American Elephants


If At First You Don’t Succeed, Do a Better Job Next Time! by The Elephant's Child

The Republican bill to take a tiny poke at fixing ObamaCare went nowhere. They didn’t have the votes—largely because the bill didn’t do much of anything. Everything you need to know about ObamaCare can be summed up in one quotation from Thomas Sowell.

It is amazing that people who think
we cannot afford to pay for doctors,
hospitals, and medication somehow
think that we can afford to pay
for doctors, hospitals, medication
and a government bureaucracy
to administer it.

Aside from affordability, federal government bureaucrats have no idea how to manage or control or supply health care. Every attempt by government to do health care has ended in disaster. The federal government cannot do VA health care, and veterans die while waiting to be seen. Indian health care is a disaster. Even the FDA is a disaster. Over regulated and over controlled.

Medicare was built on the idea that a growing population meant that if each generation paid in for the smaller generation that came before, then Medicare would go along smoothly with the old folks always cared for. This is usually called a Ponzi scheme. Nobody planned on the baby boomers. They are a huge generation beginning to retire, and Medicare is going broke, because the next generations are not larger. Oooops!

The Democrats devised all sorts of things that they thought would make their health care plan work better, and all sorts of regulations that they thought would save money, and all sorts of requirements that they thought would make people like the program better, and they lied about their basic purpose. Their basic purpose was to initiate a Single Payer Plan. But not because it would provide better care.

The British have a single payer plan in the National Health Service. The people get taxed and they get free health care. And the reason that it was the Democrats’ basic purpose was because the British people were so afraid of losing their health care that they always voted for keeping it, and for the Labour Party who promised that they could keep it. Unfortunately it doesn’t work, and the government keeps making new regulations to cut costs, and old folks die from neglect, and dehydration, and dirty sheets and infection, and long lines of ambulances line up at hospitals waiting for a vacant bed for the next patient. That’s Single Payer.

Here at home, the ideas that were behind all the regulation and requirements that they thought would save money didn’t, because Democrats do not understand the free market—that’s why they are Democrats. And because they do not understand the free market and competition, their bureaucrats had no idea how to devise plans that worked, and they didn’t even know how to get people to sign up, nor how to get enough insurance companies competing to bring costs down. Being Democrats, they assumed that insurance companies were evil (Capitalists) without any understanding that insurance companies have a lot of expertise in devising insurance, and with all insurance companies competing, there’s a lot of demand to be efficient, to create policies that work for consumers, to figure out how to keep prices down so the other insurance companies can’t take their business away. That’s how the free market works.

The Republicans said they had been working on a replacement for 8 months, but we have been stuck with a failing and unworkable ObamaCare for 7 years.

We are going to have to pay for most of the little stuff ourselves, with help for those who cannot care for themselves, and remember just what insurance really is. Insurance is meant to protect you from the big disasters, not the little things.Your car insurance protects you when someone runs into you and wrecks your car. Your homeowner insurance protects you when you have a kitchen fire or a broken pipe that floods the house. Health insurance should protect you when you break your leg, or find a cancer, or need immediate surgery, not buy your tampons or pay for your immunizations.

And if you devise a new health care plan for the people, you’d better damn well make sure that every member of Congress and the bureaucracy has to deal with exactly the same system.



Today was the First Day of the Hearings For The Appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court by The Elephant's Child

If you missed Neil Gorsuch’s opening statement in the Congressional Hearings for his appointment to the Supreme Court yesterday, here’s your chance to hear the whole thing. It was a remarkable statement, and any Democrat attempting to challenge Judge Gorsuch is going to look pretty foolish. It was that impressive. Good Man.



The Federal Government Is Not Your Friend, And They Have Interests of Their Own by The Elephant's Child

Most Americans believe that the federal government does a poor job and wastes most of the taxpayers’ hard earned money. Waste, fraud and abuse are rampant. We hear stories of employees spending their days watching porn. Agencies spend millions on beautifying their offices, and rush to spend every last cent of their budget so they can pretend they need more for the next year. There are some things that can only be done by a federal government, but most things are far better done by the private sector.

There are specific reasons why this is so. For a business to exist, it must turn a profit. If there is no reward for operating a business, it will cease to exist. Businesses do not operate to provide jobs or to do good works. They operate to make a profit. It is astonishing how many people do not understand this. Competition forces business to be efficient, to offer good products that people want, to deliver on time, make products that last, or offer services that do what they are supposed to do. Leftists are always sure that competition is bad, and what is needed are lots of rules and regulations, which only serve to make a mess of the situation.

Government regulators seldom have a good understanding of how a business works, and the regulations they devise do more harm than good. For example: Regulators, concerned about fat people, decide that all restaurants must display the caloric content of all the ingredients in their food. For pizza places the number of ingredients is enormous, the signage, often on a large lighted panel over the counter doesn’t have much room, customers are aware that some pizzas are high calorie and fattening. They don’t care—they want pizza. The cost to restaurants with low profit margins is enormous in changing all their signage. The result of the regulation is unmeasurable, and probably didn’t change anyone’s dinner preferences.

