American Elephants


Technology and Us: Can We Learn How to Adapt? by The Elephant's Child

tigerstone@2xWhat people pushing for a higher minimum wage don’t get, is that there are hundreds of people with no, or low skills who want to work for money. They are easily replaced. But when they have learned how to work and have skills, they can take that resumé on to a better job.

When government decides what businesses must pay their workers, they run into the problem of costs. A business exists only if it can make a profit over and above the cost of doing business. When the costs become excessive, the business adapts or goes out of business. It’s that simple.

We have written about Momentum Machines, and about McDonald’s new cashiers. Now comes news of a new San Francisco Restaurant in the financial district named Eatsa (?) that is fully automated. Customers will order from an iPad, sending the meal to the kitchen. When the order is ready it appears in a small glass compartment.  (awful name)

In Japan, the Nanna-na hotel, which opened in July, is completely human-free, using robots for every task, from cleaning rooms to managing check-in to check-out.

The machine pictured above is resurfacing streets in Europe, and here is a new bricklaying robot, or SAM —semi-automated mason. It is a robotic bricklayer being used to increase productivity as it works with human masons.

In this human-robot team, the robot is responsible for the more rote tasks: picking up bricks, applying mortar, and placing them in their designated location. A human handles the more nuanced activities, like setting up the worksite, laying bricks in tricky areas, such as corners, and handling aesthetic details, like cleaning up excess mortar.

Even in completing repetitive tasks, SAM still has to be fairly adaptable. It’s able to complete precise and level work while mounted on a scaffold that sways slightly in the wind. The robot can correct for the differences between theoretical building specifications and what’s actually on site, says Scott Peters, co-founder of Construction Robotics, a company based in Victor, New York, that designed SAM as its debut product.

“In construction, your design will say that a window is located exactly 30 feet from the corner of a building, and in reality when you get to the building, nothing is ever where it says it’s supposed to be,” Peters says. “Masons know how to adapt to that, so we had to design a robot that knows how to do that, too.”

Somewhere in the archives I have a video of an automobile factory in Germany — all as elegant, or more so, than the dealer’s showroom, where robots do almost everything and the workers aid and assist the machines. I think it was a Volkswagen factory, but it may be Mercedes, which is probably why I can’t find it.

The point is that robots are continually going to take over simple repetitive jobs. Once you have the machine, it doesn’t have sick days, no problem of getting along with co-workers, spending time on the phone talking to friends, doesn’t ask for raises or days off. We are going to have to learn how to adapt in a changing world.



The Difference Between Republicans and Democrats: by The Elephant's Child

OLD STORY, WORTH REPEATING:

A Republican and a Democrat were walking down the street when they came to a homeless person. The Republican gave the homeless person his business card and told him to come to his business for a job. He then took twenty dollars out of his pocket and gave it to the homeless person.

The Democrat was very impressed, and when they came to another homeless person, he decided to help. He walked over to the homeless person and gave him directions to the welfare office. He then reached into the Republican’s pocket and got out twenty dollars. He kept $15 for administrative fees and gave the homeless person five.

Now you understand the difference between Republicans & Democrats.



Here’s The Difference Between Republicans And Democrats Spelled Out Clearly! by The Elephant's Child

Here’s a post from the archives, from about the same time last year. I repost it because nothing essentially has changed.Treasury-Secretary-Jack-Lew-seeks-rational-budget-approach

Here’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans —clear and simple.

President Obama has nattered on about “Economic Patriotism” and what they call “Corporate Tax Inversion.” Some corporations are finding it to their advantage to locate their headquarters in a country with significantly lower taxes. Medtronic is acquiring the Irish company Coviden and moving its corporate headquarters to Ireland.

The problem is American corporate taxes — which are the highest, at 35 percent, among the advanced economies in the world. Not only that, but the U.S. also taxes the income that American corporations earn overseas — something no other country does.

Democrats are up in arms. How dare they pick up and move? It’s not even patriotic to not pay taxes in your own country. Democrats intend to make “Economic Patriotism” a major issue in the fall campaign. (Good Democrats all hate big business).

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who should know better, has advocated “anti-inversion legislation.” Democrats are afraid that if a few companies do this it will open the floodgates and all sorts of American companies will locate abroad. Corporations who operate in the United States would still pay taxes on all the income earned in the U.S. but they won’t be paying double taxes to a foreign country and to the U.S. That gets very expensive, very fast.

There is, of course a very simple solution. You cut the corporate tax rate back to a rate more in line with other nations — or, gasp, even below. Yes, this is a Republican thing. Republicans like to cut taxes. The result would be a burst of activity from business, hiring, expanding, growing. The economy might even actually recover. It is how we have recovered so quickly from past recessions when Republicans are in charge.

