Monday, September 26, 2011

Capital One replaces lost HSBC jobs

Governor Jack Markell’s office announced today that Capital One is bringing 500 jobs to Delaware. This comes as Capital One acquires both HSBC’s credit card business and ING Direct. While Markell, DEDO and the Democrat leadership in Delaware is hyping the news, a look at the actual numbers offers a sobering view of reality.

Jobs lost or planned to be lost:
Wilmington Trust (M&T Bank) – 700 jobs lost
HSBC – 500 jobs lost
AIG/MetLife – 150 jobs lost
CIGNA – 500 jobs planned to be lost in Delaware
Bank of America – 30,000 nationwide layoffs, potentially 3,000 in Delaware alone

Mass layoffs by month (these #’s do not reflect smaller layoffs):
Apr 2011 – 8,000 jobs lost
May 2011 – 5,000 jobs lost
Jun 2011 – 6,000 jobs lost
Jul 2011 – 3,000 jobs lost
Total 4 mths – 22,000 jobs lost

In just 4 months we have lost 44 times as many jobs as Capital One plans to add by the end of 2013 (more than 24 months away). Rich Heffron, VP of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce says we are “ahead” in the jobs race now. Really Rich? Really? With business leaders who add like this, is it a wonder we are so far BEHIND in job creation - DEDO & Markell release on Capital One jobs

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Broadband Expansion Plan That Works

Delaware is known as “The First State” for its role as the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. It could also be known as “The First State” for its position leading the country in access and adoption of broadband internet, with 100 percent of Delaware citizens having access to broadband from at least one provider (National Broadband Map).

Like all advances in communications technology, broadband Internet means faster, wider and cheaper access to information. For individuals this means being able to do research for school from the comfort of your home, and for businesses it can mean reaching new markets with products, tracking shipments and deliveries, and paying bills online. Whether for individuals or businesses, broadband access means being able to work more quickly and efficiently.

Any economist will tell you that with greater efficiency come greater profits, and greater profits means having the capital to grow and create jobs, which is exactly what we need in today’s slumping economy. Broadband access is the single most important investment businesses can make in order to increase revenues and create jobs. Unfortunately, many areas in the country lack any kind of broadband access and are unable to take advantage of its many benefits.
According to the Internet Innovation Alliance, many Americans in rural areas lack access to broadband Internet, or even any Internet at all. For businesses, this means being unable to compete in an ever increasingly global economy, and for individuals, it means starting at a disadvantage to those who have access. Currently in Washington there is a lot of debate about the best way to increase access to broadband through government programs and loans. But, clearly, a private market solution is preferable to an approach that once again taps the American taxpayer.  

A few months ago AT&T announced that it was seeking to merge with T-Mobile USA, a German-owned wireless company. In information provided to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), AT&T has committed to build out its promises to expand 4G broadband wireless network to cover more than 97 percent of the country if allowed to merge with T-Mobile. Additionally, AT&T has announced that with the merger, they would bring 5,000 outsourced call center jobs back to the U.S. as well as maintaining the 25,000 T-Mobile call center jobs here already.

With the benefits of the merger, coupled with the general benefits of broadband for the economy and jobs (10 Facts About Broadband and Jobs) it is hard to see why the Federal government has not already approved the merger and started getting Americans back to work.  The T-Mobile/AT&T merger sounds like common sense to me and Delaware could be a place where AT&T could put those 5,000 new American jobs.  We have the facilities and the infrastructure to facilitate that kind of work and we have people well versed in both technology and customer service.

As a candidate for the Delaware General Assembly, I’m calling on fellow candidates, my opponent, Rep. John Viola and current legislators to join me in supporting this private sector venture and to call on Congress to end its hostility towards business.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Solyndra should wake up Delaware

Delaware must learn a lesson from Solyndra that even Spain couldn’t teach us.  A study of Spain’s focus on “green jobs” found that for every “green job” created, it cost Spain more than 2.5 jobs.  The study also found that the “green jobs” plan in Spain added so much to the debt that it actually delayed their exit from the economic crisis.  Spain’s model of green job creation is the model that President Obama used to create his plan for a new green economy.  This is the model that Jack Markell has embraced here in Delaware.

