American Elephants


The Unintended Consequences of Demanding Higher Pay by The Elephant's Child

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The law of unintended consequences strikes again. Low wage workers in Seattle spent months agitating for a city-wide $15 an  hour were successful in their agitation. The City of Sea-Tac (the area surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma airport) had passed a $15 an hour bill. The state wide minimum wage locally was already $9.32.

Workers in local hotels and restaurants and in the airport soon found out that the raise was not as profitable as they had assumed. Hours were cut. Workers suddenly had to pay for their own parking and their own lunches. Politicians, those unfamiliar with basic economics, often assume that they are lifting poor people out of poverty.  Not so fast.

Some workers across the city are suddenly asking their bosses to give them fewer hours, because the higher wage is forcing them off the welfare programs they rely on, so they can earn less to avoid losing assistance. 

Who are low-wage workers, and why can ‘t they get higher pay? A very large percentage are young people in their first job, learning how to work. A hike in the minimum wage law that is unrelated to economic growth, means the hike will be an unemployment act for young people. Ideally, the low-wage worker will learn on the job, skills that are transferable to better jobs. Most employers prefer to hire skilled workers than beginners.

Looking through the images of “Fight for $15” protests, it’s clear that the main driver and sponsor of the protests was SEIU, hoping to unionize fast food workers. The main target was McDonalds. Oddly enough, a very large percentage of McDonalds restaurants are franchises or small-businesses, who are no more capable than other small businesses of absorbing the cost of a government-ordered increase in wage costs. Restaurants in Seattle are closing at higher than normal rates.

No one has ever doubted that it’s quite possible to increase employment and the minimum wage at the same time. But it happens when the economy is growing and demand increases. And, contrary to Mr. Obama’s usual bragging, the economy is not growing healthily.

Most people have encountered low-wage workers who hate their jobs, are unpleasant, but say the required “Have a nice day.” A worker in a local store fits that description, and adds to it tattoos on arms and neck, and ear-lobes stretched out to take huge disks. A long-sleeved shirt would take care of the tattoos, but the earrings will limit his future job prospects.

On the other hand, my grocery had a box-boy, high-school and Jr. College age, who always appeared to enjoy his job, remembered my name, and that I had two cats, and was cheerful and efficient as well. He’s gone on to college now, but he will do well in life.

If you work hard and become the best worker in your current job, you may be ready to move up. Work is not meant to be just a payment to you, but fair pay for fair work. There are plenty of unskilled workers ready to take those jobs you sneer at, and there are other replacements who don’t protest and don’t demand time off, overtime nor sick pay.

I should probably add that this is a case history in the way government welfare is set up to keep the recipients from turning to real work to escape dependence. They are not into helping people on welfare to become self-supporting.



Here Is Another New Material: Metal Foam! by The Elephant's Child

Here’s another. North Carolina State University researchers have found that lightweight composite metal foams they have developed are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays, and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high-impact collisions. These findings are promising for use in nuclear power plants, space exploration, and CT-scanner shielding.

“This work means there’s an opportunity to use composite metal foam to develop safer systems for transporting nuclear waste, more efficient designs for spacecraft and nuclear structures, and new shielding for use in CT scanners,” says Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State, where they first developed the strong, lightweight metal foam made of steel, tungsten, and and vanadium for use in transportation and military applications.

But she wanted to determine whether the foam could be used for nuclear or space exploration applications — could it provide structural support and protect against high impacts while providing shielding against various forms of radiation?

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Metal foams? Vanadium? And uses for blocking harmful rays, and for absorbing the energy of high-impact collisions. Amazing.



The Exciting and Tantalizing Possibilities of the New Materials. by The Elephant's Child

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The potential uses of the new materials sound like science fiction: here’s a new electrically conducting fiber for— artificial muscles, exoskeletons and morphing aircraft. The fiber is made from sheets of carbon nanotubes wrapped around a rubber core, and can be stretched to 14 times its original length and actually increases its electrical conductivity while being stretched, without losing any of its resistance.

An international research team based at the University of Texas at Dallas initially targeted the new super fiber for artificial muscles and for capacitors whose storage capacity increase tenfold when the fiber is stretched. The researchers now believe that the material could be used as interconnects in flexible electronics and a host of other related applications.

The team has published research in the Journal Science describing how they devised a method for wrapping electrically conductive sheets of carbon nanotubes around the rubber core in such a way that the fiber’s resistance does not change when stretched, but its conductivity increases.

