Category Archives: economy

America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine

America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine.

Fire Congress, Dump Mississippi and Alaska

How a private-equity firm would refurbish the United States for quick resale to China.

Like many large corporations, America is going through a painful transition as it reaches maturity. Growth has stagnated, expenses have soared, and shareholders are getting antsy. While emerging markets offer potential, competitors are rapidly eating away at the United States’ market share. Analysts are bearish, with many believing the country is on the decline. Is it time for a leveraged buyout?

Probably not. Still, it’s a fun thought experiment: What sort of changes and cost-cutting measures would a firm like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital impose if it wanted to buy the country at a discount and refurbish it for a quick, profitable sale to, say, China?

Though the United States carries a $15 trillion debt load, if you look past its bloated budget and shaky governance, the country has some valuable assets. America has vast real estate holdings, a productive workforce, reliable cash flows, and a globally recognized brand name. An aggressive private-equity outfit, though, would find a lot to cut and a lot of people to fire. Here’s a 10-point plan to get the country shipshape.

[…]

Read the full article here: Slate Magazine

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Drillers must employ best practices to keep ‘fracking’ boom alive – Houston Chronicle

Drillers must employ best practices to keep ‘fracking’ boom alive – Houston Chronicle.

Drillers must employ best practices to keep ‘fracking’ boom alive

Updated 02:30 p.m., Saturday, January 7, 2012

As recently as 2001, the production of gas naturally occurring deep inside shale rock provided less than 2 percent of total U.S. natural gas production. Today, it is approaching 30 percent. As late as 2007, it was commonly assumed that the United States would be importing large amounts of liquefied natural gas from the Middle East and other areas.

Today, almost overnight in natural-resource years, we are not only self-sufficient in natural gas, we have enough natural gas for the rest of this century on the basis of current demand. This same horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology is now being used in liquids-rich shales to increase oil production. These resource plays are in their infancy and can clearly improve the energy security of the United States.

Nonetheless, the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale rock to release gas trapped deep beneath the Earth’s surface has inspired public fear-mongering, mostly around presumed threats to air quality and water quality. Most of that fear is unfounded.

[…]

Read the full story here: The Houston Chronicle

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Debating Taxes and the Family – NYTimes.com

Debating Taxes and the Family – NYTimes.com.

January 9, 2012, 3:17 pm

Debating Taxes and the Family

by Ross Douthat

I’ve praised Rick Santorum’s tentative steps toward a pro-family tax agenda. Others on the right are less impressed.

[…]

Families who either benefited from an expanded personal deduction for children or applied an expanded tax credit against their income and payroll taxes would no more be “dependent for [their] existence on the federal government” than an investor who benefited from the differential treatment that the tax code gives to income from capital gains, or a business that benefited from a reduction in the corporate tax rate, or an heir who benefited from the abolition of the estate tax.

[…]

[The] claim that a more family-friendly tax code would benefit “only Americans fortunate enough to have a child” falls into the trap (common to analysts on the right and left alike) of treating children as a kind of consumption good, rather than as American citizens with interests of their own.

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

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America’s Unlevel Field – NYTimes.com

America’s Unlevel Field – NYTimes.com.

Op-Ed Columnist

America’s Unlevel Field

Last month President Obama gave a speech invoking the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt on behalf of progressive ideals — and Republicans were not happy. Mitt Romney, in particular, insisted that where Roosevelt believed that “government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities,” Mr. Obama believes that “government should create equal outcomes,” that we should have a society where “everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk.”

[…]

Let’s talk for a minute about the actual state of the playing field.

Americans are much more likely than citizens of other nations to believe that they live in a meritocracy. But this self-image is a fantasy: as a report in The Times last week pointed out, America actually stands out as the advanced country in which it matters most who your parents were, the country in which those born on one of society’s lower rungs have the least chance of climbing to the top or even to the middle.

[…]

Read the full article here: The New York Times

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Some Real Issues for 2012 – NYTimes.com

Some Real Issues for 2012 – NYTimes.com.

January 3, 2012, 9:00 pm

Beyond Elections: People Power

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Reef poured, Port Mansfield hopes big fish are on the way – San Antonio Express-News

Reef poured, Port Mansfield hopes big fish are on the way – San Antonio Express-News.

