American Elephants


Oh Harry Reid, Harry Reid, For Shame! by The Elephant's Child

Harry Reid glum

Poor Harry Reid is caught between a rock and a hard place, and he’s not up to defending his position. It’s difficult, he’s majority leader of the Senate, and he has to defend the disastrous ObamaCare policy. Really frightening stories are emerging, about cancer patients who are suddenly denied the doctors and the care that was giving them the hope that they might live, and all Harry can think of is to call them all liars. Callous and insensitive doesn’t begin to describe it.

Now he has dissed a fellow senator, a medical doctor who is himself battling cancer, because he pointed out ObamaCare’s disastrous impact on cancer treatment. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) noted that the majority of cancer centers in this country aren’t covered under ObamaCare.

“Dr. Coburn is very good at getting into the weeds and trying to find something that he thinks makes sense. But I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill.”

When cancer patient Julie Boonstra appeared in a TV ad telling how Obamacare had jeopardized her treatment with rising and unpredictable premiums and co-pays. Reid took to the Senate Floor: “There’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue.”

He also coldly dismissed Edie Sundby, a stage four cancer patient, who was told that the plan that had paid out $1.2 million and helped her to survive, was substandard, and would be cancelled because it didn’t fit the one-size-fits-all ObamaCare standard.

Coburn said that under ObamaCare, out of “Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under ObamaCare.” Coburn said the cut-rate payments of the Affordable Care Act provides for those treatments. “You know, it’s a market,” Coburn said,”and what they’ve done is they’ve priced it where these cancer centers, a lot of them aren’t going to participate because they don’t get paid [enough] to cover the costs.”

During the government shutdown, House Republicans wanted to pass a stand-alone bill to fund the National Institute of Health so children with cancer could continue to participate in clinical trials. Reid called that move “reckless and irresponsible” by those obsessed with this ObamaCare.” A reporter asked “If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Reid said “Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. [because of the shutdown] They have a few problems of their own.”

I understand that for Senate Democrats, ObamaCare is about power, and more control of the American people. But for the rest of us it is about the American people getting the care that they have been promised, that the rest of us are paying for.



Triumphant But Angry: How Dare You Disagree. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama addressed the nation his supporters yesterday in the Rose Garden, obviously trying to reignite enthusiasm for the Affordable Care Act. He announced that 7.1 million people have signed up. His precise decimal point brought wide derision. But the speech was more of an angry pep-rally. How dare you not agree that ObamaCare is wonderful.

The key point came late in the speech: “It is making sure that we ae not the only advanced county on Earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.”

He added: “But today should remind us that the goal we set for ourselves—that no American should go without the health care that they need.” He said:” The Affordable Care Act hasn’t completely fixed our broken health care system, but this law has made our health care system a lot better—a lot better.

Our health care system was not broken. By law, anyone, whether they could afford it or not, could go to any emergency room and be treated. The cost of health care had been declining steadily in recent years, and the decline had nothing to do with ObamaCare, but with new diagnostic treatments, new drugs that made a real difference in shorter hospital stays, preventing major illnesses, and keeping more people alive and in good health. Early diagnosis saves lives.

Democrats rely on World Health Organization numbers regarding our health care,  meaningless numbers  based on skewed information. WHO numbers rank us low for live births, because we call every birth with a live baby a live birth—including those too small to survive—or too premature— because we try to save them all, with pretty good results. Other countries do not count those as “live births,” and do not attempt to save them. We also have a lot of highway deaths because we have a lot of highways and a lot of vehicles. It’s a big country. The WHO also grades us down sharply because we don’t have free health care for all (socialized medicine).

What the president’s pep-talk largely showed was that he doesn’t really understand how insurance works. You have insurance for the big stuff: house fires, car crashes. Because those things statistically don’t happen to everybody regularly, everyone can pay a small amount which will go to the few who do have a big catastrophe, and you are protected against the time it happens to you. You don’t insure against a leaky roof, or needing new carpeting. You don’t insure against flat-tires or worn-out windshield wipers. The free contraceptives and free mammograms are the flat-tires of health insurance. Adding all the goodies makes the insurance unaffordable, as those forced onto ObamaCare will discover when they get their insurance costs for next year.

