American Elephants


Historic New York City As You’ve Never Seen It Before by The Elephant's Child

New York City’s Municipal Archives have just released over 870,000 images from its photographic collection. It is, as the Atlantic describes  it,”a visual coming-of-age story, documenting its maturation into one of the world’s most influential cities.”

The Atlantic’s Alan Taylor has sifted through the images, and come up with 53 early and mid-20th century images for their magazine. The Atlantic has done a number of these spectacular photo essays, and they are always worth your time. There is a link to the whole collection, but they warn the website is swamped, and you may have difficulty reaching it. I loved this early street sweeper. Click on the image to enlarge.



Free Enterprise Does Not Fit Into Obama’s Vision for America by The Elephant's Child

Once upon a time, in the first days of November of 2010, all that was right about the world was shattered by one of the biggest electoral swings in congressional history. Democrats are still trying to grasp what has happened.

Conservatives don’t particularly dislike Liberals, but they detest their ideas. Liberals detest Conservatives and don’t understand their ideas at all.

Conservatives believe that reality suggests we are all flawed human beings, who must be set free to learn from our mistakes and grasp for opportunity. We make a lot of mistakes, but we turn around and correct them, muddle through and do amazing things in the process. The great innovations usually originate in a single mind, not in a committee.

A transaction in the free market does not happen unless both parties find it to their advantage. Competition keeps prices low and fosters innovation. Competition increases the quality and choices of products and services. Competition is hard work for businesses, and they have to fight for customers. They  have to keep track of what their competitors are doing, and find ways to innovate. Because it is hard, they lobby lawmakers to constrain the free markets in which they originally achieved success.

The most effective way to control capitalists is through competition, not regulation. Liberals are sure that rapacious big business will cheat customers, abuse workers and charge too much if  uncontrolled. In the free market, who wants to be a customer of such a business? They’ll go where they’re treated well.

Liberals offer to control the forces let loose in the free market. But control is seldom evenly applied. Those in control will, because they are human, favor one business over another. Or they will favor the unions, or  pick winners and losers, and subsidize a favored business while ignoring the competition.

Liberals are suspicious of competition. They have tried hard to stamp it out in the schools, eliminating winners and losers. Everybody gets a medal and nobody is a winner— lording it over the others.  But if there are no winners, there is no point in trying to be best. It is failures that make us work harder to succeed.

President Obama said that “the free market is the greatest force of economic progress in human history,” but he didn’t mean it. No president in history has worked so hard to expand state control over health care, energy, the environment, the financial sector, education, and American business. If the free market fits into Obama’s vision of America, he hasn’t explained how.

Obama assumes that progress begins with the administration of government money to jump-start a business. Government investment will somehow foster innovation and create jobs and prosperity. “Government money” is not taken as seriously as is the money from the pockets of individual investors. If you run short, there is usually more government money to be had, because failure would make the giver of government money look bad. Individual investors do more due diligence in the first place, and monitor operations more carefully— it’s their money at stake.

Nobody ever said that the free market is easy. It’s hard, but it works. We have evidence over and over— from history, from developing countries, from our own successes and failures.

We are fallible human beings, yet we rise to opportunity. One fallible human being’s success opens doorways for many more. The United States of America has been a beacon to the world in demonstrating the freedom and possibilities of the free market, and more and more nations are growing and prospering because of it.

How very odd that in” the worst recession since the Great Depression,” we should forget the simple rules that made us Americans.




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