American Elephants


Collectivism: “We’re All In This Together” Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

Andrew Klavan summed it up pretty well today:

Whatever its pretensions, whatever its claims, statism — progressivism, leftism, socialism — is based on the idea that a small elite intelligentsia can run your life better than you can. They know how to spend your money. They know how to educate your children. They know how to run your health care. They know how to protect you from yourself.

You do not have to talk to a statist very long before he will profess an intense dislike, distrust and even fear of ordinary people. Ordinary people spend money on what they want (TV’s restaurants and cars) rather than what the elite know they ought to want (aluminum foil climate change reversers). Ordinary people teach their children that God created the world rather than a random pattern of mathematic realities that came into being through another random pattern that came…  well, the elite know: it’s random patterns all the way down! Ordinary people will give jobs and business to those who earn them rather than those the elite, in their greater understanding, know are historically deserving because of past oppression. And so on.

Now, of course, with the very elite of the elite running the country, we find that — what do you know? — this statism dodge doesn’t really work all that well. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that the statist premise is wrong. In fact, ordinary people left at liberty to do as they will are actually better at running their lives and businesses and country than the geniuses in Washington. Central planning works great in the imaginations of the elite, but in the real world…  not so much.



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.



California Enacts a Stupid Statewide Plastic Bag Ban. by The Elephant's Child

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California “Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores, driven to action by pollution in streets and waterways.” The appropriately nicknamed Governor Moonbeam has never met a liberal fad that he didn’t fall for.

Bag banning is a liberal “environmental” fad that has been running through municipal and state governments since 2007. when the first ban was enacted in San Francisco County. It is a long sad story of environmental zealots who are passionate about foreign oil or fossil fuels and saving the planet — one regulation at a time. Here’s an excerpt from a 2009 post:

The whole thing began with a misreading of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland, which found that between 1981 and 1984 more than 100,000 marine mammals were killed every year by discarded fishing nets.  The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags. In 2002, a report prepared for the Australian Government by Nolan-ITU said that the Newfoundland study attributed the deaths to “plastic bags.” But according to the Australian Government’s Environment Department website, the report was amended in 2006.

Scientists and environmentalists have questioned the case against the use of plastic shopping bags as based on flawed science and misreporting.  That hasn’t stopped governments everywhere from trying to phase out the plastic bags.  The actual report, later amended, has been widely quoted by environmentalists.  It actually attributed the deaths to all plastic debris, including fishing nets and equipment, and undoubtedly the plastic holders for six-packs.

The usual proposal bans plastic entirely, and charges 10¢ or more for each paper bag used. I shop less than once a week, use more than 20 bags, which are either reused or recycled to make more plastic bags. A science expert who advises Greenpeace admits that plastic bags pose only a minimal risk to wildlife, and the great floating island of plastic in the Pacific is a myth. The problem is that cloth bags can be quite dangerous if not washed and bleached carefully between uses.

The dark, moist, warm interior of a folded, used reusable bag is an ideal incubator for bacteria when it has been infected with a small amount of water and trace food contamination. Leaking meat wrappings, water from moist produce, cracked eggs or leaking dairy containers are the fuel for elevated bacterial counts.

Here is the abstract from a 2012 study from the Social Science Research Network:

Recently, many jurisdictions have implemented bans or imposed taxes upon plastic grocery bags on environmental grounds. San Francisco County was the first major US jurisdiction to enact such a regulation, implementing a ban in 2007. There is evidence, however, that reusable grocery bags, a common substitute for plastic bags, contain potentially harmful bacteria. We examine emergency room admissions related to these bacteria in the wake of the San Francisco ban. We find that ER visits spiked when the ban went into effect. Relative to other counties, ER admissions increase by at least one fourth, and deaths exhibit a similar increase.
Food borne illness can kill you.

And if you are curious about why so many cities and states try to legislate such bans, I wrote about that in 2009 as well.

The Center for Climate Strategies was founded in 2004 by environmental activist groups as a state-based-strategy to avoid open political debate.  It depends instead on having the full range of left-wing pressure groups—feminists, abortion rights groups, animal rights activists, labor organizers and other leftist factions to make “climate change” part of their message and mission.

Well funded by left-wing foundations, they approach state governments by claiming to offer governors objective expertise. Though they claim policy neutrality, their mission is to get states to adopt global warming policies reducing greenhouse gas emissions (CO2).  In reality, this enables state governors to outsource formulation of state policies to the liberal foundations and interest groups that stand behind CCS.  Here is further information about the Center for Climate Strategies.

Green zealots don’t leave these matters to chance and the whims of governments. They are helpful with dog-and-pony shows, experts, plans, and strategies, and are well-funded by liberal foundations. For cities, the helpful environmental experts are ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. When you see the label “sustainability” you know it’s another Leftist power grab.



Down With Capitalism: The Glorious Socialist Future Is Here! by The Elephant's Child

China-pollution-factories

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China Climate Change

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It’s always a good idea to take a hard look at what you think you are wishing for. Sometimes you’re just caught up in a romantic fantasy, and the reality isn’t quite so…… optimistic.



