Opinion

The Great Debate

On Keystone pipeline, consider Canada

By Grover G. Norquist and Patrick Gleason
March 5, 2013

The Oscar for Best Picture last month went to Argo, the Ben Affleck movie about the Canadian government’s help in spiriting U.S. diplomats out of Iran during the hostage crisis  – which  underscores the United States’ historic relationship with its closest ally, Canada. Back in the real world, however, the Obama administration is on the verge of severely damaging this strategic partnership with its poor handling of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The State Department’s favorable draft environmental analysis, released on Friday, should pave the way for final administration approval of the pipeline. Of course, the State Department has already gone through this process once before. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deemed Keystone XL to be in the national interest – only to have President Barack Obama shelve the project in January 2012, during the run-up to his re-election campaign.

If Secretary of State John Kerry reaches the same conclusion as Clinton, as expected in coming weeks, the ball will be back in Obama’s court and the ultimate decision on this important project will be in his hands.

Obama must weigh the  thousands of high-paying manufacturing and construction jobs that Keystone XL would create in the United States against the  pressure to reject the project from environmental groups, including the Sierra Club. If the Obama administration gives Keystone the thumbs-down, not only would the White House unnecessarily forgo a project that would lead to significant job creation, domestic investment and reduced government debt but it would also  do great damage to Washington’s relationship with our neighbors to the north.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called approval of the $7 billion pipeline a “no-brainer.”  Which gives you a clue what he would think of Obama if the U.S. president rejected the deal. Other high-ranking Canadian officials have made it clear that such an action would be a diplomatic slap in the face. They have asserted that the oil-sands production would then be brought to market elsewhere. Meanwhile, they say, the U.S. could continue purchasing crude oil from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, which Keystone XL could have replaced.

Despite Keystone opponents’ hopes that U.S. rejection of the pipeline will mean the oil would remain in the ground in Alberta, Gary Doer, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., has made clear this is a fantasy.

“The reality is the oil is going to be harvested,” Doer said in a speech last fall. “Oil gets to market. It’s a question of how it gets there.   But oil gets to market.”

If Obama rejects Keystone XL, Canadian oil could most likely be processed in China. This would mean crossing the Pacific via tanker, a distribution method far more environmentally risky than via pipeline, and one that entails a larger carbon footprint. The oil would then be produced by Chinese refineries, which lack U.S. refineries’ strong anti-pollution regulations.

So rejection of Keystone could be the worst outcome for the environment – regardless of whether Susan Sarandon, Darrell Hannah, Mark Ruffalo, and other activist actors are protesting  the deal by handcuffing themselves to the White House fence.

Obama’s Keystone decision, expected this spring, will also provide hard evidence as to whether his administration is serious about expanding the economy, increasing jobs and improving the lives of ordinary Americans. Which is it, Mr. President? Yes or No?

Keystone’s economic benefit is well documented. The pipeline is projected to create approximately 20,000 high-paying jobs – a big reason the project has labor union support – and generate roughly $7 billion in investment in the U.S. economy. Construction and operation of the pipeline would also lead to a windfall of tax revenue for states extending from North Dakota to Texas.

In a letter to Obama, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall noted that with approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, “U.S. imports from Canada, a democratic friend and ally, could reach 4 million barrels a day by 2020, twice what is currently imported from the Persian Gulf.” As Wall reminded Obama, “Keystone XL Pipeline could also provide the critical infrastructure required to transport growing U.S. domestic production from the Bakken shale region to market.”

That Canadian officials have to plead with Obama to recognize Keystone XL’s economic benefits to his own country’s people is troubling, to say the least.

The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences recognized the importance of the U.S.-Canada alliance at the Oscars last month. Let’s hope Obama doesn’t break the other way by rejecting Keystone – and in the process, antagonize a vital ally.

 

PHOTO (Top): President Barack Obama meets with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

PHOTO (Insert Top): Ben Affleck directed, co-produced and stars in Argo.

PHOTO (Insert Middle): Map depicting the Keystone XL pipeline project linking Alberta, Canada, to southern U.S

PHOTO (Insert Bottom): Police arrest actress Daryl Hannah and other environmental activists opposed to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project during a protest outside White House in Washington, February 13, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Comments
37 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

I would suspect this has little to do with environmentatl anything and more to do with power and money and who get’s what.
Also, I would respect Mr. Norquist opinion and anyone elses if they address the President respectfully, wheather they like him or not.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

Largest Countries ranked by population
1. China 1.3 billion people
2. India 1.2 billion people
3. United States 315 million
4. Indonesia 237 million
5. Brazil 193 million
6. Pakistan 182 million
7. Nigeria 166 million
8. Bangladesh 152 million
9. Russia 143 million
10.Japan 127 million

Canada is way down the list, much smaller:

35.Canada 35 million

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cou ntries_by_population

The situation is this: Multinational corporations, by hook or by crook, have legally acquired rights to oil beneath Canada, near its border with the US.

