Andrew Taylor

Well written editorials from a UH student

Archive for June 2009

Big Oil, Big Opportunities, Giant decisions

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In a few weeks, Iraqi officials will begin a plan to auction off their oil contracts to foreign oil giants.

The plan would give oil giants the chance to bid on contracts of voluminous amounts of oil. It is designed to rejuvenate Iraq’s economy and substantially boost oil production in the abundantly rich region.

In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, Gina Chon noted the probable reaction from the oil giants.

“Despite security risks, Western oil companies are clamoring to get in,” Chon said. “Iraq is still relatively unexplored, offering big companies a potentially easy-to-tap source of growth.”

Fierce bidding among oil giants should create an interesting competition. Interested companies who are permitted to bid include Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Available reserves are believed to be more than 40 billion barrels.

The possibility of striking these deals has great potential to lower fuel prices, but leaves concern for whether oil giants will throw green energy plans to the wayside to fund this operation. Iraqi oil officials already plan to set up contracts containing requirements of substantial capital investments up front.

Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani explained some of the stipulations to these deals.

“Some of the terms are particularly beneficial to Iraq; winners of the auction must fork over millions of dollars of cash in up front loans to the government,” Shahristani said.

Required investments will be more than pocket change to oil giants, especially in consideration of market conditions, taxes and obligation to the government for alternative energy research. Despite plans created by the Obama administration, oil giants have done little to go green or meet their goals.

Shell is behind the curve in alternative energy research and green developments. In an article published April 7 in The New York Times, Jad Mouawad wrote about the lack of effort from the oil giant.

“Royal Dutch Shell said last month that it would freeze its research and investments in wind, solar and hydrogen power, and focus its alternative energy efforts on biofuels,” Mouawad said.

Shell not only planned to freeze its research, but also was selling what green measures they had already taken.

“The company had already sold much of its solar business and pulled out of a project last year to build the largest offshore wind farm, near London,” Mouawad said.

The winning bidder is still unsure, but regardless, our country will benefit in the long run from continued research and new technology. We only prolong our dilemma by buying time — or more oil in this case.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

Written by aktaylor

June 26, 2009 at 5:27 am

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Toxic Talk Needs To Be Trashed

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Startling messages evoking fear, hate and ignorance constantly plague our society. Some Americans welcome people who harness the latter two. Politicians and television show hosts who confuse themselves with news anchors repeat these views and only serve to advance them.

In 2005, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor shifted his own hate campaign into top gear, referring to Dr. George Tiller, a family physician who performed late-term abortions, as a “monstrous killer.”

In “The Obama Haters’ Silent Enablers,” published June 13 in The New York Times, Frank Rich reports on O’Reilly’s nefarious comments: “The network’s highest-rated star, Bill O’Reilly, had assailed Tiller, calling him ‘Tiller the baby killer’ and likening him to the Nazis on 29 of his shows before the doctor was murdered at his church in Kansas.”

O’Reilly recently responded to such comments as ordinary liberal hate. He claims the far left is “exploiting” the killing of Dr. Tiller and “hating Fox News is the real agenda.”

O’Reilly is only proving people might have a real reason to hate Fox News. If anything should invoke hate, it’s the lies and fear-mongering Fox News is all too responsible for. The burden is not just on Fox however; it also falls heavily on conservatives who do not speak out and urge party members to condemn this insanity.

The conservative right has left itself tarnished and few Republican leaders seem to have the integrity to speak out. Much of this was reheated and stirred in the 2008 presidential elections. McCain and Palin led the way, originally accusing Obama of “palling around with terrorists,” further fueling the fire.

It is important to note that not all conservative commentators and politicians spew toxic garbage, but those few are the minority.

At a recent National Republican Congressional committee fund raising dinner, actor Jon Voight addressed a crowd of Republicans, including Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. Voight received applause and widespread cheers when he said, “We need to bring an end to this false prophet Obama.”

Some have harbored hate and contempt for the election results, taking any chance they get to ridicule our president, encourage fear and criticize. We as Americans have become more divided as a nation because of it. This is truly toxic behavior and cannot be allowed to continue.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

Written by aktaylor

June 17, 2009 at 3:03 am

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Just When Chrysler Needs a Supreme Court Sebring

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On June 8, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ordered a hold on the sale of Chrysler’s assets to Fiat. The company’s debt holders are seeking a full review by all nine members of the Supreme Court in fear that a sale could cause severe losses to the worth and life of their pensions. The stay that was ordered by Justice Ginsburg has struck fear in some about whether the deal will go through at all.

But Italian automotive company Fiat is not worried. Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne expressed his patience and desire to acquire the suffering automotive conglomerate. In a telephone interview moments after the Supreme Court ordered the stay, Marchionne said that Fiat would “never walk away” from a deal to acquire Chrysler.

The stay ordered by Justice Ginsburg was a minute victory for the debt holders, but the final sale of Chrysler is still expected to occur in the next few days. Chrysler is recording daily losses of $100 million. The value of the pensions held by Indiana State Police Pension Trust is worth $42.5 million according to court documents.

Chrysler has said the sale is necessary to fight the massive job losses of its employees and part suppliers as well. The company has reported the sale would save 38,500 jobs from its payroll alone.

