American Elephants


California: A Failing Utopian Vision by The Elephant's Child

California is becoming the most watched state in the union. The worst-managed state. threatening secession, or division, insisting on whatever the rest of the country is doing, they will go in another direction. And Washington State is trying to follow in their wake,

Here’s Victor Davis Hanson trying to explain what’s gone wrong and why. Our most populous state, a sanctuary state, broke, and people and businesses are fleeing the state for anywhere where taxes are lower and housing costs are sane. People are living in motor homes, sheds, turning a single apartment into a dormitory. Facebook and Google are apparently building a new town to house their workers.

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Empathy, they claim. But Generosity Requires Wealth With Which To Be Generous. by The Elephant's Child

In the countries that most enthusiastically embraced capitalism” some two hundred years ago, real, per capita economic growth has increased by 1.5 percent annually. Owing to the miracle of compound interest, this increase has meant a 19-fold increase in living standards over the past two centuries which, she contends, is a “change in the human condition” that “ranks with the first domestication of plants and animals and the building of the first towns”… this enormous economic result had a cause that was cultural rather than economic. Humans did not suddenly become more acquisitive or creative. Rather “when people treat the marketers and inventors as having some dignity and liberty, innovation takes hold.” The new respectability of bourgeois life, the belief that the creativity of capitalism’s creative destruction more than offset its destruction, was the decisive attitudinal change that rendered human life in the past two centuries decisively different from what it had been throughout the preceding millennia.

This is from William Voegeli’s The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal CompassionAbout Economist Deirdre McCloskey. The quotations are from McCloskey. Voegeli adds: In McCloskey’s view, “I don’t much care how ‘capitalism ‘ is defined, so long as it is not defined a priori to mean vice incarnate.” The default position for modern thinking, however, characterizes :commercial society at the outset to be bad by any standard higher than successful greed.”

You will find Voegeli’s Never Enough on the same page. I recommend both highly. They’ve been out for quite a while so there are very inexpensive used copies as well.



The Impossible Dream of Socialism and Social Welfare by The Elephant's Child

From William Voegeli’s Never Enough:

“The socialist dream of organizing an economy around the purposes of advancing social welfare, as it is governmentally determined and meted out, seems destined to remain an abstraction irrelevant to the world’s political and economic needs. One strange result of the collapse of socialism, and the absence of any other credible way to avoid relying on markets is that the welfare state is heavily dependent on the health of capitalism. The government cannot disburse wealth that never gets created, and creating the wealth required for modern, prosperous societies without the knowledge conveyed by prices set in markets appears to be impossible.”



How’s Socialism Doing in Venezuela? by The Elephant's Child



Here’s What “Draining the Swamp” Really Means! by The Elephant's Child

“Draining the Swamp” is a newly popular phrase for trying to rein in the overgrown government in Washington D.C. that seems to be leading to an administrative state — a catastrophic error devoutly to be avoided. Philip Hamburger has written a splendid assessment titled Is Administrative Law Unlawful and a companion The Administrative Threat which explain just what we have to worry about.

Investors Business Daily has written about just how it works.

What was first proposed by Congress as a modest law to assess the environmental impact of highway construction and other publicly owned projects, has grown into a bureaucratic monster, the likes of which no one ever imagined.

Nearly a half-century ago, before major federal environmental laws existed, Congress wanted to ensure that all federal agencies consider the environmental impact of their actions. This well intended action led to passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

America’s permitting and regulatory process is now so tightly bound in red tape, virtually no major energy or construction project can be accomplished without years of permitting delays, involvement of multiple government agencies, and seemingly endless  litigation. According to a 2016 review by the National Association of Environmental Professionals, it now takes an average of 5 years to complete one NEPA environmental impact statement. This timeline doesn’t include the years of litigation that routinely follow every major energy and construction project.

In North Dakota a badly needed drinking water project was held up in permitting and court for nearly 15 years. Colorado is still waiting after 10 years of trying to expand a reservoir to boost their drinking water supply. Everyone recognizes that the permitting process is a huge problem. The Obama administration ran into it with his stimulus program, and tried to speed up the process. But what is needed is not just “fixing” the rule, but to reform the NEPA process by making environmental permits a “one agency, one decision” deal, include a two-year deadline. For most NEPA permits, a lawsuit can be filed up to six years after the project ends. Environmental activists often simply do not want any change to take place in the area of their concern, and will use all kinds of silly lawsuits to end or slow development. The “endangered species” idea can be used anywhere, if you can’t find a specimen, but there may be large quantities on the other side of the ridge.

The Obama administration imposed a record 600 major regulations, which added rules that cost the economy $100 million or more at a rate of every three days.

President Trump is taking on the issue of permitting reform head-on, laying out a comprehensive plan to streamline approval for major infrastructure projects. A big part of the cost of any infrastructure project is red tape, which I’m sure he knows well from his construction projects. So far by the end of December had saved some $8.1 billion in net federal regulatory costs. The impact on the larger economy is more significant. Scott Pruitt is doing a fabulous job.

Regulations destroy freedom. The question: Is the loss of freedom worth what the regulation will cost?



QQQ: A Hint From Economist Daniel J. Mitchell by The Elephant's Child

“Rather than helping the poor, higher tax rates redistribute rich people.”

If you live in California, Washington State, Connecticut, New Jersey, or for that matter, any other state, you might remind your governors and legislators of this simple economic fact. You may have noticed that not many of them are up on their basic economics.

I added New Jersey to the list because of this!



What is American Greatness? by The Elephant's Child

The Question was “Can the Swamp Be Drained?” Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal speaks on the Governmental Swamp, Can the political corruption in our government be defined and can we actually actually make progress in fixing it?

It’s a fairly long speech, you may need to save it for the weekend, but don’t miss it. It’s important, and Kim is terrific.  The lecture was given as part of the April 2018 National Leadership Seminar for Hillsdale College, and posted on Feb. 27.




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