American Elephants


The Miraculous Explosion of Human Progress in the Past Two Centuries by The Elephant's Child

Reposted from May, 2016: In case we need reminding

america-now-ranks-20th-in-freedom

“Two centuries ago, the average world income per  human (in present day prices) was about $3 a day It had been so since we lived in caves. Now it is $33 a day—which is Brazil’s current level and the level of the U.S. in 1940. Over the past 200 years, the average real income per person—including even such present-day tragedies as Chad and North Korea—has grown by a factor of 10. It is stunning. In countries that adopted trade and economic betterment wholeheartedly, like Japan, Sweden and the U.S., it is more like a factor of 30—even more stunning.” That’s from an article by economist Dierdre McCloskey.

An American, on average earns $130 a day, China is roughly $20 a day, and India at $10 after their release from a crippling socialism of $1 a day. And the growth of material plenty has been stunning. McCloskey quotes Matt Ridley in his book The Rational Optimist (2010) that what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” There is no end to what people can do when they are set free to have ideas and have the freedom to act upon them. Once you have the ideas, getting the wherewithal to do them is simple because they are so obviously profitable.

“The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has one primary source: the liberation of ordinary people to pursue their dreams of economic betterment.” How very odd then that the Progressives are so sure that the only route to a better world is for enlightened leaders like themselves to control and regulate the economy, and the people. (As I just said, they really don’t understand cause and effect).

The Heritage Foundation just released their annual report on the tide of red tape that threatens to drown American consumers and businesses. The Obama administration has added 20,642 new regulations during his presidency. More than $22 billion per year in new regulatory costs were imposed on Americans last year.

Professor Richard A. Epstein wrote in an article for the Hoover Institution that:

One of the most disturbing trends in the United States is the relentless concentration of power in the federal government. Ever since the New Deal, the classical liberal vision of limited government and strong property rights has taken a back seat to a progressive vision of a robust administrative state, dominated by supposed experts, whose powers are largely unimpeded by legal constraints. Wholly apart from Congress, the new administrative state has adopted and enforced its own laws and regulations, and is defined by unilateral actions by the President and other members of the executive branch, all of which threaten the system of checks and balances built into the original constitutional design.

The Leftists are so sure of their moral superiority, and that their aims are correct that they feel no need to study up on the questions of the day. Obama frequently notes that some things are “on the right side of history” and others are on “the wrong side of history. “Cosmic forces both agree with him, and are unimpeachable. Anything to do with climate is “settled science”and those who disagree should be punished.

Yet one gets the distinct impression that the president has never read a word of the science, and only seen that which is presented to him as from “unimpeachable sources,” without considering the possibility that there is another view.

The view that it is freedom that releases people to come up with the ideas and that the generation of new ideas leads to more and more creativity, growth and prosperity is so foreign to the philosophy of the Left that they are literally frightened of what people might do if left without the guidance of the enlightened and morally correct public servants of the nation’s capitol. For our “public servants’, Herb Meyer remarked recently, Washington D.C. is not a city, it is a profession.

We must be guided, controlled, and led down the correct paths to a brighter future. There is no other way.

See: “The Myth of Progress” by  Victor Davis Hanson, from the Hoover Institution.

The Rise of American Socialism” by Paul R. Gregory, from the Hoover Institution

 



Assigned Reading: Sunday, March 26, 2017 by The Elephant's Child

I hardly know where to start. Let’s begin with Left 3.0″ by Tod Lindberg at the Hoover Institution ( Feb.1, 2013).

The Left’s passion for equality begins with the pursuit of greater economic equality, but it doesn’t end there. The Left has also long been in pursuit of equality in the matter of identity. “Identity” is a concept that substantially modifies the principle that individuals have rights. An identity is something one has in common with others. Identity puts people in groups, and societies have long assigned status on the basis of identity — in many instances, in the view of the Left, improperly so. Some statuses have been improperly privileged, for example, white males in racist and sexist societies. And some statuses have been improperly denigrated, for example, gay men in homophobic societies. The Left has long sought to bring down the status of the privileged and elevate the status of the denigrated. This, too, is the pursuit of equality.

On Sept.27.2016, before the election, Angelo Codevilla wrote a piece for The Claremont Review of Books titled “After the Republic” that was remarkably prescient. It’s long, but worth reviewing for a good sense of where we were:

Never before has such a large percentage of Americans expressed alienation from their leaders, resentment, even fear. Some two-thirds of Americans believe that elected and appointed officials—plus the courts, the justice system, business leaders, educators—are leading the country in the wrong direction: that they are corrupt, do more harm than good, make us poorer, get us into wars and lose them. Because this majority sees no one in the political mainstream who shares their concerns, because it lacks confidence that the system can be fixed, it is eager to empower whoever might flush the system and its denizens with something like an ungentle enema.

