American Elephants

In 1825, The Erie Canal Opened, made New York the Chief Atlantic Port. by The Elephant's Child
October 31, 2017, 6:27 am
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, History, The United States | Tags: ,

The period from 1817 to 1844 has been referred to as the Canal Era, in which some 4,000 miles of canals were constructed at a cost of $200 million. The earliest and best were built by private businesses such as the Middlesex Canal in Massachusetts and the Santee and Cooper in South Carolina.

The Erie Canal was the most famous—its completion so anticipated that it collected an advance $1 million in tolls. It was 40′ wide, 4′ deep and 363 miles long, all bordered with towpaths, 86 locks to raise and lower boats 565′.

New York State, The Improved Canal System — from: The Canal System of New York State / Charles L. Cadle — Re-issued and revised (Albany : J.B. Lyon Co., printers, 1921)

The painting at the top is by George Harvey Pitsford, 1837
Courtesy of the Memorial Art Museum University of Rochester

And There Were Songs

.Oh the Er-i-e is a-rising………………….I’ve got a mule,and her name is Sal
.And the gin is a-getting low………………Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
.I scarcely think……………………..;;;;…..She’s a good old worker,
.We’ll get a drink……………………….,….And a good old Pal
Till we get to Buffalo……………………….Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
Till We get to Buffalo………………………We hauled some barges in our day
………………………………………………Filled with lumber, coal and hay
………………………………………………And we know ev’ry inch of the way
………………………………………………From Albany to Buffalo

………………………………………………Low bridge! Ev’rybody down!
………………………………………………Low bridge, we’re coming to a town
………………………………………………And you’ll always know your neighbor
………………………………………………You’ll always know your pal
………………………………………………If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal


Paying More to Save Your Family’s Health and Nutrition? by The Elephant's Child

I’m sure your grocery store features Organic food. It costs about 30% more than the identical items in the regular displays. A program alleged to serve the well-being of the public has received a scathing report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General.

Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist who was the founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology, and a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He notes, writing at American Greatness, that Milton Friedman used to say that “only in government, when a program or project fails dismally, the instinctive response is to make it bigger.”

The USDA”s Inspector General details fraud, mismanagement and negligence throughout the global organic agriculture/food supply chain, Congress wants to throw more money at the problem.

Obviously, if things are not working, it’s because they need better funding?

When the organic designation was established in 2000. then-Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman emphasized its fundamental meaninglessness.”Let me be clear about one thing, the organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is ‘organic’ a value judgment about nutrition or quality.” The Faso-Grisham legislation is yet another special interest bonanza designed to further subsidize domestic organic farmers and enrich the bottom line of already hugely-profitable organic businesses.

The entire industry is built on the hazy idea of some consumers that “chemicals” are poisonous and bad, therefore food that had never been contaminated with chemicals (like nitrogen fertilizer) or sprays to ward off insects somehow made that food dangerous. So organic growers use natural fertilizer like manure to supply the needed nitrogen, although that carries a risk of e-coli.

Your grocery store is a warehouse full of competing brands and products, and the competition is intense, so they use whatever selling points they can find. A good many of which are absolutely meaningless, and you are being fooled by them. Free-Range Chicken, All Natural Ingredients, Verified, non GMO, Gluten Free, No MSG,  O Trans Fat, No Artificial Flavoring and so on, and so on. The Organic label is essentially meaningless, but allows the organic farmers to charge you about 30% more. It is not a value judgment about nutrition or quality. Imported agricultural products, whether organic of conventional are sometimes fumigated at the port of entry to keep alien pests out. USDA inspectors found pesticides that are prohibited under organic protocols were being sprayed on organic shipments.

The USDA reported in 2012 that 43 percent of the 571 samples of “organic” produce tested were in violation of the government’s organic regulations. Some of the samples were mislabeled conventional products, and others had not been protected from prohibited pesticides. Dr. Miller adds:

Organic agriculture is an unscientific, heavily subsidized fraud-riddled marketing gimmick that misleads and rips off consumers. That is important because free markets don’t function efficiently when consumers are misinformed.

