Whitcomb: Likely Discovering Amazon Ambivalence Small business Lessons the Cape and Mortality

Sunday, January 24, 2021


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Robert Whitcomb, columnist

“It was only time that turned those people web pages,

leaving dust in daylight on the stairs,

disfiguring the walls that at the time would hold

a relatives aloft by way of hazy fall

and hardy winter season into sopping spring.’’


— From “The Ruined Dwelling,’’ by Jay Parini (born 1948), a Vermont-based author



“Socialism is a scare term they have hurled at just about every advance the men and women have produced in the previous 20 years.


Socialism is what they termed general public electric power. Socialism is what they known as Social Safety.


Socialism is what they referred to as farm-selling price supports.


Socialism is what they called lender-deposit insurance.


Socialism is what they known as the advancement of cost-free and independent labor organizations.


Socialism is their identify for almost everything that will help all the individuals.’’


— President Harry Truman in 1952



When things in the globe in general and/or in your individual minor entire world in unique seem practically intolerably tense, you just can’t defeat wandering close to in character without the need of an itinerary for reduction.  I try to remember that fondly from my boyhood in a modest, continue to partly rural, city on Massachusetts Bay. Alone, or with a pal or two, I’d go “exploring’’. And it was a excellent place to discover.


There have been seashores, extra pebbles than sand, with rocky headlands and countless sea birds, some of which would assault if you approached their nests. There were shark’s eggs to select up, together with wonderful sea glass (this was before the explosion of plastic pollution), and horseshoe crab shells amidst the seaweed dumped on the beach front at the superior-tide mark. (There had been also tin cans to shoot at with BB guns.)


After northeast storms, we’d seem for compact boats that might have been tossed ashore.


Close by had been bullrush forests together the marshes, as a result of which we’d make trails main to minimal “rooms” we’d create. We’d use rowboats to take a look at the tidal rivers through the marshes, with their normally sulfurous smells.


From time to time in midwinter the a lot more brackish and fewer salty marsh streams would freeze up and we’d do our exploring on skates.


Inland, smaller streams beckoned us to come across their resources, and we’d verify out a close by farm, aromatic in sure temperature with the aroma of manure, the place we would at times intentionally irritate the bulls. There had been rock-topped mini-mountains and tall oak trees to climb and abandoned properties to trespass in.  (See poem fragment over.) And everywhere pleasing smells, such as of cedar trees, of which we had a great deal, and flowering trees in May possibly, of wet, recently slash grass and of rotting apples on the floor in the tumble.


And the sights, smells and sounds could fluctuate a lot from working day to working day, with the sharpest alterations in early spring.  Each day’s gentle was unique.


What a miraculous earth!




Though this wintertime has typically been milder than normal, it looks like we will not be obtaining the “January Thaw” – that sweet extend of times with temps in the 50s that we typically get at this time of year in New England, supplying us a tempting flavor of spring. A January Thaw would have been notably appreciated by COVID-determined cafe house owners since they could extra comfortably serve clients outside.


Meanwhile, although most (?) New Englanders like delicate winters, that our winters are acquiring hotter and shorter is a bad indication for the environment, showing that male-fueled world warming is rushing up.


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Amazon warehouse facility is prepared for Johnston

We’re All in the Amazon Basin

Clearly, our area requires extra work opportunities, and so the GoLocal report that Amazon is negotiating to invest in about 100 acres in close proximity to the intersection of Routes 6 and 295, in Johnston,  R.I., and build a distribution middle there that could employ thousands of men and women, is very good news, particularly supplied the deep economic downturn associated with the pandemic. There’s speculation that the facility could be even much larger than the huge 1 in Fall River.


Still, I cannot aid but really feel how awesome it would have been if as an alternative of at a factory like an Amazon distribution centre, with its sometimes oppressive doing work situations, that all those countless numbers of employees could rather be used by dozens of locally owned stores. But of class, much way too many consumers have resolved, especially with the pandemic, that they want their things shipped to their front doors for us to see a large revival of retail localism.


We’ve opted for impersonal buying.


Strike this website link to study the GoLocal write-up:





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Gina Raimondo headed to Washington

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, slated to be U.S. commerce secretary, has frequently been underneath fireplace for owning been a (minimal) undertaking capitalist, as if venture money is negative. Quite the contrary: Undertaking capitalists participate in pretty crucial roles in producing progressive actual physical items and solutions and the new businesses that provide them. They are massive position creators.


Venture capitalists, of training course, are threat takers, and our financial state would at some point implode with no them.


The governor does should have powerful criticism for generally steering clear of getting queries from the news media, particularly at a time when the community desires often up to date info from significant officials on the pandemic.




Some folks on the left (not Biden) keep on to counsel that we ought to have a “wealth tax” on the property of extremely rich persons to assist pay for federal government plans and to address the yawning national financial debt. But attempting to correctly measure the benefit of these belongings, whose price is normally shifting and normally cloudy, would be a nightmare. Adhere with the  superior outdated progressive earnings tax and funds-gains taxes,  which are now traditionally minimal.



Reality Check in Boston

Kim Janey, the president of the Boston Metropolis Council, will grow to be The Hub’s performing mayor as Mayor Marty Walsh heads off to become Joe Biden’s labor secretary. It is unclear no matter if she’ll essentially operate for the work.


I hope not, because Ms. Janey seems a lot more fascinated in ethnic id and captivating to specified neighborhood politics than with the general condition of the town. She also would seem to have little awareness of, or regard for, business. That Marty Walsh and his predecessor, Tom Menino, both of those standard liberal Democrats, comprehended that nurturing a vibrant organization weather was vital in shelling out for municipal courses points out some of Boston’s gorgeous prosperity in current many years.


