Is Your Kid Graduating College With A Marketable Degree?

Unemployed-College-GradsEarlier this year, I noticed a brief article, Look to Smartphones for Unemployment Solutions, in the New York Post business section, and it has popped back into my mind several times since then, so I thought it should be shared:

The premise of the article is that about half the students graduating college are unemployed, despite the fact that many companies cannot find adequate job candidates with the necessary technical skills for the modern marketplace. I find this remarkable – why don’t young people leaving college have marketable degrees, especially ones that reflect the education necessary to perform available technical jobs? What are these “hot” technical jobs with nice starting salaries? The article cites mobile data engineers, wireless network engineers and mobile app developers for tablets and smartphones. According to the article, 3.5 million technical jobs go unfilled. A tech executive stated that once promising technical candidates are identified, firms “need to hire quickly and be prepared to extend compensations and benefits packages that beat what competing firms are willing to offer.”

It certainly troubles me that kids are graduating with massive debt, in particular from private colleges with huge tuitions, and yet, they leave college with degrees that don’t allow them to qualify for the actual jobs available. Why aren’t colleges training kids properly for real world jobs? What an incredible disconnect between colleges and economic realities. I’m glad my son is only in eighth grade – we have time for research to ensure his major lands him a good job when he graduates college in 2023!

Jim Maisano

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

It’s No Secret Why Employers Leave NY

By William F. B. O’Reilly

Goodbye New YorkSometimes I watch my beloved Mets and wonder, “Are they even trying?” I mean really, as a franchise, is winning actually a priority?

I get the same feeling about Albany. We’re just a few days into the 2015 legislative session and already it’s clear that nothing to sharpen New York’s competitive edge is even on the table. New York needs good fastball hitters and Albany’s arguing over centerfield signage.

Other states don’t have this problem. Florida announced another feather in its cap Monday. Voxx International, the car stereo company, is moving its headquarters to Orlando. The company formerly known as Audiovox has been on Long Island since 1960.

“Florida will provide an excellent location and a pro-business climate,” Voxx chief executive Pat Lavelle said, not so subtly zinging New York for its nation-trailing business climate.

Pennsylvania is in the hunt. The state reaping billions of dollars from natural gas drilling — New York turned up its nose at the opportunity — has been feasting on Entenmann’s cakes since August, when that company moved west from New York after 116 years.

Texas was responsible for 23% of the nation’s economic growth in 2012. It’s clearly trying. So is Alabama, which recruited Remington Arms Co. away from upstate Ilion last year, just as Virginia lured Altria Group from Park Avenue.

It’s no secret why businesses and families keep leaving New York. With the highest taxes in America and the most arduous business regulations, New York has become one big ripoff. Moving makes sense. Staying doesn’t.

If you think the State Legislature is on the case, think again. The state with higher Medicaid costs than Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania combined is actually debating whether to expand Medicaid into a single-payer health care system, and arguing whether the most classroom spending in America is enough.

Other topics of interest? Taxpayer-funded elections. Scholarships for immigrants here illegally. Criminal justice reform, aka, sticking it to NYC cops. Even fewer restrictions on abortion.

I can almost hear Casey Stengel, manager of the of the 1964 Mets. “Can’t anybody here play this game?” he asked of the 53-109 team.

William F. B. O’Reilly is a Republican consultant.

Objective Review of Keystone Pipeline


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I’m an old-fashioned politician. I believe issues should be decided on the merits rather than just supporting the viewpoint of a political party or friendly interest group. In my 17 years as a county legislator, when a new law is introduced and I’m asked “how are you going to vote,” I always say, “I don’t know yet. I need to hear from the proponents and opponents, as well as have discussions with my colleagues.”

I provide this introduction because this week we learned that both houses of Congress will finally be voting on the Keystone pipeline, and I wonder if the members of Congress and the public have performed such an independent review of the issue. I received emails in the past few years from environmental groups condemning this pipeline as if it would be an environmental nightmare.  For example, the Natural Resources Defense Council says, “The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would transport raw, toxic tar sands oil right through the American heartland . . . and threatens to wreak environmental havoc on both sides of the border.”  That is very strong language that sounds overly dramatic, but is it true?

