American Elephants


Milton Friedman Explains Free Trade. This is the Classic.

This is a classic long (48 min.) lecture by Milton Friedman from 1978, in which he explains free trade and tariffs, how they work, why we get confused, trade deficits and government interference. There’s a long section where the film is bad (in the original) with snow/static/ interference early in the film, but it clears up fairly promptly at about 20.42 and remains clear for the remainder of the video. You can still hear Milton Friedman perfectly well throughout. Take notes. Play again until you feel confident that you have it down.

Here’s another, in which Milton Friedman debates a protectionist. It’s from January 2012, and is between Milton Friedman, Michael Walker, and Steven Cohen, from the “Time to Choose”series. This one is just over 15 minutes long.

Our politicians are just ordinary human beings like the rest of us, and they get just as many nutty ideas as we do. Many of the Republicans who are as yet uncomfortable with Donald Trump, are because of his misunderstanding of the Trade issue. Many assume that a “trade deficit” is a bad thing, but do not recognize that the excess dollars we pay for a large quantity of stuff from another country must be invested in the United States. This is not to suggest that there are not some very bad deals, but free trade is the goal.



It’s Going to Be a Very Ugly and Angry Campaign!

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This is going to be a poisonously vicious campaign. We have two candidates with very high negatives, and there are many in each party who are not happy with their party’s choice of candidate.  Here’s the Left’s reaction to Donald Trump’s nomination as the Republican candidate for the office of the presidency.

Do  you think that the word possibly went out that “dark” was the word of choice to describe Trump’s speech? Some threw in an extra word, like “resentful”, “Angry”, “diabolical.”Does an e-mail just go out to all the major leftist magazines and websites.? I’d love to see that one hacked. I’ve always wondered just how they do it, and how they get everyone to promptly fall in line.

Donald Trump’s speech pointed out the crime rate, the troubled cities dominated by minorities, the numbers of blacks killed, the numbers of policemen killed, black children killed. The reporters on the left rose as one and dashed for the fact checkers. Obviously racist to blame black people for killing other black people. And found to their astonishment that the figures quoted by Mr. Trump were absolutely correct.

Keep an eye out, next up will be assertions that Mr. Trump is fascist, and racist.  Rachel Maddow has already compared Mr. Trump to Hitler. (So original!) Here’s Salon:

The final night of the Republican National Convention was as confusing and incoherent as it was disturbing. Before Donald Trump brought forward his chilling imitation of history’s greatest fascists, Ivanka Trump and Peter Thiel made bizarre plays for the votes of women and LGBT people.

Ivanka Trump riffed on issues like equal pay and affordable childcare, which are typically Democratic issues. Thiel announced that he’s “proud to be gay” to wild applause from a roomful of people who are the very base that voted against the rights and dignity of LGBT people, over and over again.

Democrats are deeply worried. Hillary does not have the campaign skills that Bill did, people justifiably do not trust her, and the graft in which the Clintons engaged through the Clinton Foundation is beginning to become public knowledge. The people do not understand why she has not been indicted, and believe that the fix is in. And, frankly, she is just not likeable, and the Democrats know it.

Many Republicans are concerned about Mr. Trumps understanding of trade. He seems to believe that a “trade deficit” means that we are getting cheated. He is opposed to NAFTA which has been a very successful agreement for all three partners. He is  correct about the Trans-Pacific Partnership which is not a good deal for the U.S.

He has a large following among a very angry percentage of the population who are sick of illegal immigration, haven’t had a raise in years, are tired of excessive regulation, the faltering economy, and a president who is trying to run the country through executive orders, and ignoring the Constitution. Many black Americans have been disappointed in President Obama. They expected race relations to improve, not to develop into shootings and riots. Union members too, are responding to Trump’s message of hope. He has focused on the top issue of the day, which is the crime rate, and talked about creating jobs. The campaign has become more disciplined.

He said that Hillary has asked her people to chant just three words: “I’m with her!” Mr. Trump said he had a different chant that was also just three words — “I’m with you!”

It was a powerful moment.



We Thought They Weren’t Taking ISIS As Seriously As They Should!

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Some have said that Hillary’s greatest accomplishment as Secretary of State was to make John Kerry look competent.