Back in the Bush administration, Democrats badly wanted a free drug plan for Medicare. As his price for signing the bill, Bush insisted on an incentive for seniors to, when possible, select a generic drug (way cheaper) than a brand name drug —all things being equal. Contrary to Progressive thinking, Seniors are not dummies. Incentives work. If the cost of  your drugs added up to a significant amount, you had to pay the full price (unless you could not afford it, in which case there was government subsidy) until the cost reached another level, at which point they were free. That gap was, for most people, avoidable if they relied on generic drugs, and Seniors found it quite sensible to do so. This meant the Medicare Drug Plan was the only big government program in history that came in costing less than projections.

President Obama announced triumphantly that “We’ve closed a gaping hole in Medicare’s prescription drug plan. We’ve closed the donut hole“— in other words they have eliminated the incentive that kept the Medicare Drug Plan costs reasonably low, and costs will skyrocket. Some triumph!

Despite this law, millions of Americans remain uncovered in part because some governors in some states for political reasons have deliberately to expand coverage under the law.” Well, yes they did. The federal government demanded that States dramatically increase the amount they spent on Medicaid. No federal help, just a demand that states come up with more funding, and raise taxes or whatever it took.
Some governors said their state could not afford it, and they were unwilling to raise taxes to meet the federal requirement that the feds wouldn’t pay for.

And we didn’t make it a hard sell. We didn’t have billions of dollars of commercials like some critics did.” Bw-ha-ha-ha. Billions for commercials? Sebelius admitted to $677 million on the failed website up to October, but we don’t really know what it has cost— the work has continued. Hawaii’s ObamaCare spent $35,749 per ObamaCare enrollee— at a cost of $205,342,270. The District of Columbia spent $133,573,927 to sign up just 6,518 people. Cover Oregon spent over $200 million and has not enrolled a single person. Maryland has spent over $125.5 million on an unworkable website and is now considering buying Connecticut’s system.

The law is a disaster. We are already told that premium costs will double or triple next year. Insurers have pared costs back by narrowing the provider list and eliminating the ability to be covered when you travel. The despairing stories of people who have been significantly harmed continue to pile up. Americans must fight back. The president is out fund-raising again today.

 



A Letter From a Practicing Family Physician: by The Elephant's Child

When I saw my doctor this last week, she said “I wish I’d gone to secretarial school instead.” A despairing joke.

In an address to the House, Alabama Representative Mo Brooks read aloud a letter sent to him by Dr. Marlin Gill of Decatur. The letter holds nothing back while detailing the excessive costs and regulations that Dr. Gill calls ObamaCare’s “War Against Doctors.” We need pay attention. He speaks for multitudes.

Dear Congressman Brooks,

As a practicing family physician, I plead for help against what I can best characterize as Washington’s war against doctors.

The medical profession has never before remotely approached today’s stress, work hours, wasted costs, decreased efficiency, and declining ability to focus on patient care.

In our community alone, at least 6 doctors have left patient care for administrative positions, to start a concierge practice, or retire altogether.

Doctors are smothered by destructive regulations that add costs, raise our overhead and ‘gum up the works,’ making patient treatment slower and less efficient, thus forcing doctors to focus on things other than patient care and reduce the number of patients we can help each day.

I spend more time at work than at any time in my 27 years of practice and more of that time is spent on administrative tasks and entering useless data into a computer rather than helping sick patients.

Doctors have been forced by ill-informed bureaucrats to implement electronic medical records (“EMR”) that, in our four doctor practice, costs well over $100,000 plus continuing yearly operational costs . . . all of which does not help take care of one patient while driving up the cost of every patient’s health care.

Washington’s electronic medical records requirement makes our medical practice much slower and less efficient, forcing our doctors to treat fewer patients per day than we did before the EMR mandate.

To make matters worse, Washington forces doctors to demonstrate ‘meaningful use’ of EMR or risk not being fully paid for the help we give.

In addition to the electronic medical records burden, we face a mandate to use the ICD-10 coding system, a new set of reimbursement diagnosis codes.

The current ICD-9 coding system uses roughly 13,000 codes. The new ICD-10 coding system uses a staggering 70,000 new and completely different codes, thus dramatically slowing doctors down due to the unnecessary complexity and sheer numbers of codes that must be learned.

The cost of this new ICD-10 coding system for our small practice is roughly $80,000, again driving up health care costs without one iota of improvement in health care quality.

