American Elephants


The Best and Worst States for Business, and What They Have in Common by The Elephant's Child

The newly-created McGee Report from Fayetteville State University is an annual report on the Best and Worst States for Business. “The fifty states are ranked based on the extent to which they facilitate business creation and expansion. This study incorporated the data collected from five other studies, which included the examination of hundreds of variables. Utah was found to be the most business friendly state; California was least business friendly. States that voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election tended to be more business friendly than states that voted Democratic.” Social justice at work.

Reading the comments is almost as much fun as the list. The commenters seem to be mostly Californian. In San Francisco, you can rent a bunk bed, sharing a room with several others for $1,200 a month. The place packs in 25 people and rent runs from $1,250 to $1,900.

Three Democrat representatives have introduced a bill that would punish any contractors who dare to work on the border wall by withdrawing any investments in their companies by state-controlled pension funds.

California’s boondoggle bullet train was initially budgeted at $32 billion and the price tag is now up to $68 billion (which the taxpayers are on the hook for), and the initial stretch of track, the easiest to build part of the entire 700 mile route is now $10 billion, and not a single mile has been laid. Just seven years behind schedule. The governor is begging for help, but the Trump Department of  Transportation has  put the brakes on. Jerry Brown’s California suffers the nation’s highest housing prices, largest percentage of people in or near poverty of any state and an exodus of middle-income, middle-aged people. Job growth is increasingly concentrated in low-wage sectors.

The state is the front line for Sanctuary Cities, is zealously fighting natural climate change, their schools are lousy, and they are the worst state in the country for their business climate. Good on social justice though.

Do take a look at the charts. Besides the McGee rankings, it includes the ranking from Forbes, Tax Foundation, Institute for Legal Reform and the Cato Institute. If you scroll down through the comments you will come to one gentleman who did read the whole thing, including how the rankings were calculated — who actually lives in California, and wishes he didn’t. I’ve lived in both the Bay Area and in Southern California, and couldn’t wait to leave.



The Teacher, The School System, The City Council, the Legislature. the Governor and Maybe Even the Courts Will Tell You the Schools Need More Money! It’s All Lies! by The Elephant's Child

What about America’s public education? There are a lot of complaints about K-12 as well. Many hope that Betsy DeVos, the newly confirmed Secretary of Education, can make a big difference in the schools that are failing our most-at-risk children in poor neighborhoods. She is a big proponent of school choice, which allows parents to choose where their child should go to school—something well-to-do parents do quite naturally without realizing that choice is not available to all. One of the great tragedies of the Obama administration was the president’s failure to support the nation’s capitol’s Opportunity Scholarships which have changed the lives of poor kids.

Most ordinary Americans support their community schools, and believe public education to be a good thing. Yet college professors are complaining that their incoming students don’t know anything. There was a small note of cheer this week when I ran across an article that said “Cursive Writing Is Making a Much- Needed Comeback in Schools.” Alabama and Louisiana passed laws in 2016 that mandate cursive proficiency in public schools, the latest in 14 states that require cursive. Fads, unfortunately, pass through the education system destroying everything in their wake. There is a generation out there who never learned cursive skills. They hold a pencil awkwardly, and write in big block letters.

Penmanship proponents say writing words in an unbroken line of swooshing l’s and three-humped m’s is just a faster, easier way of taking notes. Others say students should be able to understand documents written in cursive, such as, say, a letter from Grandma. And still more say it’s just a good life skill to have, especially when it comes to signing your name.

A remarkable amount of dross comes out of the schools of education. When computers arrived on the scene, they decided everyone would communicate with keyboards, and all kids needed was to learn “keyboarding.” You also have to learn how to read other people’s handwriting. I was lucky in that my father and an aunt had the world’s most execrable handwriting possible, and learning to cope with them made me pretty good at deciphering anyone’s scribbles.