Secretary Kerry was in Vienna Friday to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out hydroflurocarbons, or HFCs, from basic household and commercial appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, and inhalers.” (Offhand, one would think mid-July a poor time to be suggesting any ban on air conditioners and refrigerators)

Kerry was meeting with 45 nations’ defense ministers and foreign ministers, working together on the challenge of the Islamic State and terrorism. “It’s hard,” he said,” for some people to grasp it, but what we — you — are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.”

According to the Washington Free Beacon, “Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna that air conditioners and refrigerators are as big a threat to life as the threat of terrorism posed by groups like the Islamic State.”

Perhaps Mr. Kerry is merely following up on the Democratic Platform which calls for a WWII-Scale Mobilization to Solve the Climate Crisis:

Democratic platform 2016: ‘We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II. In the first 100 days of the next administration, the President will convene a summit of the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists, and indigenous communities to chart a course to solve the climate crisis.’

With all of the excitement focused on the GOP Convention in Cleveland, we missed the Senate Democrats’ “Web of Denial” Climate Change Event.

“Climate change is real,” asserted Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jean Shaheen (D-NH), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). So what? Gravity and sunrise are also real. That doesn’t imply we cause them or that we would be better off without them. Climate has been changing since the origin of the atmosphere. The only constant about climate is change.

Furthermore, the world has mostly cooled for the last 3000 years.

It is warmer in urban areas, because of manmade air conditioners and trucks and cars and concrete buildings that reflect heat. “But the only place where carbon dioxide (CO2) increase causes a temperature increase is in computer models programmed to show exactly that”.

Every record from every time period shows that temperature increase precedes CO2 increase, not the other way around.

We cannot predict the future. Everybody tries, but it just doesn’t work.Think 1929, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Paris, Nice, Orlando, and climate is no different.”Not even the world’s leading experts can meaningfully forecast future climate. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated the following in its 2001 Assessment Report:”

The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.

Dr. Tim Ball, climate scientist, adds “No wonder every single prediction they have made since 1990 was wrong! If your prediction is wrong, your science is wrong.”

“Across the world $1 billion is spent each and every day on climate science — and mostly wasted.”

So here’s a quick little quiz with just five easy questions to to test your climate knowledge, and those of your friends:



How Corruption Starts and How it Grows. All Perfectly Innocent of Course.

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Just a coincidence, or a sign of the times? Victor Davis Hanson’s column yesterday spoke of “Alphabet Soup Corruption” in which he pointed out that there is hardly a single government agency or cabinet whose reputation has not nosedived since 2008. Scandals abound, from the EPA to the IRS, NASA, VA, ICE, DHS, and the Secret Service, the GSA, HHS,  and Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, and many more.  I’ve been saving articles about agency scandals, and I’m getting quite a collection.

What do all these scandal and embarrassments have in common? Aside from the fact that many appointees were selected based on their progressive bona fides and that they saw their missions to promote liberal causes, sometimes even at the cost of overriding their own agencies’ mandates, there was a widespread sense that the law simply did not apply to them. The President set the tone with a series of executive orders that overrode federal immigration law. He arbitrarily suspended some elements of the Affordable Care Act for fear that they would prove unpopular in the months before the 2012 election, and has bypassed congressional oversight and jurisdiction, whether by sidestepping the Senate’s ratification of treaties with the Iran deal or allowing the EPA to create new laws regulating coal plants and water standards that were never ratified by Congress.

The ensuing message was that social awareness, fairness, and egalitarianism trumped the rule of law. And the result was that an IRS director, a Secretary of State, an Attorney General, and a Department of Homeland Security Director were assessed not by whether they executed the law but by whether they promoted a progressive agenda.

So today we have an announcement from the White House Council of Economic Advisors — supposedly an independent group of scholars and economists ‘who were supposed to give the president non-partisan advice on economic issues.”

Their idea seems to be that since college graduates are apt to earn more than those who have not gone to college, in the aggregate, then their earning more will boost the economy, therefore their debt is a good thing. American Thinker added:

Student loan debt has nearly doubled under President Obama, from $664 billion to $1.3 trillion. So how does being buried under a mountain of debt help the economy?

It doesn’t.

