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Countdown to 100$ oil (5) - OPEC inexorably raises floor price

by Jerome a Paris Thu Jun 30th, 2005 at 06:25:37 PM EST


Opec suspends talks on increasing output

Crude prices settled slightly down after rising in late trade on news that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had suspended talks about increasing production quotas by 500,000 barrels a day.

Opec said it would resume negotiations only if the oil price hit $60 a barrel.

Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, Opec president and Kuwait's oil minister, said $53 for West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, was an "ideal" price.

This is a higher level than Opec had previously stated.

At a meeting last month, most Opec ministers stated that $40-$50 was a suitable price range for consumers and producers.


Earlier "Countdown Diaries":

Countdown to 100$ oil (4) - WSJ wingnuts vs China

Countdown to 100$ oil (3) - industry is beginning to suffer

Countdown to 100$ oil (2) - the views of the elites on peak oil

Countdown to 100$ oil (1)

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

For most of the 90s, the reference for oil prices was the 15-20$/bbl range. Then OPEC made its fateful decision to increase its quotas as the Asian crisis was underway, and caused the oil price to collapse in late 98 - early 99 as supply increased at a time of weakened demand. The reaction was led by an alliance of Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Mexico (not an OPEC member) to put back some credibility into the quotas, and impose some discipline on the cartel. Norway helped from the sidelines; Saudi Arabia then hit the new idea of focusing on international stocks, anddecided to support prices by preventing these stocks from building up. This new energy within OPEC, in a context of strong economic growth, led oil prices into the high 30, which started to piss off the West somewhat (it bit especially hard in Europe at that time as the euro was only worth 80+ US cents then).

So, OPEC started suggesting that 22-28$/bl was a good range for oil prices, and pretty much everybody acquiesed. Oil producers were happy; oil companies were happy, and oil consumers were happy to see some stability - and lower prices than the incomfortable 2000 spike.

Prices increased again in the run up to the Iraqi War, as geopolitical uncertainty took its toll, but they fell brutally as the ground campaign took place very quickly. It started inching back up as it appeared that the situation in Iraq was not going to stabilise, and was suddenly pushed up a lot higher throughout 2004 when eveybody was surprised by the unexpectedly strong growth of Chinese demand and imports.

But even a few months ago, this was all seen as temporary, with "financial speculators", the odd weather pattern or the "geopolitical premium" alternatively used as excuses for why prices were really higher than fundamentals warranted. Well, we know how prices have behaved since then, but the interesting thing is how OPEC has completely shelved the 22-28$ band in recent weeks.

  • first it was Saudi Arabia mentioning a 30-40$ range (as late as last month);

  • then at the recent OPEC meeting two weeks ago, they stated that 50$ was their new floor;

  • and now they've decided to use 60$ as the trigger before they do anything.

Of course, this changes very little to the fact that there is little they can actually do to ramp up production and thus bring prices down, but the spees with which they have raised the floor is pretty amazing. Are they pushing their luck (aggressively bidding for higher prices)? Or are they trying to hide their impotence by putting the bar when they would act higher and higher so that they don't actually have to act (knowing they can't do it)?

This only signals more price increases, and thus warrants a countdown diary.

Display:
 I think in context of the historical record, that it shows that they know there's little that can be done. Moving the band is only to keep investors from panicking.

....because I would rather see us reduce the consumption of imported oil than have to send American boys to fight in the Persian Gulf. - John B. Anderson
by Anderson Republican on Thu Jun 30th, 2005 at 07:00:14 PM EST
I'm not quite sure what to make of the short spike upward today following the OPEC announcement:  oil futures briefly moved upward to $57.90 per barrel (having closed yesterday at $57.26), before sliding back down to end the day at $56.50, the "lowest" level in three weeks.  I wonder if some traders are now hoping to push the price back up to $60, triggering a possible OPEC reaction of increasing production quotas, thus allowing the traders to benefit from the predicted ensuing price drop.
by The Maven on Thu Jun 30th, 2005 at 07:26:49 PM EST
There was an interesting article in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press earlier this week about an oil crisis simulation conducted by the National Security Council:

Unrest in Nigeria?

