American Elephants


Regulation, Red Tape, and the Heavy Hand of Government. by The Elephant's Child

The health of small business may be the most important indicator of long term growth in our economy. But this spring has been a hard time for small business. Only 119,000 jobs were added in March, and although April and May saw the jobs market perform better, small businesses who make up the bulk of payroll services firm Paychex Inc.’s customers said the measure of small business hiring was off by half a percentage point by the end of May. Not a good sign.

In today’s world,  when the shift from a manufacturing economy to the information economy is the major trend in American business, the health of small business may be the most important indicator of long term growth. We need hundreds of thousands of creative new small businesses led by entrepreneurs who are attempting to take advantage of the riches of the information sector to provide new products and services.

The Left’s push for a higher minimum wage, and Obama’s new order to force businesses to pay overtime to anyone making less than $50,000 a year will simply encourage the proliferation of robots, electronic cashiers, and more part-time workers. Over time the creativity of entrepreneurs could provide the new jobs that will replace the ones being automated or outsourced. Cheap money and relatively cheap labor should be helping, but a number of factors are at work. We have an administration that deeply believes that more regulations makes life better, which is clearly part of the problem.

Big businesses can cope. When the minimum wage jumps to $15 an hour, a chain of drugstores can afford to install automatic checkout machines that won’t get $15 and hour plus overtime, plus healthcare, plus sick leave, plus being late for work. It’s not so easy for small business.

Control and Regulation and the heavy hand of government  have a cost. The Left is basically clueless. This time it’s affecting us all.



Things Work Better Without Obama’s Overtime Rules by The Elephant's Child

When President Obama is not busy with annoying problems of national security and terrorism,  he will soon grant millions of workers overtime pay. Just a quick signature with his executive pen. Obama just does not understand how business works. He had, according to his biography one brief job in the private sector as sort of a copywriter, which he hated.

Businesses that pay salaried workers less than $455 a week currently  have to pay overtime as well. As a result, many companies, Obama says, are “skirting basic overtime laws, calling somebody a manager when they’re stocking groceries and getting paid $30,000 a year. He wants to raise the threshold to $50,400, which he says will make 5 million more workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay.

Journalists praised Obama’s generosity because he was going to “bring overtime pay to millions,” which assumes that businesses who are employing these newly overtime-eligible workers won’t change anything, they’ll just start paying them time-and-a-half.  Journalists  don’t understand how business works either, unless they specialize in business or economics.

If those workers weren’t getting a market wage, and were underpaid, given their skill levels and  the work they’re doing, they’d get another job. The Left has a view of economics that involves vicious managers who are raking it in, and almost enslaving poor workers who desperately need the benevolent hand of government to force companies to pay them a fair wage.

So in an economy where so many are out of work, businesses are hurting, Obama will fix things by insisting that everybody raise workers’ pay. And he’ll  issue more regulations. Some companies will make sure that workers don’t put in overtime, or ban overtime completely. Or they’ll bring in more part-time workers to avoid the wage hit, or perhaps they’ll just lay off some people. Or maybe they’ll just raise their prices, forcing consumers to pay for Obama’s generosity.



The EPA’s Enormous Land Grab by The Elephant's Child

unofficial-stream-small-custom-e1339556645568The EPA  has just finalized one of the biggest land grabs in American history.

Just reprimanded by the Supreme Court, the EPA is anxious to try their luck again. Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA was  granted the authority to regulate the navigable waters of the United States to see that they remained clean.

Under the Clean Water Rule, all  “tributaries” will be regulated by the federal government. Broadly defined, which they intend, this means  anything moist that eventually flows into something that can be defined as a “navigable river,” including the roadside ditch above, and even smaller trickles.

Under the same rule, the word “adjacent” is stretched from the Supreme Court’s definition of actually “abutting” what most Americans regard as a real water of the United States to anything “neighboring,” “contiguous,” or “bordering” a real water, terms which are again stretched to include whole floodplains and riparian areas. Floodplains are typically based on a 100-year flood, but a separate regulation would stretch that to a 500-year flood.

And, finally, under the rule, the EPA cynically throws in a catch-all “significant nexus” test meant as a shout out to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States when, in fact, the EPA’s rule makes a mockery of Kennedy’s opinion and of no fewer than three Supreme Court rulings.

Under the three approaches, no land or “water” is beyond the reach of the federal government, never mind the traditional understanding of private property or state and local control of land use.

