American Elephants


The Socialist Dream, in which Reality Always Intrudes by The Elephant's Child

“How is it possible for any sentient human being to have lived through the 20th century without coming to understand that property rights are the basis of any rights that human beings have ever been able to secure, and that far from conflicting with human needs, profits are the only practical engine ever devised that even half succeeded inn fulfilling them.
Such willful ignorance does not stem from lack of intelligence, but has a deeper source in human desires that can only be satisfied by  religious faith. The socialist dream of achieving a kingdom of heaven on earth is as old as Eden.  It is the idea of putting a human design on the impersonal structures of the social order beginning with the economic market and extending to the constitutional order. In wishing this, socialists fail to understand that a market that human beings cannot control and a political process they are bound to respect are the very disciplines that human beings require in order to be human.”
…………………………………………………David Horowitz:  Jewish World Review 1/3/2000

“Ever since Karl Marx sat in the Reading Room of the British Library writing Das Kapital, great Western thinkers have been obsessed with discovering the flaw in capitalism, a kind of negative Holy Grail for the knights of progressivism. For Marx, capitalism functioned only by exploiting the proletariat. But the proletariat got richer and bought homes in the suburbs. So the next generation of Marxists turned their attention to “colonialism:” capitalism functioned by looting the West’s imperial possessions. But the West decolonized in the Fifties and Sixties, and they didn’t get any poorer,
only the colonies did. So the Marxists invented “neo-colonialism:”capitalism functioned by informally exploiting the nominally independent developing world. But the dramatically differing rates at which developing economies developed in Asia, Africa and Latin America seemed to have little to do with external forces and a lot to do with obvious local factors.
By the time the UN met at Durban, the grievance-mongers were down to slavery. Europe and America had built their wealth on the slave trade. By this theory, the United Kingdom, which was the first to abolish slavery – in the British Isles in 1772, and throughout the Empire in 1833 – ought to be an economic basket case, while the Sudan, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, to name just a few of the countries in which slavery is currently practiced ought to be rolling in dough. Instead, of course, large parts of the post-colonial world are more impoverished than they have ever been.”
…………………………………………………………Mark Steyn: The New Criterion, 2/2002

“From around 1970, supposed environmental degradation has played a useful role for the Left as proof of the many wrongs of capitalism. Marx’s theory of exploitation of the workers has long been disproved by increasing affluence among the working class. Lenin tried to substitute imperialism as an explanation, but as most colonies gained independence and many showed robust growth, this didn’t do the trick. In the 1970s hope rose that environmental disaster eventually would led to the destruction of capitalism. Hope dies hard, which explains the persistent refusal to accept that most environmental indicators are improving.
…A triumph for the European right will probably not stop the drift towards ever more draconian environmental regulations founded on weak science. Only a shift in public perceptions and priorities can reverse this trend. Given balanced information and realizing they have to bear the burden of environmental policies themselves, the public are probably more likely to be leading such a reversal than tottering politicians, left or right.”
…………………………….Jan Arild Snoen, Oslo. Tech Central Station – Europe 6/10/02

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The Phenomenal Growth of the World’s Middle Class May be the Most Important Story of our Time by The Elephant's Child

In America, we usually don’t talk much about the Middle Class — we just assume that most everyone is in it. Except for a surprising number of billionaires, there isn’t much difference between being middle class or being wealthy, and most people simply described themselves as being middle class without giving it much thought. Historically, 85 to 90 percent of Americans have self-identified as middle class. Sixty percent is more usual today.

Gallup surveys show that only about 2 percent of Americans self-identify as “Upper” class. And we have lots of articles about the “shrinking U.S. middle class”, from the media or politicians. They usually forget to mention that the middle class in America is shrinking because more people are getting wealthier. (Economics is not a strong point for the Left)

But reaching the middle class is not just a class designation. Nor is it a matter of money. A family of five in Burundi, living on $324 a year would qualify, according to Gapminder foundation, as would a family of five in China who were clearing $121,000 annually.

As a life experience, reaching the middle class is transformative. The quality of life between poverty and middle-class is stark.

Anna Rosling Rönnlund, the founder of Gapminder’s Dollar Street project, said perhaps the most telling sign of people reaching the middle class is the presence of store-purchased hygienic items.

