American Elephants


There’s a Lot of Misguided Thinking Going On Here! by The Elephant's Child
July 18, 2011, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, History, Humor, Liberalism, Literature | Tags: , ,

There is a disturbing tendency among many towards straight-line thinking.  If the stock market is down today, it will only be down more tomorrow and we’re all doomed.  I just saw an article claiming that a house is no longer a good investment now or in the foreseeable future.

A bad food crop means world starvation and a slight warming trend means catastrophic global warming. Peak oil falls into the same category. This only seems to work with negative events. Nobody seizes upon a wonderful day and writes about it’s being the harbinger of constant wonderful days. Is it just a gloomy disposition?

President Obama has been insistent upon comparing his recession to the Great Depression.  Whether that’s because he wants to be compared to FDR, or wants people to understand the terrors he faces, I don’t know. The actual recession is far less serious than the Great Depression, and has only been made worse by administration ineptness, and adherence to discredited economic policies.

Then there is the problem of confusing cause and effect. The New York Times’ David Leonhardt goes off on the real culprit — consumer spending.  Discretionary spending on restaurant meals, entertainment, education and insurance is down in this slump almost 7 percent, when it’s never fallen before more than 3 percent per capita. It’s all the consumers’ fault.

I have been rereading a wonderful essay by Tom Wolfe from the 1970s — Radical Chic which describes the courting of romantic radicals like the Black Panthers, striking grapeworkers and the Young Lords by New York’s socially elite.  He focuses particularly on one symbolic event: the gathering of the radically chic at Leonard Bernstein’s Park Avenue apartment to meet spokesmen of the Black Panther Party, to hear them out and talk over ways of aiding their cause.  The players and the event have changed, but the strange phenomenon continues.

You had Jane Fonda celebrating the brave Viet Cong peasants, and heroin chic in which fashion decreed that the in look was that of an addict on the street.   Everybody is wearing Sadat’s keffiyeh, We have torn jeans, worn-out jeans, clothes that look that they came from your grandmother’s ragbag.

Destroyed cotton t-shirt , Balmain, $1,624, collection at Jeffrey, NYC.  Canvas shorts, Bottega Veneta $590.  Shell earrings, Celestina, $780.  Webbing Belt, Burberry $325.  Ribbon ID bracelets, Mianstal $120 each. The Look : total cost $3,559 (plus tax).     (Photo and prices from American Digest)
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Diversity reigns on the nation’s campuses, which oddly seems to mean only color of skin and ethnicity — which are only the most diverse things about a person according to those who are deeply fixated on race.  The rest of us think that two people of whatever color and ethnicity who are both Army brats probably have a lot more in common than two people who happen to come from different parts of Africa.  A couple of young moms who had their babies on the same day in the same hospital probably care more about that fact that about the difference in the color of their babies.

I don’t venture to connect all the dots, nor to pose some philosophic truth. I’m just noticing that there’s a lot of fuzzy thinking going on.



Class Warfare 101: Tax Corporate Jets, Builders Sell Few, Workers Lose Jobs. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is always ready to play class warfare. It was probably part of his training as a community organizer.  If your goal is “fairness” then how can anything be fair  if some people are richer than others and have more stuff.

Class warfare means you must hate “the rich”  because they have more stuff.  And the stuff to really envy are— corporate jets. You are supposed to assume that corporate jets are just an unneeded luxury that somehow cheats shareholders and workers.  American business would be hiring so many more workers if business executives were traveling coach like the rest of us and spending their valuable time in long lines being patted down by TSA. Corporate planes are a business tool, and the more widespread the business, the more executives have to travel.

The president demonized meetings in Las Vegas a while back, and all sorts of organizations cancelled their meeting plans there.  Business in Las Vegas dropped off sharply, unemployment increased.  Why did businesses cancel meetings there? Who wants to be held up on national television and accused of wasting money, being there to gamble? Being demonized by the president of the United States suggests all sorts of repercussions — lengthy tax audits, new regulations, new laws.  There’s a reason why so many corporations have lobbyists in Washington.

If you remember, back in the late 1980s Congress, in its wisdom, slapped a 10 percent luxury tax on yachts priced at more than $100,000 and on private planes that cost more than $250,000.  Killed the boat builders. Over 100 builders cut their operations, laid off thousands of workers, and the tax had little effect on folks who wanted a yacht.  They just bought their boat in the Bahamas.

Airplane manufacturers are one of America’s largest exporters, and the industry has been affected by the recession as much as the rest of the economy.  It is an industry that employs real workers, and if business stops buying corporate jets, real people get laid off.  Builders have laid off 20,000 workers since 2008, and are down to roughly 120,000 workers.

The general rule is— if you want less  of something,tax it!  If you want more, reduce the taxes.  That seems so simple that you’d think even a Congressman or a president would be able to remember it.

And by the way, the tax loophole for corporate jets was part of Obama’s stimulus bill.



The Aussies Don’t Like Cap-And-Trade Either! by The Elephant's Child

Our friends down under elected a Labour candidate as their new Prime Minister, the first woman to hold the office in Australia.  Now they’re stuck with Cap-and-Trade, which will cost their economy dearly, and accomplish nothing at all. Even if you double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, it would mean only a possible one degree warmer, something that we can adapt to rather easily.

But on the eve of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax announcement, we learn that Australia’s primary schoolchildren are being terrified by lessons claiming that climate change will bring “death, injury and destruction” to the world unless they take action.  The Centre for Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University’s director Dr.Sue Stocklmayer said that climate change has been  portrayed as Doomsday scenarios with no way out.

Sounds like those videos of exploding children.  Green activists are so convinced of their own righteousness that they feel fine about trying to indoctrinate children by scaring them. Federal Schools Minister Peter Garrett said the government would not stop the teaching of climate science, despite moves in Britain for the subject to be withdrawn.  The school activities are championed by the Federal Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.  (Sounds like it compares to our very own EPA.)

It sounds like a revolt is brewing.  One very well-informed Aussie woman took on Prime Minister Gillard, and won handily, and the video has gone viral in Australia.

Governments accept the IPCC reports as if they were gospel, question nothing, and have little understanding of the extent to which ordinary people are taking the trouble to learn about climate.  Perhaps it is catching— a worm in the brain that they pick up from other bureaucrats at important meetings.  The infection spreads and suddenly they are all preaching that they must DO something.  That train has already left the station.  The world is not running out of energy, the earth has been cooling for nearly 15 years, and foolish green ideas will play havoc with Australia’s carbon intensive economy.  People particularly don’t like it when you scare their kids.




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