American Elephants

Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer by The Elephant's Child

Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has written many wise books, and columns.  When he writes, I pay attention.  His newest book is Shakedown, a timely and important look at the financial collapse and the unprecedented grasp of federal power into our beleaguered free enterprise economy.  Steven Malanga provides the grisly details that the mainstream media neglects to cover.


Wisconsin Republicans Simply Bypass Irresponsible Fleeing Democrats. by The Elephant's Child

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has won the First Battle of Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s Senate has been paralyzed since February 17, because it requires a 20 vote quorum to address budget issues. Part of the governor’s budget bill was the provision that caused 14 Democrats, who refused to accept the obvious results of the 2010 election, to flee the state in childish pique.

The provision reduced collective bargaining rights for state workers to collective bargaining over wages, but not benefits and pensions. Wisconsin’s Senate does not require 20 members to be present to pass non-budget legislation. Some asked why they didn’t just strip the union provision out of the budget bill and vote on it separately. They did just exactly that.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, said “Tonight, the Senate will be passing the items in the budget repair bill that we can, with the 19 members who actually show up and do their jobs.”

The bill, contrary to Union claims, does not strip union workers of their ability to bargain collectively. They can still bargain concerning their wages. Pensions and benefits will be determined by the legislative process. The corrupt system whereby union workers paid dues which the union spent to elect the Democrat official who would bargain collectively with the union to give them whatever they wanted so that they would again give him campaign funds is over. Taxpayers who had to foot the bill for the pensions for retired workers, were shut out of the conversation, but faced ever-increasing tax bills.

State and local governments cannot bear that kind of uncontrolled expense. There will be more battles. He is facing the anger of America’s biggest-spending political special interest. But Americans think Governor Walker is doing the right thing, and there are cheers from this corner.

3-year-old Jonathan Conducts Beethoven’s 5th Symphony! by The Elephant's Child

Here is 3- year-old Jonathan conducting the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (originally conducted by Herbert von Karajan).  Jonathan’s passion for classical music began to show up, his parents say, when he was 8 months old.  Impressive little kid!

Liberals Never Give Up On a Failed Program! by The Elephant's Child

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), ranking member of Democrats simply not serious about spending, went on a rant yesterday about a Nevada cowboy poetry festival. Cowboy poetry has a place in the folkways of the country and follows in a long tradition.  Men stuck in occupations that require long boring stretches of simply watching, often turn to creating poetry about their boredom.  Sailors in the Royal Navy in the 19th Century often composed poems, usually of dreadful quality, that are preserved in the British archives.  We’ve seen videos of our soldiers and marines in Iraq composing rap songs about their days, and out in the West  a herd of cattle moves v-e-r-y slowly and gives a cowboy lots of time to compose.

The bawl of a steer
To a cowboy’s ear
Is music of sweetest strain;
And the yelping notes
Of the gray coyotes
To him are a glad refrain.

The cowboy poetry might have gotten the most attention, but on the Senate floor Harry Reid also pleaded preposterously for the failed Head Start preschool program. If you cut federal funding, he said:

Here are some of the consequences. … It will kick 200,000 Head Start students, the poorest of the poor—little boys and girls trying to get started in life—it will kick them off their ability to learn to read and do elementary math. Hundreds in Nevada will suffer from that. This is a very successful early education program. Head Start works.

This is simply proof of my frequent claim that Democrats never give up on a failed program, it just needs continued funding, or more funding, because their intent was pure. They are simply impervious to evidence.

— The Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that administers Head Start, found that the program which provides taxpayer-funded preschool to low-income children, has been completely ineffective at improving academic outcomes for the children it was created to serve as shown by a nationwide study of 4,600 children.

— The 2010 Head Start Impact Study found that the program failed to improve the cognitive abilities of four-year-old children and actually had a harmful effect on the math skills of three-year-old children, according to teacher assessments. Overall, this 45-year-old Great Society relic failed to have a positive impact on 110 out of 112 outcomes measured.

— The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found fraudulent activity within the Head Start Program.  An undercover investigation found that Head Start Staff told fictitious families sent in by GAO how to misrepresent their eligibility by hiding portions of family income to make the family eligible for participation.

Any number of studies over the years have consistently found that, though well-intended, the program simply does not help.  When he signed the bill in 1965, Lyndon Johnson said:”Today we reach out to five and a half million children held behind their more fortunate schoolmates by the dragging anchor of poverty.”  Head Start would be their “passport” out.

President Obama raised the funding for Head Start for $6.8 billion in 2008 to $9.2 billion in 2009.  It costs $22,600 to keep a child in a year-round Head Start program.  Typical preschools run around $9,500.  What matters to liberals is the idea of a program that would provide care, nutrition, education and skills to impoverished preschoolers to overcome the handicaps imposed by poverty.  This lets liberals feel good about their compassion, and allows them to condemn anyone who objects to the expenditure as mean-spirited and heartless.

Oddly, the program that allows impoverished children to overcome the handicaps imposed by poverty, the one that really works, the Opportunity Scholarships in the nation’s capitol, were dumped by liberals in Congress because the teachers’ unions were opposed to them.  Go figure!

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