American Elephants

There’s No Mandate for a $1.6 Trillion Tax Increase! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama had a press conference today. He claimed a “mandate” from the people for raising taxes on the rich. Well, who would be surprised?  All politicians claim a mandate for whatever they want to do. He claimed that the majority of Americans agree with him on this issue and the people who didn’t vote for him also want taxes on the rich raised.

“If there was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and Mr. Romney, it was, when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued for a balanced, responsible approach, and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more.  I think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate, and the majority of voters agreed with me, not — by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.”

The only national exit poll that asked voters specifically about tax increases was one from Fox News. They reported that less than half, 47%, supported an increase only on income over $250,000. 13% wanted tax increases on everyone, and 35% didn’t want any tax increases at all.

This is one of those counterintuitive economic questions. Raising taxes doesn’t necessarily get you more revenue. People are rational. If they can arrange their affairs in a way to report less income, they will. The more wealthy one is, the easier it is for them to organize their income in a way that minimizes taxes.

The problem is not revenue, the problem is spending. Tax revenue was up by 6.4% for this year overall, and it is close to the historic high it reached in 2007, before the recession hit. That revenue increase is happening under and because of the Bush tax cuts that he so desperately wants to raise to get what he calls “a little more in taxes.” The healthy revenue increase came in spite of measly economic growth of just between 1% and 2%.

Spending, on the other hand remains at a new level of about $3.54 trillion. Most of the $830 billion stimulus has now become a new part of the federal budget baseline. The “emergency” spending of the stimulus has become permanent.

When Obama claims that he wants a “balanced” approach, what he really means  is raising taxes to finance the new higher level of spending.

If Obama got all the tax-rate increases he wants, the Joint Tax Committee estimates this would yield only $82 billion a year in extra revenue at best. But with mass layoffs because of taxes, businesses closing down because of taxes, there are going to be fewer businesses and fewer individuals to tax.

One of the big problems is that additional revenue from the tax increase may be used to fund more government spending rather than reduce the deficit.

Two studies released earlier this year predict that raising taxes on high-income families and small businesses will hurt the economy. The president has made it clear that he does not believe that “small business” reports their income as individuals. He sees “small business” as all the individual businesses and free-lancers, the little shops with only an employee or two — that sort of thing.

The study from Ernst and Young predicts that tax increases will slow investment, resulting in slower growth in employment and wages— or 710,000 fewer people holding jobs, and real wages would decrease. The CBO estimates that next year the economy would have 200,000 fewer jobs than under an extension of current tax rates. The two studies are not comparable, different timelines and different assumptions. They do agree that higher taxes will slow job growth.

Mr. Obama has shown no inclination to expand the energy landscape, nor to back off from support for “green” energy startups, no matter how many the bankruptcies.  The environmental community spends a lot of money on political campaigns.

Mr. Obama is now calling for a $1.6 trillion tax increase, far more than Republicans would go for, and double the $800 billion discussed in the summer of 2011. Mr. Obama believes in Big Government, and in big spending. That is what government does — spend and redistribute. But the influence of Chicago is just too strong. Too much of the spending just goes to rewarding his supporters. He has shown not the slightest inclination to cut back on White House travel or entertainment in recognition of the extent to which ordinary people are having hard times.

The Best Stuffing Is The Simplest! by The Elephant's Child
November 14, 2012, 3:01 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Freedom, Heartwarming | Tags: , ,

Having gone this far, I’ll offer my stuffing recipe as well. If you love cornbread stuffing, want all sorts of foreign materials in your stuffing, this is not for you.

Stuffing is easy to make, but a few simple tricks help. You want a homestyle or farm style white bread,  the closer to home-made the better — heavier and coarser than standard sandwich bread, Day-old is fine. Buy two loaves several days early. At least the day before you are going to make stuffing, spread the bread out on a cookie sheet to air dry. The night before, tear the bread into pieces roughly the size of large croutons, and leave out to dry more. I usually make up about a loaf and a half. The recipe is vague and to taste. You can’t really go wrong.

1½ loaves homestyle bread torn into small pieces
1½– 2 cups celery in roughly ¼ inch dice
1 large onion diced, or 2 smaller ones
Toss well till mixed.

Sprinkle lightly with salt and ground pepper
Sprinkle lightly with sage, probably a slightly
heaping teaspoonful. I prefer the kind that are
crumbled leaves rather than ground to a powder.
Optional: add some celery seed.

Melt 1 cube of butter (do not brown). Pour slowly over
the bread mixture while tossing, until it is slightly
moist. You don’t have to use it all. ½–¾ cup may
be plenty. Taste it frequently till it seems right.

That’s it. Add nothing else. No broth. The dry stuffing goes directly in
both cavities of the bird, firmly packed.  If you are passionate about
oysters in your dressing, you can add cut up oysters, but don’t, as
they say, put earrings on an elephant.

If you have too much stuffing mix, put it in a casserole, pour a little turkey broth (neck, giblets, chopped and simmered with celery and onion) and bake along with the bird if you have room, or refrigerate and bake later.

So What Do You Do With A Turkey? by The Elephant's Child

A male native-American turkey in full display. Here’s how to produce a tender, moist bird for the Thanksgiving table, by brining the turkey before you roast it.

In the paint department of your local Home Depot or equivalent, you can buy an extra-large  white plastic bucket with a lid. They are very cheap. Let’s assume a 15 -18 pound turkey, but the same recipe will work for big or little birds. Mix in the clean bucket:


2 Gallons cold water
2 Cups Kosher salt
½ Cup brown sugar
1 ½ quarts of buttermilk

Mix well.  Put the turkey in the bucket headfirst.
Cover with lid, and place in a cool place. Here I
just put it on the back porch, Our temperatures
are usually in the 30s. Soak for ten hours. 
Remove from brine, pat dry with paper towels.

Stuff, and bake as normal.

Why brine? The meat of a brined turkey is moister,
more tender. the grain of the meat is a little tighter.
I will never roast a turkey without brining it again.

Did You Ever Wonder How They Harvest Cranberries? by The Elephant's Child
November 14, 2012, 12:46 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Heartwarming, YouTube | Tags: , ,

I never knew how this was done. I knew there were bogs, but never saw one. We grow a lot of cranberries here is Washington state too. Are cranberries native to America? Turkeys are. I believe Ben Franklin famously wanted to make the turkey our national bird, but the bald eagle won.

I love learning how the things that end up in my house, whether groceries or other stuff, is grown or made.  Thanksgiving is nearly here. Buy extra cranberries and put them in the freezer.


 2 cups fresh cranberries
1 large orange
¾ cup sugar, or to taste
Peel orange, save peel. Remove seeds and as much of
the white pith as you can. Put cranberries, orange and peel
through food processor or coarse meat grinder,
mix well and refrigerate.

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