Friday, May 23, 2008

The Eternal Pessimist

April 10th 2008

Chapter 6: The Eternal Pessimist

What’s wrong with this picture? I keep reading responses to articles in the paper and listening to people talking about economic development in Union County with the proposed Hyperion Oil Refinery. I keep hearing about what an opportunity for jobs this will be. People ask me why I am against progress. Why don’t I want to see our young people given an opportunity to find good jobs and stay here in Union County? Why am I trying to help suppress an opportunity for people to have $20-$30 an hour jobs. Why am I so against economic development? Gee folks, I guess it is because a) it is not going to happen. b) If it does happen, it is going to be minimum or 4 or 5 years from now.

This is my idea on how this is going to work. First of all, you have two classes or types of workers. Blue collar workers, which are your construction and labor crews. And white collar workers, which are the office workers and management. Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that this project is going to start on July 1, 2008. For the next 4 or five years there will be nothing happening, because Hyperion is going to be jumping through hoops trying to get all the necessary permits which will allow them to construct the refinery.

Let’s say that Johnny or Mary Jones have their heart set on being a chemical engineer for Hyperion. Johnny and Mary are seniors in high school and are 18 years old. They are going to fit the timeline because they will start college about the same time Hyperion starts the permitting process. Zoom ahead 4 years and they both graduate from college with honors. Sorry, Hyperion doesn’t need any chemical engineers yet because they haven’t started construction on the refinery yet. They are still waiting on some final permitting. Johnny and Mary are now 22 years old and have graduated and presume they have some college loans to pay off, so they go to Omaha to get a job that pays them a decent salary which will allow them to live and pay back their college loans. (Being a chemical engineer isn’t cheap you know) The time is now 2012 by the way. Maybe Johnny and Mary are married now and starting to raise a family. They are at the right age you know. They fill out their resumes and send them into Hyperion. Hyperion responds that they thank them for the resume and will keep them on file, but they really don’t need chemical engineers right now cause they are just getting ready to start the construction phase and what they really need are blue collar workers. In the meantime the company is ramping up for the onslaught of 4500 construction workers to get this thing up and running. Now here is the 20-30 dollar an hour jobs. Mindful that the jobs they have now are probably making that $20-30 Just the factoring in inflation should get them there. Maybe they are even making even more money. But anyway this is the opportunity they have been waiting for and take the job. Look mom and dad I’m working for Hyperion. Bear in mind that this job is only a four year job because when the construction is finished, they don’t need pipefitters and welders anymore. Oh by the way, do you have a minimum of 2 years experience in pipefitting. Do to the complexity of this job you must be experienced.

The biggest splurge in jobs is coming from good ol’ government. Let’s count them up and see what we come up with.
1. Assistant Land Use Administrator – College degree and prefer minimum 5 years experience in the field. Must be able to read blueprints, line prints and blueline drawings. Needs to be able to interpret engineering drawings to scale. Since this is a 400,000 bbl a day operation we need 5 of them.
Inspectors – need someone actually go into the field and inspect portions of the refinery and make a judgment call yes or no. this inspection could be a barn, stack, and a hole in the ground. Be careful what you say though, because if you make any suggestions, it is coming from a position of authority and then they will take that as fact and then make engineering studies and changes to the drawings and sock you for the bill because you made them change it. Which by the way is adding 2 weeks to the construction schedule?

Here are the personnel Hyperion says they are going to need for this operation. Engineers, Operators and Supervisors, maintenance, instrument techs, mechanics, lab techs, Health and Safety, Human Resources, security, accounting, admin support, electrical techs, operations managers, pipefitters,

OPERATIONS - - 1,826 jobs.


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