They Came, They Marched — A Useless Event. by The Elephant's Child

There is nothing that the”Greenies” could do that demonstrates so effectively the absolute bankruptcy of their cause, than the big Climate March Sunday. The celebrities arrive on their private jets, and attract the appropriate media attention. Leo DiCaprio, departing from his rented billionaire’s yacht arrived to march behind the signs deploring capitalism and consumerism.

He got a big caregal-green8-jpger boost with a Vanity Fair cover purporting to save polar bears from global warming back in 2007. DiCaprio was photographed in Iceland, and a shot of  the adorable polar bear cub ‘Knut’, born in captivity in the Berlin Zoo, was stripped in. It was the “Green Issue.” and loads of free publicity for DiCaprio.

Well, Knut died young in Berlin.  Polar bears turned out not only not to be endangered, but to be dramatically increasing in numbers and to have managed the slight warming and cooling of the climate with no problem at all. Having been publicized as an environmental activist, DiCaprio has to turn up for marches.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was busted in 1984 for  heroin possession, and sentenced to 800 hours of community service, which he worked off by volunteering at the Hudson River Foundation, which introduced him to the possibilities of environmentalism. He copyrighted the name Waterkeeper, and collected funds from the many environmental groups with “keeper” as part of their name.

He collected an array of trial lawyer firms who had experience in lawsuits against tobacco companies, to sue giant pork producers and processors. Each of the law firms committed itself to an initial ‘ante’ of $50,000 to work with Kennedy. The idea was to monitor cases where even the tiniest amount of material from pork producers or processors might contaminate a river, stream, lake , bay or coastline. Kennedy would use his celebrity status to publicize these cases and alleged risks to human health. He estimated the potential “damages” that could be collected from the pork industry at somewhere between 9 and 13 billion dollars, a large portion of which the trial lawyers would rake off for themselves.

They have also gone after Bayer pharmaceuticals for the purported downstream impact of its livestock antibiotic Baytril. They allege that residues of the prescription drug pass through animals and into rivers and groundwater. They only need to find a sympathetic judge and jury. Riverkeeper says:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions. Mr. Kennedy was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. The group’s achievement helped spawn over 185 Waterkeeper organizations across the globe.

The marchers were opposed to “fracking,” the Keystone XL pipeline, carbon dioxide, fossil fuels of any kind, the rise of the oceans, global warming,  and extreme weather. They inexplicably favored Socialism as the answer c762259a-437c-4fc9-9cf2-85cbd1b690d5-460x276— but China doesn’t seem to have found an answer yet. Even more, their arguments are failing, one after another.

The National Science Foundation has just given ‘Fracking” a clean bill of health.  The extent of ice in the Antarctic keeps setting new all-time records, one after another. “Extinct species” turn out not to be extinct after all. Carbon dioxide is a natural fertilizer for plants and helps them to grow and survive drought. The amount of CO² in the atmosphere keeps growing, but the planet hasn’t warmed in the slightest for nearly 18 years. (But the children!) The ocean is rising in millimeters, not inches or feet.

The alarmist cause has meant that a dusty corner of science —climatology— has moved to center stage in the western world with grants and investment in labs, and climate meetings in some of the world’s nicest resorts, fame and recognition. There are enormous fortunes being made on the issue of climate alarmism. Aside from such notable cases as Al Gore and Tom Steyer, look at the money made from renewable energy, from ethanol, from biofuels — because politicians afraid of not supporting environmentalism — spend billions to fix things and the politically connected line up for government largesse. (But consensus!)

Add in electric cars, wind farms that have just received a free 30-year pass from the federal government for killing endangered eagles. Some are afraid they may make the species extinct. Wind produces electricity only when the wind blows at the right speed, which is not anywhere near constantly. A wind turbine must have 24/7 backup from a conventional power plant for all the times the wind isn’t blowing at the right speed. Turbines and wind die down in the winter. Solar arrays produce energy only when the sun is shining. (Clouds, night) And also require 24/7 backup from a conventional power plant. (But 97%)

It was all — just embarrassing.

The chants echoed through the skyscraper canyons, the drums rolled, participants were caught up in a sense of unity and togetherness that some of them had never known. It was almost like politics, almost like the epochal marches that have toppled governments and changed history ever since the Paris mob stormed the Bastille.

Almost. Except street marches today are to real politics what street mime is to Shakespeare. This was an ersatz event: no laws will change, no political balance will tip, no UN delegate will have a change of heart. The world will roll on as if this march had never happened.



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.



Socialism Is The Cure For Climate? Bwa-Ha-ha-ha by The Elephant's Child

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The climate loonies have been out for their big march today, with names like “The Science is Settled”, “We have the Solutions”, and climate scientists like SEIU, CAIR, and Democratic Socialists and Greenpeace, of course. They want to ban coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear energy, and rely on free wind and clean solar energy which amount to about 1.4 percent of our energy requirements. Good luck with that. The Communists were there, Radicals demanding revolution., but it wasn’t much about climate.

These useful idiots demand an end to free enterprise which has produced the solutions to clean air and clean water and environments better cared for. Socialism has been an environmental disaster.  Check out the Chinese in masks peering dimly through the smog, or China’s deadly rivers.  But they are quite sure that Capitalism is killing the planet, and only a socialist future can save the world, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. They don’t care about the climate anyway. They really just want power and money.

Fortunately Americans don’t buy it. Climate change ranks at the very bottom of America’s list of concerns.




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