Burger King has purchased Canada’s Tim Horton chain of coffee and donut shops, and plans to move their headquarters to Canada, where tax costs will be 46.4% lower. Canada has lowered their corporate tax rate from 43 percent in 2000 to 26 percent today. How much tax revenue did Canada lose by the dramatic reduction in their corporate tax rate? None. The lower tax rate raises more money.

For Democrats, this simply does not compute.

Secretary Lew said the corporate tax moves would mean that “all other taxpayers —including small businesses and hardworking Americans—will have to shoulder more of the responsibility of maintaining core public functions that everyone, particularly U.S. businesses, depends on.” Sigh. This man is the Secretary of the Treasury!

Lew’s remarks, delivered at an event hosted by the Tax Policy Center in Washington, came the same day Bloomberg News reported that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) will soon introduce a bill that would slash the amount of interest an inverted firm can deduct from its U.S. income from 50 percent to 25 percent.
That will fix everything. Cut their deductions. Maybe they will lay off a few more people, and Obama’s recession will go on and on and on.
When we are considering all the potential candidates for the presidency, don’t doze off when one of them talks about taxes. It’s one of the big reasons why the economy is still in the tank, and why none of Obama’s efforts will provide the new jobs that are needed.


Over-regulated! Over-controlled! Over-angry! by The Elephant's Child

If you wonder why the recovery from the last recession has dragged on and on in the slowest recovery since World War II, you can blame the Left’s compulsive drive for ever more control. They are perpetually discontented and want to fix things, sure that a new regulation, another rule, a new organization to control things will somehow fix everything.

Wayne Crews is vice president for policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Every year he compiles CEI’s annual 10,000 Commandments report on federal regulations. He found six official, but different, counts of the number of federal agencies. He started looking for dark matter rules that are pushed through memoranda and press releases outside the regular lawmaking processes, and realized that it was difficult to determine how many rules were coming out if you couldn’t be sure how many agencies exist. If you can’t get a list —that’s too many.

Agencies are issuing guidance, but it can be hard for businesses to know who they are regulated by. And if that is the case, to whom they apply for clarification, or relief. Everybody is fed up. They are tired of being told what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot say.

Businesses cannot act for fear of regulations that will be imposed. What restaurant would expect a federal regulation that all of the ingredients in their pizzas would have to be displayed with a calorie count for each ingredient?

Who would expect the EPA to propose two new rules Monday to protect drinking water from harmful waste chemicals — after they just polluted the waters of five Western states with their toxic spill from the Gold King mine tailings?

In Florida, the Ocheesee Creamery is being forced to dump gallons upon gallons of good, natural skim milk because the state is requiring the business to label its good, natural skim milk “imitation ” because they haven’t added anything to it. This has become a legal battle with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs (DACS) which insists that what is commonly called skim milk — whole milk with the cream skimmed off — cannot be called “skim milk” unless it is artificially injected with vitamin A. The Institute for Justice is helping the Wesselhoefts take their case to federal court.

The creamery got into business to sell an all-natural product. The judge said “It’s hard to call this imitation milk. It came right out of the cow. Anyone who reads imitation skim milk would think it didn’t come out of a cow.”

The case of Il Mondo Vecchio is different, but similar.  The “Old-World-style salumeria” was similarly dedicated to natural products. The FDA was having none of that and requiring that these sausage makers, adored by Denver foodies, add nitrates,nitrites and preservatives to their meats. After a long discussion with the FDA the owners determined that the requirements forced on dry cured sausage products was detrimental to the quality of the product, and they shut down their business.

President Obama announced that he had a phone and a pen, and if Congress would not cooperate, he’d do it himself.  He has already imposed 1,568 new regulations, and 38,000 Federal Register pages this year. In 2014, there were 3,541 rules and regulations and 78,978 pages in the Federal Register. Who do these people think they are? The direction comes from the White House, as does the example. Wayne Crews noted that:

“This administration has made significant use of Executive Memoranda compared to earlier ones. That practice and other kinds of federal agency ‘Regulatory Dark Matter’ like guidance documents, memos, bulletins, letters, lawsuits, notices, press releases and blog posts need serious attention from policy makers.

“For example, there are 11,932 Notices issued by agencies so far in 2015; most are ordinary announcements like meetings and hearings (which do matter); but some even are considered ‘significant.’ “

You see announcements like this every day: “Report: Obama coal plan will boost electricity bills 16%, drive companies offshore.” It becomes mind-numbing. Do you wonder why people are angry?

The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office.                     Ludwig Von Mises, 1944

 



Do You Save Quotations? Here’s a Good One! by The Elephant's Child

From Steven Hayward

Liberalism’s irrepressible drive for an ever larger welfare state without limit arises from at least two premises upon which the left no longer reflects: the elevation of compassion to a political principle (albeit with other people’s money) and the erosion of meaningful constitutional limits on government on account of the idea of progress.



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.




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