Able Peter Orszag Opines: Employers should take care of disabled: What?

By Olivia LaRosa, September 5, 2014

(Updated from 2010)

Dear Peter Orszag,

I hope you never become disabled, without assets due to your disability, and unable to receive disability income. Your prescription for making disability “work” is completely wrongheaded. The “policies” you prescribe do not help anyone.  Improving the lives of the disabled and allowing them to use their skills and talents for the benefit of themselves and others should be our first charge.

Disability is natural. Some humans are born disabled. Some become disabled due to illness or injury. It’s just part of life. We will always have such among us and our better natures know that privatizing disability services will lead only to corruption and theft of taxpayer money.

First, millions of people with disabilities work in productive jobs. They are still able to work satisfactorily, so they do not try to submit a disability claim. When they are fired or laid off from their jobs, they often find that they cannot get another position. After years of trying to find employment, they finally sit down at the computer and file that fateful document. Or, their disability could cause them to leave it there to sit for 13 months, while trying to figure out what is wrong with them.

People with disabilities want to and are quite capable of making meaningful contributions to society. You don’t want me to make a list, do you? Well, let’s start with Albert Einstein…

Second, your “solution” is a bald move to shift the responsibility for providing the necessary services for disabled people from the government, where they belong, to employers, who have multiple conflicts of interest when considering whether an employee is disabled. It’s just another terrifying privatization scheme that will leave the disabled without protection against homelessness, disease, and death.

When government services are privatized, the first thing that happens is that taxpayer assets are sold off at a low price to the already-rich. Then, those services deteriorate. Customers complain, but nobody does anything until the company who privatized the services goes bankrupt or steals billions from the public (Enron, Bank of America, Countrywide Mortgage, Bear Stearns, the savings and loan scandals of the 80s, junk bond fever, dot-com fever, Fannie Mae*, airline companies). Then the government will bail out the already-rich people who pillaged the taxpayer assets in the first place, but everyone else loses. The taxpayer then gets to pay the bill for the privatization forever because the government just borrows more money in their name to pay for the bailout. A win-win situation, eh?

And third, perhaps you should leave your ivory tower before you fly over to Citigroup and find out how the world really works for people with physical and mental handicaps. And, if you call yourself a Democrat, then I am a monkey’s uncle. Real Democrats don’t destroy helpful government services that allow all kinds of people to be productive.

*Fannie Mae was a government agency until the mid-1970s, when its privatization began.

December 9, 2010
Making Disability Work
I will begin a new job for Citigroup in January, so this is my last article as a contributing columnist for The Times. I hope to see you again from time to time on the Op-Ed page.

One of the gravest dangers posed by the weak economy is that the unemployed will become discouraged and give up looking for work, perhaps permanently as their skills atrophy. This would be harmful not only to the workers and their families, but also to the economy as a whole, as those people would no longer contribute to economic growth. The longer the labor market remains sluggish, the more pronounced this risk becomes.

Unfortunately, at this point more than six million people have been unemployed for six months or longer. More than one million have already given up looking for work because they believe no job is available. And a drastic rise in applications for disability insurance suggests we may be headed for more long-lasting trouble. The number of disability applications has reached more than 750,000 a quarter, according to the Social Security Administration, an increase of more than 50 percent from four years ago.

The disability insurance program provides crucial support for people who can no longer work because of a disability. But once someone begins receiving benefits, the likelihood that he will re-enter the work force is almost nonexistent; recipients become permanently dependent on the program.

The result is not only lost economic productivity, but also a fiscal burden for the federal government: disability benefits now cost more than $120 billion a year, and Medicare benefits for those on disability add $70 billion.

The spike in disability insurance applications (and awards) does not reflect a less healthy population. The fraction of working-age adults who report a disability, about one in 10, has remained roughly constant for the past 20 years. (Indeed, it would be surprising if the number of workers with disabilities had risen by 50 percent over the past four years.) Rather, the weak labor market has driven more people to apply for disability benefits that they qualify for but wouldn’t need if they could find work.

