American Elephants


One Third of Our Population is Receiving Welfare. Thanks, Obama. by The Elephant's Child

“The federal government administers nearly 80 different overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs,” according to the Senate Budget Committee. The figures shown in this chart do not include those who benefit only from Social Security and/or Medicare.

Food stamps and Medicaid make up  a major chunk of the more than 100 million recipients. “Among he major means tested welfare programs, since 2000 Medicaid has increased from 34 million people to 54 million in 2011, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) from 17 million to 45 million in 2011.” says the Senate Budget Committee. “Spending on food stamps alone is projected to reach $800 billion over the next decade.”

The US Census’ Survey of Income and Program Participation shows that nearly 110,000 million individuals received a welfare benefit in 2011.  (These figures do not include other means-tested benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or the health insurance premium subsidies included in the President’s health care law.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the premium subsidies, scheduled to begin in 2014, will cover at least 25 million individuals by the end of the decade).

This is not just Americans. “These figures include not only citizens, ut  non-citizens as well.

110 million people is one-third of our population. What is the tipping point where the productive people can no longer afford to support the rest. The federal government is vigorously trying to increase the numbers of people on food stamps and on welfare. Why do we have to support illegal aliens? Why are we buying food stamps for people who shop at Whole Foods? How much of these programs is simply fraud?



“Take Care that the Laws Be Faithfully Executed?” Nah, Just Offer a Waiver! by The Elephant's Child

How do you describe your relationship with a political party? There are certainly some people who insistently assert that they don’t have a political party— that there’s no difference between the parties, and they’re all a bunch of crooks. Once, when my oldest son was very small the mother of his playmate a few doors up the street and I were chatting, and I asked if she had decided who she was going to vote for, and  her response was “Oh I don’t know yet, my husband hasn’t told me who to vote for.”

That’s not good enough. Our schools do a horrible job of teaching civics, usually in middle school for some unknown reason, and no one seems to actually learn anything — if the number of people who are the source of amusing videos on YouTube when asked simple questions in man-on-the-street type interviews is an example.  Vice President? Dunno. When did we declare our independence? 1860? What country borders the United States?  Europe? Our schools need to produce young people who have some basic ideas about the country in which they live.

A free country with a Constitution that enumerates a few specific powers, that are granted to the government by an informed citizenry, is not going to remain free for long if no one has any idea what “enumerated” means nor what “specific powers” are.

Dr. Thomas Sowell, who spits out things to be remembered in a splendid steady stream, said:

Politics and Economics are not just different, They are antagonistic. The basic premise of economics is scarcity: there is never enough to satisfy everybody. This means there is no free lunch, no “solutions” but only trade-offs. Politics is full of “solutions”. There are free lunches for every voting block. The name of the game in politics is to do a little good, right under your nose, and ignore all the harm created elsewhere.

That’s not a bad guideline to take to the polls. Democrats have made much about the Republicans’ “War on Women.” The ‘little good’ the Democrats intend to do for women ‘right under  your nose’ is to have America’s taxpayers pay for the contraceptives that many women want to use — that cost approximately $9.00 a month— so that the recipients can get them for “free” from the government.

You can make up your own estimate of how many women of childbearing age are in a population of 330 million.  So that’s a minimum of $108 per year x (w), and it will be more because many liberals wouldn’t be caught dead in a WalMart pharmacy or the equivalent. But that’s not the end of it. The government must hire an unknown number of bureaucrats to administer the benefit and monitor the cost under HHS. The government must hire another unknown number of bureaucrats for the IRS to handle the increased taxes.

Go back and read what Tom Sowell said. Do you realize how much more it will cost for the government to pay, once a month, a figure ranging upwards (by quite a bit) from $9? It would be so much simpler if you would just pay for your own damn contraceptives, and go to a discount pharmacy to buy them. Sandra Fluke (rhymes with cluck) got her undergraduate degree in “women’s studies” or the equivalent, and probably never encountered any words by Tom Sowell, or any other economist.

President Obama has created (another) firestorm by overturning the work requirements of the popular welfare-reform law. In 1996, a Republican Congress drafted a law to reform welfare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — that for the first time established meaningful work standards for welfare recipients.

There are some basic ideas behind that. All the money the government has comes from the people. There’s a limit to how much they can take and still leave a growing economy, and a limit to how much they can give out to take care of people who could work and take care of themselves. The government has those “defined powers” they have to pay for. And there needs to be a safety net for those who can no longer provide for themselves. The dicey part comes in defining who can and who can’t. There are only trade-offs.

The other idea is that it is shameful to be unable to provide for yourself. At least that’s what people traditionally thought. Charity was not a right, but something you received reluctantly and tried to escape as quickly as possible. The Left, for varying reasons doesn’t want anyone to feel bad about being on welfare, nor to be embarrassed about living on welfare for generations.

Bill Clinton reluctantly signed the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families bill, and it became the sterling achievement of his administration. It worked, in every way. Women were helped with child care, work clothes, health care.  There was an enormous flap among liberals who learned that women in beginning jobs at WalMart had someone at WalMart that helped them to get their government-paid health care. But TANF didn’t just dump unprepared women into the workplace, it made sure that they had health-care while they learned how to do a job. WalMart promotes from within, and offers stock benefits to employees. It can be a rewarding career. That is only one example. But women coming off welfare were proud of supporting themselves and their families and becoming free independent people.

The Left has attempted to repeal the welfare work standards. One must conclude that they want dependent women to remain permanently dependent on the government dole. 83 percent of adults, according to a recent Rasmussen survey, favor work requirements.  Liberals have publicly praised workfare while seeking to end it behind the scenes.

On July 12, the Obama administrations’ HHS announced that they had rewritten the Clinton-era reform to undo the work requirements, in a move that legal experts Todd Gaziano and Robert Alt have determined is patently illegal. The rest of the story is proceeding about as you would expect. Obama denies that he is gutting welfare. The administration is not gutting the work requirements despite all evidence that it has done precisely that. The law is very specific about what ‘work” means, and offers no authority whatsoever for “waivers.”  It’s dumb policy, HHS has twisted legal reasoning, and waiving the work requirements is a violation of the President’s constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

This president has an unusual relationship with the oath he took at his inauguration, and the constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” He wants to enforce the laws he happens to like, and offer “waivers” to everything he doesn’t like. That just isn’t the way it is supposed to work. There are no “waivers” in the Constitution of the United States of America. That’s something you should take to the polls, along with Tom Sowell’s useful aphorism.



Skilled Craftsmanship is Very Beautiful to Watch. by The Elephant's Child
August 9, 2012, 6:52 am
Filed under: Architecture, Art | Tags: , ,

Makes me think of the Medieval Guilds, and the craftsmen that built the great cathedrals.

Shamelessly borrowed from American Digest




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