Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Creating Jobs

The worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, the Gulf oil leak, appears to itself be history, and its impact on the environment looks to be relatively minor compared to what was feared. For this we can thank mother nature which evidently gobbled up the oil via rapidly reproducing carbon-consuming microbes.

On the other hand the economic damage wrought by the Obama administration's reaction to the leak may haunt the Gulf for a long time. The moratorium he declared on American oil drilling in the Gulf, according to the Wall Street Journal, is believed to eventually cost as many as 23,000 jobs, many of which will never return.

Deliberately putting thousands of people out of work seems an odd way to create jobs during a recession, (so, by the way, does this), but that's what the wise men in the White House chose to do. One wonders which will turn out to have been the bigger disaster, BP's leak or Mr. Obama's handling of it.

Twilight of al Qaeda

According to Strategy Page the news from the front in the war on terrorists and Islamic radicalism is mostly encouraging:
Intelligence agencies are at odds over how many al Qaeda are in Afghanistan. The estimates vary between a "hundred or so" and "less than a thousand." There is also some dispute as to who exactly qualifies as a "member" of the terrorist organization. For example, do local Afghans, hired for security or support jobs qualify? Or only non-Afghan terrorists who were chased out of places like Iraq, Yemen or Chechnya? The CIA tends to go with the experienced terrorists being the only true members, while other intel outfits are inclined to include local hires and trainees. All agree that the al Qaeda footprint in Afghanistan is small, and isn't much larger in Pakistan. Al Qaeda has become more of an idea (and not a very good one) than an organization.

Meanwhile the "Taliban comeback" keeps getting headlines in the media. But it's the Taliban who are increasingly under attack. There hasn't been a "Taliban Spring Offensive" for the last two years, and the key Taliban financial resource, heroin in Helmand province, has been under attack as well. The opium crop declined over 25 percent this year. The Taliban hoped that drug gang profits, al Qaeda assistance and Pakistani reinforcements would turn the tide. But al Qaeda is a very junior, unpopular, and shrinking partner, and the Pakistani Taliban are sending refugees, not reinforcements. With all that, violence nationwide was up, mainly because there are more foreign troops in the country, being more aggressive against the Taliban and drug gangs.
There's more on this story at the link. All I can say is it's a darn good thing we elected Barack Obama to lead us in fighting this war. Who knows how bad off we'd be had Bush's generals been implementing his policies of surging troops and winning the hearts and minds of the indigenous people for the last two years.


Glenn Beck raised an interesting question the other day. How long should Americans continue to pay unemployment compensation to those who are not working? As it stands the unemployed can get compensation for 99 weeks. Senator Debbie Stabenow has introduced a bill that would extend benefits for another 20 weeks, but to what purpose? Many people simply choose to live off unemployment until a few weeks before it runs out before they bestir themselves to look for work. Giving them another 20 weeks of leisure seems rather counterproductive and unfair to taxpayers:
After explaining the plight of the 99ers [a group of people whose 99 weeks of unemployment compensation are soon up] and showing footage of a recent 99er demonstration on Wall Street, Beck offered the unemployed workers his two cents.

"Don't spend your remaining money on travel to get to a protest," he said. "Go out and get a job. You may not want the job. Work at McDonald's. Work two jobs. There has been plenty of times in my life I've done jobs I hated, but I had no choice. Two years is plenty of time to have lived off your neighbor's wallet."

"How many weeks of unemployment are enough? Really," Beck asked. "If 99 weeks is not enough, how much is? 100, 200? A lifetime? Or is a job a right?"
Here's the video footage from the segment:

No doubt there are people who struggle assiduously to find work but can't and who deserve some help. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the responsible thing to do is to provide assistance only to those who are really trying to help themselves. To simply dole out cash without monitoring the effort made by the recipients isn't charitable, it's foolish. Beck is right. Two years is more than long enough for those who refuse the jobs available to them or who decline to even look for work.