American Elephants


Nancy Pelosi Wants to Raise Your Taxes, Among Other Things. by The Elephant's Child

I have long believed that Democrats simply don’t understand economics at all, but day by day it is becoming clear that is not only true, but drastically underestimates the situation.

Only today, a confident House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) predicted that in the upcoming ‘mid-terms’ in November, Democrats will take back the House and immediately push for amnesty for the so-called ‘Dreamers’ and more gun control legislation. She said that Democrats would “revisit” Donald Trump’s tax cuts and push for an infrastructure bill to “build the infrastructure of America—housing, schools, bridges, water.” You will note that “infrastructure” is always the magic word. She also spoke about building the country’s “human infrastructure,” including education and health care for young people and pension security for their families. She said Democrats will run on “fairness and justice.” Sure they will.

Bernie Sanders goes even farther. He advocates government jobs for everyone, free college, free healthcare, family leave, more generous social security, and probably lots more free stuff, but I couldn’t write that fast.

How does that work? Of course, it doesn’t. Democrats believe that they are the smartest people in the country. Hillary explained quite seriously that they were the enlightened, brilliant, caring and the people who voted for Trump were retarded, ignorant, racist backwoods “deplorables.” (She also said innocently that she had used that line at all her campaign meetings in the Hamptons and everybody thought it was a funny line.)

Back to economics. Guess which economic forecaster accurately predicted growth in 2017? Back at the end of February, the White House released the annual Economic Report of the President. Democrats like Jason Furman who served as the top economic adviser in the Obama White House, say President Trump’s forecasts were way too optimistic.  Mr. Trump says his tax cuts and deregulation will restore robust growth, and Mr. Furman called the Trump estimates “absurd.” James Freeman at the Wall Street Journal referred reporters to the report in which the Trump team predicted 2.3% real economic growth for the calendar year 2017. Which was right on the button.

How do you make an economy grow? Obviously something has to change. In the past the great moves forward have come in response to major innovation:  the Erie Canal opened the Midwest, the telegraph connected the coasts, the continental railroad, and now the internet and information technology. Trump has cut taxes for everyone, but the budget is still way too big and the national debt isn’t any smaller and Trump wants to build a wall clear across the southern border.

Quietly, Trump has begun to whittle away at the power and permanence of the ruling class by slashing regulations and limiting powers that Congress foolishly allowed the state to take over. The bureaucracy has a say over nearly every aspect of American private and commercial life with no accountability. Democrats are screaming bloody murder over Scott Pruitt’s actions at the EPA—sure that he is destroying the environment. He is not.

The EPA had moved to enhance government control over — the nation’s “navigable waters” which they construed as anything that flowed from your downspout into a stream that flowed into a river that eventually made it into a real navigable water. That’s an enormous amount of “control.” Bureaucracies issue “guidance documents” that provide business with directions about how to comply with the law. Sounds innocent, but Congress makes the law and leaves it up to the bureaucrats to implement them, so their suggestions pretty much have the power of law. For business, the removal of overbearing, useless regulations has been huge, because useless regulations come with a cost of compliance. Apply that freedom across the government, and no wonder business is passing out bonuses and raising salaries and having the money and freedom to expand and innovate.

Bad news for Democrats and the anti Trump mob. Jobless claims are near a 45 year low, job openings are near a record high, and growing shortages of skilled labor are forcing companies to increase pay or improve benefits to attract or retain employees according to Market Watch. The lead Democrats had at the end of last year is gone. Issues like gun control and immigration are not working. Most voters are crediting Trump, not Obama, with the strong economy.

The Mueller probe is falling apart as a federal judge has raised concern over the scope of Robert Mueller’s investigation. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson questioned whether Rosenstein’s “directive appointing Mueller granted him more authority than Justice Department regulations appear to permit” because Justice Department rules require that a special counsel be notified of a “specific factual matter” to pursue. Mueller’s team were even searching Manafort’s home and storage locker before Rosenstein broadened the special counsel’s purview in an August 2017 memo. The Nunes Committee is finally getting the information they have been seeking after threats of impeachment and disgrace, and it’s not pretty. Stormy Daniels was supposed to be the final nail in the Trump coffin, but it appears that the Trump voters don’t really care about an aging porn star.

Republicans are not inclined to fall in love with presidents. They approve or disapprove of what the administration is doing. They recognize American presidents as simply ordinary men with all the flaws and faults that means—called upon for a special job, and hope that they will measure up and do at least part of what needs doing. And we call upon the Constitution to keep them in line and instruct them in how to do the job. We seem to know a little more history than the Left does, and recognize that the desire for ever more control leads inevitably to tyranny. Freedom is messy. People say things that you don’t like, they argue, they may call you names, they try to regulate, to tell you what to do, to force you to do it their way — but to be free, to pass freedom on to your children, you have to tolerate a little mess.

