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JHan's Journal
JHan's Journal
January 25, 2017

For the poor souls who placed faith in Trump's promise that unlimited drilling would bring jobs:

Robots Are Taking Over Oil Rigs
by David Wethe, January 24, 2017

The robot on an oil drillship in the Gulf of Mexico made it easier for Mark Rodgers to do his job stringing together heavy, dirty pipes. It could also be a reason he’s not working there today.

The Iron Roughneck, made by National Oilwell Varco Inc., automates the repetitive and dangerous task of connecting hundreds of segments of drill pipe as they’re shoved through miles of ocean water and oil-bearing rock. The machine has also cut to two from three the need for roustabouts, estimates Rodgers, who took a job repairing appliances after being laid off from Transocean Ltd.

“I’d love to go back offshore,” he says. The odds are against him. As the global oil industry begins to climb out of a collapse that took 440,000 jobs, anywhere from a third to half may never come back. A combination of more efficient drilling rigs and increased automation is reducing the need for field hands. And therein lies a warning to U.S. President Donald Trump, who has predicted a flood of new energy-sector jobs under his watch.

Automation, of course, has revolutionized many industries, from auto manufacturing to food and clothing makers. Energy companies, which rely on large, complex equipment for drilling and maintaining oil wells, are particularly well-positioned to benefit, says Dennis Yang, chief executive officer of Udemy, a company in San Francisco that trains workers whose careers were derailed by advanced machinery.

“It used to be you had a toolbox full of wrenches and tubing benders,” says Donald McLain, chairman of the industrial-programs department at Victoria College in south Texas. “Now your main tool is a laptop.” McLain, who worked as a rig hand for 25 years, is helping to retrain laid-off oil workers for more technical jobs.


Automation-related jobs for software specialists and data technicians are in demand as the oil industry recovers, said Janette Marx, chief operating officer of Airswift, an oilfield recruiter. She sees explorers and service companies being much more methodical and selective in their hiring this time around.

“To me, it’s not just about automating the rig, it’s about automating everything upstream of the rig,” says Ahmed Hashmi, head of upstream technology for BP Plc. “The biggest thing will be the systems.”

That means an engineer can design an oil well at his desk. With the press of a button, an automated system would identify the equipment needed from a supplier, create a 3D model and send instructions for building it out into the field, Hashmi says. “That is automation.”

January 23, 2017

President Obama's warning about automation.

Underneath the nostalgia and hope in President Obama’s farewell address Tuesday night was a darker theme: the struggle to help the people on the losing end of technological change.

“The next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas,” Mr. Obama said. “It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete.”

Donald J. Trump has tended to blame trade, offshoring and immigration. Mr. Obama acknowledged those things have caused economic stress. But without mentioning Mr. Trump, he said they divert attention from the bigger culprit.

Economists agree that automation has played a far greater role in job loss, over the long run, than globalization. But few people want to stop technological progress. Indeed, the government wants to spur more of it. The question is how to help those that it hurts.

The inequality caused by automation is a main driver of cynicism and political polarization, Mr. Obama said. He connected it to the racial and geographic divides that have cleaved the country post-election.


Education is the main solution the White House advocated. When the United States moved from an agrarian economy to an industrialized economy, it rapidly expanded high school education: By 1951, the average American had 6.2 more years of education than someone born 75 years earlier. The extra education enabled people to do new kinds of jobs, and explains 14 percent of the annual increases in labor productivity during that period, economists say.

Now the country faces a similar problem. Machines can do many low-skilled tasks, and American children, especially those from low-income and minority families, lag behind their peers in other countries educationally.

The White House proposed enrolling more 4-year-olds in preschool and making two years of community college free for students, as well as teaching more skills like computer science and critical thinking. For people who have already lost their jobs, it suggested expanding apprenticeships and retraining programs, on which the country spends half what it did 30 years ago.

Displaced workers also need extra government assistance, the report concluded. It suggested ideas like additional unemployment benefits for people who are in retraining programs or live in states hardest hit by job loss. It also suggested wage insurance for people who lose their jobs and have to take a new one that pays less. Someone who made $18.50 an hour working in manufacturing, for example, would take an $8 pay cut if he became a home health aide, one of the jobs that is growing most quickly.


" they divert attention from the bigger culprit." - In other words, we have to prepare ourselves for a world where capitalist enterprise no longer needs low-skilled workers.

Capitalism has always depended on a ready stream of low skilled workers. Which isn't to say Capitalism doesn't uplift people out of poverty - it does- however it works best in tandem with some communist/socialist principles of collectivism i.e. investing in the commons and placing value on people or "human resources". This hybrid approach is a better guarantee of sustained wealth creation and economic opportunities for all. But, unfortunately, American capitalism prioritizes shareholder value and short term profit above all other considerations. The result of this rapacious and short sighted approach has been wage stagnation and entrenched poverty over the past couple decades.

