American Elephants


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

McGovern
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.



Affirmative Action Was Meant Well, But They Didn’t Think It Through. by The Elephant's Child


In searching for answers to the racial angst of black students on their campuses, some universities are turning to — segregation. The University of Connecticut is constructing a living space (dorm) meant specifically for African American males. SCHOLA2RS, an awkward acronym for “SCholastic House of Leaders who are African American Researchers and Scholars”.

Dr. Eric Hines, an assistant professor of educational psychology will serve as faculty advisor to the around 40 students involved with the house.

Dr. Hines claims that SCHOLA2RS House is “a space for African American men to one, come together and validate their experiences that they may have on campus.” Hines further elaborates that the new dorm would also serve as “a space where they can have conversation and also talk with individuals who come from the same background who share the same experience.”

It seems a little awkward for even a psychology professor to suggest that because students are black they “come from the same background and share the same experience.”

There is a program for Women in Math, Science and Engineering, and it is a good way for students with similar interests to be grouped with those who share the same interests.

Commenters asked where the living space was for Caucasian students? SCHOLA2RS is apparently the only dorm segregated by race and gender. It is meant well and while the graduation rate for all students in 2012 was 82.5 percent, for African American males that year it was 54 percent. The school is trying to help, but stuck with numbers of black students who must be admitted to have the right (quota — bad word) diversity. Is segregating on the basis of race and gender more meaningful than say segregating on the basis of interest: Jocks vs. hopeful computer science geeks, or biology students with PE majors?

Most of the racial incidents in other colleges that provoked major protests turned out to be hoaxes, made-up, or just plain false. It is true that at many schools, black students often self-segregate for lunch tables or other occasions. Some have been protests about a statue of a Founder who owned slaves, or a building named for a benefactor who was known to have owned slaves a couple of hundred years ago. That’s when you know the protest is a phony one.

Stirring up feelings of discrimination for political purposes seems like a particularly dirty trick on everybody. But the Left isn’t playing tricks, and it’s not a game. They are at war and the goal is to’ fundamentally transform’ the United States of America to something better where they are more completely in charge. The Republicans assume that Democrats just have different policy preferences, and they are being difficult.

ADDENDUM: The original story about the  University of Connecticut was misleading. The “segregation” of African American males by race and gender is not a separate dorm, but merely a section on one floor of a large dorm. The intent is to help students share their efforts to succeed and to feel more comfortable with others who share their problems. I think my post was misleading, and I apologize.

I believe human beings are tribal by nature. The Middle East is aflame because of the extreme tribal nature of the area. Europe is tribal as nations share a language, traditions and a history, and do not assimilate newcomers easily. Some of the ‘refugees’ coming to Europe find assimilation far more difficult than they expected — nothing is what they expected, they don’t like the accommodations, they don’t like the food, and some just want to go back home.

In America we create our own tribes. I am in touch with some of the kids I grew up with. I’m in touch with a large number of my college friends, I have a collection of former neighbors few of whom know each other. People join clubs, civic organizations, churches. Black students are observed to seek out other black students, and within the voluntary grouping of black students they will find their own tribes of jocks and science majors or kids from their own hometown. It is a worthwhile experiment and hopefully will succeed.



The Racial Protests Aren’t About What You Think They Are! by The Elephant's Child

race-EDIT2-012016
In a recent CBS News Special, correspondent Lee Cowan asked the president if, in spite of his promises to be the great uniter, the degree of anger and disagreement was a reflection on his tenure in the White House.  President Obama responded:

The one thing that gnaws on me is the degree of continued polarization. This has gotten worse over the last several years. And I think that in those early months, my expectation was that we could pull the parties together a little more effectively.

“Cowan then asked the president,’Do you wish in hindsight that maybe campaigning on that notion of changing the tone in Washington, do you wish you hadn’t campaigned as hard on that promise?'”