Former CIA director Robert Gates sighs deeply as he pores over reports of growing unrest in Nigeria. Many Americans can't find the African nation on a map, but Gates knows that it's America's fifth-largest oil supplier and one that provides the light, sweet crude that U.S. refiners prefer.

It's 11 days before Christmas 2005, and the turmoil is preventing about 600,000 barrels of oil per day from reaching the world oil market, which was already drum-tight. . . .

Should U.S. troops be sent to restore order? Should America draw down its strategic oil reserves to stabilize soaring gasoline prices? . . .

The economic effects of unrest in faraway Nigeria are immediate. Crude oil prices soar above $80 a barrel. June's then-record $60 a barrel is a distant memory. A gallon of unleaded gas now costs $3.31. Americans shell out $75 to fill a midsize SUV.

Terror attacks in Saudi Arabia and/or Alaska?

Fast-forward to Jan. 19, 2006. A blast rips through Saudi Arabia's Haradh natural-gas plant. Simultaneously, al-Qaida terrorists seize a tanker at Alaska's Port of Valdez and crash it, igniting a massive fire that sweeps across oil terminals. Crude oil spikes to $120 a barrel, and the U.S. economy reels. Gasoline prices hit $4.74 a gallon.

. . . The Cabinet can't agree on even the simplest short-term solutions. There aren't many options . . .  There's no infrastructure in place to deliver alternative fuels such as ethanol or diesel made from soybeans or waste products.

Fast-forward again, to June 23, 2006. Emboldened Saudi insurgents attack foreign oil workers, killing hundreds. A mass evacuation follows from the world's pivotal oil producer, the one country that could be counted on to boost production during shortages in global supplies. . . . Without foreign oil workers, how will Saudi Arabia meet its production targets and quench the oil thirst of America, China and India?

Oil prices have reached an unthinkable $150 a barrel. In Philadelphia, Miami and Kansas City, gas prices reach $5.74 a gallon. Now it takes $121 to fill that midsized SUV.

Are such scenarios realistic?

"A million or a million and a half barrels of oil a day off the market is a very realistic kind of scenario. You can think of a dozen different countries around the world ... where you can see that happening. Or even a natural disaster could do that," Gates said.

Former CIA chief [James] Woolsey described the scenarios that the National Commission on Energy Policy and the advocacy group Securing America's Future Energy simulated as "relatively mild." . . .

"It was striking that by taking such small amounts off the market, you could have such dramatic impact" on world oil prices, said Robbie Diamond, the president of Securing America's Future Energy.

What can be done?

Richard Haass was a top adviser to former Secretary of State Colin Powell until 2003. The simulation taught him how little influence policymakers would have in reversing an oil shock wave.

"I think where most of the work has to happen now, both intellectually and politically, is on (the reduction of) demand," Haass said.

by TGeraghty on Fri Jul 1st, 2005 at 01:46:42 AM EST
It hate to say this (so early in the morning, and all)...but they have us over a barrel (sorry!). They can raise prices and what are we going to do about it? At some point people will slow down on driving, and be more aware in general of conservation, but so much is dependent on oil now...so unless people make a radical change, I see prices continuing to rise <sigh>

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Jul 1st, 2005 at 02:57:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the rising prices are what will bring about the radical changes that are needed in energy, transportation, metropolitan planning. It will be costly and painful at first, but I think history is pretty clear that we won't act until it's absolutely necessary. Quite a bit was accomplished during the 1970s and early 1980s in terms of making the US economy less energy-intensive and less dependent on imported oil, but progress stopped after the price of oil crashed in the mid-1980s.
by TGeraghty on Fri Jul 1st, 2005 at 03:24:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome, I just read that the House has voted to block the China/Unocal deal.

http://money.cnn.com/2005/06/30/news/economy/house_unocal.reut/

by kd texan on Fri Jul 1st, 2005 at 03:22:40 PM EST
Thanks!

