A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
April 9th, 2011
By Dan Miller
Years ago, a Venezuelan acquaintance told me a story: Venezuelans and Germans had a rowing race. The German crew had ten oarsmen and one leader who shouted commands; the Venezuelan crew had one oarsman and ten shouters. Surprisingly, the German crew won the race. During an after-action analysis, the Venezuelan team tried its best to figure out why they had lost; the solution was obvious and the shouter majority easily agreed on it: they just needed more shouters. Venezuela under el Presidente Chávez has been following the same policy.
The United States federal government has been doing much the same; so have many states:
Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.
It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?
All federal agencies and private companies that deal with the U.S. government must identify their vulnerabilities to the impacts of global warming and develop a climate change adaptation plan, as per an executive order quietly signed by President Obama.
The order was actually penned in the fall of 2009 but the president’s Climate Change Adaptation Task Force had to properly investigate the matter and come up with recommendations. Now that the task force has developed a detailed plan on climate proofing the government, yet another Obama advisory committee, the Council on Environmental Quality, has issued instructions on implementation.
Under the plan, every government agency must integrate climate change adaptation into their planning, operations, policies and programs. That means they must appoint a “climate change adaptation specialist,” participate in climate adaptation workshops and educate every employee throughout the year. All agencies must identify and analyze “climate vulnerabilities” by spring of 2012 and execute an adaptation plan by the fall of 2012.
The training will also be required at all private businesses that contract with the government, including those that provide any sort of maintenance or logistics. In all, tens of thousands of public employees will be required to participate in Obama’s “green” plan, which will also require federal agencies to create greenhouse gas emissions reduction plans, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste and support sustainable communities. No word on what all this will costs [sic] U.S. taxpayers.
Too much dependence on foreign oil (and there certainly is)?
Tighten restrictions on and erect more regulatory barriers to domestic oil drilling to make it more expensive; then promise to ease restrictions a little bit without really doing so while promoting more expensive “alternative clean” energy sources at taxpayer expense. That’s sure to cause businesses to drill for more oil domestically. Former President Clinton recently characterized the restrictions as ridiculous — and he’s right. Interior Department and various agency moratoria and restrictions have largely excluded U.S. companies from the Gulf and made their drilling elsewhere in the United States excessively expensive as well as burdened beyond all reason (unless the reason is to kill domestic oil production).
Want more domestic oil rather than less? Really? It’s yucky and smelly and Gaia winces in pain whenever we poke holes in her fragile body to get it, so that’s pretty terrible, but President Obama has become an energy activist. OK, let’s Win the Future: lend Brazil two billion dollars to help her develop her oil reserves and some in the Gulf as well; maybe we can call it all “domestic production” by declaring Brazil our honorary fifty-first state. Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas may be active in Brazil and will appreciate our efforts. China needs oil and won’t love us any less either for helping:
The US Export-Import Bank … announced $2 billion in credit to Brazilian state-run oil giant Petrobras, Latin America’s biggest company, which aims to become one of the world’s biggest oil producers in coming years.
The announcement follows US President Barack Obama’s visit in which he sought to drum up business for US companies, adding the United States wants to “be one of your best customers” when Brazil starts pumping oil from offshore reserves.
Much of that oil will be sold to China, already Brazil’s biggest investor and trade partner:
Published ahead of a planned visit by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to China next month, [a] report said Chinese firms have announced investments of nearly $30 billion in Brazil, including $8.6 billion currently under negotiation.
The energy and mining sectors represented 90 percent of those investments, the report by the Brazil-China Business Council said.
But Chinese investors have also made direct or indirect purchases of Brazilian farm lands, especially for soy production.
China is seeking “a base for supplies of natural resources,” the study said.
Brazilian exports to China have also climbed rapidly, from $1 billion in 2000 to $30.7 billion last year:
These exports — mostly in soybeans, iron ore, oil and other commodities — helped Brazil secure an estimated $5 billion annual trade surplus with China.
Most Brazilian imports from China are manufactured products, which soared from $1.2 billion in 2000 to $25.5 billion in 2010 (emphasis added).
Wouldn’t it be nice if the U.S. had such a trade surplus? Wouldn’t it also be nice if Brazil would send us some oil (from its “domestic” production or even from the Gulf) in trade for some used U.S. politicians? Nah, we don’t hate Brazil and maybe they don’t need our cast-offs. Last year, they elected Grumpy the Clown to their own Congress:
Francisco Silva became famous as Tiririca — “Grumpy” in Portuguese — and received about 1.3 million votes, nearly twice as many as the next-highest vote-getter in last month’s congressional elections. His campaign videos drew millions of viewers on the Internet, with slogans such as “It can’t get any worse” and “What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don’t know. But vote for me and you’ll find out.”
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