"He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."
Matthew 25:33

Friday, April 29, 2011

Oil Company Profits

How much do the industry fat cats get?

WASHINGTON, September 19, 2007 – Who owns ‘Big Oil?’ It’s not who you think. As Congress debates national energy policy, a new study finds that ownership of oil and natural gas company shares is made up of a broad cross section of Americans.

“This study disproves the popular misconception that ‘Big Oil’ is owned by a small group of industry insiders. In reality, across the oil and natural gas industry only 1.5 percent of shares of public companies are owned by company executives,” said study author Robert J. Shapiro, undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs under President Bill Clinton. “The data show that ownership of industry shares is broadly middle class, with the majority of industry shares held by institutional investors, often on behalf of millions of Americans through mutual funds, pension funds and individual retirement accounts.”

API Chief Economist John Felmy added: “When politicians seek to punish these companies and ‘take their profits,’ they are not targeting industry executives but the hard-earned savings of working people.”

Shapiro and economist Nam D. Pham’s study was commissioned by API. The study shows that:

1. Almost 43 percent of oil and natural gas company shares are owned by mutual funds and asset management companies that have mutual funds. Mutual funds manage accounts for 55 million U.S. households with a median income of $68,700.

2. Twenty seven percent of shares are owned by other institutional investors like pension funds. In 2004, more than 2,600 pension funds run by federal, state and local governments held almost $64 billion in shares of U.S. oil and natural gas companies. These funds represent the major retirement security for the nation’s current and retired soldiers, teachers, and police and fire personnel at every level of government.

3. Fourteen percent of shares are held in IRA and other personal retirement accounts. Forty five million U.S. households have IRA and other personal retirement accounts, with an average account value of just over $22,000.

For a complete text of the study, more information on the authors and an audio podcast of an interview with Robert Shapiro and John Felmy visit www.energytomorrow.org or www.sonecon.com.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Always room in the budget for white guilt

Teachers are headed for a conference that brims with fashionable grievances.

Katherine Kersten
April 10, 2011

These are tough times for Minnesota schools. In Lakeville, for example, the school board recently announced wrenching cuts of almost $7 million.

Ninety-four teachers will lose their jobs, arts programs will suffer and a school will be closed. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth, but the board set its jaw: There's not a dime for anything extra.

Unless you've got an ax to grind with white folks. Then the money spigots open.

The Lakeville schools are sending a delegation of teachers to the 12th annual "White Privilege Conference" at the Bloomington Sheraton from April 13-16. The district is shelling out $160 a pop -- plus $125 a day for teacher subs -- for this "white guilt" festival.

Organizers say they expect attendees from a number of other Minnesota districts.

The conference is "built on the premise that the U.S. was started by white people, for white people," according to conference materials.

Its mission is to get participants to confront their biases in a "journey in understanding white supremacy, whiteness, privilege, power and oppression," and to "agree to take action in [their] own circle of power."

The conference is sponsored by the Minnesota Justice Collaborative, a consortium of local higher-education and philanthropic institutions.

It is expected to draw 1,500 teachers, students, activists, artists, social workers and counselors from more than 40 states. Minnesota public schools are represented on the list of speakers and workshop presenters.

What can Lakeville parents and taxpayers expect for their investment?

To find out, we can peruse the keynote address for the 2009 conference. It was delivered by "social justice educator" Paul Kivel and appeared in the conference journal, "Understanding and Dismantling Privilege."

Kivel begins with what passes these days as a prayer: "I want to acknowledge the creative spirits in the world that nurture and sustain us and that connect us to each other and to the plant and animal life around us."

Then he winds up for a fire-and-brimstone sermon. We Americans "are completely dependent on U.S. imperialism and war to sustain our daily lives."

Our schools, too, are riddled with racial bias. "Our school system has been set up ... to perpetuate white supremacy and white privilege." Poor and minority students "do not drop out -- they are pushed out."

What's gone wrong? For one thing, Christianity has far too much influence.

It "has played a key role in developing and justifying sources of oppression" such as "violence and genocide," Kivel tells us, and is "the beginning of modern or biological racism."

But don't despair, he counsels.

We must look beyond our "declining empire" to "exciting progressive developments" in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela -- among them, "land reform and redistribution of wealth, neighborhood committees, recognition of women's unpaid labor, end of spanking."

I feel better already.

At this year's conference, participants can look forward to a tongue-lashing from Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of "Outlaw Woman."

"Clamor" magazine describes Dunbar-Ortiz as "a fiery, indefatigable public speaker" on issues of capitalism and imperialism who cut her teeth in Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade, then built "associations with other revolutionaries across the spectrum of radical and underground politics."

In addition to drinking in Dunbar-Ortiz's wisdom, Lakeville teachers will have countless opportunities for navel-gazing or self-flagellation. They can sample workshops where participants will "discuss how white privilege, white supremacy, and oppression affects daily life."

Every grievance get its due, with topics including not just skin color but sexuality, gender, class and disability.

Teachers also can seek counsel from Ruth King, "a recognized authority on emotional wisdom and the author of the groundbreaking book 'Healing Rage and the Emotional Wisdom Cards'" -- or relax with Victor Lee Lewis of the Radical Resilience Institute, who will instruct them how to "rapidly release and overcome stress, trauma, drama and toxic beliefs."

Whom should we thank for this rich smorgasbord of white guilt? Sponsors include the University of Minnesota, MnSCU, the St. Paul Foundation, Hamline University, Gustavus Adolphus College, the YWCA of Minneapolis and Augsburg College, among others.

