Reader Tom C submitted this link to a New York Times article dealing with why central planning doesn’t work and the lack of wisdom of those leading the modern environmental movement.
“Thank you for trying to get those who
should understand the urgency of energy independence, jobs, and our
future…to do so. (We are) loading up the SUV almost every day to give
away household items to Neighborhood Services and friends…and preparing
to relocate if necessary. You are right… finding middle class wages here
in Pennsylvania is challenging if not impossible. The blood, sweat and
tears of years planning and building our dream home only to sell it in a
bad housing market is like adding salt to the wound….”
heartbreaking message was sent by a distraught wife of a 19-year Sunoco
refinery worker, as that company’s two refineries (Philadelphia and
Marcus Hook) are slated for closing, as is the ConocoPhillips refinery
in Trainer, Delaware County, if no buyers are found. Making the sin
mortal, there are reports that the ConocoPhillips plant might be
dismantled, shipped overseas, and resurrected in a foreign- potentially
adversarial – country. But this is nothing new, as America’s abandonment
of its manufacturing base has often included shipping entire facilities
overseas for the benefit of our competitors.
Can it be reversed?
Is it possible not only to save these refinery jobs but at the same
time create a rebirth of American manufacturing – mandatory for the
nation’s future since no country has ever survived without an industrial
base? Many “experts” will arrogantly claim “no,” that America can’t
compete with Chinese labor costs, and smugly proclaim that manufacturing
is passé anyway – unnecessary in a modern 21st century economy.
the wrong people here are losing their jobs. The backbone of America
shouldn’t be facing the unemployment lines. The so-called experts,
including the politicians from both Parties who got us into this mess,
should be the ones getting canned. See Freindly Fire’s Sunoco Refinery Part One.
if we are to save jobs by retooling the refineries to process God’s
gift to Pennsylvania (and the nation) – Marcellus Shale natural gas – it
is imperative to stop the blame game and halt the tendency, while
natural in a time of such high emotion, to conveniently point fingers at
whatever “boogeyman of the day” caused this unfortunate situation.
Likewise, the fly-by-night ideas proposed by some shortsighted
politicians must be seen for what they are: either clueless suggestions
or a naked pandering for votes.
Who Didn’t Cause The Problem
million dollars is a lot of money – who hasn’t thought about having
that much cash? You could do a lot with a mil per year, even more if you
made that per week, and would be king of the world if you raked in
seven figures per day, especially if that that was the case for three
straight years. Life would be sweet – unless, of course, you happened to
be in the sweet crude oil refining business in a deteriorating market.
let’s be consistent. If making a million a day is desirable, losing
that amount on a daily basis would be, in professional financial
nomenclature, very, very bad. Common sense tells us that anyone losing a
million a day for three years would do everything possible to stop the
hemorrhaging. Welcome to Sunoco’s plight.
Ask any student unschooled in
economics what the primary objective of business is, and he will
invariably answer, “to make money.” Wrong. Making money is easy. Earning
a profit by taking in more than you spend – the correct answer – is the
Despite the misguided “Occupy” mentality that profits
are nothing more than gluttonous greed, the truth is quite different.
They are necessary to expand operations, hire more personnel, pay
salaries and benefits, and contribute to the overall health of a company
– and the entire economy. (Not that Wall Street greed doesn’t exist in
numerous other forms, much of which should be regulated/outlawed, but
that is another column).
Sunoco and ConocoPhillips are not in the
“business” of losing money, and their past profits and payouts to
shareholders are completely irrelevant to the fact that the outlook for
the refining business is bleak. They are under no moral, ethical or
financial obligation to keep the doors open. Keeping people employed
inefficiently – READ: subsidized – in a business with no possibility of
profit is anathema to the Free Market and would eventually collapse the
entire entity. This is not speculation but economic certainty.
if you want to see what happens when this course is recklessly pursued,
pull up a chair because you’re in luck. You have a ringside seat
watching such an implosion in action: the unsustainable economic
policies of the United States Government.