In Orbis, Summer 2002, Hudson Institute scholar John Fonte wrote a long piece about “Liberal Democracy vs. Transnational Progressivism: The Future of the Ideological Civil War Within the West.”

Nearly a year before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, wire service stories gave us a preview of the transnational politics of the future. It was reported on October 24, 2000, that in preparation for the UN Conference Against Racism, about fifty American nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sent a formal letter to UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson calling on the UN “to hold the United States accountable for the intractable and persistent problem of discrimination” that “men and women of color face at the hands of the U.S. criminal justice system.”

This one I have as a printout. When I called it up, it came as a PDF, and beyond my ability to figure out how to get the text to you. Enter this in your search engine ( Orbis/Summer 2002 /Liberal Democracy vs. Transnational Progressivism ) and you will receive a download. It’s worth your time to grasp just what is going on and where we are.

Ernest Sternberg, professor at the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York, in December 2010 published “Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For” Again, enter this:
https://www:researchgate.net/publication/222675491 ) in your search engine and you will get a PDF download.  From the Abstract:

The past decade has seen the coalescence of a new ideology that envisions social movements in a cataclysmic struggle against global capitalist Empire. Controlled  by U.S. militarism and multinational corporations, in cahoots with Zionism, Empire contaminates environments and destroys cultures. Its defeat will bring about a new era of social justice and sustainable development, in which the diverse cultures harmoniously share the earth. Is this a totalitarian ideology? From fascist and communist precedents, we learn that lovers of renewed humanity are not sufficiently motivated by abstract ideals. They must also identify humanity’s enemy, the cause of all suffering. Equipped with a scapegoat, diverse communities can achieve solidarity through shared execration. (emphasis added)

The new ideology is most clearly identified by what it opposes. Its enemy is the global monolith called Empire, which exerts systemic domination over human lives, mainly from the United States. Empire does so by means of economic liberalism, militarism, multinational corporations, corporate media and technologies of surveillance, in cahoots with, or under the thrall of Empire’s most sinister manifestation, namely Zionism. So far there is no controversy—these points will be readily admitted by advocates as well as critics. … (emphasis added)

Through bundist struggles, “A Better World is Possible” (the World Social Forum’s slogan). That world will be environmentally clean, culturally harmonious, and politically just. The new life’s advent will occur when harmonious, and politically just. The new life’s advent will occur when networked bunds triumph over Empire and purge societies of their toxicity.

Whereas capitalism creates and destroys and is constantly changing, the new order will be sustainable. It will run on alternative energy, organic farming, local food markets, and closed-loop recyclable industry, if any industry is needed. People will travel on public transit, or ride cars that tread lightly on the earth, or even better ride bicycles. They will occupy green buildings constructed of local materials and inhabit cities growing organically within bioregions. Life will be liberated from carbon emanations. It will be a permanent, placid way of life in which economies are integrated into the earth’s ecosystem.

The new world will also achieve cultural purity. By “culture” purification does not mean interesting folkways, nor simply heritage, and certainly not any literary and musical canon. Rather, culture is the offspring of folk-spirit: that mysterious life-source from which identity, meaning and pride emerge. It is found in indigenous life-style, local habitat, feeling of community, and the heady experience of fringe art. Even communities that may have little left by way of traditions can look inward, perhaps just to their shared experience of oppression, for the folk-spirit from which to extract identity and pride.

While global corporations produce the artificial psuedo-culture that serves Empire’s interests, communities possess or can rediscover real culture. These culture-communities are organic in two senses. First, like organic food, they are pure rather than adulterated. Second, they are integral totalities rather than associations of free individuals.

The United States is 1: “the Enemy of Humanity” and 2: Israel also “the Enemy of Humanity. If you search YouTube for Ernest Sternberg, there is a video of a talk he gave largely about how come Israel emerged as the enemy. Also gives you a look at Dr, Sternberg.

I’m giving you a lot of reading. Don’t fail to do it. We have to understand what the hell is happening. It seems quite impossible that anyone could actually believe this claptrap — but that’s why they call it an ideology.  Sternberg says that an early proponent was Hugo Chavez. Yes, that Hugo Chavez. It all is, of course, a kind of neo-communism, or as an essay yesterday in American Greatness  brilliantly called it “Americanism vs. Marxist-Lennonism” derived from John Lennon’s “Imagine”

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man.

The trouble, of course, is human nature. They always find it abhorrent and want to fix it, without the slightest understanding that it is immutable and can never, never be “fixed.” That’s when all the purification dies and they get all totalitarian.



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.



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.



The Naughty Secrets of your Neighborhood Swimming Pool by The Elephant's Child

If your look to your favorite search engine, asking for recent articles on just how much pee is in the average pool, you will find numerous articles. I do not list amounts nor other details in the supposition that perhaps you would rather not know. But I thought this caption was really funny.




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