SCOTUS Drives Stake through the Heart of America

Posted on 30. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Healthcare, Politics

Just when I thought it was safe to turn to the news channels to escape True Blood or Vampires Suck, I’m hit with the latest salvo in the vampire wars in the form of a surprise ruling from none other than the Supreme Court.

On Thursday last, the Supreme Court upheld the controversial Patients’ Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare).

Writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts gave all Americans and especially America’s small business sector the bad news with a deft puncture to our jugular vein and a stiff punch to the solar plexus for good measure.

In vampire talk, the ruling was a ‘major withdrawal’ from America’s already anemic small business sector.

By siding with the liberals on the court in a 5-4 ruling upholding one of America’s most despised pieces of legislation EVER, Chief Justice Roberts may have shown himself to be the consummate non-partisan, but he certainly didn’t boost his stock with the average constitutionalist, independent,  libertarian or conservative, not to mention the typical small business owner that was counting on an outcome that would keep the Federal Rottweilers away from the meager scraps in his feeding bowl.

Bram Stoker would have been impressed with the stealth and secrecy of the 9Js by not revealing their positions. Only the blood-sucking flying rodents of his novel, “Dracula,” did it better, laying in wait for the poor victim to fall asleep before relieving them of a pint of their life’s blood.

Vampire hunters didn’t have to brave the uppermost regions of the capitol rotunda to find a web-winged specimen either. There were plenty of them on the senate floor two years ago when Democrats used arcane tactics like ‘reconciliation’ to get their way and coupled it with epic deal-making to get the deciding votes in what has now become known as the ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ and the ‘Louisiana Purchase,’ etc.

At the end of the day, when the votes were counted not a single Republican had said ‘yea.’ The most comprehensive, most all-encompassing piece of legislation that would affect the lives of every single American passed without a single Republican vote.

We should have seen the bloody handwriting on the wall when then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We’re just going to have to pass this bill so that we can know what’s in it.” And when we did find out what was in the 2,300 pages of gobbledegook like the mandate, the thousands of new IRS agents who would be hired to monitor our insurance policy-holder status, it was enough to turn even the most battle-hardened vampire’s blood-shot eyes white with fear.

Yes, we should have seen it coming, but nobody on the left or right anticipated that rock-solid, pragmatic Chief Justice John Roberts, would succumb to the siren song of the Obama legal team’s arguments.

No, the CJ effectively cast the tie vote and thus drove a stake through the heart of our healthcare industry, our small business sector and our indebtedness while moving us one step closer to one nation of the government for the government and by the government with some liberty and a little justice for a few.

First it was the Congress who fell from our grace. Now it’s the Supreme Court. There’s only one branch left, and the opportunity to hold their feet to the fire will come November 6th. Maybe, just maybe, we can roll back Justicia Cunctator est Justicia Denego (“justice delayed is justice denied”).

There is one thing that the 9Js forgot amid their deliberations and that is the other court that is even more powerful than the Supreme Court. It is the court of public opinion, and its sentences are rarely plea bargained down, and its collective memory is long.

- Editor

Guardian Angels of the Missing in Action – The Hunt for Chico

Posted on 25. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

Thousands and thousands of dogs and cats go missing each year in the U.S., leaving behind thousands of tearful worried human families. If you’ve ever lost a pet you know the range of emotions a person goes through. This is a story of a cat, a group of extraordinarily caring and helpful people and a quest. It is a story without a final chapter…

About two months ago my wife was sitting on our unfenced front lawn watching our two Maine Coon cats enjoy the coolness of the grass, the crisp April air and the opportunity to be outside with her.

This 1-2 hour timeout from being house- and backyard bound was a daily occurrence for them during the last two years, something both Mokka and Chico enjoyed immensely. All of a sudden, Chico, our 6-year old male Maine Coon was spooked by a neighbor cat that came out from nowhere. Scared, he ran off into the underbrush.

Hours of calling his name and visits to the neighbors followed. He was sighted a couple of times within the next ten days, but that was it. Several more days passed. A mountain lion was spotted not far from our house (we live in the mountains of New Mexico) and the word spread quickly that house pets were on the  big cat’s menu.

Families battened down the hatches and kept close watch on their animals. We, too, were afraid that Chico’s life was in danger.

Like most owners of runaway pets we prepared flyers and posted them by the rows of rural mailboxes, put ads in the local paper and went house-to-house in search of little Chico, but after a couple of weeks had no leads… and had run out of ideas.

That was when my sister in Illinois called and suggested I contact an experienced pet psychic to get an opinion. At this point, I must admit that I have long since bid farewell to skepticism about metaphysical things.

Because I’m a believer in a divine force and a merciful God that created our universe, it wasn’t a leap of faith for me to believe that there are those among us who have highly-developed senses and abilities and are able to communicate free of the constraints of our physical voices, eyes and ears.

“Hello. I’m Stephan Helgesen, and I was recommended to you by________________.”       The person on the other end of the line was Diane Gianlorenzo, Guardian Angel Number One, an experienced and highly successful pet psychic, and as I would find out later, a true protector and defender of all furry, four-footed MIAs.

After a short conversation during which she established her bona fides by giving me information about myself and Chico that she couldn’t otherwise have known, we went through the checklist of things that every pet owner needs to do in order to find a missing pet.

Her practicality helped reassure me that before we contact the spiritual world we need to make sure that we’ve done everything in our power in the physical world to locate our animals.

After going through the checklist, she got in touch with Chico. She saw him and spoke with him. While I don’t fully understand how this communication takes place, I have no doubt that it does and that Diane was indeed having real conversations with Chico.

She told me of places where he had been and then asked if I would like it verified. I said, yes, so she suggested the services of a rescue dog that could pick up Chico’s scent.

Not being familiar with dog rescue services, I contacted the owner of a local pet finder service – Guardian Angel Number Two, Joyce Lewis of East Mountain Pet Alert who gave me a lead on a couple who were willing to help me search for Chico with their bloodhound, Genghis.

I met up with Stephanie and Robert Long (Guardian Angels Three and Four) and Genghis at the point where Diane had said she saw Chico. Genghis was introduced to Chico’s scent and off he went, nose to the ground, excited and sure of where he was going.

After a couple miles, Genghis was thrown off the scent by a pack of dogs, so we had to stop for the day as his confusion was keeping him from pursuing the trail.

