American Elephants


Washington State Governor has Ordered School Closures. by The Elephant's Child

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has ordered school closure in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties beginning next Tuesday, March 17 and to remain closed until April 24.

Many employers have encouraged workers to work from home, so perhaps this won’t be such a burden, but many employers have not, and for those folks it’s a problem of possibly leaving children home alone. So parents have several days to figure out how to manage. Good luck to you.

Confirmed cases have increased to 270 (from 234 yesterday) with one additional death reported.



Updating Statistics: We’re Doing Pretty Well. by The Elephant's Child

Imagine my astonishment to learn that I am writing from the center of the novel corona-virus in the United States. Washington state has so far had 11 deaths from the virus, and there are 79 confirmed cases. Health care workers who are caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk, as are travelers who are returning from international locations where community spread is occurring.  Total cases in the U. S. are 164. 19 states report cases. Of the cases reported, 36 are travel related.

Some schools have closed and are doing lessons online, with loaner computers for those who don’t have them. Some businesses are encouraging workers to work from home if they can. There are some runs on hand sanitizer, toilet paper and more people are having their groceries delivered so they don’t have to go to the store.

Consider that we have brought our people who were in Wuhan, China home, as well as other people who were in China, and travelers who were in bad international locations, and we’re doing pretty well. If you were abroad and COVID-19 happened, you’d probably want to come home too.

Ben Carson said that President Trump has handled the COVID-19 outbreak very, very well. Do recall that before he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Carson was a renowned neurosurgeon, and knows whereof he speaks. So a difficult  time and unfortunate deaths, but we’re doing remarkably well in the face of a worldwide contagion.

ADDENDUM: From a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Holman Jenkins:

In a startling statement, the WHO’s Michael Ryan claimed in a Monday briefing: “Here we have a disease for which we have no vaccine, no treatment, we don’t fully understand transmission, we don’t fully understand case mortality, but what we have been genuinely heartened by is that unlike influenza, where countries have fought back, where they’ve put in place strong measures, we’ve remarkably seen that the virus is suppressed.”



A Perpetual Motion Machine called Innovation by The Elephant's Child

British columnist Matt Ridley is always worth reading, but yesterday’s column was special.  He wrote:

When you think about it, what has happened to human society in the last 300 years is pretty weird. After trundling along with horses and sailboats, slaves and swords, for millennia, we suddenly got steam engines and search engines, and planes and cars and electricity and computers and social media and DNA sequences. We gave ourselves a perpetual motion machine called innovation. The more we innovated, the more innovation became possible.

It’s by far the biggest story of the last three centuries—the main cause of the decline of extreme poverty to unprecedented levels—yet we know curiously little about why it happened, let alone when and where and how it can be made to continue. It certainly did not start as a result of deliberate policy. Even today, beyond throwing money at scientists in the hope they might start businesses, and subsidies at businesses in the hope they might deliver products, we don’t have much of an idea how to encourage innovation at the political level.

What’s more, free-market economists have been in a special muddle about innovation for a long time. The economics profession spent a couple of centuries assuming that markets tend towards equilibria, through the invisible hand. Hence John Stuart Mill and John Maynard Keynes and pretty well everybody else in between assumed that we would see diminishing returns come to dominate human endeavour. But instead we experienced increasing returns, accelerating invention. As the author David Warsh put it in his book Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations (2006) some years ago, economists obsessed about Adam Smith’s invisible hand but forgot about his pin factory, where specialisation led to innovation.

One of my favorite histories is by John Steele Gordon, who deals with just that: the “Epic History of American Economic Power” in An Empire of Wealth. It’s a great read, and I recommend it enthusiastically. We are seeing all sorts of articles about the horrors of Socialism in the wake of Bernie Sanders, but this one deals with the other part: why Capitalism works and that a state that advances and encourages innovation is a result of a free people and an open society.

How some people can fail to understand those simple facts is apparently due to the failure of our schools and our colleges and universities. Many of our states do not require basic civics and history for graduation, a situation that drastically needs attention. Our colleges and universities are staffed to a significant extent with those who went for graduate degrees as a way to escape the draft for the Vietnamese War. You can hear that echo in banned or protested speakers on campus, and campus demonstrations.