If you’re worried about pesticides, wash your produce carefully before you put it in the refrigerator. Genetic engineering is safe, and state-of the-art  agricultural chemicals ensure the integrity of their own sector.


Jordan Peterson: A Harvard Talk on the Mask of Compassion by The Elephant's Child

I am fascinated with Dr. Peterson from the University of Toronto, Professor of Psychology, Clinical Psychologist, Researcher. This talk is a long one, but so informative about Post Modernism and Neo-Marxism. Today’s students and a good percentage of today’s faculties are back on the Marxist program. Apparently completely unaware of the history of Marxism, the dreadful bloody, miserable history. The Holodomor, the deliberate starvation of the people of Ukraine, the Gulag, the repression, and under the guise of compassion, they’re swallowing it whole.

Dr.Peterson has remarkably fine connection between brain and mouth, says what he means and means what he says. The interviewer in this case left a great deal to be desired, but the conversation is endlessly fascinating. File it in that enormous folder of What’s Really Going On.

For goodness sakes, read The Black Book of Communism, or any of Richard Pipes books—Communism, A History; Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, or Robert Conquest: Reflections on a Ravaged Century; The Great Terror; or Harvest of Sorrow. Or for that matter take a look at Cuba and Venezuela today

A Wake-Up Call for Our Schools! by The Elephant's Child

At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, during a 2016 Columbus Day protest conducted by Wunk Sheek, a Native American student organization, activists hosted a die-in near a statue of Abraham Lincoln, claiming he was complicit in the murder of Native Americans.

“Everyone thinks of Lincoln as the great, you know, freer of slaves, but let’s be real: He owned slaves, and as natives, we want people to know that he ordered the execution of native men,” said one of the protesters.

It’s a little more complicated than that, but the point is more that when professors complain that new students don’t know anything and are unfamiliar with history, they’re right. And this should be a major wake-up call to university officials that they are shortchanging their students in the history department. And to our public schools who are graduating students ignorant of basic history.

From Thomas Sowell:

Of all the tragic facts about the history of slavery, the most astonishing to an American today is that, although slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century. People of every race and color were enslaved – and enslaved others. White people were still being bought and sold as slaves in the Ottoman Empire, decades after American blacks were freed.

Everyone hated the idea of being a slave but few had any qualms about enslaving others. Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century – and then it was an issue only in Western civilization. Among those who turned against slavery in the 18th century were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other American leaders. You could research all of the 18th century Africa or Asia or the Middle East without finding any comparable rejection of slavery there. But who is singled out for scathing criticism today? American leaders of the 18th century.

Deciding that slavery was wrong was much easier than deciding what to do with millions of people from another continent, of another race, and without any historical preparation for living as free citizens in a society like that of the United States, where they were 20 percent of the population.

And from a National Geographic article titled “21st Century Slaves”:

There are an estimated 27 million men, women, and children in the world who are enslaved — physically confined or restrained and forced to work, or controlled through violence, or in some way treated as property.

Therefore, there are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade [11 million total, and about 450,000, or about 4% of the total, who were brought to the United States]. The modern commerce in humans rivals illegal drug trafficking in its global reach—and in the destruction of lives.

Yoo Hoo, Seattle City Council by The Elephant's Child

From Economist Mark J. Perry at AEI:

Seattle City Council: Do higher prices reduce demand  or not?

Jordan Peterson and the Question of Gender Pronouns by The Elephant's Child

Jordan Peterson ia a professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, and a clinical psychologist. He is very principled, very honest, and very determined. The question here is one of gender pronouns, but really of the larger question of more genders than the two assigned to us by science, custom, and chromosomes.  This one really gets into it.

Big Cracks in the Foundation, No Warning Signals. by The Elephant's Child

I am deeply interested in the education situation in our country. The uproar and hooplah on our college campuses proves not only that our college students don’t know much of anything, but that the administrators and professors do not know how to maintain order, nor do they understand why they should bother. Then every once in a while someone adds to an article the cost of a semester at that university, and you can see that they whole mess is collapsing.

