"One important measure in this provision that I want to highlight is the Keystone pipeline. As you know, this project would create tens of thousands of jobs in our country. This jobs project has broad support in the House and Senate. It is backed by a broad-based coalition, and I hope the President will approve this pipeline to put those Americans to work." --House Speaker John Boehner, 12/22/11
"The president has apparently vetoed the Keystone Pipeline. Look, let me be honest, this is a stunningly stupid thing to do. These people are so out of touch with reality it's as if they were governing Mars. Stupidity number one - we need the jobs." --Newt Gingrich, 01/18/12
For the past few months, a debate has been raging. If the 1700-mile Keystone XL Pipeline were to be built, how many jobs would it create?
According to Ray Perryman, president of an economic research firm hired by energy giant TransCanada, the answer is 250,000 (or "14,400 person years of employment"). Included in this number are jobs related to hotels, restaurants, and all manner of other nearby businesses that would see a rise in patronage if pipeline construction were to begin.
Perryman's number seems wildly inaccurate. Did he, to use a random example, remember to include Porta-Potty manufacturers in his calculation? (Surely many portable toilets would be needed by construction crews.) If he forgot to include them, then his estimate also ignores the jobs created by whatever company produces the chemical brew used in said Pottys, as well as the new demand for toilet paper manufacturers. This is a problem. By forgetting to include even a few things, Perryman artificially stops the near endless chain reaction of "spin-off" jobs, as they're called by professionals, which makes his jobs number grossly inaccurate by way of underestimation.
Or so I thought.
Once I dug a little deeper, I learned that Perryman was a step ahead. He counted jobs for "dancers, choreographers and speech therapists," citing a previous report on the impact of wind farms. Since the Keystone pipeline will lower the cost of oil, he reasons, it will give people more money to spend on entertainment and the arts.
176 dental hygienists
510 bread bakers
98 public relations people
Reading these numbers embarrassed me: How could I have given Perryman so little credit? How could I have been so naive? If there's one thing I could be sure of, it's that Porta-Pottys had definitely been included.
Despite its stunning sensibility and comprehensiveness, this 250,000 jobs number (later changed to 20,000 permanent jobs and 118,000 spin-offs) has been abandoned by all but the most principled Republicans and replaced with the woefully modest "tens of thousands." This isn’t so surprising; after all, most environmentalists have never once stepped inside a shower, let alone a Porta-Potty, so it's no wonder they don't think to account for such things as "spin-off" jobs (or jobs at all, since they've never had one).
The new number is certainly a low-ball, but I think I can understand why it's being used. Politicians need the support of the people, and some people are against the job-creating pipeline. And if those people are against something that’s going to create jobs, then the problem they have must be with the very idea of jobs. So underestimating the number of jobs created must be a ploy to gain the support of these job-hating environmentalists.It follows that TransCanada has instructed its supporters to concede some jobs numbers so that those opposing the pipeline's construction won't have to worry about losing their best excuse not to work: the bad economy. If hundreds of thousands -- possibly millions -- of new jobs instantly became available, parents of these hippies would be more inclined to kick their children out for choosing to remain unemployed. And this is a prospect that causes vigorous opposition from the environmental movement. If "hundreds of thousands of jobs" is changed to "tens of thousands," however, then the threat of employment isn't as omnipresent and opposition will therefore wane.
It's kind of strange logic, I admit, but -- like Perryman's original numbers -- it makes perfect sense once you think about it. That said, I still don't like that this is the prevailing strategy because it demonstrates yet another example of hard facts being forced to cave to the lowest common denominator. If you think about it (and please do; this is the second time I've asked), being forced to dishonestly shrink the jobs numbers is basically a form of political correctness. Instead of scaring the laziest among us with the true number of jobs that the pipeline would create, TransCanada's supporters have decided to shrink the number just to gain more support.
This approach to the truth was recently demonstrated by the State Department, which put out a report saying that the pipeline would only create only 5,000-6,000 new jobs, almost all of which would go away after construction ends. I get the strategy, and it’s certainly better than risking outright rejection of the project. But the State Department number is far too low -- it must remain at at least "tens of thousands," or TransCanada risks losing the support of everyday, hardworking Americans.