The multinational corporations are owned by Russian oligarchs, Saudi princes, and assorted wealthy people from around the world.

If they sell the oil into the US market, it will drive down the price of gasoline in America. This would decrease their profits in America.

Obviously, it’s in the interest of the American people that the multinational oil company remain in this situation, where it is forced by geography to sell its Canadian oil into the American market, thus giving America lower gasoline prices.

But instead, these multinational oil companies pumping oil out of the Canadian ground, wish to sell the oil instead to China, to India, to Europe, and other places, so that American gasoline prices may remain high, and so they can get even higher prices for their Canadian oil by selling it to China, India, and Europe.

America has to ask itself, do we wish to commit economic suicide by building this pipeline, and watch our gasoline prices go even higher, or do we want to defend ourselves, the American people, from being preyed upon by multinational oil companies?

This pipeline is a giant scam. For the American government to support it is treasonous. The wealthy people behind it, Russian oligarchs, Saudi princes, and other wealthy people around the world are paying huge lobbying fees to bribe the American legislatures.

Treason is the only correct description for those in the legislatures who accept the bribes.

Posted by AdamSmith | Report as abusive
 

The real story here is that Canada is donating 15 billion a year to the US via the differential of price we get in Canada to the price the US refiners get

that’s a fact Jack

we are really poed about this make no mistake

ps your coal burning dwarfs Canada’s entire carbon foot print by a factor of 10 … doing anything about that???

Posted by rational44 | Report as abusive
 

Amateur Hour.

While I agree with the substance of article, it cracks me up and also disturbs me that these authors, while arguing against damaging the US’s strategic partnership with Canada, can’t even get the Canadian PM’s name straight.

What’s up with that. It’s Stephen Harper not Stephan. Duh

Posted by Stevedog | Report as abusive
 

According to a report for the World Bank, climate change is propelling us towards “shock to agricultural production…and pressure on water resources which would cascade into effects on economic development by reducing a population’s work capacity …and risk crossing critical social system thresholds..[where] adaptation actions would likely become much less effective or even collapse. ”http://climatechange.worldbank.org/si tes/default/files/Turn_Down_the_heat_Why _a_4_degree_centrigrade_warmer_world_mus t_be_avoided.pdf
Our national security is compromised by our continuing dependence on oil, and not just foreign oil, but all oil, according to Military reports.
The longer we make excuses for our subservience to the oil, coal and natural gas industries, the worse and more frequent and more expensive weather catastrophes, costing us seven times what it would require to create a green energy economy.
http://daraint.org/climate-vulnerability -monitor/cvm-press-releases/

Posted by LouiseSton | Report as abusive
 

@AdamSmith,

“America has to ask itself, do we wish to commit economic suicide by building this pipeline…”.

This is a patently emotional argument that is quite the opposite of reality.

Oil has been move by pipelines with high effectiveness since the early twentieth century. My father and grandfather were “pipeline people” by profession. Back then, as now, it was hard, dirty work; but it was honest and it paid well.

The many states in which these pipelines continue to operate have NOT had their ground water “polluted” to any significant extent. Without pipelines, the U.S. could not have played it’s role in the Allied victory in WW II.

In recent years, the American economy has languished. The current oil “boom” is one of many “ways up and out” of economic doldrums. Lead, follow or GET OUT OF THE WAY! And, by the way, THANKS, Canada!

It long past time to tell elitist tree huggers to POUND SAND and let the ecologists freeze in the dark.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

So these authors choose to fight for what they know will happen anyway, in hopes I suppose of garnering some kind of credit for presumably being an instigator in the move forward. Standard fake stuff from political pundits. Grover the Norquist cares for nothing but himself, and the other guy is no one. There is no doubt that the pipeline will happen, so it does not take these doers of nothing to support it. Besides, if they really want it to happen they should stay out of the way. More people are likely to assume some scam if Norquist is associated.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive
 

“the pipeline is projected to create 20,000 high paying jobs”
transcanada pipeline says it will create 6,500 jobs in year 1 and around the same in year 2, and then drop off to several hundred thereafter.
this for a pipeline that will send bitumen from alberta to the gulf, be refined and then shipped to china. like all other norquist pushes, this benefits a handfull of wealthy benefactors of his and his extremism (koch bros.,exxon) and not the general public.
a better idea would be to eliminate tax subsidies for those same benefactors and use the money for green energy!

