Opinion: Kentucky tax breaks for Ark park with cuts in education a bad idea

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

In one of the most spectacularly mis-prioritized state budgets in recent memory, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D), is suggesting over $50 million in cuts to education – while preserving $43 million in tax breaks for the Ark Encounter, a creationist amusement park centered around a life-sized Noah’s Ark. The park is sponsored by Answers In Genesis, a non-profit organization that promotes a “literalist” interpretation of the Book of Genesis while promoting an anti-evolution (and other sciences) agenda.

Read more from Forbes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 8:35 PM

The actual low end number is 500 to 1,400 temporary jobs, most of which aren't even in the US. You can read the Cornell University Global Labor Institute report here.

500 people are going to build a 1500 mile pipeline?? That's the entirety of the job impact according to Cornell?? (Actually, I can't find in the article where it says that, I see much larger numbers.)

Wow.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 2:15 AM

The 500 number factors in anticipated job losses caused by the project. Total gained - total lost = Total

Jeff said:
Workers' rights and unions alone give us no chance to be competitive.

But where do we draw the line? Do we allow corporations to essentially use people as slaves (like what goes on in China) just because it's good for business? The rhetoric coming from the political right seems to say yes (and then it says to let them die in the streets because they don't have any money to support themselves despite working "36 hour days.")

Jeff said:

The average shop isn't sponsoring H1B's because it's cheaper to ship someone in from India (the opposite is actually true), they're doing it because there aren't enough corn-fed farm boys to fill the jobs.

Toledo and Chicago must be exceptionally crappy hellholes then, because I know plenty of well-qualified programmers in both cities who are out of work because their jobs went to India, rather than someone from India coming here. Moving could be an option, except their spouses have halfway decent jobs that they likely wouldn't get back after a move, so there's really no net gain for them.

Aamilj said:
In the case of the auto industry their demands went so far that those of us who have NOTHING to do with building cars had to bail their asses out.

I had nothing to do with irresponsible Wall Street speculation and derivatives, but I had to bail them out, and with much fewer strings attached than the auto-industry's bailout had. The difference is the banks are still being dangerously irresponsible, while the car makers have largely turned around.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 8:06 AM
kpjb's avatar

Yeah, I really don't see blaming unions. Seems like a righty copout.

If it was union wages driving business away, then companies would simply move to southern states where the unions aren't prevalent or strong. Instead they're moving to China where the average manufacturing worker makes less than $2/hour.

You can't compete with $2/hour. Union or not.


Hi

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 8:16 AM

Foreign badged automakers have built plants in southern states over the past 20 years.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 8:20 AM

That 20,000 added jobs estimate comes to us from Transcanada (more specifically, a consulting firm hired by Transcanada), the company behind the project. So I would be wary of the estimate's validity. In addition, that estimate is not the "low end number". The actual low end number is 500 to 1,400 temporary jobs, most of which aren't even in the US. You can read the .

The claim is clearly "added jobs."

The study quoted above admits there is much guessing about its numbers, and I still don't see where it says 500-1400. Also, the Cornell report is clearly written from a viewpoint that opposes the pipeline, so why do they get any more respect than the companies estimate?

All I know is that if Obama had promoted this thing, it "will create or save 16 bajillion jobs" at least!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 8:53 AM

The reason I pointed out the other estimates is because the "this will add 20,000 jobs" estimate was misleadingly touted incorrectly as the low end of estimates. Clearly, that is not the case.

Lankster said:
The study quoted above admits there is much guessing about its numbers...

All of the KXL reports - even the one from Transcanada itself - are educated guesses.

...and I still don't see where it says 500-1400.

Page 8:

Based on data provided by TransCanada to the State Department, only between 506 and 1,387 workers would be hired locally.

Admittedly, I'm not quite clear on what "local" means. That could mean local to the pipeline, or US jobs.

Also, the Cornell report is clearly written from a viewpoint that opposes the pipeline, so why do they get any more respect than the companies estimate?

Taken at face value, the reports are of equal validity.

Personally however, I put less weight behind a project impact report commissioned by the company that stands to profit from the project. This wouldn't be the first (or the last) time a report was biased toward the most optimum possible assumptions. Put simply, Transcanada, and by extension, the consulting firm they hired, has a dog in this fight. Does Cornell?

All I know is that if Obama had promoted this thing, it "will create or save 16 bajillion jobs" at least!

