American Elephants


The Syrian Catastrophe by The Elephant's Child

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The Obama administration’s Syria policy has been a blunder of historic proportions. When he might have intervened effectively, he dithered, When he did intervene it was ineffectual. When the situation was manageable, it was neglected. Nevertheless, this is not the responsibility of the U.S. government. It is the responsibility of Bashar Assad and his supporters, al Qaeda and other radical Muslims who have forcibly taken over the opposition to Assad.

This photograph was taken late last month. The scene is Yarmouk, a district of Damascus that is populated mostly by Palestinian “refugees” and has been the scene of heavy fighting. The U.N. is passing out food packages and the starving people are hoping to get something to eat. This is truly an example of a picture being worth more than a thousand words. (Click to enlarge)

(h/t: Powerline)



Barack Obama, The Nation’s Top Gun Salesman by The Elephant's Child

The FBI has just released their latest semi-annual crime report, which covers January to June of 2013.

Nationwide, forcible rape was down 10.6 percent, burglary was down 8.1 percent, murder was down 6.9 percent, and aggravated assault was down 6.6 percent from the previous period. Arson plunged a staggering 15.6 percent.

There was slight increase (0.6-percent ) in murders in cities with a population of 25,000-49,999, and a 2 percent rise in murders in cities with a population of 50,000-99,999. The number of murders plunged the deepest in cities with a population of more than 1 million citizens, which reported a 18.5 percent drop.

Overall, violent crime dropped 5.4 percent, with the largest drop in non-metropolitan areas, which saw a 10.5 drop in overall violent crime, and a 13 percent drop in murders.

The crime rate dropped significantly as firearm sales had a record-breaking year. The total number of background checks conducted for gun sales last year add up to 21,093,273, beating the 202012 record of 19,592,393 by over a million and a half. Unsurprisingly the greater efforts by President Obama to release executive actions on gun control, the more gun sales increased. States that implemented gun control measures also saw a significant increase in sales.

But violent crime dropped? How can this be? Blame the Butterfield Fallacy. Or blame John LottMore Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.



Great Effort To Pass a Law. No Interest in Follow-Through by The Elephant's Child

Have you noticed that Liberals are very big on getting their “big ideas” passed into law, and once accomplished have little interest in their effect. Vast attention is paid to “messaging,” to the words chosen, everything is focus-group tested. Wordsmiths are urged on to ever more effort to find the perfect words. Differing messaging is planned for different groups. Outreach is carefully directed to specific audiences. But once they succeed, if they succeed, in getting the legislation passed and it is a done deal— they lose interest and go on to the next “big idea.”

Medicare was a big idea that they were very proud of. Seniors like it, and it works fairly well. But it is a done deal, so Liberals have no hesitation in, for example, taking $500 billion out of Medicare to prop up ObamaCare. The Veterans Administration promised health care to veterans, but when claims piled up, they just destroyed the older claims so the backlog would disappear. When slums became too dangerous Liberals built public housing, but failed to keep it up, keep it in good repair and safe, so the public housing became slums.

The promises of ObamaCare have already proved false, but people who receive their health care through their employers have yet to encounter the lies, cancellations, and the higher costs. Obama has postponed all that till after the coming election. So most people are  unaware that their ObamaCare insurance does not travel, not to the next town, and not to the next state. They are unaware that they will not be able to keep their doctors, nor that the cost will increase astronomically.

Democrat governors met with President Obama this last weekend — they need help selling ObamaCare. They have their own glitch-ridden websites, and the big message of pre-existing conditions isn’t selling. But the drive is to get people signed up, not to offer care. If all the ‘uninsured’ signed up for Medicaid, the illusionary system would collapse. There were not enough doctors who would accept Medicaid patients to keep the system functioning before ObamaCare.

Liberal promises are meant to garner votes, to get a “big idea” passed and the people dependent on the benefit. If they are dependent they will continue to vote for those who gave them the benefit lest they lose it and face the unknown. Freedom can be scary. You might have to depend on  your own efforts.



The Economy Is Not a Pie: It’s a Garden by The Elephant's Child

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The most common metaphor for debates about growth and income distribution is a pie chart picturing the economy as a pie. The usual argument is how to divide up the pie and distribute the slices. What is fair? But this is another misleading metaphor.

A pie has a defined size. Economic growth and efficiency are about making the pie bigger. Equality is about the size of the slices. Keith Hennessey, Director of the National Economic Center under President Bush, explains in an essay for the George W. Bush Presidential Center:

The pie metaphor for the economy is misleading and damaging, especially if you place a high priority on economic growth.

A pie has a predefined size. A central authority (probably the baker) cuts up the pie before serving any of it. It’s a single pie to be divided. Indeed the popular economic debate analyzes what “share of economic growth over the past X years has gone to the top (or bottom) Y percent,” as if income or income growth is a single quantity that is centrally allocated among a population, to be later reallocated by policymakers. Because the market allocation is increasingly unequal, some argue we can and should simply re-slice the new, bigger pie to produce more equitable pieces. Those who do usually ignore that their actions would make the economy smaller. The pie metaphor contributes to this view because one cuts the pie only after it has been baked, after its size has been centrally chosen.

A flower garden is a better metaphor for looking at economic growth and income distribution. A flower’s growth depends on the individual characteristics of that type of flower and that particular seed. It also depends on common factors shared with other flowers in the same garden (e.g., the local climate, pests, the skill and diligence of the gardener) as well as its particular advantages relative to other flowers (better sunlight, soil, and water in this part of the garden than that part over there).

The economic challenge is to maximize the growth potential of the whole garden, the gardener helps, but flowers grow naturally, with a little fertilizer, sun and water. Policymakers and elected officials do not “create jobs” nor do they “increase economic growth.” Wise policymakers create the policies under which the whole economy can grow. Think incentives and freedom: maximizing the potential for those struggling to succeed. When you have vigorous economic growth, the whole economy blooms and income distribution ceases to be a problem.

Efforts to control by those who do not understand the workings of business, regulation by those who do not understand the results of over-regulation. Far too many politicians have never worked in the private sector and do not grasp the effects of the regulations they choose to employ.

An example is the current outcry over restaurant menus, and the federal requirement to list every ingredient with its calorie count. Think about the big menu on a lighted sign behind the cashier in a pizza place, a Mexican restaurant or an Asian restaurant. For restaurant chains, the signage problem is immense and costly. Multiple studies have shown that adding calorie counts to a menu have no significant effect on menu choices. But you knew that. You don’t go to McDonalds to reduce. You go to McDonalds because you want a hamburger and french fries. It’s a regulation in search of a purpose.




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