Though we didn’t find Chico, three important things happened: 1. Diane’s credibility was now firmly reinforced, 2. we now knew that Chico was on the other side of the highway, and 3. we knew he was alive because of the strength of the scent.

Over the days and nights to follow, Diane was relentless in her contacts with Chico and relayed the encounters to me (which gave me the strength to carry on looking for him). One day, she asked me if I knew anything about ‘dowsing.’ I said, no.

She filled me in on the science of finding things through a unique combination of psychic ability and mapping. She said that she had long wanted to contact a map dowser who had success in finding people for police departments and for finding pets, and that Chico’s case was one the dowser might be interested in.

Enter Guardian Angel Number Five, Ginette Matacia Lucas.  Ginette’s reputation as an experienced practitioner of dowsing was known by many in the law enforcement world, but totally unknown to me.

I let the communication flow between Diane and Ginette for awhile so that they could get used to each other but soon found both of them ready and willing to help me locate Chico who had now been gone for three weeks.

In order to make it easier for Diane (and especially Ginette who relied more heavily on maps and photos to be effective) I photographed 50-60 houses in the area in which Ginette had said that she had seen Chico and made special maps of the Ramblewood Subdivision from Google Maps. I sent them to Ginette to form a search area.

We would communicate by cellphone when one or both had Chico on the line, and then the chase to find him was joined. Driving to landmarks they got from Chico, we stopped the car, shook a bag of his favorite treats to make a very familiar noise and called his name, repeatedly.

At times we got close but not close enough. Chico was skittish and wary of contact and certainly didn’t like the sound of car engines AND DOGS!  His new area was a veritable minefield of dogs and dog pens, and Chico was laying low, preferring the safety of a hiding place rather than responding to our calls.

This made the search frustrating. It was clear that Diane and Ginette had to build up his confidence and herd him to a safe area where he would feel comfortable in showing himself. We chose one particular spot and repeatedly encouraged him to go there.

Over the next few weeks we had 3-4 confirmed sightings of Chico from several of Chico’s new human lookouts in the subdivision. The area itself was huge and was heavily forested and mountainous. It was also perfect cover for a fearful cat, but it was like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.

It was then that I took Diane’s suggestion to set up some live animal traps, baiting them with his favorite canned cat food. Four traps were set up on the four corners of what we felt was his new territory. Several kind-hearted people gladly offered to host them on their property, and I would drive by the traps every morning to check them. I managed to snare six raccoons and two feral cats, but no Chico. My wife and daughters said that they weren’t surprised, that Chico was either too smart or too scared to go in them.

Abandoning the traps, we entered the current phase of Operation Find Chico – friendly persuasion. No one should ever discount the power of prayer or the power of a thought, especially those that are expressed out of genuine love and concern. How many of us have ever prayed to God for mercy or for help, or sent our energy aloft, directed to a loved one? Probably most of us.

That’s what we’re doing now, coupled with regular trips to his last known whereabouts. Diane continues to contact Chico, comforting him and persuading him that it’s time to show himself and turn himself in.

The entire ordeal has been a test of endurance, of faith and patience. Diane Gianlorenzo put it very succinctly and very compassionately, “There is a reason that all this is happening and several lessons to be learned from it. Only you can figure them out and apply them to your life.”

Diane and Ginette are still very much in his life, too as they speak with him, bringing him the message that his people love him and want him back.

I am convinced that they have helped him stay alive these past two months. I know that their compassion, kindness and support have helped me keep hope alive, and for that I will always be grateful to them.

We have not given up and are still actively looking for Chico, so if any of you see him please call me at 505/239-0008 or email at stephanhelgesen@cs.com

These Guardian Angels and the wonderful people of Ramblewood Subdivision in Tijeras, NM have restored my faith in the inherent goodness of strangers and made me thank God for all those who labor tirelessly to help reunite our lost pets with their human families.

It is, after all, the least we can do for those who give us so much unconditional joy and love.

Those interested in contacting Diane Gianlorenzo may do so at her website: www.dianegianlorenzo.com or call her at 386/308-1356 or by email at: inspirit888@yahoo.com

Ginette Matacia Lucas may be reached  at: www.paranormaladvisors.com or by email at matacia1111@yahoo.com

Joyce Lewis of East Mountain Pet Alert may be reached at: www.eastmountainpetalert.org

- Editor

Stephan J. Helgesen


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long live the king?

Posted on 23. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

When asked which monarchy is the most famous, most people will probably say England’s. Indeed, Queen Elizabeth II of England is celebrating her 60th year on the throne, so God save the Queen.

And while that long reign may be worthy of celebration, there are many other European queens of note. Some queens are regnant (queens who reign on their own) and others are queen consort (those whose husbands are kings).

I lived in three countries that were governed by a monarch: The Netherlands (Queen Beatrix), Trinidad and Tobago (Queen Elizabeth II) and Denmark (Queen Margrethe II).  While there are several other countries whose sovereigns are queens regnant or consort, the vast majority of monarchies are in the hands of kings.

During the 18th century, our colonists showed more than a passing interest in the policies on our own king, George III, monarch of England. Times were very different back in 1775 when our population of approx. 2.5 million Americans had simply had enough of the monarchy and rebelled. The rest, as they say, is history, but the question that remains unanswered is, “does history repeat itself?”

Constitutions and the monarchy

Many modern monarchs like those of Denmark and The Netherlands govern under constitutions, and have little power to affect the directions their countries take. Their roles are largely ceremonial, but the people of those countries love their queens and their royals.

An interesting footnote is that the British still don’t have a written constitution that sets forth British subjects’ rights! Instead, their laws have evolved through common law, the ‘Bill of Rights of 1689’, the ‘Great Reform Act of 1832’ and the ‘Representation of the People’s Act of 1928.’ Britain’s entry into the Common Market, and later the European Union (EU) brought England under a common set of laws that govern many aspects of their daily lives.

Are we moving closer to an American monarchy?

Americans are justifiably proud of their democracy and their Constitution, but every so often our patience is sorely tested as politicians of both stripes, in our Legislature and Executive Branch, push the envelope of our tolerance by acting as if the Constitution doesn’t apply to them.

