American Elephants

Harrison Bergeron’s School Lunches by The Elephant's Child
October 7, 2012, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Politics

Michelle Obama has taken as her task trying to impact child obesity, and has chosen to attack the problem through school lunches.  The attack is not going well, as any mom could have warned. It’s very hard to get kids to eat their vegetables. I am extremely dubious about efforts to dictate school lunch menus by the federal government. I’ve also been in grade school lunchrooms and seen the quantities of food that are simply wasted.

Andrew Stuttaford posted a story from Sweden,  country that is making a real effort at reform, cutting their budget deficit, reducing the public debt and actually trimming all kinds of social security payments to reasonable levels. They are doing so well at it that they have actually cut their marginal income tax from 90 percent to 50 percent. They’ve abolished the wealth tax and the inheritance tax and gift tax are also gone.  Their corporate profit tax of 26 percent is still high compared to most East European countries. But there are some things that never change:

A talented head cook at a school in central Sweden has been told to stop baking fresh bread and to cut back on her wide-ranging veggie buffets because it was unfair that students at other schools didn’t have access to the unusually tasty offerings. Annika Eriksson, a lunch lady at school in Falun, was told that her cooking is just too good.

Pupils at the school have become accustomed to feasting on newly baked bread and an assortment of 15 vegetables at lunchtime, but now the good times are over. The municipality has ordered Eriksson to bring it down a notch since other schools do not receive the same calibre of food – and that is “unfair”.

Moreover, the food on offer at the school doesn’t comply with the directives of a local healthy diet scheme which was initiated in 2011, according to the municipality.

“A menu has been developed… It is about making a collective effort on quality, to improve school meals overall and to try and ensure everyone does the same,” Katarina Lindberg, head of the unit responsible for the school diet scheme, told the local Falukuriren newspaper.  However, Lindberg was not aware of Eriksson’s extraordinary culinary efforts and how the decision to force her to cut back had prompted outrage among students and parents.

“It has been claimed that we have been spoiled and that it’s about time we do as everyone else,” Eriksson said. She insisted, however, that her creative cooking has not added to the municipality’s expenses. “I have not had any complaints,” she told the paper.

Eriksson added that she sees it as her job to ensure that the pupils are offered several alternatives at meal times.  The food on offer does not always suit all pupils, she explained, and therefore she makes sure there are plenty of vegetables to choose from as well as proteins in the form of chicken, shrimp, or beef patties. From now on, the school’s vegetable buffet will be halved in size and Eriksson’s handmade loafs will be replaced with store-bought bread.Her traditional Easter and Christmas smörgåsbords may also be under threat.

Harrison Bergeron still lives in Sweden:


A Glimpse of Sheer Beauty. by The Elephant's Child

This is a Hildebrandt’s Starling, unfortunately found  in Tanzania and Kenya. I have no visitors to my bird feeders that can compare. It’s natural habitat is open woodland and thornbrush country.  It’s about 7.1 inches long, and it’s iridescence is derived from the interference of reflected light from the feather structures rather than from pigments, as are the common starlings we have here. who are also iridescent but not particularly colorful. Its song is a long slow “ch-rak ch-rak chee-chee-wee chee-wee rak rak rak.”  (My spell-checker didn’t like that bit at all!) It’s nice to know there are such beautiful birds, even if I’ll see them only in pictures.

A Trillion Here, A Trillion There, First Thing You Know… by The Elephant's Child

From The Wall Street Journal:

One October irony is that even as President Obama hits Mitt Romney for lacking details and the press demands answers about the tax treatment of municipal bond interest, nobody seems interested in the substance of Mr. Obama’s supposed $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. Maybe someone will ask after Friday’s report showing another $1 trillion-plus deficit for 2012.

The Congressional Budget Office puts the figure at just under $1.1 trillion for the fiscal year that ended September 30. As a share of GDP, that’s larger than any other year since 1947, except for 2009, 2010 and 2011. The good news is that 2012’s reprise is about $200 billion lower than last year, but that’s like fixing a leaky faucet on the post-iceberg Titanic.