The act of handwriting helps to fix the thought in the mind. You learn better if you write it down. That’s why people intuitively write lists, directions, rules and anything they want to remember. The more you write things down the better you will do in the memory department. This is an actual scientific fact. It’s all very nice to have things in 12 to 15 point type in a clear font, but the teeny keyboards you can pull up on your phone are not an improvement on a pencil and a scrap of paper. (If this kind of thing is of interest to you, try to get your hands on the 4 books by Richard Mitchell, beginning with “Less Than Words Can Say” or simply Google “Richard Mitchell underground grammarian,” and you will have access to his works)

“Diversity” is another fad that swept the schools. Children obviously couldn’t learn properly unless the classroom had a wide array of skin tones, ethnicity, countries of origin, language, etc., etc.  That schools were supposed to be about reading, writing and arithmetic, as they used to say, escaped the educators in the education schools. Teachers used to learn how to teach in “Normal Schools.” These were 2-year schools that covered the basics of grammar school. (There was also once a reason why they called it “Grammar” school) By the time kids got to high school, it was a bit more demanding so teachers gradually were required to have a college degree. Departments of Economics, Philosophy, Physics, that sort of thing, were apt to look down on Departments engaged in how to draw the letters of the alphabet on a blackboard, and unimpressed with PhDs in Education, which has made Professors of Education very sensitive, and apt to fall for the latest new thing.

Even more recent is the discovery that many black adolescent boys behave badly in school, and get sent to the principal, sent home or expelled more frequently than white adolescent boys. Obviously racism. And the cure is to just not expel or punish those who misbehave if they are black. If you know anything about kids, this is an invitation for more bad behavior. There is a rash of teachers being attacked in schools across the country. Science says successful students need hours of physical activity every day. They don’t get enough exercise. Boys particularly. But we have to protect children from physical dangers. Did you ever wonder where the teeter-totters went? Or what happened to the swings and the merry-go-round?

Parents trek to the schools for parent-teacher conferences and the teacher tells them how splendidly their kid is doing, and you assume all is well. But you have not learned the basic lesson of the schools. All problems are to be solved with more money. Class size is deemed to be a major problem, if the classes were smaller your kid would get more attention. More money. Even the courts have gotten into the money problem ordering states cough up equally for all districts everywhere. Some of the best schooling I ever had was in a one-room country schoolhouse with a very good teacher, a pump on the front porch, a stove in the classroom and two separate outhouses in the separate back corners of the property. It’s not the money, it’s not the playground (there wasn’t one, just fields) it’s not fancy equipment. It’s a skilled teacher. And the Schools of Education are failing, and it’s not their money either.

 



President Donald Trump Being Presidential by The Elephant's Child

trumpgeneric1It was a very good speech. Donald Trump was at his presidential best, clear, straightforward, positive and offering his hand to his opponents in Congress, inviting them to think first of our country. He began with a tribute to Black History Month and the work that still needs doing for civil rights, and the threats to Jewish Community Centers. He reminded us all that “we may be divided on policies, but we are a nation that stands together in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.” After scanning the state of the country, he turned our attention to a strategic effort to improve the lives of all Americans. And the heartfelt applause! Be a bit difficult to keep up with the silly ‘Nazi’ bit after this.

If you were watching, perhaps you noticed that many Democrat women were wearing white. After all the talk of how they would disrupt the speech, find nasty ways to protest, walk out, or just do something to acknowledge their fury, members of the House Democratic Women’s Working Group decided they would channel the suffragette movement when they wore white to President Trump’s joint address to Congress. I didn’t even notice them until near the end of the speech.

In a statement, Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., said they will be wearing white to “unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century.”

Frankel chairs the Democratic Women’s Working Group, which said their commitment to women’s rights includes affordable healthcare and Planned Parenthood, equal pay, paid sick and family leave, affordable child care, secure retirement and “lives free from fear and violence.”

I’m not sure in what alternate universe this bunch of women assume that the Trump administration is trying to deprive them of their progress. The women of the House don’t have ObamaCare for their health insurance, so they really don’t know how expensive it is, nor why it is such a failure.  The Federal government has no business either supporting or attacking Planned Parenthood. The right to an abortion has been guaranteed by the Supreme Court, but a large portion of the country opposes abortion, and should not be forced to support it with their taxpayer money. Equal pay has been settled law since 1963, and this blather about 70% of mens pay is and has been totally false. Republicans passed the vote for women’s suffrage in 1920 in spite of Democrats opposition, just like they passed the Civil Rights Act in spite of Democrat opposition. A little late, Democrats are once again attempting to capture credit for something they historically opposed. This gets tiresome.

