American Elephants


Leftists Don’t Understand “Cause & Effect” And That Makes a Huge Problem for the Rest of Us! by The Elephant's Child

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Progressives, Liberals, Lefties consistently have trouble understanding cause and effect. I’ve been noticing this for quite a while, particularly in relation to crime. That is where the famous “Butterfield Fallacy” comes in( well, maybe not famous, but it should be.) Fox Butterfield was a reporter for the New York Times, “whose crime stories served as the archetype for his eponymous fallacy.”

“It has become a comforting story for five straight years, crime has been falling, led by a drop in murder,” Butterfield wrote in 1997. “So why is the number of inmates in prisons and jails around the nation still going up?’  He repeated the trope in 2003: “The nation’s prison population grew 2.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 1999, according to a study by the Justice Department. The jump came despite a small decline in serious crime in 2002.” And in 2004: “The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.”

The Butterfield Fallacy consists of misidentifying as a paradox, that which is a simple cause-and-effect relationship. You put more bad guys behind bars, and the crime rate goes down. Lefties disapprove of sending people to prison because they believe it to be racially discriminatory. “In 2004 almost 10 percent of American black men were in prison” and it diverts tax money from what should be higher priorities. I’ve written about this a number of times, but I have a hard time recognizing how pervasive the inability to understand cause and effect is.

Today’s problems also include the “Ferguson Effect” which has resulted in policemen being more hesitant to arrest or deal with crime, especially in the black community — because of the blowback from the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson MI.

When the demand for a higher minimum wage began to circulate, we explained that a minimum wage was a starting wage for beginners, and low because they weren’t worth more, and there was no end to the numbers of people who wanted a starting-out job. We explained that most get a raise within the first 6 months. We mentioned automation. But the Lefties said “you can’t raise a family on the minimum wage.” Of course you can’t — the minimum wage is for beginners.

So Lefties are raising the minimum wage legally (government has no business telling businesses how much they must pay workers). Well effect follows cause and Wendy’s Restaurants are installing self-service kiosks in their approximately 6,000 restaurants across the country in the second half of the year. There are 258 Wendy’s in California where the minimum wage has gone up to $10 an hour. The former CEO of McDonalds warned that Robots cost less than paying a $15 minimum wage. Hillary jumped in on the controversy to demand an end to disabled workers’ exemption from minimum wage requirements — and got a stinging rebuke from economist Don Boudreaux.  Cause and effect.

Greenies usually use Denmark as a stunning example of the beneficial use of natural wind power. Well, Denmark is abandoning wind power. Danes’ cost of energy has been climbing and climbing, with 66% of the bill being “green taxes” and only 15% going to energy generation. Denmark’s energy prices were the highest in Europe, and politicians are abandoning wind power as too expensive. Greenies celebrate the natural source of energy, but the problem remains that wind does not blow at the correct speed to generate power even most of the time. They’ve tried to remedy that with taller turbines, more exotic minerals, better designs — doesn’t matter. The cause is the nature of wind, the effect is unaffordability.

In desperation our federal government has raised the numbers of eagles and other birds that the wind farms and solar arrays can chop up or fry each year, But that too is a cause and will have an effect — not yet recognized.  In the meantime, the world’s largest solar array at Ivanpah which has never produced the electricity they promised (cause) and is under enormous pressure to do something — did. It caught on fire.

Keep an eye on the inability of the Left to grasp this simple fact, you will find that it explains a lot.


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When I was a young engineer there was a program to encourage people into engineering. It sounds a great thing – the country needs more engineers, so why not encourage them into engineering.

Then I learnt some economics and I realised that the reason why engineers were being paid so badly was because of an over-supply of engineers. (Moral: learn economics before choosing a career!)

And as part of my MBA I looked at the market for small vets. I discovered that there is a massive demand from students to get into Vet schools, but far from encouraging people into Veterinary science, they were severely limiting the numbers. So, Vets get paid far more than equally well trained engineers – simply because the number of vets in the market is controlled. The same is true of doctors and lawyers.

Another great example is the “donations” of over-produced bought out by governments to famine nations. It sounds great to nanny state-ists, the what actually happens in a famine is that food prices go up because of an under-supply. Without food “dumping” Those in marginal areas still suffer – but in surrounding areas, those who have been able to produce a small surplus, find they get a great deal of money for their surplus and they then have extra money despite producing less food – money they can then invest in tools and equipment AND LABOUR to increase their production in the following years.

But what food aid does, is to drop the price of food. This then reduces the profits to farmers in areas around the famine, there is no boost to their money to hire additional workers (and encourage labour to move away from famine areas) or purchase tools, so the next difficult year the problems of famine will increase.

In fact, if you wanted to stop famines, there would be a very simple way. Instead of donating $10million in food – you simply give that money directly to those in famine as a one-off gift. They then have the money to purchase in food from surrounding areas, surrounding areas profit and have the means to increase production of food and you are far less likely to get future famines.

… But stupid/cynical government with shed loads of shored up food bought to stop their home market crashing from over-supply are not interesting in really helping anyone, but instead they just want to dump the food and make some good PR – even if it destroys the very areas they are supposedly “helping”.

Comment by Scottish Sceptic




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