Blue Collar Workers Feel the Pain

The U.S. is in a lot of pain.  The unemployment rate has been at least 8% for the last three years, yet, when a true jobs stimulus comes up, the government decides to turn it down.  Yep, I’m talking about the Keystone pipeline project.

The pipeline would extend from Alberta, Canada to Texas. It would stretch for 1,661 miles and pump 700,000 barrels of crude oil.  The project is projected to generate 138,000 jobs.  According to TransCanada, the project would “put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline – pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians… in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs… local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local goods and service providers.”  That’s why labor unions supported the program.

According to Politico, several labor officials endorsed the program because it would create jobs. One U.S. Labor official said, “’People are pissed…the emotions are really, really raw right now. This is a big deal.’” Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, also agrees. “’It’s repulsive, it’s disgusting and we’re not going to stand idly by,’” said O’Sullivan. And why would they?  The Keystone pipeline would be strongly beneficial to many in the blue collar sector.  President Obama rejected the energy plan.  The President chose environmentalist interests (and some may say Warren Buffett) over the interest of the unemployed.  The administration “postponed a pipeline decision in November, saying a new route was needed to avoid the Nebraska Sand Hills, which sit atop an aquifer that supplies fresh water.”  In fact, the pipeline project will not come up until well after the election.  David Golwyn, a former State Department official said that the reapplication process would last “a minimum of 18 months to two years.” Well, that’s convenient. Delay the project until the 2012 election concludes so that Obama can get big bucks from his own base. This is politics as usual.

But this isn’t stopping environmentalists from celebrating. Michael Brune, Sierra Club’s executive director, calls it a “huge victory.” He believes that this kind of issue will energize the Democratic base. Brune said, “we’re confident that the Sierra Club volunteers who were working and volunteering countless hours in 2008 will feel the same way.”

With all due respect to Brune, this isn’t about politics.  Government’s role is not to fire up their own constituencies but to get things done.  People need jobs.  That’s a universal thought.  Blue collar workers get it.

Brune isn’t the only one who celebrated. Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, also celebrated. Beinecke noted, “the pipeline was rejected for all the right reasons.  President Obama put the health and safety of the American people and our air, lands and water—our national interest—above the interests of the oil industry.” But Beinecke is completely wrong. The pipeline project was rejected for all the wrong reasons.  Keystone is not about the oil industry’s interests.  Profit is good and companies should make money.  When companies make money, the industry grows.  That means jobs.  The main beneficiaries of Keystone would be the unemployed, not just big oil.

It’s clear that Obama messed this one up.  He divided the Democratic base by opposing Keystone.  When has this President put America first?  As cliché as that may sound, that’s the problem with his presidency.  Mr. President, it’s time to pick America over political interests and start pleasing all of America with common sense solutions on job growth.  When it came to the healthcare bill, insurance companies were the only beneficiaries. When it came to bailouts, only the big banks were kept afloat.  But what about the average American?  The average Americans are the ones living paycheck to paycheck.

My dad works at Independence Tube Corporation. He’s a blue collar worker who starts work at 2pm and comes home at midnight or later.  The State of Illinois increased taxes last year by 66%. That’s the kind of “stimulus” people like my dad get.

What does this have to do with Keystone, you may ask?  It’s simple; no one stands up for my dad.  He’s the little guy.  No one cares about the little guy.  Projects like Keystone help little guys find a job. This isn’t about politics, the environment, or labor unions. It’s basics. This project creates thousands of jobs.

Washington, stop it with the special interests. People need help.

Alex Uzarowicz :: Knox College :: Galesburg, Illinois :: @AUzarowicz

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One Response

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  1. Scott
    Feb 17, 2012 - 04:04 PM

    Again I ask the same questions that no one seems to consider. Why not build a refinery in North Dakota? It’s close to their oil as well as ours. It would create a lot of jobs and help to ensure that the oil stays in America and not being shipped over seas. Also not mentioned is how is a private company going to use eminent domain to force the people off their land? I doubt there is a strip of government land that leads from Canada to Texas.

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