American Elephants


A Vast Self-Inflicted Tragedy Has Struck Greece. There Are No Easy Answers. by The Elephant's Child
July 5, 2015, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Communism, Economy, Socialism, Statism | Tags: , , ,

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Well, the matter of Greece. Janet Daley describes the problem in The Telegraph.

There is no point any longer in trying to make sense of this. It has gone beyond sense. It is now incomprehensible in the strict technical meaning of the word. The “options” available are all catastrophic and delusional in varying degrees and combinations, and nobody is actually going to get to choose between them anyway – at least, nobody in Greece. To the extent that they have had any involvement – or culpability – in this matter, the Greek people must come to terms with the consequences of electing Russell Brand to head their government. Voters do have some responsibility for the choices that they make. That is what distinguishes mature democracy from the students’ union. But given the price that they are paying for that moment of mad frivolity, it seems harsh to condemn, especially as the prospect of fiscal rationality had already been ruined by the fecklessness of previous governments and external forces beyond their control.

It’s a marvelous example, once again, of the failure of socialism. We have seen it over  and over, and the empty stores in Venezuela were only a harbinger of the empty stores, already, in Greece. Spare the empathy, the Greeks brought it upon themselves. A new book from James Angelos:The Full Catastrophe, looks at the widespread tax evasion and benefit fraud. How about an island where everybody pretends to be blind? Or  doctors who earn only €12,000 a year — yet live in the most exclusive neighborhood in Athens?

It was rumors of the ‘Island of the blind’ that brought journalist James Angelos to Greece. Turned out that 61 of the supposedly blind residents of Zakynthos, were quite happily driving around the island, and an astonishing 496 of the 680 blind residents were not blind nor partially sighted. It was all a scam that could be traced back to one ophthalmologist and one official who cost the government €69 million. Being blind got you €724 paid in benefits once every two months, and a reduction in utility bills.

When the government called for those claiming disabilities to present themselves at government offices so official records could be updated, 36,000 failed to show up.That scam saved the government €100 million a year. When they began to check the rolls, they found that 8,500 unlikely pensioners claimed to be over age 100.

Neighborhoods of opulent mansions with their own pools were apparently occupied by virtual paupers who were living on a paltry €12,000 or only €8,00 since they were allowed to declare their own incomes for tax purposes. Official records showed that just over 300 homes in Athens most exclusive neighborhood  had swimming pools, and had paid the tax for the luxury. When the bureaucrats looked at Google Earth, it appeared that the real number of pools was closer to 20,000. But well-to-do home owners promptly bought camouflage tarpaulins to conceal their existence from tax inspectors flying over.

The picture of a pensioner crying in the street when he learns that his pension has been reduced to €120 is heartwrenching. Stores are empty, medicine short, and the government is projected to run out of cash this week. Nobody plans to rescue them. Much of Southern Europe is already coping with floods of refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Bureaucrats like to buy votes with their empathy. We care about  you and we will give you stuff. But bureaucrats need to stay in power, so they exert more and more control, which needs larger departments and higher salaries for the bureaucracy. And so it goes. Inflating and inflating the balloon with the inevitable result.



Pin the Tail On the Donkey! by The Elephant's Child

Over the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, 30 people were shot in 8 hours overnight. A 7 year-old boy and two men were killed. The Confederate flag has been withdrawn from store shelves and public display because it has suddenly been decided that it is a racist symbol and might offend someone. No one is particularly offended by 30 people being shot in a city with very strict gun control. Chicago has not had a Republican mayor since 1931.

Even before the Baltimore riots, gun violence was up more than 60% compared with last year. Protesters from Ferguson were reportedly sent to Baltimore by a George Soros associated group. There were 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend.  Baltimore has been run by Democrats since 1967.

In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over last year. Shootings in St. Louis were up 39%. robberies 43% and homicides 25%. St.Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro said “Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it” in a May City Hall hearing. Milwaukee’s last Republican Mayor left office in 1906, St. Louis’s last Republican Mayor left office in 1949. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid May, Democrat Mayors have run Atlanta since 1942.