Farmers, ranchers, dairymen and everyone in rural America are in panic mode. Not only does this rule allow the EPA onto their land, but it throws wide open to environmental group-led citizen lawsuits that promise to go far beyond what the EPA envisioned. Citizen lawsuits are controlled only by the rule. The rule carries with it fines to the tune of $37,500 a day. The EPA has a habit of imposing fines big enough to scare the accused  of whatever violation into immediate compliance.

I grew up very rural, and I’m sure city people cannot imagine the havoc this rule could cause. Although here in the Seattle area, a good portion of our lawns could be considered wetlands for a portion of the year. It rains a lot, and there is runoff. Farmers and ranchers spend a significant amount of time ditching, or controlling the flow of water where it is not wanted.

The goal of the Environmental Protection Agency has little to do with the environment, but only to do with how environmental regulation can be used to further their political goals of control, ending private property, and bringing on the utopia where everyone is, at last, truly equal. Well, except for those in charge, of course.



We Don’t Have To Observe Any Supreme Court Ruling! by The Elephant's Child

The White House said today that the Supreme Court’s decision today on the EPA overreach claiming that the costs of their regulation don’t matter — wouldn’t impact the huge pending EPA rule imposing regulations of existing power plants. I assume this is Josh Earnest posing as “the White House.” Odd.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the outcome,” he said. “I will say, based on what we have read so far, there is no reason that this court ruling should have an impact on the ability of the administration to develop and implement the clean power plant [ruling].”

If the administration is prepared to ignore the Supreme Court ruling, then I assume the rest of us are free to ignore the other decisions that we aren’t that convinced were rightly decided.



The Supreme Court Calls a Halt to the EPA’s Overreach by The Elephant's Child
June 29, 2015, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Energy, Law, Regulation | Tags: , ,

In the case of Michigan v. EPA, the Supreme Court addressed a matter that is genuinely outside of voter’s control, the way-too-rapid expansion of the regulatory state. The problems all began with the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The problem seemed simple to Congress. We want clean air and clean water, and that’s what the EPA should be doing.

But the EPA is an agency filled with environmental activists and zealots, fully in line with Obama’s unwarranted belief in a dangerous global warming, and sure that the correct answer is to get rid of fossil fuels,  carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and carbon in general.  The answer is to force Americans to want to rely clean energy sources like solar and wind, with no understanding that solar and wind do not produce enough energy to be a significant source of power.

The EPA wants to force all coal-fired power plants to either shut down or do a lot or retrograding to eliminate any emissions from that nasty fossil fuel.  Around 40 percent of our electricity is supplied by coal-fired power plants. The EPA’s new regulations would cost $9.6 billion annually, but the EPA claimed that it was appropriate to consider only public health risks. Well, nobody seems to know if there actually are any public health risks. They always put asthma at the top of their list of future childhood death, but the medical profession does not currently know what causes asthma, so that is a complete canard. By some estimates the cost of electricity would go up by as much as $1,200 per year for every American household.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, found that the EPA “unreasonably” interpreted the Clean Air Act to constitute a vehicle by which the environmental regulatory agency could institute new guidelines that were all but overtly aimed at shuttering “dirty” power plants. “EPA strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants,” the opinion read. That’s significant; contrary to the wealth of shallow emotionality that suffices for modern political commentary, profits matter. Individual livelihoods and the economic health of the nation are still protected by the Constitution, and they should not be subordinated to environmental sustainability in the zero-sum game that has become America’s regulatory culture.



Obama wants Doctors to warn their patients that global warming could make your health worse. by The Elephant's Child

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Americans generally trust their doctors, so the White House wants these trusted medical professionals to help out in the administration’s propaganda campaign to convince the people to support Obama’s global warming campaign.

We also need doctors, nurses and citizens, like all of you”President Obama said in a taped speech presented to medical professionals gathered at the White House, “to get to work to raise awareness and organize folks for real change.

The EPA has long tried to cloak their power grab and excessive regulation under risible claims that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant and must be eliminated. As Alan Carlin explained:

The much maligned carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, as EPA and Obama claim, but rather a basic input to plant photosynthesis and growth, which is the basis of life on Earth. Decreasing atmospheric CO2 levels would decrease plant productivity and therefore the food supply for the rest of the ecosystem and humans, and vice versa. Further, attempts to reduce it will prove enormously expensive, futile, harmful to human welfare, and in the longer run, to environmental improvement. It is now increasingly evident that efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by governmental coercion will have important non-environmental adverse effects in terms of loss of freedom of scientific inquiry, economic growth and development, and the rule of law.

