American Elephants

September Was A Lousy Month for Jobs!

Another dismal jobs report: only 142,000 new jobs were added last month.  Sixty thousand below the lowest estimate. And 236,000 jobs were lost in September. President Obama will add the 142,000 jobs to the total he has created, ignore the jobs lost and decide he just needs to spend a bit more to get more money circulating in the economy or something like that.

The August total was revised much lower from 173,000 to 136,000. Job growth in 2015 has averaged 198,000 per month, compared to an average monthly gain of 260,000 in 2014.

You might notice that people are leaving Democrat run states in droves for states with lower taxes and less regulation. There are things that can be done to help out an ailing economy, but they are not in the Democrat playbook. Their answer is always to add another regulation, control a little more  — that’s how you get to that bright Utopian future.

The Mysterious Results of Liberal Policies.

uhaul-van-sizes-i14The people of the Left seem to have trouble not only with innumeracy, but also a general understanding of economics and free markets. In fact, every so often someone blurts it out,  their enemy is — capitalism. That gets a little awkward because the United States has long been a capitalist and free market nation.

Democrats hate corporations, though they happily use the goods that corporations create,  and enjoy the advances in our wealth and well being. They remain convinced that their policies will create a workers’ paradise where everyone is equal and there aren’t any more rich people lording it over everyone else, except for themselves, of course. Obviously someone has to control things.

So how is it all working out? Economist Stephen Moore reports that “new census data shows that day after day, month after month, year after year, people are fleeing liberal blue states for conservative red states.”

The top seven states with the biggest percentage increases in inbound immigration from other states are in order: North Dakota. Nevada, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Arizona and Texas. All of these states are politically red, except Colorado, which is purple.

Meanwhile, the leading exodus states, in percentage terms, are: Alaska, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Mexico, New Jersey and Kansas. These states, except Alaska and Kansas, are blue.

The American Legislative Exchange Council finds that nearly 1.000 people a day are leaving blue states and moving to red states. This is an immigration pattern that is changing the economic center of gravity in the country to the South and West.

IRS data shows the same pattern. They keep track of tax filers who move and the amount of wealth they are taking with them. And it is not an insignificant transfer of wealth. In 2013 Florida gained $8.2 billion in adjusted gross income from new arrivals. Texas  gained $5.9 billion. And five of the states who gained the most  don’t have an income tax: Florida, Texas, Arizona, Washington and Nevada.

Democrats simply do not understand why anyone would leave a blue state. The blue states offer higher minimum wages, pro-union work rules, higher taxes on the rich, generous welfare benefits, lots of regulations to help workers and the environment. Isn’t that the program that will lead to a workers’ paradise?

Stephen Moore said he debated the situation with NYT columnist Paul Krugman this summer, and Krugman’s explanation for the migration from North to South was that “air conditioning” had made the South more livable. Yet there’s a lot of in-migration to North Dakota, and that’s not for the air conditioning. Possibly high-paying oilfield jobs?

in the past decade, 1.4 million more Americans moved out of California than moved in. According to Thomas Sowell, at least one fifth of Californians pay at least half of their income for housing. You can  possibly rent a bunk in an apartment for $1500 a month. The drought continues, and thousands of buildings and some 300,000 acres have gone up in flames. The  problem, according to Governor Jerry Brown is fossil fuels. The wildfires, he says, are the result of cataclysmic climate change, and are only going to get worse. Foresters say it’s due to a century of fire suppression which has led to a huge buildup of vegetation.  I’d bet on the forest supervisors.

Unfortunately, the problems are the direct result of government policies. Once ordinary houses in Palo Alto are now selling for a cool million or two. The waters of the Sacramento River were flushed out to sea to protect a supposedly endangered  tiny bait fish, while farmers in the Central Valley were denied the water they had contracted for.

Liberals don’t understand the results of their policies. They can see that people and businesses are moving out, but the reason is a mystery. Some mystery!

Nancy Pelosi Has Not Seen the Videos, but Is Quite Sure they Are Lies, Because Democrat Talking Points.

pelosi-fist-APThe U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) chimed in on the debate over defunding Planned Parenthood, about as expected. And her response is really quite revealing in a way.She questioned the truthfulness of the videos that show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal organs, but admitted that she had not watched any of the videos.

“I don’t stipulate that these videos are real, and the fact is that the [fetal tissue] research that is being criticized … [is] being supported,” Pelosi said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.

“I also know that some of it is not real and you can create any reality that you want,” she said, while admitting that she has not seen the videos, and has only read news reports about them.

This is the so-called information age, but as far as I can tell, schools do not have coursework in how to manage the flow of information. How do you tell what is real? How do you check?  And how do you tell who is telling the truth?

A quick search showed that 1) only 6% rate news Media as very trustworthy, and (2) most voters still get their news from television and consider the news reported by the media trustworthy. 56% of all voters regard the news reported by the media as at least somewhat trustworthy according to Rasmussen.