Monday, March 2nd News, For What It’s Worth. by The Elephant's Child
image: artist unknown. via powerline

We have had a second death from Covid-19 Coronavirus, also from the same facility in Kirkland, Washington. Here is the Washington State Department of Health website but use it only if you need it, it’s apt to be busy. Here’s information for the public from Representative Adam Smith:

The public can take everyday actions to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of the virus:

Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including hand washing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.

Stay home when sick.

Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first. Stay informed from reliable sources. Information is changing frequently. Check Public Health Seattle & King County, Washington State Department of Health, and the CDC for updated information.

On the political front, Amy Klobuchar has quit the presidential race, and endorsed Joe Biden. I don’t think Elizabeth Warren has formally withdrawn, but I keep hoping. She was lined up with Bernie Sanders, but went after him strongly at the last debate. Pete Buttigieg has also endorsed Joe Biden.

Tomorrow is what is called Super Tuesday, when a whole bunch of states have their primaries on the same day. 14 states have signed up: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. California is, they say, representative of the primary electorate of the Democrat party, Texas is similar, as the second most populous state, with a large Latinx ) a new and somewhat offensive designation) population.
Chris Matthews has apparently left CNN*.  And welcome to the month of March.

Greta Thunberg had an occasion in Bristol in the United Kingdom last week, urging British schoolchildren to skip school on Friday to protest global warming. About 15,000 people are believed to have attended Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate rally. It was raining briskly, and the heavy rain turned the grass into mud, making a colossal mess of the rally. The BBC reported that “Ms. Thunberg has been presented as a sort of expert on the environment by alleged adults in the international Press” which covers it nicely.

* Chris Matthews has retired.

ADDENDUM: The Coronavirus death toll here in Washington State has reached 6, all connected to the Senior Care facility in Kirkland. There has been one death in New York.



Why Do the Democrats Hate Trump So Much? by The Elephant's Child

Bernie seems to be the leading Democrat candidate at present, and the Democrats are horrified. The object of the entire Democrat campaign is to get rid of Donald Trump, and they don’t think Bernie has much of a chance to defeat him. The Democrats really, really hate Donald Trump. But the commentary out there is interesting.

The Manhattan Contrarian said flatly:”If You Can’t Articulate A Limiting Principle On Government Expansion, You Get Bernie Sanders.” That was his headline, and he added:

Well, if you’re the party of free stuff, why shouldn’t the guy who offers the most free stuff win? Bernie is clearly willing to outbid all of his rivals in the free stuff auction. What makes you think anybody can beat him by just bidding less?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced her endorsement for the 2020 presidential election. She called for “publicly owned and run health care and education so that we have more freedom over our lives than the private sector provides.”

Brian Riedl, writing in City Journal on October 15, 2019 commiserated with Bernie’s heart attack, and said as long as he remains in the race, it’s worth taking his policy ideas seriously, since he has unveiled expensive new spending proposals on a near-weekly basis. All told, Sanders’s current plans would cost as much as $97.5 trillion over the next decade, and total government spending at all levels would surge to as high as 70 percent of gross domestic product. Approximately half of the American workforce would be employed by the government. The ten-year budget deficit would approach $90 trillion, with average annual deficits exceeding 30 percent of GDP.

And Victor Davis Hanson said yesterday, “Universities Breed Anger, Ignorance, and Ingratitude” “In turning out woke and broke graduates, they have a lot to answer for.”

When you get history and economics all mixed up with “social justice”, you are creating a major problem. I reject the idea that there is any such thing as “social justice” and if you go off chasing it, you are never going to arrive at a destination. It’s nice to dream of a world where nobody is poor, everybody has what they want and need, but that’s not how it works. Life is hard, bad stuff happens, there are accidents, illness, deaths, wars, family troubles, and you have to learn to cope. You don’t succeed by waiting for somebody else to fix things for you. The joy and the pride of arriving at a goal make the coping all worthwhile. We currently have an economy where most anyone that wants a job can find one. The rising is up to you.



Last Night’s Vicious Democrat Debate by The Elephant's Child

Democratic Debate last night. I did not watch, since I think they’re all loons. It was apparently a vicious time with everybody attacking everybody else. Bloomberg, Biden and Sanders all lead in different primary states.

President Donald Trump’s “Hire American,” low-immigration policy is giving American employees a larger share of company profits, so the federal government should raise the supply of foreign workers, according to a mournful editorial column in the Wall Street Journal.

