Politics: Keystone Pipeline brings 35 permanent jobs after project completed –is it worth it?
Shrewd. Shrewd. Shrewd. Playing like a true politician, Bernie Sanders included this addendum in the Keystone XL Pipeline bill, which reads as follows:
“It is the sense of Congress that Congress is in agreement with the opinion of virtually the entire worldwide scientific community that—
(1) climate change is real;
(2) climate change is caused by human activities;
(3) climate change has already caused devastating problems in the United States and around the world;
(4) a brief window of opportunity exists before the United States and the entire planet suffer irreparable harm; and
(5) it is imperative that the United States transform its energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy as rapidly as possible.” (1)
So, now the Republicans are in a bind: If they decline to pass this bill, then they ultimately turn their backs on all those they’ve promised jobs and opportunity through the Keystone Pipeline, over principle. If they pass it, then they’ve shot themselves in the foot (revealing more hypocrisy), given their anti-environmental stance. Thank you, Bernie Sanders!!
This pipeline system is designed to carry approximately 850,000 barrels of petroleum per day from the oil sands of western Canada to refineries and ports on the Gulf Coast, effectively running straight through America. “The State Department environmental review estimated that Keystone would support 42,000 temporary jobs over its two-year construction period — about 3,900 of them in construction, the rest in indirect support jobs, such as food service. It estimated that it would create about 35 permanent jobs.” (2) Wait …say that again: 35 …only 35 permanent jobs, when all is said and done!
In opposition to completing the pipeline, “In their natural state, the thick, tarlike oil sands, also known as bitumen, are combined with sand, clay and water in a dense, gooey mix. There are two ways producers get the sands out of the ground, both damaging to the immediate environment. In one method, large amounts of water and natural gas are used to pump steam into the sands to extract the oil, which creates toxic environmental runoff. Alternatively, energy companies strip-mine the sands and then heat them to release the oil, a practice that has already destroyed many acres of Alberta forest. An environmental review by the State Department concluded that production of oil-sands petroleum creates about 17 percent more carbon pollution than production of conventional oil.” (2)
Further, the oil produced from the pipeline would contribute to 18.7 million metric tons of carbon emissions than would be produced by conventional oil. While jobs in the short term (estimated 2 year project) would support workers, does a permanent 35 jobs afterwards make this venture a good idea, considering the additional pollution and long term potential hazards?
Finance: Through the muck, we may actually get some relief, per the State of the Union Address
Today during his State of the Union address, President Obama is expected to propose a plan to extend tax credits to middle class families while increasing taxes on more wealthy Americans. “Not too bad” I say being from the middle class, “now that’s exciting and something to smile about!”
“Under the plan, the capital gains tax for couples with income over $500,000 per year would be raised from its current level of 23.8 percent up to 28. The plan would also strip a tax break, known as a ‘step-up,’ that allows heirs to avoid capital gains taxes on large inheritances. In addition, the plan would institute a new tax on the biggest financial institutions, basing the fee on liabilities in order to discourage risky borrowing. The administration says the fee would hit the roughly 100 banks that have assets of $50 billion or more.”
In essence, these new revenues begotten from the wealthier folks will be rerouted toward middle class families as tax credits. For example, benefiting approximately 13 million low-income workers, while actually tripling maximum tax credits for child care in both middle and lower-income households. Other advantages include more workers gaining access to retirement pensions, extending paid leave to federal workers, and making some community colleges free. There seems to be a bright side finally shining through!
Military: No more war …suicide still taking lives after returning home!
This story is heart breaking. Soldiers willing to risk their lives, thinking they are doing the right thing by fighting for their country –today’s not the day for moral opinions regarding war, we’re talking about something different here, dear ones: Young adults (with their whole lives ahead of them) willing to risk their lives by going off to war, and surviving, only to kill themselves trying to re-integrate into society: Heart breaking!
If there weren’t already enough reasons not to go to war, there’s this reality of the horrors of war, irreversibly damaging former combatants’ psyche. “Almost 500 serving members of the armed forces took their own lives in the US in 2013, a significant number of them thought to have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to an official report from the US Department of Defense. Although the overall figure represents a drop from 2012, when the total number of suicides was 522, there are fears the final total for 2014 could rise again as the rate increased in the first half of the year.”
And the craziest part in my mind is that in the UK the rate of suicide for the year 2012 was 50, compared to the 40 soldiers who died in actual combat! Bless these dear souls, and yet please allow me to state the obvious: How are these numbers so drastically different –what the hell are we doing wrong here in the US to experience a suicide rate of nearly 10x as much? Is it a lack of care for our ex-military? Is it no health care? I don’t know the specific details of each situation, and yet, whatever it is, it’s not okay. It must be changed, now. I imagine former soldiers have different stories, yielding that it’s probably not one single reason but a few, which needs to be addressed immediately.
God bless all those souls who have passed, taken by their own hand or another’s! No more war.
We Are All One