American Elephants


There is Never Enough. Never. by The Elephant's Child

Random gleanings from today’s news, that somehow seem to be connected.

There was a time when the city of Detroit was a busy metropolis of 1.8 million people, and had the highest per capita income in America. Today is a decaying city of 700,000 that has filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. A judge has delayed it, but the city is more than broke.

•The city owes money to more than 100,000 creditors. •Detroit faces $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities. •In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit. •Now there are less than 27,000. •There are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city. •47 percent  of the residents of the city are functionally illiterate. •40 percent of the streetlights don’t work. •If you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.

Even the New York Times has had an article pointing out Detroit as ‘America’s Future.’ The city has been declining for a long time and waiting, since the 1960s, for the federal government to bail them out.

Yet Walter Russell Mead points out that despite everything, Detroit is still going ahead with its plan to build a $450 million taxpayer-funded sports arena. Even Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr support sticking with the city legislature’s vote to build a half billion dollar hockey stadium.  They see it as economic development that will provide jobs and be productive for the city.

Zero Hedge reports that Chicago’s cash balance has dropped to only $33 million as the city’s debt triples. That’s down from $167 million cash balance the previous year. The city’s long term debt has soared to nearly $29 billion —$10,780 per resident.

The Inspector General for Health and Human Services says the agency doesn’t have enough money to monitor and address Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, They have canceled an audit of computer system security for ObamaCare insurance exchanges, a probe of Medicare Part D drugs for safety and effectiveness, and an investigation into fraudulent suppliers of high-cost durable medical equipment. ( In other words your medical records  with your personal information will not be secure) They are able to hire thousands of community organizers at $20 -$48 per hour to help enroll people in ObamaCare.

President Obama has said he will veto the defense authorization bill unless he gets health care premiums and co-pays increased for troops and scheduled military pay raises reduced. Tricare is the health care program for Uniformed Service members, retirees and their families worldwide. The benefits for civilian defense workers remain unscathed.

Yesterday Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Fox News Sunday that President Obama will neither sign government funding bills that slash domestic spending, nor negotiate with republicans over spending cuts to raise the federal debt limit. He also said the president would not accept a budget in which domestic spending is further cut to soften the blow to Defense spending. “That’s unacceptable,” Lew said. There is never enough. They always need more. Investors says it is about cutting budgets:

Surging spending has driven the massive buildup of debt under President Obama. Total federal debt today is $17 trillion, twice as high as when Obama began.

Lew and others would have you believe it’s Republicans’ fault for refusing to spend enough to revive the economy — a common refrain among Democrats.

But federal spending soared from about 20% of GDP when Obama entered office to over 25% — an all-time record — the following year. Today at 23% it’s still way above the norm of around 18% to 20%. And it would go even higher, if Obama had his way.

Earlier this month, Democrat Max Baucus and Republican Orrin Hatch, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to their fellow senators, soliciting thoughts on reforming the federal tax code. Their idea was to start with a blank slate and have the senators justify each tax break, deduction and exemption. Few legislators chose to participate. Most Democrats simply insisted that it was necessary to raise taxes by about $1 trillion over the next ten years.

Harry Reid piously said that he wasn’t even going to read the letter. The priority should be reducing inequality. (read redistribute wealth). Democrats simply want tax increases. There is never enough. They want bigger government. More control. More regulation. Never enough.

William Voegeii has written a splendid book on just that subject, and with that title: Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State, which I recommend highly. It is a great pleasure to read, and a keeper.



Ooops! An Unfortunate Interview With the New York Times. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama did a rare interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, and there was this interesting exchange:

NYT: The “Keystone XL pipeline — Republicans talk about that as a big job creator. You’ve said that you would approve it only if you could be assured it would not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon in the atmosphere. Is there anything that Canada could do or the oil companies could do to offset that as a way of helping you to reach that decision.”

MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that is true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a (sic) economy of 150 million people.

NYT: Yet there are a number of unions who want you to approve this.

MR. OBAMA: Well, look, they might like to see 2,000 jobs initially. But that is a blip relative to the need.

So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States. In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.

Now, having said that, there is a potential benefit for us integrating further with a reliable ally to the north our energy supplies. But I meant what I said; I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.

          ———————————————

Keystone XL— In December, 2010, TransCanada Corporation released a detailed job breakdown for the Keystone XL pipeline, and said it will create 13,000 construction employment opportunities, and 7,000 manufacturing jobs in America.

In response to critics who argue that the company’s job creation estimates for the project are too high and will lead to ‘a few hundred’ temporary jobs, the company shot back with a detailed account of employment potential in the United States, right down to the number of oilers, labourers and welders needed for the U.S. $7 billion project.

“These are new, real U.S. jobs. Thirteen thousand American would be put to work constructing our Keystone XL project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer in a statement. “Seven thousand more jobs would be created in the U.S. manufacturing sector, making materials needed to build Keystone XL.”

The project would also need millions of dollars of materials such as steel pipes and related services, which would generate indirect jobs and revenues for American suppliers.

Construction of the 1,600 mile pipeline is broken down into 17 U.S. pipeline spreads or segments, with 500 workers per spread — that’s 8,500 jobs.

Keystone XL also needs 30 pump stations worth tens of millions of dollars. Each station requires 100 workers — that’s 3,000 jobs. Add another 600 jobs that would be needed for the six construction camps and tank construction at Cushing, Oklahoma.

The project would need construction, management and inspection oversight — that would create 1,000 jobs, bring the overall Keystone XL total to 13,000 direct on-site jobs.

If I remember correctly Mr. Obama went to Cushing, Oklahoma for a photo-op in front of piles of gleaming steel pipe. He was going to approve the southern portion of the Keystone that stretched from Cushing to Texas or Louisiana, I forget which.  I never read anything further about that, so perhaps it never was started. The president did get his picture taken though.

So, there is some evidence that there’s a little more than somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs (chuckle) in an economy of 150 million people.  (150 million? )

Granted this was a 2010 estimate, but I feel confident that the President of TransCanada published an accurate summary.

Unfortunately, I cannot trust information from the American administration. All is political, at all times.

And there is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is a natural fertilizer, Makes plants grow, feeds the hungry people of the world.  If there were no carbon there would be no life. “Carbon pollution” indeed.




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