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New York City 1911 by The Elephant's Child

1911. An immaculately preserved film of New York City. (The speed has been corrected and sound added for ambiance.) The film was taken by the Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern on a trip to America.

What happened in 1911? Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Charles F. Kettering (US) developed the first practical electrical self-starter for automobiles. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre (found in 1913 in Italy).  Irving Berlin published “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Winston S. Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty.



Life’s Little Surprises Always Await Us. by The Elephant's Child

In the Wall Street Journal today, James Freeman brought up the historic tax reform that Trump signed in December may turn out to be his finest hour, ‘trumping’ even  the firing of James Comey. So many companies have reported positive news from the tax law, even though it’s barely four months old.  The Journal calculated that the four giants of American retail banking— JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America have saved a total of $2.3 billion in the first quarter thanks to the new federal corporate tax rate of 21%, down from 35%.

Is that a big deal? Nancy Pelosi is arguing that the tax cut is a useless disaster, and when the Democrats get back in they will promptly raise taxes back to where they should be. (This is a campaign promise? Why?)

Wages have been growing. “Kroger, Walmart, Target Corp. and other food retailers are investing savings from the federal tax law to boost worker pay and benefits, ” the Journal reported recently. John Kartch at the advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform has been keeping a running tally of businesses (now 507) responding to their lower tax bills by announcing pay raises, bonuses, and higher 401K matches. The good news began to arrive almost as soon as President Trump signed the legislation.

Democrats seem to have a hard time getting their minds around the basic consequences of economic incentives. The Labor Department has reported that this is oficially the best job market for those seeking work in the history of  U.S. government statistics. Lefties are quite sure that the best results come from soaking the rich, by which they seem to mean the Koch Brothers, rather than themselves and their friends and supporters.

Ann Althouse notes that a new WaPo poll “finds that the gap between support for Deocatic vs. Republican House candidates dropped more than half since the beginning of the year.” A WaPo/ABC News poll found that 78 percent of registered voters considered voting for a candidate whose views on gun rights and gun control matched their own was either very or extremely important. 21% said it was somewhat or not important at all.

Investors Business Daily reported in an editorial on the macroeconomic effects of the tax reform bill. The Congressional Budget Office admitted that they had vastly overestimated the cost of the Trump tax cuts, because it didn’t account for the strong economic growth they would generate.

In any case, the CBO now expects GDP to be $6.1 trillion bigger by 2027 than it did before the tax cuts.

The CBO report also makes clear that this faster-growing economy will offset most of the costs of the Trump tax cuts.

In a table buried in the appendix of the CBO report, it shows that, before accounting for economic growth, the tax cuts Trump signed into law late last year would cut federal revenues by $1.69 trillion from 2018-2027.

But it goes on to say that higher rate of GDP growth will produce $1.1 trillion in new revenues. In other words, 65% of the tax cuts are paid for by extra economic growth.

Well, goodness. There might just be some reason to question conventional wisdom. The Center for Immigration Studies reported a few weeks ago that Trump’s Wall on our Southern Border would, over time, pay for itself, because illegal immigrants add a lot of cost with their dependence on welfare, crime, benefits and health care.  Who knew?  One can only urge Ms. Pelosi to keep railing about the necessity of raising taxes.

Among other surprises, a previously unknown asteroid the size of a football field had a near miss with Earth on Sunday. It came within one half of the distance to the moon.  It was the largest known asteroid to pass that close to Earth in observational history. Life always has interesting little surprises for us, even if we are paying attention.



We Aren’t Recognizing the Anger and Despair! by The Elephant's Child

Former FBI  Director James Comey’s new book is being released today, and he will be on a long book tour trying to push the book. He hates President Trump, whines like a 9-year-old, and reflects badly on the organization that he formerly headed. He expected Hillary to win, his wife was really excited about having a female president. He has not behaved well, and serious FBI people are concerned for the reputation of the agency.

Democrats clearly expected Hillary to win, but for the most part they seem to be pretty much done with her. I think that it wasn’t so much Hillary’s loss, but that red map of all the counties in the country that went for Trump. I suspect that they didn’t even consider the possibility that Trump might win, it was unthinkable. All those Republicans, a despicable bunch, and most of the Democrats had particular Republicans to hate, but the idea that Trump could triumph attacked all of their sureties, their world view, the things he espoused were beyond the pale — cutting taxes, closing the border.

Republicans aren’t all that inclined to fall in love with presidents. They recognize that presidents are only ordinary men, with all the flaws and faults of ordinary men, perhaps a little more so, when they suddenly become “the leader of the free world.” The “Never Trumpers”, certified members of the ruling class, were appalled by his tweeting, although many of them were on Twitter as well, but a president—tweeting? Clearly beneath the dignity of the office! His speech offended! Dan Bongino, who is from Queens, said Trump talked like someone from Queens who was in the construction trade. Trump told the people what he thought, and who he did not like nor trust. Beneath the dignity…

Barack Obama was, as someone said—a real good talker. Flowery words, designed to rouse the emotions, but fairly devoid of meaning. But people were thrilled, including the Nobel Prize committee, Not much follow through.