Finally, doctors face nonpayment by patients with ObamaCare. These patients may or may not be paying their premiums and we have no way of verifying this. No business can operate with that much uncertainty.

On behalf of the medical profession, I ask that Washington stop the implementation of the ICD-10 coding system, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with a better law written with the input of real doctors who will actually treat patients covered by it.

America has enjoyed the best health care the world has ever known. That health care is in jeopardy because physicians cannot survive Washington’s ‘war on doctors’ without relief.

Eventually the problems for doctors will become problems for patients, and we are all patients at some point.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Marlin Gill of Decatur, Alabama



If You Can’t Trust the Government, There is No Liberty. by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson had an important column this last week on “Untruthful and Untrustworthy Government,” that digs into what distinguishes democracies from tinhorn dictatorships and totalitarian monstrosities.

It’s not just the scandals: Benghazi, the Associated Press, the NSA scandal which are troubling enough, but the doubt about the honesty of the permanent government itself. Does anyone still believe in a non-partisan and honest IRS? Our system of voluntary tax reporting rests on trust. If we can’t trust the IRS to treat us fairly, to what extent will the compliance from taxpayers cease to be honest.

Is the report from the Department of Labor statistics on employment accurate? Is inflation really as low as we are told? Nobody knows how many Americans have bought and paid for ObamaCare policies. We don’t know how many were previously uninsured. We don’t know whether we still can see our doctor and the local hospital, nor whether our medication is acceptable.

We don’t know how many foreign citizens have entered the U.S. illegally who were arrested and deported to their country of origin. ICE now counts as deportations those foreign nationals whom the Border Patrol immediately stops or turns away at the border. The Department of Homeland Security caught and then released—back into the U.S. population—68,000 aliens who had previously been convicted of a serious crime, when they could have been deported. In San Antonio, 79 percent of criminal aliens were released back into the general population in 2012.  In Washington D.C. 5,558 criminal aliens were released—64 percent of the 8,688 who were apprehended.

When everything is politicized, what the agencies of the government tell the people can’t be counted on. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has factored research and development costs of business into statistics on investment growth. Is the report on Gross Domestic Product growth honest? It is a vital measure of how the economy is doing. Politically it might be useful to make it look a little better that the numbers show. The government reported an unexpectedly high 2.8 GDP growth in the numbers last year.

Is inflation really as low as we are told? They have changed the way they calculate that as well. Inflation and unemployment numbers are lower, economic growth is higher. Problems disappear behind a screen of Freedom of Information Act requests that drag on for years instead of the prompt response the law demands.

If all is political, we are indeed in deep trouble.



Six Years Into the “Recovery” And There Still Aren’t Any Jobs. by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama’s approval rates are at record lows. Only 26 percent approve of ObamaCare, and Democrats running for re-election have been trying to disassociate themselves from the law as much as possible.

They need a new agenda, and think they have discovered it in rising inequality. Obama has laid out an array of populist proposals: more unemployment insurance, raising the federal minimum wage, giving women “equal pay for equal work”, a perennial favorite already in the law, ignored in the White House—where female staffers are not paid as well as male staffers.

The theory is that Republicans who are vulnerable at the polls can be forced to join them on  these poll-tested issues. It’s good old class warfare, always a winner in desperate situations. But this time it doesn’t seem to be working. People want jobs, not another handout. We are six years into an Obama “recovery” and people still need extensions on their unemployment insurance.

Obama has curiously mastered the art of killing more jobs with every attempt to increase employment. He promotes a national group of manufacturing hubs, as an excellent way to create jobs, but none have gotten off the ground, in spite of taxpayer money invested. At the same time, the EPA continues to shut down coal-fired power stations—killing thousands of jobs.

Vice President Joe Biden did the weekly address while Obama was in Brussels, and began by stating:

There’s no reason in the world why an American working 40 hours a week has to live in poverty. But right now a worker earning the federal minimum wage makes about $14,500 a year. And you all know that’s incredibly hard for an individual to live on, let alone raise a family on.

