American Elephants


A Little Chart About Spending and Taxes and Budgets. by The Elephant's Child

Tax Hike In Perspective

Barack Obama has no intention of giving up on spending. He wants to hike taxes more. As long as he is spending, and handing out benefits to the people, they will not desert him. His view of the presidency is a constant campaign. He has never stopped campaigning and started governing.

“He will lay out tax-hike demands, give no quarter on spending, not waver and, as the deadline approaches, use his bully pulpit and the media to cow the GOP into the sort of wrangling that led to this week’s defeat.” That’s Kim Strassel in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The tweet posted below demonstrates such a mindless ignorance of the world, humanity and history, that it is hard to grasp. Once we have defaulted on our debts and no one has jobs, who will feed him?

All these boring numbers, complicated graphs, confusing talk about debt and spending and defaulting and unemployment rates — that are just too unpleasant to think about —  all have consequences.

The Democrats are unconcerned with the level of spending. They are unconcerned with the level of debt. The United States Senate has, in defiance of the law, refused to pass a budget for over 1,000 days. Why?

The president is not just unconcerned with the level of spending, he has made it quite clear that he has no intention whatsoever of cutting back. He has been warned about the debt. He has been warned about  the risk of default. He has been warned by the first decline in our national credit rating in history and notified by the credit rating agencies that we must pay attention or there will be further decline. These are not just printed words on paper, they bear real consequences.

We were warned early on, that Obama did not have the experience or the necessary skill-set for the office to which he aspired. That has proven to be true. The recession, which was not the worst since the Great Depression, ended, officially, in June of 2009. There should have been a brisk recovery. Instead we got the worst recovery since the Great Depression, as a direct result of this president’s policies.

The U.S. in in the midst of an energy revolution. We have abundant oil and gas that would fuel an economic boom, in despite of the efforts of the president to shut down as much discovery and production as possible.  The technology that is changing the world is mostly American. “The nation’s farms export more produce than ever before at record prices. Americans eat the safest and cheapest food on the planet.”

The president talks openly of income redistribution and the inequality between the rich and the poor, as if it is his job to eliminate inequality. Yet after four years in office we have an all-time record 46.2 million people in America living in poverty. We have an all-time record of the highest  youth unemployment in history rising to 17.5% unemployed. 47,710,324 individuals are receiving food stamps. And the number of Americans no longer in the labor force has risen to 88,921,000.

However his campaign donors have been abundantly rewarded with millions.

Apparently no one has noticed that the warm, caring speeches and remarks by the president all have expiration dates — all too quickly reached.



The EPA’s Outrageous Power Grab! Lisa Jackson Must Be Stopped. by The Elephant's Child

The Obama EPA has decreed that “America’s fleet of passenger cars will have to meet an average mileage of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which will double today’s requirement of about 27 mpg.” The EPA’s director Lisa Jackson is way out of line, and assuming powers not granted to her or her agency.

Lisa Jackson has tossed aside some 35 years of Congressional prerogatives.  In 2007, Congress raised the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard with a bill requiring the U.S. fleet to hit 35 mpg by 2020, which was a 40% increase.  The theory is that the EPA has declared carbon dioxide a “pollutant,.” and because cars emit CO2, Ms. Jackson is depending on the Clean Air Act in her bid to issue commands to Detroit.

The issue of CAFE standards was previously the charge of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  NHTSA was charged by Congress with taking into account vehicle safety and a rule’s effect on the economy and consumer demand. The rule would reduce the mass of a car by 15% tp 25%. decreasing safety. Vehicles that cost $15,000 or less would be regulated out of existence.

The only way Detroit can hit these averages will be by turning at least 25% of its fleet into hybrids, which is undoubtedly the intention.  Hybrid sales peaked two years ago at 3% of the market and are declining.

