Category Archives: Economy

Want Everyone to have Access to Braodband? Follow the Fins…

As of July 1st, every person in Finland will have the right to broadband access as decreed by the government. Yep…very person.

What does this mean?

Well, it means that the U.S. has officially fallen further behind the rest of the world in the realm of Internet technology but it also means something more. It means jobs for telecomminication workers who will be compelled to extend service to all households (in Finland). It also means empowering all ciitizens by providing the information that can transform lives and enrich cultures (in Finland). All fo this seems to be lost on the U.S. (…but not in Finland).

As for president Obama and his promise of broadband expansion in this country? Well, that seems like little more than a pipe dream at best. In fact, telecommunication providers in the U.S. are declining to accept government funding for just such a project. They claim accepting the funds would wrap them in government red tape and subject them to following government project rules.

Perish the thought.

One has to wonder if the real reason is simply that most corporate conservatives are just plain old anti-anything-Obama, even more than they are wildly (as a result of shear greed and ignorance) anti-regulation on any level.

Meanwhile, every Finn will have the right to access to a 1Mbps (megabit per second) broadband connection by 2015.

Conclusion? The rest of the world gets it and we don’t.

The premise is simple. Internet services are no longer just for entertainment purposes, they are an essential part of every citizen’s life. Would any government deny their citizens of basic communication and telephone service? Probably not I’m guessing.

Why should the Internet be any different?

Read the full story on the BBC here…

A poll conducted for the BBC World Service earlier this year found that nearly four in five people around the world believed that access to the internet is a fundamental right.

I happen to agree.

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The “Gang of Ten” Offers Comprehensive Framework for Common Sense Energy Package

Ten members of the Senate, known as the “Gang of 10,” has proffered the framework, for consideration, of a comprehensive energy plan for America. The ten members of the bi-partisan group, five Democrats and five Republicans, have been working together for weeks to draft the plan – and it’s a good one.

First, the plan examines alternative energy as well as off shore drilling in the gulf region. Energy sources such as biofuels and nuclear energy, would combine with shorter term fixes such as drilling for oil and natural gas are part of a comprehensive approach. 

More importantly, the “Gang of Ten” is now hoping for a broad spectrum of support from entrenched Democrats and Republicans, who are juxopposed on this critical issue. To this end, letters of appeal have been sent to both the Senate majority and minority leader, with an eye on moving this bill forward before the end of the year.

The ‘gang’ claims the upcoming 2008 election did not factor in to this project – and I believe them.

In a press conference, they asked for Americans to register their collective support for the plan with their Senators.

The plan also calls for 85% of all major transportation be moved to alternative energy in the nest 20 years, at a cost of 84 billion dollars (less than one year’s spending on the Iraq War). Some of the money would come from a repeal of tax incentives that big oil companies now have, some from drilling rebates, and yet more from savings on purchased imported oil.

As for off shore drilling – the ‘gang’ believes that the gulf region would not take as long to produce crude oil as some expect.

Overall, these guys are making sense and cooperating, in a time when Obama is calling McCain “child-like,” and McCain is mocking Obama about ‘tire pressure.’

Less talk and more action is always a winner I say. If Congress and the American people had any brains at all, they would support this effort 100%. 

The “Gang of Ten”

Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)

John Thune (R-S.D.)

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)

Mary Landrieu (D-La.)

Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)

Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)

Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)

Democrats and Republicans working together of meaningful energy legislation? The end must surely be near. Seriuosly, these folks deserve a lot of credit.

Read related articles on Associated Content, The Swamp, Environmental News Network

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Filed under Congress, Democratic Party, Economy, Election 2008, Energy, Politics, Republican Party, Technology, War in Iraq

Iran Escalates ‘War-Like’ Rhetoric Over Strait of Hormuz

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohammad Ali Jafari, has issued a warning that Iran could easily cut off a key Persian Gulf shipping route.

Iran’s unofficial state media claims Iran has tested a naval missile capable of destroying any ship within 190 miles.

“The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has recently tested a naval weapon with a 300 km range in which no vessel would be safe and would be sent to the depths…”

Iran is also reporting recent showdowns between US and Iranian ships.

“Enemies know that we are easily able to block the Strait of Hormuz for unlimited period”, Jafari said. “The strait and vessels are in range of our various weapons.”

“In view of the proximity of the Strait of Hormuz … to our shores, this distance is within the range of an assortment of weapons and its closure for us is very feasible and we face no limitations from the point of view of time,” he said.

Foreign policy analysts say such sabre rattling may be overstated given the Iranian claims surrounding a recent missile test were later revealed to be overstated.

Read the full article at RawStory

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Ready, Set, Drill! The Democrats are Ready to Cave in Again

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin told the Wall Street Journal that he is open to the idea of opening up new areas for oil drilling in certain locations in the event that oil and gas companies conduct the drilling within a specific time frame . It appears Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, might also support the move.

The official reason for the position shift is high oil and gas prices, as Republicans continue to apply pressure to ease prices at the pump by expanding offshore oil exploration and in Alaska’s ANWR region.

The Democrats have largely opposed these proposals until now.

Forget more drilling. It will not work long term or short term. Several experts and reports have confirmed this.It won’t work because it simply does does not address the underlying problem, and that is that we are consuming an irreplaceable natural resource –  and too much of it to boot. 

Conservation isn’t the answer either. 

We have technology for electric cars with 200+ miles range and that are affordable to mass produce. By switching over in the next ten years, we’d cut our oil consumption by nearly 30% in that time-frame without any sacrifice at all. 