The minimum wage is a “starter wage” for those who have no skills to offer an employer, but have to learn how to work. The federal poverty level for an individual is $11,670, and someone earning the current federal minimum wage earns more than the federal poverty level. Biden added:

The big difference between giving a raise in the minimum wage instead of a tax break to the very wealthy is the minimum wage worker will go out and spend every penny of it because they’re living on the edge. They’ll spend it in the local economy. They need it to pay their electric bill, put gas in their automobile, to buy fundamental necessities. And this generates economic growth in their communities.

So give money to the poor, vilify the wealthy, because the poor paying their electric bill will stimulate the economy, but the rich building businesses and hiring more workers will not.  There’s the reason why we are in the sixth year of the Obama “recovery” spelled out. Add hundreds of regulations that increase the cost of building businesses and hiring workers, demonstrate with improper use of the IRS that businesses that do not toe the line will be audited, inspected by the ATF, perhaps raided by a SWAT team, and your business practices or your inventory confiscated by the Justice department.

There are enormous numbers of jobs waiting for the president to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, to O.K. the export of liquified natural gas to a needy Europe, and the EPA continues its path of destruction through the entire American economy, and nobody is supposed to notice that they not only kill jobs, but make companies reluctant to take the risk of expanding or hiring.

Kim Strassel, writing in the Wall Street Journal notes that:

Democrats have also become embarrassingly obvious, talking openly of how this agenda was devised not to help Americans, but to punish Republicans and rally the base. The New York Times’s Wednesday headline baldly read, “Democrats, As Part of Midterm Strategy, to Schedule Votes on Pocketbook Issues,” and quoted Sen. Chuck Schumer promising the vote would “mute” complaints about ObamaCare. Subtle, dudes. …

Democrats aren’t backing off; they are all-in for inequality, and they’re betting that a few more dedicated weeks of hammering Republicans as callous will force some movement. Maybe. But for now Americans seem unconvinced that any of their top concerns—a stalled economy, their health-care woes, the U.S.’s humiliation abroad, government dysfunction, soaring debt—are the result of “inequality.” Their president is talking past them.



Sometimes You Have to Do Hard Things. No Pain, No Gain. by The Elephant's Child

Walter Russell Mead is a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and editor at large of the American Interest, a man of the Left, but modestly so. In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, he gently chides the president for his ambitious foreign policy goals, but unusual parsimony in engaging with them. The president, he says, isn’t satisfied with he world as it is, and wants a world fundamentally different from the one we live in.

He wants a world in which poverty is on the wane, international law is respected, and the U.S., if it must lead, can do so on the cheap, and from behind.

To get to this world, Mr. Obama wants nuclear proliferation stopped, new arms-control agreements ratified, and the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons. He wants a tough global climate treaty that will keep carbon emissions at levels low enough to prevent further global warming. He wants the Arab-Israeli dispute settled and a new relationship with Iran. He wants terrorism to be contained and Afghanistan to be stable when the Americans leave. He wants to reassert U.S. power in the Pacific, and to see China accept the territorial status quo. He wants democracy advanced, human rights protected, poverty reduced, women empowered, and lesbians and gays treated better world-wide.

Professor Mead suggested that this paradox arises from Obama’s channeling the voters who want to eliminate the budget deficit without cutting the programs they favor, and a more peaceful world without so much effort on our part.

We also hear this week about American University students who couldn’t manage to name one senator, and were clueless about how many senators there are.

Makes you yearn for a poll-test. You don’t get to vote unless you know a few basic facts. But that is the job of candidates and political parties, to inform voters before they go to the polls. Yes I know that’s absurd as well. Civilization is messy at best. We are multitudes who have trouble getting along with members of our own family. let alone the guy across the street, and creating a more felicitous state of the world. Some of us are very smart, which doesn’t necessarily mean we know much about many subjects.

Our schools are failing our kids, not because we don’t want good schools, but because the goals of others trump educational excellence. Our colleges attract students from all over the world, yet our graduates can’t name a single senator, can’t locate Florida, and are unqualified to work in today’s world.

The free market recognizes the failures of individuals and companies, but relies on the wisdom of the multitudes, who, of course, can be easily swayed by glamour or charisma, bad information, and conspiracy theories.