The free market does an excellent job in controlling business, without interference from bureaucratic busybodies. Very few members of Congress have much experience in running a business, and few of Washington bureaucrats do either. The marketplace offers all sorts of information and lessons, often information that you cannot obtain elsewhere. Incentives matter. The incentives that drive government workers and their managers are not the same as those faced by the businesses to be regulated, and are often counter to the public interest in any case.

Here’s an excellent article that surveys the government bureaucracy and how we should or should not respond. And a valuable lesson in why government does such a poor job of the tasks that are assigned to them. It’s a guide worth keeping with lots of resources. But then you don’t know until the government gets you on their “to do” list just what you’re in for, and where to go for help.



How Intelligence Works by The Elephant's Child

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is a recipient of the U.S .National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the author of several books, including Real-World Intelligence and Hard Thinking, and many of his speeches are available on YouTube.

In the most recent copy of Imprimus, an excerpt from a recent speech on Intelligence is fascinating. “How Intelligence Works (When It Does)

Just utter the word “intelligence” and most people conjure up images of spies, secret satellites peering down on foreign cities and terrorist camps, and rooms full of young technocrats reading private emails and listening to private conversations. These images are accurate, but they reflect the tools and techniques of our intelligence service, rather than its purpose.

To understand its purpose, think of a jumbo jet flying at night through turbulent skies—thunder clouds, lightning, other airplanes streaking in all directions and at all altitudes. To navigate through this, the pilot and his crew rely on their radar—the instrument that paints a picture of their environment, enabling them to see what’s going on around them and what lies ahead so they can chart a safe course. Radar doesn’t tell the captain and his crew what to do, but it gives them the accurate information they’ll need to make good decisions.

Our intelligence service is our nation’s radar. Its purpose is to provide the president and his national security team with an accurate picture of what’s going on in the world and what’s likely to happen in the days, months, and years ahead. The assumption is that if the president and his team have this information, they can chart a safe course for our country. And if they can see the distant future soon enough and clearly enough—and if they don’t like what they see—they can take steps to change the future before it happens.

Good intelligence is a combination, he says, of information and insight. Information is the raw material, while insight is the finished product.The key to producing good intelligence lies in getting this combination of information and insight right. …You start with a thesis—in other words you decide what you want to know, then you send your collectors out to get it. The key is asking the right question.

In the period from the end of World War II until 1981, every president’s objective had been not to lose the Cold War. If things were no worse when a president left office than when he took office—he’d done a good job. President Reagan, instead, wanted to win the Cold War. He had switched from Defense to Offense. His Director of Central Intelligence asked the CIA’s Soviet Division  two questions. Where is the Soviet Union weak? and Where is it most vulnerable? The answer he received was: We don’t know. No one’s ever asked this before.

You can read the rest of this most interesting post at the link above.

Imprimus is a brief publication from Hillsdale College delivered to your email once a month. You can subscribe, it’s free. They also offer a number of free courses you can take. Hillsdale receives no federal money, remains stubbornly independent and teaches subjects like the Constitution and American History, things like that. No safe spaces, no riots. Excellent professors. Real education.



Why the Left Gets It So Completely Wrong by The Elephant's Child

Kevin Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review, and his recent piece titled “Fake Hate Crimes” is particularly worthy of your attention. I copied a paragraph from the post which particularly impressed me, but neglected to say where I got it or who wrote it, and I promptly forgot. So, testing Google’s algorithms, I entered the first two lines of this paragraph, and Google turned it right up. Do read the whole thing, it’s not that long. But I thought this paragraph captured the situation masterfully.

The Left, for the moment, cannot seriously compete in the theater of ideas. So rather than play the ball, it’s play the man. Socialism failed, but there is some juice to be had from convincing people who are not especially intellectually engaged and who are led by their emotions more than by their intellect — which is to say, most people — that the people pushing ideas contrary to yours are racists and anti-Semites, that they hate women and homosexuals and Muslims and foreigners, that they could not possibly be correct on the policy questions, because they are moral monsters. This is the ad hominem fallacy elevated, if not quite to a creed, then to a general conception of politics. Hence the hoaxes and lies and nonsense.

Phony hate crimes. Phony hate.

Democrats play dirty, and Republicans are not good at fighting back. Republicans believe in the free market and sound economics, the private sector and the wisdom of the market as a whole. It’s hard to explain a lot of the economics because they are often counter-intuitive, and actually take some explanation. Easy example: the minimum wage. Activists get minimum wage workers all fired up to demand better pay.” You can’t support a family on the minimum wage,” they cry, whether it is $7, $9, or $12, and organize a march with pre-printed signs (sure sign it’s not the marchers’ idea) and the signs say “Fight, Fight for Fifteen.”