What has happened is a relentlessly dishonest campaign against law enforcement, which the Wall Street Journal called “the Ferguson Effect,” beginning with Trayvon Martin, who was pictured as an innocent young boy in a hoodie, instead of the huge violent young man, and extending through one innocent young black man after another, with out-of-control violent policing supposedly at fault.

Shooting incidents were up 500% in East Harlem, 100% in South Central Los Angeles. And in many cities, police are afraid to confront suspects for fear that they will be attacked or wrongly accused of misbehavior. Cops are not perfect. There are bad apples. There are racists, but the majority of police across the country are trying to keep the peace and forestall crime. Attacking the police, making poor neighborhoods believe that they cannot trust the very people who are trying to protect them is a vast disservice. When that protection is lessened or withdrawn because police are fearful for their own lives, crime and murders go up and trust drops even more.



Why Don’t They Ever Learn? Socialist Economies Never, Never Work. by The Elephant's Child
July 5, 2015, 6:37 am
Filed under: Economy, Freedom, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Greece-Sanders-copy“Twenty-five years after the most oppressive empire in human history collapsed because socialist economies don’t work, 49 percent of American youth , according to a recent  Pew poll; think socialism is a good system. …We won the Cold War, but we didn’t drive a stake through the communist heart. As a result the vampire of “social justice” has risen to fight another day.” ..
…………………………………………………(David Horowitz: Take No Prisoners)



It wouldn’t Be the Fourth Of July Without John Phillip Souza! by The Elephant's Child

The United States Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus :

The Stars and Stripes Forever

John Phillip Souza’s most famous march.
To see the lyrics please turn on your closed captioning starting at 1:04



Abraham Lincoln Spoke July 4, 1858 About the Meaning of the Declaration by The Elephant's Child

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln’s Fourth of July speech looked back for 82 years to the Declaration of Independence and at its meaning:

We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men, they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity that we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves—we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it.

We have besides these men—descended by blood from our ancestors—among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe—German, Irish, French and Scandinavian—men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration [loud and long continued applause], and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world. 

(The whole speech is here)



An Inauspicious Beginning, But Here We Are In 2015 by The Elephant's Child
July 4, 2015, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom, The United States | Tags: , , ,

from
Hamilton’s Blessing
The Extraordinary Life and Times of
Our National Debt
by John Steele Gordon

But there can hardly be a poorer credit risk than a newly formed government in rebellion against a Great Power. Such governments vanish with defeat, the leaders are hanged, and their debts become uncollectible. More, the American colonies had had only rudimentary tax systems, and the new Continental Congress, established in 1775, had none at all. The Congress was able to borrow something over $11 million from the French government and Dutch bankers — both countries soon went to war with Britain hoping to take advantage of this situation — mostly for purchases in those countries. And Congress and the states sold bonds to wealthy patriots who were willing to risk the loss of their capital for the cause. But the money raised was not nearly enough. Thus the nascent United States had no choice but to resort to every financial expediency at its disposal in order to feed, equip, and pay the state militias and the Continental army.

The main source of revenue was in fact, the printing press. Congress issued massive amounts of so-called continentals, paper money that was backed by nothing more than a declaration that it was legal tender. By the end of the war these issues amounted to more than $200 million at face value. But this fiat money had quickly depreciated, as fiat money always does.  Before the war ended, Congress had been forced to revalue earlier issues at only 2.5  percent of face value, and the phrase “not worth a continental” would be part of the American idiom for a century. Further, the state governments and Continental Congress used what were, in effect, forced loans, requisitioning food and supplies from citizens and paying for the goods with IOUs. These also quickly depreciated as they passed from hand to hand.



God Bless The USA by The Elephant's Child
July 4, 2015, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Freedom, History, The United States | Tags: , ,




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