American Elephants


Will Americans Accept The Welfare State? Or Would They Prefer Opportunity? by The Elephant's Child

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When Barack Obama addressed the Democratic Convention as their keynote speaker in 2004, and told them his life story,  the audience erupted in wild applause and cheers, and he moved from being an unknown to becoming a person of interest. And so he was. With the backing of the Chicago machine, good things happened. Two of his campaigns, one for the Illinois State Senate, and one for the U.S. Senate, his opposition mysteriously had their court-sealed divorce records— unsealed. Embarrassing details were revealed, and candidates could not recover. Well, that’s politics.

Mr. Obama served in the Illinois State Senate, and was given bills to champion where the hard work of writing them and promoting them belonged to others. The new Majority Leader famously announced that he was going to “make me a senator.” And so he did. When Obama won the Democratic nomination and the presidency, he was poorly prepared for the office.

He was aware, I believe, that he was not prepared so he organized the office in a way that little was required of him. He surrounded himself with Czars who were to study the issues and present the president with three written options for action, from which he could choose. He didn’t like meetings, and kept them to an absolute minimum, leaving him more time for speeches and campaigning, where he is most comfortable with an approving audience and warm applause.

Everything has always been political for Obama, and in retrospect it’s easy to see the sources of the present scandals. The radical left has worked tirelessly to change this society in a manner consistent with their ideology. They want an electoral map that will guarantee the election of left-wing presidents.

They want a welfare state that will guarantee the people everything their hearts could desire. Annoyances will be solved, wishes turned into rights, giving everybody everything will make them happy dependents on the State. They have an assumption that rich people and large corporations will always pay for everything, with not the slightest idea that there would be real resistance, nor that corporations might pick up and leave, and rich people might find other countries more appealing. Which of course they do. Liberals do not understand the messages from the free market, nor their importance.

Are Americans apt to passively adapt to the welfare state? Obama, once an election is over, has largely lost interest in the poor. They get ObamaPhones and food stamps and welfare and a push to get them into their own homes once again, and that should be enough to keep them comfortably in Obama’s base. The constant playing of the race card will remind them of their place. Obama even threatened the GOP that “racial tensions won’t get better; they may get worse” if he does not get his way on reducing income inequality. Black Americans will riot if we don’t take more money from the rich to give to the poor?

Obama did not mention entrepreneurship or start-ups in his big economic speeches. The rate of small business creation in the US is in long term decline. Overregulation, overtaxation, and no access to early-stage financing. Lots of that available when it’s a crony looking to hook up with government grants.

The poor don’t need another benefit, they need opportunity. The unemployment rates for blacks and particularly black youth are a disgrace. As far as that goes, Obama didn’t mention the poor. He talked a lot about the middle class and growing the economy from the middle out — a long list of his policy preferences and his grievances with the Republicans for not giving him more money to spend. The unemployment rate for households earning under $20,000 is dismal, because the administration is not interested in giving them jobs, only in giving then stuff.

In Tennessee on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said “A job is a source of pride and dignity — the way you support your family, the proof that you’re doing the right thing.” Exactly right, but work has been collapsing for the past five years because of administration policies.  Starting a business is not easy at any time. but it is still possible even with the explosion of red tape at every level, but for the least able, it becomes impossible. If you want to start a landscaping business, Arthur Brooks points out,” all you should need is a lawnmower, not an accountant and a lawyer to help you wade through the regulations.”



Is Big Government Eternal? Can It Be Controlled? by The Elephant's Child

Conservatives are apt to talk a lot about “Big Government” and its evils, but I wonder if people understand what the problem is with big government. It’s a big complicated country: don’t we need a comparatively large government?

The Founding Fathers envisioned a very limited government, because they had endured the heavy hand of overregulation. That’s what the Stamp Tax was — a tax on every piece of paper. So they created a limited government that wasn’t supposed to do very much, but just the most essential tasks that a government could do fairly well. We’ve come a long way, baby! Overregulation is us.

That is the real problem. The government doesn’t do much of anything well. That’s the nature of bureaucracies — probably all bureaucracies. But there are limits. We tolerate the DMV because we need our licenses renewed, but there’s certainly no pleasure in going there, and the attitude of the state workers is probably due to our obvious distaste.

