American Elephants


The Debate: Did We Learn Anything Useful? I Suspect Not. by The Elephant's Child

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treigger-waringTonight’s debate was held at Hofstra University. The sign of the times sat outside the debate hall: “Trigger Warning: The event conducted just beyond this sign may cause triggering and/or sensitive material. Sexual violence, sexual assault and abuse are some topics mentioned within this event. If you feel triggered, please know there are resources to support you.”

Nothing much that should be “triggering,” but it was pretty depressing. Hillary was very, very rehearsed. The ideas she expressed were standard Leftist boilerplate, unadorned with a single original thought or idea.  There was one, which was clearly planned to become a talking point —”Trumped-up Trickle-down Tax cuts.” She dredged up the talking point Democrats used 36 years ago from the Reagan Campaign, without the slightest understanding of just what she was talking about.

There are basic economic facts that the Left simply cannot grasp. •Poor people do not create jobs, rich people do, because they have spare money to invest. •Raising the minimum wage is a guaranteed unemployment plan for beginners in the job market. •Equal pay for women has been settled law since 1963, and Hillary didn’t have anything to do with it then or now. Nor is there anything in that law that needs fixing. It’s simply a pander for votes.

Hillary wants to raise the estate tax to 65%. Getting those nasty rich people. The thing is the very rich arrange their affairs so they can avoid unnecessary taxes. They can hire the best lawyers and the best accountants, and set up Foundations that allow them to shelter money, just like Hillary and Bill have.  The people who get stuck with higher estate taxes are the small farmers and owners of small businesses. The “estate” is entirely invested in the farm or the business, and when a big estate tax is levied, it has to be sold or divided up to pay the taxes — and the results are another blow to the middle class, and doesn’t really effect the rich at all.

Donald Trump is not a practiced debater. The openings left by Hillary’s rehearsed comments were enormous, and Mr. Trump did not take advantage of the openings as he might have.

It’s clear that many people simply do not understand what the fuss about her emails is. Let’s state it clearly. Required by law to preserve all of her emails on a State Department secure computer, she set up her own computer in her home, on a private server run by some computer “security” company in Colorado. Her reasons seemed to be her paranoia, that people might learn that she was selling speeches by her husband, and access to the State Department and herself for donations to the Clinton Foundation. The “security” company had no security clearances of any kind. Nor did Hillary’s lawyers who advised her on security matters.

The debate question about Cyber-Security was a huge opening, for Hillary’s computers were clearly hacked, Secret and Top Secret documents and even more highly classified documents, through her carelessness and greed were made available to our enemies all over the world.

She was not allowed to use a Blackberry because it was not secure, but she had, over time, some 15 of them. The reason for the rules and regulations was the simple fact that many of our most secret documents cross the desk of the Secretary of State. Hillary’s wanton carelessness has endangered our country, the people who work for the government, and our policies. And she lied about it, over and over. This is a foreign policy disaster that will harm our country for many years. Hillary’s goal was graft, pure and simple. What use is an important government job if not to enrich yourself and your family?

Hillary attacked Donald Trump for “stiffing” people who worked for him, and not paying the amount they were due, making much of the fact that they might be small businesses, counting on his reputation. Hillary had two employees at Benghazi, whose security force was cut from 34 officers to just 6. In the face of rising danger, they begged for more security, which was not forthcoming. They were murdered, and Hillary went to bed. Two former Seals, working for the CIA were trying to hold off the terrorist attack and begged for help. Central Command was ready to respond, but was told to stand down. Then Hillary lied about it to the parents of the men who had been killed. And to the public, claiming the whole thing was not a terrorist attack, but a protest against a YouTube video made by a Coptic Christian that insulted Mohammed, that nobody saw, and nobody cared about. The maker of the video was thrown in jail to rot on false charges until the attention of the news media had turned to other things. That’s quite an example of bad character.

Donald Trump is not an experienced debater, nor is he a polished speaker. But those are usually not considered qualifying characteristics for the job of President. Honesty and character are. We have somehow arrived at a moment in time when trust has broken down. One federal agency after another has become enmeshed in scandal. The IRS, the CIA, the FBI, the VA, EPA, the BIA, BLM. DOJ, DOI, the list goes on and on.

Barack Obama told the country that he learned about Hillary’s email scandal from the press, as he has learned about so many other scandals, and he didn’t even know Hillary’s email address. It appears from leaked emails that he wrote emails to Hillary regularly, under an assumed name.

Hillary is an experienced and congenital liar. She lies about silly unimportant things to make herself look better (the sniper-fire at the airport in Bosnia), and she lies about major things that do matter. She lies about her health, she lied about her emails, she lied about her accomplishments, she lied about leaving the White House “dead broke,”she has lied about her duties at the State Department, she lies about Trump, she lies about the Clinton Foundation. She’s not a very good liar, because she usually gets caught at it. People just assume that what she says is neither accurate or credible.