You spelled "any politician" incorrectly (also, no need to capitalize it). ;)


Brandon | Facebook

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:25 AM

It's clear to me whoever wrote that Cornell "study" is against the pipeline and does have a dog in the fight.

Why would they put in this line, about even if the upper # of jobs are created ..." the US unemployment would remain
where it is today..."? Do they not realize this applies to pretty much *every* project that creates jobs? Should we therefore do none of them?

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:36 AM

They point out the unemployment numbers because proponents of KXL point out job creation as being among the primary benefits of the project. I don't see how referencing a proponent's point of view is necessarily indicative of having a dog in the fight. It's merely a response to the study funded by Transcanada.

Are you basing your assertion on Cornell being biased on anything concrete (as could be argued in the case of the Transcanada-funded study)?


Brandon | Facebook

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:46 AM
Jeff's avatar

CP Chris said:
Toledo and Chicago must be exceptionally crappy hellholes then, because I know plenty of well-qualified programmers in both cities who are out of work because their jobs went to India, rather than someone from India coming here.

I didn't say that jobs don't get off-shored... there is a certain class of work (usually grunt work) that is better served off-shore. I'm talking about hiring would-be immigrants domestically. When I was at Microsoft, I was the exception, not having an accent.

As for Chicago, I have a really hard time believing there isn't work there. I get recruiter calls from there all of the time, and I'm not even in that market.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:48 AM

But their claim is that "even if the upper # of jobs is created it won't have an affect on the overall unemployment rate." This is just a trueism--it takes a *huge* number of jobs to affect the rate. (Take the other side--this project will only lose 80,000 jobs, it won't have any affect on the unemployment rate! What's the problem?) Did proponents claim it would drop the rate? If this is "merely a response" they must have?

Who's funding the Cornell people?

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:55 AM

The assertion by proponents of KXL is that the project would create a large number of jobs. The response of the Cornell report is that even if we assume the most rosy assumptions as accurate, the number of jobs created isn't very significant. As such, touting job creation as the primary benefit isn't necessarily a significant incentive.

Lankster said:
Who's funding the Cornell people?

As the one asserting that the Cornell report is biased, I think the burden to demonstrate that bias falls on you.

Last edited by djDaemon, Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:55 AM

Brandon | Facebook

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:13 AM

The response of the Cornell report is that even if we assume the most rosy assumptions as accurate, the number of jobs created isn't very significant.

Again, just because it doesn't affect the unemployment rate doesn't mean it isn't significant--no project meets that standard!

So, either the authors of that report knew they were requiring an impossibly high standard that no project meets (they were biased against the project), or they were too stupid to realize they were argueing against a trueism.

Take your pick, I have no use for the "study."

You have claimed the Cornell study to more believable based on who funded the other study--why are you not interested in who funded both?

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:24 AM

Lankster said:
...no project meets that standard!

Which is why I think the Cornell study makes the point. Sure, the project may create jobs, but it's important to be realistic about what impact that job creation would have.

You have claimed the Cornell study to more believable based on who funded the other study--why are you not interested in who funded both?

I am interested in who funded the Cornell study, just not enough to do the legwork. From my perspective, it doesn't matter.

In a worst-case scenario (in terms of being unbiased), the Cornell study could be funded entirely by Transcanada's biggest competitor, and it would still have as much validity as the one funded by Transcanada itself. In other words, the project would be just as likely to generate 500 jobs as it is to generate 20,000. Again, this is working under the assumption that the Cornell study is as potentially biased as the study funded by Transcanada.

Are you suggesting that the mere fact that you don't know who funded the Cornell study is enough for you to discount it? If that's the case, I'd hope you feel similarly about the Transcanada-funded study, seeing as how it's quite obvious who funded that one.


Brandon | Facebook

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:41 AM

Which is why I think the Cornell study makes the point.

What point? That it takes far more jobs to affect the unemployment rate than any single project can provide? Where would I be if I didn't have this group to share that wisdom?

It's only a point if the proponents' report claimed otherwise (I doubt they did), otherwise it's a silly fact of life that has no bearing on anything! No different that saying "This silly little 3000 megawatt coal plant by itself can't affect the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, so you who oppose it are silly."

Are you suggesting that the mere fact that you don't know who funded the Cornell study is enough for you to discount it?

