American Elephants


An Embarrassing Exercise in Budgeting. Obama Should Be Ashamed. by The Elephant's Child

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Progressives have a vision of money circulating through the economy, creating offspring wherever it goes. I find it very odd, but that’s what they get out of Keynesian economics. You give somebody food stamps, and the grocery store pays their providers and their sales clerks, and the clerks and providers  buy other stuff, and so on and on, and somehow it grows and multiplies on the trip.

They are not very good at math either, which shows up clearly in their spending and budgeting.  President Obama has released the final budget plan of his lame duck presidency and it will be ignored by Congress, as it should be. He wants to expand the federal government which is already obese, and he wants big tax hikes to pay for it.

But 70% of federal spending amounts to taking money from one set of pockets and putting it into another pocket. In spite of their constant claims of fighting income inequality, very little of this money goes to help the poor. There is housing assistance, food stamps, welfare programs and Medicaid — programs that comprise only 25% of all the payments to individuals.

It all starts with an enormous $2.7 trillion tax increase over ten years. This is on top of the increases Obama has pushed over previous years. In ObamaCare, the tax hikes totaled $1.2 trillion over a decade, and then right after his re-election in 2012, he demanded a $600 billion tax hike on upper-income earners as the price for not imposing bigger hikes on the middle class. If he were to get away with this disgraceful budget, it would add somewhere around $4 to $5 trillion over a decade or at least $400 billion each and every year. Of course the standard reply is a trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money! So why shouldn’t we tax the one percent even more? What we want — is to tax everybody less.

The federal government is not thrifty, nor is it a careful or honest custodian of the money they collect. Government waste is an ongoing scandal. There are somewhere around 45 different job training programs in as many different departments that are remarkably good at failing to increase employment. Excess regulation wraps businesses in a web of expense and wasted time in compliance. And there is less money and less confidence for expanding or hiring or growing. Top that off with higher taxes — and what you get is the kind of sluggish economy we have today.

The more sluggish the economy, the more the Progressives will try to fix it — with more regulation and probably more taxes. There does not seem to be an agency of the federal government that has not been politicized under this president, and the scandals mount.

Obama’s budget relies on “deep and unsustainable reductions in defense spending to make the deficit look smaller than it would otherwise be given his policies.” Defense spending is already at historically low levels, but then Obama sees little need for defense spending. He firmly believes that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon, though what they want with those intercontinental ballistic missiles is a puzzlement.

Mr. Obama does insist that “one of the greatest challenges of our time is climate change”and he wants to double funding for clean energy research and development by 2020. I’m sure that a 50 percent increase in funding for the EPA will go over well.

Environmental organizations raise bundles of money by featuring baby animals, starting with harp seals, and settling finally on polar bears. Baby polar bears are cute, and American are suckers for cute animals, but the polar bears are not endangered but are thriving. Federal funding for subsidies and grants are a rich source of money for big investors.

Al Gore’s global warming activism has increased his net worth from $700,000 in 2000 to an estimated $172 million by 2015. “He has also had a remarkable record of investing in companies right before they get huge grants from the federal government.”

The billionaire Elon Musk is chairman “of a number of companies such as Tesla Motors and Solar City which rake in billions in green energy subsidies. In 2014, Musk received $1.4 billion from Nevada taxpayers to build a ‘gigafactory’ for his electric car company Tesla Motors.” The MSRP for a Tesla is reportedly over $100,000. SolarCity also got a large payout to move to Nevada. When Nevada changed the way it subsidized solar power in a way that didn’t favor Musk or SolarCity, the company pulled out of the state.”

Tesla also sells lithium ion-battery Powerwalls for a mere $7,340 to store electricity for homes. The original intention of a Powerwall was to make rooftop solar panels economically viable for consumers. Powerwalls are estimated to take approximately 40 years to pay for themselves. Naturally, Tesla only offers five to 10 year warranties and predicts they will last for only 15 years.