If you have student loans for the whole amount, you’d better be a leading STEM scholar. Even those who have high paying Silicon Valley jobs can’t afford to live in San Francisco and environs. They’re crowded in, sharing a room with four or more others. Real estate prices are incredibly high, rental costs are through the roof. Here in Seattle, there is a big motor home parked across from my veterinarian; clinic, obviously someone’s home, and there are several campers apparently permanently parked on adjacent streets. What happens to the Socialism major or the English major, let alone the majors in gender studies or women’s studies? Do they need to buy a camper to have a place to live? Can they find employment?

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline  just noted a story from the New York Times reporting that the New York Board of Regents eliminated the requirement that aspiring teachers in the state pass a literacy test to become certified. The Board eliminated the requirement because Black and Hispanic candidates for teaching jobs passed the literacy test at significantly lower rates than white candidates.

An analysis done in 2014, the year the test was first administered, found that 64 percent of white candidates passed the test on the first try, while only 46 percent of Hispanic candidates and 41 percent of black candidates did. That’s disparate impact, but it isn’t discrimination as long as the test measures skills teachers need to be effective in their job.

I just wrote about Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaking here, with large numbers of protesters turning out to protest her interest in promoting charter schools, although charter schools are publicly funded public schools.  The assumption is that the protesters were teacher’s union members or Democrats who are conscious of Union donations to Democrat coffers.

Instapundit regularly posts a notice about teachers who were caught having sex with their students, and going to jail. It seems like it’s once a week, but it may not be that frequent.

People are making fun of the campus protests and outrages, but I’m not sure its funny, It seems to me the alarm sirens should be going off. Attendance at the schools in question is way down. Donations are off. At Mizzou they have had to close some dorms. The schools that had national attention for their protests have all had declining enrollment. Is this enough to act as a major warning signal that all is not well? Dunno.

The Wonders of Free Market Capitalism by The Elephant's Child

The Manhattan Contrarian (Francis Menton)  wrote a while back:

In the progressive project to remake humanity and civilization, nothing counts but good intentions, and the details will all be worked out by experts, using the infinite credit card. And thus we get $1 trillion or so of annual “anti-poverty” spending that never makes a dent in poverty. As hard as that one is to top, nothing can top the delusional thinking on the subject of renewable energy, particularly the idea that it will be easy and costless to transition over a few years to a world where fossil fuels have been banished, and yet we want and need.

Today, from FEE (the Foundation for Economic Education) we have the encouraging headline “The World’s Poorest People are getting Richer Faster Than Anyone Else.” “The speed of poverty alleviation in the last 25 years has been historically unprecedented. Not only is the proportion of people in poverty at a record low, but in spite of adding 2 billion to the planet’s population, the overall number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen too.

As Johan Norberg writes in his book Progress, “If you had to choose a society to live in but did not know what your social or economic position would be, you would probably choose the society with the lowest proportion (not the lowest numbers) of poor, because this is the best judgement of the life of an average citizen.” Well, in 1820, 94 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 per day adjusted for purchasing power). In 1990 this figure was 34.8 percent, and in 2015, just 9.6 percent.

In the last quarter century, more than 1.25 billion people escaped extreme poverty – that equates to over 138,000 people (i.e., 38,000 more than the Parisian crowd that greeted Father Wresinski in 1987) being lifted out of poverty every day. If it takes you five minutes to read this article, another 480 people will have escaped the shackles of extreme of poverty by the time you finish. Progress is awesome. In 1820, only 60 million people didn’t live in extreme poverty. In 2015, 6.6 billion did not.

Do read the whole thing, I thought a little very good news might be welcome in the face of the outrage and anguish that are the daily fare of the media. No, it is not the result of the progressive project to remake humanity. It’s the result of plain old free market capitalism. Works every time.


Mark Steyn, Tucker Carlson: Clarifying the Russia Thing by The Elephant's Child

Here’s a good one: Tucker Carlson and Mark Steyn try to clarify the whole Russia thing. Lots more bombshells to come out, but now enough has emerged that we get a front row seat on the revelations.