Posted by repubsrcrazy | Report as abusive
 

Without the pipeline, the oil will have to be sold into the US market, thus lowering gasoline prices for Americans.

By building the pipeline, the pipeline investors will ship the Canadian oil to China instead of America, and cause American gasoline prices to skyrocket.

The pipeline is a tool by which the wealthy of the world will suck the life blood from the pockets of the American consumer.

That giant sucking sound of the pipeline will be the sound of blood hemorrhaging from the American automobile drivers weekly gas money.

Posted by AdamSmith | Report as abusive
 

First of all, Canada itself is bitterly divided about the pipeline. Yes, the current GOVERNMENT under Prime Minister Harper is for it, but there is a lot of opposition as well. Secondly, there is no way an “alternative” pipeline will be built from Alberta through British Columbia for export to China. The political and environmental and First Nations (Indian tribes through whose land this supposed pipeline would pass) is too strong. Third, there is now talk about a pipeline from Alberta to eastern Canada, which actually does make some sense as eastern Canadian provinces IMPORT oil from overseas.

Posted by bluepanther | Report as abusive
 

@bluepanther – Well said.

Posted by AdamSmith | Report as abusive
 

Grover, still hacking away.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive
 

BTW, somehow the US manages to export a fair amount of the oil it recovers in its own country. See, the thing is, it’s not the US’s oil, it’s the oil company’s oil.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive
 

1. Canadians produce the same amount of oil whether they sell it to the US or China.
2. Houston refineries process exactly the same amount of heavy oil whether it comes from Venezuela or Canada.

The “environmental concerns” are therefore completely baseless. It is merely a question of whether the US should favor communist countries or not.

Posted by pbgd | Report as abusive
 

If there is a steady supply of oil from Canada, and only the US market is available to take it, then the price of oil in America will go down.

And more refinery capacity will be built in America, thus resulting in lower gasoline prices for Americans for many years to come.

The pipeline project is designed to export the oil instead to China, and thus force up gasoline prices in America.

The pipeline is a ploy of the wealthy to suck the money out of American automobile owners pocket.

Posted by AdamSmith | Report as abusive
 

Wow, talk about hypocrisy. Suddenly, Grover Norquist, the ultimate neo-conservative, cares what another country thinks of us. Since when does anyone closely affiliated with the Republican Party care about what other countries think of us? According to rightwing definitions, Canada is a socialist country, defined by their healthcare system. And Mr. Norquist wants us to believe he cares about they think of us?

Considering that he wants to shrink the US government until it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub, to fret over the possibility of hurting Canada’s feelings makes Mr. Norquist, and his hired writer, look absurdly hypocritical. Considering how much money stands to be made by a few people involved in this oil pipeline, does Mr. Norquist honestly expect people to believe this op-ed is about his concern over our relationship with Canada? Please.

Also exposing Norquist’s false concern is seeing him wave the carrot of 20,000 new jobs. Is Mr. Norquist not aware that under this President he abhors so much government employment has dropped more than 608,000, according the the Bureau Of Labor Statistics? (And that number only addresses from February 2009 – April 2012, so the actual number is probably considerably higher and will increase significantly once the sequestration is in full effect.) So Norquist is the #1 advocate of policies that cost jobs at a rate PER MOHNTH of almost as many jobs that will be created in total by this pipeline. And we’re supposed to believe that he cares about job creation? The only job Mr. Norquist cares about is his own, and how much money he can stow away, and how low he can get his taxes through his extortion enterprise.

The problem with this pipeline is that it does little for our country. The benefits to our country as a whole are negligible and temporary, yet it’s the American people who carry all risk. It’s the same old story. Nothing is offered to the American people in the way of compensation for allowing a company to run a huge pipeline full of oil down through the heart of our nation. As usual, the American people aren’t even part of the equation, because to do so would dip into the profits of the few beneficiaries of this pipeline project. There’s no good reason to allow this pipeline to be built. We should start sticking up for ourselves and draw the line. Give us an offer that will continue benefiting the American people as long as the pipeline exists and we’ll consider it, or take the pipeline and shove it up your Norquist.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