Recently, it has all gone awry. Is it the leadership from the top? A tolerance for the unethical, for carelessness, for overspending, for petty graft, for sheer waste? That is the background. The current scandals rest on top of that background, and are far more than improper. A number of departments have been politicized, used by the administration for political ends, to influence elections and promote a political agenda.

It is becoming clear that the Internal Revenue Service has used its power to deny a tax status to groups opposing the administration — that is freely granted to those supporting the administration. Beyond that they have been audited, questioned, unnecessary information demanded, and general harassment to keep them inactive prior to an election. Releasing information about a taxpayer to another agency or individual is against the law, but information was freely passed to the Federal Election Commission, and other agencies, who harassed those who disagreed with the administration.

The list of slipshod management goes on and on. Improper and unethical behavior destroys trust.  The scandals are about agencies of the federal government behaving illegally.

Our income-tax system is based on voluntary compliance and honest reporting by citizens. It could not possibly function if most people decided to cheat. There are audits and penalties and even prison, but the system runs on the honor of the people. If Americans started acting like Italians, who famously see tax evasion as a national pastime, the system would collapse. Tax law calls for the termination of IRS employees who make audit threats for illegitimate reasons.

The extent to which the government is surveilling its citizens has become a matter of concern. Trying to capture phone calls from this country to known terrorist locations is one thing and essential, but the possibility of having your every communication: phone calls, emails, Facebook, Twitter, license plates, your computer searches, your travels, your credit card purchases, your medical records recorded, archived and open to any agency, or any identity thief is simply not acceptable. There are limits.

Polls show that people respect the military more than any other institution. When members of the National Guard, or the Reserve are called up, they are promised that their jobs will be waiting for them when they get back. It’s the law. Some employers ignore it, and one of the worst offenders is the Department of Defense, according to a report on the radio. The effectiveness of our military is being damaged by increasing political correctness. The massacre at Fort Hood was not “workplace violence” but a dramatic failure to notice and report on the obvious because of a fear of being labeled Islamophobic and facing subsequent career damage. Political correctness insisted that our soldiers who were training Afghan troops should not carry loaded weapons  “to show our trust.” Explain that one to a lot of families who lost their deployed loved ones.

The Post Office is broke and wants to stop Saturday delivery. Amtrack not only is losing money but subsidizes their hamburgers to the tune of $8 each. The administration is full of tax-cheats who owe back taxes. The Justice Department has a large number of scandals of its very own, and Congress has called for Attorney General  Eric Holder’s resignation.

Homeland Security is in the thick of the surveillance scandals, and is being sued by its own Immigration and Customs Enforcement people because they are not allowed to do their jobs. The Border Patrol is not allowed to detain anyone under age 30. The people are enraged by the excesses of TSA, and remain unconvinced that they could capture any attacker. The Fast and Furious gun running scheme continues to result in dead Americans and large numbers of dead Mexicans.

Obama brags about rescuing the auto industry, but it would be far better off had it been allowed to go through a normal bankruptcy as the law provides. Taxpayers lost a bundle on that one, and thousands of jobs disappeared — just not union ones.

A federal audit shows that nearly that nearly a half-billion dollars in taxpayer money was spent on training workers for so-called “green jobs.” But the jobs never existed.  The GAO showed that only 55 percent of those trained were able to find a job, many of which were not technically a green job. The report also uncovered the framework the Department of Labor created to interpret the program’s definition of “green job” as “anything that could be linked directly or indirectly to a beneficial outcome.” Fisker Automotive was touted by the Obama administration as an innovator of plug-in electric cars, yet had to fire 75% of its workforce after selling only 2,000 of the 2,700 cars they manufactured at over $100,000 each. Then there’s the LG Chem battery plant, and Solyndra of course, and a bunch of other green investments that were excellent examples of politicians picking winners and losers in the marketplace. As usual, they picked losers.

I could go on, but I already have. You will find example after example in the archives.  Cronies and supporters have been repaid. Chiefs of disgraced departments have moved on to better paid positions where their newsworthiness is regarded as a plus.  And big government goes on. Some departments have been absorbed, or their names changed, but government agencies and departments seem to be eternal. Yet Big Government is the source and enabler of the Welfare State, and it will grow and grow unless it is stopped.




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