Humans also emit CO2, every time we exhale. With something like 330,000,000 of us breathing out, that must be a fair amount of CO2.  Ms. Jackson has no authority to overrule Congress. The whole thing is silly — since carbon dioxide is NOT a pollutant, but a colorless, odorless gas that helps plants to grow and resist drought. The Clean Air Act is designed to curb pollutants, not to make up out of whole cloth claims that benign things are damaging to health, in order to increase the power of the EPA.   Other than that, the Wall Street Journal reports that even the EPA’s low estimates show that the rule would cost $157 billion and raise the price of cars by about $3,100 per vehicle.

This is an outstanding example of the general wrongheadedness of the Obama administration. There is no respect for the Constitutional separation of powers, no respect for the rule of law. The normal legislative process is viewed as an inconvenience that is to be avoided or gotten around, so that the administration can achieve their aims without interference. The arrogance of the administration assumes that the administration knows best, rather than the American people.  Congress needs to respond to this power grab, to restore the rule of law, and put the out-of-control EPA in its place.

The rationale behind this move seems to be a firm belief in a nonexistent global warming, caused by our cars’ emissions of CO2. But  any alarming warming exists only in the computer models of climate, not in the real world. The CO2 in the atmosphere arises from the oceans, and the small amounts of warming precede the rise in CO2 by as much as 300 years.  We have had far greater amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere in the past, and are currently at a low point. We need more CO2, not less, to help feed the hungry people of the world.



Climategate 2.0: A Pattern of Deception and Collusion! by The Elephant's Child
November 27, 2011, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment, Junk Science | Tags: , ,

The Climate meeting in Durban is just opening, and the new batch of ClimateGate e-mails —Climategate 2.0 — is dominating environmental news. “They not only reveal bias, but also some private doubts among the core scientist faithful about the scientific basis for the IPCC’s policy goals,”as climate scientist Roy Spencer explains.

In trying to learn about a subject as complex as climate, scientists may have diametrically opposing views on some matter, even given the same evidence. They may come to completely different conclusions about what their measurements mean. Scientists are humans with biases.

The problem with climate science, as we now refer to ‘global warming,’ is that governments got all excited about “saving the planet” and funded that research which would look for the causes of global warming and the problems that would result from that warming.  In other words they funded one side of the question, and neglected to fund any science intended to demonstrate that warming and cooling were natural phenomenon.

The funding — grants, prestige, facilities, equipment, assistants — was not only plentiful, but encouraged anyone in any sort of scientific field to write a grant proposal that would make their specialty important to climate. That biases appeared is not surprising. That some would go too far in defense of their own biases is unfortunate, and revealed by this new release of Climategate 2.0 emails.

Ever since NOAA’s James Hansen chose the hottest day of summer in Washington DC to warn Congress about the out-of-control warming of the earth, and how they must act to save the planet, Congress has encouraged the investigation.  Dr. Hansen also provides us with an example of the rewards for the warmist, as his “outside” earnings from speeches, appearances, and protests have topped $1 million. Outside income that he neglected to report to his institution.

Dr. Roy Spencer has written a generous essay on Bias in Scientific Research, Climategate 2.0, and the scientists who supported the IPCC efforts.  The IPCC was founded over 20 years ago to support political and energy policy goals, not to search for scientific truth.

For the Climategate 2.0 emails, go to Anthony Watt’s blog” Watts up with that“, or to Mark Moran’s Climate Depot, or to Steven Milloy’s JunkScience.com.  It’s great fun. They validate everything the skeptics have been saying for years.

It is almost impossible to estimate the total of the vast wasted sums spent by governments (plural) on policies and programs derived from climate change: the race to eliminate carbon in all its forms, the attack on coal mines, the attack on offshore oil drilling, electric cars, wind farms, solar arrays, the EPA and all its regulation, the Department of Energy and all its grants and subsidies, the ‘smart grid,” Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth, the Chicago Carbon Exchange, the 20,000 old folks who died from fuel poverty in Britain last year, down to all the advertising that brags about how “green” a business is. A pox on all of it. The damage done by this delusion is incalculable.  As Christopher Booker says in The Telegraph:

The scare over man-made global warming is not only the scientific scandal of our generation, but a suicidal flight from reality.

