American Elephants

The Chicago Union Station’s “Magical Piano” by The Elephant's Child

Amtrack and Rob Bliss Creative teamed up to bring a little holiday cheer to Chicago’s Union Station using a “magical” piano. The piano reacts to the environment and people around it. It performs impromptu duets with strangers and even adds special music themes for certain situations.

Can’t Afford The ObamaCare Premiums? A New Tax Starts January 1. by The Elephant's Child

Just when people are learning about how much their new ObamaCare policy is actually going to cost them, comes news of a large new tax on small business, beginning January 1. If you thought, correctly, that Obama’s tax on medical devices and prescription drugs was,  ill-informed, dumb, and ill-advised, this one caps them all. This is a tax on health insurance premiums that targets small business and individual markets.

IRS regulations published in November excluded “any entity that is a self-insured employer to the extent that such employer self-insures its employees’ health risks.” About four out of five employers with more than 500 workers, and most union-negotiated health plans are self-insured so they don’t get taxed. Neither does insurance on behalf of “government entities,” such as original Medicare (but not privately-run Medicare Advantage. Confusing? Of course.

This selectivity means that the most gold-plated public, private and labor plans are exempt, and the tax burden falls on the poor saps who work for small businesses, the self-employed and individuals — the people who can least afford it.

The White House claims that the tab will be picked up by “deep-pocketed insurers.” Uh huh. The tax will “largely be passed through to consumers in the form of higher premiums” and “will ultimately raise insurance premiums by a corresponding amount,” according to the Congressional Budget Office. Former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin says the tax will boost insurance costs by about 2% tp 2.5%. Consultant Oliver Wyman estimates the take will rise to as much as $500 per covered worker by the end of the decade.

Democrats don’t understand that business doesn’t pay taxes, they pass through that cost to consumers. They don’t understand that when the cost of doing business gets too high, they cut back on workers or dump coverage. Democrats do not understand how jobs are created, and every initiative dreamed up includes a job-destroying element. If you wonder why there has been no recovery — there it is. The research arm of the National Federation of Independent Business calculates that the higher cost of insurance will shrink hiring by 146,000 to 262,000 jobs over the next decade. They will also be encouraged to dump coverage and send their workers to the ObamaCare exchanges — which may be what was intended in the first place.

As Ms. Pelosi says, “It’s going to be a glorious thing.” Uh huh.

Seven Amazing Inventions to Improve Pizza Boxes. Who Knew? by The Elephant's Child
December 29, 2013, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Pop Culture | Tags: , ,

When you use the term “invention,” what comes immediately to mind? I suspect that most of us think of something big and widely celebrated, and ignore the little ‘build a better mousetrap’ kind of plebeian invention that has brought a good business and success. I don’t know just when collapsing a pop can in your fist quit being a feat of strength and aluminum cans became so light that anybody could do it. Or the stackable can that fits neatly on top of another — I wish that one were more prevalent. There is always something new popping up at the grocery store that seems useful and fresh, but doesn’t get any major notice. This article from Slate is excerpted from a book about pizza box design, beginning with “the Package Saver,” that little white plastic tripod that was patented by first-time inventor and Long Island resident Carmela Vitale in 1985. From patent 4,498,586:

A temperature-resistant molded plastic device is described for use in boxes or packages such as pizza boxes where there is a tendency of large cover portions to sag downwardly to damage the soft pizza or other packaged products.

Here is a space-saving solution for cluttered pizza-eating situations that transforms into a serving stand to free up table space that would normally be eaten up by the box’s footprint. Perforated regions of the lid fold out to connect with tabs on the side and front flaps to lift the box  base 6″ off the surface. Since the box is not losing heat by direct conduction, the pizza theoretically stays hotter longer than it would if sitting directly on a table.


Most inventions probably fall into the category of clever improvements rather than spectacular big new thing. Who would have thought that a simple pizza box could be re-invented in so many ways?  The book is: Viva la Pizza!: The Art of the Pizza Box by Scott Wiener, now out from Melville House.

Here are the boxes that are the “rest of the story:” There’s The GreenBox, Hell’s Pizza Coffin Box, The VENTIT Box, and The Pizza Hut Hot Spot.


And the Award for Dumbest Quote of The Year Goes To: by The Elephant's Child

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times

(Click to enlarge)
What could he possibly have been thinking? Or was this simply the absence of all thought?

(h/t: American Digest)

“It’s Going to Be a Glorious Thing.” Can She Possibly Believe That? by The Elephant's Child


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) says December has been a “great month” for ObamaCare sign-ups, and she says things will only get better as more people enroll. “It’s worth the trouble. It’s going to be a glorious thing,” Pelosi told a conference call on Monday.

“It’s about life, a healthier life, liberty, the freedom to pursue our happiness. It honors the vows of our founders. A person can follow his or her passion and not be chained by a policy, so they could start a business, be self-employed, change jobs. It’s a very, very exciting thing. And it’s about wellness and prevention. It’s about the health of America, not just the health care for Americans. So we’re very proud of it, and our enthusiasm for it…strengthens our determination to make sure it works.”

Pretty amazing, huh. Do  you think she actually believes that?

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