American Elephants

CATO Scholars Annotate the State of the Union Speech. by The Elephant's Child

When you are writing an important speech, it’s useful to do a little fact-checking, to avoid embarrassment. The CATO Institute is a Libertarian think tank, and there are areas where Republicans disagree, but this is great fun. See where you agree and where you have different ideas.

Does the Left agree with all of this? If they don’t would they say so? My impression is that somewhere, a while ago, they made a rule. Democrats will not publicly disagree on anything nor criticize their own people. Democrats, unlike the quarreling, nasty Republicans stand united. They will portray universal love, and attack Republicans at every opportunity. See coverage of Marco Rubio’s water bottle. How can you not find them amusing.

Misunderstanding the Minimum Wage. by The Elephant's Child

Why is it so hard for people to understand the minimum wage? Advocates of a higher minimum wage are always those motivated by the concept of “fairness,” and  fairness is the reason such laws have been enacted at all.

Advocates assume that the minimum wage must support a family. That’s not what the minimum wage is supposed to do. The minimum wage is supposed to be a place to begin. It’s not supposed to “raise people out of poverty” nor is it supposed to support a family.

There are raw beginners. They don’t know how to answer the telephone, sweep the floor, speak to customers, pick fruit quickly so it doesn’t bruise, use a cash register, wash windows. There are all sorts of simple tasks that must be done a certain way in a specific workplace, that high school graduates don’t know how to do. Someone must give up their usual work to teach the beginners what is required. Statistics show that the average person on the minimum wage is promoted within six months. In a period of six months, or sooner, a beginner should become a reasonably efficient worker needing much less supervision.

There was a time when internships were available, and when businesses could offer brief unpaid internships to give a beginner a chance to see what a business was like. Many people got their start by convincing a business to allow them to volunteer to work for free, fetching coffee or mopping floors just to learn. That is no longer legal.

Obama’s own adventures with job-training programs are a case in point. The government sponsored programs to train people to insulate houses and save energy. The assumption was that since some people did not have well-insulated houses, the reason was a lack of people who did such work. Most communities already had such businesses, but not everyone was ready to pay for the upgrade. There was not enough business for existing employers to add more workers, even with a government subsidized  discount. The program was a failure, and poorly trained beginners could not get jobs.

When the minimum wage is reasonably low, people are willing to teach beginners how to do a job. When a beginner is a capable worker, he can take his new-found skills elsewhere if they are not rewarded in the current job. When the minimum wage is high and the government adds on the cost of health care benefits, businesses find a way to cope by employing fewer people, installing more automation, employing outside services instead of an employee, or hiring more part-time workers, or simply giving up and going out of business.

The left assumes that to lift poor people out of poverty, you have only to force employers to pay them more.  A simplistic idea that sounds good, but doesn’t work. Those who have less potential as beginners are not hired at all.  Fewer beginners are hired, and it is harder for the new worker to get any kind of start, and poverty increases.

The Permanent Neverending Campaign. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is out on the campaign trail today to launch a public relations campaign to push the White House agenda. Let me repeat that— the campaign trail. Today he was in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Linamar Corporation.

Supposedly the campaign is over and now is the time for governing, but Obama is most comfortable campaigning. He will be aided and abetted by his campaign organization which has now morphed into a permanent “unrelated” 501(c)4 organization  called “Organizing for Action”, which began last night with SOTU watching parties.

Obama’s goal is not really to promote his agenda, he doesn’t really have an agenda. His goal is to “continue the neverending attempt to paint his political opponents as morally bankrupt, as obstructionist roadblocks to his glorious agenda.” Community organizing is what Obama knows, and what he does. And he will influence minds. It’s not that hard, we do have low-information voters.

The Barack Obama Campaign Promises Implementation Act of 2013. by The Elephant's Child


Ira Stoll of the New York Sun proposed new legislation: “The Barack Obama Campaign Promises Implementation Act of 2013.” He posted it as a suggestion for Senator Rubio’s Republican response, but Senator Rubio gave an excellent response for the Republican party, which as you surely have heard by now, was to grab for a water bottle. At least that’s what our brilliant media have told us about the Senator Rubio’s speech.

Ira Stoll’s suggested legislation has a variety of provisions, but they have one thing in common — they have all been endorsed already by President Obama.

The first provision would lower the corporate tax rate to 28% from 35%. “Obama proposes lowering corporate tax rate to 21%,” was the headline the Washington Post put on this story a year ago when Mr. Obama first proposed it.

You know what, Mr. President, it’s a fine idea. Lower corporate tax rates mean businesses have more money left over to hire new employees and pay them more, pay dividends to shareholders, or lower prices for customers. We think the managers of the business can spend that money more wisely than we politicians in Washington can. So let’s move ahead with this proposal. If it were up to us Republicans alone, we’d cut the tax rate even more, but we realize that Mr. Obama was re-elected. He’s the president, and we want to work with him.

There are five provisions in all, all firmly endorsed by the President. If the House actually passed them, what would Harry Reid’s recalcitrant Senate do? And could Obama veto his own policies? Ho, ho haha ha. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! Do read the whole thing.

The President Just Explained: He Doesn’t Understand the Economy. by The Elephant's Child

State of the Union speeches are seldom anything that goes in the history books, and this one was certainly no exception. You can expect any president to attempt to paint a picture that is at the least a little rosier than reality, but really, this was ridiculous. Presidents and their speechwriters try to come up with ringing phrases that will be memorable, that reporters will repeat over and over the next day, but history requires some relation to reality.

Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.

The president realizes that the public is concerned about jobs. Even those who are still employed are worried and most either have a family member or know someone who is out of a job. So he offered up some titles for federal micromanagement initiatives: “manufacturing hubs”, a “partnership to rebuild America,” a challenge to “redesign America’s schools, and “Energy Security Trust.” Memo headings, with the details yet to be filled in.

In the real world, the state of the union is that the United States is $6 trillion deeper in debt than it was before Barack Obama became president. He has spent more in four years than George W. Bush did in eight. Economic recovery is slower than it has ever been in any recovery in recent memory, and economists fear that we may be falling into a new recession. Since the recession ended in June of 2009, incomes have dropped another 4.8 percent. And as far as reducing the deficit, this is how it is done.

There is an extensive history of how we recover from recessions, and how we create jobs in our free society. Business owners, managers, and business organizations have been quite public about what is preventing them from investing and growing their businesses. High corporate taxes, an excess of unnecessary regulation, ObamaCare and its rapidly rising costs and regulation, the high cost of energy, the fear of overcriminalization.

The president has destroyed businesses with excessive controls. The flow of useless regulation from the Interior Department and the EPA have put whole companies out of business. This president, in pursuit of an ideological agenda that is not new, but old—very old, and has failed over and over, has created a climate in which businesses are afraid to hire, afraid to invest or grow, and no “Partnership to Rebuild America” nor “Energy Security Trust” will do a thing unless the administration changes direction. Which he will not do. He does not change his mind.

He will go on chasing global warming, which is proved by Hurricane Sandy and this summer’s drought though this is weather, not climate. He actually claimed that “the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15”, which is completely false as there has been no warming for the past 17 years. None. Even the IPCC is admitting that it’s over. Enthusiasts have been chasing electric cars since the early 1900s, always sure that the final breakthrough is just ahead. Wind energy is not free, but just raises our costs of energy to unaffordable levels.

You can print out the speech if you are interested. It’s easy to refute, line by line. It is a fraud. He raises straw men as he always does, and congratulates himself when he knocks them down. But there are plenty of clues to what the man actually believes or at least what he tells himself. You cannot read the speech without wondering why he understands so little.

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