The trouble with liars is that if you assume them to be truthful as a matter of principle, sooner or later you end up acting on information from that person, and that’s how you learn who and what they are.

In personal matters, it’s just a disappointment. In matters of State, it can be the life or death of the country. We have been lied to extensively on the Iran Deal, and that is going to come back to bite us. We have been lied to extensively about Syria. About Iraq and about Afghanistan.



I Can’t Believe They Released This Video! Ouch! by The Elephant's Child

You may have seen this excerpt from Hillary’s speech to a labor union group. It’s not one of her finer moments, but the attention all goes to her harsh yelling, and not to what she is saying. Of course she is opposed to “Right to Work” laws. Democrats depend on generous donations from labor unions made possible by forced unionization and forced dues. Democrats have always been far more interested in big donations than in individual freedom. Here’s Robert Barro, a professor of economics at Harvard and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution:

Labor unions like to portray collective bargaining as a basic civil liberty, akin to the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion. For a teachers union, collective bargaining means that suppliers of teacher services to all public school systems in a state—or even across states—can collude with regard to acceptable wages, benefits and working conditions. An analogy for business would be for all providers of airline transportation to assemble to fix ticket prices, capacity and so on. From this perspective, collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty. …

Here’s James Sherk, Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics, the Heritage Foundation, testimony to the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform, last year before Wisconsin’s passage of Right to Work Laws:

Research confirms that unions pay more attention to their members in right-to-work states. Union officers earn substantially greater salaries in states with compulsory dues, even after adjusting for costs of living. When union officers must earn workers’ support they spend less money on themselves. …

Right-to-work laws have economic benefits that go beyond protecting workers’ freedom. Union contracts make businesses less competitive. One recent study compared companies whose workers narrowly voted to unionize with those who narrowly voted against unionizing. It found the unionized firms were 10 percentage points more likely to go out of businesses within seven years.

Here’s a paper from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, explaining the changing nature of work, and regulatory barriers to success.

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The facts of economics or the way things really work are often counter-intuitive — Hillary shouts that Right to Work is “wrong for workers and wrong for America,” but that is Democrats usual emotional response, and the basis on which they control and regulate. Financial support trumps the concerns of ordinary workers every time. Workers and businesses do far better in Right to Work states, as does the state’s economy.  Right to Work laws do not prevent anyone who wants to belong to a union from belonging — it only prevents unions from forcing membership and expensive dues upon anyone who does not wish to join. Usually thought of as free choice, or free people.

Public sector unions are even more pernicious, for the people who have to pay for higher demands and benefits are the taxpayers, yet they have no say at all in the bargaining process, and politicians who benefit from union support and money aren’t, as you may have noticed, all that careful with taxpayer money.



When You Don’t Understand the Economy, You’re Not Apt to Provide Correct Solutions! by The Elephant's Child

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When the economy seems dismal, and nothing seems to be going right, you may have noticed that reasons start appearing why we just have to settle for a less prosperous world. Obama’s answers in his speech to the UN General Assembly are particularly interesting. We have to make the global economy work better for all people, not just those at the top. Open markets and  capitalism have raised standards of living around the globe, but globalization and rapid progress and technology have weakened the position of workers and their ability to secure a decent wage. Unions have been undermined and manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Here’s Obama:

But I do believe there’s another path — one that fuels growth and innovation, and offers the clearest route to individual opportunity and national success.  It does not require succumbing to a soulless capitalism that benefits only the few, but rather recognizes that economies are more successful when we close the gap between rich and poor, and growth is broadly based. And that means respecting the rights of workers so they can organize into independent unions and earn a living wage.  It means investing in our people — their skills, their education, their capacity to take an idea and turn it into a business.  It means strengthening the safety net that protects our people from hardship and allows them to take more risks — to look for a new job, or start a new venture.

Forgive me, but this is pure claptrap. “Soulless Capitalism” indeed. That benefits only a few? Too much time going to Socialist meetings, and a deep ignorance of basic economics. Robert Barro, professor of economics at Harvard and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute corrected the president:

The Obama administration and some economists argue that the recovery since the Great Recession ended in 2009 has been unusually weak because of the recession’s severity and the fact that it was accompanied by a major financial crisis. Yet in a recent study of economic downturns in the U.S. and elsewhere since 1870, economist Tao Jin and I found that historically the opposite has been true. Empirically, the growth rate during a recovery relates positively to the magnitude of decline during the downturn, economist Tao Jin and I found that historically the opposite has been true. …

On average, during a recovery, an economy recoups about half the GDP lost during the downturn. The recovery is typically quick, with an average duration around two years. For example, a 4% decline in per capita GDP during a contraction predicts subsequent recovery of 2%, implying 1% per year higher growth than normal during the recovery. Hence, the growth rate of U.S. per capita GDP from 2009 to 2011 should have been around 3% per year, rather than the 1.5% that materialized.