Delaware is seeing the effects of this policy although the blame is being laid on the economy.  The truth is that “green jobs” and alternative energy are nothing more than limited alternatives to be added to the arsenal of energy alternatives for a nation.  Solyndra is a perfect example of a “green jobs” company that could not compete within the market place.  The Obama touted company brought in $1 Billion (including $535 million in taxpayer funds) from investors and employed 1100 workers (that’s just over $909,000 per job) yet the solar power manufacturer failed and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week.  The results of the Spanish policy show why this occurs in the alternative energy market.

The climate change and alternative energy supporters often clamor for more subsidies for their products and they complain about the massive payouts to fossil fuel companies.  The truth is that solar and wind each receives more than 50x the amount of subsidies as the coal industry does yet coal provides more than 43% of America’s power while alternatives muster just over 5% of our needs.  So we see that alternatives are far better funded than admitted and for far less output.  Where is the money going?  Well the answer is that not all of it is graft or misuse but some of it is.  Alternative energy, despite its lifespan to date, is still lacking some technological breakthroughs that would make it more viable.  These include finding a way to create a long term power storage plan and finding more effective ways to transport the energy to the places that need the power.  Offshore and onshore wind farms can generate massive amounts of energy but that energy is short term kinetic power that must be used right away or lost.  They are also built far away from the place where the power is needed and much of the energy is lost in the transmission of the energy.  So these logistical problems contribute to the trouble that alternative energy has with becoming a competing source of power.  Massive wind and solar farms must be constructed to provide even the most basic power needs in order to compensate for the unreliable and ineffective power generation.  Remember this, the wind is not always blowing nor the sun always shining and so even in places like Delaware, where we have a Renewable Portfolio Standard that mandates usage of a certain percentage of renewable energy, we also have 100% of that alternative power backed up by conventional sources (nuclear, coal, natural gas).  Sort of defeats the purpose and it greatly increases the cost.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Spanish study found subsidies “multiplied by five” in Spain between 2004 and 2010 while the companies charge 12x what it costs conventional energy to make the same power.  Government subsidies in the alternative energy field are direct payouts, not “tax breaks” as they are in conventional energy sectors.  You see, oil, gas and coal companies are allowed to write off the depreciation of equipment and land as the real value of those assets decreases (this is a standard deduction for any business from the local bakery to Exxon/Mobil) while Solyndra and Fisker receive checks from the government to subsidize the cost of their products.    These direct subsidies actually COST the American taxpayer while tax breaks simply allow the company to keep more of what they earned based on a loss of value in another area. 

A perfect example is Fisker.  When GM closed their Boxwood Road plant in Wilmington, Delaware leaders scrambled around for a replacement.  While companies like Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota expressed interest in the plant, Delaware’s alliance with the autoworker’s unions and the added costs scared them off but not Fisker.  Fisker is a 4 yr old auto company that only recently built and delivered the first of its all electric plug in vehicles.  The first thing that Fisker did is to design plans for a the plug in vehicle and the second was to begin begging the government for subsidies and look for places where they could get free room and board.  They found Delaware and our government was all too willing to accommodate them.  All told, Fisker has gotten more than $1 Billion in state, local and federal subsidies to build their cars.  Their first car, rumored a year ago to be set around $80,000 is priced from $96,850-$109,850 which makes it about as affordable as a home in the Greenville hills.  These will of course, be snapped up by environmentally conscious uber rich folks who can afford to have the charger installed at home and at their office but that won’t work for the average Joe which makes Fiskers plans to build an “affordable” version (rumors had it retailing around $40,000 last year but it’s more likely to be near $60,000) that Fisker plans to take over the car market with.  The problem, as noted by the folks at the Caesar Rodney Institute is that the numbers don’t quite add up for Fisker, especially in this economy.  Fisker is relying on their vehicle getting “98 miles to the gallon” to justify the cost of the car and the charging system (which we hope will be installed everywhere we park otherwise we might not make it home) and also hoping that you don’t notice the $1 Billion that you the taxpayer have already given them to build this car that they will now charge you a year’s salary to own.  The problem with that is that there are now DOZENS of high quality hybrids like the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the Prius and the Leaf at nearly half the cost who get similar mileage out of gas/electric engines.  That makes it unlikely that Fisker will own as much of the market as they expect to.  Hybrid sales average around 300,000 cars per year and Fisker plans to sell 100,000 of their electric cars in a year.  That means commanding 1/3 of the American hybrid market with a vehicle that is more than twice the cost of the hybrid sales leader, the Toyota Prius.