I wish they had indicated the amount of magnification in the photo above, for those of us who are definitely not materials scientists.

The researchers have also been able to add a thin coat of rubber to the sheath-core fibers and then another carbon nanotube sheath to create strain sensors and artificial muscles. In this setup, the buckled nanotube sheets act as electrodes and the thin rubber coating serves as the dielectric. Voilà! You have a fiber capacitor.

“This technology could be well-suited for rapid commercialization,” said Raquel Ovalle-Robles, one of the paper’s authors, in the press release. “The rubber cores used for these sheath-core fibers are inexpensive and readily available. The only exotic component is the carbon nanotube aerogel sheet used for the fiber sheath.”

As new materials have been discovered or invented, there is a mad rush for patents on potential uses, I  gather based on informed guesses, by corporations hoping to develop what the scientists discover. Free enterprise at work.

For other posts on the new materials, enter “new materials” in the search function over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar.



The Myth of Iran’s Peaceful Nuclear Program by The Elephant's Child

Posted by Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog

Last year Iran was selling gasoline for less than 50 cents a gallon. This year a desperate regime hiked prices up to over a dollar. Meanwhile, Iranians pay about a tenth of what Americans do for electricity.

Unlike Japan, Iran does not need nuclear power. It is already sitting on a mountain of gas and oil.

Iran blew between $100 billion to $500 billion on its nuclear program. The Bushehr reactor alone cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $11 billion making it one of the most expensive in the world.

This wasn’t done to cut power bills. Iran didn’t take its economy to the edge for a peaceful nuclear program. It built the Fordow fortified underground nuclear reactor that even Obama admitted was not part of a peaceful nuclear program, it built the underground Natanz enrichment facility whose construction at one point consumed all the cement in the country, because the nuclear program mattered more than anything else as a fulfillment of the Islamic Revolution’s purpose.

Iran did not do all this so that its citizens could pay 0.003 cents less for a kilowatt hour of electricity.

It built its nuclear program on the words of the Ayatollah Khomeini, “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world.”

Iran’s constitution states that its military is an “ideological army” built to fulfill “the ideological mission of jihad in Allah’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of Allah’s law throughout the world.”

It quotes the Koranic verse urging Muslims to “strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah”.

Article 3 of Iran’s Constitution calls for a foreign policy based on “unsparing support” to terrorists around the world. Article 11, the ISIS clause, demands the political unity of the Islamic world.

Iran is not just a country. It is the Islamic Revolution, the Shiite ISIS, a perpetual revolution to destroy the non-Muslim world and unite the Muslim world. Over half of Iran’s urban population lives below the poverty line and its regime sacrificed 100,000 child soldiers as human shields in the Iran-Iraq War.

Iran did not spend all that money just to build a peaceful civilian nuclear program to benefit its people. And yet the nuclear deal depends on the myth that its nuclear program is peaceful.

Obama insisted, “This deal is not contingent on Iran changing its behavior.” But if Iran isn’t changing its behavior, if it isn’t changing its priorities or its values, then there is no deal.

If Iran hasn’t changed its behavior, then the nuclear deal is just another way for it to get the bomb.

If Iran were really serious about abandoning a drive for nuclear weapons, it would have shut down its nuclear program. Not because America or Europe demanded it, but because it made no economic sense. For a fraction of the money it spent on its nuclear ambitions, it could have overhauled its decaying electrical grid and actually cut costs. But this isn’t about electricity, it’s about nuclear bombs.

The peaceful nuclear program is a hoax. The deal accepts the hoax. It assumes that Iran wants a peaceful nuclear program. It even undertakes to improve and protect Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear technology.

The reasoning behind the nuclear deal is false. It’s so blatantly false that the falseness has been written into the deal. The agreement punts on the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program and creates a complicated and easily subverted mechanism for inspecting suspicious programs in Iranian military sites.

It builds in so many loopholes and delays, separate agreements and distractions, because it doesn’t really want to know. The inspections were built to help Iran cheat and give Obama plausible deniability.

With or without the agreement, Iran is on the road to a nuclear bomb. Sanctions closed some doors and opened others. The agreement opens some doors and closes others. It’s a tactical difference that moves the crisis from one stalemate to another. Nothing has been resolved. The underlying strategy is Iran’s.