Recent laws and actions like the Patients Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obamacare) which is now before the Supreme Court, possible Executive Branch-condoned security leaks and now the new edict from the President on declaring a cessation of prosecuting 800,000 no-fault immigrants is sending strict constitutionalists into a tizzy.

It’s anybody’s guess whether these three issues will be the new shot heard around the world for the beginning of the end of America’s constitutional protection from government intrusion into our lives. Scholars, lawyers, legislators, political pundits, the media and the President’s men are adopting Parkinson’s Law (‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’), liberally, and without apparent concern for the urgency of our situation and for the consequences that wrong decisions will have on our liberty.

In the year 900, Gorm the Old became the first King of Denmark, and I suspect his concerns were not about the pursuit of happiness, but were more about how to govern a bunch of unruly and impoverished people. It wasn’t until 1849 – nearly 900 years after his reign – that the Danes got their first constitution. By comparison, it took us less than two centuries (September 17, 1787) to get ours.

In 2004, Constitution Day became law when the late Senator Robert Byrd attached an amendment to a spending bill renaming Citizenship Day to Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. I was not a big fan of the late Senator, but I sincerely thank him for his actions.

America needs to be reminded, that without the protection of our Constitution we are merely subjects in waiting for the next monarch who thinks he can ignore the most important document of our history.

- Editor

Where will you be when the lights go out in America?

Posted on 18. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

The passage of time is marked with milestones. We each know where we were when President Kennedy was shot, when the Berlin Wall came down, and on the morning of 9-11. If we continue on the current course, you’ll be telling your grandchildren where you were the night the lights went out in America.

America’s energy policy is being dominated by environmentalists’ priorities—regardless of the impact to the American economy, individual communities, or economically-challenged citizens.

The plans to shut down or limit America’s abundant, available, and affordable energy are organized, coordinated, and effective. The results will be “lights out in America”—a dim future.

On May 30, the Wall Street Journal alerted us to the Sierra Club’s new campaign aimed at killing the natural gas industry: “Beyond Natural Gas.”

WSJ reports: “This is no idle threat. The Sierra Club has deep pockets funded by liberal foundations and knows how to work the media and politicians. The lobby helped to block new nuclear plants for more than 30 years, it has kept much of the U.S. off-limits to oil drilling, and its ‘Beyond Coal’ campaign has all but shut down new coal plants. One of its priorities now will be to make shale gas drilling anathema within the Democratic Party.”

How do they think we will power America? With intermittent, ineffective, and uneconomical wind and solar energy.

Why are the Sierra Club, et al, able to wield so much power? The Obama administration is friendly to their cause. Many of the agencies regulating domestic energy development are staffed with personnel culled from within the ranks of the environmental movement.

And, they are not shy about their biases—as was revealed in the now famous “crucify” comment. They also use their vast resources to sue, and sue often. As a new report from the Kentucky Coal Association (KCA) reveals, they don’t just sue the coal miners and the coal-fueled power plants, they sue the EPA to force new standards which are often unattainable—thereby effectively stopping all use of coal. (Remember, natural gas is the next target.)

The EPA, then, goes around standard operating procedures to do the bidding of their environmental buddies.

In Kentucky, hundreds of individual coal mining permits are typically approved each year. The application process has been in place for years. Companies applying for permits know the rules and applications are submitted accordingly.

If a rule change is to be made, there is a process that includes a series of public hearings and industry input—providing participation for all parties. When a new rule is implemented, it often has a phase-in period and involved parties can prepare as they know about it far in advance.

However, Lisa Jackson’s EPA isn’t constrained by rulemaking policy.

On April 1, 2010, without reason or science, public notice or opportunity for public comment, the EPA issued “Interim Guidance on Clean Water Act (CWA) procedures for Appalachian surface mines”—which initially applied to only six states: Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Lisa Jackson acknowledged that few—if any—mines would be able to comply with the new benchmark set to limit wastewater discharges from surface coal mining to in-stream conductivity levels of 500 micro-siemens.

Even if you do not understand the conductivity level of in-stream micro-siemens, you can grasp that the levels called for in the “guidance” are lower than levels found in nature.

In March 2010, 27 permits were issued under the known procedures. Since the “guidance” came out, without warning, on April 1, no new permits have been issued.

One company was offered a permit with the 500 micro-siemens limit applicable to every phase of mining beginning on day one. The “virgin” stream was tested before any mining operations commenced and was found to naturally have 1200 micro-siemens.

The company would have been in violation before they ever started. On July 21, 2011, the “interim guidance” was replaced with a “final guidance” which suggested that conductivity levels be 300 or less instead of the previous 500—which was already unattainable.

Even expensive bottled water doesn’t meet the standards the EPA has set for discharges from coal mining.

For more than 2 years, the Appalachian economy has suffered the loss of hundreds of mines, equaling thousands of direct potential jobs, as a result of this “guidance”—which is not a “rule” but is being treated as one.

In October 2010, the KCA filed a lawsuit against the EPA contending that the issuance of the “interim guidance” violated the Administrative Procedures Act and the CWA by ignoring public notice and comment rulemaking requirements, and unlawfully usurping the state’s role in establishing water quality standards under CWA.

That suit has been consolidated with a similar suit filed in West Virginia and with National Mining Association litigation and has been transferred to the federal court in the District of Columbia; the case is scheduled to be heard July 11.

Meanwhile, applications for individual coal mining permits have been denied. Shortly after the new “guidance” was issued on April 1, 2010, The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (KEEC) proposed to issue 21 permits for new and surface mines in Eastern Kentucky that did not include qualification for the sudden “guidance,” but met all prior imposed limitations and were consistent with previous applications that were granted permits.

The state has the authority to issue permits and the EPA has oversight authority. In September 2010, the EPA issued specific objections to all 21 permit applications—thereby preventing their issuance, blocking jobs and revenues.

On July 1, 2011, the KEEC proposed another 19 permits for new or expanded surface mining in Eastern Kentucky. These permits included a number of enhancements to assure protection of aquatic life. In late September 2011, the EPA objected to all 19 permits—but did not specify the deficiencies.

There are currently 36 applications pending; the other four have been withdrawn with the potential investment presumably going elsewhere.

In accordance with the CWA, if the EPA has specific objections, the applicant can request a hearing to challenge the EPA’s decision. The KEEC requested a hearing in December of 2010. Finally, after an 18-month wait, EPA has scheduled hearings for June 5 and 7.