Seriously? You think gas prices will go down after this stupid pipeline is built? Do you know how much energy it takes to break bitumen away from sand? Do you know how much hot water it takes? You will spend more refining this garbage than you’ll make back selling it. They are estimating an average rise of one barrel of oil by three dollars if this proceeds. I live in Cushing, Oklahoma and our city council has repeatedly declined this pipeline project. We already have two 3-foot pipelines, we do not need a third. If they build this it will be a bottomless pit of money. We will make sure of it. We know these companies do not hire adequate safety inspectors and we will use this knowledge to destroy this project until these companies give up and leave our state. These companies are picking a fight with a whole town of rednecks with nothing to lose. We do not want this here and we will not let these companies or the Republican Party force us into submission. I don’t care what some of these idiots advocating this issue heard on their radio talk show or their little new program. They don’t have a clue what the impact this project really has on our town. But for some odd reason they are advocating it because a voice from a speaker somewhere gave them their opinion. They are too lazy to do some research and are too proud to admit (to themselves and others) the opinion they have on these issues came from someone else. I just hope these companeis realize one thing: If they build it, we will come. And it will cost them dearly.

Posted by Obsilutely | Report as abusive
 

A few comments:

The jobs claim of 20,000 is inflated by about 3-4 times, the “jobs” sound bite from Speaker Boehner, etc., kept growing and growing during the last debate.

Building this will increase heating costs in upper midwest by ‘relieving’ local oil glut – not a win for those Americans. Like other commentors, I’ve read that this is more of a path to export markets than added supply for USA.

This project is truly a tiny aspect of USA-Canada business ties and international relations.

Refineries need to retool (really, rebuild) when they choose between new light, low sulfur “tight” oil from USA drilling – or more hard to handle, sour (tar oil is higher sulfur if I recall right) oil like this. The heavy oil is more costly to refine and the production of lighter domestic oil is booming, so it’s possible that the economics of the pipeline as a possible boon to US oil supplies has changed a little for the worse since it was first planned, due to success of “tight oil” production in USA.

Posted by Decatur | Report as abusive
 

@AdamSmith,

Authoritative citations or authenticated facts, please?

@flashrooster,

Most of your posts convey to me a vision of you on top of a hill proudly waving a red flag bearing the the hammer and sickle. Problem is, no “worker’s paradise” has ever worked out well for workers or anyone else.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: And you convey to me a person who has difficulty defending your positions against rational, fact-based challenges, so instead you fabricate stick man arguments that a child could blow over. Suggesting that I’m a herald for communism is such an example, or on another thread where you suggested that I support an “entitlement-based society,” which you also failed to substantiate. Either I’m right about this, or you should be able to demonstrate, in unambiguously defensible terms, using my own words, how I appear to be promoting communism, as you connote.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

Well, you make clear your distaste and disrespect for “neo-conservatives” and “anyone closely affiliated with the Republican Party”. Canada as a country may be less Socialist than countries of the European Union, but the difference may be largely academic. So far Canada is solvent, which is more than can be said of the EU. The “writing is on the wall”.

You clearly don’t want to see “…the US government…[shrunk]… until it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub….”. You poo-poo Mr. Norquist’s gratitude towards Canada for what they did for American hostages in Iran. More Americans should appreciate Canada’s willingness to “get involved” when no one else did.

You suggest without the slightest substantiation that his motives are impure “…considering how much money stands to be made by a few people involved in this oil pipeline.” Does he have an interest? You accuse by innuendo. In most major projects, the movers and shakers at the top who, by the way, take all the risks and put up all or most of the money, do it to make “much money”. I wish them every success. Every American that is not individually envious, petty and jealous should too. Americans traditionally love “winners”.

You use “fuzzy math” in attempting to compare the 20,000 short term construction jobs this project could create with Bureau Of Labor Statistics numbers purportedly showing government employment has dropped more than 608,000 from February 2009 through April 2012. The two major parties seem to agree that America’s CURRENT level of spending is “unsustainable”, so I can only conclude that this “drop” in government employment must have been PURE FAT! The Sequester will cut some more…GOOD!

The American people don’t OWN “…the heart of our nation…” nor do they hold the mineral or subsurface rights. Private individuals do. Our government is rather poor in collecting much from companies that mine gold or graze herds on public land. Our Corps of Engineers is about the most incompetent bunch around in doing their job on behalf of the American people. Just the way it is. Not likely to change soon.

I believe it is in America’s interests to build, monitor and maintain this pipeline and that it would be short-sighted to impose conditions of construction that might make it not appear profitable in the long run. If Congress agrees, eminent domain will be used as necessary to complete the right of way.

What is done with the oil and where it goes will be decided by the “invisible hand”. Only someone who “nationalizes” the businesses of others like Chavez or another Communist like Castro would argue that it be decided otherwise.