When Congress created the disability insurance program in 1956, it required that recipients be unable to “engage in substantial gainful activity in the U.S. economy.” In other words, they had to be unable to work. That was sensible at the time, when more jobs involved physical labor and technologies to assist people with disabilities were not widely available.

Today, however, many people with disabilities are able to engage in some form of work — even if they can’t admit that and still keep their insurance benefits. Cutting off access to the workplace in this way is both unfortunate and unnecessary — and reinforces the threat that the current downturn could cause a long-term reduction in the share of people who work.

So what should be done?

First, macroeconomic policy. We need more stimulus immediately, and more deficit reduction enacted now to take effect in two or three years. The plan just proposed by the White House in a compromise with Congressional Republicans is encouraging in that it includes a new payroll tax holiday, a helpful stimulus. It does not reduce future deficits, but at least it avoids making the Bush tax cuts permanent, reserving the flexibility to address medium-term deficits down the road.

Even if this plan goes ahead, however, the unemployment rate is likely to remain high for some time. For it to fall by even one percentage point (from 9.5 percent to 8.5 percent) the economy needs to grow by about 4.5 percent a year.

Second, unemployment insurance should be extended, as President Obama’s compromise plan also would do. Unemployment benefits are a form of stimulus: they spur spending and thereby help keep the economy afloat. Just as important, unemployment benefits keep many people from falling back on disability insurance — and unlike disability insurance, which effectively prohibits beneficiaries from seeking work, unemployment insurance requires recipients to keep looking for a job and thus remain connected to the work force.

Finally, the disability insurance program itself must be reformed. Program administrators understand the need to encourage beneficiaries to return to work, and they have experimented with various incentives. Such initiatives have generally been ineffective, though, because they reach beneficiaries too late, after they have already become dependent on the program and lost their attachment to the work force.

A better approach has been suggested by David Autor of M.I.T. and Mark Duggan of the University of Maryland. In a paper released last week from the Center for American Progress and the Hamilton Project, these economists argue that employers should be required to offer their workers private disability insurance. Such coverage would provide people who have a work-limiting disability with vocational assistance, workplace accommodation and limited wage replacement. All of these benefits would kick in within 90 days of the onset of disability, to avoid the problems with delayed assistance that have plagued efforts to reform public disability insurance. Private employers would have an incentive to prevent their workers from having to file disability applications, because their insurance premiums would rise in response to higher disability rates.

Disabled workers could remain on this privately financed insurance for two years, and then be eligible for the existing public program. The goal would be to minimize long-term dependency, and re-orient the federal disability insurance program toward assisting those who are truly unable to work.

One concern is that this approach would burden firms with additional human resource costs when we need to encourage hiring. But the costs are projected to be modest — roughly $250 per worker per year. And if they help to reduce the future payroll tax increases that would be needed to finance rapid growth in disability benefits, the pressure on overall labor costs would be even smaller.

Another concern is that private insurance firms would need to be given substantially expanded responsibility for evaluating workers’ disabilities. Mr. Autor and Mr. Duggan propose to mitigate this potential problem by suggesting that workers be allowed to appeal any such evaluations to state government agencies.

The Netherlands has adopted a program like this, and the results so far are promising. In 1994, the Dutch government required all firms to finance the first six weeks of disability benefits. That period was later extended to one year and then to two years. In 2002, the program was broadened to require back-to-work plans, developed cooperatively by the disabled worker, his employer and a consulting doctor. The number of disability recipients in the Netherlands has since declined significantly.

None of these policy changes would be easy. But failing to act would result in millions of Americans needlessly dropping out of the work force. In our precarious economy, neither progressives nor conservatives should be willing to watch passively as the disability insurance rolls grow, and beneficiaries are locked out of the labor market.