President Trump’s speech to Congress was truly presidential and a very good speech as well. Democrats were clearly not expecting that, and were totally unprepared for it to be anything even acceptable. In their current unhinged state they were expecting something they could really get their teeth into (so to speak) and were ready to take him on, but gracious, well-meaning, kind,  and celebrating our country and its history—the women in white slunk out of the chamber before anyone could notice, without a sound, utterly defeated.



Tax Time is Approaching: Why Are Your Payroll Taxes So High? by The Elephant's Child

Congress will soon be embarking on changing the tax code. They want to reduce taxes. If taxes are cut in such a way that they act to make doing business easier for businesses in the economy, the government will take in more money, rather than less. That seems highly improbable to the left who always want to tax the rich and big business much more, but when businesses are free to stop sending all their money to the government, they can do more business, expand and create, and they make more money than they would have under heavy regulation and restrictions on what they can do. The free market and free people produce prosperity.

 



The Coming Religious Wars by The Elephant's Child

ap_16313812863044-sized-770x415xt“Progressivism is not a political doctrine, it is a religious doctrine.” That quote was from Paul A. Rahe, Historian and author. and professor at Hillsdale College, but I’ve seen the same theme widely expressed today. And they are right. You have to believe. They see themselves as pursuing a great good where everyone will agree and there will be peace, and harmony when they are able to put all their wondrous ideas in place and are fully in charge.

It’s clearly an authoritarian state they’re after, but when they finally get all of us whipped into shape, they won’t need to be so authoritarian anymore. If you think communism or socialism, you’re not too far off—though they would undoubtedly deny it. It’s just that they really don’t like human nature, which clearly needs improvement. They are not all that much for freedom, either, because people get to thinking that they can disagree and not do what they are told.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a conservative suggest putting the Leftists into camps, but they come up with that idea for us quite regularly. They just hate disagreement. Partly because they are so sure they are right and partly because they don’t have good responses to good economic ideas and good evidence from the right.

Just think about the simple subject of energy. Our country runs on so-called fossil fuels—natural gas, petroleum, coal. They want it to run on cheap, free wind and solar energy from the sun which are unable to supply a significant amount of energy due to their own intrinsic failings.

Wind only blows sometimes, not all the time. And it doesn’t blow a lot in the places where it is needed, and the wind may be free but the land and the giant wind turbines and the power plants to convert wind to electricity and the power lines are not cheap. It delivers only a minuscule portion of our energy needs. Solar energy is too diffuse to be effective, the sun sinks beneath the horizon at night, and there is the problem of clouds. Nuclear energy is effective and cheap, but way too scary for the left. You see, it is a religious faith.

The Left is meant to be in charge. Hillary was going to extend the reign of the Left for another 8 years. They were not just confident, but found the idea of Donald Trump laughable, and he made fools of them. The election was clearly unfair. Popular vote. Electoral college. Russian interference. How dare they suggest there was vote fraud. (Because it has been well documented for years? )

Democrats lost 63 House seats, 11 Senate seats, 947 State lawmakers and 13 Governors. They haven’t really absorbed it yet. Their initial response is to try to bring down Donald Trump. They have brought down presidents before—Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, they didn’t get George W. Bush out, but they demonized him so much that people began to think that he was a failure as a president. Somebody remarked that our military deaths were back in the headlines for the first time since G.W.Bush, and it’s true. This is a concerted attack on Donald Trump, talking points distributed and the Democrats have marshaled their forces and gone to work.

Here’s one of the funnier examples from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: She declared that “her party, the Democratic Party, does the will of God, while Republicans dishonor their Creator.” And the blog from SFGATE (The Chronicle) ran a piece titled “Week One of Go to Hell, America: the Trumpocalyse so far, in a grotesque – and rather terrifying nutshell.” It only took 10 days for Obama to start criticizing his successor, and after he promised too. Hillary is going to write a book about how she lost the election and will go on a national speaking tour. Will she draw huge audiences, or does she just not realize that it’s over. Even the majority of white women, 57%, voted for Trump, and only 42% for Hillary. But it is their religion, and they don’t give up.