They did that in the Sea-Tac  (Seattle Tacoma International Airport community) community: hotels, restaurants, motels, bars, and it passed. Some were laid off, free parking was omitted, free lunches and dinners were omitted, other benefits cut and many workers were worse off than they were in the first place. Same deal in Seattle. Small businesses closed, some just moved out of town. Wendy’s and McDonalds are installing computerized ordering stations, and hamburger-making machines may not be far behind. Minimum wage jobs are beginners’ jobs for people who have few, if any , skills. When you have skills, you can look for a better job, and you are a more desirable hire.

My local grocery used to have box-boys who took your groceries out to your car and loaded them into the trunk. There was one box-boy who always remembered my name and that I had two cats. Another was usually sullen, in spite  offers of pleasant conversation, irritated at the annoying job. The first one is in college and will probably be an executive at some large company in a couple more years. But it takes a lengthy conversation to explain why raising the minimum wage instantly to $15 an hour is not necessarily the right idea.

The Current Debate is about ObamaCare and how to get rid of a failed program. The Left is out with claims that we are trying to deprive the sick of their last drop of hope.  And the leader of the House minority, Nancy Pelosi says, right from her very own mouth: “We need to know what’s in the health care bill before we pass it, … says Nancy Pelosi” echoing the most famous statement of the Obama administration: “We have to pass the bill so we can find out what is in it.” So there you go.

The president has released his new directive for a 90-day halt in immigration from 7 countries. Democrats are calling it a Muslim ban, and insisting that is prevented by the First Amendment freedom of religion, which is false since the President can refuse admission to anybody he wants to, and the Washington governor is suing on that basis because the Democrats have no bench and he wants to get noticed for his availability, and the Judge in the case was wrong first time around and is still wrong on this one. Politics is so exciting and such fun.



Victor Davis Hanson Goes Right to the Heart of the Matter by The Elephant's Child

—Victor Davis Hanson has a number of recent columns that get right to the heart of the matter. “The Democrat Patient” on January 17. is one such:”Ignoring the symptoms, misdiagnosing the malady, skipping the treatment.”

If progressives were to become empiricists, they would look at the symptoms of the last election and come up with disinterested diagnoses, therapies, and prognoses.

Although their hard-left candidate won the popular vote, even that benchmark was somewhat deceiving — given the outlier role of California and the overwhelming odds in their favor. The Republicans ran a candidate who caused a veritable civil war in their ranks and who was condemned by many of the flagship conservative media outlets. Trump essentially ran against a united Democratic party, the Republican establishment, the mainstream media (both liberal and conservative) — and won.

He was outspent. He was out-organized. He was outpolled and demonized daily as much by Republicans as Democrats. Yet he not only destroyed three political dynasties (the Clintons, Bushes, and Obamas) but also has seemingly rendered the Obama election matrix nontransferable to anyone other than Obama himself.

— On February28, he addressed President Donald Trump himself in “The Metaphysics of Trump:” Paradox:How does a supposedly bad man appoint good people eager to advance a conservative agenda that supposedly more moral Republicans failed to realize?

We variously read that Trump should be impeached, removed, neutralized — or worse. But until he is, are his appointments, executive orders, and impending legislative agenda equally abhorrent?
—On March 8, He took on The News, “Talk Radio, Cable News, the Mainstream Media and the News Revolution” What is their assigned role, and how are they doing? Victor Hanson does a marvelous job of clearing up their roles and who is succeeding and who is a failure. and why.
In the hubbub over Trump’s attack on the media, we sometimes forget that Barack Obama et al. customarily went after talk-radio and cable-news conservatives — whose job, after all, was opinion journalism — as biased, whereas Trump went more after news-gathering organizations who deliver the news under the pretense of straight reporting.
Who has suffered from this ongoing media crackup?
Not conservative opinion journalists on television and radio. The role of talk-radio and cable-news outlets is to interpret the news, and they continue to do that well from a conservative point of view.
But are the mainstream news outlets — AP, Reuters, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. — commensurately doing their quite different jobs?
Hardly, given the epidemic of fake news passed off as disinterested reporting, the hysterias about the Russians, the smearing of officials like Jeff Sessions, or the collusion to undermine the Trump administration in general.
What we are witnessing is an utter inversion in the supposed way the media works. Whereas the task of a Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson is to offer cogent analysis from a more conservative viewpoint on the news of the day, a supposedly disinterested media cannot be relied upon in the same degree to do their quite different job of reporting the days’ events.
Or is the implosion of the mainstream media even more revolutionary?
Clarity of thought, clear expression, and going directly to the heart of the matter. I am a great admirer of Dr. Hanson’s work.


Yes, Minister. Takes It’s Usual Comedic view of Governmental Bureaucracy and its Eternal Life. by The Elephant's Child

Sometimes comedy explains an issue even better than the facts do. We can laugh at the absurdity, but it makes us look at the real world with a slightly clearer eye.




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