“That’s what the American people believe, and that’s what I still believe,” Obama said, jumping right back into his old ways.” (In other words, don’t blame me)

Ah yes, that is why Obama is governing by executive order so he doesn’t have to engage with Congress, and endure their disagreement. An election is coming up, and black voters might not come out since Obama is no longer on the ballot. It’s necessary for the community organizer-in-chief to stir things up a little. Starting with Ferguson, Missouri, we were told that George Soros was funding organizers to enliven the riots. Organizers from Ferguson went on to Baltimore to make sure there actually were riots.

The reason Mizzou students did not want the media taking pictures was because there were Ferguson and Occupy activists there giving them counsel. The issue is never the issue — the issue is always the revolution. Obama promised us that he intended to fundamentally change the United States of America — we just didn’t understand what he meant.

Breitbart News examined  Twitter accounts in Columbia, Missouri, and found individuals from #Black Lives Matter, who traveled from Ferguson to Baltimore, and Charleston. SC and published photos of them meeting with Student Body President Payton Head.

Paul Sperry explains how Obama is bankrolling a nonstop protest against “invented outrage,” and he’s doing it through Organizing for Action, (formerly Obama’s campaign organization Obama for America) He claims that OFA has trained more than 10,000 leftist organizers, who in turn are training more than 2 million youth in Alinsky street action. “The leftist group, which recently registered as a 501c4 nonprofit eligible for unlimited contributions, holds regular ‘organizing summits’ on college campuses.” And there’s ACORN as well.

Through social media, they mobilize flash mobs against “biased cops,” “climate-change deniers,” “Wall Street predators” and “gun extremists.” They hold rallies against conservative foes of gay marriage, LGBT rights, abortion and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The president has egged on the #Black Lives Matter protesters and invited the founder to the White House, he assured the Occupy Wall Street protesters that he was on their side. But there is much less racism today, and there are fewer and fewer real targets. “Even professors, deans and chancellors who worship at the altar of diversity and multiculturalism are enduring their wrath, poetically suffering intolerances in the name of tolerance.”

But actions have consequences. The violent protests against the police have meant that police are more reluctant to go into poor black neighborhoods. Police across the country are having trouble finding recruits. Obama is releasing thousands of “non-violent” drug dealers from prison, numbers of them  who were armed when arrested — but they are “non-violent.”

At the Hoover Institution, James Huffman explores “The Real Cause of Campus Racism.” Colleges and Universities have made race and racial differences central to almost everything they do. And to make matters worse, those who accredit our universities make attention to race in admissions and programming a condition of accreditation. (This is an important and challenging essay, do read the whole thing.)

The University of Missouri, where the campus follies started, believed it could win the hearts and minds of black students by throwing its president to the racial protesters. But actions do indeed have consequences. Freshman applications are down 5% from the previous year and graduate student applications have plunged 19%. Pandering would seem to be a failure.

Even Victor Davis Hanson has noticed that polls confirm that Obama is the most polarizing president in recent memory — in a column titled “Still Polarizing After All These Years.” Dr. Hanson summarized the president’s divisiveness over his long seven years in office.  It is an ugly picture.

Obama has lost his party the Congress and most of the state legislatures. He has destroyed the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, and made his media apologists into caricatures of ministry of information megaphones. Obama ushered in an unprecedented any-means-necessary government amorality. Lois Lerner, a politicized IRS and a defunct ICE are its dividends. The secretary of Defense—four so far—is now a cabinet post designed to spawn after-office tell-all indictments of Obama. Scandals are normal now at the VA, IRS, NSA, ATF, EPA, and GSA, and from the AP surveillance and Solyndra to the Benghazi video-did-it talking points. The administration has reduced once-cherished departments such as the Secret Service, State Department, Justice Department and NASA into caricatures of incompetency.



