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A Medley on Matters of Ongoing Concern

China behaves abroad, but not at home. Last week in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, committed to stop building noxious coal-fired power plants abroad. However, Xi said nothing about halting the ongoing construction of coal plants at home in China, which emits one-third of global greenhouse gases and whose emissions continue to increase. In contrast, U.S. emissions are less than half of China’s and have been decreasing for over a decade, on the strength of replacement of coal plants with plants fired by natural gas extracted by fracking, an inconvenient truth for U.S. environmentalists.

Connecticut’s jobs crisis continues. The Nutmeg State is accustomed to ranking last or near-last in most financial and economic measures. Even against that background, the state’s 2020 – 2021 jobs crisis is alarming. For months, the state has ranked 50th, far behind 49th place, in terms of a combination of a 6% shrinkage of its workforce since February 2020 and its current unemployment rate of 7.2%, well above the national average of 5.2%. About 250,000 people have either dropped out of the state workforce or were unemployed as of August, with only about 10,000 of the losses in the government sector. In contrast, 18 states have grown their workforces since February 2020. 

This week the FBI reported that the national murder rate increased about 30% in 2020 — up about 5,000 murders to about 21,600 in 2020. According to FBI data, Black offenders accounted for about 39% of the killings, white offenders 27% and the race of 31% of offenders was unknown; there was no data for about 3% of offenses. Black victims accounted for about 46% of victims, whites about 33%, and the race of about 3% was “other” or unknown, but there was no data for 18% of the overall victims. 

According to these numbers, homicide would appear to be predominantly a Black-on-Black phenomenon – one which increased tragically in 2020. Yet, why doesn’t the FBI have profile descriptions for 18% of victims? While it is understandable that the offender may not have been identified or convicted, surely there is no uncertainty about the victim. A call to the FBI seeking comment was not returned by time of publication. Surely, better data would provide better understanding about the racial dimension of violent crime. 

Meanwhile, fatal shootings by police increased in 2020 by just 22 from 999 to 1,021, a remarkably small 2% increase. There were 457 white, 241 Black and 169 Hispanic victims.

Connecticut faces a massive state employee retirement wave, but no one in Hartford is talking about it. Ever since 2017 when former Gov. Malloy inked the current contract with the State Employees Bargaining Alliance Coalition (SEBAC), everyone in Hartford has known that there would be a wave of state employee retirements in the months before July 2022, because workers who retire thereafter will give up important retirement benefits. 

In March Boston Consulting Group delivered a comprehensive study of expected retirements by agency and by function. BCG found 27% of the agency workforce eligible to retire and 70% of them (about 6,000 workers) intending to retire. BCG documented that, on average, the state takes 33 weeks to hire a new employee. No organization can lose 20% to 25% of its workforce in a few short months without facing major challenges. 

Yet, the Lamont administration has not offered any updates six months after receiving the BCG report and just nine months (39 weeks) before the last of the expected retirements. Nor have General Assembly legislators called hearings to carry out the constitutional obligation of the legislature to oversee the operation and activity of the executive branch. 

Biden is asking Putin if the U.S. can use Russian airbases to oversee Afghanistan. It is inconceivable that not one senior official in the Biden administration has resigned after the fiasco in Afghanistan. Having missed the opportunity to resign on principal to underscore the advice that they now maintain they gave Biden to keep a U.S. troop presence in the country, Defense Secretary Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley, and Centcom Commander McKenzie should resign now — in disgrace. How can any of them face Gold Star families. That is the first issue. However, strategic and tactical incompetence is also reason. Having given up Bagram air base in Afghanistan, located on the western border of totalitarian Communist China, the southern border of autocratic Russia and the eastern border of Iran ruled by despotic Ayatollahs, it is stunning to read reports that, in undeniable desperation, the Biden team is seeking to use Russian airbases to oversee the terrorist Taliban regime.

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