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The Morning Grumpy – 4/6/2012

6 Apr

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Yesterday, Buck Quigley wrote about the new semi-secret and corporately funded Shale Resources and Society Institute at the University at Buffalo, SUNY.

“We’re really trying to provide fact-based, objective information,” the institute’s director John P. Martin said. “We’re guided by science.”
“Many people in New York State have a strong opinion on this issue,” said Robert Jacobi, the center’s co-director and a longtime UB professor of geology. “We want to become a valuable community resource where anyone can come and read about current research, outreach and education, and have a feeling that they can trust these data.”

As Buck notes,

The institute with offices on the UB campus, will be funded the way the SUNY Fredonia Shale Research Institute is funded—by entities like Chief Oil and Gas LLC, Chesapeake Energy, Seneca Resources, EQT, ThermoScientific, and Shell.

I wonder if they’ll be covering this recent news from the US Geological Survey at one of their future public meetings.

A U.S. Geological Survey research team has linked oil and natural gas drilling operations to a series of recent earthquakes from Alabama to the Northern Rockies.

According to the study led by USGS geophysicist William Ellsworth, the spike in earthquakes since 2001 near oil and gas extraction operations is “almost certainly man-made.” The research team cites underground injection of drilling wastewater as a possible cause.

“The study found that the frequency of earthquakes started rising in 2001 across a broad swath of the country between Alabama and Montana. In 2009, there were 50 earthquakes greater than magnitude-3.0, the abstract states, then 87 quakes in 2010. The 134 earthquakes in the zone last year is a sixfold increase over 20th century levels.

I look forward to similar independent science from the new UB institute.

2. We’re Number 19!

France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst in new rankings focusing on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions in 19 leading industrialized nations, researchers said on Tuesday.

If the U.S. health care system performed as well as those of those top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths in the United States per year, according to researchers writing in the journal Health Affairs.

Nolte said the large number of Americans who lack any type of health insurance — about 47 million people in a country of about 300 million, according to U.S. government estimates — probably was a key factor in the poor showing of the United States compared to other industrialized nations in the study.

3. Every once in a while, I like to remind everyone that the job-killing socialist communist individual mandate in “Obamacare” is not actually a “liberal” idea.

This core of the Affordable Care Act was an idea floated by President Nixon in 1974, touted by the Heritage Foundation in 1989, introduced by Newt Gingrich in 1993 and implemented by Mitt Romney in 2005.

Until it was supported by a Democratic President, this was the free market/individual responsibility platform of the Republican Party.

4. How billionaires destroy democracy.

What the debt-ceiling fiasco really showed was how a band of Republican extremists had effectively taken the U.S. political system hostage and were moving to enact the Right’s long-time fantasy of dismantling popular New Deal programs — particularly Social Security — which had been politically untouchable since the 1930s. Americans were told that these programs were simply no longer affordable — even though the country had grown considerably richer over the decades. In fact, what had changed was not the affordability of the programs but the intransigence of the nation’s elite to paying taxes.

5. Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes the case for space.

6. How American corporations have transformed from producers to predators.

In 2010, the top 500 U.S. corporations – the Fortune 500 – generated $10.7 trillion in sales, reaped a whopping $702 billion in profits, and employed 24.9 million people around the globe. Historically, when these corporations have invested in the productive capabilities of their American employees, we’ve had lots of well-paid and stable jobs.

That was the case a half century ago.

Unfortunately, it’s not the case today. For the past three decades, top executives have been rewarding themselves with mega-million dollar compensation packages while American workers have suffered an unrelenting disappearance of middle-class jobs. Since the 1990s, this hollowing out of the middle-class has even affected people with lots of education and work experience. As the Occupy Wall Street movement has recognized, concentration of income and wealth of the top “1 percent” leaves the rest of us high and dry.

What went wrong? A fundamental transformation in the investment strategies of major U.S. corporations is a big part of the story.

Fact Of The Day: It helps to be tall.  In the U.S. population, about 14.5 percent of all men are six feet or over. Among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that number is 58 percent. Even more strikingly, in the general American population, 3.9 percent of adult men are 6’2″ or taller. Among my CEO sample, 30 percent were 6’2″ or taller.

Quote Of The Day: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” – Hélder Câmara

Cartoon Of The Day: “A Sheep In The Deep”

Video Of The Day: Jaboody Dubs “The Snuggie”

Song Of The Day: “Two Hearts Beat As One” – U2

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