Philosophically, when your words mirror the deeds, mind set or intent of Socialists and Communists, I see no difference of significance and lump YOU with them. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, MAYBE it’s a duck?

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

There seems to be little merit in the arguments. Even the job figures of 20,000 is totally bogus. Temporary jobs, and then minimal jobs. But perhaps he is being prescient, and adding in the jobs that will be created after the first big spill from the pipeline.

Shipping to China. Sure, that is going to happen, and it will be from Texas ports, since US refineries in Texas are not set up to process that type of crude. And if they change their processes, it will join the rest of the processed gasoline that the US already exports from Texas.

Perhaps they underestimate the difficulties in getting a pipeline across the Canadian Rockies to get it to the Pacific Coast. Native Canadians will have a lot to say about the pipeline.

This opinion piece is simply another shill piece added to the opinion pieces they have already written. Little facts, and lots of rhetoric.

Bottom line by them? Argo was a great picture, so we need to build the pipeline to be nice to Canada.

Posted by pavoter1946 | Report as abusive
 

Ya know what else is a no brainer? Not letting Grover Norquis have an opinion on such a reputable news outlet. Case and point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sK8Lk-9 ELo

Posted by k5waters | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: If you think what I express in my posts makes me look, walk, and quack like a communist, then you don’t know the meaning of the word. But this isn’t surprising. As I already point out, many who look, walk, and quack like you believe that Canada is a socialist country, and that Obama is a socialist, and that Obamacare is a socialist healthcare system. Of course by these definitions, which are frequently floated by folks on the right, everyone on the planet is either without healthcare or are socialists, except, of course, people here in the US (and we have the most corrupt, inefficient healthcare system in the world.) And you guys wonder why your party is losing support in droves. Amazing.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

There is a saying in France that: “If you’re young and not a Socialist, you have no heart. If you mature and remain a Socialist, you have no brains.”

Since you refuse to admit to holding Socialist or Communist views or goals, and presuming your expressed sympathies are those of someone not still of college age, my sympathies.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep,

You’re dominating several Reuters discussions with personal insults. If you want to rail, ad nauseum, about the content of Reuters articles with your opinions, fine, knock yourself out. That’s what forums are for.

But you seem to have appointed yourself the best judge of others’ character based on their opinions, and I think Reuters should slow you down.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive
 

JL4: OneOfTheSheep seems incapable of marshaling the civility that keeps most of us from leveling personal attacks when someone challenges our positions. Or sometimes he just has to see an opinion he disagrees with. Personally, I think he should at least have the decency to back up his charges with some credible evidence. In this case, where he’s calling me a communist advocate, his evidence consists of my low opinion of Mr. Norquist (for reasons I’ve explained) and the fact that he just doesn’t agree with my positions, positions that have nothing to do with communism. As I stated above, by his standards everyone, except America’s new conservatives, is a socialist, or a communist. He fails to demonstrate an understanding of a distinction between the two.

My biggest gripe with posters like him is their failure to adequately defend their positions or why they think others are wrong, which is usually where the personal attacks come in. He can’t adequately attack what I post, so instead he attacks me, painting me as something considered “bad” by most people, a communist. If he can label me a communist, there’s no need to do the harder job of discrediting my positions, because I’m a communist and, therefore, nothing I state should be considered valid. I quote numbers from the Bureau Of Labor Statistics and he dismisses my point by claiming I’m using “fuzzy math,” which is a cheap way out of trying to refuting my point. Oh well. Takes all kinds.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

I hope most readers here consider the arguments presented, and not the name calling. “You’re a ______” isn’t a helpful response.

We’d do well to remember the advice attributed to Admiral Rickover, here’s a paraphrase:

great minds discuss ideas

good minds discuss things

lesser minds discuss people

My frustration with comments on forums like this is often the lack of historical context, as if nothing before the 21st century had merit or relevance in political, economic and global event discussions here.

Posted by Decatur | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster, don’t lose sleep (not that you would), you’re in good company. OOTS lashes out at lots of people, across many topics, and many times within one piece. I’m surprised Reuters lets him vent attacks the way he does.

He seems to think Reuters is his forum.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive
 

Whether ‘The Norquist’ is right or wrong, he is a hatchetman for the far right. In other words, he represents corporate interests. So does ‘Stehpan’ Harper, for that matter. Is anyone under the illusion that these shmucks care more about people than money? Because that is as ridiculous as the notion that corporations are people. Then again, we live in a pretty ridiculous world.

