American Elephants


When Senators Don’t Know What the Senate is For by The Elephant's Child

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An “Oldie” Worth Remembering by The Elephant's Child

As long as I’m doing Constitutions and what people believe, here is an oldie but goodie, with the late Milton Friedman explaining the most basic facts of Capitalism to Phil Donahue, who, of course, doesn’t get it at all. Always worth a refresher on what is important.

I particularly like John Steele Gordon’s  An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power, which beautifully describes how Capitalism and a free people who can act on their ideas and dreams have brought forth a powerful and wealthy nation that is the envy of the world.



What Rights Does the First Amendment Protect? by The Elephant's Child

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According to Campus Reform, the Freedom Forum Institute’s annual “State of the First Amendment” survey has found that while 74 percent of Americans say they support the First Amendment, nearly half could not identify a single one of the rights that it protects.

Meanwhile, roughly half of those surveyed said public universities should be able to disinvite “controversial” speakers, such as those who are likely to provoke protests or cause offense to certain groups or individuals.

According to the report, 56 percent of respondents recalled that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, 15 percent mentioned freedom of religion, 13 percent remembered freedom of the press, 12 percent noted the right to assembly, and just 2 percent cited the right to petition.

Meanwhile, nine percent erroneously asserted that the First Amendment protects the right to bear arms, a freedom that is actually guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

In the interests of making sure you all have the facts and if you have kids, making sure they do too, Here is the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The amendment is about what the government may not do, not about what you may or may not do. Doesn’t mean that people cannot insult you or criticize what you say or cast aspersions on your religion. It’s there to protect you from an overreaching government.  Though if the country gets so far gone that Congress is completely ignoring the Constitution, all bets are off.

You might try to memorize it, and have your kids memorize it. It is our greatest protection from tyranny and as long as people know what it says and what it is about, we’ll probably be all right. But the numbers of people without a clue is discouraging.

If you are interested, you can get nice little bound copies of the Constitution, about 3½” x 5″, from the Cato Institute by calling 800-767-1241 (8:30am to 4;30 pm EST) They are inexpensive, but my copy is years old, and prices have probably gone up.  (It also includes the Declaration and a preface about the history)

Nice little gift for new grads or kids leaving for college. The way things are going they probably would not encounter it there.



All About Cultural Appropriation by The Elephant's Child
August 1, 2018, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Education, Freedom, History | Tags: , ,

When did “Cultural Appropriation” become an expletive and a cause for condemnation? I heard about it now and then, but I particularly remember a case in Portland, when two young women visited Puerto Nuevo, Mexico and fell in love with a particular kind of burrito on sale there. They talked to cooks and peered into the windows of kitchens and took what they had learned back home and put their newfound knowledge to work in a taco truck. It was so popular that a local weekly newspaper wrote up a profile of the two entrepreneurs. Two white women, burritos and a taco truck. Cries of “Cultural Appropriation. ” They were accused of stealing and of preying on Mexican women.

The uproar was extensive and the shop closed. If burritos are sold in a Mexican restaurant, it’s fine, and there’s a taco truck that has been operating successfully a few blocks up the street in a gas station lot for months, apparently popular, but not run by two white women. Still you hear of another outcry of “cultural appropriation” every now and then, about all sorts of things—even Halloween costumes

The Columbian Exchange is another of those things that you should have learned about in history class. Beginning with Christopher Columbus, all sorts of things were exchanged between the new world and the old world. Always have been exchanges between peoples. The New World, the Americas, got cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses.  Onions, olives, turnips, coffee beans, peaches and pears, wheat, rice, barley and oats. Also smallpox, influenza, typhus measles, diphtheria, and whooping cough.

The New World sent back corn, tomatoes, potatoes, peanuts, turkeys, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, tobacco, pineapples, beans, vanilla and Cacao, and Syphilis. This is not a complete list.

We have kept on exchanging goods and ideas ever since. Have you seen many films from other countries around the world when nobody is wearing blue jeans?  Cultural Appropriation indeed!

A fascinating book that I recommend highly is 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann.  He followed up with 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Great books.



When Did We Become Americans? by The Elephant's Child

This is a post dredged out of the archives from 2013. Somehow the appearance of Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez on the scene as a candidate for Congress has turned the national conversation to the wonders of socialism, which should be impossible were it not that our educational system seems to be totally failing in the teaching of history.

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The word “American” was first used to denote a person of European descent living in British North America only in 1765, but became common after that. Previously people had been citizens of various British colonies.

There was no “United States” at that time. There was a Continental Congress and a Continental Army and Navy. The states had agreed to a basic framework of government in 1781— the Articles of Confederation — to replace the administration of the Second Continental Congress. The power was invested in Congress, members were appointed by state governments  and served at their pleasure. It had no power to tax. Foreign nations noticed that America was essentially powerless and they took advantage of that fact.