Peter Orszag, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2009 to July 2010, is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Posted in Genocide, Geopolitics, Government is Not a Business, Health Policy, human rights abuses | Comments Off

How cuts in global public health measures endanger us all; cuts in WHO hurt response to ebola

By Olivia LaRosa, September 2, 2014 Today, a headline caught my eye. Cuts in WHO hurt response to ebola.  (NYT 9-2-2014) What is WHO? Why, it’s the World Health Organization, which is supposed to respond quickly and effectively to outbreaks of dread diseases such as Ebola. You will be shocked, shocked to learn that WHO is underfunded and suffers continual cuts in funding. It is one of the organizations that the US helped to create from the basis of the Geneva Conventions and United Nations treaties. We not only agreed to form these organizations, we help to support them based on our own commitment. People who don’t think we should be wasting our tax money on people who are dying in other continents might blink slowly when they hear this. Pay them no mind. If they are capable of absorbing information they will do it without your further intervention. Rome and other large capitals had public water and sewer facilities before 1BC. After the fall of the Roman Empire, public health endeavors fell apart. People bragged about bathing only three times in their lives. Their streets were lined with open sewers. Horse droppings were more abundant and frequent than snow and rain. When the plague came upon us, public health was in complete disarray. The most important life-saving measures of the last 500 years have been the rebirth of the public health system. In a globalized world we have globalized ills. It behooves us to pay attention to this above all else.

The Black Death and early public health measures

Lead mortuary crosses, England, 1300s and 1600s

Lead mortuary crosses, England, 1300s and 1600s

View Object

‘Cito, Longe, Tarde.’

Hippocrates and Galen are colossal figures in the history of medicine, renowned for their wise and innovative advice on medical matters. When it came to plague, they offered similar guidance, rendered in Latin as ‘Cito, Longe, Tarde,’ which translates as ‘Leave quickly, go far away and come back slowly.’ When the Black Death swept over much of Asia, Europe and parts of Africa in the mid-1300s, such advice was about as good as it got. Present in bubonic, pneumonic and septicaemic forms, the Black Death had killed millions by the time it finally declined. Europe may have lost a third of its people, China perhaps half. Besides death, the disease brought fear, panic and very often a complete breakdown of society.(1)

Even as late as 1665, public health measures were primitive. Ships turned

away from ports, families locked into their homes, quarantines were the

basic measures employed. Still, Britain was largely unprepared for the

Great Plague.

Now in the 21st century, our public health systems, designed and operated

in a normal manner, have protected us from great resurgences of the Plague.

In the 20th Century, the world largely eradicated polio and offered a full

spectrum of antibiotics that cured permanent disfiguring and loathsome

diseases such as leprosy and syphilis. Tuberculosis was under control.

No one got dysentery in the big rich countries.

Then along came AIDS in the late 1970s. Work on containing the disease

andsaving its victims was delayed by the political games of the right wing.

President Ronald Reagan dithered far too long before bringing the

resources of the US public health system to bear and millions have died

because of this reckless behavior.

So, why are we underfunding the World Health Organization? Because

the right doesn’t care about the health of anyone except their immediate

families, for the most part. Righties especially do not care about brown or

yellow people from their home, or other countries.


Posted in 99%, Geopolitics, Government is Not a Business, Health Policy | Comments Off

The Marine Corps Stores Huge Amounts Of Armor And Weaponry In Norwegian Caves

By Olivia LaRosa, August 17, 2014

Client’s house caught on fire. It did not burn down, but you wouldn’t want to live in it. He and his family had to seek other lodging and the bills began to pile up. The house entered foreclosure proceedings. Client offered bank $10,000 from his savings account to hold off for a couple of weeks because he had a good job starting then. Bank refused, bank foreclosed.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the insurance company is figuring out who to screw this time around. They made an error that did not even save them money, but cost my client 50% of the insurance proceeds. The payoff was payable to Mrs. Client only, and Mrs. Client took the money and ran, so the bank and Mr. Client were both ripped off.

These incidents occurred in 2008. Client has not been able to face preparing his income taxes since 2008. He lost his family, and two homes.

