American Elephants

The Quotation of the Day: Food for Thought! by The Elephant's Child

From Cafe Hayek:

From page 220 of philosopher Michael Huemer’s powerful 2013 book, The Problem of Political Authority

The general lesson is that if some part of government fails in its function, it will most likely be given greater funding and power.  Of course, the purpose of this is not to reward failure; the thinking would be that more money and power will enable the agency to solve the problem.  But the effect is that government grows when social problems grow, and thus it is not in the government’s interests to solve society’s problems.

Cafe Hayek added:

I recall long ago hearing David Boaz ask rhetorically about this reality: ‘Can you imagine a worse incentive system than one that rewards failure with higher budgets and punishes success with lower budgets?’  I can’t – yet that’s pretty much the prevailing incentive system for governments around the world.

Have you heard Carly Fiorian talking about “Zero-Based Budgeting?” That’s a serious attempt to rectify the situation.

So Are We Reforming the Criminal Justice System And This Makes Sense? by The Elephant's Child

iStock_000006638558Small-lg— Aicheria Bell has been braiding hair since she was three years old, and she has been doing it professionally for more than 15 years.  She is unable to use that skill to support herself and her family because of “burdensome and arbitrary”  Iowa state regulations, and she has filed a lawsuit to challenge the Iowa State Board of Cosmetology. That board requires that hair braiders be licensed as full–fledged cosmetologists. The licensing process costs thousands, and requires 2,100 hours of training — more than 17 times than what’s required for a license as an Emergency Medical Technician. The Institute for Justice has taken on the case, saying “Iowa has no business licensing something as safe and common as hair braiding.” They argue that braiders are not cosmetologists, and don’t offer cosmological services, so they should not be subject to the same regulations.  In Iowa, braiding hair without a license in cosmetology is a crime punishable by up to one year in prison and civil fines as high as $10,000.

Professional organizations of those who have had special schooling to testify that they have some expertise in their occupation, are inclined to seek regulation that prohibits anyone without their schooling from competing with them. Here in Washington State, the Home Decorators have tried to prevent, legally, anyone who has not had formal decorator training from advising on home decor. So far they haven’t been able to get the law passed, but they keep trying.

—The “Fox-Butterfield Effect” is named for a hapless New York Times reporter who has been unable to understand why so many people are in prison when the crime rate has dropped so sharply. Cause and effect is hard to grasp. The crime rate had dropped significantly, but has started climbing again. The “Black Lives Matter” movement has meant that across the country, fewer recruits are applying to become policemen. After Ferguson, Baltimore and New York, when police were accused of unnecessary brutality, police officers are avoiding any situations where they might be attacked, or unjustly accused of using unnecessary force. The number of policemen killed in the line of duty is climbing, as well. Policemen risk their lives every day to keep ordinary citizens safe.

The Washington Post has just conducted a massive survey of police shootings, and found that virtually all of them are justified. The White House, which has contributed to the problem, claims there’s “no evidence” to support the FBI Director’s recent statements about a “Ferguson effect” hampering police work. Data shows that police morale and arrests are down in St. Louis, Baltimore, New York, Seattle and other cities where police are under siege, while crime is up dramatically. In 2014 there were 1,918 fewer stops of black drivers compared to 2013, and 624 fewer arrests.

—President Obama has executed the largest mass release of federal prisoners. He is going farther with an executive order that moves the box that must be checked on an employment form to indicate if the applicant has a criminal record to the end of the form, so it will not be so apparent that the applicant is a felon. 6,000 prisoners serving convictions for drug offenses will be released. (Contrary to claims that there are many in prison for smoking pot, these are incarcerated for dealing or selling drugs). On the other hand, a man has been sent to Federal Prison for overfishing. A Long Island commercial fisherman caught too many fluke, and it is claimed that he lied about it to the feds. They went after Anthony Jospeh for “Fisheries Fraud.” He has been sentenced to seven months in prison, a $603,000 fine and three years of supervised release following incarceration.

I don’t know. I would be much more disturbed by 6,000 drug dealers on the streets than by Mr. Josopeh supervised or unsupervised. Something seems a little off in the Criminal Justice System.

Big Climate Meeting Coming Up, Time to Haul Out the Ozone Hole! by The Elephant's Child

In her continuing quest to turn the page on the flood of bad news regarding the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has announced a new crusade. She wants the world to stop using hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioners and other consumer products, as part of Obama’s plan to fight global warming. She will be leading the United States delegation at the UN summit to take aggressive action on your air conditioners. She added her usual “phasing out HFC’s will avert 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century,” one of those claims that the EPA can never produce the scientific rationale for.

What’s called “the Montreal Protocol” (1987) was supposed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere and thus protect the earth’s fragile ozone layer. Good intentions. But now there is uncertainty about the whole idea. The ozone layer may be much less sensitive than was assumed. In fact it may have always been there varying from year to year and decade to decade, and the UN claim of success, may well be nothing more than taking credit for natural variability.

The Navajo Nation, Says Russell Begaye, Is Used to Historical Mistreatment by the Federal Government by The Elephant's Child


Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation, has spoken out about the investigation into the Gold King Mine spill. Investigators from the Department of Interior concluded that the EPA could have prevented the blowout Gold King Mine Spill if waters inside the mine had been checked before work began on the abandoned mine. The EPA had been warned that mine and others in the area posed a threat.

In 2005, after a National Priorities List assessment, the study confirmed for the second time that the mine should qualify as a Superfund site. The EPA and other responsible parties took no action.

The EPA spill sent three million gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas and San Juan rivers. Mr. Begaye charged:

The Navajo Nation is used to historical mistreatment by agencies of the federal government, but the inadequate and delayed response to the contamination of our rivers and the utter lack of accountability takes that sentiment to a whole new level. When that threat became reality, they waited nearly two days to inform the Nation that a spill had occurred, then waited six full days to take responsibility and apologize.

The EPA’s eventual “response” was to provide our communities with tanks of impure water for our livestock and crops. And now, FEMA is denying our request for a declared state of emergency. Our people have suffered immeasurably due to the reckless actions of the EPA and other responsible parties (who have yet to be held accountable), and the government’s failed response to this crisis only adds insult to injury. Our irrigation systems are still shut down, and our analysis shows that the water is not yet safe for consumption or crop irrigation.

The Navajo Nation’s Environmental Protection Agency has found lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium, cadmium and beryllium, contaminants known to be toxic to humans and animals, still present in our rivers. Our people and our land are devastated. With high unemployment on the Navajo Nation and almost all Navajo families relying on subsistence farming, our lack of access to clean water to grow our crops is catastrophic.

The EPA, as is noted by yesterday’s op-ed from Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, is in pure self-defense mode. The Navajo Nation needs the rivers cleaned up and clean, safe water supplies for crops and livestock. Not an unreasonable request.

The Interior Department may have found that the EPA should have done things differently, but nothing much will happen. The rivers will eventually wash out the toxic sludge. Your federal government at work. I’m with the Navajo Nation on this one.


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