American Elephants

Flash-Mob Fourth! by American Elephant

The whole “flash-mob” phenom has begun to wear on this particular pachyderm to the point of irritation. Yes, I get it, you can get a group to congregate in public, occasionally dressed as zombies, and recreate, en masse, the dance steps from piped-in 1980’s music videos or lip-sync to last month’s episode of “Glee”.

Bully for you! Boring for me.

It was amusing the first hundred or so times, but the novelty has long since worn off. Especially painful to watch are those “spontaneous” mobs where participants outnumber onlookers by a factor of 10-1 or more. How is it a flash mob, when everyone there is in it?

But I digress.

There are still, on occasion, instances where one of these groups does something worthwhile — surprises a crowd with real talent or something truly novel.

Such an event occurred just days ago in old Cape Cod:

At 5pm on July 1st, 2011 in Orleans, Cape Cod, MA, shoppers stocking up for the 4th of July got a surprise shot of patriotism to start their weekend!

This flash mob was organized by Spirit of America Band to wish everyone a happy 4th of July!

A charming show of public patriotism. Which is, alas, something we don’t see that much of anymore. Enjoy!

Obama Wants to Increase Fuel-Economy Standards. It Makes No Sense and Won’t Save the Planet. by The Elephant's Child
July 6, 2011, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

Praying for the insanity to blow over is the auto industry’s strategy for dealing with the Obama administration latest urge to double down on fuel economy mandates. Auto makers, wishing to appear deferential to the government that bailed them out, only plead that any new targets be ratcheted up slowly so future administrations will have plenty of chance to repeal the rules before they take effect.

Holman Jenkins says today in the Wall Street Journal that is the most rational stance taken by any player in the CAFE standards bargaining now under way in Washington.  And he added this sentence which will go in my quotation book.

If ever a president seems to have learned nothing from the times he’s living in, Barack Obama is it. Economies around the world are foundering from an accumulation of policy excesses produced by the sort of straight-line, robotic thinking he’s applying to so-called corporate average fuel economy rules.

If 64% of Americans owning their own homes is a good thing, thought Bill Clinton, 67% is better. If 67% is good, thought George Bush, 69% is better.

If forcing auto makers to build cars that deliver an average of 35.5 mpg is good, believes Mr. Obama, forcing them to deliver 56.2 is even better.

Proponents of higher CAFE standards have been floating 62 mpg as a new standard.  With all the wonderful new technology of American industry, there is no reason why automakers need to give up safety by reducing the size and weight of cars.  Technology alone will make cars safer — they’ll just invent new stuff between now and 2025 when the new (doubled) requirements will take effect.  Car makers are announcing that their cars will no longer have spare tires.  Instead they’ll have vehicle-powered sealant repair kits.  That is GM eliminating spare tires on the Chevy Cruze compact.  GM CEO Dan Akerson has proposed boosting the federal tax on gasoline by $1 so people would increase purchases of small cars.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed, as previous studies have, that larger and heavier models of cars are safer.  SUVs heavier than 4,500 pounds have a death rate less than one-third that of cars under 2,500 pounds.  Common sense and physics trump the politics of energy efficiency once again.

But we must have high standards of energy efficiency because we don’t want any drilling for oil, because the environmental lobby doesn’t like fossil fuel. If we burned no fossil fuel at all, it would not have the slightest effect on climate change.

Those who dreamed of being the generation who saved the planet need to find another cause.  The planet will be just fine.

Obama’s Stimulus Cost a Whopping $278,000 Per Job! by The Elephant's Child

It was no accident that the “Seventh Quarterly Report” on the economic impact of the “stimulus” was released late on the Friday before a long holiday weekend.  Maybe no one would notice. The report was written by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, a group of three economists handpicked by Obama, and it chronicles the alleged success of the “stimulus” in solving the unemployment problem.

Jeffrey H. Anderson paid attention, and reports at the Weekly Standard:

The report was written by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, a group of three economists who were all handpicked by Obama, and it chronicles the alleged success of the “stimulus” in adding or saving jobs. The council reports that, using “mainstream estimates of economic multipliers for the effects of fiscal stimulus” (which it describes as a “natural way to estimate the effects of” the legislation), the “stimulus” has added or saved just under 2.4 million jobs — whether private or public — at a cost (to date) of $666 billion. That’s a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job.

In other words, the government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose employment was allegedly made possible by the “stimulus,” and taxpayers would have come out $427 billion ahead. 

Furthermore, the council reports that, as of two quarters ago, the “stimulus” had added or saved just under 2.7 million jobs — or 288,000 more than it has now.  In other words, over the past six months, the economy would have added or saved more jobs without the “stimulus” than it has with it. In comparison to how things would otherwise have been, the “stimulus” has been working in reverse over the past six months, causing the economy to shed jobs.

This is not a report from nasty, evil Republican economists who are known to always lie about everything, but a report from Obama’s own team — his guys.  Mr. Anderson adds that “it’s quite possible that by borrowing an amount greater than the regular defense budget or the annual cost of Medicare, and then spending it mostly on Democratic constituencies rather than in a manner genuinely designed to stimulate the economy, Obama’s “stimulus” has actually undermined the economy’s recovery — while leaving us (thus far) $666 billion deeper in debt”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ numbers show that the unemployment rate was 7.3% when the “stimulus” was being debated, and has since risen to 9.1%,  The national debt at the end of 2008 was $9.986 trillion.  It is now $14.467 trillion and climbing. The numbers are beyond dispute. The economy would be creating jobs at a faster rate if there had never been a “stimulus.”

President Obama’s idea of governance and leadership is all bound up with spending.  Obama based his campaign on “fundamentally transforming America.” And that costs money — big money!  Obama has no idea of putting America’s fiscal house in order.  He wants the debt ceiling raised so that he can go on spending.  That is the one thing that is fundamentally clear.

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