American Elephants


American Government Grinds Slowly to a Halt. by The Elephant's Child

The essential battle takes place at the decision whether a free people should remain free or whether they need to be controlled and managed — for their own good, of course. At least that’s what the controllers believe. The Left has a deep need to control. You never know what a free person might decide to think, or to do.

If you are alert to this tendency, you begin to see it everywhere. Consider creativity. The government is sure that they can foster new ideas, but we see the result in all the wasteful grants hopeful government agencies make. Creativity is not a collective action. People must be free to make decisions, take action, decide.

The more government grows, the worse it gets. How many different agencies must sign off on one small piece of a project before the next one can even be considered? We started out with law to keep bad people from doing bad things. then we started making laws to tell people how to do things, and laws to tell people what things they must do and when they must do them, and what materials they must use and how many people they must hire and slowly, slowly, government grinds to a halt of its own weight, and it becomes impossible to do anything or get anything done. ‘

We have an outbreak of a deadly disease, and we find that those who were supposed to be in charge don’t know what to do. The hospitals don’t understand the protocols, the press demands that the president appoint an Ebola Czar, but nobody seems to know that there is already an Ebola Czar, and the new man knows nothing about medicine or disease and is not the Ebola Czar, although everyone keeps calling him that, he’s the Ebola Response Coordinator, and a long-time political hack who was chief of staff to both Al Gore and Joe Biden, which is not exactly a recommendation. And that is how government works today.

When you are a true believer with a managed, controlled people, you are sure that whatever problems come up will be solved by another law, or more regulation.  As the economy and the government grind more and more slowly, layer on a large dollop of political correctness so that no one will be offended by incorrect speech, add multiculturalism and race and gender to muck up the mix, and you are getting close to modern society.

When government becomes such a slow-grinding machine, what difference does it make if you reward your supporters and cronies with special projects or special funds. Who’s going to know and who’s going to do anything about it anyway. Then you have a president who, exhausted by Congress’s failure to do what he wants, simply takes matters into his own hands. Because nobody knows how to stop him.



Here’s Some Good News For a Change! by The Elephant's Child

The price of crude oil is tumbling downward towards $80 per barrel. The Brent crude price of $82.60 is the cheapest since 2010.”On October 1, Saudi Arabia’s  national oil company announced that it had abandoned a policy of price protection and would start to focus on protecting its market share. Combined with falling global demand and rising supplies elsewhere, oil prices have fallen accordingly.

Natural gas supplies are plentiful and warm weather so far means weak demand, which means lower costs for natural gas.

For our fracking, the break-even price is around $50-$70 bbl. Supply is bulging. Gasoline prices will come down, transportation prices will come down, which means that costs at the grocery store will ease.

States like Iran, Venezuela, and Iraq can only balance their budgets at oil prices ranging from $110 to $135 per barrel. This is good. If oil prices stay below $90 per barrel for any length of time, there will be real financial squeezes, and even regime change in Iran, Bahrain, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq or Libya and would give Vladimir Putin some real trouble. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

It’s not clear what Saudi Arabia is up to, but they are definitely not approving of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nor of ISIS’ ambitions either. They may be just protecting their market share, as we are close to surpassing them in production.

If we start exporting natural gas to Europe, that would relax the strangle hold Russia holds over their energy supplies.

It’s good news, just when we need some.



Seattle City Council In a Fit of Political Correctness Abolished Columbus Day by The Elephant's Child

The Seattle City Council is on track to rival the Berkeley City Council for sheer lunacy. They have just declared that the upcoming Columbus Day shall be abolished in favor of a renamed “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Newly elected Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant, is an Indian immigrant, a part-time instructor in economics at Seattle Community College, and a bit of a firebrand.

Ms. Sawant’s first big issue was the minimum wage, and she demanded that the Seattle minimum wage at $9.32 (significantly higher than the national minimum) be raised to $15.00.  It passed, but has not yet gone into effect. Highly celebrated by fast food workers and by the folks at Momentum Machines who have a robotic machine that can produce 360 custom hamburgers to order an hour, custom meat grinds for every customer, and never complains, demands a higher wage, nor more benefits or time off.

The Indigenous People’s Day idea suffers from a common Leftist delusion. They choose to judge the people of the past by today’s morality, and flawed ideas of history.  Columbus wasn’t particularly nice to the native people he encountered, but Columbus Day was never a celebration of the man, but of the “discovery” of the Americas. Columbus had nothing to do with North America, anyway. First encounters between stone age native peoples and more advanced Europeans often did not go well. Europeans assumed that illiterate people who could not speak their language or understand their ways were somehow inferior. You can be indignant about that, but it was an understandable reaction.

Contemporary Leftists sneeringly condemn George Washington, the indispensable man, without whose valor and probity, the country we love would not be the country we know today—because he was a slave owner. Slavery, at that time, was the way of the world and completely normal. Machines that replaced human labor were still far in the future.