The federal government’s review of the pipeline has now taken six years, which appears unreasonable. The company deserves a decision. Unfortunately, the issue has been locked in a political struggle as the House passed legislation approving the pipeline seven times, but it has been blocked by the Senate and opposed by the President.

As we watch this debate in Congress in the coming week(s), I thought you might appreciate some background on this issue and the arguments pro and con, which I located at this link:

Let’s all objectively review the environmental, economic and other concerns related to this pipeline.


The original Keystone pipeline project is a 2,100 mile-long pipeline that transports crude oil extracted in Canada by a Canadian company called TransCanada Corp. While the Keystone project began in Canada in 2005, the US gave approval for the construction of a trans-border pipeline in March 2007 that stretched from Canada to Illinois and it began operations in 2010. In 2008, TransCanada submitted a request for a newer fourth phase of the pipeline – the Keystone XL project – a 1,179 mile-long crude oil pipeline across the US-Canada international border. The northern leg of the 36-inch wide pipeline plans to connect Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. The southern leg connects Steele City with Port Arthur, Texas. Since the northern leg passes through the international border, it is pending approval from the US Department of State since 2008, causing members of Congress to propose legislation for the approval.


1) TransCanada claims the project will provide 40,000 direct and indirect temporary jobs. However, the number of jobs is hotly debated and may be much less, while the number of permanent jobs will be in the hundreds.

2) The project expects to improve US energy security. Currently, the Gulf Coast region depends on oil imported from countries like Mexico and Venezuela and the amount available has been declining. Piped oil supplied from Canada, which is believed to be the world’s second most oil-rich region after the Middle East, will provide a stable oil source.

3) Besides energy security, the project will help ensure that North American will become energy independent by 2035. The US has been steadily increasing its oil production, and oil production in Canada has seen a similar rise, and linking the production of the two countries will confer independence from oil imports from distant, unfriendly countries.

4) The pipeline project will contribute more than $3 billion to the US with the largest contribution through property taxes collected at places the pipeline passes through.

5) Proponents of the project argue that it will have a positive environmental impact. The world-class technology used will minimize the emission of greenhouse gases. Also, independent analysts have found that the chemical composition of the oil from this project will be identical to oil sources from regions like Nigeria, Mexico, and Alaska, which are already piped inside the US. The US is also thought to have the tightest refinery regulations on the planet, and we are already refining Canadian oil.

6) If the project is not approved, then the US will still be dependent on its oil sources in the Middle East, and the transport of oil over long distances will definitely increase the carbon footprint, as compared to direct piping of oil from Canada.

7) It is much safer to transport crude oil by pipelines than by railroads or tankers, where the chance of explosions is higher. The chances of spillage with piping is minimal and any problems are usually controlled quickly. The Keystone XL project would have one of the safest pipelines equipped with sensors that send data to monitoring satellites every 5 seconds.  If this oil is not piped – it will certainly be transported in less safe ways.


1) Studies claim that utilizing the tar oil supplied by the pipeline will result in a large amount of greenhouse emissions, which will end up raising the Earth’s temperature. This will bring about a drop in the US GDP and have a negative impact on extreme weather conditions and the economy.

2) The pollution caused by extraction of tar oils is much higher than what is caused by conventional oils. Tar oils mixed with sand, water and clay have routinely been described as the ‘dirtiest fuel.’ Also, there are fears that by approving this project, US technology will become almost completely dependent on this polluting energy source.

3) Extracting the tar oil from the ground is messy and complicated, as it requires pumping steam directly into the ground, and this process will cause fragmentation of the pristine forest where the oil is located, besides killing many species of migratory birds and interfering in animal life cycles. The planned pipeline travels through very sensitive terrain which can’t afford any adverse impacts.