"This conference is on the radar of conservatives because it threatens the status quo, because we're not just talking about individual change, we're talking about systems change," University of Minnesota professor Lisa Albrecht, a local organizer, told MinnPost last fall.

The website reported: "There's always the possibility that the 'haters,' as one of the organizers puts it, will descend in mass and try to disrupt peaceful discussions about the advantages of being white in America and the oppression that has led to."

Not a chance. We're laughing too hard.

Katherine Kersten is an American Experiment Senior Fellow. She is at kakersten@gmail.com.
This commentary originally appeared in the Star Tribune on April 10, 2011.
Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

White Privilege Conference?

Sent to me by a friend,

April 13th marks the beginning of the 12th Annual White Privilege Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota.

This event is being sponsored by such left wing institutions as the St. Paul Foundation, the University of Minnesota's Office for Equity and Diversity, and the Minneapolis YWCA.

The White Privilege Conference offers three days of liberal indoctrination on "white guilt" and "social justice." This is the same old propaganda that says White Men are responsible for all the poverty and injustice in the world, and the only solution is more laws and welfare programs.

Here are some examples of "White Privilege" from their website: http://www.whiteprivilegeconference.com/white_privilege.html

'White people can go out in public without fear of being harassed or constantly worried about physical safety'

Reality check: According to the National Crime Victimization Survey for 2001-2003 Blacks were 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against Whites than vice versa. Blacks were also 2.25 times more likely to commit a hate crime against Whites or Hispanics than vice versa.

'Being able to assume that if you work hard and follow the rules, you will get what you deserve'

Reality check: generous social welfare benefits such as food stamps, section 8 housing, and school lunch programs are available to poor and minorities. Meanwhile, for working Americans the more they earn the more they have to pay in taxes to support such programs.

'Being able to assume that most of the people you or your children study in history classes and textbooks will be of the same race, gender, or sexual orientation as you are.'

Reality check: Millions of dollars are spent in public schools to raise awareness and teach children about figures such as Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B DuBois. Martin Luther King Jr. is the only American to have his own holiday and the entire month of February is dedicated to Black History. The above claim is simply a part of the liberal agenda to remove "Old White Men" such as the Founding Fathers from American schools and abandon traditional values.

Dear Friends it is time to show the liberal left, that us hardworking Americans are not feeling the "privilege."

On April 13th-16th, 20011. Wednesday thru Saturday, 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Please join us to protest their event: Minneapolis Sheraton Hotel
7800 Nomandale Blvd.
Minneapolis, MN 55439
(952) 835-7800
MAP http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/area/map.html?propertyID=1493

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Earlier this past week, virtually all of our local weathermen were forecasting lots of rain and even the potential for quite a bit of wet snow by this Sunday night and into Monday morning. Watching the 10 p.m. news last night (less than 5 days after the gloomy forecast), they are now saying, whoops – never mind, it looks like this system will be far to our north. I have a friend who often says that he wishes he had a job where he could be so wrong, so often and still get paid so much!

What does this have to do with a legislative update? Let me explain:

Our state government hires an economist to do what weathermen do, create long range forecasts to determine the amount of revenue we will (could, might?), bring in over the next two years. Politicians then create spending plans based on that forecast. Unfortunately, our economic forecasts have proven to be as reliable as our weather forecasts.

As an example, our economic forecast for revenue in the 2010-2011 biennium fell approximately $2 billion dollars short of what was desired, forcing Gov. Pawlenty and (eventually) the legislature to implement a series of immediate budget cuts (unallotments), and budget shifts (paying June’s bills in July), to meet the constitutional requirement for a balanced budget. Again, in November 2010, our economist predicted a revenue amount of approximately $32 billion dollars for the 2012-2013 biennium. By February 2011, that forecast had grown to $34 billion dollars, a huge difference in less than four months. Large swings have become the rule, not the exception.

Here is where things currently stand at the Capitol: Both the House and Senate have passed budget bills that spend every penny that the state is forecasted to have over the next two years. The Governor trumps that by about $3 billion more; spending every forecasted penny AND proposing a number of tax increases which will hit the pocketbooks of every single Minnesotan. Unfortunately, if our economist’s forecast follows recent trends and are far rosier than what actually happens, two years from now we’ll be seeing exactly what we are seeing today in terms of huge deficits. This will be true under either plan and under a plan which will ultimately be the compromise solution.

There is a more sane and rationale way. A number of us legislators are pushing for a change in how we develop budgets by basing revenue not on forecasts, but on what was actually collected in the last biennium. For this biennium it would mean creating spending plans of approximately $30 billion dollars. Yes – the hue and cry would be tremendous as folks would surly say we are gutting the state of all that is good and wholesome, but to put it into perspective, this level of spending is approximately what the state spent in 2006-2007. Unfortunately, the number of legislators who espouse this philosophy is currently too small to carry the message of fiscal responsibility. Yet, it is our hope that clearer heads will prevail before the end of this budget setting process. If not, we will continue to fight for this fundamental change for the next budget setting cycle.

When weathermen make long term forecasts, we often create family plans that fit the forecast. When they are wrong, we shrug our shoulders, grumble a bit and then adjust our plans. However, when the state economist’s forecast falls short and government has spent every dollar based on a crystal ball prediction, people’s lives are greatly effected through either higher taxes on families and job providers or cuts in promised services to those most needy. We can and must do better!

God bless and please stay in touch,

Mark Buesgens
State Representative, 35B