And speaking of hardworking Americans, some on the extreme left are even trying to turn them against the pipeline. The liberal network CNN actually had the nerve to cite a study from someone named "Cornell" (they neglected to include a last name, obviously trying to hide the fact that it was written by the Marxist professor Cornel West [also why they spelled it wrong]), which said that the pipeline "could actually cost jobs by hurting the development of alternative energy and allowing for the export of oil from the Midwest, driving up the cost of gasoline in that region." I don't know for sure who wrote that, but whoever it was is certainly an idiot. Q.E.D.
"President Obama was elected by appealing to global warming alarmists, among other groups on the left. Will he cave in to their demands to leave untouched the vast oil sand deposits in Alberta that could provide millions of barrels of oil to fuel economic growth in both countries for decades to come? Development of Alberta's energy sector would be led by U.S. companies, too, thereby boosting growth on both sides of the border." --James M. Roberts and Ray Walser, The Heritage Foundation [X]
But let's go back for a moment to hard facts being forced to cave to the lowest common denominator. One of the most egregious examples of the media kowtowing to this kind of politically correct BS happened during the infamous BP oil-rig bonanza of 2010. During that time we saw tons of heavily politicized headlines like, "Families Bid Farewell To 11 Killed In Gulf Rig Explosion," and "Deepwater Horizon's 11 Dead Remembered." Such headlines were much more common than the unvarnished but much more to the point "Eleven Jobs Lost in Oil Rig Explosion." I understand that the latter headline is much more tragic, but at some point the media has to stop treating us like babies. We can handle it!
Still, there were a few people out there astute and bold enough to write proper headlines, like: BP Spill Is 'Opportunity in Disguise' for Rig Makers Keppel, Samsung Heavy (from Bloomberg). In an article titled BP Oil Spill Fuels Government Contracting, someone observed: "Others can still look to take advantage of opportunities at the prime contracting level in such industries as manufacturing, construction, maintenance and technical services, information technology, even coastal restoration." And an insurance company pointed out that life was actually better for the fisherman in the region after the spill: "More than 46,000 people - and nearly 7,000 boats - are now employed in the response. While fishing business was struggling before the disaster, fishermen are now making $1,200 - $3,000 a day laying floating booms that contain oil once it rises to the surface."
This leads me to wonder how different things might still be in the Gulf had BP not been pressured by Big Government to cap the well. Only an idiot would have failed to see the silver lining! Even the eleven jobs lost in the rig explosion provided an opportunity. Sure, the unemployment rate must have risen a fraction of a decimal point as a result, but look at it this way: eleven new job opportunities instantly became available!
Since the media was so biased about the BP spill, I want to highlight some more of the spin-off jobs the spill was (and will be) responsible for. According to my calculations, the oil spill created a demand for:
3 new hospitals (approximately 18,000 jobs)
6 new rehabilitation centers (thousands more jobs)
2 more schools to train all the specialists (thousands more jobs)
11,967 new scientists working to genetically engineer new kinds of sea-life that can live in toxic water yet still be (relatively) safe to eat
56,094 engineers to build new robot-fishing machines after long-term, low-dose chemical exposure -- as well as the annihilation of the fishing industry -- forces people to move from the coast (I'm tempted to count the 767,894+ employees who'll be building the fishing-robots, but they won't be Americans. Still, we should find joy and happiness in imagining the opportunity for employment this will provide for many poor jobless people across the globe)
And let's not forget 4,256 new Porta-Potty's to line the streets for people on the Gulf Coast who can no longer walk more than 500 feet without shitting themselves, as well as 1 new toilet paper plant and 1 new chemical formula plant (thousands of jobs)
And that’s not even including the huge boon to the company that supplied the dispersant!
This kind of logic, crass as it might seem to extremist hippies and tree huggers, can be applied to almost any situation. Take the Holocaust, for example. If only Goebbels had had enough confidence in the German people, he could've cast Hitler's plan in the cold hard logic of common sense and skipped all of the obscuring, dishonest propaganda. Something like:
109 book burners
18,956 Zyklon B factory employees
98,775 public relations people
553 lampshade artisans
"This is sure to lift us out of our economic depression. But, if that wasn't enough, we also promise to instantly create six million additional jobs!"
* All solutions final.
Let's face it: Hitler brought his country out of a horrible depression and provided endless work opportunities for (almost) everyone. Under his leadership, the German economy was booming, and a lot more than 6 or 10 million jobs would have been lost to poverty had he never come to power. Sure, he's not without fault (who isn't?), but must we continue to have complainers and naysayers constantly dwelling on every little negative aspect whenever we try to take a step in the right direction?