If He Were a CEO, He Would Have Been Fired a Long Time Ago! by The Elephant's Child

recessionThe Great Obama Recession continues. Fourth Quarter growth was anemic, expanding at only a 0.7% seasonally adjusted annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2015.  That’s weak, really weak. From the end of World War II, the economy grew at an average annual rate of 3.5%, through thick and thin.

The Labor Department reported 292,000 new net jobs in December, but the U.S. labor force participation rate has been declining for more than five years. Only 62.6 percent of the labor force is actually employed. In a study published last month University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan concludes that American safety-net programs changed significantly, in ways that discouraged employment. Unemployment insurance became more generous in several ways. Eligibility rules for food stamps were reduced, waivers from work requirements were granted, and the monthly benefit amount was increased.

In Britain, labor force participation stayed flat throughout the downturn, and it increased for 25 to 54 year olds. In the U.S. labor force participation for ages25 to 54 dropped 3,1 percentage points. The difference was that Britain cut tax rates on income and consumption to encourage low income individuals to work. The American stimulus reduced the incentives to be employed.

Work is important. Only 3% of working-age adults who work full time, year around, are in poverty. Democrats govern most of the major American cities, and they have been increasing their spending significantly. Without the ability to increase their spending much more, they have turned to regulation. By regulating how businesses conduct themselves, who they can hire, what they must provide — they are turning the progressive agenda into a regulatory agenda.

During the 1990s, conservative ideas had a profound and lasting influence on welfare policy, policing, and K–12 public education. Cities that had appeared to be in a death spiral only years before began to see their populations stabilize and even start growing again. Republican mayors such as Steven Goldsmith in Indianapolis, New York City’s Rudolph Giuliani, and Los Angeles’s Richard Riordan gained national renown for their successes. Welfare rolls fell dramatically without the corresponding rise in poverty predicted by liberal doomsayers. Crime rates plummeted. School choice gained broad support throughout low-income minority neighborhoods.

Republican inability to explain what had happened, capitalize on the drop in crime and the popularity of charter schools, led to the reelection of Progressive mayors. The rise in convicted criminals was blamed on racism, not as the cause of the drop in crime. (See Butterfield Fallacy) Progressives aren’t spending in a big way because they don’t have the money. Paying city workers, mostly unionized, and pensions means there’s not enough left for anything else.

Work is Important. To quote Thomas Sowell:

It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club. It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.

Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing “compassion” for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.

 



Recovery From a Recession is Likely Unless Lawmakers Gum it Up With Ill-Conceived Stimulus Policies. by The Elephant's Child

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Obama likes to compare his recession to Franklin Roosevelt’s GREAT Depression under the mistaken belief that the GREAT Depression was long because it was a particularly bad one, and the reason that Obama’ recession has gone on so long is simply because it was an unusually bad one— which is all a bunch of hooey.

FDR’s Great Depression was bad because FDR  had no real idea how to deal with it and attacked it with the idea of constant experimentation with ways to end it. There was the NRA, the WPA, the RFC, the CCC, and the OPA to mention just a few. Two UCLA economists announced back in 2004 that they had figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect thought by all good Progressives to be beyond reproach— Franklin D Roosevelt himself. The Wall Street Journal reminds us in a “Notable and Quotable” column:

After scrutinizing Roosevelt’s record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

“Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump,” said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA’s Department of Economics. “We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.” . . .

“The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes,” Cole said. “Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened.”

What? Non-intervention as policy? Works pretty well. Economies like to recover. Freedom and prosperity go together. Consult Calvin Coolidge.



He Has a Phone and a Pen, And Congress Should Just Not Interfere! by The Elephant's Child

Obama-McDonough
Dennis McD0nough, President Obama’s Chief of Staff, confirmed the intent of the Administration to pursue “audacious” executive actions. He stated that the Obama administration’s desire was that its actions “not be subject to undoing through [Congress] or otherwise.” Many presidents have used “executive orders” to move an issue forward when Congress was stalling, but McDonough’s comment was something quite different. The end goal here is policy decisions that cannot be undone by Congress “or otherwise” which would seem to be the courts. Obama wants what he wants and he doesn’t want any  ignorant interference.