“The most striking thing is so many of the people we visited so far actually have a plastic toothbrush,” Rönnlund told the Post. “It’s the same with soap. Almost everyone in the world has access to some kind of soap. The poorest buy a tiny fraction of a soap bar or make it themselves. When you come to the middle, you see people buying locally produced, big bars of soap.”

From a global pespective, living in the middle class means having some luxury items most Americans think are basic essentials. Things like access to transportation, air conditioning, electricity in their homes and running water.

What hasn’t been much noticed is that worldwide, poverty is declining and more people are joining the middle class. We have better data on global poverty from the World Bank. Global extreme poverty has declined from 44% to less than 10%. This is a very big deal indeed.

The decline in world poverty has occurred during the Pax Americana, a period notable for the relative peace that began with the Marshall Plan to rebuild a destroyed Europe, the defeat of socialism and a huge expansion of freedom and trade and connectivity.

And then there was our great Norman Borlaug, father of the “Green Revolution” in agriculture in third-world countries, who saved a billion people from starvation. He remains better known in India, Pakistan, Mexico and China than he is here. With his pioneering techniques, grain production jumped from 692 million tons in 1950 to 1.9 billion tons in 1992.

A slight rise in atmospheric CO² (a natural fertilizer for plants) has meant better plant growth all over the world, and fewer people going hungry. The ability to genetically modify food crops to use less water, or to resist noxious pests, or in the case of “golden rice” to add a gene for the production of carotene. In many ares of Asia, vitamin A is devastatingly rare in the diet of  children causing blindness and altered immunity. Rice is the dietary staple, adding it to rice can save children’s lives and vision. The tinfoil-hat crowd does not understand that genetically modifying a food crop to resist drought, or in this case to produce carotene, is perfectly safe. They could more profitably turn their attention to the folks that are trying to bring back the woolly mammoth (in Russia) or bring back some kinds of dinosaur. That might be something to worry about.

For most Americans, becoming a member of the Middle Class is sort of expected, at least when the economy is performing as it is supposed to. For many people all over the world, it is only a vague idea to be dreamed of, yet day by day it is becoming reality for more and more of the world’s people.



The Fuego Volcano in Guatemala Has Erupted on Sunday by The Elephant's Child

The Fuego volcano in Guatemala has erupted today, many deaths much destruction. Here’s a link to the Twitter coverage. At least 25 people have been killed. This is apparently the second eruption this year.  The mountain is close to the capitol city.

Very scary.

Addendum: The death toll in Guatemala has risen to over 125 and there are still missing people. They are finding bodies under the volcanic ash, most not yet identified. Here is today’s coverage so far:

 



The Suicide of Europe by The Elephant's Child

This one is a must watch video. Prager University is doing a wonderful job with their very short videos to teach short classes, and make us think. There are really important subjects out there, and we must, at our peril, pay attention, and give the matter real thought.

Governments can go haywire. European governments have fallen for guilt. Not just undeserved guilt, but guilt that makes no sense. So they pretend. They pretend that that the problems brought by uninvited immigrants must be ignored, so they can pretend they are being nice. It’s hard to take on difficult problems and work out ways to deal with them. It’s easier to avoid any fights and dissension. But the future is out there, waiting to be — what? You can ponder the possibilities.



The Wonders of Free Market Capitalism by The Elephant's Child

The Manhattan Contrarian (Francis Menton)  wrote a while back:

In the progressive project to remake humanity and civilization, nothing counts but good intentions, and the details will all be worked out by experts, using the infinite credit card. And thus we get $1 trillion or so of annual “anti-poverty” spending that never makes a dent in poverty. As hard as that one is to top, nothing can top the delusional thinking on the subject of renewable energy, particularly the idea that it will be easy and costless to transition over a few years to a world where fossil fuels have been banished, and yet we want and need.

Today, from FEE (the Foundation for Economic Education) we have the encouraging headline “The World’s Poorest People are getting Richer Faster Than Anyone Else.” “The speed of poverty alleviation in the last 25 years has been historically unprecedented. Not only is the proportion of people in poverty at a record low, but in spite of adding 2 billion to the planet’s population, the overall number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen too.

As Johan Norberg writes in his book Progress, “If you had to choose a society to live in but did not know what your social or economic position would be, you would probably choose the society with the lowest proportion (not the lowest numbers) of poor, because this is the best judgement of the life of an average citizen.” Well, in 1820, 94 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 per day adjusted for purchasing power). In 1990 this figure was 34.8 percent, and in 2015, just 9.6 percent.