Nice work if you can get it, though I cannot understand why taxpayers should be subsidizing billionaires’ playthings. That’s what hedge funds and angel investors do, not what the federal government should be doing with taxpayer money.



What do College Students Know? by The Elephant's Child

I’m passionate about history. I think it’s imperative for our young people to get a thorough grounding in our history. If we are granting them the privilege of voting, they should know something about our nation and the world. That said, I think most of my own knowledge of history came after I’d graduated from college.

Of course we read reports of kids who can’t find Florida on a map, or who simply have never been taught anything about history. So I shouldn’t be too ready to cast aspersions on ignorant college kids now. If they don’t know anything, it’s not their fault. They have never been taught.

But this video made me cry. If young people know nothing else, they should know what World War II was about, and why it matters. This woman is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. and she is deeply concerned that students are ill-equipped to understand that there is genocide going on  right now. I’m not even Jewish, though I don’t know what that has to do with anything. Five states require specific education about the Holocaust. There should be more. Unfortunately kids are more apt to be taught about “social justice.” A favorite phrase of the Left — meaningless.

There aren’t all that many survivors left, nor many of those who witnessed it. How can you understand the story of the “Force of the Sun Ladies” in the last post if you do not understand the depths to which humans can descend when radicalized by politics, or religion, or simple greed.

We have a presidential election campaign going on, and so far, voters seem determined to nominate those least equipped to deal with the current problems of the world. It’s a very scary world out there, and the current president has, through his own ignorance of history, weakened America, weakened our military, destroyed relations with our most dependable allies, and increased the chances that we will be attacked here at home with great loss of life.

Edmund Burke said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” back in the 1700s, and it has been repeated over and over. Think of it as a plea to learn from history. Teach your kids at home. If you don’t know your own history — study up.



You Want to Be a Little Careful When You Mess Around With Women! by The Elephant's Child

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But they are refugees — we owe them empathy and compassion, we have to help them, don’t we? German Chancellor Angela Merkel saw the desperate bombed out cities and towns in Syria on television, and invited the refugees to come to Germany, because they needed more workers, and owed them compassion. The politicos seem to line up with Chancellor Merkel, but the people are not so sure.

During the New Years celebration in Cologne, Germany at least a thousand North African refugees groped women, there were allegations of two rapes, and the mayor of the city requested that women monitor their “code of conduct.” (Look what she was wearing, she was asking for it) The authorities are dedicated to tolerance, which trumps both survival and personal safety.

In Russia, 51 Muslim refugees expelled from Norway go to a nightclub in Murmansk, grope and molest women, and wake up in the hospital. Russians don’t have all that much tolerance when it comes to sexual assault on local women, in the manner that women were attacked in Cologne. A group of Russian men took them aside to teach them a lesson. and gave them a beating they would remember. Police arrived to break up the fight, but threw a few punches at the refugees before arresting 33 of them. Eighteen were in such bloody condition they had to be taken to the hospital.

The police decided not to file a report, but they did confirm that there was a “mass brawl involving refugees.”

There were various reports about from where the Muslim Refugees were expelled. some said Cologne, others said they were expelled from Norway for “bad behavior.” What seems to be fairly universal is the tolerance expressed and enforced in Western Europe. Herbert London described the situation:

Much of the chaos Germany now endures was predictable. After all, many Muslim men treat woman as inferior, mere objects for their sexual delectation. The Koran endorses the proposition that a woman has half the rights of a man in any legal proceeding. Nonetheless, the compassion crusade goes on.

Common sense would suggest that those who cannot assimilate should never be allowed in and those whose behavior violates German law should be thrown out. But that isn’t the conversation in political councils; it is the conversation on the street. The authorities generally stand with Merkel.

We are suffering from the same tolerance delusion here. The president recoils from calling anyone a “terrorist” — they are “extremists,” but then so is anyone in this country who has a concealed carry permit or holds up a Gadsden flag, or resides in one of those odd states like Texas or Oklahoma or Idaho.  It’s all very strange, and requires careful use of language.