The Kentucky Coal Association estimates that just the 19 permits the EPA blocked last September have cost $123,861,000 in state coal severance taxes, 3,800 Kentucky coal jobs, and the production of 125,476,000 tons of coal—all while America is in economic crisis.

Additionally, the micro-siemens benchmark was slated to apply to six states but was pulled back to just two: Kentucky and West Virginia. Why were these states singled out? If micro-siemens were important, if clean water was really the issue, shouldn’t the “guidance” apply nationwide?

Interestingly, the two states targeted for the new rules may be victims of retribution. Neither Kentucky nor West Virginia went blue in the 2008 election and are not likely to in 2012. The Democratic primaries in both Kentucky and West Virginia were an embarrassment to the Obama re-election effort.

In Kentucky, “uncommitted” got 42% of the vote and in West Virginia, prisoner Keith Judd got 41%. Obama nemesis Mitch McConnell hails from Kentucky and West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin made waves when he ran a campaign ad in which he picked up a rifle and shot a target labeled “cap and trade bill”—which was an Obama campaign promise.

Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were removed from the micro-siemens guidance. They are blue states that are important to President Obama’s re-election. Once again, it appears that the Obama administration is putting electoral posturing ahead of energy production. (If Obama gets re-elected, you can be sure the “guidance” will apply to more states and other industries.)

The micro-siemens guidance is applied under the CWA section 402. While other industries are governed by section 402, the micro-siemens guidance applies only to coal, and only in two states. The selective application indicates that it isn’t really about the water.

The Sierra Club doesn’t want America’s abundant coal resources used in America. Their efforts have already contributed to the announced closure of 100 US coal-fueled power plants and reduced demand for coal. “Sales to Midwestern power plants have slumped, as has the market price of coal, dropping so suddenly that many local mines are cutting back hours or closing,” reports the New York Times.

“The anger toward Washington is palpable.”  In the May 29 NYT article, Chris Lacy, an executive at Licking River Resources Inc., said “layoffs among his 350 miners—in Magoffin County, where unemployment is already 17.5 percent — are inevitable.” Addressing the increasing regulations against coal, Lacy says the “concerns are overblown.”

He sees them as “a conspiracy by environmentalists and the Obama administration to destroy the way of life here in Kentucky.”

The Sierra Club wants to keep coal in the ground and out of international markets where coal-fueled power plants are being built faster than they are being abandoned in the US.

They are filing lawsuits against mining companies to prevent extraction and claiming settlements which include their legal fees. Environmental attorneys are among the highest paid—getting double and triple what veterans’ or seniors’ advocates receive.

This hurts not only the local economies, such as the one supported by Licking River Resources, but it also does harm to the US economy, as selling US products overseas helps our trade deficit.

If you are tired of the undue influence the environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, hold over your energy use and cost—they proudly state that their attack on coal is “just the tip of the iceberg” (natural gas is next), stand with Kentucky against the singular attack.

A pre-hearing rally is being held in Frankfort, KY, on June 5 from 5-7 PM between the Capitol Plaza Hotel and the Frankfort Convention Center where elected officials, pro-coal advocates, and invited guests will speak about the dangers of the EPA’s actions to Kentucky jobs.

If you can’t make the rally, you can still offer written comment (Docket ID:EPA-HQ-OW-2012-0315).

If we do not stand up to these senseless attacks on the American way of life, our energy freedom, and our economic security, we will be telling our grandchildren where we were the night the lights went out in America.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


The Tale of the Sand Dune Lizard

Posted on 18. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

The American public has awakened and is acutely aware of the damage environmentally driven policy is doing to America’s citizens and economy.

The decision not to add the sand dune lizard to the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act, announced Wednesday by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), was precipitated by public involvement as the citizens of Texas and New Mexico wrote the FWS, showed up at public rallies, and spoke up at official hearings in opposition to the listing.

The listing of the sand dune lizard had the potential annual cost of more than $35 billion to the American economy due to lost oil production alone.

Most endangered species listings are proposed and then listed with little fanfare. The public is often totally unaware the listing is possible and the negative economic consequences on the local and national economy are not considered. But this time it was different.

Armed with the history of the devastating impacts an endangered species listing can have on communities and economies—such as the spotted owl and the delta smelt—New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce drew a line in the sand and stood up for the citizens who would be impacted most by the proposed listing of the sand dune lizard. Congressman Pearce’s efforts were augmented by Texas Congressman Mike Conaway and Texas Senator John Cornyn—each deserves plaudits from the people.

In December of 2010, the FWS announced the nomination of the sand dune lizard for listing as an endangered species—a move that was prompted by a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Chihuahuan Desert Conservation Alliance.

Ben Shepperd, of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, explains it this way: “The Endangered Species Act in current form is being exploited by activist groups that generate income for themselves while hiding behind a pretense of protecting the environment.

Suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a cottage industry for them. Regardless of the decision rendered in their manifold lawsuits, the groups receive legal fees—our taxpayer dollars—from the federal government.”

Throughout 2011, people came together. Community meetings were held and the stakeholders were engaged—even enraged. Large public rallies with hundreds in attendance took place in Roswell and Artesia, NM, and Midland, TX. News crews gave the issue national attention.

Independent scientists gathered to examine the science behind the listing and found it full of flaws, assumptions, and erroneous conclusions—issuing a report, which was given to FWS.

In December 2011, when the Endangered Species Act required a “list,” “decline to list,” or “delay” decision, the FWS announced that it was exercising the “delay” option—which gave the agency six more months to study the newly presented evidence.

Concerned citizens and the oil and gas industry have been anxiously awaiting the decision.

Congressman Pearce called the decision a “huge victory for the people who have so tirelessly fought to save their jobs and their way of life.”

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar praised the efforts of the oil and gas industry in working to preserve the lizard’s habitat through Candidate Conservation Agreements, saying they were “nothing short of historic.”

Meanwhile, environmental groups are claiming that the “Department of Interior sold out to big oil.”

The listing of the sand dune lizard had the potential to virtually shut down oil and gas development in the Permian Basin region of Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas—an area responsible for 20% of America’s domestic production.

If the decision had come down on the side of listing the lizard, it may well have decimated the local economies and had the potential to raise gas prices nationwide due to reduced supply.

