American Elephants


IRS Commissioner Shulman Visited the White House 157 Times, But Nobody Noticed. by The Elephant's Child

Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House at least 157 times during the Obama administration. That’s more visits than any member of the president’s cabinet. Shulman’s predecessor Mark Everson visited the White House once during four years of service in the George W. Bush administration. But Mr. Shulman testified in March that the IRS was not targeting conservative groups.

He was asked what some of the reasons might be that he was at the White House. He answered “Um, the Easter Egg Roll with my kids, our budget, helping the Department of Education streamline application processes for financial aid. ”

Attorney General Eric Holder, the president’s friend and loyal lieutenant logged 62 visits. But they didn’t discuss targeting conservative organizations, no Tea Party groups, no targeting groups favoring Israel ( at least five groups have been audited by the IRS) but they didn’t talk about that either. Nobody knows just who he visited or why he was there, but it surely didn’t have anything to do with this seemingly vast array of conservative groups who were selected out for delay, audits, prying questions about their finances, members, friends of members, meetings, agendas, reading material, delay, names and addresses, and more delay. It’s just a puzzlement.



The World Needs Genetically Modified Food! by The Elephant's Child

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For most people last weekend was the observance of Memorial Day, a time to remember the fallen. For the easily aroused, it was a time to march in a global protest against Monsanto and genetically modified seeds. Well, the global warming thingy is in freefall as a protest message, since most people are noticing that it is significantly cooling (where is summer anyway?), with late snow to emphasize the fact. Are the protesters always just the same people? The pictures look like it. Is there a certain type who just loves to march and wave signs?

Organizers said  “March Against Monsanto” demonstrations were being held in some 300 cities in more than 44 countries that weekend.  It was described as a social media-generated call to action against genetically modified foods and the multinational corporations that produce them. Goodness, you alter a gene to include vitamin A in rice, creating “golden rice,”which will save millions from blindness, and the perennially suspicious go bonkers.

Genetically modified seeds help farmers to grow more on less land, and to conserve resources such as water and energy. Some supporters just want any foods grown from GMO seeds to be so labeled, others want to prohibit the process. Proposition 37, a ballot measure that would have made California the first state to require labels on fresh produce and processed foods whose DNA had been modified by scientists, was defeated at the polls.

Unsurprisingly, much of the misinformation on GMO crops comes from promoters of Organic Food. “Organic” is merely a marketing campaign. Multiple studies have shown no benefits of any kind from organic food, other than the higher prices it brings to marketers, and Whole Foods.

Demographers expect world population to keep growing until about 2050, and then start declining. The industrialized nations , for the most part, have declining birth rates, and as prosperity increases, that seems to be the natural tendency. Until 2050, we need to produce more food to feed the world. If the world continues to cool, we might desperately need GMO foods that are more adapted to cold. Varieties of  grains adapted to particular soils or climates can dramatically increase production. Reducing the cost of weed control, or reducing susceptibility to a virus, can be a very big deal. Reducing pesticide use makes food healthier. Adding beta carotene to golden rice could prevent millions of cases of blindness. Do people not recognize that countries like Egypt cannot feed their own population?

Growers and marketers are sensitive to the protests of activist groups. They have seen foolish scares do tremendous damage to their businesses. Remember the cranberry scare, Alar, and activists attempting to destroy crops? Here’s some information on genetically modified food:

The World Needs Genetically Modified Food” WSJ, April 14, 2013

The  Top 5 Lies About Biotech Crops” Reason, Feb. 22, 2013

Organic industry’s credibility eroded by misinformation about GE foods”  American Enterprise Institute, May 20, 2013



Economist John Taylor on the Ethics of Wealth by The Elephant's Child

Professor John Taylor, who teaches at Stanford and is a fellow at the Hoover Institution, has served as an economic policy adviser to a number of presidents. He’s a big-picture guy and definitely someone to listen to. He finds our current economy disturbing. He is also an economic freedom guy. “Democracy” he often reminds others, “is not a spectator sport.”

Stanford economist John Taylor spoke March 14 as part of the Center for Ethics in Society’s “Ethics of Wealth” series. In this lecture John B. Taylor puts forth the view that government actions and interventions are themselves a major cause of domestic economic problems. Drawing on the history of economic policy during the past 50 years and empirical evidence on the impact of specific policy actions, Taylor shows that cutting back on those government interventions that suppress competition, blunt incentives, and encourage regulatory capture can be expected to increase real income growth, reduce unemployment, and alleviate poverty.

This is a fairly long lecture, and worth every minute, so plan to take the time. You’ll be glad you did.




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