Iran decided that the best way to conduct this stage of its nuclear weapons program was by getting technical assistance and sanctions relief from the West. This agreement doesn’t even pretend to resolve the problem of Iran’s nuclear weapons. Instead its best case scenario assumes that years from now Iran won’t want a nuclear bomb. So that’s why we’ll be helping Iran move along the path to building one.

It’s like teaching a terrorist to use TNT for mining purposes if he promises not to kill anyone.

But this agreement exists because the West refuses to come to terms with what Islam is. Successful negotiations depend on understanding what the other side wants. Celebratory media coverage talks about finding “common ground” with Iran. But what common ground is there with a regime that believes that America is the “Great Satan” and its number one enemy?

What common ground can there be with people who literally believe that you are the devil?

When Iranian leaders chant, “Death to America”, we are told that they are pandering to the hardliners. The possibility that they really believe it can’t be discussed because then the nuclear deal falls apart.

For Europe, the nuclear agreement is about ending an unprofitable standoff and doing business with Iran. For Obama, it’s about rewriting history by befriending another enemy of the United States. But for Iran’s Supreme Leader, it’s about pursuing a holy war against the enemies of his flavor of Islam.

The Supreme Leader of Iran already made it clear that the war will continue until America is destroyed. That may be the only common ground he has with Obama. Both America and Iran are governed by fanatics who believe that America is the source of all evil. Both believe that it needs to be destroyed.

Carter made the Islamic Revolution possible. Obama is enabling its nuclear revolution.

Today Tehran and Washington D.C. are united by a deep distrust of America, distaste for the West and a violent hatred of Israel. This deal is the product of that mutually incomprehensible unity. It is not meant to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. It is meant to stop America and Israel from stopping it.

Both Obama and the Supreme Leader of Iran have a compelling vision of the world as it should be and don’t care about the consequences because they are convinced that the absolute good of their ideology makes a bad outcome inconceivable.

“O Allah, for your satisfaction, we sacrificed the offspring of Islam and the revolution,” a despairing Ayatollah Khomeini wrote after the disastrous Iran-Iraq War cost the lives of three-quarters of a million Iranians. The letter quoted the need for “atomic weapons” and evicting America from the Persian Gulf.

Four years earlier, its current Supreme Leader had told officials that Khomeini had reactivated Iran’s nuclear program, vowing that it would prepare “for the emergence of Imam Mehdi.”

The Islamic Revolution’s nuclear program was never peaceful. It was a murderous fanatic’s vision for destroying the enemies of his ideology, rooted in war, restarted in a conflict in which he used children to detonate land mines, and meant for mass murder on a terrible scale.

The nuclear agreement has holes big enough to drive trucks through, but its biggest hole is the refusal of its supporters to acknowledge the history, ideology and agenda of Iran’s murderous tyrants. Like so many previous efforts at appeasement, the agreement assumes that Islam is a religion of peace.

The ideology and history of Iran’s Islamic Revolution tells us that it is an empire of blood.

The agreement asks us to choose between two possibilities. Either Iran has spent a huge fortune and nearly gone to war to slightly lower its already low electricity rates or it wants a nuclear bomb.

The deal assumes that Iran wants lower electricity rates. Iran’s constitution tells us that it wants Jihad. And unlike Obama, Iran’s leaders can be trusted to live up to their Constitution.

Re-posted with permission from the Sultan Knish blog. If you have not met Daniel Greenfield, add him to your blogroll. He is always provacative, and always interesting. He also blogs regularly at Front Page Magazine.



I, Pencil. Extended Commentary: Creative Destruction by The Elephant's Child
July 26, 2015, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom | Tags: , ,

One more short lesson to make you think about things differently.



I, Pencil, Extended Commentary: Spontaneous Order by The Elephant's Child
July 26, 2015, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom | Tags: , ,

Another short economic lesson in the way things work.



I Pencil, The Movie by The Elephant's Child

The old favorite free enterprise story, in a brand new movie. An explanation of commerce, by the simple story of how a pencil is made.



The Iran Deal Actively Helps Iran to Perfect Its Nuclear Program by The Elephant's Child

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Omni Ceren writes from The Israel Project, a non-partisan American educational organization dedicated to informing the Media and public conversation about Israel and the Middle East:

The Iran Deal commits the international community to actively helping Iran perfect its nuclear program over the life of the deal. On a political level it means the deal will be seen as accomplishing the exact opposite of what the Obama administration promised Congress. Instead of rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, it will commit the U.S. and its allies to funding and boosting it.  On a policy level it means Iran’s breakout time will be constantly shrinking.