?? I've shown you a problem with the "study." I've more than suggested that this "problem" means they are either biased or stupid!

Meanwhile, you're only reason to discount the proponents study is what?

Here's some of the groups aligned with that Cornell group:

http://junkscience.com/2011/12/13/nytimes-keystone-xl-opponents-are-independent/

In other words, the project would be just as likely to generate 500 jobs as it is to generate 20,000.

You really believe that? A 1500 mile pipeline?

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 11:15 AM

Lankster said:
Meanwhile, you're only reason to discount the proponents study is what?

That the study is funded by the very company who stands to profit if the project is approved. I'm not sure if there's a more obvious case of probable bias imaginable. This isn't to say the Transcanada study is absolutely, positively biased, but I think it would be silly to not have suspicions.

If McDonald's funded and published a study claiming their chickens are the happiest, most humanely-treated chickens in the World, would you believe it without reservation? I certainly hope not.

Here's some of the groups aligned with that Cornell group:

Of the 29 groups listed as sponsors by Cornell, only some immediately jump out as being potentially biased. I'll be generous and say 75% are likely biased against KXL (which, based only on a cursory glance at the list, I don't think is accurate). That's still better than the 100% that are potentially biased in the Transcanada report.

You really believe that? A 1500 mile pipeline?

I don't have a wholly-informed opinion on the matter, as I don't know enough about the project's intricacies. I get the impression you have a much stronger, pro-KXL opinion that is based on, at best, the same amount of data. Though it does seem that your opinion was solidified before having as much data as you do now.

Where would I be if I didn't have this group to share that wisdom?

You'd be believing, without question, the economic impact claimed by the Transcanada-funded study, presumably.

?? I've shown you a problem with the "study." I've more than suggested that this "problem" means they are either biased or stupid!

I'm not claiming the Cornell study isn't biased. Rather, I don't see as much obvious potential for bias as seen with the opposing study.

Again, even if the Cornell study is completely funded by corporations or groups with a dog in this fight, their findings are no more or less relevant than the Transcanada-funded study. At least that's my assertion, and I don't feel that it's an unreasonable one.


Brandon | Facebook

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 11:47 AM

I get the impression you have a much stronger, pro-KXL opinion that is based on, at best, the same amount of data.

The fact that someone claims it is possible to build a 1500 mile pipeline with only 500 people fails the laugh test! I don't need any amount of data to laugh at that.

You'd be believing, without question, the economic impact claimed by the Transcanada-funded study, presumably.

Are you *really* claiming that "this project won't affect the unemployment rate" is a reason to oppose it?

Dude, the "wisdom" was a truism!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 11:54 AM

I had no idea I was involved in a discussion with an oil pipeline construction and labor expert. ;)

I made no such judgement regarding the pipeline. You're mistaking my questions regarding the Transcanada-funded study for assertions. The only one making proclamations on the project is you, based on what I think may be an incomplete understanding of the project. I'm not saying I understand it any better, but again, I'm not the one who's already made up his mind on the matter.


Brandon | Facebook

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:22 PM

Does it really take an expert to know that 500 people building a 1500 mile pipeline is insane? (Btw, that's pretty much my only assertion about the project!)

I've given you 2 substantive reasons to discount the Cornell study, and shown they're associated with a who's who of left-leaning groups that oppose the pipeline. Your only objection to the proponent study is that it's the proponents' study!

How about this: the proponents *know* their report is going to be examined closely so they have an incentive to be at least somewhat reasonable. The Cornell group has no such restriction because many people will automatically discard the proponent report and look to such "independent" groups like them? (Thus their ability to pass off truisms as "research")

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:36 PM

Sorry, but your uninformed opinion on the labor needs for this project does not, in any way, shape or form, qualify as "substantive".

As for your theory... Well, it's certainly... interesting. But you're going an awfully long way to justify your position regarding the studies' accuracy. I prefer to stick to far more reasonable assumptions.


Brandon | Facebook

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:48 PM

I'm not justifying anyone's accuracy--just pointing out that your propensity to discount out of hand proponent reports is going to have you opposing, well, pretty much everything!

Sorry, but your uninformed opinion on the labor needs for this project does not, in any way, shape or form, qualify as "substantive".

Dude, unless you are willing to state there is a possibility that 500 people can indeed build a 1500 mile pipeline, the above is just rhetoric.

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