John Steele Gordon notes that “it was by no means the least of the lucky breaks that the United States has had in its history was the time at which it came into existence and established its fundamental laws:”

In one of history’s great coincidences, Adam Smith published
The Wealth of Nations in 1776. It destroyed the intellectual underpinnings of the mercantilism on which the economic policies of Western nations had been based for two hundred years.

It showed in example after example, each more powerfully argued than the next, that unfettered trade, both within and without the country, and a government that did not take sides as individuals competed in the marketplace resulted in greater prosperity for all and thus greater power for the country as a whole. Many of the Founding Fathers had read Smith, and all knew the thrust of his arguments.

The United States was new and didn’t have all sorts of long-established monopolies and systems to be dismantled. No entrenched aristocracy, and being new, was open to new ideas. It was easier to adopt the ideas of Adam Smith into its politics and economic system than it was for other Western nations. Just one of the lucky breaks we got at the establishment of the Nation.



Smoky Air Today: Here’s Why: by The Elephant's Child

If you looked out the window today, you may nave noticed a tinge of smoke in the air. Sure sign of forest fires. This particular map did not include Canada, which also has forest fires, and the smoke, depending on the winds, is apt to affect us. Some rain expected later in the week, which might clear things up.

The so-called “environmentalists” have worked hard to prevent trees from being harvested for lumber. They do not want trees to be cut. But that has consequences as well. Logging roads do not get built into the timber so access to fight fire is more difficult so more territory burns. That dreadful Carr fire in California has burned over 90,000 acres and 6 people have died. It is only 20 percent contained, family homes burned.

Some expert mentioned that there are no “starter homes” being built any more. The cost of lumber has gone up dramatically because less lumber is being harvested.  I posted a story about 3-D printed houses in the Netherlands.

The Left envisions very dense American cities with everyone in high rise apartments (except for the important people, of course) They will have their estates, of course, but with the hoi-polloi  all in high rises, the rest of the country can all be parkland. Government owned, of course. Yet the federal government is having a hard time keeping up the national parks. My point is simply that there are always consequences. Studying up and doing our homework is a lifelong requirement. Sometimes we can prevent the consequences from overwhelming us.



Electing a President Who Is Not a Member of the Political Class May be a Very Good Thing! by The Elephant's Child

It’s hard to know what the Left really believes. Nancy Pelosi has announced that as soon as Democrats return to power, they will end all this “tax cuts for the rich” nonsense, and raise taxes. If they can just convince everybody that the tax cuts only went to the very rich and CEOs of big corporations, then they will return to power and have more money to spend. Republican tax-cuts are what is called “supply-side economics”. When you free people up, and let them keep more of their own money, then they have the money to start their own businesses, invest and grow the economy. When the economy is growing,business expands and grows and hires. Works every time. Here are some facts:

President Trump is the “Jobs President” after 8 years of Obama’s failure. The unemployment rate is at a record low. It  hit 3.8% in May, a record low. The unemployment rate of Latinos is at an all-time low. African-American unemployment is also at an all-time low.

A record number of Americans are working full-time. Almost 130 million Americans now have full-time jobs. This is six million more than the previous record.

The number of jobs available is at a record high. Job openings are ranging from 6.6 to 6.8 million between March and May —meaning there are as many jobs out there as unemployed Americans. In many cases, employers are waiving their usual requirements to training or retraining workers themselves. Congress is in the process of passing legislation supporting community college and technical training. A good time for preparing students for high paying jobs and avoiding the mountains of debt that many millennials face. When employers have a hard time finding qualified workers, salaries go up.

President Trump is keeping his commitment to the forgotten blue collar worker and to the older workers in middle America. As a result the economy grew at a robust 4.1 percent in the second quarter.

I often mention that the government has no money of its own. By that, I mean that every promise of “free stuff,” or “free college,”or “free health care, or “guaranteed jobs”or “subsidized housing” is not paid for by the government, which has no money of it’s own, but by you, the taxpayer, with, added on, the cost of a new bureau and a new bunch of bureaucrats to administer the new benefits. But that is not the end of it. We cannot expect the new bureau and the new bureaucrats to administer all this stuff from the nation’s capitol. Each of the fifty states will need a new bureau and a new bunch of bureaucrats to actually disperse all these wonderful new benefits, who also require salaries and pensions and benefits. Which means that the states will need new bureaus and bureaucrats. Unfortunately that is not the end of it, because all the extra taxes use up a lot of the money that was going to new businesses and new ideas., and slowly, the economy responds by slowing down, which means more people out of work and needing help, so the cycle repeats.

A while back when the Democrats were promising “free stuff” Nancy Pelosi informed Americans that now, with all these free benefits, people would be free to follow their dreams and paint and write and play music in all their new free time.




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