The commitments across the JCPOA obligate a range of global powers:

Russian sponsorship/cooperation on nuclear research at Fordow — The Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) will be converted into a nuclear, physics, and technology centre and international collaboration will be encouraged in agreed areas of research. The Joint Commission will be informed in advance of the specific projects that will be undertaken at Fordow…The transition to stable isotope production of these cascades at FFEP will be conducted in joint partnership between the Russian Federation and Iran on the basis of arrangements to be mutually agreed upon.

European sponsorship of nuclear security, including training against sabotage — E3/EU+3 parties, and possibly other states, as appropriate, are prepared to cooperate with Iran on the implementation of nuclear security guidelines and best practices…Co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage.

International sponsorship/cooperation of Iranian fuel fabrication, which will help Iran complete its mastery of fuel cycle, making Iran’s program harder more opaque and difficult to regulate — The Joint Commission will establish a Technical Working Group with the goal of enabling fuel to be fabricated in Iran while adhering to the agreed stockpile parameters… This Technical Working Group will also, within one year, work to develop objective technical criteria for assessing whether fabricated fuel and its intermediate products can be readily converted to UF6.

This deal does the opposite of rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. It funds, protects, and perfects the nuclear program.



The Real Ugliness of Planned Parenthood. by The Elephant's Child

RAMclr-072315-fetal-IBD-COLOR-FINAL.jpg.cmsBy now, you have probably seen or heard of the undercover video of the Senior Director of Medical Services released by the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group. Deborah Nucatola, an abortion doctor, had a conversation over a quite nice salad and wine lunch with two people  posing as representatives of a company trafficking in body parts of aborted fetuses.

The video exposes the animating principle behind the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood, a tax-payer supported industry. They do not consider abortion as any more problematic than cosmetic surgery.

There’s a lot of pretense at Planned Parenthood. They oppose the use of ultrasounds when the purpose is to reveal the humanity of the child, but use ultrasound to determine which parts of the baby to crush to preserve the desired parts. It’s ugly.  A second video has been released with another Planned Parenthood executive bargaining over prices for the fetal parts. Supporters of Planned Parenthood extol their other services like mammograms,  but its been well established that they don’t actually do mammograms.

The Left is heavily invested in Planned Parenthood, and in abortion, and the media have avoided any mention of the story, except to insist that the Center for Medical Progress is some kind of crazy pro-life group, and the video is false and the attack illegal. A reporter tried to ask a question of Josh Earnest, but was silenced with just an emphatic NO. Obama’s Department of Justice is planning to investigate, not Planned Parenthood for sales of body parts, but of the group that busted Planned Parenthood.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, made the claim that the trade in body parts was a service to scientific research, but embryonic tissue for stem cells is old discredited science, and the gold standard is now adult stem cells.

Health and Human Services rejected an expedited Planned Parenthood Freedom of Information Request for documents and communications relevant to payment or compensation of fees from Mary Hasson of the Federalist. HHS said it didn’t fit the public’s “urgent” right to know.

“Further, in order to meet second prong of the compelling need standard, the requested information must be the type of information that has a particular value that will be lost if not disseminated quickly, and ordinarily refers to a breaking news story of general public interest.”

There are more videos to come, and the Left is in panic mode. Or perhaps “stonewall mode.” The Left has a lot invested in total sexual freedom for all, but I’m getting pretty tired of school teachers having sex with their underage students, and gender-neutral bathrooms, among other things.

Black Americans are about 12.6 percent of the U.S. Population, but they have 35.4 percent of all abortions.  On average 1,876 black babies are aborted every day. That is just terribly sad.



Obama’s Astonishing Speech to the VFW by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama spoke to the VFW National Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Tuesday. It was an astonishing speech, in which Mr. Obama laid out his worldview more directly than he has previously done.

For too long, there had been a mindset where the first instinct when facing a challenge in the world was to send in our military — and we have the greatest military in human history.  But we learned, painfully, where that kind of thinking can lead — that rushing into war without thinking through the consequences, and going it alone without broad international support, getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts and spreading our military too thin actually too often would play into the hands of our enemies.  That’s what they wanted us to do.