Not every kid heading to college will major in something that guarantees a financially rewarding career.  Think dance, or women’s studies, or any of the other “studies” majors. Offhand, I can think of far more majors that are not directed to a well-paid career than those that are. And young people often pursue that which is fashionable at the moment rather than rewarding. I recall a conversation with my daughter in which she announced haughtily that she just couldn’t see herself sitting in a cubicle shoving papers around on a desk. ( I should remind her of that one again).

As far as that goes, there are many very successful careers that do not require a college education. Peter Thiel has reportedly established the Thiel Fellowship Program for college students which offers  $100,000 to college students with venture ideas who agree to drop out of college and pursue their venture. He’s thinking of the kids who have ideas that “just won’t wait.”

There is some decidedly fuzzy thinking going on in the White House. President Obama assumes that every kid should go to college, which would eliminate all sorts of entrepreneurs and all sorts of careers. The idea that student loan debt boosts the economy is only loosely tethered to reality. Unemployed students or those defaulting on their loans leave taxpayers on the hook. Students may be too fiscally ignorant to be able to make good choices about how much debt is prudent. It should be the obligation of colleges to be good guides.

Colleges and Universities have grown lush with resort-like climbing walls and gyms, and way too many administrators. When the federal government raises the amount students can borrow, the cost of college goes up across the board. We need some serious fiscal restraint here.



Politics and Promises of Equality, When What the People Want is Their Freedom Back.

We are in an election season, so politics dominates the news, with ideas devised, not necessarily to improve anything at all, but to get votes. The season of promising big giveaways to the voters on the one hand, while promising to slash budgets on the other, with no apparent awareness that the two are incompatible. (Are you all conventioned out? And are you prepared for another one next week?)

Thomas Sowell, who always has his eye on basic common sense, addressed “the dumbest idea in politics,” which plays a very large role in political conversation. Dr. Sowell’s nomination for the most stupid idea in politics would be “the assumption that people would be evenly or randomly distributed in incomes, institutions, occupations or awards, in the absence of somebody doing somebody wrong.”

Political crusades, bureaucratic empires and lucrative personal careers as grievance mongers have been built on the foundation of that assumption, which is almost never tested against any facts.

A recent article in the New York Times saw as a problem the fact that females are greatly underrepresented among the highest rated chess players. Innumerable articles, TV stories and political outcries have been based on an “underrepresentation” of women in Silicon Valley, seen as a problem that needs to be solved.

Are there girls out there dying to play chess, who find the doors slammed shut in their faces? Are there women with Ph.D.s in computer science from M.I.T. and Cal Tech who get turned away when they apply for jobs in Silicon Valley?

Well yes, and the claim that the candidate will demand equal pay for women is loud on the campaign-trail, despite the fact that unequal pay for the same work has been against the law since 1963. Inequality comes from different career choices. Men and women make different choices. It’s quite natural—way back when humanity were hunter-gatherers, men were the hunters and women the gatherers. Human nature.

There are countries where children are expected to follow in the same trade as their parent. There’s no real opportunity to do something different.There are many countries where women are expected to care for home and children, and any other choice is unthinkable.

Discrimination plays a large part not only in politics, but as employment for attorneys. “Billions of dollars, in the aggregate,  have changed hands as a result of individual lawsuits charging discrimination,” Dr Sowell added.

The Left is deeply enamored with the idea that everyone should be equal, (except themselves of course). They welcome change in the interest of equality and individual liberty, although equality doesn’t really go with individual liberty. You have perhaps noticed that in their drive for equality, equality is supposed to come from vastly increased government regulation. Forced equality goes with their push for control of everything, which comes from lots of regulation from the wise and superior people in government agencies.

Why anyone would believe that would increase individual liberty is a mystery. The thing is, they just don’t like human nature  either, and want to fix it.  And they don’t like actual liberty at all.. They hate the First Amendment, the repeal of Citizen’s  United is in their platform, as is silencing anyone who ‘denies’ catastrophic global warming that is threatening our very survival, or at least the survival of Manhattan with the rise of the seas. Trouble with that is that some very important figures in the catastrophic global warming movement have revealed that their real goal is a vast transfer of wealth from the rich nations (us) to the poor nations, in the name of  — (of course) equality.