It is also important to
note that in 2009, Sunoco announced a significant worker layoff in an
attempt to improve company competitiveness – and all were white collar,
with no unionized personnel getting pink slips. Closing the refineries
is anything but anti-labor.
refinery shutdowns have nothing to do with “greedy unions sucking too
much money” from the companies’ bottom lines, as some critics of
organized labor incorrectly state. Many of those in refinery operations
are highly skilled union workers who have made a solid living over the
last several decades. But a look at the market conditions shows such a
minefield ahead for the companies that no amount of concessions would
come close to solving the problem. In the big picture, the significant
obstacles facing Sunoco and ConocoPhillips are infinitely greater than
any “high” labor costs associated with operating the refineries.
like “evil empire” rich oil company executives make inviting targets
for blame, so do “pillaging” unions who “want more for doing less.” Is
either side perfect? Of course not, since there is no such thing. But
while both make good scapegoats, it is simply counterproductive to
continually throw darts at them. Insults don’t solve problems. Strategic
vision and genuine partnerships do. The only thing that matters is
solving the problem – and quickly.
find it convenient to blame the President for everything from high gas
prices to their children getting a bad test grade. While he certainly
has his faults, he extended his hand to the Republicans on the single
most important issue of our time – moving America towards energy
independence. If some of his suggestions had been enacted (which, in
reality, are part of the Republican platform), they would have quite
possibly made the refining outlook much brighter for Sunoco and Conoco,
and the shutdowns may not have occurred.
And the GOP response? No bills were
introduced, and they absolutely refused to work with the President,
with many stating that “he didn’t really believe what he was saying.”
What a brilliant, mature response.
For the disbelievers who need
proof, just watch the President’s 2010 State of the Union speech, when,
in front of the entire nation, he urged Congress to expand our offshore
drilling ventures, and freed up millions of acres of coastal water for
exploration and development. In addition, he called for an increase in
nuclear power plants across America and pursued loan guarantees for new
facilities (even one year later in light of the Japanese disaster).
was interesting, not only because he went against one of his strongest
constituencies (the environmental lobby), but also because Obama’s move
threw a wrench in the conspiracy that he was a closet Muslim who wanted
to weaken America. Pushing for energy independence would be the polar
opposite way to achieve that goal.
Granted, Obama has not been
stellar in following up on his domestic drilling initiatives after the
BP spill, and has yet to authorize the critical Keystone XL Pipeline
project, but those shortcomings pale in comparison to the other Party’s
What did oilman George W. Bush or his Halliburton-affiliated sidekick Dick Cheney do to increase domestic production? Zero.
the patriarch of the Bush family, George Herbert Walker Bush? Well, it
was the elder Bush who signed the moratorium on offshore drilling. His
son W. left it in place for seven years, despite having sizable
majorities in both Houses of Congress. Only after fuel costs skyrocketed
to over $4.50 per gallon in 2008 did he call for the lifting of the
moratorium. But it was too little, too late. And it never happened.
could have prevented those crippling spikes at the pump? Offshore
drilling – both off the continental shelves and in ANWR (the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge) – and the construction of new refineries,
given that the last one was built in 1976.
And what better time
to have pushed it through than right after the Sept. 11 attacks. In
addition to having a Republican congress and nearly 100 percent of the
nation behind him, Bush had the world’s goodwill in his corner.
this nation’s reliance on foreign oil — which is a nice way of saying
we are pumping billions of petro dollars into the coffers of some who
are hell bent on destroying us — has only increased.
And this week, gas hit another all-time high for this time of year.
Both Parties are guilty of
forsaking America’s security and economic well-being. It is only right
that they atone by eliminating the red tape, bureaucracy and onerous
regulations placed upon the energy industry, as well as rescind the
economy-killing taxes on fuel. Those steps would make it infinitely more
palatable for entrepreneurs to convert the refineries, keeping those
strategic assets and jobs exactly where they belong: in America.
The Republican-controlled state senate, yesterday, voted 34-13 to approve HB 400 a.k.a. the Construction Workplace Misclassification a.k.a. the Subcontractor Extinction Act. The bill returns to the House to resolve some language issues.