That’s where I come in. I run a charity operation for clients whose lives have been turned upside down by the Great Recession or other of life’s uncontrollable tragedies.

I invite people who are behind on filing their taxes to come to me for help.

I don’t make much money. There’s no advertising budget. I build my own websites on my own webhost and I am a domain name provider, just like GoDaddy, only without the sexism and other ooky stuff. I live on a small Social Security payment and the business I can bring in by word of mouth and my mad skillz at SEO.

But here in America we don’t have the guts to indict our bankers, while we send our hardworking families to hell and back and store billions of dollars in caves in Trondheim. Our munitions makers are rolling in it.



Posted in 1percent, Eisenhower a good president, President Dwight Eisenhower, This is bad., War Crimes, Waste Fraud Abuse | Comments Off

Which President used the most signing statements & executive orders?

Republicans are raising money from gullible voters by complaining that Obama is overstepping his bounds by issuing Executive Orders and using Signing Statements.  This is the newest installment in “Pot Calling Kettle Black” series.

Previous administrations had made use of signing statements to dispute the validity of a new law or its individual components or to influence the enforcement of the law. Both parties copiously apply this method to bend the law to their agenda. Analysis of each President and act is beyond the scope of this article, but the sheer volume of Orders and Statements should preclude one side from tarring the other with the “treason” brush, for crying out loud.

Here’s the tally for the last few Prezzies. George H. W. Bush challenged 232 statutes through signing statements during four years in office and Clinton challenged 140 over eight years.

George W. Bush’s 130 signing statements contain at least 1,100 challenges. That is one way to try to affect the execution of laws as a President.

If Congress will not act, then the President has another way to accomplish hir goals,by using the traditional privilege to issue Executive Orders. These do not have the force of law and can be reversed by subsequent Presidents.

George Washington issued the first Executive Orders.

President, and Executive Order count:

  • Nixon*, 346;
  • Ford, 169;
  • Carter, 320;
  • Reagan* 381;
  • George H.W. Bush, 166;
  • Clinton*, 364;
  • G.W.Bush*, 291,
  • Obama* 182

Executive Orders, Signing Statements, and Proclamations have always been with us, used by each party liberally.

*Indicates 2-term Presidents. No adjustment for Nixon’s shortened term or Obama’s 2nd mid-term status.

All figures from Wikipedia.

Posted in Political Science 101 | Tagged | Comments Off

3 ways to measure our economy that are not the GDP

We can measure the economy in different ways to improve human life and enhance human potential. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures government services only by the dollars spent, but not by the dollars earned by our investments in our people and infrastructure. As one commenter mentioned, Haiti has no public school system, and therefore no hope of pulling itself out of the “poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere” status.

The GINI Coefficient, ¤

There is also the Social Progress Index, measured according to three broad dimensions:

  • Does a country have the capacity to satisfy the basic human needs of its people?
  • Does a country have the institutions and conditions in place to allow its citizens and communities to improve their quality of life?
  • And does a country offer an environment in which each citizen has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential?

How to get there? The Steady State economy, which does not have to “grow or die” like capitalism.  ¤

What on earth would cause me to go off like that, you ask? First I know stuff. Second, it was a question asked by a commenter, Nancy, on this article at the New York Times:

“Does any other country or group of countries measure the economy differently so that we have a ready means of comparison?”

Our Mismeasured Economy, by Lew Daly, June 6, 2014

Posted in 99%, Cities and Urban Planning, Civil Society, Economics 101, Everything We Know is Total BS, Paying Forward, Systematic Looting and other Privatization Schemes | Comments Off

Reminiscence is good for us, they say

It was a nightmare growing up with a depressive mean alcoholic mother and a depressive father. Then, when I was 8, mother married a sociopathic monster, a con-man so low he rustled cattle. He would wake my younger sister and I at 3AM. At ten years old, I was good to go, driving a stakebed truck around a corral while he did something. Then he took us for donuts and hot chocolate, the first time, anyway. Not long after, I learned that he had been loading calves into the truck. Not long after that, he went off to prison again.