Anyone going to be held responsible? Is this finally big enough that we will have a real honest-to-goodness shakeup? The American people are fed up. They don’t trust the press, they’re angry at the behavior of a bunch of overpaid athletes, they don’t understand why the IRS gets to pay off the folks they mistreated with taxpayer dollars, and John Koskinen gets to retire with a comfortable pension. And why can’t Congress get anything done?

“Trumpism Goes International” by The Elephant's Child

Fascinating post at American Greatness: “Trumpism Goes International

You wouldn’t know it from listening to the mainstream media, but some powerful, left-wing European and Asian countries are emulating Donald Trump’s economic plans, including tax cuts, regulatory reforms, and fair and equitable trade policies.

These reforms are America’s most historic economic changes in 25 years, for which President Trump has been roundly criticized. Even so, influential nations are not only copying these policies, they are also describing them as historic cultural shifts.

Deciphering America’s mood and what’s going on in the heart of the country won the election for Trump. But the president has also tapped into the world’s mood, and other countries have picked up on his agenda. This is radical and revolutionary stuff. Practices, proposals, legislative changes, and economic agendas unseen since the Reagan presidency are once again on the table. What is fascinating is how little awareness of these events the American press or elected officials seem to have, nor do they have any idea of their significance.

Do read the whole thing. It is worth pondering. Certainly the European Union has become something of an empire, unresponsive to its member countries and unimpressed with the problems they are imposing on them. Europe has had long experience with empires, and one would think that they learned some lessons, but elites never seem to grasp the moment when they have just gone too far. And they are oblivious to the fact that the migrants they are imposing on their member countries have their own empire, which they plan to install in Europe, over the coming decades.

At some point, Europe will awaken and notice what is going on around them, but will it be in time? Or we all so captivated by the ongoing anguish and outrage and end of the earth angst that we cannot recognize what is really going on around us either?

What’s The Matter With California? Victor Davis Hanson Explains. by The Elephant's Child
October 26, 2017, 6:42 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

It’s no wonder that some in California talk about seceding. The problems, of their own doing, grow apace, and the Silicon Valley billionaires simply isolate themselves further. The ordinary folk move to low tax states and take their votes and their businesses with them.Incompetent governance keeps adding to the problems.

Victor Davis Hanson explains what is happening, but there are, as yet, no solutions. The camera person seems a little unsteady, but bear with it, it’s worth it.

Sit Down, People. Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat. by The Elephant's Child
October 26, 2017, 6:24 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

We live in an era of alarmism. Everyone, or at least Trump opponents, seems alarmed nearly all the time. Even when we can’t quite summon the energy, we’re expected to be outraged. Our outrage is then presented as a badge of honor, evidence of virtue at a time of historic challenge to the Republic. But the nature of the outrage – overwrought before even Trump took office – has taken a new turn.

We are confronted daily not simply with outrage, but a kind of end-of-worldism: America is on the brink of dictatorship; Trump is going start World War III; the president’s access to the nuclear codes might actually destroy the universe; if he manages to control his impulses, then his withdrawal from the Paris climate change accords will still destroy the universe, just a bit more slowly.

As someone who works on the Middle East, I find myself, oddly enough, in a near constant state of relief.

Do read the whole thing. It’s not that long, and a refreshing take on the current civil unrest. Consider the word “fascist” — universally applied to practically everything, which indicates that hardly anyone knows what it really means, but finds it useful as an all purpose insult.

President Trump is chalking up quite a lot of accomplishments in the face of a Congress that can’t seem to get their act together and pass a budget and a badly needed repeal of ObamaCare. If everything Trump is accomplishing is so dreadful, why is the stock market up so far? And why is the economy turning up? Enemies backing down? ISIS defeated and on the run? Illegal immigration down? Presidents are only ordinary men with the flaws and faults that being human entails. Some will do a very good job in office, some will not, and all will make mistakes, some of them big.

I suspect that Mr. Hamid may not be a Trump supporter, but what he has to say applies to everyone, and well said.

ADDENDUM: I seem to have lost the first few sentences of this, and the link to Mr. Hamid’s essay. You still have the sense of it, but visiting the PBS website where I originally found it, I can’t find it again. Sorry about that.

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