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XL Pipeline, the Mayor’s Office, and more
By Jim Sack
Fort Wayne Reader
Oil Drop Causes and Consequences
Gas prices have tumbled thanks to the law of supply and demand. The supply is at record levels while the world economy has slowed; Japan is officially in recession, Europe is a mixed bag of weak and weaker, and the Chinese economy has cooled, meanwhile the Saudis are pumping at record levels and America is again a leader in supply, thanks to North Dakota and (wash my mouth) fracking. Consequently, there is a glut of oil and few buyers, so the price falls and you have extra money to burn. There is little or no pressure to build the XL Pipeline.
The glut of world oil prompts the supporters of the XL to transition their argument from a promotion of energy independence to one of creating jobs. (A bit cynical since the Republican House has derailed many job creation proposals.). Supporters, include Senator Coats, promise tens of thousands of jobs will be created, but admit that permanent jobs will be fewer than 100, unless you count those employed cleaning up spills. For an insight into how that works you might consider the oil spill in the Kalamazoo River near quaint Marshall, Michigan, that has cost close to $1 billion to clean up and has put hundreds to work for nearly five years. XL Pipeline supporters fail to mention that.
Nor do they point out the oil from the Dakotas will flow to Gulf Coast refineries so it can be refined and shipped to…China. It will not benefit you much at the pump, but will support oil company stocks, such as BP. Remember BP? Remember that clean up?
If you want jobs…solar has created some 120,000 and growing. But the joke is the money interests in Congress and the board rooms will never push solar because, simple, they can’t sell the sun…yet.
Money Ball for the Mayor’s Office
Downstate Republicans are determined to wrest Fort Wayne city hall from local Democrats. All over the state Republicans have triumphed from the governor’s office to the city halls of countless towns to the scads of township trustees, but as hard as they try Fort Wayne is still Democratic, even though they have thrown wads of hundreds at past races and despite a majority of registered Republicans from Aboite to St. Joe have failed to take city hall. For whatever reason Fort Wayners have chosen Democrats Graham Richard to Tom Henry to run the city for the last 16 years despite an overwhelming Republican majority in the city. So when friends in Indianapolis tell us that the Koch super-packs plan to put upwards of a million dollars in the local campaign to defeat Tom Henry we wonder. Apparently, they believe that a sufficient flood of money will be enough to swamp the popular Mayor Henry, but they would have a surer path to win were they to have an issue and a candidate. At the moment they have neither.
With that in mind, perhaps the Republicans have Plan B. There has been lots of hand wringing going on over the very low, lowest in the nation, turn out by Hoosier voters this last election. Why do hardly more than a quarter of eligible voters actually show up on election day? Apathy? Inconvenience? Disenfranchisement? Protest? Probably all of that. Certainly, a Republican electoral strategy has been to limit the number of voters though tighter ID laws. Democrats, you see, count on sheer numbers while the Republicans depend on money. So, Democrats want the loosest possible voting rules, while Republicans would love to go back to poll taxes.
There are other reasons for the low voter turnout. Many people say it doesn’t matter who is elected, “they are all crooks.” Given the electoral mudslinging the political class has fostered and nurtured you can’t help feeling a bit nauseated. Candidates are taught that smearing the opponent drags down their support, but the bi-product lowers all turnout.
There is also the confusion factor as candidates spew half-truths and misrepresent the opinions of their opponent.
As a result, fewer and fewer people bothering to vote thus ceding more power to the extremes of the parties, and that results in a wider philosophical gulf, less compromise, less cooperation and yet more apathy.
Certainly, elected officials in Indiana have created this shameful situation, but don’t expect action; the party in control of our legislature is not about to threaten their jobs and perks. They are more likely to find new ways to limit the vote.
There was recently a story about an auto parts supplier whose airbags were said to fragment like shrapnel when deployed in a crash. Of course, they are being taken to task by government regulators of the type the Republicans would like to eliminate. To the corporate interests who control the Republican Party regulation is characterized as red tape and no one likes red tape. So, they argue for deregulation across the board. That is not in your interest or mine. Regulation is in place to prevent shoddy construction, poor design, and poison in our water. Sadly, regulations are necessary because there are just too many bad actors who would cut corners on our food safety or air quality. Most businesses try to do what is right, but even they sometimes cut a corner or don’t know their actions cause harm. There is a reason for the EPA. There is a reason for Neighborhood Code and the Board of Health.