American Elephants


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.



An Out-of-Control Agency of Zealots, Destroying Your Freedom. by The Elephant's Child

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You have undoubtedly seen this picture before. I haul it out every time I write about the EPA and the agencies’ effort to transform the words of the Clean Water Act which give the EPA authority over the “navigable waters of the United States of America.”

It is partly Congress’ fault. They have chosen to write bills in general form, and leave the intricacies to federal agencies to work out and regulate. This has led to the growth of government, the growth of agencies, the growth of unionization of federal agencies, bad regulation and bad law.

Undoubtedly the Congress didn’t know how to define “clean water” in a specific and legal way—in which case they had no business making such a law.

In 2006, a US.Supreme Court Case from Michigan produced five different opinions and no clear definition of which waterways were covered and which were not. This left the government with a clean slate on which to write it’s own interpretation —everything they wanted to regulate. They are zealots and want to control everything.

I wrote about this problem in May of 2011, when the EPA was suspending 79 surface mining permits in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee because they could possibly violate the Clean Water Act. They revoked the coal mining permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine No.1, a permit that had been in force for 4 years and obeyed in every comma and dot.  Arch Coal provides 16% of America’s coal and have invested $250 million in the operation which would have employed 215 miners and 300 support jobs.  The President has expressed his desire to bankrupt the coal industry.

I wrote about it again in  June of 2012 when they started trying to control the land alongside ditches, gullies and temporary water sources caused by rain or snowmelt by claiming that they are part of navigable waters. It doesn’t sound scary until you recognize that it would make it harder for private property owners to use their own land, in their backyards, to grow crops, raise livestock or even raise kids. The bill they had then had 64 co-sponsors, and John Barrasso (R-WY) said “It’s time to get EPA lawyers our of Americans’ backyards.”

October, 2013: “The Clean Water Act charged the agency with keeping the navigable waters of the United States clean. What Congress probably had in mind was shutting down any sewers emptying improperly and keeping boats from dumping oil and stopping the Cuyahoga River from catching fire. In many places the water naturally contains some methane. Not harmful to people, but it can catch fire.”

There was a big arsenic flap where some springs were found to contain arsenic in what were presumed to be dangerous quantities. The EPA made a nationwide regulation determining that every municipality would be required to treat their water to remove any trace of arsenic. Many communities had no arsenic in their water, but the agency demanded expensive water treatment anyway. In the case of safety for humans, many things that are poisonous in large quantities are perfectly safe in small quantities. The rule is always “the dose makes the poison.”

In 2013, they were going for a proposed rule—the “Water Body Connectivity Report” which removed the limiting word “navigable” from “navigable waters of the United States” and replaces it with “connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters” Whoa! Change one word officially and expand your overreach by billions. Congress saw what they were trying to do and demanded answers. I don’t know how that one turned out, but it would seem to be this one.

A little over a week ago, the House passed legislation that would prevent the EPA from implementing a proposed rule to define its jurisdiction over bodies of water. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said the rule does not significantly expand the agency’s existing authority. Uh huh. Republicans said the rule would go too far and subject trivial bodies of water to federal regulation.

You see how slow the legislative process is. The Bill passed the House 263-152. Vulnerable Democrats broke with their party and signed on. Before final passage the House rejected 179-240 an amendment offered by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) that would prevent enactment if implementation would harm water quality. The White House issued a veto threat, saying it “would derail current efforts to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act, hamstring future regulatory efforts, and create significant ambiguity regarding existing regulations and guidance.”

Harry Reid would be unlikely to bring the bill to a vote. You have heard much about a “Do Nothing Congress,” which is a Democrat slander. The Republican House of Representatives has passed over 297 bills, a fairly standard number for a session. The Do Nothing Democrat-led Senate has passed just 59 bills— the fewest number of any Senate session since 1972. So the next time the President claims the Republicans aren’t doing anything, which he does with some regularity — he’s just doing politics again. Harry Reid tries to avoid bringing anything to a vote that the president would have to veto.

If you attend a town hall meeting with one of your representatives, you might let them know you’re concerned. Or give them a phone call. Those probably get tallied. I suspect emails just vanish into the ether. They really don’t want to hear from you.