Obama’s summit included the U.S. Surgeon General, top administration officials, and public health experts from around the country telling doctors nurses and other conference goers how to talk about global warming with their patients.

The central message: doctors should warn their patients that global warming could make their health worse. Uh huh.

As if doctors weren’t busy enough. The Surgeon General also wants them to ask their patients if they have any guns in the house. You’ve probably noticed that the inevitable paperwork you have to fill out is getting increasingly nosy. And with everything computerized, your entire medical record is open to any hacker who is interested.



You Voted for Republicans in 2014? The Community Organizer Strikes Back! by The Elephant's Child
June 22, 2015, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Economy, Education, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: , , ,

According to the Obama administration, in too many neighborhoods “housing choices continue to be constrained through housing discrimination, the operation of housing markets,[and] investment choices by holders of capital,” information directly from the Housing and Urban Development  — “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) proposed rule.

Obama apparently believes that your neighborhood may not be inclusive enough, so he has instructed HUD to issue a new rule to force communities to diversify.

Under Obama’s proposed rule, the federal government will collect massive amounts of data on the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of thousands of local communities, looking for signs of “disparities by race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability in access to community assets.” Then the government will target communities with results it doesn’t like and use billions of dollars in federal grant money to bribe or blackmail them into changing their zoning and housing policies.

Don’t misunderstand, this is not about housing discrimination, which has been illegal since 1968. It is unlawful to deny you a loan or prevent you from buying a home because of your race, creed or color. Socioeconomic status is another matter, and should be. If you want to buy a nice house in the suburbs, you have to be able to afford it. Obama apparently believes that this is unfair discrimination by the “holders of capital.” Remember that Obama’s previous chosen occupation was as a “community organizer,” a job heavily invested in claims of “red-lining” and banks’ loan policies.

The effort calls for HUD to set aside taxpayer funds to upgrade poorer communities with amenities such as better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as a means of gentrifying those communities. It also calls for using grant money to build affordable housing in wealthy neighborhoods.

The Left is deeply engaged in the pursuit of “equality.” Their goal of a future utopia where everyone is equal and lives together in perfect harmony dominates their dreams and motivates their political aims. Communitarian ideals, though it doesn’t seem to penetrate that it has been tried and failed over and over from Lenin to Venezuela and the communes of the Sixties. Those people just didn’t do it right. The Progressives would.

There is clearly a natural urge for “community.” How often do you hear the term “the Black Community?” But many cities have a Chinatown, Seattle has a Norwegian community, and it was true from the beginning — up-country South Carolina was heavily settled by the Scots-Irish. My German immigrant ancestors settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania itself was settled by Quakers, New England by Puritans. People who can afford it buy around a favored golf club, or buy waterfront around a lake. Are the rest of us harmed by that? Or does it drive a better economy that benefits everyone, with more people striving to succeed?

There is a human instinct for associating with like-minded people. Consider the retirement communities, where golf-carts are the usual transportation, and escape from loud rock music is welcomed. and homes for senior citizens where health care is part of the deal. Does low-income housing fit into the gated community in the name of diversity? Is a massive influx of immigrants or welfare recipients into a highly regarded school district called for in the name of correcting good schools in the name of discrimination?

The final regulations are due out this month and HUD is pitching them as a plan to “diversify” America. “HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all,” a spokeswoman for the agency explained.

The House has passed an amendment to the Transportation Housing and Urban Development Bill that prevents HUD from implementing their AFFH regulation, which has been issued in preliminary but not yet final form by the Obama administration. “AFFH repudiates the core principles of our constitutional system by allowing the federal government to usurp the zoning powers of local governments. Over time it would transform the way Americans live urbanizing suburbs and Manhattanizing cities,” according to Stanley Kurtz. This may well become a campaign issue. Anything to get the Iran deal off the airwaves. This represents the death of the neighborhood.

Obama wants to reengineer your neighborhood.” by Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post

“Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out: The Death of the Neighborhood” by Arnold Ahlert, Front Page Magazine

“Ultimate White House trolling: Obama to “diversify” wealthy neighborhoods” by Jazz Shaw, Hot Air




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