Of the 19 Democrats in the body, the only one not voting for it was Barry Stout of the 46th District who did not vote. Fifteen out of 30 Republicans voted for the bill including the ones representing Delaware County — Ted Erickson of the 26th District and Domenic Pileggi of the 9th District. Not voting was Chuck McIlhinney of the 10th District.
The 45th District seat is vacant.
The bill requires independent contractors doing construction work to be treated as employees by those who hire them with regard to requirements for workman’s compensation and unemployment insurance contributions.
Republican David Argall of the 29th District voted for the bill in committee but against it on the floor.
The bill was strongly supported by the trade unions and opposed by by the Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association, National Federation of Independent Business, Pennsylvania Builders Association and Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry.
The bill was introduced in the House by Delaware County’s Bryan Lentz (D-161 ) who is the Democrat’s candidate to replace Joe Sestak as congressman from the 7th District. His Republican opponent is former U.S. attorney and Delaware County District Attorney Pat Meehan.
I’m back from the land of fireworks, toll-free roads and 70 mph speed limits. The most jarring reminder might have been the I-95 rest stop in Lower Chichester, where the faucets and flushers were not hands free and the wooden picnic tables were chained to cement pads.
Granted, a year-long $5.9 million renovation project for the station is supposed to start May 1 which hopefully takes them to where the Southern stops have been for at least a decade.
Maybe it will even have free wi-fi like the Florida Welcome Center. And, no, I’m not suggesting Pennsylvania give out free orange juice.
And GOP lieutenant governor candidate Russ Diamond has reported from the campaign trail that it is snowing outside of Scranton.
Rounding out the top five are California and New Jersey.
The top five with a net in-migration are Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado and Florida.
Fleeing Pennsylvania In 2009
Auto Safety Inspections Worth Hassle? — Once 31 states required regular safety inspections. Now just 19 (17 as of 2017) do including Pennsylvania.
The decline started in 1976 when Congress eliminated the Transportation Department’s 10-year-old ability to withhold funds from states that did not have inspection programs.
So did the states like Florida end up with Road Warrior-type highways of jerryrigged jalopies with bald tires and bad brakes terrorizing helpless citizens?
Dan Sutter, an economics professor at the University of Texas-Pan American, co-authored a 2002 study that found inspections have little to no effect on decreasing accidents.
“It seems reasonable that vehicle safety inspections would be a good thing,” he said. “But the data just doesn’t support that.”
He attributes this to great increases in vehicle reliability.
Just something to think about the next time you are trying to set up a ride to work the day you schedule for your car inspection.
Auto Safety Inspections Worth Hassle?
Let’s Make It Easier To Rent The Home You Buy — The New Jersey property tax is a burning issue in that state’s gubernatorial race with incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine and Republican challenger both agreeing it is a big problem.
The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that The Garden State has the highest in the nation albeit TaxFoundation.org says that Texas held the crown in 2008 — note Texas does not have an income tax.
So that brings us to Pennsylvania which is 11th highest in property taxes according TaxFoundation. The property tax is the cruelest tax. You lose your income you don’t pay an income tax nor would any food or clothing you buy be taxed. The government still, however, wants you to cough up something for your home.
The sad thing is that Pennsylvanians could see a nice cut in their property tax burden with some simple changes to the law, and even though they would be spending less money they could see services improve.
The first and most profound reform would be to prohibit teacher strikes. Pennsylvania is one of only 13 states to allow teacher strikes. Without this heavy club you would not see 4-5 percent annual raises for PSEA members — who include guidance counselors and nurses along with classroom teachers.
Next would be to repeal the prevailing wage law. The law, passed in 1961, requires that contractors pay wages set by the state Department of Labor and Industry for all public works projects. The Commonwealth Foundation estimates that labor costs for public sector construction jobs in Pennsylvania average 37 percent higher than what the private sector pays for the same work because of this. Nine states have repealed their prevailing wage laws while nine others never had any.
Finally, we repeal the The Pennsylvania Separations Act of 1913, an archaic but expensive law that requires that public entities solicit separate bids and award separate contracts for electrical, heating, ventilating and plumbing work undertaken as part of public construction projects in which costs exceed $4,000.
Bet next year’s tax bill that if these reforms were passed the cost of owning your home — or would that be renting the home you buy? — go down.