It sounds a little bit more complicated than just blocking the deal...

The House overwhelmingly voted for an amendment barring the Treasury Department from spending any money to recommend approving a takeover of Unocal by China's CNOOC Ltd.

What this means exactly is a bit too arcane for me at this point. I have no idea if this is just symbolic or if it effectively blocks a very real process (anything that would be required for CNOOC's bid to go through).

Personally, I don't really see why CNOOC shouldn't buy Unocal. Oil is a very liquid market.
In times of peace, whoever has money can buy oil, even from its worst enemy (cases in point: Iran, the Soviet Union, Venezuela, etc...). If CNOOC shareholders get a good price, then it's all fair and fine.
In times of war or conflict, you need control of the fields and of the shipping lanes, and the formal ownership of the assets doesn't have any influence there.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 1st, 2005 at 05:55:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US will not punish China for doing what we have asked them to do for 60 years: join OUR system. Even though the Lou Dobbs of the world rail against all things Mexican and Chineese, the bottom line is that American antipathy for saving and studying is our own fault. We cannot damn the Chineese for slaving away for our benefit (which is what they do).
by Coriolanus on Sun Jul 3rd, 2005 at 08:45:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes it is rather vague what this action entails. The Chinese administration is actually investing more "face" in this than I expected they would.

We demand that the U.S. Congress correct its mistaken ways of politicizing economic and trade issues and stop interfering in the normal commercial exchanges between enterprises of the two countries," the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. "CNOOC's bid to take over the U.S. Unocal company is a normal commercial activity between enterprises and should not fall victim to political interference. The development of economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States conforms to the interests of both sides.

That is rather strong language considering it formally is simply a private business transaction. I'm ever more convinced this will have ramifications on the allocation of the Chinese trade surplus versus the US. But what those ramifications will be I don't think even the Chinese know yet. It's too easy from e western perspective to fall for the image of scheming mandarins. But probably to a surprising degree the bulk of Chinese movers and shakers actually believed that the West believed in Free markets, Free Trade and all that jazz. This might prompt a slight rethink.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Tue Jul 5th, 2005 at 06:24:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we are in an "enron redux" situation... the problem is not the price per barrel - since there is no shortage of crude (according to opec countries... and according to the producers in every country EXCEPT texas and the north sea).  

several months ago, there was little media coverage and even less outrage over the refiners convention where a leading refiner stated (and was caught on videotape) saying that the refinery output controlled the market price, not the amount of crude oil available.  the implication was, cut refinery output and raise price/gal..

when oil first started to creep upward, the leading speculative markets were the midlands texas standard oil and the brent north sea oil.  the middle east and russian and south american crude remained stable bet. 35 and 40/bbl.  however, the mideast and other producers are not stupid.  if the market will bear the higher price/bbl, then to artificially keep their oil low makes no sense.  the "gravy train" is at hand - so they raised the band.  also, the "peak oil" debate (which may be the driving force behind texas fields raising prices) may have been accelerated by the forced increases in productions that are speculated to have damaged the saudi wells.

bottom line on this - imho, it is an enron situation driven by the texas refiners who want to see the prices higher to maximize the amount of money to be made on fields that may be over the hump in production.

something smells in this scenario.  the prices of oil/bl are being directed by market speculators buying "futures" on what oil WILL be in six months.  the driving standards for the light sweet crude just HAPPEN to be in bush country - midlands, texas - and blairland - north sea.

the middle east oil cartel is in a shambles (as has been the wet dream of the pnac crew for over a decade). by manipulating the two fields (texas midland and brent), the opec cartel has been forced to raise their prices (whether by greed or by smart business acumen) - and some in the cartel is pushing fields to the max to take advantage of the higher prices, threatening their ability to hold the market to a certain level.  

