TribLIVE

| Business

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Business worries pile up

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, June 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Here are 10 confidence-killers. Every business person must be worried about at least one of these. Maybe all 10.

• Obamacare. A big cloud over 2014. The Affordable Care Act kicks in fully six months from now, Jan. 1, and business still can't weigh all its unaffordables. Socializing medicine for millions by way of layers of insurance “exchanges,” taxes and penalties poses a storm of costs and confusions. And doesn't spending more on health mean spending less on other stuff, such as what your company might make?

• Quantitative easing, officialese for the Federal Reserve's binge-printing of dollars. Stimulating the economy is the stated aim. Holding down interest payments on a horrendous national debt is a suspicious convenience. But spinning $85 billion out of thin air, every month, poses a wicked inflation down the road, with all the agony of curing that someday.

• So quit the quantitative easing then? Not so easy. It would signal higher interest rates, wider budget deficits, lower bond prices and reversal of the bull market in stocks. Goodbye to the “wealth effect” that's spurring consumer spending.

• Internal Revenue Service scandals. The IRS got caught. It was targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups for special hassles on their tax-exempt status. Which drives the latest nail in the coffin of citizenly trust in government. Too bad there's no sign yet that disgust with the IRS might lead to abolishing the tax for which it stands. Income tax reform would be wind under the wings for U.S. business.

• The regulatory state. Where Congress doesn't act, regulators rush in. The Environmental Protection Agency and National Labor Relations Board, to name two, radicalize rules that should be set by lawmakers.

• Civil war in Syria. We help the rebels, the Russians and Iranians abet tyrannical President Assad. But war always poses dangers of getting sucked in deeper and costlier. The harvest of deaths so far: 93,000, and all Arab vs. Arab, with no America to blame — yet.

• Man-made global warming. This fear, perhaps a computer-modeled illusion, haunts and hobbles U.S. energy and industrial development. Coal-fired power plants are doomed with incredibly faint protest. The 1,700-mile Keystone pipeline spanning the country north to south is stalled year after year, nevermind its vast potential-in-waiting for jobs and steel pipe sales.

• A dream of U.S. energy independence can't be pursued full-throttle. Fears of rock fracturing, “fracking,” to get at deep layers of shale oil and gas are whipped up by environmentalists and even the movies. We mustn't need the gas anyway, say economics-challenged critics. Aren't companies planning to export the stuff? Yeah, like we don't need timber, soybeans or software either, all dollar-earning exports.

• China's chronic theft of U.S. technology and spying in cyberspace. What more does this “trading partner” want from us, with only the mildest of diplomatic protests against its own high barriers to U.S.-made goods and services?

• Shortage of manufacturing job skills. A perennial problem, even as parents and teachers slavishly point young people toward college as the passport to middle-class incomes.

• Failing public school systems ... oops, but that's an 11th worry.

Jack Markowitz is a Thursday columnist for Trib Total Media. Email jmarkowitz@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
  2. Bubble soccer bounces its way into Western Pa. sports venues
  3. Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
  4. Since 1969, Pine resident Fitzgerald’s garden has flourished
  5. Pirates acquire Soria from Tigers
  6. Stocks bounce back from big losses to close relatively flat
  7. Fashion FYI: RAW: Pittsburgh showcase features over 40 artists
  8. Passing the illegals buck
  9. Turkey aims guns at Kurdish rebels
  10. Pirates notebook: Blanton introduced; Worley designated for assignment
  11. Confirm Judge Restrepo