And who paid the price?  Our men and women in uniform.  Our wounded warriors.  Our fallen heroes who never come home.  Their families, who carry that loss forever.

And so I said then that our brave troops and their families deserve better.  We cannot expect our military to bear the entire burden of our national security alone.  Everybody has to support our national security.

Translation: See, I’m more responsible than the hated Bush who got us into a war in Iraq. And if we cannot expect the military to bear the burden of national security, why do we have a volunteer military?

Mr. Obama has just announced (not in this speech) that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will no longer require incoming U.S. citizens to pledge that they will”bear arms on behalf of the United States” or “perform noncombatant service” in the Armed forces as part of the naturalization process.

And so today, we’re pursuing a new kind of leadership — a smarter, broader vision of American strength, one that relies not only on our outstanding military, but on all elements of our national power.  And that starts with the recognition that our strength in the world depends on our economic strength here at home.

At this point he goes into a lengthy explication of just how wonderful the economy is, how many jobs he has created. manufacturing booming, reducing dependence on foreign oil, affordable health care, and either he has a movie of his own wonderfulness running in his head or he is seriously delusional. He blames his cuts in our military forces on Republicans. But he did actually call ISIL a “barbaric terrorist organization,” though the attack in Chattanooga was, once again, caused by a “lone wolf.”

Real leadership, he says, means “having the courage to lead in a new direction, the wisdom to move beyond policies that haven’t worked in the past, having the confidence to engage in smart principled diplomacy that can lead to a better future.”

“That’s what we’re doing in Cuba, where the new chapter between our peoples will mean more opportunities for the Cuban people.”

The speech is long, but I would urge you to read it with a critical eye, to understand where he is really going and what he seems to believe. And to understand how he lies, and how carefully he presents his actions to a public for whom he has the utmost contempt.



Selling Out Your Country, Step by Step by Step! by The Elephant's Child

It’s no wonder that Obama dashed off to the United Nations Security Council to attempt to block Congress from doing anything to discredit his proud catastrophe in waiting. The administration raced straight from Vienna, without waiting for even comments from Congress.

It has now been 4,403 days  — since June 2003 — since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) first reported that Iran had breached its legal obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It took another three years to get the matter before the Security Council. From 2006 to 2010 were six hard-fought resolutions that managed to avoid vetoes from Russia and China. Four of those resolutions contained sanctions provisions.

The resolutions didn’t stop Iran from working on nuclear weapons, but they were a universal statement that Iran was a pariah state. It was in breach of fundamental international law, and legitimately subject to sanctions until there was independent, reliable verification that Iran had fully complied.

Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the U.N. First gambit. Secretary Kerry said it wasn’t deliberate. He said he and the President had wanted the U.N. to hold off until Congress completed its 60-day review as specified in U.S. law, but the other global parties simply couldn’t wait. Complete nonsense.

“It’s presumptuous of some people to suspect that France, Russia, China, Germany, Britain ought to do what the Congress tells them to do,” Mr. Kerry lectured his former Capitol Hill colleagues on ABC’s “This Week.” Mr. Kerry added as a sort of consolation that his hard bargaining did get the U.N. to delay the provisions of Monday’s resolution from going into effect for 90 days.

Yeah, sure. “Mr. Obama deliberately structured his Iran negotiation to make Congress a secondary party to the U.N. The Security Council vote means that the process of lifting international economic sanctions is now under way and the pact will roll forward. Mr. Kerry ad supporters of the deal will also now argue that if Congress does reject the pact, the international coalition  and sanctions regime can’t be reassembled.” The Wall Street Journal added:

The U.N. vote lets him assert that disapproval in Congress will pit America against the rest of the world outside the Middle East.

Congress shouldn’t fall for it…

The bigger issue here is self-government. The U.S. Constitution gives Presidents enormous clout on foreign policy, especially when Congress won’t assert its own powers. But Mr. Obama doesn’t have the authority to let the United Nations dictate to America’s elected Representatives.

Even if Mr. Obama does veto a resolution of disapproval, a bipartisan majority vote against the Iran deal would be a forceful statement to Iran and the world that Mr. Obama is acting without the support of the American people.

Breitbart reports that there are two secret “side deals” between Iran and the IAEA to accompany the main Iran nuclear deal, which will not be shared with other nations, Congress, or the public.



This One Took Me a Minute, But it’s Pretty Funny! by The Elephant's Child

Scan

(h/t: Mark Perry, AEI)




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