In Erbil, Iraq, “some 2.000 Yazidi women who were captured in the brutal August 2014 attack on their mountain stronghold — have escaped and taken up arms against their former tormentors.They witnessed the slaughter of their families on Mount Sinjar and then were forced into sexual slavery.” They call themselves the ‘Force of the Sun Ladies’ and are ready to fight for vengeance. They have been trained and are ready to fight alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. They range in age from 17 to 37  and there are 500 more waiting to be trained.

The Ladies are reportedly killing about ten ISIS fighters every day.



Willful Ignorance In The White House, Rising Danger in the World. by The Elephant's Child

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This is the time of year when President Obama has to come up with his 2017 budget request. Reports have said that the president is planning to ask Congress for billions and billions more to spend on controlling the uncontrollable natural warming and cooling of the earth.

In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama repeated once again his belief that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, which he has said repeatedly, at least 22 times, insisting that it ranks higher on the danger list than terrorism, which he plans to defeat with windmills. Last week he proposed a $10 a barrel tax on oil production, since the price of gas at the pump has dropped and you probably won’t notice if it goes right back up.

His formal request is for $5.2 billion for Department of Energy Green programs — like all the ones that have already gone bankrupt like Solyndra. $1.8 billion would go to making green energy storage more economical. DOE would also get $880 million to make green transportation more affordable and push green fuels. The big drop in the price of gasoline is playing hob with the sales of electric cars, which aren’t all that green anyway if you consider where they get the electricity from.

The EPA’s budget is supposed to get a 50% increase, while 20 states are asking the Supreme Court to challenge their climate rule, which the states say “would cause “irreparable harm” were it allowed to be implemented.”

The National Science Foundation would get $512 million to study green energy. and the USDA would get $105 million for “competitive and intramural research funding to support development of bio-based energy sources that range from sustainable and economical forest systems and farm products to increased production of biofuels.”Even HUD gets more money to get more low-carbon energy into residential homes.

Biofuels don’t work, ethanol should be banned, and Obama wants to put more wood products or anything at all that could replace fossil fuels into your gas tanks. He believes that carbon dioxide is a pollutant (which it isn’t) that it is the cause of the tiny rise in the temperature of the Earth over the last century (it isn’t). We need more CO2 in the atmosphere, because it is a natural fertilizer for plants and is greening the world.

The EPA has released a finding that aircraft (except for Air Force One) carbon emissions contribute to climate change. This will be coordinated with “the International Civil-Aviation Organization, a branch of the United Nations, which is drafting a global standard for airline carbon emissions.”

And terrorism? The bigger threat to America’s security is that the military has not made climate change its number one priority.” A new Pentagon directive says that climate change must be a part of all Defense Department “programs, plans and policies.”

A huge new defense climate bureaucracy is being born after years of defense cutbacks. Our Army is the smallest since 1940. The Navy is the smallest since 1915. Willful stupidity. Obama’s former CIA deputy director Mike Morell told PBS’s Charlie Rose “We didn’t go after oil wells…that ISIS controls, because we didn’t want to do environmental damage.” ISIS just cut their fighter’s salaries in half, because of the drop in the price of the oil that supports their activities.

In the meantime, North Korea just conducted a test of a three stage Taepodong that could potentially carry a nuclear weapon to the U.S. just a month after they said they had detonated a hydrogen bomb. Iran is working on a “Mysterious new installation that’s tied to its nuclear weapons program.” Iran is using North Korea to develop their nuclear program and are cooperating on their missile program. North Korea calls it a “satellite launch” which doesn’t fool anybody but Obama.

Investors says: “Closer to home, there have been at least 81 major terrorist threats against the U .S. since 9/11, the most recent just last month, according to the Heritage Foundation.” The administration tries to palm off their passivity with the term “strategic patience.” Obama has always hidden behind a carefully constructed web of clever words. Sometimes it works.