“Corporate profits have been declining as employers increase wages to hire scarce blue-collar workers … corporate profits could soon drop to historic lows, which could reduce business investment and GDP growth,” says the editorial board’s complaint, titled “America’s Disappearing Workers.”

The candidates are not doing their homework, nor are their staffs. They  hardly seem to know what is going on in the country. Part of it is illusion, about the Russians, the President, and of course the panic about climate doom. Nobody seems to want to study up on what the scientists have to say, if the saintly Greta Thunberg says it’s a problem, well there you go. Straight from the mouth of an autistic 17 year old.

Start with this: “Over 440 Scientific Papers Published in 2019 Support a skeptical position on Climate Alarm.” There is a great deal of doubt that anthropogenic CO² emissions function as the control knob  of the climate. As I have remarked many times before, back in 2015, Christiana Figueres, who was general secretary of the IPCC  (the International Panel on Climate Change) in early February remarked in a news conference that the object of the Climate Crisis was not to save the Earth from climate doom, but as the best chance they had to eliminate Capitalism from the world. And do read the post just below by Ian Plimer, about the history of world climate.

Bernie Sanders, Socialist candidate, wants to eliminate fracking, apparently unaware that the replacement of large amounts of oil and gasoline with clean natural gas has meant that the United States has eliminated more CO² than any other nation on earth, because of the vast plenitude of natural gas made available by the technique of fracking. I’m rather fond of Capitalism myself.  Our huge supplies of natural gas are quite damaging to the Russian economy, and Iran, for they count on selling their oil to the Europeans, who would much rather have clean natural gas.

If you’ve got Fareed Zakaria doubting you, maybe there’s some hope.



The State of the Union Speech by The Elephant's Child

Donald J. Trump tonight gave the State of the Union Speech to Congress and to the nation. The Union is doing very nicely indeed, a Working Man’s Boom. Employment is at an all-time high, particularly for those who need it most. He said “Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, confidence is surging, and our country is thriving and highly respected again!  America’s enemies are on the run, America’s fortunes are on the rise, and America’s future is blazing bright.”

“Incredibly, the average unemployment rate under my Administration is lower than any administration in the history of our country. …

The unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans have reached the lowest levels in history. African-American youth unemployment has reached an all-time low.

African-American poverty has declined to the lowest rate ever recorded.

The unemployment rate for women reached the lowest level in almost 70 years — and last year, women filled 72 percent of all new jobs added.

The veterans’ unemployment rate dropped to a record low.

The unemployment rate for disabled Americans has reached an all-time low.

Workers without a high school diploma have achieved the lowest unemployment rate recorded in United States history.”

There were moving moments: a very young man who wants to be in the Space Force when he grows up, was there with his just turned 100-year-old Great Grandfather, who was a Tuskegee Airman during the Second World War, and gave a snappy salute to the audience.

An Army Veteran who was struggling with drug addiction and had lost his family, his house and his job, thanks to Senator Tim Scott’s Opportunity Zones, is now a top tradesman, drug-free, and reunited with his family, was there.

A young woman with two small children, who has been working to help other military families while her own husband is deployed, was surprised in a moving moment with her husband, back from Afghanistan.

President Trump said: “The American Nation was carved out of the vast frontier by the toughest, strongest, fiercest, and most determined men and women ever to walk the face of the Earth. Our ancestors braved the unknown; tamed the wilderness; settled the Wild West; lifted millions from poverty, disease, and hunger; vanquished tyranny and fascism; ushered the world to new heights of science and medicine; laid down the railroads, dug out canals, raised up the skyscrapers — and, ladies and gentlemen, our ancestors built the most exceptional Republic ever to exist in all of human history. And we are making it greater than ever before!

This is our glorious and magnificent inheritance.

We are Americans. We are the pioneers. We are the pathfinders. We settled the new world, we built the modern world, and we changed history forever by embracing the eternal truth that everyone is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.”

If you didn’t watch the speech, Breitbart has published the text in full here. You might want to read the whole thing. It’s very worth your time.

Nancy Pelosi at the end of the speech, made the dramatic gesture (planned?) of tearing up the speech as the President left the podium. Bad idea. It came across as petty, mean-spirited, uncalled for, and was a very bad idea.




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