Understanding the Madness of the Left by The Elephant's Child

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My favorite pastime is not trying to figure out why Democrats, the Left, are doing whatever it is that they are currently doing. I have better things to do, and more pleasant  things to pursue. But clear explanations seem important as they continue to go bat s##t crazy. It would seem that the current antics would drive any sane person into Republican arms permanently, but “sane” seems to be the key word.

The idea of requiring every citizen to vote comes up every once in a while, but is dropped because we really don’t want those who do not pay attention, and have no clue about events, to vote. We believe in an informed citizenry, but for the last eight years we have had a press wallowing in their slobbering devotion to the first black president. Even Barack Obama told them in his last days that they weren’t supposed to be sycophants. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

Victor Davis Hanson says “Everything is in flux in a way not seen since the election of 1932 in which Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoofer. Mainstream Democrats are infuriated. Even Republicans are vexed over the outsider Trump.”

Polls, political pundits and “wise” people, guilty of past partisan-driven false prognostications, remain discredited. Their new creased-brow prophesies of doom for President Trump are about as credible as their past insistence that a “blue wall” would keep him out of the White House.

There. The first explains  why they are doing what they are doing, and the second one explains clearly why Donald Trump is insisting on a wall. You’ll be able to explain to your angry family and friends, but they probably won’t be able to hear you, and that’s explained as well.



“It’s a Republic If You Can Keep It” by The Elephant's Child

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Over at Powerline, Steven Hayward wrote that he stumbled across a speech that President Reagan gave in 1977 that describes our modern predicament very well:

But how much are we to blame for what has happened? Beginning with the traumatic experience of the Great Depression, we the people have turned more and more to government for answers that government has neither the right nor the capacity to provide. But government, as an institution, always tends to increase in size and power, not just this government—any government. It’s built-in. And so government attempted to provide the answers.

The result is a fourth branch added to the traditional three of executive, legislative, and judicial: a vast federal bureaucracy that’s now being imitated in too many states and too many cities, a bureaucracy of enormous power which determines policy to a greater extent than any of us realize, very possibly to a greater extent than our own elected representatives. And it can’t be removed from office by our votes.

That gets into the problem of the Administrative State which has become an increasingly larger problem under the Obama administration.

We go to hear their speeches and attend their events and vote for them for public office, and they begin to think that they are special, and if we reelect them, it increases, and newsmen call them by their title and print what they say and before you know it they start believing they are essential, and we start talking about term limits, and making rules that say that they cannot move from holding office to becoming highly-paid lobbyists valuable to their employers quite specifically because they know all the senators and representatives with whom they used to work, and thus the ability to influence them.

When they leave office, do they return home—or do they stay on in the nation’s capitol—unable to part with the power they once had? You see what an incestuous and closed circle it all becomes.

It’s easy to propose term limits for people of the other party, but term limits for your own favorites are another question. You may believe in them as wise legislators who advocate for causes you believe in, who are particularly valuable because they know their way around Congress. At what point do you agree to send them back home and elect a fresh new face who may or may not turn out to be as valuable? Hard questions.

If our government is to be, in Lincoln’s words, “a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” then it will be a constant battle and a constant question, but we have to opt for the people and for generations to come.

I can think of a number of members of Congress who have been returned to Congress by their constituents for years and years that are, frankly, just plain dumb. Is that pure party loyalty? No appealing replacement? Why keep sending them back? Term limits would take care of that, but you’d lose your favorite too.

Do you have a copy of the Constitution? Have you read the whole thing? The Cato Institute (Libertarian) sells a dandy little pocket Constitution which includes the Declaration of Independence as well.  Single copies are $4.95 or are cheaper in quantity. There’s a special on 10 copies for $10.00.

Why would you want ten copies? They make nice gifts for high school seniors off to college or off to the work world. No guarantee that they will read it, but everyone should have their own copy, on the off-chance that they might find it useful to refer to from time to time.

It was Ben Franklin who once said: “It’s a republic, madam, if you can keep it.”




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