Any business owner can tell you, as a new company, expecting to compete with a well-known and well respected existing company right away is a fools folly.  This is especially true when your product is more expensive and less proven than the competitor.  Yet this is the “investment” that Obama/Markell’s “green energy” plan makes.  A company with no evidence that their product is viable in the long term or in the long run is given $1 Billion to produce it.  Meanwhile, conventional vehicles are being forced into higher costs to allow this new “investment” to compete.  The truth of the American car market is that fuel efficiency is important but American families are large and we enjoy comfort which means we like our vehicles larger than Europeans for instance.  The most recent list of top selling Ford vehicles did include the Fiesta but it also included the Explorer and the F-150.  Instead of driving these vehicles out of existence, we should be looking at ways to make them more efficient.

Delaware had a unique opportunity to lead in the auto market when Chrysler and GM closed their doors.  Both plants were setup to manufacture cars and SUV’s that Americans want to drive and both would have taken minimal effort to adjust for companies like Hyundai and Toyota to begin producing those vehicles with hybrid engines right here in Delaware.  It’s time for new leadership in Dover that will use common sense when confronted with these kinds of problems and that will look for ways to create jobs for Delawareans regardless of the effect on unions.  Delaware has turned away more jobs because we refuse to be a right to work state than we’ve lost due to the economic crisis.  This has to stop.  We need LEADERS in Dover who understand what the people want and need, not puppets who are beholden to special interest groups.  When I get to Dover, I’ll make sure that we get government out of the way so that businesses can thrive and create jobs.  Delaware deserves no less than that.

Reference: - Spanish government documents show that study of Spanish green jobs initiative was generous, damage to Spanish economy worse than previously thought. - energy sources - Fisker shenanigans - Fiskers numbers don’t add up

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11-2001 - Heroes Among Us

On September 11th 2001, hijackers cowardly took control of 4 planes along the eastern seaboard of the United States.  Two of them flew into the two World Trade Center towers in New York City, 1 was flown into the Pentagon and the 4th was crashed into the ground in Shanksville, PA.  2,977 people were killed and more than 6,000 were injured in the attacks including those of United Flight 93 who did NOT allow the hijackers on their plane to reach their destination (believed to be either the Capitol Building or the White House).  Todd Beamer’s words “Let’s Roll!” were felt and understood long before they were ever heard by most Americans. 

As the news reports came fast and furious over the airwaves, my fellow Marines and I stood in a state of shock.  How could they have hit us here…at home?  I remember that I was ordering parts for a tank engine rebuild when the initial reports came over the radio.  I thought it was a joke because the show I was listening to, Lex and Terry was that kind of show.  When the news broke in to cover it we knew it was for real.  It took less than two hours for the towers to fall and for us to really get a grip on what happened.  Almost immediately, every Marine looked at one another and you could hear the words of Todd Beamer without even knowing that he’d said them, the Marines were ready, “Let’s Roll”.

By 10:00AM there was a signup sheet for volunteers to deploy whenever and wherever we were needed.  My name was the 3rd on the list and within the next 20 mins every member of my unit had joined me.  We might have been mechanics and not war fighters but we were ready to do our part and put our lives on the line because we knew it was the right thing to do.  Some of those names on the list left in the weeks and months following for Afghanistan but the majority of those of us who were called upon from GSM Co., 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group left in December of 2002 and January of 2003 for Iraq.  

Some of those names never made it home.  They were my friends and my brothers.  I consider them casualties of 9-11 as I do all of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who gave their lives so that we could all be free.  I think every day, but especially on this day about my brothers and sisters in the police, fire and EMS fields, the first responders who run INTO the burning buildings as most of us run out of them and who stand in the line of fire to ensure that we don’t get hit.  Our military and our first responders are heroes to be sure but let us never, EVER forget that if it weren’t for 40 brave men and women who woke up on 9-11-2001 and get on an airplane, there would be another building destroyed.  40 men and women who understood that THEY had the opportunity to save thousands of lives and who made the decision to sacrifice their own to save the lives of countless others.  For me, Flight 93’s passenger list is a list of absolute heroes.  I will never forget, WE will never forget. 
Please visit the following link and give what you can to build a memorial honoring the passengers of Flight 93 for their heroism and sacrifice: