American Elephants

Straw Men, Prevarications, Falsehoods and Plain Old Lies. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s class warfare scheme seems to be working.  Polls indicate that people think that the rich should pay more taxes.  Of course they want more taxes paid by someone else.

The rich have more choices than the rest of us because they are not dependent on all their income like most of us are. If the government plans a tax on expensive yachts, they can easily fly to the Bahamas and buy their boat there. They can invest in a growing company that pays no dividends and wait for years to cash in the investment when capital gains taxes are lower.

The “Buffet Rule”, as defined by Obama, is that people making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay.  This is the familiar” straw man argument,” that Obama uses so often. He creates an imaginary villain — a straw man — and then rails against him.

The Americans in the bottom 20 percent of earners, the lowest quintile paid a minus 3.8 percent of the total federal income tax burden. In other words they got money back from the government, more back in credits than they paid in.  Those in the middle quintile, the center of the middle class who had an average income of $44,000, paid 3.9 percent of the total federal income tax burden. In other words they paid about $1 out of every $25 dollars of income taxes paid nationwide.

Those in the fourth quintile, with incomes ranging from $58,000 to $102,000 paid about one dollar paid 15.1 percent of the total federal income tax burden.  The eighty percent of Americans whose income placed them in the first four quintiles of income earners combined paid about $1 our of every $9 that is paid in federal income taxes nationwide.

The top earners, with income of at least $1.974 million, the tippy-top 0.1 percent of earners, paid more toward the workings of the government than the bottom 80 percent did.  That’s in spite of the fact that the bottom 80 percent collectively made more than six times as much money as the top 0.1 percent did.

A member of the small group that belong to the top 0.1 percent of earners paid roughly $1,147,616 in annual income taxes. When the fat cats, the filthy rich, are paying more taxes than 80 percent of the population is collectively paying, Obama’s straw man ploy becomes a little pathetic.

Warren Buffett is a special case. He has made his money as an investor, and as a long term investor at that. His firm, Berkshire-Hathaway is a major tax shelter. He receives only a modest salary. And is notably donating most of his wealth to Bill Gates Foundation in charitable deductions.

Berkshire Hathaway is embroiled in a tax battle with the IRS, where the IRS is trying to collect millions in back taxes. There is something particularly phony about the Buffet Rule.

Unfortunately, this is an old trick of the left, and it usually works. The left, from the moment that the Bush tax cuts were debated proclaimed loudly, in unison, “Tax cuts for the rich.” The left depends on the public believing that Republicans are mean, cold people who protect the rich and pick on poor people.  Explanations are lengthy, and are easily trumped with short, bumper-sticker phrases like “Tax cuts for the rich.” Hard to get people to read a long explanation when you are easily swayed by a frequently repeated phrase.  Sigh.


You Blew It! You Messed Up! Just Face Up to Your Failure. by The Elephant's Child

How does this work? Did President Obama tell his cabinet that a clean, green economy is the policy of his administration, and they were supposed to make it happen? Did he tell them to go forth and shut down as much fossil fuel as they can because he thinks it is dirty and impacts climate change? Or is this a cooperative venture?

Did he tell Energy Secretary Chu to jump-start the solar industry, and instruct Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to delay permits for drilling wherever and whenever he could? Or is it simply because they are all liberals that they truly believe that global warming is a real problem, and it’s up to them to save the Earth? Or because they are all liberals, are they unaware that there is no “consensus?”

That question comes from the observation that the mainstream media was astonished that a governor — Rick Perry of Texas — would publicly suggest that he was not alarmed by global warming.  The shock they expressed suggested that they had never before heard of a real person who did not believe climate change to be an approaching disaster. Environmental reporters belong to the Society of Environmental Journalists where they learn about the environment — from each other. Climate Change is a matter of faith.

Regulation also seems to be a matter of faith. The unruly, poorly informed public needs to be controlled. Health care is too expensive, so the government needs to be fully in control to reduce costs.  Yes, costs might go up right off the bat, but the mechanisms are in place to control costs. They’ll just make medical care cost less, or make sure that you use less of it.

The public does not understand the wonders of a clean green economy, and will resist higher gas prices, and higher energy prices, but when the government has control of your energy, they will be able to direct energy to those who need it most.  People will like quiet, clean electric cars when they get used to them and will find living in denser, more interesting cities, more rewarding.

Obama has said a number of times that the Constitution is flawed, and needs to be revised. White House alumni seem to agree that bureaucrats know best. They really find the disagreement of Republicans to their aims completely offensive.  There shouldn’t be an opposing party. People shouldn’t be allowed to disagree. The political polarization is preventing Democrats from ending this recession.

Peter Orzag, former White House Budget Director suggested in the New Republic that “the country’s political polarization is growing worse — harming Washington’s ability to do the basic, necessary work of governing.”  We need to “minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions.  In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.”