I began to run away with more and more frequency into my teens. I would go stay with friends. My mother would come get me and say that she would never do X again. But of course, she did. Children are helpless and have no representation, no ways out of these abusive, poverty-stricken, unstable lives. When we moved, it was never announced to my sister and me. We just ended up in a new place. As an adult, I understand now that they were skipping out on paying rent.

It was just too appalling to stay under their roof sometimes. They got drunk and beat one another regularly. It was a horror show. I begged my grandmother to take me away. She told me, many years later, that my stepfather threatened to kill her if she tried to get custody.


The above is an expanded version of my comment on this article at Alternet. Some legislators propose to give powers to government actors to involuntarily medicate certain mentally-ill persons with a demonstrated tendency to violence. In California, we have had the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which allows members of the public to have threatening persons taken to a psychiatric emergency room.

Posted in Depression, Disability, Elephants in the Room, Olivia's Stardust and Lollipops, Patriarchy, sexism the idea that men are smarter than women, The Man, They'd Rather We Just Die | Comments Off

Why Are We Importing Our Own Fish?

Let’s think about and compare the claims of the capitalist supporter of the “efficiencies” of the fictional free market to a market based on the needs of human beings. ~Via

IN 1982 a Chinese aquaculture scientist named Fusui Zhang journeyed to Martha’s Vineyard in search of scallops. The New England bay scallop had recently been domesticated, and Dr. Zhang thought the Vineyard-grown shellfish might do well in China. After a visit to Lagoon Pond in Tisbury, he boxed up 120 scallops and spirited them away to his lab in Qingdao. During the journey 94 died. But 26 thrived. Thanks to them, today China now grows millions of dollars of New England bay scallops, a significant portion of which are exported back to the United States.

As go scallops, so goes the nation. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, even though the United States controls more ocean than any other country, 86 percent of the seafood we consume is imported.

But it’s much fishier than that: While a majority of the seafood Americans eat is foreign, a third of what Americans catch is sold to foreigners.

The seafood industry, it turns out, is a great example of the swaps, delete-and-replace maneuvers and other mechanisms that define so much of the outsourced American economy; you can find similar, seemingly inefficient phenomena in everything from textiles to technology. The difference with seafood, though, is that we’re talking about the destruction and outsourcing of the very ecological infrastructure that underpins the health of our coasts. Let’s walk through these illogical arrangements, course by course.


An American man in the 1890s with a pile of oyster shells.CreditBuyenlarge/Getty Images

Appetizers: Half Shells for Cocktails

Our most blatant seafood swap has been the abandonment of local American oysters for imported Asian shrimp. Once upon a time, most American Atlantic estuaries (including the estuary we now call the New York Bight) had vast reefs of wild oysters. Many of these we destroyed by the 1800s through overharvesting. But because oysters are so easy to cultivate (they live off wild microalgae that they filter from the water), a primitive form of oyster aquaculture arose up and down our Atlantic coast.

Until the 1920s the United States produced two billion pounds of oysters a year. The power of the oyster industry, however, was no match for the urban sewage and industrial dumps of various chemical stews that pummeled the coast at midcentury. Atlantic oyster culture fell to just 1 percent of its historical capacity by 1970.

Just as the half-shell appetizer was fading into obscurity, the shrimp cocktail rose to replace it, thanks to a Japanese scientist named Motosaku Fujinaga and the kuruma prawn. Kurumas were favored in a preparation known as “dancing shrimp,” a dish that involved the consumption of a wiggling wild shrimp dipped in sake. Dr. Fujinaga figured out how to domesticate this pricey animal. His graduate students then fanned out across Asia and tamed other varieties of shrimp.

Today shrimp, mostly farmed in Asia, is the most consumed seafood in the United States: Americans eat nearly as much of it as the next two most popular seafoods (canned tuna and salmon) combined. Notably, the amount of shrimp we now eat is equivalent to our per capita oyster consumption a century ago.