Gallup said that 44% of Americans have a fair amount or a great deal of confidence in the Mass Media. 55% have not very much confidence or none at all. Note that two different sources are reporting the same news differently.

I have found that most Democrats get their news from Democratic sources, and rely on Democratic talking points to avoid delving deeper into an issue. I have been astonished at Hillary Clinton’s complete dependence on Democratic talking points for her campaign. I had assumed that someone running for the presidency with the experience of being Secretary of State and a senator would have studied long and deeply about how to improve governmental operations.

Polls in general show that Americans support the ability to have an abortion. Attacks on the callousness of Planned Parenthood are usually interpreted as attacks on omen’s right to choose. No one is questioning that right, but there are an awful lot of choices poorly made before one gets to the need for an abortion — like  a poor choice in who to go out with, how much to drink, whether to go to his apartment, and so on and on. Planned Parenthood is not a health care facility. Their business model is abortions, and there is not a single mammogram machine in the whole organization.

The question is whether taxpayers should be forced to support the operations of Planned Parenthood, if they have deep ethical objections to cutting up aborted fetuses and selling the parts. Stem cell research has largely turned to using a patient’s own stem cells. It is a crime to sell aborted baby parts for profit using federal funds.

The Federalist has publishedA Quick and Easy Guide to the Planned Parenthood Videos” The picture is of Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood chief executive, who has just testified before Congress.

Independent, Free, and Self-Directed, Or the Democrat’s Gulag?

At Real Clear Politics (the Real Clear Policy sector) Sherzod Abdukadirov writes about “How Uncle Sam Uses Behavioral Science,” in Mr. Obama’s “executive order urging federal agencies to use behavioral science insights in designing government policies and regulations. The order argues that such insights have the potential to improve consumer welfare through better policy design.”

I wrote about this week or so ago, but I find I’m not ready to leave the subject. It’s straight out of the Marxist playbook, and you can talk about ‘nudges’ or ‘behavioral experiments’, but it’s just plain propaganda designed to make you do what the government wants you to do. No “consumer welfare” about it. If at first they don’t succeed, they will try a little harder.

The example used in Sherzod’s piece is from the Energy Department, with their “Energy Star” appliances. They boast about consumer savings which are supposed to justify the higher price of the appliances.

Unfortunately, the evidence marshaled by the agency for consumer myopia is highly dubious. For example, the latest standard for residential dishwashers promises consumers a savings of $3 over 15 years — it takes twelve years just to cover the higher up-front price — while the standard for clothes dryers delivers $14 in savings over 16 years, with the higher price covered after five years.

That DOE would declare consumers irrational for not chasing trivial, long-term savings defies common sense. And when one considers the fact that another objective for energy-efficiency regulations is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, it becomes clear that the agency’s motivation may have less to do with improving consumer welfare and more to do with hitting its environmental goals. The use of behavioral insights in policy opens the door for agencies to impose more stringent regulations that aim to advance the administration’s agenda rather than consumer welfare.

This is why everything that the EPA does to take further control of your life and options is cloaked in preventing childhood asthma. Or the noxious twisty lightbulbs or their expensive counterparts. Consider a federal department and you can probably come up with something intended to shut down your options and force you to do something you don’t want to do. Consider ObamaCare.

The Left wants control. They don’t want you to have the option of free speech if it disagrees with them. Obama just said that you couldn’t have freedom of religion if it opposes gay marriage. The federal government will put restrictors in your shower head so you don’t use too much water. Just think of what the feds have done to make driving a car more expensive.

Conservatives talk about freedom, but perhaps that is too broad a term. What we are really talking about is autonomy: the quality or state of being independent, free, and self-directing.  It’s the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision. Take away our autonomy and welcome to the Gulag.

The Department of Energy believes that paying more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a public good. We would suggest that the Department of Energy has not studied the science of carbon dioxide. The Department of Agriculture has ordered that we enrich factory farms by putting the corn crop in our gas tanks. Mrs. Obama has ordered that small school children eat what she tells them to, but because even little children prize their autonomy, they throw the food in the garbage.

Both Barack and Michelle Obama became lawyers. How can you study law in the United States of America and fail to understand the importance of freedom and autonomy? Did they never read the whole Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and not understand what it was about? Obama announced early on that the law was about empathy. And he has repeated that many times, emphasizing how important empathy is to him. Take another look at Dierdre McCloskey’s graph, and what personal autonomy has meant to America.

President Obama’s Legacy In 9 Simple Charts From The Federal Reserve.

CP6eZ_CWsAAyWVe.jpg large(Click to enlarge)

Take your time, read the small print. The nine charts do not, of course cover everything. There’s still the Iran Deal, the mess in Syria, the Taliban’s success in Afghanistan, excessive regulation. It would be easy to chart another nine, and then another. But it is a start on an all too real record. Some Legacy!