Steven Rattner, former auto czar, wrote in his book Overhaul: “Either Congress needs to get its act together or we should explore alternatives. …If our country wants to do a better job of solving its problems, it needs to do a better job of solving its problems, it needs to find a way to let talented government officials operate more like they do in the private sector.” North Carolina governor Beverly Perdue was in the news this week for saying: “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.”

So if we jut fix the Constitution, cut back on Democracy, maybe go to a parliamentary system where one party is completely in charge, don’t argue with the consensus, then we’d be heading in the right direction? But we just had two years of that. Democrats were in charge of the Senate, the House, the Presidency, the bureaucracy and the Media. They not only did exactly what they wanted, the did it in back rooms, in secret, and refused to allow any dissent. They spent exactly what they wanted to spend, right where they wanted to spend it.

Health care was their triumph, and everybody hates it. Obama’s poster children — the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic and the Intermountain Institute — announced that they won’t participate.

The stimulus didn’t stimulate, nobody wants the electric cars, the investment in solar cell makers has turned into a huge scandal, with more solar investments to follow it into bankruptcy. Nothing has worked as the liberals were sure it would. Every move that they were sure would create jobs has failed.  There were no shovel-ready jobs. There are no green jobs. Job training has been a failure. And they are angry because we don’t want to give them more money to waste on exactly the same things that have previously failed. And he wants to raise taxes — something you never do in a recession.

If something doesn’t work, don’t you look for a different solution?  As the saying goes, when you’re riding a dead horse, for heaven’s sake, dismount.  The horse is dead.

America Became A Great Power Through the Creation of Wealth by The Elephant's Child

Here’s the book to refute every notion of Obama’s Class Warfare theme — the true history of how America came to be a great power, and why: John Steele Gordon’s An Empire of Wealth:The Epic History of American Economic Power. As the blurb from Ron Chernow says; “In this grand scale synthesis charting the evolution of American enterprise, he manages to please, educate, and enlighten us on every page.” I recommend it highly, and can hardly put it down.

Two of the most significant technological developments in human history had brought the European medieval world to an end by the beginning of the sixteenth century and made the settlement of the New World possible. The printing press had greatly reduced the cost of books, and thus of knowledge. In the mid-fifteenth century there had been only about fifty thousand books in all of Europe, m ost of them controlled by the Church, which ran the universities. By the end of the century there were more than ten million books in Europe, on an endless variety of subjects, many of them technical and agricultural. They were largely in the hands of the burgeoning merchant class and the landed aristocracy. The Church’s monopoly of knowledge was broken and, soon, so was its monopoly or religion, as the Protestant Reformation swept over much of northern Europe in the early sixteenth century, setting off more than a century of warfare as a result.

The other great invention of the late Middle Ages was the full-rigged ship, capable of making long ocean passages. As late as 1400, European ships were mostly small and single-masted, not very different from those that had been used by William the Conqueror almost four hundred years earlier to cross the channel to England. But by 1450, far larger ships with three and sometimes four masts had appeared, and they were pushing out the boundaries of the world known to Europeans.

They had need to. In 1453 the Turks had taken Constantinople, the ancient capital of the eastern Roman empire. A Muslim power now sat athwart the trade routes to the East,m extracting taxes on all goods that passed. More, the Turks were expanding into Europe itself, and by the middle of the sixteenth century would be at the very gates of Vienna. Christendom felt itself under attack as it had not since the Dark Ages a thousand years earlier.

And the full-rigged ship meant the Europeans could reach India and the Spice Islands, then Columbus, the New World, and eventually — us. Mr Gordon traces the spreading effects of new technologies and how new economics — like the invention of double-entry bookkeeping and the joint-stock company — changed the world of commerce, which in turn initiated other changes.

The book is fascinating and exciting and flows into the history of how America’s power and dynamism came to be. This is a wonderful time to be reading this book, published in 2004 before the notion of “fundamentally transforming America” was inflicted on an unsuspecting country.

Taxpayer Money Funds Democrat Donors Who Fund Obama’s Campaign. by The Elephant's Child
September 27, 2011, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Law | Tags: , ,

                                                                                   (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
The Environmental Protection Agency says that new greenhouse gas regulations, as proposed, may be “absurd” in application, and “impossible to administer” by its self-imposed 2016 deadline, according to The Daily CallerThe agency is asking taxpayers for around $21 billion so they can hire up to 230,000 new bureaucrats to attempt to implement the rules. 

Although the Clean Air Act does not give the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, they plan to do it anyway.  The agency’s plan is being challenged in court by petitioners who argue that such a decision should be left for Congress to make. However, Obama feels free to waive rules made by Congress, so nothing is for certain anymore.

If the EPA wins its court battle, the number of businesses forced to file for an EPA permit and complete extra paperwork in order to continue operating would grow to as many as 6.1 million from the 14,000 now required to file. 