Blacks owned slaves. Native Americans owned slaves. It was the way things had always been in the world, and was not thought to be wrong or unusual.  Oddly enough, Leftists are very contemptuous of George Washington, but have no problem with Andrew Jackson  (the Father of the Democratic Party) who was one of the largest slave owners in the South, and responsible for the “Trail of Tears” as well. They were citizens of their world and their time, and cannot be judged by today’s morality, or more properly today’s political correctness.

Canada more correctly calls their aborigines “First People,” or “First Nation,” which is more accurate. Native Americans kept slaves, took scalps, lit forests on fire for fun, fought bloody wars, and in some cases were cannibals. Human nature is messy, and that goes for all races. Some are good people, some are not. We struggle to improve, and morals change. Unfortunately, changes are often accomplished by force by the courts or by city councils or state legislatures, who take it upon themselves to force their own ideas on everybody else.

Kshama Sawant, who got her PhD in economics from North Carolina State, apparently joined a movement called “The Socialist Alternative” devoted to “Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism,” fairly recently,  and neglected the part of her economics education devoted to Free Markets and Free People — or considering the state of today’s universities, perhaps that’s just not included anymore. Pity.



A Lonely Advocate Fighting For the Common Good. by The Elephant's Child

0

This is Philip K. Howard, who has been a practicing attorney in Manhattan for many years, and who has been thinking deeply about the law and writing about it for twenty years. His first book, The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America, was a direct hit on the body of law and regulation that dictates impossible rules that make no sense. But he doesn’t stop there, he offers solutions.

He followed that up with The Lost Art of Drawing the Line: How Fairness Went Too Far. Politically correct law has become the enemy of freedom and of the common good. Legal anxiety trumps right and wrong. What if most of us grew up with seesaws in playgrounds and want our kids to have that experience as well.
Sorry, the legal consequences of an accident are too great. The result is playgrounds that are so excruciatingly boring that the kids aren’t interested. Demanding that we be “fair” to everyone is an impossible goal. As your mother probably used to tell you — life isn’t fair.

Life Without Lawyers: Restoring Responsibility in America: was about restoring the can-do spirit that made America great. We are losing the freedom to make sense of daily choices — teachers can’t maintain order in the classroom, managers are trained to avoid candor, schools ban tag, and companies plaster inane warnings on everything: “Remove Baby Before Folding Stroller.” Why is our economy not recovering more rapidly? Where are the entrepreneurs? Facing a body of law that destroys initiative. What is at issue is the vitality of American culture.

His newest book is The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government, just out. He says that underneath the double-dealing, the polarization, the self-serving is a broken government system that produces rising debt, failing schools, overly expensive health care and economic hardship. Rules, inflexible rules, have replaced leadership, and everyone looks to the rules to know what to do or not do. Philip Howard argues for a return to the framers’ vision of public law — setting goals and boundaries instead of dictating daily choices. This is not a situation to be easily defeated. Congress turns newly passed laws over to federal agencies to draw the lines and devise the regulations that will enhance and grow the bureaucracy and guarantee their jobs. Our hero Trey Gowdy speaks of the House’s job of making law — yet does not mention the job of reforming, eliminating, or repealing bad laws — a task seldom mentioned and even less often accomplished.

Each of these books is only about 200 pages, and invaluable. This is not dry lawyer talk, but real, living examples of how Law has taken over our lives, sapped our creativity, destroyed our freedom. No one is free to make choices, including government officials. An important reason why it is so difficult and expensive to start a business, and why innovation has slowed to a crawl.

Highly recommended. Great reads. And essential to understanding just what has gone wrong in our government and how we can fight back. Nobody said it was easy.



Have You Noticed the Price of Bacon and Butter Lately? by The Elephant's Child

Is there any straight talk anymore? The economy created 248,000 new jobs, slightly above the recent average of about 228,000, so the unemployment rate fell two tenths of a percent to 5.9 percent. Obama is crowing, because the unemployment rate is going down, but it is going down because 329,000 people dropped out of the labor force. There are 7.1 million people working part-time who would prefer to be working full time. How many of the people with part-time jobs hold two of the jobs?

President Obama went out to Northwestern University on Thursday to remind young voters of all the economic success he has had. The headline numbers may indicate health, but the economy simply isn’t that healthy. George Will, on last night’s Special Report with Bret Baier, was not exactly impressed.

The president went to the state of Illinois to brag about the economy. Illinois has 300,000 fewer jobs than it had in 2008. For the last four years in the state of Illinois, the number of new food stamp recipients has increased twice as fast as the number of new job recipients. He was speaking in Illinois on a college campus. He did not mention that 40 percent of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed — that is, in jobs that don’t require college degrees — and one in three recent college graduates is living at home with their parents.

The jobs report is a snapshot, and provides several different ways of looking at the economy, so you can pull out the numbers that best make your case. Fewer people are participating in the labor force, and the rate remains at levels last seen in 1978. The share of the population employed is only 59 percent. Is the labor force now permanently smaller because of demographic changes and the shock of a slow growth recovery,  or can those long-term unemployed be lured back when the economy shifts into a higher growth gear that pays enough to make work more attractive than early retirement or government benefits? Real median net worth has declined from its peak in 2006 back to less than it was in 1989.