I think it’s that map. The Democrats lost control of practically everything, a huge,  immense loss. Their reason for everything is control. They are the intelligentsia. They are destined to run everything as soon as they dispose of the annoying Republicans. They went to the best schools, they run the biggest companies, they have the most billionaires, and all the movie stars, and the Republicans are backwoods people, racists, sexists, deplorables from flyover country. Who even knows what is down there when you fly from one enlightened coast to the other? Hillary thought it was her due, her destiny. She’s still out complaining, but the Democrats are done with her, and looking for someone who can restore their rightful place in the universe.  Joe Biden?



Business is Demanding to be Regulated. Bad Idea. by The Elephant's Child

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We seem to have entered an age where business executives assume that it is acceptable to do politics with their business. Businesses have, of course, long favored policies that help them to do business, and supported whatever politicians established the policy. That’s perfectly natural. But suddenly we have private-sector businesses entering the political fray, using their corporate budgets to silence free speech, sign on to very contentious political issues without the slightest awareness that there is a large mass of customers who may be offended.

“The reason that capitalism has managed to create real economic growth of 1.5% annually, and a 19-fold  increase in living standards over —the last two centuries — is because when people treat the marketers and inventors  as having some dignity and liberty, innovation takes hold.” (Those words are from economist Dierdre McCloskey). The reason why innovation has created and is continuing to develop computer connectivity, artificial intelligence and all that can lead to— is because business has been free of government control. There are many countries where such freedom does not exist, and government tells business what to produce and how and when, where and with whom.  Perhaps these executives were too busy with technology to study a little history: perhaps The Gulag Archipelago, or maybe Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom.

Milton Friedman, in his 1962 classic, presented his view of the proper role of competitive capitalism — the organization of economic activity through private enterprise operating in a free market — as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom.

Economic freedom is not going to work when some businesses chose to boycott other businesses for political reasons. They are dealing with the public, their customers, who can choose to boycott too, and are doing so.



The Left: Explained! by The Elephant's Child

Here is a speech by Dennis Prager, given a few years ago, in which he summarizes, or explains the Left. Do you find yourself wondering a lot— why are they doing this? Why are they saying this? What is the matter with these people?

Not much has changed in the past seven years. The Left is still Left, searching for more power so they can get rid of those pesky Conservatives who are so annoying, and so wrong about everything.

Oh, new terminology pops up now and then, but they continue to regard us as uneducated racists from flyover country. They seem unable to consider or recognize consequences. Life is full of miseries, but if we just let them be in charge, they would all be fixed.

In spite of all evidence to the contrary, they remain sure that if only they don’t have to be bothered with the dissent from us, they will create a brave new world where everyone is equal and there are no more wars and everything and everyone is properly diverse, and no one will be poor or needy and…

It’s a 40 minute video, so watch it tonight if you must, but it’s really worth your time.



Diversity Is Not Important. Merit Is. by The Elephant's Child

Heather MacDonald visits the “Diversity Debate” in her column today. The problem is apparently Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who “is being hammered for reportedly having rejected identity politics in favor of meritocracy. (Do read the whole thing, it’s short)

In the workplace we are supposed to ignore the knowledge and ability one brings to the job in favor of the color of one’s skin? Zinke is currently facing media criticism because he allegedly said that diversity is “not important,” and of course he absolutely correct. It is not.

(T)he Interior Secretary is being condemned for allegedly saying that he discounts racial categories in hiring, and prefers “having the right person for the right job.” This position, uncontroversial for decades, was the essence of Martin Luther King’s vision of a colorblind, merit-based society. Treating people the same way regardless of their race or sex used to be considered the definition of fairness; now it is understood to be vicious and intolerable.

We seem to be living in an era when the Left is seriously messing with our understanding of ordinary language and thought, and our minds.  Time to re-read 1984? The Constitution, written way back in the 1700’s, is outdated and needs the refreshing criticism of  a bunch of 17 year-olds who know better what it should say. Populism is supposed to be something bad, since it is the will of the people. Merit is undeserved. Only skin color matters, but is it trumped by ethnicity? Gender is a matter of your feelings at the moment. Citizenship is not only not important, but a question that should not be asked on the Census. The 12,000 gun-related homicides a year are heavily concentrated in inner- city neighborhoods that are afflicted with drugs, gangs and crime. There are serious  problems in the current understanding of the meaning of free speech. Universities have small designated spaces where one can go to practice free speech, which is not acceptable elsewhere.

If the tech companies want to know what ads I’d be most likely to be interested in, I’d be happy to answer a questionnaire, if they would stop monitoring my presence online.  And I have this odd idea that businesses have no business playing politics. If they want to financially support  a candidate privately, that’s their business. If they want to do politics then they should resign from business and do politics. But if they want to be political while asking customers to support them, they’ll be out of luck.




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