Wednesday December 17, 2014
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Two days after Christmas, after checking my e-mail, I started out on my usual search of the net for something that might interest you all. Within ten seconds, as I scanned the very first story, I could feel myself getting angry.
This NPR headline:
"On-The-Job Deaths Spiking As Oil Drilling Quickly Expands"
Why did that headline get my goat? For two reasons:
Reason one: I had just read an e-mail from the White House, some of which made a LOT of sense as it pointed out a few ways we are a little better off than we were a few years ago. Here's part of it: "We produce more oil in the U.S. now than we import from abroad. Thanks to an all-of-the-above strategy, we're reducing our reliance on foreign oil -- and that means lower energy costs for consumers."
I couldn't argue with that. It makes good sense, as did a couple of other things in that e-mail, such as the 8 million new jobs this year.
Give credit where credit is due, I say. About the handling of Syria too, for example. You won't find me criticizing everything the White House does just because I am not entirely fond of our current President.
The second reason I got angry? Just five minutes earlier I had been reading some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about industrial death rates for another string. They clearly showed me that the whole article was hype.
Here's part of the NPR article that really got my goat: "As baby boomers retire and drilling increases, oil and gas companies are hiring. They added 23 percent more workers between 2009 and 2012. But the hiring spree has come with a terrible price: Last year, 138 workers were killed on the job — an increase of more than 100 percent since 2009."
Understand, now, that is NOT incorrect; it just doesn't mean what it sounds like it means. For example, is 138 workers killed in one year a lot? They make it sound that way, don't they? But is it?
Okay, good question. Read the stats in the next post.
From the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on accidental deaths.
Truck transportation: 456
Waste services: 332
Retail trade: 262
Local government: 250
Leisure and hospitality: 220
Animal (including fishing): 209
Wholesale trade: 191
Other non-public services: 183
Education and health services: 139
Oil and gas extraction: 138
Federal government: 97
State government: 87
Forestry and logging: 62
Real estate: 61
Passenger transportation: 54
Technical services: 54
Finance and insurance: 20
In other words, you are more likely to get killed working in a school or hospital (139), on a farm (204), in a factory (314), and — definitely! — in construction (775).
And another thing that really made me angry was this dig from someone who father's own carelessness evidently got him killed:
"Time is money when you're out on the rig," he said. "And that's where the safety concerns come in."
Talking about the way his father got his arm into the machinery inside a safety fence he climbed, he said that the repair work he was doing was finished and, ""From what we've deducted, his arm got pinched between the frame and the hammer when it came down, and it pulled him into the machine."
To begin with, his father was not on — or even near — a rig of any kind. After oil wells are brought in they are pumped by a machine that has a balance wheel that goes around and around. There is a rig in sight. I feel very bad that the Dad got killed on the job, but he should not have been in or near the machine when its restarted after he had repaired it. So I "deduct" that this accident was not exactly the fault of the company.
NPR also quoted Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who said. "No worker should lose their life for a paycheck."
Right! Or make a glaring a grammatical error like that one when he's getting a six figure salary.
Yes! Yes! A complete disregard for safety. No doubt about it.
You know what the Centers for Disease Control actually reported? "Transportation events were the leading cause (51 percent), with 75 percent of these involving helicopters."
I guess all those chopper pilots just don't care about getting killed. Must be a bunch of cowboys. You figure?
Or could the death rate be connected with this other CDC statistic: "During that time, all but one of [the] oil and gas industry workplace deaths occurred in the Gulf of Mexico."
Oh, I get it. Oil rigs in the hurricane-prone Gulf. Now there's a good safe place to work. Hire me on!
I also loved this comment in the article:
"Catherine Clark is one critic who says many companies are skimping on drug testing in order to fill out their crews. She tells this story:"
"Back in 2006, her husband, Charles Mannon, was working for Cheyenne Drilling in Saginaw, Texas, near Fort Worth. Mannon was up on an oil derrick at 3:30 a.m., when a pipe swung around and knocked him off, killing him."
A little lower down they mention this: "Clark says she sued the company, but her lawyer dropped the suit when Mannon's body tested positive for methamphetamines."
And yet she continues to complain. About what?
She married again and she says, "'My current husband has been with a company five years, and he's only been drug tested once,' she says. 'I mean, to me, there needs to be a lot stronger drug testing, because, you know, one person out there that's on drugs can kill a whole crew. You know, a blowout could happen or — the possibilities are endless.'"
Drug tested? To get a job that basically amounts to a mining job? Since when do we drug test miners?
Hype! Hype! Hype!
I hate hype!
The mining industry, by the way — not counting oil and gas extraction, which under the law is counted separately — lost 177 men.
Hey! We lost 262 people in retail trade and 332 in waste services.
My question would be why someone would feel it was necessary to attack the oil and gas industry at a time when it is working to release us from our dependence on foreign oil, and the control that goes with it?
I don't get it? Do you?
What did you mean by the remark, "Must be a bunch of Cowboys."
"What did you mean by the remark, "Must be a bunch of Cowboys.""
Like this: Jump in the chopper, yell "Hi! Ho! Silver! Away!" yank back the stick (do they have a stick?), and hit the skies.
That's the way Hollywood used to portray those chopper pilots over in Vietnam, but that's because they never checked the stats on how many of them came back from a mission.