This is the man who regularly claims to have been a ‘Professor of Constitutional Law,’ when he apparently was only a lecturer in civil rights law at the University of Chicago, so his casual treatment of the law is not surprising.

The Founders created a governing system with three branches that was meant to act slowly, with deliberation. The Federalist explained the idea of what James Madison called “checks and balances” in The Federalist No. 51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

The Progressives in our country have somehow come to believe that whatever it is, is better done by government. Philanthropy should not be granted by rich men, but done by government. What to eat? The government will tell you what you should eat. Health care? The government will decide what medical care you may have and from what physicians or hospitals, and what they will pay for. You taxes will support useless wind turbines and solar arrays, and put the nation’s corn crop in your gas tank. You cannot buy raw milk from a dairy, and you must buy organic food. You are required to use less water when you take a shower, and the government will tell you what kind of light bulbs to use in your house. I could go on and on, but you will find the exercise more informative if you do it yourself.

Over the centuries since the founding, the shallow inclinations of politicians have been limited by respect for the restraint on their authority as a part of the guarantee of American freedom, so essential to who we are and what we believe. Many have commented on the anger of the American people in this campaign season. That is the root of the fury—an administration that ignores the rules and customs and traditions of our history—because this President, like a spoiled child, wants his own way.

He does not like Congress, because they disagree. He does not want to deal with them, and he ‘s not going to argue or try to convince them. He has a pen and a phone, and just try to stop him. And believe it or not, Hillary wants to appoint him to the Supreme Court, when his term is finally over.

Donald Trump said he would use a lot of executive actions as well, but he’d do good ones. And who decides that?



Science Moves On, and Our Old Bulbs May Yet Return! by The Elephant's Child

The incandescent light bulb. Gone, but not forgotten

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— February 28, 2014  Popular Mechanics

Incandescent era, RIP. Like it or not, it’s time to move on. Traditional incandescent lightbulbs are gone—not banned, precisely, but phased out because the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), passed in 2007, requires them to be about 25 percent more efficient. That’s impossible to achieve without decreasing their luminous flux (brightness), so, instead, manufacturers have shifted to more energy-efficient technologies, such as compact fluorescents (CFLs), halogens, and LEDs.

Wikipedia has a page entitled “Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs” the first sentence says: “Governments Have Passed Measures”

Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives.

This one was really a case of crony capitalism or a couple of very large corporations who used the power of government to force Americans to buy a new product that cost up to 10 times more than the old reliable bulbs. The profit margin on the new bulbs is significantly higher. Any environmental benefits were largely hooey, but the manufacturers got to pretend they were “saving the planet.”

The problem was that nobody liked the replacements, and the environmentalists insisted that the bulbs had to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. I don’t know about you, but the recycling enthusiasts are going way too far, and I can see a reckoning coming. People just wanted their friendly, cheap, satisfactory bulbs back.

The people may win. Scientists at MIT believe they may have come up with a solution which could see incandescent bulbs return to the marketplace — better and cheaper and more efficient.

MIT researchers have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass, they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat — while still allowing the light to come through. They call the technique “recycling light” because the energy that would usually escape into the air is redirected back to the filament where it can create new light. “It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted.”

Traditional incandescent bulbs are only about five percent efficient with 95 percent of the energy lost to the atmosphere. LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 percent efficiency. Scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 percent, achieving near-ideal rendering of colors.

If the new bulbs live up to expectations they would cost far less than the hated LEDs and CFL bulbs. Researchers have warned that the blue light emitted by modern bulbs could be stopping people from getting to sleep at night and there have been concerns about the dangerous chemicals they contain.

Luboš Motl explains the physics at the reference frame, for those who want more details, and there’s a picture of the prototype — which isn’t the bulb pictured above.




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