So why are the Democrats caving???

Politics as usual of course.

Voters are demanding that Congress do something to lower gas prices. So, the Democrats are running to the center and even to the right, as they always do on the drilling issue.

Recent opinion polls have indicated strong public support for more domestic exploration. A Rasmussen Reports survey in June showed 67% of Americans support deep water energy exploration. A CNN poll published last week showed 73% of Americans favor more exploration of deep ocean energy resources far off U.S. shores.

Forget about explaining to people that deep ocean drilling won’t work. Never mind that Bush refuses to release any oil from the strategic reserve as Clinton did to help ease gas prices.

What do the Democrats do? They plead with a lame duck president who has the lowest approval rating in history!!!

How about Nancy Pelosi get a spine and DEMAND that George Bush release some oil from the strategic reserve? How about the DNC mounts a PR campaign letting the American people know that their President and the Republicans are more interested in creating more drilling opportunities for their oil buddies, than easing the economic burden of $4.30 per gallon gas for the average family, immediately? It could take ten plus years for drilling to increase supply (if they find the oil). A release from the strategic reserve could ease prices within weeks.

Ask Bill Clinton, George – he can tell you all about how releasing energy from our reserves will bring prices down just like they did in 1993 (Republicans opposed this idea then too).

The Democrats won’t fight because in spite of all of the “we help the little guy” rhetoric, they are bought and owned by big oil too – to the tune of almost $5,000,000 during the last election cycle.

For a complete list of recent contributions link here

And so it goes…

In the name of getting re-elected at any cost, the Democrats are willing to burn the village by ignoring the environment, the economy, national security, and common sense – and are willing to roll over on the drilling issue.

If the Democrats had any backbone at all, they would fight the Republicans on this short-sighted, wrong-headed, band-aid fix.

But we know they won’t, because they have caved on every key issue including war funding, FISA, etc.

Reel in speculators, release oil from the reserve, subsidise electric and hydrogen fuel vehicle production and infrastructure – and we can see real change in just a few years while becoming less dependent on imported oil, or chasing pipe dreams on the ocean floor.

The Democrats are once again proving to be ineffective and disappointing.

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John McCain is ‘More of the Same’ on the Economy

The U.S. economy lost jobs for a sixth straight month in June. Current estimates indicate 62,000 non-farm jobs were lost, as the economy continues to slow down. Unemployment is still at 5.5 percent.

“Unemployment is still on a rising trend, payrolls are falling, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel here, so the tax rebates may have pushed up consumer spending, but it doesn’t seem to have improved the labor market yet,” said Ian Morris, chief US economist at HSBC North America.

Job losses were particularly heavy in the goods-producing, construction, manufacturing and service sectors last month.

These job losses come at a  time when the housing market slump shows no signs of going away, a credit squeeze, a sharp downturn on Wall Street and rocketing oil prices that have now exceeded 146 dollars a barrel today.

HSBC’s Morris said the “continued rate of deterioration” in the job market could see the unemployment rate peak above six percent in coming months. Some say the U.S. economy must create 100,000 jobs every month to absorb new labor market entrants.

Good luck.

So there’s the bad news.

This isn’t what upsets me though. What upsets me is the rhetoric I’m hearing from John McCain and the conservative pundits who are pushing his empty agenda.

Obama is blaming everything on Bush and the war. 

Okay. We know Bush is an idiot, and the war is foolish, but it won’t be ending until late next year, if that soon, so what to do in the mean time?

Here’s what Obama had to say… (source) Continue reading

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Drilling Off Shore or Anywhere Else Won’t Help Ease Gas Prices

I am the first in line for solving the current energy crunch. So, I started listening to pundits and Congressmen and such, to see what solutions they had to offer. The prevailing idea is to drill our way out of this current shortage.

To investigate this potential solution, so I read a thouroughly written, comprehensive white paper called Fool’s Gold in Alaskaby Amory B. Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins. Their impressive list of collective credentials are listed in the article.

Turns out drilling in Alaska is probably the worst thing we can do, and the report is chock full of reasons why.

The government says, if you can trust them, that even under best-case scenarios, it would take 10 years to start production and the average net drop in price would be about 86 cents per barrel.

Ten years? What do we do in the mean time?

Energy independence, or something closer it I’m guessing, is the goal here.

However, the government’s most optimistic estimate is that peak ANWR (and off shore drilling according to other sources) would only yield a total of 19 to 150 billion barrels. In fact, ANWR would only produce about 750,000 barrels per day – less than 1 percent of total world oil output.

The supposed ‘supply effect’ is a myth also. Continue reading

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Common Myths Regarding U.S. Unemployment…

The U.S. unemployment rate hit a 25 year record high last month. Here are some common myths regarding the U.S. unemployment rate, and why it may be even worse than reported…much worse.

1) The U.S. Economy has lost around 324,000 jobs so far in 2008.

This is incorrect. In reality, the amount of jobs lost must be higher. Why? Because the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) does not count, undocumented workers (i.e. illegals who were building homes before the market tanked), and under the table workers who were never counted as well. Many part-time or seasonal positions don’t count either.

2) The unemployment rate is 5.5 percent  

This is false as well. The calculations the DOL uses ignore huge blocs of workers. For example, a worker is only considered unemployed if they meet the DOL’s strict set of criteria. Workers who don’t show up for mandatory job interview sessions, and have simply given up looking,  are not counted. They are simply dropped from the count. Also, the 2.3 million people in prison in this country do not count either.

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