As Jon Chesto wrote in The Boston World, “Walsh understood what every big-city mayor understands: Good results depends greatly on a thriving enterprise group. Boston’s budget is particularly reliant on a powerful haul of business residence taxes, a steady stream that has continued to gain the city significant marks from two bond-ranking agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic.’’ When a city’s bond score falls, its curiosity fees – and usually its taxes — go up. Mr. Chesto pointed out:  “progressivism usually provides way to pragmatism when you have to run a town as huge and as dynamic as Boston.’’


To browse Mr. Chesto’s posting, you should hit this backlink:


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URI conference

The Pandemic and Food stuff Stability

Rhode Island has become an progressively crucial food items-industry middle. Feel, for example, of Providence-based United Natural Foods Inc. I was reminded of this though reading that the College of Rhode Island will host its fifth once-a-year Rhode Island Foodstuff Process Summit, “Taking the Lead: Improving upon Meals Obtain in a World Pandemic,” to focus on how the pandemic has impacted the state and our nation’s food protection and what methods can be taken to address this disaster.


The occasion will aspect a keynote handle from Viraj Puri, main executive officer of Brooklyn-based Gotham Greens, on how his organization encourages economic advancement and possibility in urban, small-cash flow communities. Gotham Greens has a major procedure in Providence.


For much more info, remember to hit this url:





The COVID-19 pandemic reminds persons of a specified age (including me) of several a long time in the past, when we all predicted to get  a collection of childhood health conditions as a sort of rite of passage, e.g., measles, German measles, chicken pox and mumps, and the limited at-dwelling vacations that went with them.  (Ginger ale and bouillon were being usually the drinks presented to the victims.) In fact, the moment you experienced all of these conditions, you felt that you have been now extra swiftly heading out of childhood.


In people days, property calls by physicians carrying black luggage were popular but they couldn’t do substantially in the way of remedy of these childhood disorders other than to act cheery and urge bed rest and patience.




I ask all over again: Extending eviction moratoria to enable tenants economically slammed by the pandemic sounds comforting but how a lot of compact landlords will this travel out of company, lowering the housing stock for reduced-cash flow people today?




By forcing men and women to stay property and avoid so considerably standard, in-particular person — and psychologically  and emotionally moderating  — social action, COVID-19 has elevated the extent and toxicity of on the internet conspiracy-mongering. Way too lots of people are now in closed on the web fantasy worlds, and not residing in flesh-and-blood truth, with all its prosperous range and nuances.



Crime Demonstrate Update

Parler, the lie-weighty social community well known with Trump cultists, who involve a lot of alt-appropriate and conspiracy theorists, has reappeared with the support of a Russian-owned Net protection assistance as Parler hunts for a way all around bans that took it offline earlier this month mainly because of its incendiary lies. Ah, sure, when it come to things  Trump, you can generally smell the breath of  the Russian bear.




What is future for the Trump crime syndicate? Look at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the New York condition lawyer general’s office environment. They’re crucial venues for prosecuting white-collar crime. The Pricey Chief has, of system, pardoned a bunch of his associates in crime, but presidential pardons never apply to prosecutions introduced by states, only to federal crimes.


Will congressional Republicans cooperate with Biden to move important COVID reduction and other  urgent legislation? Never get your hopes up way too higher. They however fear Trump and his fanatical, fantasy-earth base and consider orders from much-correct billionaire donors. They’ll want to make Biden’s administration as unsuccessful as attainable.




I listened to a couple of gun fetishist Texas Trumpians chatting about possessing the Lone Star State secede from the Union. Of course!



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The late RI Congressman Ed Beard, Picture: Library of Congress

RIP, Eddie Beard

I was saddened to listen to of the current dying at 80 of Providence’s Edward Beard, who had a bunch of community work opportunities, most notably as a Rhode Island congressman.  I satisfied him a couple of situations quite a few several years back. He was a type of throwback to the previous lunch pail Democrats and the proverbial “man of the individuals.’’ Amiable, without pretension, chatty and from time to time humorous, he could be excellent organization. I usually thought that the task he was greatest suited for was tavern operator, which in point he was for 6 years.


The Cape and a Memoir

David Gessner’s 1997 e-book, A Wild, Rank Put, is a series of essays about, between other issues, how Cape Cod has turn into exurbanized, this sort of as with grotesque show-off McMansions changing the small-to-ground, modest grey-shingled homes so discovered with the Cape. And nevertheless he can however savor  its remaining windy and haunting beauty. It is a issue that especially appealed to me for the reason that part of my family were being/are old Cape Codders I have witnessed  even extra alter than he has.


Mr. Gessner (born in 1961) lived off and on for decades in a family summer months property in East Dennis  (bought a number of yrs ago). It was the heart of his spouse and children.


The title is a phrase by Henry David Thoreau  based on various outings he took to the Cape in the early 1850s that resulted in the e-book of essays referred to as Cape Cod.  But as Mr. Gessner’s book notes, Thoreau’s deforested Cape looked a ton distinctive than it did in the 1600s, when the English arrived, and  of training course a lot unique than the present-day version, in which woods have developed back even as the amount of homes and comfort shops explodes and motor vehicle website traffic worsens virtually every calendar year.


There is vivid and idiosyncratic mother nature and environmental writing here, blended with an extreme relatives memoir whose coronary heart is Mr. Gessner’s hard work to arrive to phrases with the transitory nature of daily life, and specially mortality, and entropy, with his father’s deadly ailment at the heart of all that. There are also some charming pen-and-ink drawings by Mr. Gessner, who is a cancer survivor.



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