Patterico's Pontifications


NYFD Lowers Entry Standards So Women Can Graduate And The Fire Dept. Can Avoid Discrimination Lawsuits

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:32 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The New York Fire Dept. allowed a female to graduate from the Fire Academy who could not pass the critical Functional Skills Training test. As of tomorrow, Rebecca Wax will be assigned to a firehouse and assume the duties of a fireman.

Passing the FST test is critical to the safety of firemen and those they rescue:

In the FST exam, probies must breathe through a mask attached to an air tank while carrying up to 50 pounds of gear.

They must climb six flights of stairs, stretch hose lines, raise ladders, perform tasks that simulate breaking doors and pulling down ceilings, and drag dummies through tunnels with no visibility.

They must complete the course in 17 minutes, 50 seconds or less.

Despite many attempts over the Fire Academy’s 18-week training course, Wax completed the test just once — but it took her more than 22 minutes, the source said.

In numerous tries, Wax struggled and was too slow. While fit probies finish with air left in their tanks, she had to stop when hers ran out, the source added.

“She’s in the best shape of her life, and it’s still not good enough,” he said.

You know, sometimes the answer is just no, you don’t get to because you are not good enough and therefore do not qualify. And that should be okay. Because it’s not always about you. Especially in this line of work.

The fact that Ms. Wax feels she is entitled to be a firefighter is evidenced by her lack of concern for those she puts at risk because of her inadqueacy and her decision not to voluntarily step down.

So allowances were made:

Wax had a high grade-point average on her academics, which officials determined offset her FST deficiency, the insider said.

Last December, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told a City Council hearing on the FDNY’s efforts to recruit women that he had changed FST requirements to lower obstacles.

“We still grade the people. You can still fail it if you go beyond the time, but you’re not automatically failed from the program,” he said.

He also indicated he wanted to act before a possible sex discrimination lawsuit after the city paid $98 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the FDNY of discriminating against minorities.

“We must no longer wait for a judge’s ruling to tell us what fairness means,” Nigro said.

And of course, the whole FST test is UNFAIR because discrimination:

United Women Firefighters, an organization of FDNY women, objects to the FST test, contending it unfairly bars females.

The FST requires a much higher level of fitness than the Candidate Physical Ability Test, which applicants must pass to enter the academy.

Experts say the FST mirrors the demands of the job, training would-be firefighters to work in stressful environments while conserving their air supply.

Wax had previously received another break to join the FDNY after pleading in June 2011 for a City Council bill that raised the age limit from 29 to 35 for applicants like her who first took the entrance exam in 2007. A hiring freeze imposed by federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis in the discrimination suit put them in limbo.

“I want nothing more than to be a New York City firefighter,” Wax, then 29, had testified at a hearing.

Yeah, well I wanted to be a number of things in life, too, but for one reason or another, things didn’t work out the way I WANTED, and you know what, IT WAS OKAY. I ended up with a terrific and fulfilling life anyway. This is what being an adult is: accepting no for an answer when one is unqualified to do the very thing they dream of, and moving on to something else and making a go of it. And disappointment? Well it can make you a better, stronger and more resilient individual if you have the determination and wherewithal to carry that 50 pound weight of unfulfilled dreams and climb those six flights of stairs to catch a new vision for your life. Chuck that weight, breathe the clean air of hope, and let it propel you forward.


L.A. Times: Garland Shooting Happened at “Anti-Islam” Event

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:38 pm

An L.A. Times headline reads:

Outside Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas, 2 gunmen are killed and guard is shot

But R.S. McCain notes that the headline did not always read this way. Indeed, dozens, maybe even hundreds of people throughout Southern California who still subscribe to this rag were treated to this headline when they picked up the paper from their driveway yesterday:

The focus, for the L.A. Times, is the “anti-Islam” (actually anti-Islamic fanatic) nature of the gathering, and not the tremendous danger to free speech that such a shooting entails. And that’s the wrong focus. (It’s wrong even though it’s the position taken by NYT reporters and MSNBC and Vox and the L.A. Times. Weird, huh?)

There seems to be a debate between, on one hand, 1) the anti-Geller/Spencer/Wilders types, and on the other hand, 2) a group consisting of both a) pro-Geller/Spencer/Wilders types and b) people who worry about the effects on speech of fanatics claiming a heckler’s veto by virtue of killing anyone whose speech they don’t like.