Social Justice, The Attack on Freedom, and The Drive for Control. by The Elephant's Child

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— Under the United States Constitution, laws are supposed to be made and changed by the legislature, not by the president and his unelected bureaus and agencies and departments. They call laws issued by the president or one of his minions “administrative law,” which sounds innocuous unless you really stop and think about it.

Most presidents, facing defeat at the polls, make an effort to  try for  bipartisanship. Obama does not operate that way. He despises Republicans, and has set all his legal people to work trying to find ways to pass everything he wants on his own authority.

So here we go again. A proposed rule from the Department of Labor would compel businesses to reveal the names of outside attorneys or labor relations consulting firms with whom they contract. Then the consultants and attorneys contracted would be required to publicly disclose all other similar clients and how much they were paid for their services. George Leef says:

There is nothing illegal in contracting with attorneys and consultants who advise management on the legalities of and tactics relating to fending off unionization. But with time running out in the Obama administration to do favors for Big Labor, the Labor Department wants to do as much as it can to deter companies from dealing with such specialists.

The applicable federal law is the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. That law was catalyzed by the explosive McClellan Committee hearings in 1957-8, which disclosed, as the statute recites, “a number of instances of breach of trust, corruption, disregard for the rights of individual employees, and other failures to observe high standards of responsibility and ethical conduct….” The thrust of the law, therefore, was to increase transparency on the part of both companies and unions.

One provision of the LMRDA requires employers to name consultants they hired who directly spoke to workers, to solve the supposed problem of workers not realizing when they were being sweet-talked by management allies. But the law also includes an exception (Section 203c) for those who simply give advice to the company.

— If you can’t confiscate America’s guns because the public and the Congress won’t approve, there must be another way:  It’s called “Operation Choke Point” which is a Justice Department effort to require, through the FDIC — forcing banks to stop providing financial services to certain industries.

The businesses in ill favor are lawful firearms dealers, payday lenders, escort services and other companies. Justice has encouraged banks to provide services to others like illegal marijuana sales, marijuana shops, abortion clinics, or radical environmental organizations.

Banks find the restrictions onerous, and require extraordinary amounts of due diligence and excessive paperwork. The government  hasn’t been successful at ammunition restrictions, or with false claims about gun shows, so they’re trying a more oblique attack. Congress has passed a bill attempting to end this improper, illegal run-around.

— The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) wants to know just how much you are getting paid. The administration is chasing “Income Inequality” not to make sure that some people are being treated unfairly, but for control.

‘The EEOC announced changes to its required EEO-1 report requiring employers to submit employee W-2 earnings and hours worked. All employers with at least 100 employees would be required to comply. EEOC and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) would jointly have access to the data for enforcement purposes.”

“Pay data will be reported in 12 pay bands (e.g. pay band 5 is $39,000 – $49,000) and by race, ethnicity, sex and job category (e.g. 13 black female professionals in pay band 5).”

The Obama Progressives talk equality, but they mean equality for the hoi-polloi  (which is you and me). They don’t mean themselves — such a big mass of hoi-polloi would require skilled administrators and executives and rulers to whom such pedestrian social justice laws do not apply.

Republicans talk about Big Government, and this is what they mean, but they are quite guilty themselves in sending their laws on to agencies and bureaus and commissions to administer. It will take a very able and experienced president who understands the problem of administrative law, and is willing to fight to do something about it.

You mostly don’t slip into Socialism and lose your freedom and autonomy overnight, it’s a long process, and you wake up one morning and it’s gone.



Politicians Dream and Create Nightmares for Businessmen by The Elephant's Child

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A little history: George McGovern was a Senator from South Dakota. After college, he became a bomber pilot in the Air Force in World War II, then got a PhD in History and became a professor. In 1957 he became a U.S. Congressman, and then a Senator in 1967. He ran a grassroots campaign for the presidency in 1972, and lost in the biggest landslide in history, winning only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. He retired from the Senate in 1981 after a long and distinguished career.