also, to make anwar fields financially feasible, the price per barrell must be higher since the fields are limited and the cost of extracting would be self defeating at $20-$30/bbl.

oil is finite.  the owners of the industry want to see the maximum profit for whatever is left - and they don't want to have other energy sources usurping that last drop of profit - so, we now have refineries manipulating the output to drive the costs outrageously high.  

the talk of $5/gal gas in europe is not talk - it is reality.  the reality of $5/gal gas in america is not a viable means to develop new energy, however.  any new energy source will take decades to come online.  the economic health of a country that is 3000 miles across and is dependent on trucking and air transport to move goods cannot sustain $5/gal fuel.  the ripple effect on commerce - from the inability of the consumer to spend, the subsequent closure of retail businesses which will dry up the need for wholesale and manufacturing will cripple not only this economy, but the world economy.

america is the greatest consumer of foreign goods in the world - if we don't have jobs to give the income to the people who spend, the effect on the producers of those goods from europe to china will be felt like a tsunami of poverty - it will hit later than here, but it will eventually reach the rest of the world.

the dollar will collapse, the intricate dance between nations will turn into a battle for goods and currency that will tear down alliances and make nations lock resources within their own borders...

it will, in other words, be a global economic disaster - with the poorest having nothing left to lose - which is the recipe for revolution.

and it all hinges on oil......  sucks, doesn't it.

what is the solution?  for one thing, break up the petroleum cartel - prohibit producers from owning refineries.  don't allow third party "brokers" for energy.  make utilities "public" instead of "private held corporations".  increase refinery capacity - encourage other nations to build refineries and give some real competition to the petroleum multinational's stranglehold.

most of all, the entire world needs to reexamine this policy of globalization - and define it very carefully.  is globalization the concept of one world, one economy - and if so, then who RUNS that economy - who is in CHARGE of that economy?  frankly, i prefer free trade with healthy international regulation to prevent massive multinational control over the lives of americans, british, french, german, kenyan, argentinian, arab, chinese, .... well, you get my drift...

by edrie on Sat Jul 2nd, 2005 at 04:18:23 AM EST
You ask who runs this thing, so here's the answer. If you have a Wal Mart nearby, you ought to make a sociological field trip to observe consumer behavior in its natural environment.

  1. How does the consumer get from its dwelling to Wal Mart? (ie how many bikes in the bike rack vs number of cars in the parking lot).

  2. Which is more determinate of a final purchase: price, item quality, national origin, or human rights?

  3. Do you see fat consumers buying celery or ice cream?

  4. Do you see multinational mercenaries holding guns to consumers' heads AT ANY TIME?
by Coriolanus on Sun Jul 3rd, 2005 at 08:56:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Question 1:

first of all, have you ever tried carrying large quantities of packages on a bicycle?  i have.  when i first moved to long island from nyc, i bought a 15 speed bike with saddle bags in front AND back.  did laundry, grocery shopped, etc - using that bike.

the problem is that when people shop quantity, they CANNOT carry large bulky items on a bicycle OR even a motorbike.  it requires a vehicle.

secondly, in nyc, people walk to stores and buy quantity and carry it home in wheeled shopping carts.  the distance is only a few blocks.  in suburban areas, the stores are miles away - ten miles from shopping centers is not uncommon.  five miles trucking supplies in a wheeled cart where there are no sidewalks on major roadways is not possible.  too dangerous AND most "freeways" prohibit pedestrians (so add an addition five miles to walking distance.

bus lines do not go into residential neighborhoods - just to general areas - so another obstacle to non-auto travel.

QUESTION 2:  

for some of us, it is all of the included.  for others, when the minimum wage combined with five other family members barely makes the basic rent and electric bills, price is the ONLY consideration.  politics is a luxury of the rich or middle income - NOT of people who fight for every scrap to survive.  

