BOGUE, Kan. - Here's a three-part essay about gifts: wildly exaggerated, sadly expensive, and stupid.
You probably won't remember, but a couple of columns back I wrote that estimates of new jobs promised by the Keystone XL pipeline carrying tar sands oil varied wildly. Last week, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) claimed 20,000. So where'd he get that?
CNNMoney took a closer look. The 20,000 estimate comes from TransCanada, the corporation who would build the pipeline. They figured 13,000 construction jobs plus 7,000 manufacturing jobs making pipe, etc. But, whoa.
In 'TransCanada-speak' 20,000 means 10,000 jobs lasting for the two years of construction. Using the same formula, one job lasting 5 years would be 5 jobs.
Up to a third of the project is in Canada. So (calculators out) of the actual ten thousand temporary jobs maybe 3,333 jobs would be Canadian, 6,666 jobs here. That's assuming the Canuck workers stay on their side of the border.
CNN says the U.S. State Department says it's closer to 5,000 U.S jobs for two years. TransCanada's own estimate is that permanent jobs would be "in the hundreds." You probably won't remember, but a couple of columns back I wrote that estimates of new jobs promised by the Keystone XL pipeline carrying tar sands oil varied wildly. Last week, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) claimed 20,000. So where'd he get that?
The pipeline would add about 4 percent to our annual oil supply (if it all stayed here rather than being sold abroad to the highest bidder). The project would also devastate vast areas in Canada, and create significant risk of expensive leaks.
Nation Magazine had this to say: "Beyond spills, there's also the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, which the Environmental Protection Agency estimates to be over 80 percent higher for tar sands than normal crude oils. While the State Department report acknowledges that 'current projections suggest that the amount of energy required to extract all crude oils is projected to increase over time,' it also says the greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands might stay flat or even decrease over time" IF the petroleum industry can deliver on its promise to develop more efficient refining techniques. (I encourage readers to access The Nation link for much more.)
Bottom line Keystone is no job bonanza. Given environmental consequences, there are better ways to go -- including research and development of alternative energies, real effort at efficiencies, and modernizing infrastructure..
I'm guessing a lot of stuff you got, or bought, for Christmas, said "Made in China." (Not just Christmas, you say?)
Earlier this month The Guardian -- a British paper -- ran a story, Revealed: true cost of the Christmas toys we buy from China's factories. The following is a typical scenario from one of the factories studied. I've shown British Pounds are shown in U.S. dollar equivalents:
"The researcher spent three weeks in the factory and found workers put in up to 140 hours of overtime every month, nearly four times the 36 hours a month legal limit. Basic pay is [$172.00] a month, but wages were paid a month late, in breach of labour law. During the peak summer season workers could make up to [$375] a month, including overtime, but that falls to [$219] during low season.
"A typical working day during the peak season starts at 8am and does not end until 10pm. Workers routinely put in six-day weeks, but if the factory is busy there are no days off. Workers complained that they were banned from talking to one another on the production line and were fined up to [$7.80] if they went to the toilet without applying for an 'off-duty' permit. They reported regular burns from soldering irons and electric shocks from old hair dryers used to set glue, along with concerns about the effect on their health of unmarked chemicals they have to work with. The law requires the chemicals to be identified and for workers to be instructed in what to do in case of an accident. Up to 10 workers share each 20 square metres dormitory room (about 15x15 ft.) which is fitted with bunk beds. Dozens share the toilet and the outside of the building is piled deep with rubbish, which is home to rats."
Companies who sell Chinese products here make a dandy profit. Maybe you can begin to understand why.
If you happened to get an email from a persistent Woodston lady about "76 year old Bill Cosby" putting out right-wing propaganda, just delete it. Cosby says on his own website: "I did not write the email. I did not send the email. I'm not 76, and I don't subscribe to the ugly views expressed in the email."
Another forward has President Obama saying he met former Chicago mayor Blagojevich just once (at a football game) but photos "prove" Obama lied. Baloney. Both politicians were Chicagoans and met several times at Democratic functions. There's no record President Obama ever claimed otherwise. Let's hope Santa sent the lady a BS detector, and she learns to use it.]
Happy New Year!