The Dinner Table by The Elephant's Child

Obama Economy Fashion Statement by The Elephant's Child

Vintage Levis Patched Jeans from FREE PEOPLE
Amazing 1970s patched and torn custom Levi’s jeans
Five -pocket style. Button and zipper fly

Only $199.00 at FREE PEOPLE — Sold Out.

The reason these pants are so offensive, is because you know that the saps who paid $199 + tax + shipping for “the vintage look” never dreamed of doing the kind of honest labor that gave these pants their “vintage look.”

(h/t: Vanderleun)

23 Million Unemployed Is Not a Recovering Economy! by The Elephant's Child

The labor participation rate is down to 1981 levels. Of the 114,000 new jobs last month, only 104,000 were in the private economy. The number that had a lot of people suspicious was the giant 873,000 leap in employment as measured by “the household survey.” That’s the biggest one-month increase in nearly 30 years, which does deserve an explanation.

The household survey contacts about 50,000 individual households to find out how many Americans are working. It is different from the much larger “establishment survey” which measures about 141,000 businesses and government agencies to see how many jobs they created. The household survey determines the jobless rate, so the huge one-month leap accounts for the September decline to 7.8%.

A lot of knowledgeable people were wondering if the Obama administration was, um, cooking the books. Robert Gibbs, former press secretary, appeared on the Sunday shows to say he was ‘shocked, shocked, that anyone would think that the administration manipulated the numbers. And yes, it is shocking that anyone would think that, but that is the kind of suspicion that this president’s lawlessness and executive orders and presidential proclamations have led us to.

Even if the 873,000 job estimate is confirmed in future months, the survey found that 582,000 of those jobs were what the survey calls “part-time for economic reasons — that is, held by people who want full-time work. Part-time is better than no work at all, but paying all the bills on a 20-hour-a-week job is no picnic.

Mr. Obama keeps repeating his refrain that the economy is recovering and has created 5 million new jobs, but that seems not to include the growth in the size of the  labor force. Real median household income is down $3,040 since the recession ended in June 2009. Mr. Obama promises more of the same policies, except that this time he says he’ll raise taxes immediately in 2013, and if Congress doesn’t act, they’re raising taxes too, by not extending the Bush tax cuts, and all the new taxes from ObamaCare kick in on January first.

The Fact Checker Strikes Again! by The Elephant's Child

There he goes again. He’s going to hire more teachers. (this means more members of the teachers’ union, more donations for Obama). Statistically, we have too many teachers.

Obama claims that the Bush tax cuts led to the economic crisis, which is fantasy. And that Romney wants to “double down” on “the same trickle-down policies” that led to the economic crisis in the first place. None other than the Washington Post quickly disposes of that talking point.

Indeed, the official government inquiry, the 631-page final report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States, makes no mention of the Bush tax cuts. The report, endorsed by every Democrat on the panel, does cite deregulation, but 30 years of deregulation across multiple administrations — not just deregulation in the Bush years.

Obama campaign deputy press secretary Kara Carscaden defended the president’s remarks and issued this response:

“While Reagan made ‘trickle down’ famous for tax cuts, the theory is that economic growth is driven by the top. Those like Romney who favor repealing Wall Street reform share the same theory — roll back the rules because when a few people at the top do very well, they will somehow pull the rest of us along.

“The tax cuts contributed to the crisis in multiple ways, including by driving up the deficit, crowding out potential investments that could have promoted sustainable, shared economic growth and leaving the economy vulnerable to speculation-fueled bubbles and high middle-class indebtedness. And they made it more difficult for the federal government to respond to a crisis because it was already facing very high deficits.

“The president’s argument — that our country is stronger when we invest in the middle class rather than cut taxes to the top — is the broad, philosophic question facing our country right now.”

The Washington Post awarded Obama Three Pinocchios for this one, and says it’s time for the Obama campaign to retire this talking point, no matter how much it seems to resonate with voters. Read the whole thing.

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