The publicity the proposed sand dune lizard listing attracted has, perhaps, gotten the attention of the Obama campaign—which may have influenced the outcome. After all, could he afford to hurt a major portion of the economy in a swing state just months before the election?

The sand dune lizard victory should be an example for concerned citizens everywhere—regardless of the issue. Wake up, show up, stand up, and speak up!

Celebrate while we can! The lesser prairie chicken and the jobs it may endanger are next. Without a looming election, we might not be so lucky. But then again, maybe the election will change everything.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with No-Fault Immigrants: Suggestions to the President

Posted on 16. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

Question: What do you call someone whose car gets t-boned proceeding legally through an intersection? Answer: a victim. And what do you call the children of illegal immigrants in the U.S.? Illegal immigrants.

But just like the passengers in the t-boned car who weren’t driving the vehicle, didn’t own the vehicle or chose the route it traveled, the children of illegal aliens have another name…no fault immigrants.

Doing the executive ‘slow walk’

On Friday, the President chose to ratchet up the stakes in the immigration debate by announcing that his administration would, essentially, ‘slow-walk’ enforcement of deportation of a group of approx. 800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as teenagers and who now are under 30 years of age.

Let’s take a look at the problem from a political, legal and humanitarian standpoint. Politically, this decision will increase support for the President from some ethnic communities. The one the President most wants to curry favor with is the Hispanic community (but he’ll take the support of any other ethnic group that will give it to him), and the decision will probably earn him some votes.

However, the President’s people forget that most Hispanics are law-abiding citizens and look down on those of their own ethnic group (and others) who break our laws. They don’t support just any old measure to legalize the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., but they do support some.

Si, se puede

I firmly believe that most Hispanic voters are like most any other voter in any other ethnic group; they vote their conscience not their skin color or ethnic background.

Legally, the President probably has the right under the “Immigration and Nationality Act” to set the pace and the procedures for identifying illegal aliens and deporting them, but that goes for individuals not sub-groups like no-fault immigrants. To challenge this authority politically or legally would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money and the Congress’ time not to mention political capital from both parties.

This is not to say that the issue of immigration shouldn’t be discussed. It should, but it should not be done piecemeal.  And therein lies the rub. Neither party really wants the whole issue debated just months before an important election because both parties could lose important votes.

And while this decision may be a convenient and temporary diversion away from the economy for the President, there is an aspect of his policy that could end up hurting him and that is the infusion of 800,000 new workers into an already dismal and growing unemployment situation.

This will clearly anger all those who’ve been looking for work for years and can’t find it. And while these people may be unemployed they do vote, and they could constitute up to 23 million voters if you count those who’ve given up looking.

From a humanitarian standpoint, the plight of the no-fault immigrant is clear. They are not to blame for the sins of their fathers (or mothers). Deporting them would be justified in the eyes of the law, but it would hardly be consistent with the culture of a compassionate country.

Some tips for you, Mr. President

What to do then? There are a few actions that could be taken. A special status should be created for them. Those who have no felony convictions, are under the age of 21 and who can demonstrate that they are here solely as a result of involuntarily accompanying a parent who came here illegally would be permitted to stay.

In order to do so they would have to register with Homeland Security and the State Department within a specific time period and then apply for a temporary residency card (not citizenship) as a no-fault immigrant. Then they would need to get a social security number and a work permit from a special office in either HS or the Department of Labor.

They would not be allowed to collect food stamps or welfare benefits (or vote) but would be allowed to collect unemployment benefits if they held a job and were let go within the legal time frame.

Finally, they would be issued a special forgery-proof ID card, be fingerprinted, submit to annual interviews by HS for a five-year period and have their income tax records reviewed by a special office within the IRS, also for a five-year period. Before the end of five years they would have the choice to either return to the country of their birth (deported if they refused) or apply for U.S. citizenship.

Should they choose to apply for U.S. citizenship within the five-year period, they would need to follow the same procedure that all would-be citizens follow and that is to return to their home country, submit an application at the American Embassy and wait their turn (for them in the U.S.) to be processed behind those who came before them. Once citizenship has been granted they would not be able to retroactively petition for their parents or other family members to become citizens.

The United States should be not be in the business of breaking up families but neither should we turn a blind eye to our existing immigration laws. Surely we can find a solution that will please both the absolutists and the relativists in this debate. If we don’t, we will soon have to deal with the next generation of no-fault immigrants.

- Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Victims of the Recession

Posted on 12. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

Thousands of words have been written about the victims of the current recession, and most of them have described the plight of the millions thrown out or frozen out of the labor force.

The bad news just keeps on coming

Every month, I get an email from the Bureau of Labor Statistics listing the percentages of the newly unemployed, and each month I reflect soberly on the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are now shunted aside to the unemployment rolls or worse. Many of them are young workers, older workers and inexperienced unskilled workers, but they also include white collar middle managers.

Anyone who has ever been unemployed can relate to this tragic situation and has probably sat across the kitchen table from their spouse adding up the monthly bills and wondering how they were going to pay them.  Journalists write about home foreclosures, bankruptcies highlighting the statistics, but often forget the stinging human tragedy of unemployment that can lead to crime, clinical depression, divorce, domestic violence and even suicide.

Victimization a part of our DNA?

It’s not part of our national DNA to feel victimized, but this might be changing as many people are in genuine dismay over how we as a nation got to this point. Many of us who never lived through the Great Depression or were too young to remember the hardships of WWII have only the oil crisis of the 70s, the recession of 1982 and the ‘dot com bubble’ as our barometer to measure hardship.

Because of that we are at a distinct disadvantage on how to accurately assess the misery of our current times. Granted, being unemployed and feeling desperate probably feels the same in 2012 as it did seventy or eighty years ago, but there are differences as well as similarities.

After the stock market crash of the 30s, wealth was wiped out on a grand scale and along with it the expectations of an entire nation.  In the 40s, America went to war, and while there were shortages of basic materials that were re-directed to the war effort, the solidarity of supporting the winning of that war put everyone in the same boat so that doing without meant sacrificing for a noble cause and was therefore more acceptable.

The oil crisis of the 70s woke us up to the reality that we were a foreign energy-dependent nation and that that dependency victimized our long-held beliefs about our self-sufficiency.

