American Elephants


Celebrate Cheap Abundant Electricity and Human Progress by The Elephant's Child

Let’s Hear it For Civilization, and Common Sense! by The Elephant's Child
March 31, 2012, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Environment, Junk Science | Tags: ,

Reprinted from Anthony Watts splendid blog, Watts Up with That?:

Earth Hour: A Dissent

by Ross McKitrick

Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics, Univer...In 2009 I was asked by a journalist for my thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour.

Here is my response.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water.

Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.

Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity.

Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.

Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations.

No thanks.

I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.

[Ross McKitrick is a Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph, Canada. Photo Credit: Wikipedia]



Bill Whittle Pulls No Punches by The Elephant's Child
March 31, 2012, 8:35 am
Filed under: Iran, Politics, Progressivism, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , ,

Bill Whittle addresses this administration and all its works and finds them to be “Merchants of Despair.” Whether intentionally or unintentionally, they have brought Chicago style politics to the nation’s capitol. Actions have consequences, and they did not understand what the consequences of their actions would be.

They thought it was a game, a political game, in which they won, and so could take advantage of the financial crisis to do things that they well knew that the American people did not want. But they did them anyway, in a kind of thumbing of the nose to the public, who did not understand what was afoot.

They brought debt and unemployment, inflation and misery to millions of Americans, and thought it didn’t matter. They used the ‘government’s money’ to pay back those who supported them, and thus rewarded, they can expect support again, to do it all over. That’s not free market capitalism, and not a free country and not a free people. And we don’t do things that way.



ObamaCare Gummed Everything Up. by The Elephant's Child

ObamaCare is in the lap of the Supreme Court, and in spite of all the analysis and dissection of motives and personalities, we don’t know what the justices will do.  The battle has changed America, derailed the recovery, and changed health care in ways that we don’t really understand yet.

Traditionally, many doctors were pleased if their children chose to go into medicine. A family with many members in the medical profession was not unusual.  Now physicians aren’t as happy with their chosen life’s work, no longer advise family members or friends to go into medicine, and according to polls are thinking about getting out.

Hospitals are consolidating, many are putting doctors on salary. Our hospital is developing satellite centers for urgent care, classes, outreach, while the hospital itself grows and expands. They are developing a different model, in reaction to ObamaCare and ObamaCare’s potential development in the future. I can’t say that I fully understand the ways in which it is changing, but it is different.

Business has examined their operations and ways of doing business in an effort to protect themselves from what the future might hold, in the light of what it has done so far. The body of regulation that has descended on companies has made them cautious, careful. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare. That, as Liz Peek suggests, should give the supporters of the legislation pause.

And for the rest of us, our health care has changed— no matter what the Supreme Court does.  Are we stuck with the socialized medicine model that a vast majority of Americans hate? If it is not struck down, do we then engage in a tremendous civil war to get it repealed?  If it remains, can we abide the endless tinkering it would require to make an unworkable law even begin to be functional? What were liberals thinking? Did they not understand that the American people…well, no they didn’t.

Liberals do not understand the American people, though they are Americans. They don’t understand human nature. They think they can fix it, so the people who disagree with them don’t disagree any more.  In extremis, they speak of putting the’ far-right wing nuts’ in camps where they can’t annoy the better people any more. They hate to be disagreed with because they don’t know how to answer — except to call names.

They don’t understand the free market, because there are no guarantees. There is risk. There’s a reason why liberals flock to government work and to foundations. They can feel safe. The free market rewards people who take risks and face up to challenges. Life is a risk, and there is no sure security except in hard work and striving. We have safety nets, but what government gives today, it can take away tomorrow.

Obama recently said that in America, we are greater together, when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share. That may be true, but in Obama’s America, the hard-earned dollars of taxpayers are turned over to union supporters, regulations are devised to shut down legitimate businesses, take away people’s rights to their own land, deprive people of their jobs. Ringing phrases come easy, but accomplish nothing.

Obama brags that he saved the auto industry, but the future was yanked away from hundreds of private businesses overnight—auto dealers with hundreds of employees were summarily put out of business. Bondholders, depending on a consistent flow of interest from their holdings in the car companies were guaranteed first call on the assets of a company in case of bankruptcy, were suddenly broke. Taxpayer money goes, not to governmental tasks, but to cronies— buddies who helped the president to get elected.

If ObamaCare is overturned, the world cannot be put back the way it was. Everything is changed, no matter how it all turns out — and not in a good way. Trust is gone or diminished. Security is damaged. And for what? Good governance is not a cheap political game — but you made it so.



Operation “Hot Mic” by The Elephant's Child

This Was More Than a Bad Week for Obama, It Was a Tipping Point. by The Elephant's Child

I think we reached a sort of tipping point this week.  Politically, this was an unbelievably bad week for the President and his administration. And the defining event was not even the constitutional lessons being exposed in Supreme Court consideration of the Patient Protection and Affordable Car Act. The defining event was a whispered exchange with the Soviet president Dmitry Medvedev captured by a microphone still on.