With increasing automation, the need for low wage labor will be eliminated, and even mid to high skilled jobs may be threatened by mechanized and/or AI systems. Whatever can be made cheaper, even complex processes, will be made cheaper using technology.

Regressive Protectionist ideas won't fix the problem, just prolong the suffering by allowing capitalists to exploit the remnants of a system that is slowly dying. And this Trump government ,backed by Anarco capitalists, won't care - and they won't come up with real solutions to address poverty - like implementing Universal Basic Income, quality socialized healthcare and changing the current paradigm.

Democrats must lead on these issues. We can't say we weren't warned.
January 21, 2017

Mike Pence disappointed that Nasty Women were allowed to be seen in public shouting and marching..

.... instead of knitting and baking in the kitchen where they belong - Source: The Onion.

Mike Pence Disappointed In The 200,000 Husbands And Fathers Who Permitted Women To Attend March

WASHINGTON - Admonishing those responsible for failing to uphold their moral duties, Vice President Mike Pence expressed disappointment Saturday in the 200,000 husbands and fathers who had allowed the women and girls in their charge to attend the Women’s March on Washington. “I can’t tell you how let down I feel by the heads of these households who did not simply give their wives and daughters a firm, decisive ‘no’ when they asked to participate in today’s demonstration,” said Pence, noting with frustration that many of the protesters had been granted permission to travel across the country alone and stay for several days in a faraway city with no male chaperone whatsoever to guide and look after them. “There are a few men marching as well, so they must be the ones supervising this whole thing, and thank God for that. But I can’t help but feel that these ladies’ custodians—the ones who were supposed to be providing a masculine voice of reason on these sorts of matters—have really come up short today.” Pence stressed that he, for example, had told his 23-year-old eldest daughter that it was simply out of the question when she mentioned she was thinking of attending the march.

January 20, 2017

In this era of Fuckeries, Maxine Waters is my Patronus

Her shade can eclipse the brightest suns, her resilience and zero-fucks-to-give , zero-time-for-bullshit essence will forever be my inspiration.

And Elle agrees:

"I'm tempted to elect Congresswoman Waters as this week's Shade Bae, but shade is subtle. Waters doesn't have time for subtlety. Waters knows that desperate times call for shadier measures. She is reading this town for filth.

Dr. Carla Hayden may be the Librarian of Congress, but Congresswoman Maxine Waters has read everything in that building, honey.

Her whole face says, "You tried it." Her lipstick shade is "Shade.""

January 20, 2017

The Trump Camp didn't invite Kanye to perform because his music ain't "traditionally american"...

""He considers himself a friend of the President-elect, but it's not the venue. The venue we have for entertainment is filled out, it's perfect, it's going to be typically and traditionally American, and Kanye is a great guy but we just haven't asked him to perform. We move on with our agenda.""


" Even if you in a Benz, you still a ninja in a coupe"
January 18, 2017

Cory Booker Made the Right Call

From Rationak , DailyKos:

Cory Booker Made the Right Call

From the diary:

"His (Booker's) response was panned and often based on information from a widely shared article from New Republic newrepublic.com/...that portrays the “safety argument” as a disingenuous industry lie. But did Alex Shephard in his article really examine the basic facts, or give Booker the benefit of the doubt he deserves? Not only did he not do that, but he also did not provide any evidence to back up his audacious claims that connect Booker’s vote to him being under the sway of the pharmaceutical industry, and many of Booker’s other votes, including the SA 188, the vote immediately after SA 178 contradict that claim.

Let’s begin by gaining a larger understanding of the safety claim. Mike Enzi (R -WY) responded to the introduction of the amendment by giving some history:

Mr. President, this discussion will be a little different than any we have had because in a bipartisan way we have been defeating this for at least 14 years. Byron Dorgan used to head it up on that side, and I used to oppose it from thisside, but it has always been bipartisan, and that is because we are not sure about the safety of the prescription drugs that come in online.People who drive over the border and go to a pharmacist are probably getting good drugs there, but we are told that for up to 85 percent of what comes in online, we can't tell what country it came from. So we can specify Canada, but it may be from another country altogether, particularly the Middle East. If we want to assure we have the safety of our drugs, being able to get it online from even Canada doesn't have the kind of assurance we need. We have always asked that the Secretary of Health and Human Services specify that the safety is in place. No one has been willing to do that. I ask that we vote against this amendment.

"They actually have a very strong point. This is a budget appropriations bill and thus would not be able to give power for the FDA to regulate these imports. We are asked to believe that there is no concern, because coming from Canada these drugs would allegedly be subjected to the same safety standards as the U.S. and often be coming from the same factories, but this is largely untrue due to some of the regulatory peculiarities concerning how Canada exports drugs. Most importantly, drugs that are marked for export are not actually subject to ANY regulation by the Canadian government. That means any startup company could bring in drugs manufactured in countries with zero regulations, and then directly sell them without oversight from the Canadian government, to pharmacies and hospitals in the U.S. without any regulatory power from the FDA. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/F-27/section-37-20161212.html#wb-cont

This reveals the real and potential danger of this amendment, and also why someone like Senator Ted Cruz would be in favor of it. It undermines the FDA, which like any regulatory agency is not without it’s flaws, but which also undeniably plays an important role in maintaining a standard of safety in our prescription drugs. In the so-called “free market” frontier of a post-ACA world people who rely upon complex life saving medicines, hospitals would have an unmitigated ability to distribute medications without any oversight or obligation to disclose where they came from.

This is about so much more than just ordering online prescriptions. When the article in The New Republic uses that comparison, it misses the mark completely. It also ignores the fact that there HAVE been problems with online prescriptions : https://news.vice.com/article/a-canadian-pharmacy-is-accused-of-selling-counterfeit-cancer-drugs-to-us-doctors or http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/31/health/counterfeit-medications/

Regardless of some of the dangers, Americans are able to currently order supplies of less than three months from online pharmacies, and the current policy of the FDA is to “look the other way”.


"The truth, is that it is nothing more than an optical band-aid for a problem that cannot be addressed under our current health care system. The reason why drugs are cheaper in Canada is because they have a single payer health system that negotiates the prices. In the U.S. we have a differential market system that provides ample opportunity for price gouging. When the “same companies” are manufacturing the drugs that go to both the U.S. and Canada, if large amounts of drugs start being re-imported, then the companies will just limit their exports to Canada. They already have done so in fact. https://hbr.org/2016/02/why-importing-cheap-pharmaceuticals-from-canada-wont-work

Canada has not always in unison welcomed the idea of being America’s pharmacy. They already took steps on their own in 2005 to restrict the flow, properly pointing out that the solution to America’s health care is not to expect a country of 36 million to suddenly provide prescription medications for all of America. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/29/AR2005062901632.html

At the heart of this, is the accusation that senators voting against this amendment are “afraid to stand up to big pharm” as Bernie Sanders stormed, or as the Shephard article in The New Republic attempts to prove, that financial incentives from “big pharm” are behind the nay votes. There are some huge errors in this logic, and in the very selected information (or lack thereof) we are presented. Much attention was drawn to pharm donations to Booker, but a lot of other convenient information was left out, but we can fill in the gaps."

And the article goes on.

Also worth reading: https://cenlamar.com/2017/01/14/if-bernie-sanders-cares-about-cheaper-drugs-he-should-stop-smearing-his-colleagues-for-rejecting-his-flawed-amendment/


I know some love to pick on Cory for any number of reasons, but the outrage over his vote is ridiculous.
January 16, 2017

It's real precious to watch all the criticism of John Lewis' drop mic moment.

I hope more democrats do the same - If Trump can insult whoever he wants for no reason, Lewis can damn well criticize PEEOTUS for TOTALLY LEGITIMATE REASONS.

And the GOPee can stuff it, they stole a SCOTUS seat and have fueled partisanship and obstructionism for 8 years.

January 15, 2017

Since folks want to throw Cory under the bus...

This blog goes into detail about the amendment:


"The left-wing media reflexively ran with Sanders’s explanation as gospel truth, slamming Sen. Cory Booker, in particular, for his perceived betrayal. “Progressives Outraged Over Booker, Democrats’ Vote On Prescription Drugs From Canada,” Roll Call reported. “Cory Booker’s Bogus Excuse Betrays Progressives,” claimed Michael Sainato of The Observer. Similarly, on social media, Booker was slammed as a “traitor,” a “sell-out,” and “a corporate shill.”"

One day, he is hailed for his tenacity and integrity in opposing a nominee for Attorney General who had already been rejected once for a seat on the federal bench because of his racist statements. The next day, he is blasted as a tool of Big Pharma because he, along with 12 of his other Democratic colleagues, voted against a non-binding budget amendment authored by Bernie Sanders. Before he even had an opportunity to explain his vote, Sanders was on the attack.

And corporate shill?

"It is true that in 2014, when he first ran for Senate, Cory Booker received $329,000 from the pharmaceutical industry. It placed him near the top of the list that year in industry donations. It’s also not too surprising: New Jersey is home to 46 different pharmaceutical companies, including the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Wyeth. $329,000 is a lot of money, and it’s also the same amount of money the industry has donated to first-term Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, home to exactly zero pharmaceutical company headquarters. That money goes much further in Louisiana than it does in New Jersey.

It’s also significantly less than the $4.5 million that then-Sen. Barack Obama raised from the pharmaceutical industry when he ran for President in 2008.

