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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Jerry Jackson: Capitalism on the march

  • Big River Steel plans to build a 1.1 billion dollar steel mill near Osceola
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  • We had great news recently for the industrial economy in Arkansas.  Big River Steel plans to build a 1.1 billion dollar steel mill near Osceola.  The significance of this project is vitally important for Arkansas jobs.
    It is reported that Big River Steel will employ about 2,000 construction jobs in the Arkansas Delta to build the plant.  Even more significant is the permanent employment of about 525 workers whose annual pay should average around $75,000 per worker.  If I have my decimals in the right place, that adds about 40 million dollars annually to the Arkansas payrolls.
    Hopefully no one will mess this up.  Big River Steel is committing itself (no federal government money) to a large economic risk especially when the worldwide demand for steel is slumping and several European steel plants are decreasing production and laying off thousands of employees.
    So what could go wrong?  Quite a number of complications could hinder progress or completion of the deal.  First the mill will have to meet World Bank environmental standards.  Who knows what ridiculous requirements will come from the environmental wackos.  Remember the delays and tens of millions of dollars additional cost caused by the Sierra Club and other environmentalists in building the modern energy plant in Southwestern Arkansas?  You and I are paying for that.  In fact had their lawsuit been successful there would have been no new plant.
    This deal is not complete.  Other states are waiting to see if Arkansas spins its wheels.  According to the Arkansas Dem-Gaz Mississippi offered Big River Steel
    160 million for the project which is still on the table.  Oklahoma’s governor is also attempting to convince Big River Steel about the advantages of that state.
    Arkansas has a number of strong recruiting points for a large industrial project.
     A strong and willing work force is vitally important.  Being a right to work state is a must as well as the overall anti-union attitude of Arkansas.
    If the Republican legislature can push through some restructuring of Arkansas income tax rules, we will have a better opportunity to land more industrial development.  Compared to adjoining states income tax rates are not favorable particularly having the top rate of 7 percent kick in when taxable income reaches 32 thousand dollars is ridiculous and antiquated.  The Democrat governor and Democrat legislature in Arkansas never addressed this important point.
    Is there an ironic issue in this extremely important development?  Wow! - is there ever.  During the 2010 and especially the 2012 election, the governor, liberal voices, columns and letters to the editor to The Sun Times (particularly one perennial writer) lambasted, ridiculed and showed righteous indignation about one company in particular that was pouring in money helping to elect Republican legislators.  These evil and despicable people were the industrial giants from Wichita, Kansas known as the Koch Brothers.
    Page 2 of 2 - Guess who are the biggest stockholders in the Big River Steel Company?  You got it – the Koch Brothers.  The Koch Brothers have an enormous empire in developing and delivering energy other than wind and sun.  We can’t possible be associated with these demons of capitalism.  If these left wingers have any principles, surely there will be an avalanche of protests against Big River Steel.  Since the Arkansas legislature is now controlled by Republicans, that could be a major reason why Arkansas was chosen for this new plant site by Big River Steel.
    If we can land this baby, it will be a model of how state governments and private industry can work together.  The benefits from this proposed project would go to Arkansas and Big River Steel together.  There is no reason why the federal government should be involved.  Obama’s administration has been particularly active in trying to pick winners and losers on industrial projects.  The most notable result has been failures with taxpayers losing billions of dollars.  A prime example is Solyndra.
    You hear supporters of this administration complain that Solyndra is just one over-publicized failure.  No, there are many.  Has anyone come up with a list of successful industrial projects financed by the federal government?  If so, please remit me a copy.  You probably shouldn’t include the Post Office.
     
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                For you math aficionados an important event occurred recently at the University of Central Missouri.  They have identified the largest prime number yet.  A prime number, as I’m sure most of you know, is one that is divisible only by themselves and the number one.  Small numbers in this category are 3, 7 and 11.  This magic number has 17 million digits – hard to conceive.  They used almost 1,000 computers in this exercise.  One might say this is a waste of time and resources, but at least during this research these students were isolated from the liberal garbage that is flooding college campuses.
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