Fast forwarding to the mid-80s saw us pay the piper for our excesses. The massive economic slowdown, inflation and high unemployment were everywhere and American confidence was on a rapid downward spiral.  A whole new generation of Americans began to doubt themselves and felt that the country had lost its instruction manual on how to manage things and keep the intricate ‘machine of commerce’ running.

The hidden victims

We recovered, but it took a long time, and while we learned a few important lessons along the way, the recessions had divided America into two rather large groups that split along pro and anti-government and pro and anti-business lines. We weren’t alone. Europe experienced the same dilemma and Asia was just waking up from a long ideological slumber that was dominated by collectivist dreams.

Every crisis and every disaster has its victims. The obvious ones are the walking wounded, those left without the means to rebuild their lives. The hidden victims are just as real as those that bleed. They are our aspirations, our confidence, and yes, our hope.

America has allowed its courage, steadfastness, pluck, optimism, sense of humor, cooperative spirit and dreams become the collateral damage of the recession of 2008-2012.

Words will not return America to greatness, and our crisis won’t be solved by 60-second campaign ads. It is one of a profound lack of confidence, cooperation and leadership.

While our former landlords felt that “the sun never sets on the British empire,” America’s dawn is always breaking anew. We need only look up at it for inspiration and remember from whence and where we all came.

- Editor

Stephan J. Helgesen

A plea for help: Open Letter to BearWatch members

Posted on 12. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Social/Cultural

As you have surmised from the recent BearWatch newsletters, our emails to you, the May 13 Sunday Op-Ed in the Albuquerque Journal (attached), etc., our Sandia bears are headed toward extinction.

After studying Game and Fish’s bear incident logs for 2011 and taking Game & Fish’s word on what happened in 2010 (we haven’t received those logs as yet), in the last two years the NMG&F have killed or relocated 45+ Sandia bears out of this small population estimated to be 50+ bears. (This included a few deaths by car).

BearWatch will have its FIRST EVER PROTEST in front of the New Mexico Game and Fish Albuq. Office (3841 Midway Pl. NE) At 10AM on Friday, June 15th.

Sorry, Saturdays won’t work because the NMG&F office is closed on the weekends.

Bring your signs to protest the killings and relocation of our Sandia bears and/or all NM Bears. (see below for more details)

Please try to be there.  A large number of people will make a bigger impression on the media.  The public has no idea what is happening to NM’s bears and the NMG&F doesn’t want them to know.  Please be there no later than 10:00am. We will try to have the media there by 11:00.  The protest will go until 12:00noon.

Bring protest signs,water, hats, sunscreen.  You will have to find parking in the surrounding businesses…spread out the parking, we don’t want irate businesses.  After checking with the City on protests, I was told we must stay on the sidewalks, not the street. Do not block driveways, doorways, etc.

DIRECTIONS:  Take I-25 North to the Jefferson Exit

- left/west on Jefferson to Singer (stop light)

- left/west on Singer, go 1/2 block to Office

- right/north on Office

- go 1 block to end of street to Midway Pl

The NMG&F office is at the end of the street at 3841 Midway Pl. NE

PLEASE email me (jan@janhayes.com) to let me know if you plan to attend.  Thank you.

Editorial: Where have all the Sandia bears gone??

Every day I’m asked the question, where are the bears this year?  And my answer to that question is “they’re gone….sadly… gone for good.”

In the last two years the New Mexico Game and Fish (NMG&F) along with a few others have killed or removed approximately 45+ bears out of an estimated Sandia bear population of 50+. Sandia’s bears have faced many destructive forces: Mother Nature produced a series of drought years with the final blow of a harsh late frost in the spring of 2011 that killed most natural food sources; a growing, irresponsible human population that moved into these bears’ territory and wanted them removed for getting into their available garbage and bird feeders; an organization that campaigned for killing all bears and cougars from our wildlife areas (especially the Sandias) on behalf of their children and the final fatal assault, a Game and Fish department that considered black bear to be nothing but a nuisance species.

In 2010 and 2011, there were huge public outcries along with multiple newspaper articles and editorials statewide against the New Mexico Game and Fish’s proposed 108% increased bear hunts.  Those requests for common-sense management of this species were ignored.

Most people believe that a state game department is there to protect our wildlife.  In New Mexico, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

A real eye-opener would be for you to attend a Game and Fish Commission meeting’s greed fest. Money and politics are the driving forces with conservation coming in last, if at all. Meeting after meeting, professional outfitters and hunters are fighting/suing each other for more licenses to kill more wildlife.

In 20 years of attending these meetings, I’ve rarely heard any hunters, ranchers, etc. ask for conservation for a species. Ranchers are there to demand more licenses for resell for wildlife that sometime forage on their ranches, farmers are there to ask for compensation for crop damage, trappers are there to ask for unlimited access to our state and federal lands, anti-wildlife city kooks are there to demand the decimation of bears and cougars.

And the New Mexico Game and Fish Department are more than happy to comply…after all, this is their constituency.

The destruction of Sandia’s bears is just the tip of the iceberg.  In 2011, 744 bears were killed statewide. This is more than double the average of the preceding five years.

If the NMG&F’s statewide bear elimination pogrom goes forward as planned with a limit of 664 bears this year and 628 per year to be killed for the next four years, a five year total of 3,176 bears will be killed or over half of the NMG&F’s inflated estimate of the entire bear population.

This doesn’t include rampant poaching, natural die-off and the NMG&F’s new policy to vastly expand depredation.

A serious concern is that the NMG&F continues to raise the female-sow hunt limit.  To ensure a stable bear population, sound bear biology tells us that no more than 30% of a reasonable yearly kill should include sows.

The NMG&F claims that although 44% of kills can be sows, hunters are being selective and only 31% of kills were sows in the bear hunt last year which is still too many considering that was the percentage of a huge harvest.

If the largest bear hunts in New Mexico’s history go forward as planned, in a few short years the bear population will necessarily plummet. Hunters will have difficulty finding bears to kill and that means that hunters will no longer be selective which will result in a devastating sow kill-off.

Sows are the future, and the NMG&F’s ongoing unsound management will be responsible for destroying that future. If you don’t believe that can happen here, look to Utah and Arizona that now have some bear-free mountain ranges.

