American Elephants


Why Do They Never Learn? Socialism Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

BN-KA013_venloo_J_20150825170528How is it possible, in a world that has demonstrated so clearly that Socialism simply does not work, to have a candidate for the office of President of the United States who is an avowed socialist? Barack Obama may not adopt the label, but his efforts to expand government control over ever more of the economy, to regulate American lives, and to strive for more redistribution of wealth and “social justice” or forced equality have no relation to free markets and free people.

Democrats’ big ideas aren’t working. Detroit, under Democratic governance has declined from America’s richest city to a cesspool of poverty. New York, cleaned up under Rudy Giuliani, has declined into crime again, and New Yorkers are not only complaining, but becoming fearful.

San Francisco, designated as a “sanctuary city,” has that designation to thank for the murder of Kate Steinle by an illegal alien who had been deported over and over.  In 1994, the voters approved a “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law which led to  overcrowded prisons. The Supreme Court in 2009 ordered the state to reduce the prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity, or one inmate per cell.

That led to Prop 47, which reduced many felonies to misdemeanors, and an 50,000 reduction in the prison population and a rise in crime. The responsibility for incarcerating prisons was turned over to local sheriffs. Neighborhood are not as safe. People are moving out of California in droves. Yet “Black Lives Matter” is a very real drive to blame the high murder rate in inner city neighborhoods on policing. There are always unintended consequences.

Social justice in California has led to a wealthy coastal corridor and poverty in the rest of the state.

If the failure of Democrats’ ideas of social justice utopias in America don’t convince you, let’s turn to the newly-reopened embassy in Havana. Obama said that if 50 years of isolating Cuba had not worked, we should try something else. But precisely what does he mean by hadn’t worked? Cuba is a poverty stricken country where the people have to line up for bread, the 1950’s era cars are not there because they are quaint and picturesque, but because that’s all they have. Fidel Castro, on the other hand has been listed in Forbes as one of the world’s richest men. A lot of arms dealing, narco-terrorism, that sort of thing. Viva  la revolucion!

Obama’s big idea seems to be that if America just stops being the big bully, throwing our weight around, and offers our helping hand in peace, while removing all sanctions and barriers, then they will reciprocate because they care about their people and their children. Unfortunately, no they don’t.

In Venezuela, it’s all falling apart. Socialism is in a death spiral. The people have to stand in line for hours to buy ordinary staples like corn flour or laundry soap. Looting and violence are on the rise in supermarkets, but there’s nothing on the shelves anyway. No toilet paper, food shortages, people are going hungry.    There are fights when delivery trucks arrive with chicken or milk. The break-even price for Venezuelan oil is estimated to be $151 per barrel.  Today’s  price for Brent crude   is $47.10.

Supporters of the ruling Socialist Party note that the network of subsidized state-run grocery stores created by late president Hugo Chavez and financed by plentiful oil revenue helped reduce poverty and hunger during his 1999-2013 rule.

Typically, the late  Hugo Chavez’s  second-eldest daughter  may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela. Maria Gabriela Chavez reportedly has stashed away a cool $4.2 billion in American and Andorran banks according to Diario las Americas. The ruling class typically does pretty well.

Hugo Chavez  was, after Fidel Castro, the tin pot dictator most admired by Democrats in Hollywood and Washington.

When Senator Bernie Sanders describes himself as a socialist,his critics point to such experiments as Cuba and North Korea, but they explain, no, no Democratic socialism. Socialism does not work.

Nicholas Maduro has been cracking down for years on newspapers, radio, any source of free speech. You cannot have free speech and a socialist government. Have you not noticed the Obama administration’s attacks on free speech?

Venezuelans are running out of food, and starvation is possible. Medicines, even the most usual kinds are unavailable. Everything the Maduro government does makes things worse.

Armed soldiers monitor supermarkets as part of an effort the president calls “Operation People’s Liberation.”

The picture is simply one of the lines for non-existent food in Venezuela.

 



The Clean Power Plan Is Not So Clean by The Elephant's Child

blobPresident Obama is embarked on his Clean Power Plan, in an effort to fulfill the last of his campaign promises, and put in place some kind of legacy — so he has something to put into the billion dollar presidential library he is planning.

You remember the megalomaniacial claim — “this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.” It just hasn’t gone well. Health Care costs are spiraling out of control, we are in the most sluggish recovery ever, millions have just dropped out of the job market.  The oceans rise only in millimeters, not the feet that Obama seems to fear.