Americans, however, have a sort of genius for muddling through. We make dreadful mistakes, and then turn around and try to fix them. Americans all, in one generation or another, gave up everything known in their home country packed up their belongings and set out for an unknown new world. There’s a kind of fearlessness there, that seems to be an inherited characteristic, a genius for risk-taking and adapting that has served our country well for almost 500 years.  Mr. Mead says:

Mr. Obama came into office telling voters what they badly wanted to hear, which was that on foreign policy, they could have it all. No risks to be run, no adversarial great powers to oppose, and no boots on the ground. Now he must tell them that he, and they, were wrong, and he must choose. Does he give up on some of his dreams for improving the world, or does he begin to urge the country to pay a higher price and run greater risks to make the world better and safer?

The truth is that he—and we—will have to do some of both. As a country we are going to be working harder than we wanted in a world that is more frustrating than we hoped.



What Is The Proper Size of Government? by The Elephant's Child

Politicians keep debating the size of government. Republicans believe that government tries to do way too much, and that government is not very good at the things it does try to do. Democrats are inclined to believe that government needs to do more to alleviate the problems of society.

The recovery from “the Great Recession” has been sluggish at best, and way too many people have left the labor force. To encourage growth, the Obama administration relies on government action: the latest is manufacturing hubs, and it has been infrastructure projects,  crumbling roads and bridges, wind farms and solar arrays, job training programs, and they have all done little to change the unemployment rate, or significantly increase the labor force. But the belief in government action to change and improve society remains firm.

Over the years, economists have measured the effect of the size of government on economic growth and social outcomes like life expectancy, infant mortality, homicide rates, educational attainment and student reading proficiency. One recent addition to the studies of the result of government size comes from a study published by Canada’s Fraser Institute, entitled “Measuring Government in the 21st Century” by Canadian economist and university professor Livio Di Matteo.

Di Mateo’s analysis confirms a large body of empirical research examining the relationship between the size of government and economic outcomes. Canada’s recent retrenchment is an example of a country shrinking government without a trade-off in economic and social outcomes.

When governments focus their spending on basic, needed services like the protection of property. His findings also demonstrate that there is a tipping point at which more government actually hinders economic growth and fails to contribute to social progress in any meaningful way. Di Mateo examines international data and finds that, after controlling for disparate factors, annual per capita GDP growth rates start to decline when government spending consumes 26 percent of the economy.  Economic growth rates start to decline when government spending exceeds this level. Government spending becomes unproductive when it goes to things like corporate subsides, overly generous wages, overly generous benefits for government employees, and crony capitalism.

According to data from the OECD, the size of government in the United States was approximately 40 percent of GDP in 2012, Which suggests that a smaller size of government than we currently have would translate into higher annual economic growth.

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Walter Russell Mead on Public Pensions and Municipal Bankruptcies by The Elephant's Child

As long as we’re talking about Puerto Rico, I should include a link to this informative article about a conversation with Walter Russell Mead on public pensions, a problem coming close in Puerto Rico, all over California, in Detroit.

People say: ‘A defined benefit pension from my employer, there’s no risk.’ A big risk is that your employer will go broke.

Adam Shapiro: Well, in the case of public pensions, we’re seeing that happen. And yet, there’s a resistance to reform the process by which we fund these pensions, by which we set the actuarial standards for these pensions, and to have an honest discussion with taxpayers about these pensions, why?

Walter Mead: It is interesting, normally you think of liberals and Democrats as being people who really want to regulate, and particularly they want to regulate the financial markets, in order, as they say, to protect the “little guy.” Well here’s a case in which cities and states are not held to the same standards for their pension funds that any private employer is held to. If in fact, employers did what routinely a lot of cities and states do, they would go to jail.

Shapiro: So why is there no public outcry over this?

Mead: There’s some public outcry. But, unfortunately there’s a kind of a conspiracy between government officials, politicians, and union leaders often. The deal is this: Union leader wants to show the union members, hey belonging to the union is a good thing, I get you benefits. You get more with me than you’d get on your own. So I go into the negotiations with management of the city or the state government and I come back so you’ll say, “wow he’s a great union leader, I don’t begrudge him a penny of his salary because this union is working for me.” Well here’s the problem: If you’re asking for a big raise for members this year, the politicians have to pay it this year. And that means they have to tax the voters, voters don’t like to be taxed to pay for your raise, or they got to cut spending on something else to get the money, well voters don’t like it when politicians cut spending on their favorite programs.