(Note, the Journal Editor deleted this paragraph)The NMG&F’s reckless management of New Mexico’s black bears is biologically unsustainable and incredibly shortsighted. Instead of the NMG&F instituting a program to educate mountain residents how to co-exist with bears, pushing for mandatory bear-proof garbage receptacles for all bear-country communities, issuing tickets to irresponsible residents…the NMG&F uses ‘killing’ as their modus operandi.

Governor Martinez has full control over the New Mexico Game and Fish and what happens to our state’s wildlife including this state’s mammal, the black bear.

A Journal editorial on August 7, 2010 asked the question of who will hold the Game and Fish accountable for the decimation of New Mexico’s bears, warning that it could result in an ecological and social disaster. My question to Governor Martinez is… who will answer for this biological disaster…should she allow it to continue?

Jan Hayes, Sandia Mountain BearWatch

- The above were submitted by Jan Hayes, the Guardian Angel of Sandia’s bears. She operates Sandia BearWatch. Anyone interested in joining or contributing should contact her at jan@janhayes.com.

“If we cannot help the least among us how can we ever hope to help the rest of us?” – Editor

Crony Capitalism and President Obama: How the system really works

Posted on 11. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

President Obama’s attacks on Romney’s record while at Bain Capital have opened the window on what is being called “Obama’s public equity record”—with Romney’s surprise news conference in front of failed solar manufacturer Solyndra and new campaign ads bringing the Obama administration’s record into the spotlight.

Suddenly the “green jobs” record is being carefully examined and “giving taxpayer money to big donors, and then watching them lose it” is back in the news.

In his book, Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer says: “These programs might be the greatest—and most expensive—example of crony capitalism in American history. Tens of billions of dollars went to firms controlled or owned by fundraisers, bundlers, and political allies, many of whom—surprise!—are now raising money for Obama again.”

We understand that “crony capitalism” involves helping those who have helped you; “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” But the simple term crony capitalism belies the evil, corrupt nature associated with the actual process.

Crony capitalism goes way beyond helping your friends, your cronies. It is a twisted, orchestrated plan that rewards the cronies and costs the taxpayer, while punishing the average citizen.

It may take years of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to uncover the depth of President Obama’s crony capitalism, but we can get a glimpse of how it is done and what it costs us through a new book, Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism, which meticulously chronicles the crony capitalism of one of Obama’s cronies: former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson—President Obama’s original pick for the Secretary of Commerce post.

Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism is a little book. It can be read in an hour. It addresses just one aspect of Governor Richardson’s crony capitalism—but it covers it thoroughly, with nearly as many pages of footnotes and documentation as story.

I didn’t write the book, but I did have a bit part. I filed a couple of the FOIA requests and picked up some of the documentation. When I read the manuscript, I knew this was a story everyone needed to read—not so much because everyone needs to know about New Mexico, but because everyone needs to understand how the system really works.

New Mexico is a poor state, on the bottom of about every list—except for drunk driving (where we are on the top). Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism, documents just one rule—not even a law—that Richardson appointees, heads of state agencies (think EPA), inflicted on the state’s most economically important industry: oil and gas. With color photos, charts and graphs, the author, Harvey E. Yates, through Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism demonstrates how the “pit-rule” has cost the state $6 billion in overall revenues, and the state and local governments, specifically, $1 billion.

Remember New Mexico is a poor state, and the rule chronicled in the book, the pit-rule, is just one rule that favored one of Richardson’s friends. Similar actions likely played out over-and-over by a governor with higher aspirations. Similar actions likely continue to play out in the Obama White House with bigger numbers.

Johnny Cope was a long-time friend of Bill Richardson who the newly-elected Governor intended to appoint to an important position in his administration. (Note: the definition of cronyism is “Favoritism shown to old friends without regard for their qualifications, as in political appointments to office.”)

Cope owned a financially troubled business: Controlled Recovery Inc. (CRI) which serviced the oil industry through oil field remediation and waste management. At the time of Richardson’s election in 2002, CRI was near worthless and struggling, yet in 2006 CRI was sold for $10 million.

CRI grew to include a fleet of trucks and round-the-clock operations in just four years. Along the way, CRI got regulatory preference, uncooperative officials were removed, CRI’s business was increased, and its competitors were eliminated through agency orders. Official filings show that, on six specific occasions, Cope made substantial donations—or raised donations—totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars to Richardson, which coincided with critical regulatory events.

Pit-rule 17 was proposed in March 2006—the same month Cope’s companies donated $70,000 to Richardson’s re-election campaign. This statewide rule virtually required that all drilling waste from new drill sites be transported to an approved disposal facility.

But in 2004, the Richardson administration had made the CRI facility exempt from tough new regulations on oil field waste landfills and oil sludge recovery facilities, such that CRI had a huge advantage over its few remaining competitors. Effectively, the oil and gas industry had to pay CRI for the privilege of drilling new wells in New Mexico.

(On a national level, we have what could be called “crony environmentalism.” Laws and regulations, which should apply to everybody, are waived for the favored few. For example, the oil and gas industry is hauled into court if a migratory bird happens to die in an oil pit, but the thousands of birds—including protected eagles—killed by wind turbines are actually authorized.)

In the years prior to the pit-rule draft release, New Mexico’s drilling rig count closely paralleled the neighboring oil-and-gas states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. However, after March 2006, New Mexico’s rig count started trending downward and fell below Colorado’s for the first time in more than a decade—costing New Mexico lost jobs, and severance and royalty income.

Chapter 1, Overview, starts with “Environmentalists eagerly claim fatherhood of the pit-rule. However, a close examination of the evidence leads to the conclusion that, while environmentalists indeed were useful midwives in the delivery of the pit-rule, cronies of former Governor Richardson sired the rule.” Chapter 6, The Price We Paid, ends with these words: “Such is the legacy of a Crony Capitalist enterprise.

The losers were the state’s public education system, state employees, the state infrastructure, and generally, the citizens of the state. If the environmental community wishes to assume part of the responsibility for the loss to the state because of its role of midwife of pit-rule 17, that is probably appropriate.”

Governor Richardson left the state with a budget deficit. Yet he was somehow able to have plenty of campaign cash to launch his presidential run. Governor Susana Martinez took on the deficit. She put different people in charge of the agencies and changed the policies.

Instead of using regulations as a hammer, they are now used as a guideline. The industry with New Mexico’s single largest economic impact is coming back. Nationally the economy is still in crisis, yet in one year, the New Mexico state budget has gone from deficit to surplus.