Do read up on this story.  It’s important to understand what is going on, and to try to understand the consequences of all this deception. It affects everything, absolutely everything.



Capital, Taxes, Regulation and Consequences, and Oh Yes, Jobs. by The Elephant's Child
April 13, 2010, 12:26 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, Taxes | Tags: , ,


Walter Wriston, former chairman of CitiCorp, was among the most innovative financiers of our time, and among the first to recognize the tumultuous changes reshaping the world in the information  technology revolution. He said, in his 1992 book The Twilight of Sovereignty, that:

Capital will go where it is wanted, and
stay where it is well treated.
It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation
of its value or use and no governmental power
can restrain it for long.

Walter Wriston is talking about consequences.  Legislatures often think that they can raise taxes at will, impose mandates and regulations, and nothing will change  except that more money will flow in.  A Democratic Congress, fondly remembering FDR, is  sure that raising taxes is no big deal because under Roosevelt the top marginal tax rate was 94 percent on all income over $200,000, and we got along with that, didn’t we?

Companies are exiting California, and the same is true for other high-tax states.  Doctors are leaving Massachusetts where mandates and restrictions take both pleasure and profit out of their work.   When the business climate turns sour, sensible businessmen go where the climate is better and there is opportunity. When ObamaCare enacts a tax on companies that manufacture medical equipment that  makes it impossible for that business to make a profit, that business will probably look for a way to manufacture in a location where costs are lower, often overseas. Capital will go where it is wanted, and stay where it is well treated.

The farmer in a rural area who always depended on a buyer who traveled through the region, with the availability of a telephone can learn about prices in the city, in the country, and is no longer dependent.  The politician, who once was protected by his dignity and his office, now finds that his words and actions can be captured and exposed on YouTube and in his opponent’s campaign commercials almost overnight. When people have more information, they can act on it.

ObamaCare is built on a house of cards.  It takes hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicare to fund ObamaCare, then claims that those cuts will make Medicare more solvent, even though the money “saved” will be spent on ObamaCare instead of being used to close the gap between income and outgo in Medicare.  It is largely a sleight of hand arrangement that spends the same money more than once.  Voters who are becoming informed increasingly are demanding repeal.  50 percent of likely voters “strongly” support repealing ObamaCare, 58 percent support repeal, while only 32 percent “strongly” disagree.

Information matters.  It changes the world. That is one reason why so much regarding politics and taxation takes place in back rooms.  They don’t want you to be informed — even if they talk about “transparency.”



Our Actions Have Unforseen and Often Unwelcome Consequences. by The Elephant's Child
February 16, 2010, 12:07 am
Filed under: Conservatism, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

One of my particular obsessions revolves around the fact that Liberals are so little interested in consequences.  Conservatives care about evidence.  They want to see some evidence that a program or a policy will work before inflicting it on the country.

Conservatives and Libertarians have sponsored think tanks across the country, some of them well-known, some obscure, whose fellows study policies as diverse as light rail and emergency-room economics.  They study programs that have been passed into law to see if they work, and if they are cost-effective, and how they can be improved. They study problems that have not yet come to the attention of government; and study what is happening around the globe, and what those influences on America will be.  They study war and peace.

Liberals, after the 2000 election, complained publicly, and bitterly, that they had no ideas — because they had no think tanks.  The Center for American Progress was shortly established, and John Podesta put in charge.  Typically, the Center seems devoted to all things political in general, and how to win at putting their political ideas into practice in particular.  It is a difference in approach.

Liberals care deeply about their good intentions.  They’re all for hope and change and their idea of a better world.  But liberal ideas never die.  Most of the ideas proposed by the administration or the liberals in Congress, are not new, but very old familiar ideas from the Roosevelt era, or the Johnson administration or the Carter administration.  If a program or a policy does not work, they are quite sure that not enough money was invested or not enough rules were established, so they do it over again.