And the Asian aquaculture juggernaut didn’t stop with shrimp. In fact, shrimp was a doorway into another seafood swap, which leads to the next course.

Go to Original

Posted in Corporate Crimes, Culture of Death, Evil Capitalism101, Free Market Paradigm | Comments Off

Two Thumbs Up for Republican version of helping working families; 5 Thumbs Down

Last night, I had a dream that the Republican Party finally started representing people with incomes below $1 Million a year. Behold! The Republican Party today announced a series of…the stale old political objectives of the 1% covered with pretty new wrapping paper. 

Let’s take a stroll through legal and political history together to see what I mean. My comments are in bold type, like this. 

By Olivia LaRosa, June 20, 2014

Senate Republicans on Wednesday rolled out their own policy agenda for middle-class voters in an effort to counter the Senate Democrats’ 2014 platform, “A Fair Shot for Everyone.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) led a news conference Wednesday morning to unveil GOP solutions for working families.

The campaign-year initiative consists of six bills designed to retrain mid-career workers, give families more flexibility and provide tax breaks for home offices that include baby cribs.

Me: THUMBS UP! And while you are at it, repeal the requirement that people have to use one computer solely for business, and another for personal work. That would help many more people than this “baby crib” exception (see below) that no one pays attention to anyway. 

“Some of our members wanted to come together today to talk about some Republican proposals that could immediately be acted upon to improve the lives of working families who are struggling in the Obama economy,” McConnell told reporters.

Me: THUMBS DOWN! It isn’t the Obama economy. It’s Congress’s economy. Congress has the power to tax and spend. See: US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.

McConnell on Wednesday introduced the Working Parents Home Office Act, which would allow parents to deduct costs associated with a home office that has a baby crib. Current law disallows a deduction if there is a crib in the office while the parent is working.

“These are just the kinds of things that could make a difference in people’s lives now,” he said.

Me: THUMBS UP! See THUMBS UP #1. I still think that repealing the silly law about having to use separate computers for business and personal would help more families. 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has introduced the Forty Hours is Full Time Act, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s 30-hour workweek rule.

Me: THUMBS DOWN! This “40 hours is Full Time Act” is designed to prevent families from obtaining healthcare through the Affordable Care Act even if they are prevented from working 40 hours a week by their employers. Employers/contractors win.  

How does this help working families? Employers now can avoid offering benefits by limiting worker hours and the worker has no say, even without this meaningless bill. Here’s what’s gonna happen. A few million dollars will be spent challenging the law, if passed. It will go to the Supreme Court, which has already ruled that the ACA is legal and is Federal law. That doesn’t mean much, but as Labor Law is Federal, not State, it still means something. 

How can anyone claim with a straight face that this bill helps families? What are the odds that this bill will ever go into effect as a law? 1000/1

A “liberal” Republican offers this useless bill. 

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has introduced legislation, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act, to reform the federal government’s Jobs Corps and other adult education and vocational rehabilitation programs.

Me: THUMBS DOWN until proven innocent. Whenever a Republican talks “reform” they mean “privatization.” What privatization means is that services formerly offered by public entities are sold off to corporations whose only motive is earning a profit FOR THEMSELVES. Service deteriorates or is actually shut down, as happened in Detroit this week, when thousands of families lost water service. So, this is likely another privatization bill. Employers/contractors win.  

Then the government (that means YOU) has to spend money to remediate the poor service AND likely pay off the contractor for the lost business opportunity. How does this help working families? 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offered the Raise Act, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to allow employers to give merit-based raises to employees even if those compensation increases are not part of collective bargaining agreements.

Me: THUMBS DOWN. Pure political theatre. Union workers are entitled to merit raises right now. Another useless bill. No help for working families here, either. Score! employers/contractors.  

