Tags: Shale | to | Revive | US-Industry | UN Gives Genocidal Sudan Top Post | Janitors Have College Degrees | Housing Is Most Affordable in US

Shale Boom to Revive US Industry; UN Gives ‘Genocidal’ Sudan Top Post

By    |   Sunday, 03 February 2013 02:56 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Cheap Energy Could 'Re-industrialize' America
2. 115,000 Janitors Have College Degrees
3. 'Genocidal' Sudan Wins Top UN Post
4. Housing Is Most Affordable in US
5. Public Universities Spend 6 Times More on Athletes
6. Senator's Plan Makes Tax Returns the Size of a Postcard

1. Cheap Energy Could 'Re-industrialize' America

A new report paints a rosy picture of America's energy future and points to some surprising repercussions for a nation suddenly awash in cheap oil and gas.

In its "Energy Outlook 2030," the London-based energy firm BP asserts that the United States will be 99 percent energy self-sufficient by 2030, largely due to shale gas and oil produced by hydraulic fracturing.

As recently as 2005, the nation was only 70 percent self-sufficient.

"The U.S. will likely surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia in 2013 as the largest liquids producer in the world (crude and biofuels)," the report states.

Also, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has forecast that the nation could become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas as early as 2016, according to The Diplomat, a current affairs online magazine.

"The U.S. will not be increasingly dependent on energy imports, with energy set to reinvigorate its economy," said BP's chief executive Bob Dudley.

The shale gas boom has already cut household energy bills by an estimated $1,000 a year and spurred a wave of new industrial investment, reversing a 30-year period of declining manufacturing jobs.

At least five new U.S. steel plants are planned that would use gas instead of coal to purify iron ore, according to Bloomberg News.

Chemical and fertilizer companies also are said to be planning new gas-fueled plants.

"Other companies from around the world that consume gas may be attracted to move their facilities to the U.S. market, which would then provide even more steel consumption and manufacturing capacity," said Aldo Mazzaferro, a steel analyst at Macquarie Capital USA Inc. in New York.

"It could result in a re-industrialization of the U.S."

The BP report noted that significant exploitation of major shale gas and oil resources has taken place thus far only in the United States and Canada.

The natural gas boom in America will also lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gases, since natural gas-fired power plants produce around half as much carbon emissions as coal-fired plants, and just 1 percent as much sulfur oxide.

Editor's Note:

2. 115,000 Janitors Have College Degrees

Nearly half of employed college graduates in the United States hold down jobs that don't require a four-year college education — including 323,200 waiters and waitresses, 115,520 janitors and cleaners, and 83,028 bartenders.

A new report from the nonprofit Center for College Affordability and Productivity discloses that 37 percent of employed college graduates are in jobs requiring no more than a high-school diploma, and 11 percent are in occupations requiring more than a high-school diploma but less than a bachelor's degree.

About five million college graduates are in jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics says don't even require a high-school education.

The lead author of the report, Richard Vedder — an Ohio University economist and founder of the Center — says the trend is likely to continue over the next decade.

"It's almost the new normal," he declared.

The problem is an oversupply of college-educated Americans compared to the number of jobs requiring a college degree:

  • The number of Americans whose highest academic degree was a bachelor's grew 25 percent to 41 million from 2002 to 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • The number with an associate degree rose 31 percent during that period.
  • Americans with a master's degree rose 45 percent, and those with a doctorate degree rose 43 percent.
  • Labor Department data from 2010 show that there were 41.7 million college graduates in the workforce, while the number of jobs requiring a college degree was just 28.6 million.
  • In 1970, about 10 percent of Americans over age 25 had a college degree, while today the percentage has tripled to 30 percent.

According to Vedder, that helps explain why 15 percent of cab drivers had a bachelor's degree in 2010 — compared to 1 percent in 1970 — as did 25 percent of retail sales clerks and 15 percent of firefighters.

Vedder, who is also an Adjunct Scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, added: "There are going to be an awful lot of disappointed [graduates] because a lot of them are going to end up as janitors."

Editor's Note:

3. 'Genocidal' Sudan Wins Top UN Post

The Insider Report disclosed in November that Sudan had been elected to a United Nations agency with key human-rights responsibilities — even though its president is accused of genocide and war crimes.

Now the U.N. has taken an even more outrageous step — members of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) have elected Sudan as a vice president.

The 54-member ECOSOC coordinates socio-economic affairs and is responsible for about 70 percent of the human and financial resources of the entire world body. Among its responsibilities, it elects members of the Commission on the Status of Women and the executive board of the U.N. Children's Fund.

The group has four vice presidents — Pakistan, Albania, and Austria along with Sudan.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has been wanted by the International Criminal Court since 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from the conflict in Darfur. Genocide charges were added in 2010.

"The election of genocidal Sudan as V.P. of a U.N. human rights council is incomprehensible and unacceptable," actress and human rights activist Mia Farrow said in a statement.

"President al-Bashir and his regime are orchestrating a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Sudan's border regions, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile, where some 700,000 civilians face starvation and are denied access to humanitarian aid because of incessant aerial bombardments."

Back in November, U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer called the election of Sudan to the ECOSOC a "terrible decision." The group now terms the elevation of Sudan to the vice presidential post "an outrage."

Editor's Note:

4. Housing Is Most Affordable in US

New York is often considered the city with the most unaffordable housing, but in fact the Big Apple is not even in the top 10 among larger cities in six English-speaking nations and Hong Kong.

The 9th Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey rates housing markets on what is termed the median multiple, which is the median house price divided by pre-tax median household income in that locality.