Struggling to Understand This President. by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama
Another day, another attempt to figure out who our president is. Today, it’s Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. Peter Baker had a long piece in the New York Times, on the 13th, with some excerpts from a series of off-the-record dinners while he was weighing action in Iraq. And another from Walter Russell Mead on the 14th in The American Interest. All are interesting and worth your time. Peggy Noonan’s piece destined for the Friday paper already has 260 comments, many rude, some not.

Americans have a long history of disagreeing with their presidents, loving them, hating them, believing the end of the world is nigh, and wanting desperately to make them stop doing what they are doing. Does it all mean anything?

I read somewhere today that the majority of Americans cannot name the three branches of government. Are we all terminally stupid and need smarter people at the helm to manage us and our affairs? The conclusion I reach is that people are puzzled by Barack Obama and do not understand why he is doing what he is doing,

“I was not here in the run-up to Iraq in 2003,” he told a group of visitors who met with him in the White House before his televised speech to the nation, according to several people who were in the meeting. “It would have been fascinating to see the momentum and how it builds.”

In his own way, Mr. Obama said, he had seen something similar, a virtual fever rising in Washington, pressuring him to send the armed forces after the Sunni radicals who had swept through Iraq and beheaded American journalists. He had told his staff, he said, not to evaluate their own policy based on external momentum. He would not rush to war. He would be deliberate.

“But I’m aware I pay a political price for that,” he said.

That’s from Peter Baker. Well, yes. It’s clear that he intends to be deliberate, probably for a long time. He also intends to control everything himself. He is ignoring any and all advice from his military advisors and generals with long experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will approve every strike of our Air Force in Syria personally. Is this back to “I’m probably a better general than my generals,” kind of thing—like when he said he was a better speechwriter than his speechwriters? Certainly there is a degree of hubris there.

There are levels of knowledge that we usually don’t acknowledge. We credit academic degrees, and summa’s and magna’s, and titles and positions but that doesn’t really get down to the nitty-gritty of what a person really knows. We all know of academics with grand degrees who are so narrow and ideological that they’re essentially dumb as posts.

What about those generals whose advice the president does not want? They probably attended one of our nation’s military academies, which are some of the best schools in the country. Today’s officers usually get advanced degrees while they are serving, and the military has its own intensive schools like the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. They may be sent to language school and they learn how to apply all the training they get in practice by leading troops, and by making mistakes and learning from that. And many lead troops in combat and learn the lonely role of command, and victory and loss. And some will be very good generals whose depth of knowledge resulted in wisdom, and some will never reach that point. But there is a lot of knowledge behind their advice, which doesn’t mean that they are always right — just that there is a lot of knowledge behind their advice — and it pays to listen.

I think that pretty much explains the problem, without further explication. In his first term Obama surrounded himself with some strong advisers. Having won a second term, he feels more confident and has chosen sycophants who make him more comfortable because they inevitably agree or because they share his outlook, and a sorry bunch it is. The president looks at the world through a narrow political lens, and all is calculated on  the basis of how it will reflect on him.

But what about America?



One Nation, Still. by The Elephant's Child
September 18, 2014, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Politics, United Kingdom | Tags: ,

uk

The United Kingdom is a country people want to belong to,
and
the world is a better place.

……………………Be Britain still to Britain true,
……………………Amang ourselves united;
……………………For never but by British hands
……………………Maun British wrangs be righted!
……………………No! never but by British hands
……………………Shall British wrangs be righted!

…………………………….From Daniel Hannan



Critics Complain About Obama’s Leadership. Does Obama Grasp Why? by The Elephant's Child

Obama ArroganttPresident Obama spoke today at MacDill Air Force Base. But he wanted everybody to know that there would be no boots on the ground. He is still talking about is grand coalition, but he doesn’t mention who is actually in it, and he’s not going to have any boots on the ground. Somebody else can do that. But the American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.

All his generals and advisors have told him that he cannot succeed with ISIS without having boots on the ground. Isis fighters will shelter among civilians, and use those civilians as shields. It is hard to know what he has in mind, it apparently is a personal political decision. Certainly the last of the anti-war left is part of his base and those who are sure that peace is natural state of mankind in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Obama seldom attends his national security briefings, and seems totally unfamiliar with the realms of strategy and intelligence.

Mr. Obama has a bad habit of telling the enemy just what he will and won’t do, leaving nothing to the imagination. There are no plans for the outcome, no contingency plans for the time when the terrorists merge into the civilian population, nor for when the actual fighters fail to take Fallujah or Tikrit. Then what?