Keystone XL is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but both. As a project, and as an instance of policy, it has pros and cons, but nobody should pretend that corporations (or governments) build things like oil pipelines because they are concerned for anyone’s wellbeing. The purpose of such a venture is profit. Such profits invariably benefit a very small number of people, while the projects themselves might have far-reaching impacts on hundreds of thousands or even millions of people for whome there is no ‘upside’. Google “Bhopal Refinery Accident, India” for one case study.

When a politician says something is a ‘no-brainer’ it usually means that they don’t want anyone to think about it. But we all really should. Think, I mean. I am a canadian and I think Harper is the worst thing to happen to my country since central banking. The guy is a phony and a farce, and should be tried in the ICC for his public renditions of Beatles tunes.

As for OOTS… what do you all expect? He is ‘one of the sheep’, after all. Sometimes I feel like the positions he takes are a form of heavy satire, as in “A Modest Proposal”, but that is probably giving him way too much credit. It seems much more probably that he is some sort of neophyte neo-con who takes objection with the objectivity that Reuters (almost always) displays in their journalism. In any case, if OOTS is a big Norquist fan, well, that pretty much invalidates his opinions, at least in my books.

Posted by UnderRated | Report as abusive
 

@UnderRated

I take no offense at your words, but I absolutely do not understand them. Perhaps you would humor me with further clarification?

You imply that corporations are not “people”. Literally speaking, “incorporation” is a legal process with advantages and disadvantages, the end result of which is a business entity with a “corporate” structure. It is only when that structure becomes occupied by “people” that the “corporation can act. The “goals” of a corporation are those of those people. What’s your “point” here?

In this context it should be obvious that the purpose of corporate actions be to further it’s ability to achieve it’s adopted goals, i.e. “corporate interests”. You seem to imply that “corporations” are either evil by definition, or somehow more evil than other forms of business such as partnerships, limited partnerships, or sole proprietors. In my life experience all businesses have goals, even non-profit ones.

The “moral ethics” of all forms of business pretty much cover the range from “indefensible” to “exemplary”. There is no one in these United States that is not utterly dependent upon the economic success of countless businesses to live, much less live well. In this context why do you single out “corporations” for your ire?

You seem to yearn for a collective existance, such as a ant hill or bee hive. The government in Canada is perhaps closer to the “collective ideal”, as is Europe, than the United States. You have your preference, as I have mine. Neither is as self-evidently “good” or “bad” as you seem to imply.

Any collective existence blends individual sweat, intelligence, competence, ability, ambition, achievement excellence and sloth to an average level of performance that may or may not be sufficient to maintain itself. “Progress”, in terms of an “easier” of “more satisfactory” existence over time, would seem as unlikely as it is uncertain. To my way of thinking that’s a pretty harsh and unsatisfactory existance, supremely vulnerable to circumstances not under collective control (such as weather).

I fail to understand your “priorities” of “people” before or after “money”. Businesses exist to make money, not people. They hire people for knowledge or skills deemed necessary. When the work product of any of those people ceases to generate sufficient money over time to justify their pay, their positions are eliinated or those individuals are replaced by others. When people generate more profit, more are hired.

You seem to see in this something sinister, a “burden of uncertainty” on the employed. Life has never offered guarantees. I see it as a “duty of certainty” of the employed to do anything and everything to make sure their company, whatever it’s form, is profitable, bot today and in the future. My perspective merely gives due recognition of the importance and legitimacy of business, commerce, and “supply and demand”.

In every case, “profit” in any meaningful sense is NOT “gross profit, but what is left after all costs of doing business, including applicable taxes, are paid. In this context, since it is ultimately the purchasers of whatever a given business makes or provides in services that pay “corporate taxes”, the higher such expenses be the greater danger that said business become uncompetitive and cease to exist.

Does THAT place “people” ahead or behind “money? I see it as a “lose-lose” proposition. How about you?

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: You’re consistently making the mistake of assuming that people who don’t agree with you must be socialists or communists. There’s a lot of room between communism and your far right ideology. If you want to challenge someone’s position, base your argument on what the person states and not your own personal definitions of that person. You falsely redefine other posters based on absurdly stretched assumptions, and then attack these assumptions of your own making. In other words, you always rely on stick man arguments. Not very intellectually challenging.

Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they’re a communist. That’s downright childish. Does it ever occur to you that by your definition everyone is either a communist or a socialist except America’s new conservatives? Do you think that Obama is a communist or a socialist? If you do, then you must think the same of, not only many of our past Presidents, but your countrymen as well. Are you aware of the fact that FDR was elected President 4 times? Do you know what the tax rate was on the top income bracket when he was President? Surely you must assume that FDR was a socialist or a communist. (It’s not clear to me that you know the difference.) And if FDR was a socialist or a communist, then what were the American people, those now referred to as the Greatest Generation, who elected him President 4 times? Not everyone who thinks that government can play a productive role in governing our nation is a communist or a socialist. For many of us it’s as simple as understanding that we’d be worse off if we allowed the US government to be shrunk small enough to drown in a bathtub. That’s not the definition of a communist. Not everyone is a communist except America’s tea party.

