American Elephants


Regulation, Red Tape, and the Heavy Hand of Government. by The Elephant's Child

The health of small business may be the most important indicator of long term growth in our economy. But this spring has been a hard time for small business. Only 119,000 jobs were added in March, and although April and May saw the jobs market perform better, small businesses who make up the bulk of payroll services firm Paychex Inc.’s customers said the measure of small business hiring was off by half a percentage point by the end of May. Not a good sign.

In today’s world,  when the shift from a manufacturing economy to the information economy is the major trend in American business, the health of small business may be the most important indicator of long term growth. We need hundreds of thousands of creative new small businesses led by entrepreneurs who are attempting to take advantage of the riches of the information sector to provide new products and services.

The Left’s push for a higher minimum wage, and Obama’s new order to force businesses to pay overtime to anyone making less than $50,000 a year will simply encourage the proliferation of robots, electronic cashiers, and more part-time workers. Over time the creativity of entrepreneurs could provide the new jobs that will replace the ones being automated or outsourced. Cheap money and relatively cheap labor should be helping, but a number of factors are at work. We have an administration that deeply believes that more regulations makes life better, which is clearly part of the problem.

Big businesses can cope. When the minimum wage jumps to $15 an hour, a chain of drugstores can afford to install automatic checkout machines that won’t get $15 and hour plus overtime, plus healthcare, plus sick leave, plus being late for work. It’s not so easy for small business.

Control and Regulation and the heavy hand of government  have a cost. The Left is basically clueless. This time it’s affecting us all.



Look Out! The IRS is Going After Small Businesses who Help Workers Buy Insurance. by The Elephant's Child
July 2, 2015, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care | Tags: , ,

Female Owner Of Coffee Shop

Some small businesses who reimburse their employees for the cost of the premiums for individual health insurance policies, or who pay their employees heath costs directly will be fined up to $36,500 a year — per employee — under a new Internal Revenue Service regulation that took effect July 1, 2015.

The IRS is considering an employer arrangement that reimburses or pays for employee individual health premiums to be “a group health plan” that is subject to the $100 per-employee per-day penalty. The penalty applies whether the reimbursement is considered a before-tax or after-tax contribution.  This doesn’t sound like it would pass the smell test in the courts.

That penalty is enough to destroy most small businesses.  This rule under which small businesses that get caught helping their workers to buy insurance or pay medical bills —can be fined 18 times more than large businesses that don’t provide coverage at all.

Under the rule, which appears nowhere in the Affordable Care Act, employers who do not offer a group health plan, but give their workers additional pay to compensate for the purchase of health insurance or direct medical expenses can be fined $100 per day, per employee.  Over the course of a year that’s $36,500 per employee up to $500,000 in total.  The penalty on businesses for failing to comply with the employer mandate is only $2,000 per year. …

In fact, according to NFIB research 14 percent of small businesses that don’t offer group insurance reimburse their workers instead.  They think they’re doing a good thing but they’re walking into a minefield.

There is legislation in both houses awaiting action (S. 1697/H.R. 2911).

This seems to fall into the “You Will Obey” category.  The EPA also goes in a big way for enormous fines designed to make people fall into line quickly. I wonder how many owners of small businesses have even heard of this regulation? Typical Obama administration act — force compliance, issue more regulations, and be completely puzzled about why the economy is still in the toilet — but brag about the success of administration policies in the marvelous recovery.  Sigh.



Things Work Better Without Obama’s Overtime Rules by The Elephant's Child

When President Obama is not busy with annoying problems of national security and terrorism,  he will soon grant millions of workers overtime pay. Just a quick signature with his executive pen. Obama just does not understand how business works. He had, according to his biography one brief job in the private sector as sort of a copywriter, which he hated.

Businesses that pay salaried workers less than $455 a week currently  have to pay overtime as well. As a result, many companies, Obama says, are “skirting basic overtime laws, calling somebody a manager when they’re stocking groceries and getting paid $30,000 a year. He wants to raise the threshold to $50,400, which he says will make 5 million more workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay.

Journalists praised Obama’s generosity because he was going to “bring overtime pay to millions,” which assumes that businesses who are employing these newly overtime-eligible workers won’t change anything, they’ll just start paying them time-and-a-half.  Journalists  don’t understand how business works either, unless they specialize in business or economics.

If those workers weren’t getting a market wage, and were underpaid, given their skill levels and  the work they’re doing, they’d get another job. The Left has a view of economics that involves vicious managers who are raking it in, and almost enslaving poor workers who desperately need the benevolent hand of government to force companies to pay them a fair wage.

So in an economy where so many are out of work, businesses are hurting, Obama will fix things by insisting that everybody raise workers’ pay. And he’ll  issue more regulations. Some companies will make sure that workers don’t put in overtime, or ban overtime completely. Or they’ll bring in more part-time workers to avoid the wage hit, or perhaps they’ll just lay off some people. Or maybe they’ll just raise their prices, forcing consumers to pay for Obama’s generosity.



The EPA’s Enormous Land Grab by The Elephant's Child

unofficial-stream-small-custom-e1339556645568The EPA  has just finalized one of the biggest land grabs in American history.

Just reprimanded by the Supreme Court, the EPA is anxious to try their luck again. Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA was  granted the authority to regulate the navigable waters of the United States to see that they remained clean.

Under the Clean Water Rule, all  “tributaries” will be regulated by the federal government. Broadly defined, which they intend, this means  anything moist that eventually flows into something that can be defined as a “navigable river,” including the roadside ditch above, and even smaller trickles.

Under the same rule, the word “adjacent” is stretched from the Supreme Court’s definition of actually “abutting” what most Americans regard as a real water of the United States to anything “neighboring,” “contiguous,” or “bordering” a real water, terms which are again stretched to include whole floodplains and riparian areas. Floodplains are typically based on a 100-year flood, but a separate regulation would stretch that to a 500-year flood.

And, finally, under the rule, the EPA cynically throws in a catch-all “significant nexus” test meant as a shout out to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States when, in fact, the EPA’s rule makes a mockery of Kennedy’s opinion and of no fewer than three Supreme Court rulings.

Under the three approaches, no land or “water” is beyond the reach of the federal government, never mind the traditional understanding of private property or state and local control of land use.

Farmers, ranchers, dairymen and everyone in rural America are in panic mode. Not only does this rule allow the EPA onto their land, but it throws wide open to environmental group-led citizen lawsuits that promise to go far beyond what the EPA envisioned. Citizen lawsuits are controlled only by the rule. The rule carries with it fines to the tune of $37,500 a day. The EPA has a habit of imposing fines big enough to scare the accused  of whatever violation into immediate compliance.

I grew up very rural, and I’m sure city people cannot imagine the havoc this rule could cause. Although here in the Seattle area, a good portion of our lawns could be considered wetlands for a portion of the year. It rains a lot, and there is runoff. Farmers and ranchers spend a significant amount of time ditching, or controlling the flow of water where it is not wanted.

The goal of the Environmental Protection Agency has little to do with the environment, but only to do with how environmental regulation can be used to further their political goals of control, ending private property, and bringing on the utopia where everyone is, at last, truly equal. Well, except for those in charge, of course.



When the Crazies are Demanding Censorship, Jonathan Rauch Speaks Out for Free Speech by The Elephant's Child

Most of the idiocy about anything Confederate, anything critical of gay marriage, unisex bathrooms, comes from the Universities. When the Humanities have turned to Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Diversity and microaggressions and triggering, and for the most part dumped Shakespeare as another dead white male, it’s getting really weird out there. Apple has dumped all their military games that include the Civil War, Amazon. Walmart, eBay and Sears have all dropped any reproduction of the battle flag like a hot potato. University buildings must be renamed, statues and memorials are being defaced.

Book-burning comes next. They have already announced that Gone With the Wind must go, but that’s probably the only Civil War book they know, clearly they haven’t read any history. When the current hysteria dies down, we need to speak out, as Jonathan Rauch has long done, and is doing now in recognition of its importance.

The gift shop at the Gettysburg memorial has just eliminated the Confederate Battle Flag from their merchandise. Apparently we were fooled all along, it was just a maneuver where the Yankees fought Yankees, for what reason I don’t know.



It’s Cute, It Folds Up to Park in Your Garage, And It’s Amphibious! by The Elephant's Child
June 18, 2015, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, News, Science/Technology, Sports | Tags: , ,

KWP_2200_TA-582x395

They have had years of delays, as is common when seeking approval for something from the federal government, but Icon Aircraft is finally getting approval for its A5 Light Sport amphibian aircraft. Futurists have been promising something like this as long as I can remember, usually a flying car. This one is a two-person airplane, which doesn’t just land on water as well as land, but it folds up for easy towing and garage parking.

The FAA issued an airworthiness certificate for this unusual plane, giving it’s official go-ahead for commercial production. Icon can now start delivering to the more than 1,250 customers who have already placed their orders.

The IconA5 is classified as a Light Sport Aircraft, a two-person plane meant to be easier to learn on than more traditional aircraft. It’s a new classification of 7F0A4457_IL-482x321Sport Pilots that can fly in lower altitude, uncongested airspace, during good weather. The appeal is that getting a license will take much less time and money than what is needed for a traditional private pilot license.

It has an Angle of Attack indicator, a feature usually on military aircraft that basically shows when a wing will stall. It also has spin-resistant design, and is one of the first planes to meet the FAA’s spin-resistance standards. An airplane specifically designed to mitigate those risks will attract attention. Full production will begin in September. The price tag is just under $200,000. Kind of cute.



Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airship — the Next Revolution. by The Elephant's Child

You learn something new every day. I had no idea they were working on this. I’ve long been familiar with dirigibles.  Used to drive by the hangar near the freeway just north of San Jose, fairly frequently. The working model pictured is 1/3 scale, so Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airships — the real ones — would be huge.  Able to go to areas with little transportation and no highways or runways.  The possibilities seem endless. Fascinating.




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