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) has endorsed an alternative to the Democrats’ Paycheck Fairness Act. It includes language to prevent employers from retaliating against workers who discuss or inquire about their salaries. It also would not raise caps on punitive damages that employees may seek in courts, a key provision of the Democratic bill.

Me: THUMBS DOWN. More political theatre.   All this bill does is gut enforcement action against employers who engage in illegal acts against employees. It is designed to counteract the teeth in the Democratic proposal and nothing more. Employers who retaliate for legal activities of employees should pay. No help here. Score! employers/contractors. 

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is pushing the Working Families Flexibility Act. It would let employers offer workers the option of comp time or overtime pay. It would require employers to establish written agreements allowing employees to choose the option that best fits their needs.

Me: GREAT BIG THUMBS DOWN. Employers have been trying to eliminate overtime rules for nearly a century now. We got overtime rules because employers abused us by making us work until we died. This bill is nothing more than a stalking horse to kill overtime pay, which often keeps families above the poverty line. How does this help working families? 

In conclusion, I see that my dream has turned into a nightmare of empty suits full of empty promises. Don’t be fooled by the fancy words. This is not a Fair Shot. It’s a boatload of snake oil and fake populism designed to keep corporations at the head of our government. It’s just an old tired Trojan horse that has turned into a zombie. Score! employers/contractors. 

You can’t fix things by not fixing them. You cannot claim to offer help when you do the opposite. The changes in government and economic systems have always occurred, always, because the people at the top got too greedy. Start supporting politicians who want BETTER government. No one cares how big it is if it works properly. 

Read the original:

Posted in 1percent, Authoritarianism, Can't make this stuff up, GOP Dirty Tricks, Working People's Rights | Comments Off

Canada and USA in ginormous fight over oil

This is a Really Big Show, friends. The conservative Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, threw down the gauntlet at Obama’s feet by approving the construction of a pipeline to run from Alberta to the Pacific Coast at Kitimat through British Columbia. This geopolitical game features feints and obfuscation, but even so, the underlying effects of such an endeavor will echo worldwide in a manner that we can foresee.

by Olivia LaRosa, June 17, 2014

The underlying facts will demonstrate the earth-shaking nature of this challenge from the Harper government:

  • The US military is the largest consumer of petroleum products on earth – by far
  • The Harper government is seeking to “expand its markets.” Canada now ships 97% of her oil to the US.
  • The resulting increased demand for oil will create more tar sands wastelands and pollute water tables
  • How will a project of this magnitude disrupt surrounding systems? Can the externalized costs be quantified or justified?
  • The pipeline will span 731 miles
  • The resulting increased demand for oil will create more tar sands wastelands and pollute water tables
  • The average tar sands field produces for only three years. Production drops off 80% more or less after that.
  • To learn more see my articles: On the potential disruption to global markets

  • The oil will be shipped to “Asia.” Who of the billions on the largest continent on earth will receive this oil?
  • The end client is unknown

This 731-mile drive between Bruderheim, Alberta and Kitimat, the bay town that is the British Columbia terminus, takes at least 17 hours. The route crosses both the Northern Rockies (1) and the Western System, nearly as formidably rugged.(2)-

Likely outcomes:

  • Pipeline leaks and piracy
  • Bitumen fires
  • Environmental despoliation at the tar sands extraction sites and everywhere along the pipeline route
  • Government support for contractors who underbid and underperform
  • Destabilization of global political economy by making US oil supplies vulnerable and affecting the petrodollar’s dominance in markets
  • Corporate promises of environmental protections not kept
  • “Ghost towns” left after the tar sands boom cost local citizens lots in tax dollars and attract street criminals

Q. What Asian country would most like to be able to control and divert the product of a major oil supplier of critical geopolitical significance?
A. All of them.

We as citizens of planet earth must halt this waste of petrochemical resources to protect and preserve future generations’ access to the lifesaving properties of these products.