This might come as a surprise, but most Americans disagree with the Supreme Court’s definition of corporations being people. Only people are people. If we start going beyond that definition we’re asking for trouble.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

The single difference I see between communists and socialists is that socialists seem to have better hygene, education and manners. Push come to shove, either has no reluctance to embrace violence when it serves their purpose. In the United States, unions have historically shown similar willingness.

On 3/2 (The Political Clout of the superrich) you expressed concern “… that the US has the greatest gap in wealth distribution among all developed nations.” Communists and socialists share the desire that “wealth” be evenly divided among all, substantially the end result of that which you seem to desire.

Either ideology in America would be an irreversible departure from the path so clearly defined, adopted and intended by our founding fathers. They were quite aware of the dangers of a complete democracy, which is why we have a representative republic form of government.

My assessment of the FDR era is that his “vision” ultimately broke the previously effective constraints of limited federal government allowed to meddle in matters it was specifically allowed to. It is the legacy of that disaster that we have countless alphabet soup agencies today that grow like cancers absorbing taxes without tangible merit or future limit.

I care not what anyone labels Obama, but I believe the ultimate effect of his tenure will once more considerably advance this country’s government and society in a decidedly socialist direction. You admit to being “worse off” if our federal government shrinks, yet both parties agree that our current level of spending is “unsustainable”.

By association, all Americans are, in some fashion, “benefiting” from “big government” (at least in the short term). America is thus already on a very slippery path that may have no exit.

On 3/3, you “doubled down (The Political Clout of the superrich) by admitting that: “As far as I’m concerned there are only two paths forward that hold any promise for a better future: Serious, comprehensive, effective campaign finance reform, or revolution, neither of which are being advanced.”

So if no one moves ahead with campaign finance reform to your satisfaction, your “instant gratification” mentality sees revolution as an acceptable path forward? That reveals you as a pitiful wannabe anarchist, willing only to incite others of like mind. Good luck with that in these United States.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

@ Flashrooter. “this might come as a surprise, but most Americans disagree with the Supreme Court’s definition of corporations being people” Perhaps you can give us the citation of the case where this was enunciated by the High Court. In the process, perhaps you might want to give us who conducted the poll , the sample size, the methodology employed and the results thereof that determined that “most Americans” disagreed with this so-called decision. To the same extent that Government consists of employees with families to support, corporations are also made up of people with families to support. The only difference is that the people who make up corporations generally devote their efforts to producing a product or service that attempts to add value to man’s existence. The people in government, on the other hand, produce nothing and are compensated by the forced extraction of wealth from those who produce. Our country is over regulated and overrun by officious , intermeddling government bureaucrats looking for ways to justify their duplicitous existence. For instance, one attempting to put a dock on his property generally has to secure approvals from environmental agencies from three separate levels of government. I would gladly substitute 20,000 private sector jobs created by the pipeline for the 600,000 purported government jobs you claim have been lost. The private sector jobs have a wealth effect while government jobs are transfer payments. You fail to mention that if the pipeline were built there would be tax revenue inuring to the Federal, State and local governments graced by its location. That revenue would surely be used to re-hire some of those 600,000 government workers who have lost their jobs.

Posted by dickgizinya | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: Debating you about politics is like debating a color blind art critic about art. It’s a waste of time because you’re incapable of seeing the entire painting being discussed, only that which serves your predisposition. As I’ve pointed out, and you keep proving the charge’s accuracy, you make stick man arguments. Throwing in quotes from my past posts doesn’t change the equation any. You continue to paraphrase my words in ways that clearly misrepresent my meaning, then you attack your misrepresentation. Why do you bother doing that?

For example, because I state, “…US has the greatest gap in wealth distribution among all developed nations,” you absurdly distort that to mean I hold “the desire that “wealth” be evenly divided among all, substantially the end result of that which you seem to desire.” And since that is the goal of socialists and communists, I, therefore, must be a socialist or communist. The scary thing is that you seem to be incapable of seeing how absurd your conclusion is. It’s like labeling someone a pervert because they read the book Lolita, or calling someone an environmental terrorist because they support government policies that protect clean air and water. All you succeed at doing is making yourself look incapable of accurately understanding English. No one sees anything impressive in that except perhaps you. It’s like trying to pull off a bad parlor trick that everyone present sees right through, yet it leaves you feeling like you’ve succeeded in pulling off a clever feat. I can’t say I understand it. Makes no sense.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

I do not discuss or debate to prevail but to inform. One can lead another to knowledge, but one cannot make them think. And it’s “straw man”, not “stick man”.

