Preventing Shortages..

The recent baby-formula crisis has exposed a seriously uncomfortable fact about modern American maternity.  According to Dr. Ruth Petersen of the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC), “Breastfeeding provides unmatched health benefits for babies and mothers. It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition…” yet nearly 20% of new-borns are never breastfed.

CDC guidelines recommend that mothers breastfeed their infants for the first year yet only 1-in-4 are exclusively breastfed even in the first 6-months.  Breastfed children enjoy lower rates of obesity, asthma, diabetes, ear, respiratory,  gastrointestinal infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, (SIDS).  Mothers benefit by lowered risks of ovarian and breast cancers, diabetes and high-blood-pressure.  Low rates of breastfeeding add more than 3-billion dollars to health care costs annually.

Not every mom is able to breastfeed, but the majority can.  Given the overwhelming and uncontroversial benefits to babies, moms, and to societal costs and benefits in general, it is a mystery why a greater emphasis and importance isn’t attached to these facts.  Perhaps the shortage of baby formula will serve as a wake-up call to parents that breastfeeding is not only the best choice but the surest assurance of nutritional outcomes you control.


Solo Cup Salvation

In response to a former student killing 10 people in Buffalo, Susquehanna Valley students formed the phrase “SV loves Buffalo” using colored plastic cup wedged into the chain-link fence in front of the high school.  Salvation-by-solo-cup can’t assuage guilt-by-association.  This trite symbolism mocks and trivializes a tragedy and the educators advising these kids should have known better, but hey, this might take the focus off of their own shortcomings.  Better efforts might include asking school officials when they first knew this former student was unstable?  And how many others noticed problems but said nothing?

The problem isn’t firearms or background checks or magazine size or more laws that criminals ignore.  The solution is learning why so many are so mentally ill.

Plastic cup platitudes and feel-good laws that would have done nothing to address this tragedy are wasted efforts that ignore the real issues of a Godless society poisoned by drugs and a counter-culture that celebrates violence and evil.  Our kids are drowning in the filth of cyber-space and because the cure is too difficult, we ignore it until people are dead and then we feign outrage and go back into our anesthetized state of being, Godless, soul-less and clueless.


Taxpayers Thrown Under The Bus

When Covid first hit and normal life shut down, I found myself with more time to take daily walks.  When life slows you notice things, like the full-sized empty county buses running their complete, normal schedules with only a masked driver and rarely any passengers.  At first I thought this was an anomaly, soon to bounce back post Covid-panic-mode but over time, nothing much has changed.  I began to more carefully observe daily bus traffic.

Video taken over several months monitoring the 40 Route which traverses the length of Chenango Street in Binghamton saw an average of less than 3 passengers in each bus, hour after hour, day after day, month after month no matter what time of day.  Many times the buses were completely empty.  Ninety percent of the time, you could service the 40 Route with a motorcycle and a side-car.

Thinking this might be anomalistic to this route, I expanded my observations to the various other.  Same thing; buses routinely empty everywhere.  You can see this for yourself, just look inside these diesel-guzzling, forty-foot hulks of machinery, capable of seating 60 people, half the time empty, the other half with passengers that would easily fit into a Prius In a privately run business, it would take less than 24-hours for management to make the changes needed in order to shrink-to-fit.  That rapid reaction would be compelled by the reality of severely declining revenue and operational costs far exceeding income.

No such concern rests on the management team of a governmental agency.  In the case of Broome Transit, two-thirds of their income is subsidized via the taxpayers.  Those who ride the buses pay less than 6% of the actual costs.  Last years fare budget was off by more than 50% so what did they do this year?  Double that number.

In the real world of private enterprise, buses would be replaced with passenger vans to address the dwindling demand and to save fuel and maintenance costs.  In government, strong unions prohibit drivers from switching to the vans and routes are determined and unalterable without bargaining agreements.  No fewer than 16 of those vans sit quietly in the lot of Broome Transit.

When there is no competition and no profit incentive, there is no motivation to be efficient because the inefficiency has no direct bearing on the workers or the management.  What this situation models is little more than a make-work-program for the 100 plus employees that soldier on, even when the work is pointless with no passengers.

With alternatives like Uber, Lyft, and work-from-home situations becoming the norm, none of these realities seem to influence the we’ve-always-done-it-this-way mindset of an organization that faces no reason to be better.  Instead, we celebrate when Senator Schumer announces a $1.9M infusion of electric buses into the fleet so we can continue to move empty 40-foot buses silently down the road.

Not only are the taxpayers thrown under the bus, ironically they also pay for the privilege.