. Aaaargh."

"Now I am really the greenest governor... because I glow in the dark. Aaaaaargh."