Forum, Jan. 1: Seniors Desperate for Income

Sunday, December 31, 2017
Seniors Desperate for Income

 In response to the article “A Preview of the U.S. Without Pensions” (Dec. 24), I recently learned that Amazon has distribution centers all over the country that target seniors with low incomes who are barely making it.  These centers require that the workers lift and distribute heavy boxes of items in warehouses with concrete floors, with few breaks and no air conditioning.  Many are injured. This is almost expected. There are vending machines with Tylenol. Seniors with little income who are mobile with RVs of every shape and size take these jobs because they are desperate for some income. This is described in detail in the recently published book Nomadland by Jessica Bruder.  It’s worth reading to help make an informed decision about whether to continue ordering from Amazon as long as it targets low-income seniors to work in their warehouses and does nothing to protect their health.

Susan Kahn


Better Way to Help Ukraine


Arming Ukraine is not the right move, contrary to the Chicago Tribune editorial published in the Dec. 28 Valley News. It may not be the worst thing we could do, but it is at best a sideways move. Giving Ukraine anti-tank weapons is a token effort meant to show that we are not afraid to anger the Kremlin. It is not serious enough to truly concern them, unlike, say, giving Stingers to the Afghans in the 1980s. It’s just enough to irritate. But for that same reason, it cannot help but reinforce the Kremlin's confidence in the frozen conflict strategies it pursues there and elsewhere. In doing so, it reveals that it controls the terms of engagement with the U.S. on the world stage, as it does writ small in Russia’s border regions and the near-abroad. It is our point, but their game; and they can change the rules any time they please.

The better move would be to buy arms from Ukraine. Until the recent troubles with Russia over closer ties with Europe, gas payments and fealty to Moscow, Ukraine was the world's sixth largest arms-exporting nation. It can make its own anti-tank weapons, and would, I suppose, if it weren’t bankrupt. Though poor, it has a developed industrial economy. It makes, for instance, the Antonov line of heavy military transport planes.

What Ukraine needs is a hand up, not a handout.  The right move would be for us to buy things from Ukraine. Then it could afford to go make its own armaments, or buy them elsewhere. But that, of course, would not make American defense contractors happy.

Tyler P. Harwell


Protect N.H. Kids From Lead 

For decades, we’ve known about the health hazards of lead, particularly for children.  Lead was banned from gasoline and paint decades ago. Problem solved? Unfortunately, not.

Despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control that even low levels of lead exposure can cause permanent and irreversible harm, New Hampshire children continue to be poisoned — 660 in 2015, and 741 in 2016. And because New Hampshire is one of the few states that does not require universal childhood lead testing, the number of actual poisonings is likely much higher.

With the oldest housing stock in the country (meaning that many of our homes and apartments pre-date the 1978 ban on lead-based paint), the presence of lead in our environment remains a troubling threat.  Fortunately, good news is on the horizon. 

When the New Hampshire Legislature returns to work this month, the House will be voting on an important bill, SB 247, to strengthen New Hampshire’s lead laws and better protect our kids.  With strong bipartisan support, SB 247 will make New Hampshire a “universal screening” state, greatly increasing the number of New Hampshire children tested for lead poisoning and ensuring that none of our children fall through the cracks. It will also align New Hampshire standards with CDC-recommended threat levels and set standards for drinking water.

Lead robs children of their full, lifelong potential. The time is now to protect our kids from this preventable health threat.  Please join me in urging our state representatives to vote “yes” on SB 247.  

Scott Brown