Reef poured, Port Mansfield hopes big fish are on the way

Recycled culverts to provide habitat for fish and marine life.
Updated 02:20 a.m., Friday, December 30, 2011

PORT MANSFIELD — Peak season may be half a year away, but local fishing guide Terry Neal already is envisioning taking charters offshore for the first time in years, to what promises to become one of the Texas coast’s favorite saltwater fishing destinations.

And it’s all thanks to more than 4,000 unwanted concrete culverts.

In a project sponsored by the Coastal Conservation Association, Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow, and Texas Parks and Wildlife, a 200-foot barge loaded with the culverts in July was unloaded some seven nautical miles from Port Mansfield.

Dumping giant concrete tubes into the ocean may not seem very fish-friendly, but artificial reefs create habitat that to finned creatures may as well be the hottest new condos. Once barnacles start to attach and smaller fish start to feed, it won’t be long before the big game fish, including snapper, marlin, kingfish, and wahoo, follow.

[…]

Read the full story here: San Antonio Express-News

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Eagle Ford construction is booming – San Antonio Express-News

Eagle Ford construction is booming – San Antonio Express-News.

Eagle Ford construction is booming

Updated 08:44 p.m., Thursday, December 29, 2011

The housing business remains emphatically average across the major cities in Texas, as home builders continue to pull themselves up from the recession.

But in many small South Texas communities, where oil and gas drilling is booming, housing — of any sort, be it RVs or single-family homes — can’t be added quickly enough.

Then there’s the commercial space — or, more accurately, the lack of space for lease or purchase.

Now more developers and builders from San Antonio and beyond are moving into the sparsely populated Eagle Ford Shale counties to build everything from housing to pipe yards to warehouses.

[…]

Read the full story here: San Antonio Express-News

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In Louisiana, Twist in Fight Over Texaco Drilling Lease – NYTimes.com

In Louisiana, Twist in Fight Over Texaco Drilling Lease – NYTimes.com.

Bitter Twist in Louisiana Family’s Long Drilling Fight

ERATH, La. — It began as a landlord-tenant dispute, Louisiana style.

The tenant was Texaco; the landlord the Broussard family, heirs of a Cajun rancher, who claimed that Texaco’s operation of a gas plant on its property had left the land contaminated. The lawsuit, of a kind not all that rare in these industry-heavy parts, had dragged on so long that 13 of the heirs had died.

But it took a sudden and bitter turn in recent months, when another company — a company that, like Texaco, is a subsidiary of Chevronsued to condemn most of the disputed land and expropriate it, arguing that it was acting in the national interest.

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

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Bacteria 1, F.D.A. 0 – NYTimes.com

Bacteria 1, F.D.A. 0 – NYTimes.com.

December 27, 2011, 9:00 pm

Bacteria 1, F.D.A. 0

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Is Rick Perry’s $92,376 pension a harbinger of a major fiscal crisis? – The Washington Post

Is Rick Perry’s $92,376 pension a harbinger of a major fiscal crisis? – The Washington Post.

Is Rick Perry’s $92,376 pension the harbinger of a major fiscal crisis?

at 04:51 PM ET, 12/19/2011

Critics of government aid to public employees have a new favorite target for the system’s largesse to retiring federal workers: Governor Rick Perry. This year, the 2012 Republican hopeful took advantage of Texas’ generous pension rules to begin receiving a $92,376 annual pension even before leaving office and giving up his $150,000 annual salary as governor.

Texas’s “early retirement” rules allow for state employees with many years of military and public service to receive pension benefits even before they retire, the Texas Tribune explains. Perry insists that his early benefits are nothing “out of the ordinary.” Critics say that’s precisely the problem, arguing that such perks to government workers are bankrupting taxpayers and saddling states with pension obligations they won’t be able to meet.

[…]

A vocal cadre of Republicans, led by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), are arguing that state public pensions are now the country’s next great “debt crisis.” In a new report titled “States of Bankruptcy,” they point out that 11 states are projected to run out of money to pay for pensions by 2020 if they don’t take further action. And they argue that special accounting rules that states use grossly underestimate the liabilities they actually face. By the private sector’s accounting standards, states are actually facing a $3 trillion total pension gap—more than twice the standard estimate. DeMint claims that the funding gap could lead to major tax increases and possibly “the Mother of All Bailouts” by the federal government as unfunded pensions come due.

[…]

Read the full story here: The Washington Post

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