A shining example is the Head Start program, which was devised to give poor minority children the advantage of expensive pre-school programs that seem to benefit children from wealthier families.   Study after study has shown that there are no benefits that extend beyond first grade.  Yet Liberals continue to insist on the program, add more funding and, like this administration, expand the coverage to younger and younger children.  This is why they advocate government-run child care from the earliest age.

Or, as another example of splendid intentions, take Stimulus I.  It was not successful in anything that it purported to do — except for pumping lots of money (uselessly) into the economy. In that it was successful to the tune of $862 billion.  So we now have Stimulus II, which morphed into “the Jobs Bill”, which was canceled by Harry Reid to become a mere $15 billion effort, the purpose of which is not yet clear, nor is it clear what becomes of the jobs effort, for that remains an unsolved concern.

What fostered this rant of mine, was an article by Roger Kimball, the editor of The New Criterion, and President and Publisher of Encounter Books, at Pajamas Media entitled “Why I Am Not  Pessimistic,” which I would recommend.  In his essay, Mr. Kimball included an excerpt from Australian philosopher David Stove’s “Why You Should Be a Conservative,” which defines the oldest and best argument for conservatism.

A primitive society is being devastated by a disease, so you bring modern medicine to bear, and wipe out the disease, only to find that by doing so you have brought on a population explosion. You introduce contraception to control population, and find that you have dismantled a whole culture. At home you legislate to relieve the distress of unmarried mothers, and find you have given a cash incentive to the production of illegitimate children. You guarantee a minimum wage, and find that you have extinguished, not only specific industries, but industry itself as a personal trait. You enable everyone to travel, and one result is, that there is nowhere left worth traveling to. And so on.

This is the oldest and the best argument for conservatism: the argument from the fact that our actions almost always have unforeseen and unwelcome consequences. It is an argument from so great and so mournful a fund of experience, that nothing can rationally outweigh it. Yet somehow, at any rate in societies like ours, this argument never is given its due weight. When what is called a “reform” proves to be, yet again, a cure worse than the disease, the assumption is always that what is needed is still more, and still more drastic, “reform.”

Progressives cannot wrap their minds (or, more to the point, their hearts) around this irony: that “reform” so regularly exacerbates either the evil it was meant to cure or another evil it had hardly glimpsed. The great Victorian Matthew Arnold was no enemy of reform. But he understood that “the melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of faith had left culture dangerously exposed and unprotected. In cultures of the past, Arnold thought, the invigorating “remnant” of those willing and able to energize culture was often too small to succeed. As societies grew, so did the forces of anarchy that threatened them –- but so did that enabling remnant. Arnold believed modern societies possessed within themselves a “saving remnant” large and vital enough to become “an actual” power that could stem the tide of anarchy. I hope that he was right.



King County Washington Passes a “Sanctuary County” Regulation for Illegals. by The Elephant's Child
November 10, 2009, 3:31 am
Filed under: Economy, Law, Liberalism, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

The King County Washington, (Seattle) County Council on this day declared that King County would henceforth  be a Sanctuary County for illegal immigrants.

Newly elected, SEIU sponsored, King County Executive Dow Constantine will replace Ron Sims who has gone back to Washington D.C. as President Obama’s Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  The Sanctuary vote will be one of Mr. Constantine’s last as a council member, and as a major liberal, his vote was the deciding one.

The Sanctuary designation makes it illegal for county employees to inquire about immigration status of people with whom they come in contact.  Word is apparently out in the illegal community that King County has rolled out the welcome mat for social services, benefits and welfare. Mr. Constantine has been particularly interested in cutting down on the prison population.

Coincidentally, King County’s budget is deeply in the hole, and unemployment is rising, but I’m sure that is just a coincidence.  Boeing is moving to South Carolina.

Does it occur to anyone that encouraging illegal immigrants to come to Seattle will — increase unemployment for King County residents?  Employment of illegals has never been a matter of, as is much quoted “jobs Americans won’t do”.  They take jobs that Americans would be happy to do, and do it for less. Liberals just don’t get “consequences.”