I’m Not Going to Comment. But I Invite You To.


The Most Powerful Defense of Market Capitalism You Will Ever Read.

(Click to enlarge)

Economist Deirdre McCloskey recently spoke in London, and this brief summary captures the essence of her talk and her work on the power of economic freedom. Next year, her latest book: “Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World”  will arrive, the final book of a trilogy on the wonder-working power of modern capitalism. Here is a seven page summary of her upcoming book, and below is a summary of her summary by James Pethokoukis of AEI.


Perhaps you yourself still believe in nationalism or socialism or proliferating regulation. And perhaps you are in the grip of pessimism about growth or consumerism or the environment or inequality.

Please, for the good of the wretched of the earth, reconsider.

Many humans, in short, are now stunningly better off than their ancestors were in 1800.  … Hear again that last, crucial, astonishing fact, discovered by economic historians over the past few decades. It is: in the two centuries after 1800 the trade-tested goods and services available to the average person in Sweden or Taiwan rose by a factor of 30 or 100. Not 100 percent, understand—a mere doubling—but in its highest estimate a factor of 100, nearly 10,000 percent, and at least a factor of 30, or 2,900 percent. The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has dwarfed any of the previous and temporary enrichments. Explaining it is the central scientific task of economics and economic history, and it matters for any other sort of social science or recent history.

What explains it? The causes were not (to pick from the apparently inexhaustible list of materialist factors promoted by this or that economist or economic historian) coal, thrift, transport, high male wages, low female and child wages, surplus value, human capital, geography, railways, institutions, infrastructure, nationalism, the quickening of commerce, the late medieval run-up, Renaissance individualism, the First Divergence, the Black Death, American silver, the original accumulation of capital, piracy, empire, eugenic improvement, the mathematization of celestial mechanics, technical education, or a perfection of property rights. Such conditions had been routine in a dozen of the leading organized societies of Eurasia, from ancient Egypt and China down to Tokugawa Japan and the Ottoman Empire, and not unknown in Meso-America and the Andes. Routines cannot account for the strangest secular event in human history, which began with bourgeois dignity in Holland after 1600, gathered up its tools for betterment in England after 1700, and burst on northwestern Europe and then the world after 1800.

The modern world was made by a slow-motion revolution in ethical convictions about virtues and vices, in particular by a much higher level than in earlier times of toleration for trade-tested progress—letting people make mutually advantageous deals, and even admiring them for doing so, and especially admiring them when Steve-Jobs like they imagine betterments. The change, the Bourgeois Revaluation, was the coming of a business-respecting civilization, an acceptance of the Bourgeois Deal: “Let me make money in the first act, and by the third act I will make you all rich.”

Much of the elite, and then also much of the non-elite of northwestern Europe and its offshoots, came to accept or even admire the values of trade and betterment. Or at the least the polity did not attempt to block such values, as it had done energetically in earlier times. Especially it did not do so in the new United States. Then likewise, the elites and then the common people in more of the world followed, including now, startlingly, China and India. They undertook to respect—or at least not to utterly despise and overtax and stupidly regulate—the bourgeoisie.

Why, then, the Bourgeois Revaluation that after made for trade-tested betterment, the Great Enrichment? The answer is the surprising, black-swan luck of northwestern Europe’s reaction to the turmoil of the early modern—the coincidence in northwestern Europe of successful Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution: “the Four Rs,” if you please. The dice were rolled by Gutenberg, Luther, Willem van Oranje, and Oliver Cromwell. By a lucky chance for England their payoffs were deposited in that formerly inconsequential nation in a pile late in the seventeenth century. None of the Four Rs had deep English or European causes. All could have rolled the other way. They were bizarre and unpredictable. In 1400 or even in 1600 a canny observer would have bet on an industrial revolution and a great enrichment—if she could have imagined such freakish events—in technologically advanced China, or in the vigorous Ottoman Empire. Not in backward, quarrelsome Europe.

A result of Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution was a fifth R, a crucial Revaluation of the bourgeoisie, first in Holland and then in Britain. The Revaluation was part of an R-caused, egalitarian reappraisal of ordinary people.  … The cause of the bourgeois betterments, that is, was an economic liberation and a sociological dignifying of, say, a barber and wig-maker of Bolton, son of a tailor, messing about with spinning machines, who died in 1792 as Sir Richard Arkwright, possessed of one of the largest bourgeois fortunes in England. The Industrial Revolution and especially the Great Enrichment came from liberating commoners from compelled service to a hereditary elite, such as the noble lord in the castle, or compelled obedience to a state functionary, such as the economic planner in the city hall. And it came from according honor to the formerly despised of Bolton—or of Ōsaka, or of Lake Wobegon—commoners exercising their liberty to relocate a factory or invent airbrakes.


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