American Elephants


Best Headline Of The Week! by The Elephant's Child

Economist Mark J. Perry, wrote at the American Enterprise Institute:

Why do progressives hate Walmart for low prices and its 3% profit margin but love high-priced Apple and its 24% profit margin?

Evil Walmart makes a lot of money, right? We hear that all the time even though the retail giant’s profit margin was only 3.12% in the most recent quarter. Interestingly, we never seem to hear as much about the much higher profit margin of Apple, the “darling of the progressives.” In the most recent quarter, the computer behemoth with a market capitalization ($725 billion) that exceeds the value of the entire stock markets of Mexico, Thailand and Russia, had a whopping profit margin of 24.2%. No wonder its market cap is so astronomical.

Here’s one way to put Walmart’s 3.12% profit margin in perspective. Over a typical 31-day period like the month of March for example, Walmart generates about $40.5 billion in sales revenue (roughly $1.3 billion per day). To generate that amount of sales, it costs Walmart about $39.3 billion every 31 days to pay for all of its expenses: merchandise to stock its stores, shipping expenses, the cost of labor including fringe benefits, utilities, corporate income taxes, property taxes, payroll taxes, interest expenses, advertising, etc. After incurring all of those costs to provide the merchandise for consumers over a 31-day period, there’s about $1.26 billion left over for profits, which is also 3.12% of the $40.5 billion in sales revenue.

In contrast, Apple’s whopping 24.2% profit margin means that the company can typically cover its costs to operate for 31 days in a little more than three weeks (23.5 days) and it then usually has 7.5 “profit days” every 31 days. That is, for more than an entire week every month, all of the sales revenue collected by Apple during those 7.5 days turns into profits for Apple’s shareholders.

Do read the whole thing. There’s lots more, and a good lesson in both politics and economics. And Progressivism as well.



The Left Gears Up For The Coming Campaign by The Elephant's Child

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We have one declared candidate for President of the United States, but the media cannot wait. They want the contest on now, because campaigns always make for better opportunities for stories, and that’s easier than trying to understand the ups and downs of daily policies and events.

This time it’s PolitiFact, and whatever it is they are going to fact check it! Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker said in January, before a New Hampshire audience, that he paid just $1 for his sweater at Kohl’s. He said there was a time when the word “thrift” was not in his vocabulary. He said he had bought something at the price on the tag, and his wife couldn’t believe he didn’t understand the concept of bargain hunting. He learned his lesson.

Now, we grant this is not the most important topic in politics today. But we decided to fact check it for two reasons,” PolitiFact’s James B. Nelson wrote. “First, we heard from readers from around the country who thought it was an unbelievable story — as in, literally impossible to believe. Second, it goes to what has been a major theme of Walker’s visits to some of the early primary states — that he is just an average guy.”

PolitiFact, a division of the Tampa Bay Times, noted that Walker’s reputation for being a regular Joe contrasts nicely with the more “well-heeled” GOP 2016 hopefuls, particularly former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

They called the Kohl’s in Hooksett, NH, and an employee in menswear said all of their Henley sweaters were on the clearance racks. Based on photos of Walker in the sweater, it appeared to be a “Chaps twisted button Mock Sweater” in ‘walnut twist.’ Unable to find it on the Kohl’s’ website they went to the local store and found plenty of Chaps sweaters marked between 80 and 90 percent off, even more than Walker had claimed. Some were originally priced at $70 and marked down to $7, but Walker said he used his “Kohl’s Cash” a store discount card based on previous purchases.

Politifact was forced to hand Gov. Walker a “true” rating for his claim. Dang! No big story there. But you see what I mean.



How to Catch The Easter Bunny by The Elephant's Child

Re-posted from last Easter:

You need some preparations first. The Easter bunny comes in the early morning hours, right at dawn, when the sun is just coming up and the dew is still shining on the grass. You have to find a likely spot which seems as if it might be a bunny path. You will require a standard bushel basket, a long straight stick of kindling, and a good strong straight pin or slender nail. And you will need a nice fresh young carrot with its greens still intact.

You must set up the trap the night before Easter, just when it is about to get dark. Turn the bushel basket upside down, and prop up one side with the stick of kindling. Attach the carrot so it hangs on the front of the stick of kindling. You many have to take the kindling out and attach the carrot with a hammer.  It must be well attached, and yet still look enticing. When the Easter bunny comes hopping along, he will spot the carrot right away. Bunnies cannot resist nice fresh carrots. When he takes a bite of the carrot, the stick of kindling will fall and the basket will land on top of the bunny, and he is captured.

Then he needs only love and care.  Bunnies are particularly fond of carrots, of course, and soda crackers, and rabbit chow, grass and clover.

It always worked for me. You can tell if it is the real Easter bunny because he will have a blue ribbon around his neck.



A Curious And Appalling Agreement to Keep Talking by The Elephant's Child

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With many of the policies our president announces, you know it’s not going to work and I know it’s not going to work, so why is he doing it? I’m certainly not a psychoanalyst, and you probably aren’t either. Congressmen are quick to oppose something and say why, but the White House itself is very close-mouthed. I pay a lot of attention to Richard Epstein’s comments, because I’m a great admirer of Mr. Epstein, and I think he’s an unusually careful observer. (If you haven’t watched the video, it’s helpful if you are curious. Short segment at 20:36).

With all the news about the Iraq nuclear talks, it’s pretty clear that Sec. Kerry and Sec. Moniz have their marching orders. Obama wants a deal. So far the tentative agreement seems to be just what we laughed at for its absurdity. It’s an agreement to keep talking for a few more months, with some very disturbing guidelines. Neither side agrees to what the other said they agreed to.

“Negotiators have a tentative agreement on the rough outline of a possible public statement on the progress they have made so far that would also highlight areas of disagreement, diplomats close to the talks said.”

What I believe would be an acceptable deal bears no relationship to what Obama has in mind, and what he has in mind is frightening in its possible outcome. The questions multiply. (Epstein: He is very dogmatic in his essential positions, and does not change his mind.) But Obama said the Iranians want to be part of the community of nations, or something like that. Well, no, the mullahs have no interest in a community of nations, unless it is a restored Persian empire, and whatever the Iranian people want is of no concern. This is a theocracy, not a democracy. Obama has said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. (No one anywhere can find any evidence of such a fatwa) From Raymond Ibrahim:

First, the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims. Islamic prophet Muhammad himself regularly lied to his infidel enemies, often resulting in their murder (such as the case of Ka‘b ibn Ashraf). He also proclaimed that lying was permissible in three contexts, one being war. Moreover, throughout the centuries and due to historic circumstances (discussed here), taqiyya became second nature to the Shia — the sect currently ruling Iran. …

Indeed, during a recent speech, supreme leader Khamenei — whose fatwa Obama is now citing — boasted about Iran’s uranium enrichment, even as his military commanders shouted, “Allah Akbar. Khamenei is the leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”

Back in October of 2008, Martin Kramer, President of Shalem College in Jerusalem wrote a primer on the Middle East for the new president. It’s long, but worth your while for understanding where Obama’s ideas about the Middle East came from, and why they are fixed and unassailable — and mistaken.

Here are a couple more excellent short pieces explaining the present situation. “This Is Not a Deal” by Abe Greenwald. And “The Tricks Obama Is Trying to Play with the Iran Announcement” by John Podhoretz, both from Commentary. And here’s “The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw” by Charles Duelfer from Politico.

People react differently to great policy changes or errors — some just don’t want to think about it, and others want to learn everything they can. Painful either way.




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