He spent several years on public lectures around the world, for he was an expert in world food problems, and in 1988, invested most of the earnings from the lecture circuit acquiring the leasehold on Connecticut’s Stratford Inn. He had always been fascinated with Inns, hotels and restaurants, and it was “the realization of a lifelong dream to own an Inn with a restaurant and public conference facility, complete with an experienced manager and staff.”

He promptly went bankrupt, and in 1992 he wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, headed with a quotation from Justice Felix Frankfurter:

Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought
not to reject it merely because it comes late.

In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business, especially during a recession of the kind that hit New England just as I was acquiring the inn’s 43-year leasehold. I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender.

Today we are much closer to a general acknowledgment that government must encourage business to expand and grow. Bill Clinton, Paul Tsongas, Bob Kerrey and others have, I believe, changed the debate of our party. We intuitively know that to create job opportunities we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities.

My own business perspective has been limited to that small hotel and restaurant in Stratford, Conn., with an especially difficult lease and a severe recession. But my business associates and I also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never have doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: “Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape.” It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators.

The article was truly notable, for it was a pretty big  admission from a devout liberal that legislators didn’t have a clue about business. “One-size-fits-all” rules ignore the reality of the marketplace, and the thresholds they set for ‘regulatory guidelines’  don’t fit the reality of how business works.

Congressional Democrats may have had a few moments of reconsideration, but they quickly went right back to their comfortable, traditional  way of despising business and businessmen and trying to extract more taxes from the affluent in order to make everything more equal and more “fair.”

Senator McGovern died in 2012 at the age of 90.



Free Markets, Free People, Free Minds, Free Speech by The Elephant's Child

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How do  you make an economy grow and prosper? An constant theme among the Democrats focuses on dividing up existing wealth. They are quite sure that affluent Americans have reached their wealthy state at the expense of the poor and the middle class. Their solution is to take the excess wealth from the rich and give it to the poor in the form of government grants of one sort or another.

The important point is that there is no growth nor prosperity in their plan. Bernie Sanders can promise free college for all which he intends to accomplish by taking more money from the rich, whether in much higher taxes on their income or some kind of direct grab of their untaxed wealth in offshore shelters or wherever they are hiding it.

The problem is that the Democrats are far more interested in “equality” than they are in creating wealth. They really don’t understand how wealth is created, they are much more caught up in class envy. A constant theme of the current Democratic presidential race has been income inequality, with a belief that America’s rich have reached their status at the expense of the poor and the middle class. Perhaps they always think of wealth as a pie, divided into servings, and the rich get the big pieces so there is little left for the poor.

They are big on “diversity” so they are currently intent on moving poor minorities into well-to-do suburban neighborhoods. Every neighborhood should be diverse, no more black neighborhoods or ethnic neighborhoods. My German ancestors came to Germantown in Pennsylvania when they arrived in America. Human beings are tribal, and want to live with people who are like themselves, and speak the same language, and eat the same kind of food, celebrate the same holidays — it’s natural, and happened with most ethnic groups who immigrated.

How do you create wealth? New small businesses start and gradually grow into big businesses, not all of them of course — but all big businesses once started as little businesses.

And those small businesses began with an idea. How do you generate ideas? Some of them start with irritation with a tool, for example, when someone is frustrated with a tool that does not accomplish the desired task, and they just figure there must be a better way.  For most, it stops there because they have no idea how to turn their idea into a business. Those who create a business don’t necessarily have knowledge of how to successfully run a business. And how to run a business is divided up into many different skill sets.

All those inventions that have changed the world — think of how Edison’s little lightbulb changed life all across the world, and all the millions of other inventions and businesses that have derived from cheap, dependable light— when the sun goes down.

It’s autonomy — the quality or state of being independent, free and self directing. The capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, uncoerced decision. Why do the Democrats hate freedom so much?




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