Although the pension fund holders have a right to be worried about their assets, the life of the Chrysler sale is important. The added debt of the pension holders could be painful to the sale, possibly even killing it.

Although Fiat remains interested every day Chrysler sits in bankruptcy is more painful than last. Chrysler’s losses dwarf the pension holders’ in comparison.

The other option would be the total liquidation of Chrysler’s assets. The liquidation might change the reality of Fiat purchasing Chrysler, despite what its CEO said to reporters.
Chrysler and its debt holders are now stuck in an intense tug-of-war, with the loser surely to be left disappointed and enraged.

“If the closing of the deal is delayed by more than 10 days, it will cost the government another $1 billion of federal funds to staunch the company’s losses, forcing the Treasury to either advance more money, or abandon its role in the transaction,” Solicitor General Elena Kagan said.

Those $1 billion comes from the taxpayers and lessens the significance of the pensions owed to the officers in Indiana. Bankruptcies of this scale are bound to hurt someone.

Minimizing the pain should be the goal.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

Written by aktaylor

June 13, 2009 at 3:25 am

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The Need For Speed: General Motors

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Monday morning, one of the world’s largest automakers filed for bankruptcy. General Motors has been experiencing slumping sales, major fiscal conundrums, and losing a technology race with its import rivals since the ’80s. The company didn’t do all its homework and is now out of the game.

GM is filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to liquidate bad debt and reorganize assets. When a household goes bankrupt, a person informs their bank and the people to whom they owe money that they cannot pay. Then painful consequences of bankruptcy set in.

For a household, this could be repossession of property or permanent hits to a person’s credit among other consequences. For GM, this will cause even more layoffs, factory and dealership closings, and the death of four car brands. For now those casualties are Hummer, Pontiac, Saab, and Saturn.

None of this is new. The economic hits will only continue to hit harder, and likely last well into 2010.

GM is hoping for a speedy recovery. Some analysts have doubts as to whether that will happen at all.

“It looks more like business as usual than real cost cutting,” analyst Richard Tilton said in an article published in CNN Money. “GM will still find itself in a difficult competitive position in a very weak market for auto sales overall, neither of which point to long-term success.”

Despite how much debt GM may shed, the company cannot earn revenue or profit if it is not selling cars.

When a company is in debt and struggling at dangerous strengths, it has no choice but to act as a strict cost reducer. For GM, this could mean cutting corners and bargaining for parts and labor that may not meet the quality needed to rebuild.

Many argue tactics like this got GM into its bad situation in the first place. The lack of detail and quality has finally caught up, but now it’s too late.

In an article published in The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn predicted all this before bankruptcy seemed so imminent.

“If anything, Chapter 11 might reinforce some of Detroit’s worst habits — starting with its tendency to seek the lowest prices from parts suppliers, even if that means switching companies frequently and paying relatively little attention to part quality,” Cohn said.

How the bankruptcy will play out is unknown. With the economy still suffering as a whole, the recovery process for General Motors will not be easy, and most likely not speedy either.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

Written by aktaylor

June 5, 2009 at 4:17 am

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Fresh Vegetables and Foods, not Freshman Fifteen

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The first year of college is known for many things. Perhaps the most talked about is the freshman fifteen. The weight-gain some students experience is the product of life transition.

As students all over the country leave home and relocate or just spend less time in their paternal domicile, nutrition sometimes falls by the wayside.

Whether it is lack of effort or skill in cooking meals or just the preference of buying prepared foods, students gain weight quickly as they focus on their first year of college. Many students experience a transition from home cooked meals to fending for themselves.

This situation results in fast food, irregular eating habits, imbalanced diets, poor nutrition, and of course, weight-gain.

Luckily, UH has opportunities to help beat the customary freshman weight-gain directly and indirectly. Our campus recreation center is impressive and has many things to offer for students who are health conscious or just looking to stay fit.

The Campus Recreation and Wellness Center (CRWC) has a full list of classes free of charge. Students only need to show their Cougar 1Card to access them. Classes range from kickboxing to indoor cycling, and water aerobics to Latin dance classes. Some of these classes have beginner and advanced levels and run Monday through Saturday.
If classes are not a student’s style, the CRWC also has a gym and indoor track beyond comparison to any private-membership gym. The hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Friday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday noon to 11:30 p.m. A student could easily exhaust his or her energy reserve with the numerous activities and exercises available.

UH’s indoor rock wall is a unique and fantastic way to burn calories and stay fit. The wall’s hours of operation are 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays, and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The wall is free of charge and climbing gear is provided.

Aside from the myriad options for fantastic exercise, our campus is home to some healthy dining options as well. The UC is home to healthy options like AFC Sushi and Subway as well as a few other healthy eateries.

The UC Satellite has a Smoothie King and Montague Deli, along with other establishments such as Kim Son and Cranberry Farms.

Just about every major building on campus has some form of healthy and delicious food. Granted, while any of the above eateries can cook up something healthy, they can just as easily cook up something to pack on pounds.

The battle of staying healthy and happy during the freshman year is a battle that requires more effort on the part of the student than any other factor. The ingredients to a healthy diet and active lifestyle couldn’t be more abundant. All it takes is that first step, and a little self-control.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com.

Written by aktaylor

June 3, 2009 at 3:13 am

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