I see the “entire painting” from my own perspective. Your perspective is NOT the only one. You are like the egocentric artist who would presume to tell me what I should see in their painting. THERE is absurdity.

Carrying someone’s statements to their logical conclusion is not “misrepresentation”. It never ceases to amaze me the opinions some people carry around in their head that are impossible to reconcile because of fundamental conflict.

In my opinion those who warn that the sky will fall if the Keystone pipeline is built are not environmental terrorists but environmental idiots. They would prevent the development of resources any fool knows will eventually be utilized my mankind. Of course such development should done with due care.

They know not the difference between knowledge and wisdom. They know not compromise, and yet their very way of life depends on the same use of fossil fuels as everyone else. They would puff up their egos and flex their political muscles because it makes them feel important when they are only irritating. Please.

The same is true of “government policies that protect clean air and water”. They either don’t know or don’t understand the “80-20 rule”, whereby 20% of the effort and cost yields 80% of the practical benefit.

These are the people that press to force upon all taxpayers the impractical and unnecessary financial burden of having all effluent returned to our streams, lakes and rivers of drinkable “purity” just because the technology has been developed for use in space. Totally different cost/benefit models.

They intelligence without “common sense” is, again, just irritating. You judge every ocean oil drilling platform or cross-country pipeline as an inevitable environmental disaster when history shows that failures of associated technology that result in significant lasting “pollution” are exceeding rare.

None of us want another “Exxon Valdez, either; but most understand and acccept that for the foreseeable future there will be ocean transport of the oil and oil by-products that power much of the world economy.

From my perspective, it is not that YOU cannot see the forest for the trees; but that you consciously refuse to. Your problem, not mine.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OOTS: Okay, it’s been fun, but we’ve taken this to the silly extremes. For future reference, just because someone disagrees with Grover Norquist’s view, that the US government should be shrunk small enough to drown in a bathtub, doesn’t mean they’re a communist. It could, for example, mean they distrust the power wielded by large, powerful corporations that by off members of our government. Likewise, just because someone believes that allowing the distribution of wealth to become too uneven is a bad thing doesn’t make them a communist. Bear in mind that the way wealth is distributed in the US resembles wealth distribution in 3rd world countries, countries that do not practice free market capitalism, more than the wealth distribution of most developed nations (all?) that practice capitalism. That should serve as a red flag to you. If you think that’s okay, should we be studying the way 3rd world nations practice economics and do more to mirror their systems?

If I was a communist, I’d say so. Why not? But I’m not. I think capitalism, when structured in a way that benefits most people, is the way to go. But an economic system is only as good as the percentage of people who benefit from it. Capitalism, like any economic system, can be abused, and it is, in a multitude of ways. There is no such thing as a truly free market. Capitalism is a man-made system, like all other economic systems. It’s got a structure. It’s got rules. And that structure and those rules can be manipulated so that a few benefit at the expense of the majority. That’s what we’re experiencing now. It happened in the 1920s. You poopoo FDR, yet he was elected President 4 times, and frankly most Americans consider that era to be one of America’s best. It’s hard to argue with that. If he was so bad, as you say, then why was he so popular and why did the country function so well under him? But your ideal is closer to the Bush era. Most Americans don’t consider the Bush era as being among our best. But you’re certainly free to believe it.

So in the future, don’t call someone a communist unless they either state that they are, or state unequivocally that they support an economic structure that defines communism. It serves no one–not you, me, or anyone in the public–to call someone a communist unless they either claim to be or advocate positions that are unequivocally consistent with communism. Pointing out inequalities in a nation’s distribution of wealth and calling it problematic does not meet the standard of defining someone as being a communist. If it does, then everyone is a communist, except America’s new conservatives. Is that what you believe, that everyone’s a communist? That’s okay. So did Joseph McCarthy. My position, that extreme wealth disparity should be avoided, is a position that can be consistent with pretty much any economic system, except perhaps a form of capitalism where a small group of plutocrats are using their money and power to shape their nation’s economic system’s structure so that it channels an increasingly larger percentage of a nation’s wealth to them. Now there’s an example of a system where a supporter might not approve of someone speaking out against wealth disparity. Such a person would probably prefer to confine such discussions to quiet rooms. Adios.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

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