Last year, during his campaign for President, Bernie Sanders received $309,575 from the pharmaceutical industry. Of the 100 members of the Senate, he ranked third in donations from the industry.

For what it’s worth, the 30 Democratic members who voted in favor of Sanders’s amendment received a combined total of $1,038,971 from the pharmaceutical industry last year alone; if you include the donations Sanders, an Independent, received, the grand total is $1,348,546. "

On the other hand, the 13 Democratic members who voted against his amendment raised a total of $1,039,339 from the industry.

But these aggregate totals are somewhat deceptive, because they belie the fact that nearly half of the amendment’s Democratic supporters received either no donations or less than $10,000 from the industry, while over a dozen of them received anywhere between $40,000 to $240,000.

In other words, there isn’t a direct correlation between a member’s individual vote and the size of the donations they received from the industry. The largest beneficiary of campaign donations from the industry voted against it, and the second and third largest beneficiaries voted for it.

So, why did it fail?

Well, for starters, Sanders couldn’t figure out if he wanted to create a fund to import drugs from Canada or the entire world. In its initial iteration, his amendment sought to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to allow for the importation of drugs from “Canada and other countries.” Amy Klobuchar subsequently cleaned up the language and eliminated “other countries” from its title.

But, aside from the confusion about the scope of this proposed reserve fund, the primary reason it failed is that Sanders misapprehended the mechanisms necessary to establish an importation process that conforms with FDA guidelines. It’s not enough to say “these drugs must be safe;” there needs to be funding for quality control and compliance, which was never addressed.

Sure, this was a non-binding budget amendment, and some will argue that things could have simply been cleaned up later on. But it was ostensibly designed to be a funding mechanism, and instead, it read like a milquetoast resolution. There were a number of other amendments introduced that very day that included provisions for the Food and Drug Administration; Sanders’s didn’t, and it needed to.

In making the case for this legislation, Sanders spoke almost exclusively about the re-importation of patented American pharmaceuticals, and to be fair, that is an enormous part of the equation; it’s also what most American consumers demand. However, it doesn’t capture the entirety of the market. In some cases, American consumers may turn to Canadian compounding pharmacies for cheaper specialized medications; in others, Americans may want to purchase generic medications that are no longer patented and can be manufactured independently at a lower cost. And that’s why we need FDA oversight and compliance.

It’s easy to say, “Well, if Canada already approved these drugs, then why do we need the FDA to get involved?” Simple answer: Because the Canadian regulatory agency is responsible for protecting Canadian citizens, and the FDA is responsible for protecting American citizens.

Right now, we basically take foreign drug importers at their word. We require that they register, that they fill out some paperwork, that they label their products, and that they adhere to international best practice standards in manufacturing. But there’s no way we can really guarantee any of that.

The demand for cheaper drugs from Canada has already created a boutique industry of online pharmacies that market almost exclusively to Americans, and most of these pharmacies are fraudulent. The drugs they sell may be deadly. Recently, a Canadian drug manufacturer was caught selling fake cancer drugs to American doctors.

And that is precisely why it’s so important to get this legislation right, from the beginning.

If Bernie Sanders is serious about reducing drug prices, he should stop smearing his colleagues for rejecting his flawed amendment and instead start listening to them.

And a reserve fund? Reserve Funds would not have made a difference, as Dylan Matthews point out at WaPo in 2013:

Tbh, I never saw the Canada option as viable. Canada's Pharmaceutical Industry is not as robust as ours. They account for only 2 percent of worldwide pharmaceutical sales, and we are their main market for sales: "Cross-border internet pharmacy sales between Canada and the U.S. grew rapidly from 2000 to 2003, but had, until 2014, steadily declined. However, they grew by 7% from 2014 to 2015, reaching $112 million or 1.5% of total pharmaceutical products exports to the United States (IMS Pharmafocus 2020)." https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/lsg-pdsv.nsf/eng/h_hn01703.html

The approval process for drugs in Canada takes longer than our approval process. Heavy price controls have created a demand for cheap generics which in some instances risk lives: Worth the price? Push for cheaper generic drugs has Canadians buying questionable medicines from India

Health Canada needs better oversight of generic drug quality. Not promoting woo wouldn’t hurt either.

Canada has a sluggish approval process, (because of the formulary approval process). Because of price controls, demand for generics are high, meaning quality drugs are rare to come by. The situation is far from perfect. Rather than adopt a tunnel vision about importing drugs from Canada, I'd rather representatives examine the flaws in Canada's set up and what lessons we can learn from them.

Maybe that's what the conversation should be about?

Instead a line has been drawn in the sand , a strong democratic senator and an ally reviled over a symbolic amendment with no teeth.

This thread is also worth following: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10028477228

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About JHan

Be true, be brave, stand. All the rest is darkness.
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