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.



Hard Work, Opportunity, Perseverance or Just Luck? by The Elephant's Child

A year and a half ago, California voters passed Proposition 47, also known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” How could anybody vote against that? Silly, why do you think they give propositions names like that?  What it effectively did was to decriminalize a bunch of crimes, including shoplifting.

What do you suppose would happen if you decriminalize shoplifting? For normal people it’s fairly obvious, but for Democrats it is puzzling. They believe that crime is the fault of society, bad parents, lack of a good education, poverty, drugs, or lack of opportunity, not the fault of the victim who stole something that did not belong to him.

So what happened to shoplifting in the absence of punishment? It more than doubled. It has made the struggle of small businessmen to survive far, far more difficult. Anything valued at less than $950 keeps the crime a misdemeanor, which means the criminals won’t be pursued and there will be no punishment. Some shoplifters carried calculators to total up the stuff they had grabbed to avoid re aching the $950 barrier. The ballot measure also lowered the penalties for forgery, fraud, petty theft and drug possession. You might get a ticket. It’s a slap on the wrist the first time, the second time and the 20th time.

Proposition 47 was backed by George Soros money. Newt Gingrich wrote an editorial in support of it.

It is time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on locking up low-level offenders. Proposition 47 on the November ballot will do this by changing six nonviolent, petty offenses from felony punishments (which now can carry prison time) to misdemeanor punishments and local accountability.

The left’s interesting relationship with crime continues. President Obama told graduates at the historically black Howard University that they are living in an era of unprecedented opportunity, but he was speaking to the inequities blacks face. He excused crime at one point as a result of an “unfair and unjust system” and said that success is all just”luck.” He went on to claim that crime was a result ot the system, not the actions of criminals.

That’s a pet peeve of mine — people who have been successful and don’t realize they’ve been lucky. That God may have blessed them; it wuddn’t nothin’ you did. So don’t have an attitude.”

This line invokes his “you didn’t build that” gaffe from 2012 when Obama insisted that people with a successful business “didn’t build that” on their own and that government was really the catalyst for success.

The President’s commencement message is essentially that if you are black in the U.S. and you are successful, it was just luck and most blacks are held down by an “unfair and unjust” system that won’t allow them to succeed

What an odd point of view and what  a troubling speech to graduates. If you are not responsible for your own success or failure—but it’s all just luck, then you don’t have to take responsibility for much of anything, and nobody can blame you for anything.  Explains a lot.

Does that point of view effect the whole Democrat Party? California’s Prop. 47 goes right along with their Sanctuary City policies, and the decline of San Francisco into a remarkably dirty city. I can remember when if ladies wanted to go to “the city” to shop or attend an event, they wore hats and gloves. But that was a long time ago, and San Francisco was a different place.



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.



Private Property Rights Seem Unimportant Until They’re Yours, and They’re Gone. by The Elephant's Child

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Andy and Katie Johnson own a small 8-acre ranch near Bridger, Wyoming, on which they run 10 head of cattle and 4 horses. A creek runs through the property. Mr. Johnson wanted to build a stock pond to water his animals. He got approval from the local government and from the State of Wyoming, and they invested most of their savings in building the stock pond. Birds, fish and other wildlife came.

So did the EPA, who went after the family for violating the Clean Water Act. EPA Director Gina McCarthy used the Johnson family to test the power of the EPA in advance of the passage of their harsh new rules. The rule wasn’t even passed when Ms. McCarthy took out her pen and her phone.

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EPA regulators showed up at the Johnson property in 2014, and announced that the Johnsons were facing a “very serious matter.” The EPA claimed the Johnsons violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA claims the pond discharges into other waterways. Mr. Johnson was ordered to restore the property to its pre-pond state, according to EPA rules for restoration, and pay a fine of $37,500 a day until it was completely restored, and face criminal charges as well.

The EPA’s new rule is a power grab, clean and simple. When Congress created the Clean Water Act, they neglected to define “water.” Big mistake. The Supreme Court defined “the waters of the United States” as “navigable waters” which the EPA promptly redefined as anything that flowed into the navigable waters, and believed they were justified in tracing the “navigable waters” right back to your downspout. Imagine! I’ve used a picture of a trickle in a roadside ditch to point out what they are after. Ms McCarthy wants to be a Commissar of the EPA’s own Empire.

The Johnsons refused to cave in, and enlisted the help of Wyoming Senators Barasso and Enzi, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, and the Libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation. The Clean Water Act specifically excludes stock ponds. No matter.The fines had reached $16 million when Mr. Johnson’s counter lawsuit against the EPA reached the courts.

More than two years later, Johnson won. In a settlement reached with the EPA, he gets to keep his pond, he won’t need to get a federal permit, the EPA fines have been removed, and all Johnson agreed to do was plant some willow trees and limit access to a portion of his pond for a while.

Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Jonathan Wood called the settlement “a win for the Johnson family, and a win for the environment.”

The federal government stormed onto private property, threatened  a family with massive fines (could $37,500 a day be any more absurd?) and walked away only after being countersued. While the Johnsons were being harassed, the EPA was finalizing their new rule to cover anything from prairie puddles to power plants.

A lawsuit filed by several states came to a halt when a federal judge in North Dakota blocked the EPA from enforcing the rule, which the judge said was “arbitrary and capricious.” The judge ruled that the injunction be applied to all 50 states, but the EPA decided that they would go ahead and enforce the rule in the states that hadn’t sued, until an appeals court stepped in and blocked that runaround.

The EPA has been slapped down by the courts repeatedly for overreaching , but they are zealots — intent on power. “The environment” has become a magical word to which  every business is careful to genuflect. That’s power. Packages and papers come with a notation to ‘please recycle’. Laws protecting the people from polluted air or polluted water are in place.

The EPA is reduced to scanning archives for old studies, not necessarily valid, that will give them a legal leg to stand on. Words are parsed for other possible meanings. Your freedom and property rights depend on a lawyer asking the right questions to get you off whatever hook the EPA decides to impale you with. The agency has long outlived its usefulness and needs to be disbanded permanently.

This is how you suddenly wake up one morning to find yourself resident in a tyranny — with no rights at all. Democrats are quite up front about their contempt for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Constitution provides only Impeachment as a remedy for “high crimes and misdemeanors” — not for overreaching with executive orders and pardon powers and the regulations handed down by agencies established by the executive. We’d all better pay real attention. Government is not a spectator sport.




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