The big question, as always, is “Who Wins?” Here, it will be the Big Oil corporations, their subsidiaries and parasites, that by using their vertically-integrated tax-laundering mechanisms, evade their duty as citizens. In exchange, they might “give us jobs” building a pipeline across incredibly hostile and rugged territory.(1) It will be a temporary position, whether or not we survive the work.

(1) The Northern Rocky Mountains and the Western System.
(2) The Western System comprises the Coast Mountains, the Canadian portion of the Cascade Mountains (known in the US as the Cascade Range), the southeastern most Saint Elias Mountains and the Coastal Trough, which includes the Georgia Depression and its subunit the Fraser Lowland and other low-lying coastal areas. The western terminus is located in the Kitimat Ranges.


Go to original>>>

Canada OKs oil pipeline to the Pacific Coast

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s government on Tuesday approved a controversial pipeline proposal that would bring oil to the Pacific Coast for shipment to Asia, a major step in the country’s efforts to diversify its oil exports if it can overcome fierce opposition from environmental and aboriginal groups.

Approval for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project was expected as Canada needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. The project’s importance has only grown since the U.S. delayed a decision on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would take oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The northern Alberta region has the world’s third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

Enbridge’s pipeline would transport 525,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, mainly energy-hungry China. About 220 large oil tankers a year would visit the Pacific coast town of Kitimat and opponents fear pipeline leaks and a potential tanker spill on the pristine Pacific coast.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada’s national interest makes the pipelines essential.

Mt. Columbia, Canadian Rockies
Mt. Columbia, Canadian Rockies

He was “profoundly disappointed” that U.S. President Barack Obama delayed a decision on the Texas Keystone XL option, and spoke of the need to diversify Canada’s oil industry. Ninety-seven percent of Canadian oil exports now go to the U.S.

Meanwhile, China’s growing economy is hungry for Canadian oil. Chinese state-owned companies have invested more than $40 billion in Canadian energy in the past few years.

“They are watching this very, very closely,” said Wenran Jiang, an energy expert and special adviser to Alberta’s Department of Energy.

“They told us as recently as a couple of weeks ago that further investment will depend on whether there will be at least opportunities to ship some of this crude to China. Currently all of their investment and production goes into the U.S. They are currently living with that,” he said.

Jiang said Canada ships all its oil to the U.S. so it’s vital that Canada diversify its energy exports. Canadian oil is sold at a discount compared to the prices elsewhere.

The Harper government declined requests for comment on Tuesday, only issuing a statement.

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said in a statement that Enbridge must meet the 209 conditions Canada’s regulator imposed on the pipeline. The company has previously said it would.

Enbridge President and Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco welcomed the decision but noted “we still have some more work to do.”

The fear of oil spills is especially acute in the pristine corner of northwest British Columbia, with its snowcapped mountains and deep ocean inlets. Canadians living there still remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. British Columbia Premier Christy Clark set out five conditions for British Columbia’s support, and on Tuesday she repeated her contention that those conditions have yet to be met. Harper will have win support in British Columbia where he’ll want to preserve the 21 seats he has there. The British Columbia government can deny permits. Aboriginals could also get in the way of construction trucks.

Environmentalists and Canada’s native tribes could delay approval all the way to the Supreme Court, and the tribes still hold title to some of the land the pipeline would cross. That means the government will have to move with extreme sensitivity.

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said aboriginal people will blockade any attempt by Enbridge to start work.

A statement issued by a broad coalition of British Columbia aboriginal groups vowed that they would “defend our territories whatever the costs may be.”

Environmental groups said Ottawa’s approval is no guarantee that the controversial project will be built.

“We are deeply disappointed, but you need to look no further than the spate of legal challenges filed against this project to know that Cabinet’s approval is by no means a guarantee that this project will ever be built,” said Barry Robinson, a lawyer for Ecojustice.

Posted in 1percent, Corporate Crimes, Decline and Fall, Economics 101, Eisenhower a good president, Energy Policy and Climate Change, Evil Capitalism101, Fascism, Geopolitics, Our Environment, Systematic Looting and other Privatization Schemes | Comments Off