We have heard him speak before on situations like this. He is a more qualified field commander than his generals, a better planner than that bunch in the Pentagon. Or it’s all about politics and only politics matters. His constant emphasis that he will have no troops on the ground seems the ultimate in a warped Bush-hatred

I think Obama thought he was riding to election on the basis of giant waves of Bush hatred. Nancy Pelosi said something dumb today about Democrats never having been as rude and nasty to President Bush as Republicans were to President Obama. When Republicans recovered from raucous laughter, and were able to stop giggling, they thought gratefully of Minority Leader Pelosi and DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz with runaway mouths and little sense — gifts that keep on giving.

The emphatic “no boots on the ground” came along awkwardly with the other announcement that the president was sending 3,000 troops to Africa to fight Ebola. Many found that announcement preposterous. However, the 3,000 number is  heavy on corpsmen, medics, and the experts who can build field hospitals and erect intensive care units.

The situation in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is dire. Hospitals are overburdened and there are not enough beds, What health system there is is near collapse. The military command center will be in Liberia to support civilian efforts across the region. Personnel from the U.S Public health Service will deploy to the new field hospitals. New isolation units and more than 1,000 beds. More than 2,500 men, women and children have died, and patients are being turned away. People are dying in the streets.

ISIS is to be degraded and disrupted— not defeated, at least not yet. If ever. To put “boots on the ground” Obama would have to admit that he was mistaken, and that he does not do. That would take something over 25,000 boots on the ground. Investors remarked that “Liberals always want to wage war by not admitting war is war.”We’ll see. I’m deeply unimpressed with Obama’s politicized ideology, his complete inability to admit fault of any kind, and his tendency to overrule his best advisers because he knows better.  I’m betting on the White House deputy who said they’d leave this mess for the next administration.



Root Causes: Here’s Why Ferguson Rioted: by The Elephant's Child

There is always an answer for every problem. In the case of Ferguson, Missouri, everyone has been searching for the cause of this summer’s violence. We just weren’t looking in the right place. The violence was clearly caused by climate change.

350.org Strategic Partnership Coordinator Deirdre Smith wrote:

To me, the connection between militarized state violence, racism, and climate change was common-sense and intuitive. Oppression and extreme weather combine to ‘incite’ militarized violence.

Smith explained that poor minority communities have fewer resources to deal with the impacts of climate change, but that “people of color also disproportionately live in climate-vulnerable areas,” which makes climate change a race issue.

The 350.org Strategic Partnership is behind the big climate march this weekend at the UN Climate meeting that everybody important is skipping. And of course, their real interest is the doctrine of “environmental justice,” a notion used by the EPA whenever it seems to be helpful in their legal arguments.

The EPA defines “environmental justice” as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies,” according to the EPA website.

That makes it a civil rights issue, which brings in a whole different body of laws and regulations. It suggests that power plants or “excessive” car exhaust can be considered civil rights violations — if they occur in poor or minority neighborhoods. The object is not to improve anyone’s life, but control, which is accomplished with a maze of regulation and red tape, and gigantic fines for those who offend the EPA.

Climate, which is a statistic representing worldwide temperatures, affects everyone equally, and since in the last one hundred years it has only warmed by about one degree, we can all adapt fairly well, even the folks in Ferguson. Weather can affect some people more than others because of where they live—in Tornado alley, near the beach where Hurricane Sandy hit. We just had a small earthquake yesterday, but earthquakes are not climate or weather. This one was only a .4 and we didn’t feel it at all.

The National Weather Service says the St.Louis area was not noticeably warmer this summer than it has ever been. At 80.3 degrees F. this August’s average temperature was only the seventh-warmest of the last 20 years, substantially cooler than the high of the last two decades of 83.9 in August of 1995. It got up in the 90s here in the Seattle area as it usually does once or twice a year.



Happy Constitution Day! by American Elephant
September 17, 2014, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, History, Pop Culture, Television | Tags: , , ,

I’ve known the Preamble of the Constitution by heart since I was a little kid because of Schoolhouse Rocks, which used to come on in between Saturday Morning Cartoons–so they had a captive audience. Great Way to introduce your kids to our founding document. Can you recite the Preamble by heart? If not, you probably didn’t grow up with Schoolhouse rocks. Try learning the chorus. And teach it to your kids.




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