Did I ever tell you that in 1962, while I was stationed at Hill AFB in Utah, they came by my office one day and offered me a commission (in the Army) if I would sign up for a program where I switched services and became a chopper pilot?
I said no. I figured if they were so desperate that they needed me something had to be very wrong. Of course, it could have been that the Air Force was trying to figure out a way to get rid of me without being too obvious about it.
Either way, I knew better. While I was on my way to Karachi in November, 1959 I talked to an officer on the Clark AB to Tan Son Nut leg of the flight. He was his way back to Bien Hoa — which I had never heard of — where he'd been shot in the head while watching a movie in the mess hall one night.
He told me that two men had been killed and several wounded and that there had been several "VC" — something else I had never heard of — with automatic weapons who just came through the door and started firing. I never heard a single word about any such thing for years afterward. In fact, as far as the news was concerned there wasn't a thing going on in Vietnam until much later, and I don't think that incident in Bien Hoa was ever admitted to have happened until after we were out of Vietnam.
The officer had been in the hospital back in the states. He told me he didn't have to go back to Vietnam, that he could just have taken a stateside assignment. You know why he said he was going back? To finish up his overseas assignment so he wouldn't be tapped for another overseas assignment.
Really. That's what the man said. And he was quite sincere. Personally, I'd have let them send me somewhere else. Japan wouldn't have been too shabby, or England maybe, or Germany, or....
Real cowboys do not act that way. My dad, grandfather and husband were all cowboys and lived on ranches part of their lives. My husband's family were cowboys. They respected and treated their horses very well. Next to that they treated their wives very well and right now if you go in to a restaurant or some other public place an old cowboy is the only man who takes off his hat and leaves it off until he leaves. They were taught to be gentlemen even tho they spent most of their time with horses and cattle. They are also tough. A horse fell on my dad when he was 76 yrs old. No one knows how long the horse was on him but they had to roll it off him. He lived to be 95 after being in the hospital 6 weeks after the horse fell on him.
The people you see walking around trying to look like a cowboy don't know a cow from a bull.
I know, Pat.
You can't read the real tales of the west, told in the words of the people who lived them, without knowing what kind of people settled this place.
The same is true of many peoples and many places.
I tell you what. If it were left up to me one thing I would do is have our school kids read something useful, which are the hundred of true stories I could name for you that no one ever reads anymore because they are buried away in books that are long out of print.
One book I'd have them read was written by Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge. It's called "Hero tales from American History."
Here's what's in it:
George Washington -- Daniel Boone and the founding of Kentucky -- George Rogers Clark and the conquest of the Northwest -- The battle of Trenton -- Bennington -- King's Mountain -- The storming of Stony Point -- Gouverneur Morris -- The burning of the "Philadelphia" -- The cruise of the "Wasp" -- The "General Armstrong" privateer -- The battle of New Orleans -- John Quincy Adams and the right of petition -- Francis Parkman -- "Remember the Alamo" -- Hampton roads -- The flag -- The death of Stonewall Jackson -- The charge at Gettysburg -- General Grant and the Vicksburg campaign -- Robert Gould Shaw -- Charles Russell Lowell -- Sheridan at Cedar Creek -- Lieutenant Cushing and the ram "Albemarle" -- Farragut at Mobile Bay -- Lincoln.
If we would quit wasting time trying to fix schools that ain't broke and start letting kids reading exciting true stories that mean something we'd slowly but surely get people back to understanding what liberty is all about.
By the way, folks, you can get a free copy of that book on this site — in any format you want it in, including one that you can read right here on the browser you are using to read these words.
549 Final follow-up
There's a question involved in this story which we never addressed; namely, why did NPR carry such a hyped up story in the first place, and why did I see the same, or similar, story at the same time in several other places.
Consider these facts:
• The story is obviously an attack on the oil and gas industry, true?
• In general, it is the liberal portion of the political establishment which is not happy with the oil and gas industry, true?
• In general, NPR is a part of that liberal portion of the political establishment, true?
BUT! Read this comment, which came directly from the White House on 26 December, 2013 9:06:09 AM MST
Title "Hey everyone," signed:
The White House
While it's too early to declare a new era of bipartisanship, what we've seen recently is that Washington is capable of getting things done when it wants to. And there's an opportunity next year for this town to do its job and make real progress.
Here are just a couple areas where there's been progress made recently -- check them out, and then take a look at our full 2013 year-in-review.
For the first time in years, both parties in Congress came together and passed a budget. This budget doesn't include everything that everyone wanted -- but our economy will grow a little faster, be a little fairer for middle-class families, and create more jobs because of it.
Our businesses created 2 million jobs in 2013. That's more than 8 million private-sector jobs in just over 45 months.
The economy is growing. Just last week we learned that, over the summer, our economy grew at 4.1% -- its strongest pace in almost two years.
We've cut the deficit in half since 2009. That's four years of the fastest deficit reduction since the end of World War II -- and it means we're improving our nation's long-term fiscal position while strengthening our economy.
We produce more oil in the U.S. than we import from abroad. Thanks to an all-of-the-above strategy, we're reducing our reliance on foreign oil -- and that means lower energy costs for consumers.
Did you read that last one? "Thanks to an all-of-the-above strategy, we're reducing our reliance on foreign oil -- and that means lower energy costs for consumers."
How come NPR didn't get that message?
Is it possible the left hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing?
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