The EPA would be forced, forced,  to hire another 230,000 employees to deal with all the permits.  The $21 billion does not cover the economic impact of the regulations, which would be much bigger.

Obama is simply ignoring the Solyndra scandal which keeps growing, as he hits the campaign trail trying to fire up his base.  The Chicago Way— rewarding donors with taxpayer money, is becoming a pattern.  Solyndra favored a major Democratic donor, George Kaiser.

 LightSquared’s wireless broadband project jeopardizes the nation’s GPS system, on which the military and aviation depend, as well as others.  That support involves not only supporting a big donor, Philip Falcone, by approving the project, but there is the possible subborning of perjury by asking four-star General William Shelton , head of the U.S. Space Command to alter his testimony to Congress. 

A member of Missouri’s most prominent political family, Tom Carnahan is the host of the St. Louis fundraising effort, but his energy development firm, Wind Capital Group, is the recipient of a $107 million federal tax credit to develop a wind power facility in his state.  The BlueGrass Ridge Wind Farm consists of 27 turbines, 252 feet tall.  Each of the blades is 140 feet long.  But after all the hype and investment, all the subsidies, wind accounts for only 1% of our electricity,  backed up 24–7 by natural gas or coal-fired power plants.  But tomorrow, sometime, it will surely produce all the electricity we need to power our economy. 

There is a worrying disregard of basic economics, and the national interest in the blind pursuit of leftist environmentalist ideology.  The appearance of corruption may just be an appearance, but the administration is busily picking winners and losers, and the winners just happen, coincidentally, to be big Democratic donors.

So Obama continues his strategy of forcing the cost of energy up so the public will be forced to support his clean green economy. None of it will work.  The DOE’s Energy Information Administration reported that in 2007, the average subsidy per megawatt hour for all energy sources was $1.65.  The subsidy for wind and solar was about $24 per megawatt hour.  But then Solyndra seemed to think it was fine to sell solar panels for $3 that cost $6 to make.

Administrator Lisa Jackson seems to think that in a time of recession it’s fine to ask for $21 billion to hire another 230.000 people to process permits.  Does she think that she is creating jobs?  The government has no money of its own, where does the money come from? And is the $21 billion funding for permanent salaries and benefits, or just for the next year?

A Note For Those Fearful of Vaccinations: by The Elephant's Child

The year was 1347, when what came to be known as The Black Death appeared. It was an amalgam of three diseases: bubonic plague, septicemic plague, and pulmonary plague.  The first two were spread by fleas carried by the black rat, the third was an airborne variant. It spread from 1347 to 1350 before dying out.

Cautious estimates say that one-third of the population of Europe perished. In England approximately 1.4 million – 2 million in England died.  Eight million died in France, and thirty million in Europe as a whole.

The Black Death was a decisive point in the decline of the European feudal system. By the year 1230, the population of England had reached approximately six million.  Not until the middle of the 18th century did the population of England reach this number again.

Debunking the Palestine Lie! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s Bridge Problem: by The Elephant's Child

When President Obama spoke in North Carolina last week, trying to work up enthusiasm of the students at N.C. State University for his American Jobs Act, he asserted that “In North Carolina alone, there are 153 structurally deficient bridges that need to be repaired.  Four of them are near here, on or around the Beltline.  Why would we want to wait to act until another bridge falls. ”

You can imagine the number of calls to the Department of Transportation, but they say bridges across the state are safe.

The key thing is: We don’t have any bridges that are about to fall,” said Wally Bowman, DOT’s division chief for Wake and six neighboring counties. “We don’t have any bridge out there that is structurally inadequate, where it cannot handle the traffic. We make sure those bridges stay in a good state of repair.”

The Raleigh News & Observer suggested that the president “over-suggested”, which is a pleasant euphemism indeed.

President Obama has been touting the Brent Spence Bridge that links Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky as another of those rusting bridges that need billions of dollars appropriated to create jobs.  He’s mentioned that one several times, referring to it as a “bridge  that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.”

The Brent Spence Bridge doesn’t really need repairs. It has decades of good life left in its steel spans.  It is simply too busy.  The bridge was built to handle 85,000 cars and trucks a day which seemed like a lot when it was built. Today the bridge handles more than 150,000 vehicles a day with the obvious jams those numbers suggest.

But Ohio and Kentucky don’t plan to repair the bridge. They plan to build a new one nearby.  The new $2.3 billion Cincy bridge is not even scheduled to start construction for at least four years. Without delays, the bridge will not be finished until 2022.

So this seems to be “There aren’t any shovel-ready projects” once again.

But nevermind. Governments cannot create jobs. (Jobs in government are paid out of taxpayers’ pockets or from borrowed money). But that is not Obama’s intent.  If he can stir up enough hope for his American Jobs Act, then when the billions don’t get appropriated, he can blame a “Do-Nothing Congress”.  Well, it worked for Harry Truman.

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