A media multiple of 5.1 or more means a city's housing is "severely unaffordable"; a multiple of 4.1 to 5 means it's "seriously unaffordable"; from 3.1 to 4, "moderately unaffordable"; and 3.0 and under, "affordable."

The nation with the most affordable major markets is the United States by far. A major market is a locality with at least 1 million residents.

There are 20 U.S. major markets that are affordable, 20 that are moderately unaffordable, five that are seriously unaffordable, and six that are severely unaffordable.

By contrast, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong have no affordable major markets, and collectively those localities have just three moderately unaffordable markets.

In Australia and New Zealand, every major market is severely unaffordable, and in Canada and the United Kingdom, half of the major markets are severely unaffordable.

But Hong Kong is by far the most severely unaffordable market, with a median multiple of 13.5. That is the highest multiple for any housing market since the survey began. Los Angeles reached 11.5 in 2007.

Hong Kong is followed by Vancouver, Canada, with a 9.5 multiple; Sydney, Australia (8.3); San Jose, Calif. (7.9); and San Francisco and Greater London (both 7.8).

New York is only No. 12 on the list with a multiple of 6.2.

And the five markets in the survey with the most affordable housing are all in the United States. Detroit, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Rochester, N.Y., have a multiple of 2.0.

When smaller markets are included, the United States has the 19 most affordable cities, and 28 of the 30 most affordable.

Urban containment policies that tightly regulate land use have a significant effect on housing prices in a locality, according to Wendell Cox, an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis and a principal of Demographia, a public policy firm located in St. Louis.

He writes on the newgeography.com website that unaffordable housing prices lead to a reduced standard of living and increase in the poverty rate, because the high costs leave households with less discretionary income to spend on goods and services.

Cox concludes: "Urban policy needs a 'reset.' The emphasis should be shifted away from 'designing' urban areas [by regulating land use] toward facilitating a better standard of living for the people who live in them."

Editor's Note:

5. Public Universities Spend 6 Times More on Athletes

Taxpayer-supported public universities spend up to six times more per athlete than they spend to educate the average student, an eye-opening new report reveals.

The Delta Cost Project at the American Institute for Research analyzed spending by 202 public universities that belong to NCAA Division 1. They group the schools in three football categories — the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), Football Championship Subdivision, and Division 1, No Football — and analyze all intercollegiate athletics, not just football.

"The difference between academic and athletic spending among Division 1 colleges and universities is striking," the report states.

"Possible benefits aside, comparisons of spending on athletics and academics raise questions about institutional priorities and whether rising athletic subsidies are appropriate, particularly in the current budgetary environment."

The report disclosed that in 2010, spending on a full-time student's education at an FBS school averaged $14,000, while spending per athlete was $92,000 — more than six times as high.

Spending in the six FBS "power conferences" topped $100,000 per athlete in 2010, and the top 25 percent of spenders in the FBS spent an average of $149,711 per athlete, compared to $16,500 for the average student.

In the Southeastern Conference, median athletic spending per athlete in 2010 was $163,931 — 12 times more than academic spending per student.

Median academic spending per full-time student in the other Division 1 categories was about $11,800, less than one-third of the amount spent per athlete, about $38,000.

The largest share of a university's athletics budget goes for compensation and benefits for athletic department staff — including multimillion-dollar coaching contracts at many schools — while other costs include athletic student aid, facilities and equipment, game expenses and travel, and recruiting.

Importantly, the report notes that most athletic departments don't generate enough revenue to cover all their costs, and must receive subsidies from students and the taxpayer-supported university.

And costs associated with athletic programs rose twice as fast as academic spending between 2005 and 2010.

"For many institutions, spending on athletics is sacrosanct, even when academic spending is being cut or frozen," the report observes.

It concludes: "The belief that college sports are a financial boon to colleges and universities is generally misguided. More often than not, the colleges and universities are subsidizing athletics, not the other way around.

"Disparities in academic and athletic spending suggest that participating public colleges and universities re-examine their game plan."

Editor's Note:

6. Senator's Plan Makes Tax Returns the Size of a Postcard

Sen. Richard Shelby is pushing legislation that would replace today's income tax code with a 17 percent flat tax and reduce tax returns to the size of a postcard.

"Our tax code and regulations total tens of thousands of pages that are complicated and confusing," the Alabama Republican said in a statement posted on the votesmart.org website.

"That is why I have introduced the SMART Act — the Simplified, Manageable And Responsible Tax Act.

"The time has come to put an end to the headaches caused by our inefficient tax code."

Shelby introduced flat tax legislation in 2011, and on Tuesday introduced a new bill with updated figures.

The new bill imposes a flat tax of 17 percent on all personal and business income. The only exemptions would be these personal exemptions:

  • $14,070 for a single person
  • $17,970 for a head of household
  • $28,140 for a married couple filing jointly
  • $6,070 for each dependent

The exemptions would be indexed to the consumer price index to prevent inflation from increasing the tax burden, and earnings from savings would not be included as taxable income, "resulting in an immediate tax cut for virtually all taxpayers," the statement from Shelby's office states.

"With the SMART Act in place, taxpayers would file a return the size of a postcard."

The legislation would also eliminate estate taxes, gift taxes, and the Alternative Minimum Tax, and allow businesses to redirect resources away from tax compliance and toward job creation.

The statement concludes: "By closing loopholes for individuals and businesses, the SMART Act would create broad-based lower tax rates that would give American individuals and businesses a competitive edge, create and retain jobs in the United States, and curb offshoring."

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Sunday, 03 February 2013 02:56 PM
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