The Clean Power Plan is one of the most controversial mandates ever to be attempted. The EPA has received over 1.6 million comments on the proposed rule which attempts to reduce CO2 emissions from conventional power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. But the American power sector’s CO2 emissions are now at their lowest level since 1988, and this is with a larger population and increase energy use. In 1988 we had a population of 245 million,  today there are 319 million energy consumers. Roughly 50 percent more electricity is generated, yet emission levels are low.

So will the Clean Power Plan have a significant impact on global carbon dioxide emissions? No. The expected reductions in emissions would reduce global temperatures by about 0.03 degrees Celsius by 2100. An analysis of the proposed ruling by NERA Economic Consulting estimated that the Clean Power Plan could cost the electric sector between $41 billion and $73 billion per year, and accomplish nothing, nothing at all.

The Reason Foundation takes on the Clean Power Plan’s main claims and finds them wanting. The White House claims that the plan will “Save the average American family nearly $85 on their annual energy ill in 2030, reducing enough energy to power 30 million homes, and save consumers a total of $155 billion from 2020 -2030.”Sounds like a lot like the expectations for ObamaCare. In reality, Reason says, the rule will almost certainly spend more in total on energy and energy saving devices than without the rule. Do read the whole thing, it’s a significant debunking.

Britain, Canada and Australia are all cutting back on subsidies for renewables, as is Germany as well. Spain ended their subsidies some time ago.

Anthony Watts at wattsupwiththat writes about a report “exposing coordination between Governors, the Obama White House and the Tom Steyer-“Founded and Funded” network of advocacy groups to advance the “climate” agenda, revealing a vast, coordinated, three track effort by public officials and private interests to promote EPA’s expansive, overreaching and economically devastating greenhouse gas rules, specifically the section 111(d) regulation to shut the nation’s fleet of existing coal-fired power plants, as well as the December Paris climate treaty President Obama is expected to sign to replace the Kyoto Protocol.”

The exposé details a campaign to use public offices, in very close collaboration with wealthy benefactors, to advance and defend President Obama’s climate change regulatory and treaty agenda. This quasi-governmental campaign involves more than a dozen governors’ offices with a parallel advocacy network and political operation funded and staffed by activists paid through ideologically and politically motivated donors.

So there you go. In spite of the attractive sounding name, the Clean Power Plan is just not what it is cracked up to be. It has been suggested that the States can just refuse to go along.



Thanks, Obama! U.S. Drops to Number 20 In The Human Freedom Index. by The Elephant's Child
August 21, 2015, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Environment, Health Care, Freedom, Progressivism, Taxes, Capitalism, Regulation, Bureaucracy

The Cato Institute, the Libertarian think-tank, publishes an annual Human Freedom Index, ranking 152 countries in the world according to the level of liberty enjoyed by its citizens.

The index represents a broad measure of human freedom. which can be understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 76 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in these areas:

Rule of Law
Security and Safety
Movement
Religion
Association, Assembly, and Civil Society
Expression
Relationships
Size of Government
Legal System and Property Rights
Access to Sound Money
Freedom to Trade Internationally
Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business

This reflects the degree to which people enjoy the freedom to engage in voluntary exchange and enjoy major liberties such as freedom of speech, religion and association. Also measures freedom of movement, women’s freedoms, safety and security and the rule of law.

Hong Kong and Switzerland top the list, followed by Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Malta, Luxembourg, Chile, Mauritius —and finally, The United States at Number 20, followed by the Czech Republic, Estonia, Belgium, Taiwan and Portugal.

The U.S. was 17th in 2014. but think of EPA regulations, scheduled speakers disinvited, the government confiscating a big chunk of a raisin farmer’s crop, ObamaCare regulations, you might try tallying up the new constraints you have seen or felt. Swat teams breaking into the wrong house, Lois Lerner, the attack by the Left on anything connected to the South and it’s Civil War history. The attack on free speech has been not only notable, but widespread — things you cannot say. So we are at number 20 and declining. We talk a lot about the Left’s drive for increased regulation and increased control — and just look at where that’s got us!

11-Liberal-Gated-Community-copy



Schooling the FDA On The Meaning of the First Amendment by The Elephant's Child

_78425952_517716225I’m afraid I’m becoming something of a crank, grumbling constantly about the depredations of bureaucracy. The Food and Drug Administration has believed its powers so encompassing that it can even prohibit drug companies from making true statements about their products unless they are approved by the FDA.

A federal judge has just called this political control a violation of the First Amendment. Once the FDA has approved a new drug for FDA specified uses, physicians often repurpose them in other doses, or for other diseases, or for entirely different patient populations. A drug designed for breast cancer might prove effective against tumors in other parts of the body, or a medicine for adults may prove effective for pediatric care. About one of every five U.S. Prescriptions is for non-FDA approved uses.

In a small miracle, these off-label experiments are legal, and they drive innovation. The artificial conditions that the FDA demands for clinical trials are increasingly divorced from how medicine is practiced, and modern care advances far faster than the FDA’s regulatory molasses. Off-label use is vital for complex conditions like cancer and psychiatric disorders that require trial and error for individual patients, who can’t wait years for the FDA’s blessing.

But the FDA and Justice Department are targeting off-label prescriptions as a threat to their hegemony. Their goal is to force drug makers and physicians to seek FDA approval for every new real-world use, as if it were an entirely new drug. Until recently, drug makers were banned from making off-label claims backed by solid evidence or even from distributing peer-reviewed journal articles.

Prosecutors have also become increasingly aggressive. In 2012 GlaxoSmithKline paid $1 billion for encouraging doctors to use Paxil to treat depression in patients under 18, which research shows helps although the FDA has not endorsed this conclusion. The FDA construes some forms of off-label promotion as crimes, and people are serving jail time.

The nature of a bureaucracy is to grow, prosper, be better rewarded monetarily and extend its reach. Was there ever a bureaucracy that thought that much that they did was unnecessary, and they should probably downsize for the benefit of the taxpayers? I rest my case.

Judge Paul Engelmayer explained to the FDA that if they believed that a different use of a drug gravely undermined the drug approval process, it should have sought review of that decision, not tried to liken distributing information to an assault on their drug-approval authority, and tried to compare it to illegal speech such as blackmail or insider trading. Free speech wins one!

 



The Great Unlearning: How Our Society Became So Stupid. by The Elephant's Child

Bill Whittle takes on the big problem.

Parents? The Schools? Television? Social Media? The Press? Hollywood? Absence of knowledge of history, math, economics, in favor of gender, sexism, racism, inability to read? What is most important and what should we tackle first?



Climate Change is Now a $1.5 Trillion Industry by The Elephant's Child

climate-changeThe Climate Change Business Journal has calculated that Climate Change is now its own $1.5 trillion global “climate change industry” that is growing at between 17 and 24 percent annually from 2005-2008. Following the recession, growth slowed to between 4 to 6 percent with the exception of a bump in 2011 of 15 percent growth. These results were published in the Insurance Journal, for the climate journal is not available for free online.

The publication includes nine segments and 38 sub-segments including renewables, green building and hybrid cars. It also includes the climate change consulting market which the journal estimates at $1.9 billion worldwide, and $890 million in the U.S. The consulting market is expected to double in the next five years. The report’s authors believe the climate change industry as a whole will grow even faster. The Climate Change Consulting market  had billings of $600 million in 1976 and today generates $27 billion.

One of the most lucrative segments of the industry is consulting, risk management, and of course legal and other professional services. That’s why “green” businesses donate so heavily to politicians who believe in global warming issues. Policy is one of the biggest drivers of growth in the industry. If Obama’s Clean Power Plan survives legal challenges it may be a big driver of further growth.

So if “Big Green” is a $1.5 trillion industry, that will buy a whole lot of scientists around the world. It is a major funder for the Democratic Party along with unions. And it is an industry that can survive only by relying on the coercive powers of government. That’s a lot of crony capitalism.



Employment and Unemployment for July, 2015. by The Elephant's Child

So the job situation for the month of July remains — dismal. There were 215,000 new jobs in July, a little less than the expected 225,000. 93,770,000 working-age people, 16 and older, aren’t working. This takes us back to 1977 levels of employment, and we are a bigger country now. This is a 36-year low. A record 56,209,000 women are not in the work force.

Since 2007, 1.4 million manufacturing jobs have been lost. There are 1.4 million new waiter and bartender jobs that have been created in the same time period.

Possibly a more interesting discussion for the debates? How are you going to fix this one?

Unemployment




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