QUESTION 3:

yes.  i DO see them buying celery, but not as often as ice cream - you see, poor people tend to weigh much more due to the cheapness of highly saturated fatty foods that "fill" the need for food while NOT nourishing the physical body.  given the choice of a bag of cheese puffs that can be eaten over an extended time AND fool the body into thinking it is sated OR highly nutritional salads and veggies, most people with few funds (myself included as i eat my cheese puffs as i type) go for the long term "fool" foods.  

Question 4:

yes, the multinational mercenaries DO hold a gun over the consumer's head - it is the gun of poverty - which forces people to make choices of survival over choices over politics.

it is easy to be idealistic when you are not hungry or cold or fearing the loss of shelter.  when push comes to shove, if you need toilet paper and only have enough to shop at walmart, i'm betting you, too, would head for that environment rather than go without.

by edrie on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 02:46:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my town the poor people live near downtown, and the rich folks live in the suburbs. There are Wal-Marts in both places, and both kinds of customers in both stores.

I shop at Wal-Mart because I don't want my next door neighbor to lose her job. She's not qualified to be a computer engineer or an airplane mechanic.

In a country where you can get a perfectly functional car for $750, and gas costs $2 a gallon, the use or non-use of cars is not a good metric of poverty. EVERYBODY has a car, except for the homeless who sleep under the bridge because there are no mental hospitals any more...

by asdf on Tue Jul 5th, 2005 at 06:47:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
generalizations are NEVER good rationale for arguments.. facts, on the other hand, are!

walmart employs people at below poverty level wages - exploits its employees and drives legitimate, well paying businesses out of town.

if it weren't for that walmart in your neighborhood, maybe there would be decent paying jobs from the small businesses that are now out of business AND your community wouldn't have to pick up the slack of lack of pay that makes walmart employees eligible for food stamps!

secondly,  any functional car that is $750 will most likely not pass smog in states where there are air standards... and i WISH gas were only two dollars a gallon - right now, i drive expeditiously to make it back to my station that is ONLY 2.37 - where most are 2.49+ in the area for the cheapest.  

and your very objectionable generalization about the homeless sleeping under a bridge because of a lack of mental hospitals is just.... well...  downright ignorant.

i suggest you check out the real statistics of people who have lost housing in markets where there is little tenant protection.  i personally know of a woman from china whose husband lost his job while she was working to transfer her medical degree to this country.  THEY were living under a parking structure - because if the medical board knew they had no housing, she would NEVER have been certified.

housing is NOT a mental condition - it is an economic one.  there are a great many people who are working members of society, mentally competent, in some cases, mentally brilliant - who, for one reason or another, have lost their jobs (silicon valley), housing (30 day i'm taking my apt back to rent it for a higher market value) or any other number of reasons - who find themselves living in cars, rvs, and other makeshift devices (like perpetual hotel rooms).

you really need to know more before you state facts....

jeeezussss!  try a bit of information, next time - then add a dose of compassion and a touch of empathy, plus a great smattering of education and maybe your views will be different.

[exercise:  if you lose your job today, how many paychecks are you from not being able to pay your rent/mortgage/bills...  for most people today, it is two.  think about it... then get back to me.]

by edrie on Wed Jul 6th, 2005 at 01:09:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There have been many studies made showing that there are two general groups of homeless people, one being the mentally ill and the other being the temporarily homeless, mostly single mothers who have lost their jobs. There are support programs for both groups in my town, and the difficulty (as stated by the people who run the local soup kitchens and shelters) is that they can help the temporarily homeless, but the mentally ill have nowhere else to go. The policy is that if you're not a danger to the public, you can do what you want, including sleeping under the bridge, eating at the soup kitchen, and hanging at the park. This situation is the direct result of the program of deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill led by Ronald Reagan and implemented with the cooperation of the ACLU. You can look it up if you don't remember how we got here.

