From Volume 5, Issue Number 33 of EIR Online, Published Aug.15, 2006

U.S. Economic/Financial News

Rohatyn's Big MAC Caused 'Excessive Disease Burden' on NYC Population

A new study by public-health experts documents how Felix Rohatyn's 1975 Big MAC assault on New York City caused an "excess disease burden on the population." The research team is associated with various medical institutions of New York, and its article appeared in the March 2006 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, published by the American Public Health Association. In 1975, synarchist banker Felix Rohatyn designed and chaired the Municipal Assistance Corporation known as Big MAC, which imposed fierce austerity on the city, overseeing the budget for over 20 years. This abstract appears on the journal's website:

"In 1975, New York City experienced a fiscal crisis rooted in long-term political and economic changes in the city. Budget and policy decisions designed to alleviate this fiscal crisis contributed to the subsequent epidemics of tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and homicide in New York City.

"Because these conditions share underlying social determinants, we consider them a syndemic, i.e., all 3 combined to create an excess disease burden on the population. Cuts in services; the dismantling of health, public safety, and social service infrastructures; and the deterioration of living conditions for vulnerable populations contributed to the amplification of these health conditions over 2 decades.

"We estimate that the costs incurred in controlling these epidemics exceeded $50 billion (in 2004 dollars); in contrast, the overall budgetary saving during the fiscal crisis was $10 billion. This history has implications for public health professionals who must respond to current perceptions of local fiscal crises."

The Curse of Lazard Advisors at UAW

The Vice President of the UAW for Ford employees, Bob King, spoke at a JP Morgan Chase-sponsored conference in Chicago on Aug. 8; King offered Ford management further negotiations, expanded buyouts, and other cost-cutting measures now, to help out the new management team. King praised that team, including Mark Fields, the faker who wrote the secret memo about the "down Mexico way forward" which got leaked in June.

King, according to Detroit News reports, said the UAW "wouldn't rule out anything," including a merger or alliance by Ford with a foreign automaker. Ford is already buying out 12,000 employees into retirement by the end of this year, part of the 70,000 autoworkers being washed out of the industry by GM, Delphi, and Ford combined. King's offer was to increase that. This would set up more plant closings—perhaps the "seven more plants" rumored in reports from contacts on Aug. 5.

Ford, with its new senior advisor from Goldman Sachs, Kenneth Leet, was not previously reported to be planning new plant closures and buyouts, but rather other desperate moves—such as the sale of a major interest in Ford Credit; sale of Jaguar, perhaps Volvo, etc.

Word of King's speech and its implications has already reached Ford plants, and there are unconfirmed reports that Ford may announce, as early as Aug. 11, the "early" closing of a major East Coast assembly plant, in Norfolk, Virginia. The plant will be shut at least half of the time from now to Dec. 31. Other reports target the Louisville, Kentucky truck assembly plant, and others.

DOE Plan Will Make 'Transmission Congestion' Even Worse

In the wake of weeks of power-transmission failures nationwide over the summer months—failures rightly blamed on electricity deregulation—the Department of Energy on Aug. 8 released a report on "transmission congestion" whose proposals would make the situation worse. "National Electric Transmission Congestion Study 2006" was mandated by the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which in turn reflected Dick Cheney's energy looters' Task Force Report—combining price increases and more profitability for energy multinationals, with certain supports for nuclear power (and "other alternative sources").

The report identifies the worst "transmission congestion" areas as the New York-to-Washington, D.C. corridor area, and Southern California; and other "transmission congestion concern" areas as Boston, Seattle/Portland, Northern California, and Phoenix/Tuscon. But does it recommend new capacity and new investment in the local transmission grids in those areas, as in the era of regulated utilities? Oh, no.

Rather, it recommends—and says it may mandate and even build—new long-distance transmission "corridors" to help the deregulated "merchant" power companies ship power to those areas from far-distant regions of North America. In fact, the DOE defines "congestion" at the outset, as a reliability constraint which keeps electricity flows across a transmission line below "the desired level"—that desired by the deregulated merchant companies wheeling their purchased power around the continent.

And the Energy Department assigns to those source regions their power sources to be developed—coal and wind from the Rocky Mountain areas; oil sands, natural gas, and wind from Western Canada; coal from Illinois, West Virginia, and Kentucky; nuclear from the Southeast, etc.—as if on Dick Cheney's pre-war oil-field map of Iraq. The result would be no better.

Maryland County Offer Incentives for New Nuclear Plant

The Board of Commissions of Calvert County, Maryland has voted to offer Constellation Energy major property tax credits if it will build a third nuclear reactor at the Calvert Cliffs site, PR Newswire reported Aug. 8. The Board cites the economic benefit to this, the smallest of Maryland's counties, with only 88,000 people. The construction of a new plant would provide 3,200 temporary jobs, and 400 new permanent, high-paying, skilled jobs. The Board states that the "potential tax benefits to the County and State are staggering: in FY06, Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant contributed $15.5 million to the County," paying more than $173 million since the first unit opened in 1973.

The Calvert Cliffs site was originally designed for four reactors, and it is the only nuclear facility in Maryland. It was the first commercial nuclear plant to receive 20-year re-licensing, in 2000. Constellation Energy will soon choose one among of a number of sites for a new nuclear plant. Last week, it announced it had placed orders for the long-lead-time forgings that will be needed for a new build.

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