It’s a very interesting conversation, and a video. Walter Russell Mead is a most interesting man of the left.  Do Read or watch the whole thing, or both. There’s a lot more to the video, you may be surprised.

 



Progressive Policies Fail in Puerto Rico by The Elephant's Child

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Puerto Ricans move to the United States all the time, but now Puerto Rico has joined New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and California as tax-and-spend blue states that are losing residents because of government policy. More than 450,000 Puerto Ricans have left over the past decade, with 1.000 arriving in Orlando, FL every 10 days.

More Puerto Ricans— about 5 million—now live in the continental U.S., according to media reports, than live in Puerto Rico. Doctors are leaving, teachers are leaving, lawyers and engineers are pulling out. Unemployment at 15.2% is higher than the bottom U.S. state (Rhode Island, 9.2%) and far exceeds the national average of 6.7%. Only 35% of the working-age population in Puerto Rico actually works.

The economy is in its eighth year of recession and is expected to contract by another 2% this year. It has plunged roughly 14% since 2006. To solve the commonwealth’s problems—a public debt of $70 billion, a downgraded credit rating, and talk of default—the government has done what the left always does, and has hiked taxes.

They might look to Texas as an example of what to do. Low taxes, no personal state income tax, a light regulatory role and an inviting business climate that encourages 52 Fortune 500 companies, and jobs —252,000 jobs created in 2013 alone. And it has added more than a half-million people, 148,000 from California. Even commonwealths can benefit from such policies.



Obama’s Delay of the Keystone XL Pipeline is All About Politics. by The Elephant's Child

Last month at a press conference after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, President Obama was asked about his delay in approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

Harper has been urging Obama to do the right thing and approve the pipeline that would pump oil from Alberta, Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The president is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. He has claimed that all the jobs are just “temporary.” The State Department has approved the pipeline twice, both Hillary and Kerry. It will not increase greenhouse gases. Hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer has promised $100 million to the Democrats if they just keep opposing global warming. Green activists are continually demonstrating against the Keystone, for unknown greenie reasons. Unions badly want the jobs involved. The oil is being moved by rail at present, which is more dangerous.

By delaying a decision, Obama is hoping to get past the 2014 election without hurting the re-election chances of several Senate Democrats running in red or purple states that strongly support the Keystone XL and the energy industry.

Those candidates include Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Udall of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, plus two open seats in Montana and West Virginia held by two retiring Democrats.

Think about the political problems facing these Democrats.

Montana, where Democratic Sen. Max Baucus just retired, will be able to ship 100,000 barrels a day of oil from the Bakken shale formation. If Obama kills the Keystone XL, he kills Montana jobs and may hurt the chances of a Democrat holding that Senate seat.

TransCanada has released a detailed job breakdown in response to critics who argue that the company’s job creation estimates for the project are too high and will lead only to ‘a few hundred’ temporary jobs. They presented a detailed account of employment potential in the U.S. right down to the number of oilers, labourers and welders needed for the  U.S. $7 billion project.

Their claim (January 2012)breaks the project into 17 pipeline segments with 500 workers per segment —8,500 jobs. Thirty pump stations, each station requires 100 workers—3,000 jobs. Six hundred jobs for the six construction camps at Cushing, Oklahoma.Construction, management and inspection oversight — 1,000. That’s 13,000 construction employment opportunities and 7,000 in manufacturing. The spin-off jobs for materials, steel pipes, related services would generate all sorts of indirect jobs and revenue for suppliers.

If the vulnerable Democrats can waffle on the issue, and Obama continues to deny the project, he gets money from the green activist lobby, and they have a lot to donate.

Democrats biggest claim in an election year is that they care about the little people. They don’t. ObamaCare is a clear example. Once they get  you signed up and dependent on their program, they don’t care what kind of health care you actually receive. Evidence: “If You like your doctor you can keep your doctor,” “Your insurance will cost $2,500 less,” VA insurance. Indian Health Service. Medicaid.

It’s all about politics. Not the “little guy.”



All About the Little Red Hen by The Elephant's Child

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The Ruling Class is sure they are smarter than the rest of us, and know more about how the world should operate. They find the rest of us a little scary, and believe we need to be directed to do that which will comport with their vision of an improved country. We need to be regulated.

The rest of us are increasingly chafing under the regulation. The more liberal the venue, the more really nice things they want to do to improve things. A case in point is the State of California. Six states—Missouri, Alabama. Iowa, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Nebraska—sued California in federal court last month.