I don't buy the "Wal-Mart drives away small business" meme, sorry. The one closest to my house is surrounded by small businesses that do the things Wal-Mart doesn't do: Muffler and glass repairs, furniture, gasoline, movies, restaurants, motorcycles, X-rated books, specialty clothing, records... If anything, I think that there is a prejudice among limosine liberals against the working poor: Wal-Mart serves the needs of customers and workers, that's why it's successful. I live in a poor neighborhood and can tell you with some authority that the people on my street don't shop at the fancy health food store downtown.

My son has one of those $500 cars and it passes the smog test just fine--as will practically any car with computer-controlled fuel injection (i.e. anything less than say 15 years old). Out here in the west where cars don't rust away, it's common to see people driving around in 20 year old cars.

I agree that the health care situation in the U.S. is a mess. That will be fixed only when people vote for representatives that support single-payer, which doesn't include the current crop of either Republicans or Democrats. Vote Green and maybe we'll make some progress.

I would claim that my viewpoint is based on a practical understanding of the reality of the working poor community.

by asdf on Wed Jul 6th, 2005 at 07:07:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
reagan did not start the assault on the mentally ill.  the first politician to "release" the mentally ill was nyc mayor abe beame, who did so after horrific conditions were exposed regarding willowbrook in the early 70's.  This occurred during the budget collapse of nyc - and the then mayor, abe beame, set out to brink ny back from bankruptcy.  one of the solutions was to determine that any mental patient that sought a hearing and could show during that hearing that they were "competent" would be released immediately.

also, the main psychiatric hospitals were closed and the mentally ill were moved into group homes and smaller, more personal facilities - where many of them just walked away.  the city didn't try at all to find these patients - they simply celebrated the lack of expense of treating them - and the homeless crisis was born - for the mentally ill.

this has been the "model" for describing the homeless - that they are all mentally ill or alcoholics or drug addicts.  while this may have been true in the early stages of the current crisis - this is NOT the basis for homeless today.

economic conditions have born a new class of homeless - the working poor, the unhoused, the wheeled workers, the rv communities.  the extent of this "problem" is shown by the number of communities that have, in the last eight years, made it illegal to sleep in a vehicle between the hours of 1(or 2)am and 5am.  communities in northern california have outlawed the parking of commercial vehicles and "housecars" on any street in their townships in an attempt to drive the structurally challenged to other neighborhoods.  increasingly, towns have passed laws making it illegal for rvs to park overnight in private parking lots belonging to walmart, kmart and large box stores in an attempt to stop the "homeless" from moving into their town.  in redwood city, ca, one overzealous policeman had the audacity to demand a man with an rv leave the kmart parking lot during store hours - the man had stopped to shop at the store with no intention of staying the night.  needless to say, the police chief was informed by both the store manager, the man AND angry customers who witnessed the event.

so, my friend - depending on where you are and how observant you are - you may or may not see those who do not have housing.  another little side effect, since housing is so tight in california (especially AFFORDABLE housing), if a person isn't living IN a house or apt, they will not be able to RENT an apt or house.  more information from Freedonation.com says

Homelessness and poverty are tightly linked. People who are living in poverty often must choose between food, shelter and other basic needs. Some very difficult choices must be made when limited resources can only go so far. All too many times, it is shelter, which usually absorbs the most money, that must be dropped for more immediate necessities such as food. For the poor, an accident, a medical crisis, a lost paycheck can all translate into not having a place to call home next week.

Contrary to popular belief, the homeless is not lazy and dependent exclusively on public welfare. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, on average in the United States, a single worker earning minimum wage would have to work 87 hours each week just to pay for a 2-bedroom apartment with 30% (Federal definition of affordable housing) of his or her income. The rest would be barely sufficient to acquire other necessities such as food and clothing. As a result of low wages, many impoverished workers are forced out of their homes when extenuating circumstances come into play. In fact, up to 40% of the homeless are employed and working.

as for help, you mention soup kitchens, shelters - these are excellent resources for many, but for the working poor, being "outed" means discrimination, loss of job, and local harrassment by law inforcement - so you will never see working homeless at these establishments.  also, you mention that there are programs in place for homeless women with children - yes there are programs for those with "dependents" - but for those without "attachments" there is nothing.  the problem is so overwhelming that the families get priority and when the agencies are done, there are more families waiting.  the single individual is S.O.L.

also, rents in california where there is work are out of the reach of most single older individuals who are not already housed.  the entrance fee for any house/apt is first/last/one month deposit... this can top $2,500 - $3,000 easily.  look at these stats from 1992...