There is an obvious parallel with the New Mexico story and the national one. Governor Richardson and President Obama seem to be cut from the same ideological cloth. They hurt the industry that has the ability to help—if not fix—economic woes while making policy decisions that help their friends at the expense of the tax-paying citizens, often under the cover of environmentalism.

Yates’ Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism shows how it was done in New Mexico through the tight, single story of the pit-rule. The reader can easily extrapolate it out to the national stage.

Additionally, Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism offers activists a lesson in the power of FOIA. There are surely similar stories being played out in other states where winners are picked and others are punished while the person in power laughs all the way to the bank.

In New Mexico, we elected a new governor who doesn’t share Governor Richardson’s ideology, and, in one year, the state budget went from a deficit to a surplus. On a national level, the problem is bigger than that of my poor state, but the results of a change at the top—and therefore, a change in the various agency heads—could well produce similar results for America.

This article was submitted by Marita Noon. She is the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

 

A More Honest Assessment of Private Equity

Posted on 09. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

Last week, Jack and Suzy Welch published a no-warts-at-all ‘defense’ of private equity (“Mr. Biden, here’s the truth about private equity”, Reuters, 5-30-12, http://blogs.reuters.com/jack-and-suzy-welch/2012/05/30/mr-biden-here%E2%80%99s-the-truth-about-private-equity/), which was little more than an ad hominem attack on the administration and an endorsement of Governor Romney.

Jack Welch had a stellar 21-year-long run as CEO of General Electric, which ended in 2001 when he became a senior adviser to the large private equity fund, Carlyle Group.

I admire him greatly but for three missteps: his penchant for excessive executive compensation; his stated belief that the best manufacturing environment would have every plant placed on a barge and towed to wherever the labor costs are the lowest; and frankly his latest op-ed.

Take my word for it, Jack, private equity has plenty of warts, and I say this from first-hand experience dating back to 1988, when I started one of the first PE funds exclusively committed to the media industry.

The primary objective of private equity funds is to earn profits for themselves and their investors.  There is nothing wrong with making money.  But since Governor Romney claims his private-sector experience uniquely qualifies him to create jobs as president, it is fair to ask whether his track record demonstrates that experience.

But the managers of these funds  who continue to defend the outrageous and intellectually fraudulent way that they – me included – are individually taxed on the bulk of their income, should immediately be taken to the woodshed.

In America, we believe strongly in investment as the backbone of economic growth and job creation.  This is why President Obama and the Vice President have been strenuously arguing for a National Infrastructure Bank that would greatly expand investment in our country’s infrastructure and help restore our global competitiveness.

Similarly, most of us believe that a person who invests his money in an enterprise should pay lower taxes on any gains he makes because he is taking on risk and providing capital that makes our economy prosper.  We can debate the rate at which capital gains should be taxed – I think it should be much higher than the 15% it is currently – but the principle of a lower tax rate on such gains is sound.

Yet since the mid 1980s the tax code has – very unfairly to all other taxpayers – given the capital gains tax break to a select group of individuals who manage other people’s money in either limited partnerships or limited liability companies.

Specifically, while these private equity and hedge fund money managers are paid salaries, by far most of their compensation comes in the form of a large share of the net gains earned in the entities they manage, which share is called “carried interest”.

But even though carried interest is no different in substance than the performance or incentive fees which hundreds of thousands of other managers in the economy earn every day from the results of the businesses they oversee, carried interest is taxed as a capital gain.  Everyone else’s performance or incentive fees are taxed as ordinary income.

And because the 15% capital gains tax rate is less than half the 35% maximum ordinary income tax rate, the benefit to the U.S. Treasury and all other taxpayers if this inequity was resolved will be on the order of $10-plus billion a year.  (See “Carried Interest: A Very Big Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”, Huffington Post, 9-20-11, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-hindery-jr/carried-interest-a-very-b_b_971542.html.)

Yet nowhere in the Welch op-ed that attacked Vice President Biden was there any mention of this huge inequity and of the massive loss in government revenue at a time when every dollar is precious.

And then there are clear examples of the times when private equity funds and their investors – including Governor Romney’s old firm Bain Capital – succeeded simply by manipulating existing companies, not by building businesses and creating jobs.

At its worst, this manipulation takes three consistent tacks: first, leverage up the companies with layer upon layer of debt, which when the economy turns adverse become guillotines on the necks of the employees and their communities; second, pay out egregious fees to the managers and return equity capital long before the companies become more profitable; and third, reduce labor costs as quickly and as much as possible, often by off-shoring jobs to those overseas barges of which Mr. Welch seems so enamored.

It’s not a criticism of capitalism – the system which has made America the greatest country in the world – to say that there is something definitely wrong with unfair and undeserved tax benefits, with deliberate over-borrowing of the sort which GE would never have tolerated, and with treating employees as chattel, with no organizing protections and protections against off-shoring.

It’s also wrong that all too often the underlying premise behind a private equity investment in a particular company is that after it’s been milked once, the company will simply be sold onward to another PE fund for further milking – and further fees payments.

And it’s certainly not a criticism of free enterprise to question and examine Mitt Romney’s experiences – as a private equity manager, businessman and Governor – which he says support his claim to be a great job creator.

We need to keep manufacturing jobs here in this country – our workers and our businesses can compete with any worker and any company anywhere in the world, as long as we have government which will stand up and demand a level playing field for all.

And we need to be looking for ways to strengthen industry, rather than manipulate its capital structures to generate management fees and short-term gains.

A generation ago, leaders in business, government and labor all understood that national prosperity depends on a vibrant middle class growing from the bottom up.  And as Reginald Jones, Jack Welch’s esteemed predecessor at GE, very publicly demanded, corporate responsibility should flow equally to investors and workers.

Our economy and society were much stronger for these views.

This article was submitted by Leo Hindery, Jr. who is chair of the U.S. Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation, co-chair (with USW President Leo Gerard) of the Task Force on Jobs Creation, founder of Jobs First 2012, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  He is the former CEO of AT&T Broadband and its predecessors, Tel-Communications, Inc. (TCI) and Liberty Media, and is currently a private equity investor in media companies.  He began his business career at Utah International Inc., and was later at General Electric Company after those two companies merged.


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