American Elephants


Putting the Middle East in Proper Perspective by The Elephant's Child

Daniel Pipes is President of the Middle East Forum, and one of the 100 most important living Harvard graduates. His father, Richard Pipes, is an eminent Russian historian and author of one of my most prized books: Property and Freedom, which If I had any doubt, which I didn’t, settled the private property question for once and for all.

Daniel Pipes gave a talk at the David Horowitz Freedom Center;s Texas retreat last month in Dallas, a video of which Scott Johnson posted at Powerline. It is worth your time and attention, Mr. Pipes is brilliant, knowledgeable and deeply interesting.



Learning Early About the Perils of the Modern Marketplace by The Elephant's Child

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From The Economist:

ZOEY and Andria Green, who are seven and eight respectively, only look innocent. With their baby faces and cunning, they managed to lure patrons to their illicit enterprise: a lemonade stand outside their home in Overton, Texas. The girls were in business for about an hour in June, selling popcorn and lemonade to raise money for a Father’s Day gift, before local police shut the operation down. Not only were they hawking without a $150 “peddler’s permit”, but also the state requires a formal kitchen inspection and a permit to sell anything that might spoil if stored at the wrong temperature. As authorities are meant “to act to prevent an immediate and serious threat to human life or health”, the officers understandably moved swiftly in.

They took away the teeter-totters, and the merry-go-rounds, and park playgrounds have become so boring kids don’t want to be bothered. Farmers’ markets proliferate, but who qualifies as a farmer? Goods made in home kitchens are a ‘grey area’. Some states have passed “cottage-food laws” allowing people to sell ‘Non-potentially hazardous food such as baked goods, sometimes permitted, but the rules are odd and fussy, and different locations have different rules. Rhode Island allows farmers to peddle their goods, but bans everyone else. Oklahoma rules apply only to bakers who may sell up to $20,000 worth of breads and cakes as long as the sales take place in their homes but not in a market. Minnesota allows the annual cap at $18,000 for sellers who register with the state and take a safety course. Across state lines, you run into federal law.

Health authorities worry about the risk of unlicensed kitchens, though just what the dangers of lemonade are is unknown. There are lots more cottage food laws, and no increase in botulism.

Alas for the Green girls, lemonade is not covered by Texas’s cottage-food law, as it might spoil if it is not properly stored. But the pair have learned a valuable lesson about commerce and regulation. They discovered that if they gave the lemonade away free, but put a box on the table for tips, they could still make money because the “payments” thus became donations. Their father must be proud.

Powerline outlines the perils of the Administrative State. It’s going to take a lot of unraveling.



HUD’s Own Study Demolishes The Hope of Improving Inner-City Lives By Moving Them Into Better Neighborhoods by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s new suburban integration plan, where he will move poor black families from the projects into higher-quality homes in safer neighborhoods  in the suburbs is not something new. HUD tried just such an experiment resettling urban poor in the suburbs beginning in 1994 under President Clinton.

The 15-year experiment called “Moving to Opportunity Initiative” (MTO) moved thousands of mostly African-American families from government projects to better homes in less racially segregated neighborhoods. The project was based on the notion that relocating inner-city minorities to better neighborhoods would boost their education and employment prospects.

Adults, however, for the most part, did not get better jobs or get off welfare. More actually went on food stamps. And their children did not do better in their new schools. In a 287 page study HUD found that adults who relocated outside the inner city using Section 8 housing vouchers did not avail themselves of better job opportunities, and saw a “sizeable negative impact on annual earnings.”

“Moving to lower poverty neighborhoods does not appear to improve education outcomes, employment or earnings,” the study found.

Even worse, crime simply followed them to their new safer neighborhoods. “Males…were arrested more often than those in the control group, primarily for property crimes.”

The same failed program now being pushed by the Obama officials, that moving inner-city blacks closer to good jobs and good schools will close “racial disparities” in employment and education — is just what Clinton officials were saying back in 1994.

The authors of the study doubt any better results will come from a larger or more aggressive relocation program. The original program relocated 4,600 families from several major cities. But there are few things as eternal as a Liberal “good idea.” No program ever fails, it only requires a more expansive program and more money invested.

The Obama people want to nationalize the experiment by relocating millions of people in more than 1,250 cities and towns until social engineers “eliminate racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty.”

The problem, Mr. President, is not the neighborhoods, nor race, nor ethnicity. Talk to Dr. Ben Carson, or Walter Williams, or Thomas Sowell.

“We’re giving every person an equal chance to access quality housing near good schools, transportation and jobs no matter who they are or what they look like,” HUD director Julian Castro said, unveiling sweeping new rules forcing cities to diversify suburbs by rezoning.

Expect exactly the same results, but on a national scale. I wouldn’t expect Congress to offer the money, but that would be even better in the progressive playbook. Then Republicans can be accused of refusing to allow inner-city blacks the opportunity to move to better neighborhoods with better schools for their children.

This is the president who vacations in the most exclusive homes on Martha’s Vineyard, and who keeps trying to shut down the Opportunity Scholarships that are awarded by lottery to poor black kids in Washington DC, that have proved so successful for the children.




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