I think most Americans would rank freedom above equality. It’s freedom that allows people to have ideas and take it out to their garage and struggle to make it develop and grow, and in America there has usually been the possibility to take that idea and open a business without too much fear of government regulation and too much fear of endless red tape that makes a start-up impossible. The folks on the Left insist that they want new businesses and new jobs, but they cannot understand that the controls and regulation and requirements and fines and inspections that they find essential for control — kill the businesses they claim they want created.

When they have controlled and regulated ordinary people into more satisfactory people, and they have devised better rules for everyone to follow and better laws — we will have a better chance of reaching “that world as it ought to be” that the Obamas speak of. “The world as it is just won’t do,”they say, and they consider that a proper goal. They believe they have an obligation to strive for a brave new world.  Oh yes, that was the name of a book, wasn’t it? Oddly enough, writers of science fiction cannot stop demonstrating the dreadful results of trying to fix humanity. But then, we’ve had some real-life attempts as well — Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mugabe, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Mao Zedong, Saddam,  Assad — the list goes on and on.

Set free, ordinary people can do some pretty amazing things, like building a free country, and inventing all sorts of advancement in human life, curing disease and creating great works of art  and writing marvelous books to warn us about what could go wrong if we are not paying attention.



Crime in Major Cities, and How Long They Have Been Run By Democrats!

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A friend sent this comment:

I was just thinking – not long ago GM was building cars in Flint, Michigan and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico.

After 7 plus years of Obama’s administration, GM now builds cars in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint, Michigan.

Hope and Change delivered! Is this a great country or what?



“A Retreat from Proactive Policing Has Unleashed Mayhem in the City

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from City Journal

Chicago on the Brink

Heather MacDonald

Violence in Chicago is reaching epidemic proportions. In the first five months of 2016, someone was shot every two and a half hours and someone murdered every 14 hours, for a total of nearly 1,400 nonfatal shooting victims and 240 fatalities. Over Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot, nearly one per hour, dwarfing the previous year’s tally of 53 shootings over the same period. The violence is spilling over from the city’s gang-infested South and West Sides into the downtown business district; Lake Shore Drive has seen drive-by shootings and robberies.

The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum. (An early and influential Ferguson-effect denier has now changed his mind: in a June 2016 study for the National Institute of Justice, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri–St. Louis concedes that the 2015 homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was “real and nearly unprecedented.” “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian.)

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel warned in October 2015 that officers were going “fetal,” as shootings in the city skyrocketed. But 2016 has brought an even sharper reduction in proactive enforcement. Devastating failures in Chicago’s leadership after a horrific police shooting and an ill-considered pact between the American Civil Liberties Union and the police are driving that reduction. Residents of Chicago’s high-crime areas are paying the price.

……………………………………..(Do Read the whole thing)

The statistics are shocking. What we must pay attention to, however, are the incentives involved. When you tell residents of black neighborhoods that the reasons for many members of their families going to prison is not really because they committed a crime, but because the cops are racist, and the system is crooked, and tell them often enough, they’re apt to begin to believe it.

When neighborhoods come to believe that the cops are racist and don’t care about the black people they shoot, the police are inclined to back off a little more. When a cop is killed in the line of duty because the neighborhood believes they are racist, the police are more wary of stopping suspicious drivers or wading into s situation that looks like trouble.

That could all be perfectly innocent — just human nature. Policemen have families and want to go home at night. People in a neighborhood find it easier to believe the worst of cops than of their family members or next door neighbors. And so it escalates.

When the news on television blames the police, or the President of the United States suggests that he is going to pardon large numbers of federal prisoners because they are unjustly imprisoned by an unfair system — that seems pretty official, and likely true.

That hardly begins to touch on the incentives involved. When crime rates are high, fewer businesses are willing to locate in the neighborhood. With fewer businesses, there are fewer jobs, particularly for young men of an age to need their first working experience. If there are no jobs, there are drugs and gangs and petty theft and hatred of the police. Heather MacDonald enumerates the escalating steps, tragedy by tragedy, and on the other side the breakdown in order and control.

Accusations of endemic racism, economic injustice, housing segregation, mass incarceration, white privilege, disparate impact are problematic words that hurt more than they help.  Heather MacDonald’ s calm and careful analysis is important, and all parties involved would do well to understand her analysis.




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