You can put me firmly in the latter camp, and although I am more of a “2b” type of guy, it doesn’t really matter today whether I’m an “a” or a “b.” What matters is that I am a 2.

I’ve been trying for a while to think of a good analogy, and I just can’t. Here’s the best I can do: if a group went around saying that they were going to kidnap and torture and kill anyone who picked their nose in public, and then they actually kidnapped and tortured and killed a 6-year-old nose-picker, my first reaction would not be to distance myself from the nose-pickers. (Not even if the nose-picker were 46 years old instead of six.) In fact, I might start picking my nose in public with one hand while flipping them off with the other. To take such an action would not reflect a philosophical renunciation of Kleenex as the best way to dispose of mucus crust, but rather a desire to stand alongside those threatened or hurt for ridiculous reasons.

Kind of like this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 6.29.14 PM
Above: the prophet Mohammed depicted in art

Which is not to compare Geller/Spencer/Wilders to nose-pickers, obviously, but just to say that even if you concede for the sake of argument that their speech is off-putting, it doesn’t matter. My point is that even if you find Pam Geller or Robert Spencer or Geert Wilders distasteful, and/or you would never engage in the kind of rhetoric that they espouse, that is really irrelevant to the question of our need to denounce those who would kill them for their speech.

I don’t think it means you have to praise Geller & Co. or agree with them, by the way. Although I think it’s not improper to admire the courage they are showing, regardless of how you feel about their beliefs or their speech.

UPDATE: As often happens, Eugene Volokh says what I was thinking, but says it better, in a post about speech as defiance. He also embeds the winning entry in Geller’s event, which captures the spirit beautifully. I would embed it here, but I is a-skeered.

Just kidding. Here you go.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 8.18.03 PM

Ben Carson Announces Candidacy for Presidency

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:51 am

Ben Carson seems like a good guy who has sound views on some subjects. But I agree with Allahpundit:

I think he’s running now because, on some level, he really, truly believes that the thousands of people he’s met who’ve slapped him on the back for standing up to Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast a few years ago are just the tip of the iceberg of a broad national grassroots movement that’s out there waiting for him. I think he’ll be genuinely surprised when he discovers they aren’t. Which is sad.

I suppose, but I think it’s just as well. I have come to view economic literacy as central to the qualifications of people running for President, as I believe economic freedom is one of the greatest and most misunderstood issues out there. And when someone writes in a book that the financial crisis was caused by deregulation, I conclude that they have some learning to do. Here’s Carson in his book America the Beautiful:

Some degree of government regulation is necessary for our large financial institutions to prevent the kinds of tragedies that occurred during and immediately after the great stock market crash of 1929 and again in 2008. The real shame is that we did not recognize the importance of financial regulation after the great crash of 1929 and appropriately developed safeguards in the 1930s. Unfortunately, we decided to deregulate during the 1990s, paving the way for the economic meltdown in 2008.

Tom Woods wrote a book about the financial crisis called Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse. I commend it to anyone interested in the real reasons for the crisis. With respect to “deregulation” being a culprit, Woods says this:

[W]ith regard to the housing market, the point is that lenders were doing exactly what the federal government and its central bank wanted them to do. Saying that more government oversight was needed misses the point. More and riskier loans are what the government wanted. Fashionable opinion everywhere, especially throughout the government sector, cheered as traditional lending practices were abandoned and riskier ones adopted–why, the American dream is being extended to more and more people!

The problem, Woods explains (as is often the case when “deregulation” is blamed for market ills), is that we don’t have real deregulation. Sure, phony deregulation might pose problems, but nothing that couldn’t be cured by a genuine free market:

This is the context in which regulation and deregulation have to be considered: a system so far removed from the free market that innocent third parties are on the hook for private firms’ foolish and risky decisions. In that context, is “deregulation” necessarily the best approach? Of course, real deregulation, which would abolish all monopoly privileges, establish free competition, eliminate the “too big to fail” presumption, and force banks to produce their depositors’ money on demand or declare bankruptcy–in other words, treating banking just like every other industry-would be the most welcome outcome of all.

For a discussion of the real causes of the crisis — laws and regulations mandating irresponsible loans, the backstop of Fannie and Freddie, affirmative action in lending, the Community Reinvestment Act, the Fed’s manipulation of interest rates, and the ever-present promise of bailouts, among others — read Woods’s book.

So, sorry. I can’t get excited about someone who blames deregulation for the financial crisis.

But hey. Ben Carson would be better than Hillary Clinton.

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