In the last quarter century, more than 1.25 billion people escaped extreme poverty – that equates to over 138,000 people (i.e., 38,000 more than the Parisian crowd that greeted Father Wresinski in 1987) being lifted out of poverty every day. If it takes you five minutes to read this article, another 480 people will have escaped the shackles of extreme of poverty by the time you finish. Progress is awesome. In 1820, only 60 million people didn’t live in extreme poverty. In 2015, 6.6 billion did not.

Do read the whole thing, I thought a little very good news might be welcome in the face of the outrage and anguish that are the daily fare of the media. No, it is not the result of the progressive project to remake humanity. It’s the result of plain old free market capitalism. Works every time.

 



President Trump Withdraws From the Paris Climate Accords by The Elephant's Child

Hollywood is having the vapors, Chuckie Schumer released a statement:

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is a devastating failure of historic proportions,” Schumer said. “Future generations will look back on President Trump’s decision as one of the worst policy moves made in the 21st century because of the huge damage to our economy, our environment and our geopolitical standing.

At a news conference in Brussels in early February, 2015, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity—but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

Socialists, intent on the wonders of social justice and the ‘better world’ of their dreams, never, never seem to pay any attention to the monumental failures of socialism everywhere it has been tried. The  past 25 years have witnessed the greatest reduction in global poverty  in the history of the world. An 80 % reduction in world poverty in only 36 years. Globalization, Free markets, free trade, international entrepreneurship. The free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world. This is not the first time some greenie has blurted out the truth behind their campaign to protect the world from the horrors of the carbon dioxide we exhale every time we breathe. Go figure.

President Obama committed $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, without authorization from Congress, about 30% of the $100 billion demanded from the United States to be shifted to trying to help poor nations deal with non-existent climate warming. They only got 1 billion before Obama left office and the U.S. was expected to come up with the other $2 billion promptly. According to researchers at MIT, if all nations met their targets for reducing carbon emissions, the impact on the climate at best would be likely to reduce global temperature rise by 0.2 degrees by the year 2100. That ‘s 2/10 of one degree C.  Under the accord, China gets to continue building coal-fired plants and increasing emissions until 2030. The Climate Accords were a very bad deal for everyone but China.

CO2 represents only the smallest portion of atmospheric gasses. The most important atmospheric gas is water vapor — clouds. Carbon dioxide (what we exhale) is a fertilizer for plants and the slight increase has meant a greening world which has helped to feed the world’s hungry nations.

The terms of the Accord required countries to update their commitments every five years to make them more ambitious, starting in 2020, leading to an eventual 80 percent cut. If everybody met their commitments, the effect on the climate would be almost undetectable.

The Left is big on income redistribution, not theirs, of course, but other people’s. But as Margaret Thatcher said “Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.” Their goal is not helping the poor— it is power. They just can’t get it through their pretty heads that socialism doesn’t work, and has never worked, everywhere it has been tried. But they are fixated on the idea of fixing annoying human nature, eliminating wars and other annoyances and in general concentrating all power in an educated elite like themselves in Washington D.C. ruling the world in perpetual wonderfulness.

Here’s President Trump’s statement.

* That’s Christiana Figueres in the light slate blue on the left.

ADDENDUM: I said above ‘helping poor nations to deal with “non-existent global warming”. That’s not correct. The Earth is always warming or cooling as it has done for millions of years. The British once skated on the Thames, and at another time grew wine grapes. If you have time, you might visit drroyspencer.com. He has posted “Good Climate Hunting (DJ. Trump, writer, director)” which is priceless, and then scroll down a little to “People’s Climate March on Saturday…through Snow” where he points out the differences in climate across the U.S. as greenies are marching. (Dr. Spencer runs the only accurate measurements of warming and cooling by satellite at University of Alabama at Huntsville.)



The Pursuit of a Foreign Policy Legacy Is Not Going Well by The Elephant's Child

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Back at the beginning of his first term, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton announced a foreign policy “pivot” to Asia. The road of good intentions chose another direction, and the big events continued to happen in the Middle East. Civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS with accompanying terrorism and brutality, regime change in Egypt and Libya, and the continuing Iranian quest for nuclear weapons and regional dominance are the problems that have dominated the news and Obama’s response to those events has comprised his foreign policy record, and it is not a record that makes much of a legacy.