The controversy is all about eggs, or more precisely, about the hens.

California passed a ballot initiative, Proposition 2, in 2008 which mandated that by 2015 all California egg producers must shift to larger cages or “cage-free” housing for its chickens. The Humane Society of the U.S. funded the initiative to the tune of $4.1 million. Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, shelled out $100,000 for the initiative. Hedge-fund billionaire and green activist Tom Steyer gave $25,000. In typical liberal fashion, proponents were unaware of the economics and the unintended consequences, but full of   concern for being kind to the chickens.

The costs would be deadly. One 2008 analysis by researchers at the University of California-Davis determined that the changes would bankrupt the state’s then $337 million egg industry. The researchers expected the initiative to raise production costs for California producers by 20%. If the proposal were adopted nationwide, consumers would pay 25% more for eggs “and perhaps much more,” according to the report.

The California legislature in Sacramento decreed in 2010 that no out-of-state business could sell eggs in California unless the hens were raised in bigger cages, or cage free. The motive was purely protectionist to insure that in-state producers were not disadvantaged. A U.S. congressman said if “you can put small cages in Nevada, right across the border and our state can’t prohibit  it, than that’s a problem for us.”

The law is aimed at discriminating against out-of-state businesses by raising their costs. One need go no further than the California Assembly’s own admission for proof. Second, courts do not allow states to regulate interstate commerce if the public safety claim is “illusory”—which it is.

The Law’s defenders allege that hens in current cages are more likely to carry Salmonella to suggest that conventional cages are unsafe. Studies in the journal Poultry Science by the USDA said no differences in frequency of egg contamination were found. Another study in the journal Avian Diseases by USDA and University of Georgia found that among egg-laying hens, the caged housing system provide the lowest horizontal transmission level. The European Union’s animal rights radicals banned hen cages in 2012 led to supply shortages and price shocks. French farmers dumped their eggs in the streets.

The array of eggs in my grocery store offers, beyond the standard white eggs from White Leghorn hens, “cage-free eggs,” organic eggs, extra-large eggs, and my favorite brown eggs from Rhode Island Red hens. It also features a sign warning of a nationwide shortage of some kinds of eggs. I get testy when they’re out of brown.

How nice do you want to be to the chickens? We have coyotes, raccoons, possums. Do you just want the chickens in big cages or cage free? And if cage-free do you mind if the varmints eat the hens? Do you want to become a vegetarian in protest, or are you not all that fond of your vegetables?



President Barack Obama Visits Brussels by The Elephant's Child

The imperial presidency at work. The president is off to Brussels with a 900-strong entourage, including 45 vehicles and three planes, to attend the EU and NATO summits.The visit will cost Belgium more than €10 million, to cover his 24 hours in the country.

The president will arrive on Tuesday night with a 900-strong entourage, including 45 vehicles and three cargo planes. Advance security teams orchestrating every last detail have combed Brussels already, checking the sewers and the major hospitals, while American military helicopters were last week given the green light for overflights. The city hosts at least four EU summits a year, with each of these gatherings costing €500,000 in extra police, military and transport expenses. “But this time round, you can multiply that figure by 20,” said Brussels mayor, Yvan Mayeur.

Belgium itself is mobilizing 350 police and military on motorbikes to secure the president’s routes to EU and NATO summits on Wednesday, while a convoy of nine US helicopters will take Obama to an American first world war cemetery.

Brigette Grouwels, who heads the city’s transport policy, said locals should just take the occasion to walk, cycle and take public transport, and experience first hand a city unencumbered by cars.

I want our president to be safe on foreign visits, but this is getting ridiculous. Every time he takes a trip, we hear more about the disruption his grandiose entourage causes, and the expense, than about anything accomplished by the trip.

Imposing a €2 million cost on Belgium for a 24 hour visit seems both excessive and unnecessary. But an entourage of 900? Besides drivers for the 45 vehicles and pilots and crew for the three planes, who are those 900 people? What bothers me is that the Obamas seem unaware of the problems they cause, and simply feel it is their due.

Michelle’s presidential suite in Beijing runs $8,350 a night. I don’t know what kind of entourage she has. But it makes a nice Spring Break for the kids.




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