Another group singled out by homelessness is the elderly. A 1992 Urban Institute study indicated that up to 31% of homeless persons were over the age of 45 and this percentage is growing. With less income from work and more necessary expendictures such as medications, many elderly people are having to make a choice between food, shelter and medications.

It has been said that every human being has a primary and fundamental right to adequate food and shelter. Yet so many people in our world are deprived of this basic right. This right of feeling a warm bed at night, in a place called home.

in a paycheck to paycheck economy, this amount might as well be 2 million...

as for that $500 car?  the repairs keeping one of them on the road can be daunting - so dump and buy another one when it dies - but reliable transportation, insurance, registration (which, for a 500 clunker is not much, small blessing)  the problem here is that if your transportation goes and you can't make it to work, so goes your employment.  too many unemployed waiting to take your place when you don't or can't show.

as for walmart, just look at the studies done in communities where a box store appears.  you say that the idea of store closures is a "limousine liberal" myth?  well, last time i looked,billings, montana was in a very very red state.

Grocery-store closures continue across Billings

By JAN FALSTAD
Of The Gazette Staff

Tracing David Wittman's 25 years in the Billings grocery business is like tracing the history of the industry itself.

The Billings native has been there for all the big changes in this town's grocery business: the loss of neighborhood markets, corporate chains buying and selling local stores, and Wal-Mart's arrival in Montana in 1992 with stores in Butte and Billings.

With

and they are very upset with the loss of businesses and the jobs that go with them since the local walmart opened.
That is the third Billings grocery store closure in Billings this year. County Market at 1321 Main St. closed in February and Smith's at Wicks and Main closed in May.

Last year, the Heights Kmart shut its doors, followed closely by Osco Drug on Main Street. Those stores shared the geographical bad luck of being within sight of Billings' second Wal-Mart superstore.

With that kind of churn, other grocery managers are wondering whether they will be next.

It is easy, and overly simplistic, to blame Wal-Mart, and company officials deny they go gunning for smaller competitors.

But, there's not doubting the retail giant's clout.

 the jobs that those businesses pay are higher paying than your local walmart, which, here in ca, actually instructs its employees on how to apply for food stamps.  jolly, no, that walmart relies on YOUR tax dollars to pay for food that its employees need but can't buy on the wages walmart pays?

i agree with you that we need a single payer system or universal healthcare - the current system only enriches the insurance, pharmaceutical and private companies instead of the patients.  what i don't agree with is voting green - every "green" vote is for the "greenback" snatched by the greedy - the vote doesn't simply "not count" - it DOES count - by eliminating a vote for the opposition candidate that has a chance of defeating the republican/rightwing/neocon or even MODERATE republican who votes partisan politics.

at this stage of the "game" [and politics IS a game, my friend], i don't care if the dems run the effin' donkey - my vote goes for the jackass that will vote against the current republican mantra!  vote green and you've just pissed into the wind.  maybe one day - but right now - you are going to get very very wet...

now, as for MY viewpoint, i think i've given you a small glimmer of where i'm coming from - there's much more - but it is late and i don't have the energy to cite and copy more - i have a virus and don't/can't afford going to the doc, so i'm having a nice glass of rose wine and kicking back for the rest of the eve --- this has worn me out - so, more later, if you need additional sources.

stay well - and keep reading - sounds like you are in my neck of the woods... i'm near the blues festival and the motorcycle/auto races [not to forget that big biker rally last weekend...]  hope your area is warmer than we have - what ever happened to summer!

nite for now.

by edrie on Thu Jul 7th, 2005 at 02:44:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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