Liberal do-goodism is going to do us all in.



Another Surprising Feature Of the Waxman-Malarkey Bill. by The Elephant's Child
July 3, 2009, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy | Tags: ,

One of the main features among many in the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill is the requirement that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions be 17 percent below those of 2005 by 2020 and that 15 percent of electric power generation come from “clean energy sources” such as wind, solar, biomass or geothermal by 2020.

Population increase is estimated to grow by 40 million more than that in 2005, a 13.5 percent increase.  So we need a 28 percent decrease in fossil energy use  which will mean a major decrease in such comforts as hot water, heating and air conditioning.  Not to figure how much energy is required for the vast fleets of electric cars that the administration is counting on.

Many states are unsuitable for the use of solar or wind as energy sources.  These states will have to buy power from more wind-friendly states at much higher rates.  Solar power is far more expensive, so wind power will probably be the greatest source of renewable power.  If there is no growth for for the intervening 15 years to 2020 we would need something like 600 billion KWh.  The typical wind-power plant produces about 3.3 million KWh per year.

Thus, in the eleven years to 2020, the United States would need about 180 thousand 1.5 megawatt wind turbines.  This means 45 new wind turbines per day!

And that does not count the new coal-fired plants needed for all the times when the wind does not blow.

I wonder how much 180,000 wind turbines cost?

(Thanks to Professor James Rust for this information from CCNet News)



Bits and pieces from the environmental world. by The Elephant's Child

HEN-POOP POWER.

Poultry farms produce large amounts of poultry litter, the birds bedding litter.  A Pennsylvania company, Fibrowatt LLC, plans to build power plants  powered by poultry litter.  Fibrowatt says that the plants will give growers a market for the tons of waste produced in one of the biggest poultry growing states, mandated by North Carolina’s new renewable-energy law.

Oops!  They just might be dirtier than the coal plants that environmentalists are trying to get rid of.   They might also release comparatively large amounts of toxic arsenic, pollutants that form smog, and fine particles that could damage lungs.  These emissions are worrying doctors in the mountains of Surry County who are afraid that their community’s need for jobs could override potential health risks.

A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY, I WISH.

A media release from the University of Colorado suggests that rocket launches may require more stringent regulation in order to prevent significant damage to Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer in the decades to come, according to a new study.

Future ozone losses from unregulated rocket launches will eventually exceed ozone losses due to chloroflouorocarbons, or CFCs, which stimulated the 1987 Montreal Protocol banning ozone-depleting chemicals.  Sigh.  There is no evidence than any harm was ever caused to the environment or to anyone by whatever spotty thinning  that may have occurred during the 1980s and 1990s.

OOPS!  ETHANOL RAISES THE COST OF NUTRITION PROGRAMS.

Greater use of corn-based ethanol has accounted for about 10 to 15% of the rise in food prices between April of 2007 and April of 2008.. according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.  That suggests that the government will have to spend more on food programs for the needy during the current budget year.  It is estimated that the additional cost will be up to $900 million.

We keep pointing out that good intentions are not enough. Actions have consequences.

THAT WHOLE THING ABOUT THE POLAR BEARS —NEVERMIND.

Studies by the Wharton School cast doubt on the threat to polar bear population. Research done by the U.S. Department of the Interior to determine if global warming threatens the polar bear population is so flawed that it cannot be used to justify listing the polar bear as an endangered species, according to a study being published later this year in Interfaces, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®)

Professor J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School says, “To list a species that is currently in good health as an endangered species requires valid forecasts that its population would decline to levels that threaten its viability.  In fact, the polar bear populations have been increasing rapidly in recent decades due to hunting restrictions.

When environmentalists try to raise money by featuring pictures of polar bears and cubs, people begin to think of them as teddy bears, falling in love with their beauty and forgetting that they are wild carniverous animals.  See German woman.  Consequences.




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