4) In case of spills and leaks, conventional oil-cleanup technologies may not work efficiently in this project, because the physical properties of tar oil differ from conventional oil. The main difference is that tar oils, rather than floating on water, sink to the bottom. Also, this acidic oil is corrosive in nature, which increases the chances of spills.

5) Oil spills can damage underground drinking water supplies. This can cause the spread of diseases, while affecting the crop yield of the land, since the pipeline will travel under mostly agricultural areas.

6) Previously, when oil companies extracted tar oil in Alberta, the waste was dumped in open ponds, which became so toxic that fish developed tumors and birds were killed there.

7) Approving the project will reduce investment in cleaner technologies that focus on minimizing environmental impacts.

Finally, an excellent review can be found in the US State Department’s executive summary of the final supplemental environmental impact statement: Keystone Final SEIS Exec Rep

Now you have the facts necessary to form an opinion on the Keystone pipeline. If you were a member of Congress, how would you vote?

Jim Maisano

Marriage, Money & Divorce


Two economists from Emory University conducted a study to find out what leads to divorce. And who would know more about love and relationships than economists?

It’s all a little interesting and confusing.  The more you spend on your wedding, the MORE likely you are to divorce; yet the more money you make, the LESS likely you are to divorce. Hmm. Let’s think about that and add in their finding that people who have a wedding with more than 200+ guests are also LESS likely to divorce. Double hmmm. So, if you make a lot of money (less likely to divorce), you would most likely be able to spend a lot on your wedding (more likely to divorce) and, most likely, invite more than 200 people to your big, expensive wedding (back to less likely to divorce).

What the cuddly economists may be missing is the social-emotional aspect of the circumstances.  If a couple has more than 200 people at their wedding, it seems likely that they have strong support system on which they can draw in difficult times.

With regard to the expense of the wedding, it probably has less to do with the actual dollar amount spent than with the reasons so much was spent.  If the event of the wedding becomes more significant than the act of marriage, then the relationship is doomed regardless of the money spent.

And just because those who are more wealthy are less likely to divorce doesn’t mean that the couple is happy.  Maybe this is the one where the economists can relate. After all, divorce is a messy and expensive business.

Jean Maisano

Work in the Real World First

I’ve always considered myself socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Or as another friend put it, nationally Democrat and locally Republican. Through this blog, I hope to reach people who identify themselves in this manner. It’s unfortunate that there are very few politicians that fit this mold. In my last post, I outlined my issues with the Republican Party. This post outlines my issues with the Democratic Party.

As a small business owner, I’m familiar with the many layers of regulations necessary to do business. Anyone who has spent any iota of time in the real world would not be proponents of adding complexity to the business of business. More often than not, Democratic candidates are career politicians while their Republican counterparts come from industry. Would love to see a requirement that before seeking office, every candidate must have spent time in the real world (and the military). I understand that there’s more to being a public servant than matters that concern the economy, but only by having spent time trying to turn 10 dollars into 20 can one grasp the challenges of business.

Let’s not perpetuate class warfare. I cringe every time I hear “the wealthy have to pay their fair share.” Really? Please define wealthy. If there is real concern about who is paying their fair share, then make it easy to determine everyone’s share. Eliminate deductions and pay a flat rate. Simple and clean. No more debate about who is not carrying their load. Added benefit: with no deductions, the tax code will no longer be used to pick winners and losers in the economy.

When it comes to the economy and the citizens of the United States, the federal government has one job to do. That is to level the playing field. Don’t stack the deck in favor of one industry (e.g. mortgage deductions favoring the construction business) or group of citizens (e.g. charitable deductions). I’m a free market individual and appreciate its ability to allocate resources effectively. However, for the market to do its job more efficiently, every individual must have an equal chance of participating. That’s our government’s role. As Arthur Okun sums up in the subtitle of his book Equality and Efficiency, it’s a big tradeoff but one that will have a lasting impact.


Jeffrey Hastie