Obama dismissed ISIS as a “JV team,” was angered by the coup in Egypt, made a botch of Libya with the help of his Secretary of State who dismissed the whole thing with “We came, We saw, He died” and a round of laughter, when reporters told her he was dead. It is slowly becoming clear Obama has lied extensively to the American people about his “Iran Deal.”

The Mullahs in Iran really had no interest in a deal. They are interested in destroying Israel and in destroying America, and do not intend to be delayed or restrained. Obama believes that they care about their people and will use the funds returned to make life better for Iranian families. He believes he can turn the Middle East over to the Persians to run, and remove all American interference in that part of the world, which will mean peace. He apparently believes that all the problems in that part of the world are Bush’s fault for invading Iraq, and he has no interest in being disabused of his fanciful notions.

You can’t build a foreign policy legacy out of trying to avoid any confrontation at all. Obama’s playing his last hand and betting on the  Paris Climate Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, by pretending they are not treaties, but some kind of deal that does not require the consent of Congress. But that has been his operating plan for some time.

So far on this trip, Obama has insulted Teresa May, Britain’s new Prime Minister, telling her that Britain would have to go the the back of the line for any trade deals since they didn’t pay attention when he told them to vote BREXIT down. Face-conscious China insulted President Obama by failing to provide the red-carpet stairway provided to all heads of state, forcing him to descend from the belly of Air Force One, a clear snub. Irwin Stelzer reported in the Weekly Standard:

When Obama raised the issue of China’s militarization of the islands it has constructed in the South China Sea, President Xi Jinping told him China would “unswervingly safeguard” its claims in the area. When the American president raised the issue of human rights, Xi told him not to interfere in China’s internal affairs. Perhaps the unkindest cut of all came when Xi praised the Paris agreement to limit carbon emissions, the issue on which Obama had come to take a victory lap, “It was under Chinese leadership that much of this progress was made.”

Xi was wrong on both of these counts: the Paris accord will not limit emissions, and China was a reluctant signatory to the agreement forged in Paris, largely by Obama, and whereas America agreed to drastic cuts in emissions, China made no such promise. All it agreed to do, at some date in the distant future—perhaps 2030 if that proves convenient—is to begin slowing the rate of increase of its emissions relative to the growth in the country’s GDP. Not a word about ending China’s financing coal plants in other countries—92 in 27 countries is the current count of the San Francisco-based Climate Policy Initiative, enough new coal-fired capacity to offset all the plant closures and emissions reductions planned in the United States for the next decade. No surprise that Xie Zhenhua, China’s senior climate change negotiator in Paris, says the deal struck there is “fair and just, comprehensive and balanced.”

The Senate will not ratify the treaty. Even if all the nations who have signed actually implemented their plans, it would reduce the growth of emissions only about half as much as the claimed 3.6º Fahrenheit which some scientists claim would reduce drought, floods, and other catastrophes which are not caused by increases in temperature. The Coalition of the Least Developed Nations agreed to go along because the rich nations agreed to give them at least $100 billion, but no one has started raising any money yet anyway. The panic about climate occurs only in the computer programs of the climate scientists who depend on climate panic for their jobs, their grants, and their reputations.

Obama  apparently insulted the new Philippine president who then called President Obama the ‘son of a whore,’ so in general the big G-7 meeting didn’t go too well. Obama is off to Laos as the first U.S. President to visit that country.

ADDENDUM: Reports in from Laos, and snippets of President Obama’s speech, suggest that he’s up to his old tricks of apologizing for his country  with little understanding of what actually went on in Laos, which was not as he suggests indiscriminate bombing. He actually said:

Over nine years — from 1964 to 1973 — the United States dropped more than two million tons of bombs here in Laos — more than we dropped on Germany and Japan combined during all of World War II.  It made Laos, per person, the most heavily bombed country in history.  As one Laotian said, the “bombs fell like rain.”  Villages and entire valleys were obliterated.  The ancient Plain of Jars was devastated.  Countless civilians were killed.  And that conflict was another reminder that, whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a terrible toll, especially on innocent men, women and children.

Our planes were bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail to prevent supplies coming down that trail to kill American troops from reaching Vietnam. It was a  purposeful effort to save American lives, not indiscriminate and trying very hard not to kill civilians. Ask anyone who was there.




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