President Obama: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”

President Medvedev: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…”

President Obama: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

President Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.”

The next day the president tried to explain away his comment, and made it worse. He insisted his comments to Medvedev were “not a matter of hiding the ball—I’m on record” about wanting to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles. His private comments to Medvedev were not about nuclear stockpiles, but about missile defense, and he was promising more accommodation to Vladimir Putin’s Russia next year.

Most presidents have come to office hoping to do good and serious things for the country and for the American people. They often bring with them ideas about just what those good and serious things will be. In most cases, they have discussed them thoroughly with the American people during the campaign, and made promises to the people. Yet as they settle in to the White House and learn about the office, they will inevitably find that the problems on the presidential plate may order different priorities than exactly what they originally had in mind. The world and events inexorably move on.

Barack Obama came to office and was shocked! shocked! as were his economic advisers at the awful mess left to him by George W. Bush — at least as described in his new campaign video “The Road We Traveled.” Why were they shocked? Were they not paying attention? Did they think that the ascension of “the One” to the highest office wiped the slate of events clean so that he could start reinventing America?

He was offered all sorts of help in the transition, because Bush did not want to leave the kind of mess, even for the opposing party, that was left to him by the Clinton administration. Yet Barack Obama was so reluctant to accept the burden of the presidency that he could not stop whining and complaining for three whole years. All those things he was forced to deal with —those were Bush’s fault — the good and popular things like clean green energy— those were Obama’s doing.

From the very first, Obama has been singularly uninterested in what the American people wanted. He wants to install his own personal agenda for his own selfish reasons. We’ve never had a president like this. All presidents make mistakes, do things they probably should not, at least in retrospect, have done. The president of the United States doesn’t occupy office to do as he pleases. He is president of all the people, including Republicans, and it is his job to do what is right for the country to the best of his ability. In the Washington Times, Charles Hurt said:

The past seven brutal days will go down as one of the worst weeks in history for a sitting president. … Somehow, Mr. Obama managed to embarrass himself abroad, humiliate himself here at home, see his credentials for being elected so severely undermined that it raises startling questions about whether he should have been elected in the first place — let alone be re-elected later this year.

Over at Contentions, Abe Greenwald adds:

It’s true this has been Obama’s worst week ever. But it’s also more than that. There are all sorts of ways to have a bad political week, and most don’t involve secretly colluding with the Kremlin and watching your signature policy initiative deliquesce at the Supreme Court.

For Obama detractors, this week was the mother of all “told-ya-so’s”: the disaster predictions of his presidency made manifest; all the contents of 2008’s dire prophecies conjured into the real world. The brazen courting of international bad actors, the constitutionally unfeasible leftism, and the political illiteracy have been summoned at last in the space of a few days.

Worst of all is the clear, bright line connecting the health-care showdown and the Putin pander: Barack Obama’s casual indifference to democratic principle. That the healthcare overhaul was a federally enforced protection racket is no more relevant to him than Vladimir Putin’s aggressive anti-freedom agenda. Expedience means the state compels the people to do what’s in their best interest. No one said change is easy.

In the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan writes about a president who “increasingly comes across as devious and dishonest.”

In terms of the broad electorate, I’m not sure he really has a relationship. A president only gets a year or two to forge real bonds with the American people. In that time a crucial thing he must establish is that what is on his mind is what is on their mind. This is especially true during a crisis.

From the day Mr. Obama was sworn in, what was on the mind of the American people was financial calamity—unemployment, declining home values, foreclosures. These issues came within a context of some overarching questions: Can America survive its spending, its taxing, its regulating, is America over, can we turn it around?

That’s what the American people were thinking about.

But the new president wasn’t thinking about that. All the books written about the creation of economic policy within his administration make clear the president and his aides didn’t know it was so bad, didn’t understand the depth of the crisis, didn’t have a sense of how long it would last. They didn’t have their mind on what the American people had their mind on.

And again in the Wall Street Journal, Martin Peretz editor in chief of the New Republic from 1974 to 2011:

But really the message, the important one, concerns us, here in America. It is that the American people can’t be trusted if the president is honest with them about what he proposes. More bluntly, that the American people are not trusted by their own president. Otherwise the president would tell us the truth about his intentions. And here he is, admitting his distrust of his own people to a leader of a nasty foreign government that seeks to thwart our purposes in the Middle East and elsewhere. President Obama is in cahoots with the Russian regime against America’s very body politic.

Mr. Obama’s revealing comment, and the question of missile defense, and the question of Mr. Obama’s bizarre desire for coziness with Vladimir Putin, is a matter about which our European allies have great concerns.

It is all very disturbing.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,503 other followers

%d bloggers like this: