Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

August 20, 2013

CONFER: Obama should focus on energy and people

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Recently, though, the president has broken from the far left of his party and alluded to the greatness of the vast natural gas reserves that other states have been reaping with hydrofracking (“fracking”). This resource can be extracted efficiently, cleanly and smartly with investments by the private sector being done under the watchful eye of the public sector.

The abundant gases can be used to make very clean electricity on the cheap, which will instantly and significantly lower one of the largest production costs (manufacturers could see power bills drop by 10% or more). Similarly, the gas can be used to make polyethylene, which can satisfy domestic demand for plastics, helping the market which has seen higher prices due to higher global demand. This could lead to plastic prices dropping by more than 20%.

Both of those factors will lead to greater middle class employment in the manufacturing sector because exports would increase and domestic consumers would buy more goods — all courtesy of significantly lower input and selling costs.

Capitalize on our people

Why do we as a society think that a college education is the gateway to success? For many it is. But for just as many, it’s the gateway to debt.

Success can be also be had for those who want it by utilizing vocational education, offered by many public schools and regional consortiums (like BOCES). Such programs have been grossly underutilized to the determent of the middle class: The National Association of Manufacturers reports that the skills gap is so significant that 600,000 open positions are wanting nationwide while 400,000 more exist in the trucking industry. It’s obvious that opportunity exists.

We need to make good on that opportunity and transform our national educational policy – if not society’s outlook on alleged “dirty jobs” — to account for teens being not just college-ready, but workforce-ready, too. Give people the skills that the marketplace needs. We need to emphasize and empower those blue-collar scholastic pursuits, as well as the associated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curricula, skill sets in which other nations’ students are besting ours.

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Bob Confer
  • NIA Confer, Bob mug CONFER: A constitutional convention is not the answer For the past few years it has been popular for folks of the right persuasion (Republicans and neoconservatives) to call for a constitutional convention ("Con-Con") in hopes of passing a balanced budget amendment (BBA.) A lot of people have jumped on that bandwagon; no doubt your email inbox or Facebook news feeds have shown that.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug CONFER: Health care vouchers would really help our veterans When sending off our men and women to fight for our defense or interests abroad where they face the barrel of a gun or travel along bomb-strewn roads as a course of their daily duties, it only makes sense that upon their return we give our warriors some sort of reward, since most of them are paid peanuts for the risks they take.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug new CONFER: Looking north to those living the Canadian dream Wikipedia defines the American Dream as "a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work."

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug new CONFER: America has a trucking crisis Because a Hollywood star was critically injured in an accident caused by a tractor trailer, the public conversation has turned to road safety and how big trucks fit into that equation. Never mind that beyond Tracy Morgan's high-profile crash there are 500,000 accidents with tractor trailers every year in which an average of 11 people die each day.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug CONFER: Don't expand bear hunting in New York A couple of weeks ago some folks were lucky enough to see a black bear in the town of Pendleton. The news and social media were all abuzz over the sighting, just as they were in the summer of 2009 when a lone black bear stayed in the county for quite some time. Niagara County residents were then, as they are now, hoping to catch a glimpse of an awesome beast that is an infrequent visitor to our region.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug new CONFER: Suffering from constitutional selectivity It's a real treat when our citizens come out in numbers and with passion in the defense of one of our rights, just as they did - and still do - with the NY-SAFE Act.

    May 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug new CONFER: Economic cannibalism: developers eat their own It's not often that you'll find me celebrating the loss of an economic development project that would have created 200 jobs in Western New York. But, I did just that a few weeks ago when a deal to bring a Toronto-based plastics manufacturer to the Buffalo waterfront fell through at the eleventh hour.

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer mug 051214 CONFER: All of Niagara County should say 'no' to CWM expansion CWM Chemical Services maintains a 710-acre facility in the towns of Lewiston and Porter for the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous and industrial non-hazardous wastes. Wastes accepted at this facility are disposed of in an on-site landfill (known as RMU-1) or shipped to another facility for further processing and disposal.

    May 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug 050714 CONFER: Microbeads: An invisible danger to the environment Most people would think that because my livelihood is based in plastics I'd toe the industry line and wax poetic on the economic and social virtues of plastics of all sorts. This is not always the case.

    May 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug CONFER: Where are the volunteers? Have you ever wondered why it seems like you see the same people engaged in the efforts of numerous non-profits, churches, fire companies and youth organizations within your community? It's not an illusion. Those tireless souls really are involved in everything. They not only want to be, they have to be -- because no almost one else is giving up their time.

    April 29, 2014 1 Photo

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