The Left is burdened with the ideas that things need be done by government, that those in government (themselves) know better how to manage businesses and direct trade, and decide what needs to be done in the future. They are so filled with themselves and their self-admiration that they cannot conceive of letting people be free to pursue their own ideas and ambitions. Yet this is the very way you welcome growth and invention. Economist Dierdre McCloskey points out that:

“two centuries ago, the average world income per human (in present-day prices) was about $3 a day. It had been so since we lived in caves. Now it is $33 a day—which is Brazil’s current level and the level of the U.S. in 1940. Over the past 200 years, the average real income per person—including even such present-day tragedies as Chad and North Korea—has grown by a factor of 10. It is stunning. In countries that adopted trade and economic betterment wholeheartedly, like Japan, Sweden and the U.S., it is more like a factor of 30—even more stunning.”…

Over the past 200 years, the average real income per person—including even such present-day tragedies as Chad and North Korea—has grown by a factor of 10. It is stunning. In countries that adopted trade and economic betterment wholeheartedly, like Japan, Sweden and the U.S., it is more like a factor of 30—even more stunning.

The capital became productive because of ideas for betterment—ideas enacted by a country carpenter or a boy telegrapher or a teenage Seattle computer whiz. As Matt Ridley put it in his book “The Rational Optimist” (2010), what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” The idea of a railroad was a coupling of high-pressure steam engines with cars running on coal-mining rails. The idea for a lawn mower coupled a miniature gasoline engine with a miniature mechanical reaper. And so on, through every imaginable sort of invention. The coupling of ideas in the heads of the common people yielded an explosion of betterments.

Another article by Dierdre McCloskey covering many of the same ideas is available at The New York Times. Both may be behind subscription barriers, but you can find them on Google. It’s worth trying to track them down.  I love Matt Ridley’s brilliant description of  “ideas having sex.” But that’s how it works. You suddenly put two ideas previously unconnected— together and suddenly you have a new and different thing. And it’s how people and nations get rich as well.



“Obama’s Last Lecture” by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama delivered his final address to the U.N General assembly on Tuesday. I listened to a bit online, and decided to get the transcript, as I prefer to read it unadulterated. The Wall Street Journal headline over their commentary was “Obama’s Last Lecture,” and my immediate response was “Please God, Make It So.” President Obama started right off to tell the delegates just what an impressive difference he had made in the world and how very important it was. As  usual, it was all about him.

From the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our time, we coordinated our response to avoid further catastrophe and return the global economy to growth.  We’ve taken away terrorist safe havens, strengthened the nonproliferation regime, resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy.  We opened relations with Cuba, helped Colombia end Latin America’s longest war, and we welcome a democratically elected leader of Myanmar to this Assembly.  Our assistance is helping people feed themselves, care for the sick, power communities across Africa, and promote models of development rather than dependence.  And we have made international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund more representative, while establishing a framework to protect our planet from the ravages of climate change.

This is important work.  It has made a real difference in the lives of our people.  And it could not have happened had we not worked together.  And yet, around the globe we are seeing the same forces of global integration that have made us interdependent also expose deep fault lines in the existing international order.

We see it in the headlines every day.  Around the world, refugees flow across borders in flight from brutal conflict.  Financial disruptions continue to weigh upon our workers and entire communities.  Across vast swaths of the Middle East, basic security, basic order has broken down.  We see too many governments muzzling journalists, and quashing dissent, and censoring the flow of information.  Terrorist networks use social media to prey upon the minds of our youth, endangering open societies and spurring anger against innocent immigrants and Muslims.  Powerful nations contest the constraints placed on them by international law.

He hit all his favorite progressive notes: inequality, the one percent controlling all the wealth, beggar thy neighbors policies, injustice undermining people’s faith in the system, soulless capitalism,  the gap between rich and poor, and I loved this one: “with further investment in infrastructure and early childhood education and basic research, I’m confident that such progress will continue.” About infrastructure, remember there weren’t any shovel-ready jobs. It has been a dismal eight years, with no real recovery, an economy never reaching even a basic 3% growth, an economy burdened by excessive regulation, overreaching controls, and of course the constant pursuit of some way, any way, to stop the normal warming and cooling of our planet, on which he has squandered billions to no avail whatsoever.

On the other hand he’s for democracy, our democratic Constitution, our Bill of Rights and the ideals which let our ordinary  people organize and march and protest.  The American narrative, I guess. It was a lecture.

The speech is here if you want to read it.



Mark Knopfler: “Telegraph Road” by The Elephant's Child
September 20, 2016, 6:58 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Heartwarming, Music, Pop Culture | Tags: , ,

lyrics here
(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)



Can the Government Really Run the Economy? Steve Forbes by The Elephant's Child



Historical Minimum Wage Math from Economist Mark Perry by The Elephant's Child
September 20, 2016, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Unemployment

“Historically, firms finance increases in the minimum wage
by laying off minimum wage workers.”

Mark Perry
4/11/2016

blackteen




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