Better economic policies might be possible after the November election. Republicans have a chance to retake the Senate, which would end Majority Leader Harry Reid’s stranglehold on pro-growth measures that have passed the house only to be tabled in the Senate.

There’s regulatory relief, tax reforms like the repeal of the foolish medical devices tax, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and many more. President Obama wouldn’t sign them all, but he couldn’t afford to veto everything without paying a heavy political price by proving that he has been the cause of the gridlock he deplores.

We have to keep reminding people that the recession (‘the worst since the Great Depression”) technically ended over five years ago, in June of 2009. Over 58 percent of the people think that we’re still in recession. Some Recovery!



Reason TV Went to the Big Climate March! by The Elephant's Child

Reason TV went to the Climate March, and chatted with some of the marchers. Watch the whole thing. Only 3.17 minutes! They really don’t like the corporations that make all their stuff. More corporate haters than advocates of green policies, which they seem a little fuzzy about. Kind of embarrassing. They didn’t pay attention in high school science class.



Overregulation Costs Manufacturers Over $2 Trillion a Year! by The Elephant's Child

American business has been telling the federal government regularly that they are overdoing the regulation, and it is damaging the economy. The federal government yawns and says uh huh. Obama’s attitude seems to be that is what business does — complain about regulation — pay no attention to them — it isn’t important.

Now the National Association of Manufacturers has stated firmly that manufacturers are the backbone of our nation’s economy and employ more than 12 million men and women who make things in this country. To maintain manufacturing momentum and encourage hiring, the United States needs government policies more in tune with the realities of global competition.  Our regulatory system produces unnecessarily costly rules, duplicative mandates, impediments to innovation and barriers to our international competitiveness.

That’s straightforward talk from Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. So they put their money where their mouth is, and produced a new report that shows the macroeconomic impact of federal regulations.

The burden of regulation falls most heavily on small manufacturers who employ less than 50 employees— at $34,671 per employee, per year. The burden on medium size manufacturers who employ 50 to 99 employees — $18,243 per employee per year, and  for large manufacturers who employ more than 100—the cost per employee is $13,750 per employee per year. The total cost of federal regulations in 2012 was $2.028 trillion (in 2014 dollars). The annual cost burden for an average U.S. firm is $233,182 or 21 percent of the average payroll. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said that federal regulations are a top challenge for their firm.

Everybody has talked about “the worst recovery since World War II,” but the White House seems to have no understanding at all of why it is so slow. They have kept pumping money into the economy, giving out more benefits, and that money is supposed to circulate and multiply as it passes from hand to hand. Nancy Pelosi was quite certain that unemployment benefits paved the way to recovery all by themselves.

Democrats don’t much like manufacturing or businesses who expect to earn profits from their activity. They have always regarded profit as a bit of a dirty word, money only earned by greed. Because business is greedy, it needs a firm hand and careful regulation. That’s why they have such a hard time trying to figure out how to create more jobs (infrastructure!) and jump-starting a growing economy.

Well, it matters what kind of business it is. If it is building wind farms and making solar panels, it is good. If it’s making guitars that are hugely popular with rock stars, you had better not be using any endangered wood for the frets. Your stock will be confiscated by the SWAT team that will arrive to shut down your business. (Enter Gibson Guitars in the search function just above Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar).

The business of regulation is handed off by Congress to various agencies, and the agencies’ underlying business is to assure their own continuing employment at high government salaries — so they are careful and thorough in devising regulation and oversight of the regulation, and continued monitoring of each business involved.

That in turn means forms and paperwork and legal requirements, which means that each business has to hire an extra bunch of people to comply with the paperwork requirements. The biggest cost of regulation is the full-time equivalents hired to do the paperwork. And it is serious business. Most of the agencies now have their own SWAT teams to burst into your business and make sure that you are really complying. So it really isn’t funny when the first lady decides that restaurants should show the calorie counts of each ingredient on their establishment’s signage and menus in the interest of reducing obesity.

That’s just the regulation. The tax system for American business has increased the burden to such an extent that we have moved down to 32nd in the ranking of heaviest burden on business and loss of competitiveness.  Obama thinks he is taxing rich CEOs and greedy businesses, but it is the workers who bear the burden of high taxes. We are chasing capitol out of the country to go where it is more welcome and will be better treated. Democrats call this “tax inversion” and are trying to devise laws to keep companies from moving. (Economic Patriotism!) They could just lower the taxes, which would bring in more income)

Economies don’t grow because of nice nonprofit organizations that care about people. They grow because of hardworking businesses who turn a profit and are able to hire and grow and expand.  It’s called Capitalism, which has made America the most prosperous and innovative country in the world. Prosperity is created by free markets and free people, not by the heavy hand of government.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,737 other followers

%d bloggers like this: