American Elephants


The Miraculous Explosion of Human Progress in the Past Two Centuries by The Elephant's Child

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“Two centuries ago, the average world income per  human (in present day prices) was about $3 a day It had been so since we lived in caves. Now it is $33 a day—which is Brazil’s current level and the level of the U.S. in 1940. Over the past 200 years, the average real income per person—including even such present-day tragedies as Chad and North Korea—has grown by a factor of 10. It is stunning. In countries that adopted trade and economic betterment wholeheartedly, like Japan, Sweden and the U.S., it is more like a factor of 30—even more stunning.” That’s from an article by economist Dierdre McCloskey.

An American, on average earns $130 a day, China is roughly $20 a day, and India at $10 after their release from a crippling socialism of $1 a day. And the growth of material plenty has been stunning. McCloskey quotes Matt Ridley in his book The Rational Optimist (2010) that what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” There is no end to what people can do when they are set free to have ideas and have the freedom to act upon them. Once you have the ideas, getting the wherewithal to do them is simple because they are so obviously profitable.

“The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has one primary source: the liberation of ordinary people to pursue their dreams of economic betterment.” How very odd then that the Progressives are so sure that the only route to a better world is for enlightened leaders like themselves to control and regulate the economy, and the people. (As I just said, they really don’t understand cause and effect).

The Heritage Foundation just released their annual report on the tide of red tape that threatens to drown American consumers and businesses. The Obama administration has added 20,642 new regulations during his presidency. More than $22 billion per year in new regulatory costs were imposed on Americans last year.

Professor Richard A. Epstein wrote in an article for the Hoover Institution that:

One of the most disturbing trends in the United States is the relentless concentration of power in the federal government. Ever since the New Deal, the classical liberal vision of limited government and strong property rights has taken a back seat to a progressive vision of a robust administrative state, dominated by supposed experts, whose powers are largely unimpeded by legal constraints. Wholly apart from Congress, the new administrative state has adopted and enforced its own laws and regulations, and is defined by unilateral actions by the President and other members of the executive branch, all of which threaten the system of checks and balances built into the original constitutional design.

The Leftists are so sure of their moral superiority, and that their aims are correct that they feel no need to study up on the questions of the day. Obama frequently notes that some things are “on the right side of history” and others are on “the wrong side of history. “Cosmic forces both agree with him, and are unimpeachable. Anything to do with climate is “settled science”and those who disagree should be punished.

Yet one gets the distinct impression that the president has never read a word of the science, and only seen that which is presented to him as from “unimpeachable sources,” without considering the possibility that there is another view.

The view that it is freedom that releases people to come up with the ideas and that the generation of new ideas leads to more and more creativity, growth and prosperity is so foreign to the philosophy of the Left that they are literally frightened of what people might do if left without the guidance of the enlightened and morally correct public servants of the nation’s capitol. For our “public servants’, Herb Meyer remarked recently, Washington D.C. is not a city, it is a profession.

We must be guided, controlled, and led down the correct paths to a brighter future. There is no other way.

See: “The Myth of Progress” by  Victor Davis Hanson, from the Hoover Institution.

The Rise of American Socialism” by Paul R. Gregory, from the Hoover Institution

 



Leftists Don’t Understand “Cause & Effect” And That Makes a Huge Problem for the Rest of Us! by The Elephant's Child

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Progressives, Liberals, Lefties consistently have trouble understanding cause and effect. I’ve been noticing this for quite a while, particularly in relation to crime. That is where the famous “Butterfield Fallacy” comes in( well, maybe not famous, but it should be.) Fox Butterfield was a reporter for the New York Times, “whose crime stories served as the archetype for his eponymous fallacy.”

“It has become a comforting story for five straight years, crime has been falling, led by a drop in murder,” Butterfield wrote in 1997. “So why is the number of inmates in prisons and jails around the nation still going up?’  He repeated the trope in 2003: “The nation’s prison population grew 2.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 1999, according to a study by the Justice Department. The jump came despite a small decline in serious crime in 2002.” And in 2004: “The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.”

The Butterfield Fallacy consists of misidentifying as a paradox, that which is a simple cause-and-effect relationship. You put more bad guys behind bars, and the crime rate goes down. Lefties disapprove of sending people to prison because they believe it to be racially discriminatory. “In 2004 almost 10 percent of American black men were in prison” and it diverts tax money from what should be higher priorities. I’ve written about this a number of times, but I have a hard time recognizing how pervasive the inability to understand cause and effect is.

Today’s problems also include the “Ferguson Effect” which has resulted in policemen being more hesitant to arrest or deal with crime, especially in the black community — because of the blowback from the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson MI.

When the demand for a higher minimum wage began to circulate, we explained that a minimum wage was a starting wage for beginners, and low because they weren’t worth more, and there was no end to the numbers of people who wanted a starting-out job. We explained that most get a raise within the first 6 months. We mentioned automation. But the Lefties said “you can’t raise a family on the minimum wage.” Of course you can’t — the minimum wage is for beginners.

So Lefties are raising the minimum wage legally (government has no business telling businesses how much they must pay workers). Well effect follows cause and Wendy’s Restaurants are installing self-service kiosks in their approximately 6,000 restaurants across the country in the second half of the year. There are 258 Wendy’s in California where the minimum wage has gone up to $10 an hour. The former CEO of McDonalds warned that Robots cost less than paying a $15 minimum wage. Hillary jumped in on the controversy to demand an end to disabled workers’ exemption from minimum wage requirements — and got a stinging rebuke from economist Don Boudreaux.  Cause and effect.

Greenies usually use Denmark as a stunning example of the beneficial use of natural wind power. Well, Denmark is abandoning wind power. Danes’ cost of energy has been climbing and climbing, with 66% of the bill being “green taxes” and only 15% going to energy generation. Denmark’s energy prices were the highest in Europe, and politicians are abandoning wind power as too expensive. Greenies celebrate the natural source of energy, but the problem remains that wind does not blow at the correct speed to generate power even most of the time. They’ve tried to remedy that with taller turbines, more exotic minerals, better designs — doesn’t matter. The cause is the nature of wind, the effect is unaffordability.

In desperation our federal government has raised the numbers of eagles and other birds that the wind farms and solar arrays can chop up or fry each year, But that too is a cause and will have an effect — not yet recognized.  In the meantime, the world’s largest solar array at Ivanpah which has never produced the electricity they promised (cause) and is under enormous pressure to do something — did. It caught on fire.

Keep an eye on the inability of the Left to grasp this simple fact, you will find that it explains a lot.



It’s Not Really About Transgenderism by The Elephant's Child

The Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has added a new rule change to the Affordable Care Act. All health providers receiving taxpayer dollars must perform sex-change operations or lose their federal funding.

Can government possibly become any more absurd? Sex-change operations do not change anyone’s sex. That is not possible. Sex is determined by your DNA and cutting off temporarily offending organs does not change sex, but merely mutilates. Transgenderism is a dysphoria, or mental problem. Other dysphorias are Anorexia, whose victims see themselves as fat and essentially starve themselves to death. Bodily dysphoria has led victims to amputate healthy limbs, or if they cannot find a surgeon who will do it, amputate Cat mantheir own. Several cases who identify as cats have been reported.

The new rule sates that under Title IX any hospital receiving funding from HHS must “treat individuals consistent with their gender identity.” The administration sent letters to every school district in the country mandating that they open bathrooms lockers rooms and showers to all students, regardless of their biological sex.

The drive for transgender bathrooms is part of the Cultural Marxist attack on modesty and personal privacy. Children should be taught from an early age that sexual behavior is harmless physical gratification, completely unimportant. There are no consequences of physical gratification that cannot be prevented or “taken care of” by a visit to the doctor. Marriage and the family are only lifestyle choices, and not different from any other. Useless people can be disposed of by physician assisted suicide, minor misbehavior should not mean punishment and things like shoplifting, drug use, petty theft, fraud, or forgery should be misdemeanors.

Cultural Marxism demands a compliant state-dependent population who will vote as they are told, and request ever more comforts from an overpowering government. You can see the results in Venezuela, where a hamburger costs $170, and food is getting desperately short. And there’s Cuba, of course. Lots of examples. The kids are being trained in government controlled schools, or haven’t you noticed the nuttiness going on in our colleges? A generation of progressives went a little crazy in the sixties, and they have never really recovered. They don’t want to be told what to do, they want to protest and man the barricades and really want a real revolution, as long as there isn’t any violence and nobody hurts anyone’s feelings.



Even If You Are Really Tired of Politics, There’s Still Some Humor To Be Found! by The Elephant's Child

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Polls apparently told Hillary that voters, besides finding her untrustworthy, doubted her ability to grow the economy. So, in Kentucky, wooing a crowd, she promised that she and her husband would restore the economic prosperity of the 1990s. She has an assignment for her husband, she said, if they return to the White House. The former president, she told voters, will be “in charge of revitalizing the economy.”

“Because, you know, he knows how to do it,” she said. “Especially in places like coal country and inner-cities and other parts of our country that have really been left out.”

Mrs. Clinton mentioned her idea for her husband while speaking at a rally outside a home in northern Kentucky. Earlier this month, she said she had told Mr. Clinton that he would need to “come out of retirement” to help put people back to work.

It has been 24 (almost) years since the newly elected Clintons moved into the White House, so Hillary can probably be excused a lapse of memory. They came to Washington D.C. with a plan that they would be co-presidents, and the American people would get a wonderful two-for-one deal. The American people wasted no time in letting the Clintons know that they did not elect Hillary to be a co-president, and that simply was not going to happen.

Hillary made a lot of noise about not staying home to bake cookies, and other ‘don’t try to make me the “little woman” comments,’ but she fell in line. First Ladies usually have a cause they support — Laura Bush supported Libraries and reading, Ladybird Johnson espoused highway beautification, and wildflowers, Michelle has attempted to change what school kids have for lunch. I had to consult Google to find out what Hillary’s cause was — silly me, it was HillaryCare! One might consider that as food for thought. Besides, it was a Republican Congress that forced Bill Clinton to go along with their efforts to fix the economy, he just bowed to the inevitable.

Also interesting is that at the same time that Obama is out talking about the success of his tenure in office and his revitalization of the economy, the two Democrat candidates are talking about how awful the economy is and how the American  people have suffered.



What the Heck is BREXIT ? They Sound a Lot Like Our Revolutionaries Back in 1776! by The Elephant's Child

BREXIT stands for the British exit from the European Union, and the British people will vote on whether to leave or stay on June 23.  It’s a very, very big deal. This is an hour long movie, so you’ll want to watch it in the evening. It’s very well done, with many of my favorite Brits explaining why the European Union does not work — Daniel Hannan, James Delingpole, Matt Ridley, Janet Daley, and Melanie Phillips.

The movie explains how the European Common Market seemed like such a good idea after World War II, how it morphed into the European Union, and what happened when the regulators took over.

It’s a remarkably Leftist Union, sure from its beginnings that control and regulation would fix all the wars and arguments and end poverty and hunger and, well you’re familiar with all the unfilled promises of the Left. When President Obama stopped by in Britain in April, he wrote an op-ed in The Telegraph to tell the British what they needed to do to get full U.S. support—which included staying in the EU, and unsurprisingly ignited a firestorm. Bad manners, but Obama would like the control and regulation and unaccountable government, as he has so clearly demonstrated. Angelina Jolie was just there to tell the Brits not to even think of leaving.

The movie explains how it all came to be and the immense, smothering, unaccountable bureaucracy that it has become. It is a dire warning to us about the rights and possibilities we might well lose if we continue to allow the Left to govern our country. Do set aside time to watch history being made across the pond.



Let’s Have Some Really Good News for a Change! by The Elephant's Child

Here at home, the plumbing disaster has evolved into a replace a bathroom adventure. Sorry about the light blogging, but some days that just the way it goes. This is merely the beginning.

So I will turn to good news for a change. How’s this for a headline? “The Era of Great Famines is Over” Here’s Paul Ehrlich writing in The Population Bomb in 1968,

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

—India has been suffering from widespread drought in 11 states across the country, yet the country’s foodgrain production is actually set to grow marginally, the third advance estimates released by the agriculture ministry on Monday showed. The grain production for human consumption for 2015-2016 is estimated at 252.23 million tons, marginally higher than the 252.92 million tones produced in 2014-2015 according to the data. If the estimates hold up, it implies that the damage to the farm economy is less than was feared, but also demonstrates a bit of resilience of Indian agriculture to a deficit monsoon.

—Ethiopia is moving from being “the world’s symbol of mass famines to fending off starvation.” Ethiopia could choose to avoid another disaster because “Famine isn’t caused by overpopulation, and as Ethiopia’s experience shows, it’s not a necessary consequence of drought. Politics creates famine, and politics can stop it.” The New York Times, May 8 , 2016

—South Africa aims to be malaria free by 2018. The National Health Department in confident that they can reduce locally transmitted cases to zero, because they have already managed to reduce cases dramatically.

Malaria accounts for 40 percent of all public health spending on the continent, killing up to 438,000 people each year mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

But, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s world malaria report for 2015 states that there’s been a major decline in global malaria cases and deaths since the year 2000, with the mortality rate decreasing by 60 percent.

—In the middle of the political season, everyone seems to be angry, unhappy with Congress because they didn’t stop Obama from using his phone and his pen to accomplish all the things that he could not get through Congress, and decided to accomplish by executive order.. The media is fascinated with following unpredictable candidates around, so we aren’t hearing all that much from the rest of the world.  From Guy Sorman at City Journal:

Worry over America’s recent economic stagnation, however justified, shouldn’t obscure the fact that the American economy remains Number One in the world. The United States holds 4.5 percent of the world’s population but produces a staggering 22 percent of the world’s output—a fraction that has remained fairly stable for two decades, despite growing competition from emerging countries. Not only is the American economy the biggest in absolute terms, with a GDP twice the size of China’s; it’s also near the top in per-capita income, currently a bit over $48,000 per year. Only a few small countries blessed with abundant natural resources or a concentration of financial services, such as Norway and Luxembourg, can claim higher averages.

“America’s predominance isn’t new; indeed, it has existed since the early nineteenth century.” By the 1830s American per-capita income was already the highest in the world. It wasn’t just our size and natural resources, for other countries had those attributes.

They couldn’t compete with Americas strong intellectual property rights. The U.S, Constitution was the first in history to protect intellectual property rights, and “secured for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Two hundred years later, the U.S. has more patents in force —1.8 million—than any other nation. American wages were significantly higher than those in Europe, which meant that landowners needed high levels of productivity, which meant that the mechanization of agriculture got under way in America before it did overseas.

America’s enormous territory and “the freedom people had to move and work across it” encouraged an advanced division of labor, which is essential to high productivity.

Globalization is having the same effect today, making prices drop by assigning the production of goods to countries that are relatively efficient at making them.

Immigration has been another component of American economic dynamism, for evident quantitative reasons: national GDP grows when total population and productivity increase simultaneously. But this effect has worked particularly well in the United States because its immigrants have tended to be young, energetic, and open to American values. Immigration is a self-selecting process: those who find the courage to leave behind their roots, traditions, and family often have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Guy Sorman adds:

In the current sluggish economic environment, the remarkable history of American dynamism is thus more instructive than ever. America’s economic might is rooted in an entrepreneurial culture and a passion for innovation and risk-taking, traits nourished by the nation’s commitment to the rule of law, property rights, and a predictable set of tax and regulatory policies. Policymakers have lost sight of these fundamental principles in recent years. The next era of American prosperity will be hastened when they return to them.

Do read the whole thing. It’s not long.



Another Dismal Jobs Report From an OverRegulated Economy by The Elephant's Child

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The American economy added the fewest number of jobs in April—in seven months.  The job gains in April were the smallest number since last September, and below the average of 200,000 new jobs. Nonfarm payrolls increased by only 160,000 jobs, a disappointing number when the population continues to grow. The numbers for February and March were revised to show 19,000 fewer jobs than originally reported.

The unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent, but that was because more people were dropping out of the labor force.

A separate report explained why the U.S. economy isn’t adding as many jobs as it used to. Wayne Crews from the Competitive Enterprise Institute rolled out his annual report card on federal regulation called “The Thousand Commandments.” Rules and regulations from the federal government are now imposing $1.9 trillion in annual costs on the U.S. economy. Add to that official government spending which adds up to $3.9 trillion—that’s a big chunk of taxpayer money going to the government.

Remember, the government has no money of its own. Every cent comes out of taxpayers’ wallets. That means that people have less and less to spend, and when the people don’t spend, business suffers. It’s not enough that sales are down, but the government feels it necessary to tell businesses what to do and how to do it.

The Left has a great deal of trouble understanding this simple fact of life. They believe it is their task to tell businesses how to operate, under what circumstances, and what rules, and then are simply astounded when the number of new jobs fall and business isn’t prospering and creating jobs. Simply demanding extra paperwork means somebody has to take time away from other more useful tasks to fill out more reports. That costs money. Hoover Institution senior fellow John H. Cochrane reported in early May that:

Sclerotic growth is America’s overriding economic problem. From 1950 to 2000, the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 3.5% annually. Since 2000, it has grown at half that rate—1.76%. Even in the years since the bottom of the great recession in 2009, which should have been a time of fast catch-up growth, the economy has only grown at 2%. Last week’s 0.5% GDP report is merely the latest Groundhog Day repetition of dashed hopes.

Here’s the problem. Republicans talk about cutting regulation and a free market economy, and most people doze off before they even get to the nitty-gritty. But if you want creativity, businesses hiring and expanding, that’s how it happens. Progressives think that it happens by federal agencies demanding more hiring and making more rules for how they should go about it. They assume that anyone working in a government agency is by nature smarter and more attuned to the real world than people who actually work for a living.

A perfect example is a study that shows many employers are hiring more freelancers to avoid having to pay for the increased costs of health insurance caused by the Affordable Care Act. “Nearly one-third of companies intend to work towards “eliminating”  healthcare benefits because of the ACA and 60 percent intend to hire more freelance employees than full-time people. We told them that ObamaCare was going to cost lots more than they expected, but they didn’t believe it.

 




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