American Elephants


COVID-19: What We Know and What We Don’t Know by The Elephant's Child

Thursday March 26th: King County, Washington State, which includes Seattle, and an assortment of suburban communities. The population is 2.23 million. It is of particular interest because we got the first round of coronavirus or COVID-19. 31,712 people were tested, 92% negative, 2,530 or 7% were positive.

Washington state is the 13th largest state with a population of 7,797,095 (last Census). The total number of cases is 2,580 with 122 deaths.  Here is the Public Health Report for Seattle and King County for March 26, Thursday.   Lots of interesting data there, and a map that shows how it is spread. The blue in the middle of the orange map is Lake Washington, the surrounding light blue is Puget Sound. While we started it out in the country with the Kirkland nursing home, and way too many deaths, New York, bigger and denser is rapidly catching up.

The United States currently has the most cases of any country in the world. New York is rapidly surpassing Seattle in active cases, which is understandable as the city is so dense. There is so much that we just don’t know yet. Can you get the disease more than once, or do you develop an immunity? Are young people immune? Apparently not, but that information comes from only a very few cases. We will learn all these things in time, but we want it now.

What is even more interesting and positive is the way Americans are stepping up to contribute. Dyson, a company that makes vacuum cleaners and that sort of stuff, has designed new ventilators and will produce 15,000. Apple is turning out 10 million masks.  Bodman Industries does 3D computer printing. Their 60 printers will be printing 3,000 masks a day, and they are working with their suppliers to get others involved.

China announced this month of nearly a week of no new infections in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic originated, but nobody knows whether it can be believed or not. Chinese scientists have been transparent about what they have discovered so far, shared information on the genetics and sequences of the virus and details of autopsies, clinical care and outcomes and even shared fatality rates among different age groups. On the other hand, Chinese propaganda insists that the virus originated with the American military, which is absurd, but is filled with the Communist Party’s long history of propaganda and the necessity to bury the cover-up in a happy story of triumph over the virus. Communist governments do not like news that reflects badly on the Communist government. They included a photo of empty beds in a Wuhan hospital. A Taiwan network reported that one hospital as under pressure from the central government not to admit patients so it could report no new cases. So there you go.



Nancy Pelosi’s Big Ideas Turned Out to Be a Big Flop! by The Elephant's Child

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The Democrats had a big idea. Big coronavirus crisis, Nation in a state of crisis, good time to get some of our ideas that we haven’t been able to get done passed. Republicans can’t turn us down because they need the coronavirus money. So they just stuffed all their ideas right into a modest 1,400 page bill. Headlines were not complimentary: “Politicians Standing in the Way of Emergency Relief”,”Cynical Power Play on Coronavirus Bill Shows Dems’ Far-Left Stripes,” “Tom Cotton Slams Democrats”, “Nancy Pelosi Coronavirus Bill Creates MultiBillion Slush Fund for Elite Liberal Causes.” “Pelosi Coronavirus Bill Creates Multibillion Slush Fund for Elite Liberal Causes,” Pelosi’s Bill  Contains Return of Obama Phones”, “Pelosi’s Bill Imposes Nationwide Ballot Harvesting,”

The list goes on and on, Diversity forced on Corporate Boards, or just read Tom Cotton’ s MUST READ  thread on what she has included in the bill. Wasn’t such a good idea, the outrage was prompt in arriving. Now and then the Democrats reveal just how far left they are, and the American people aren’t. The American people are justifiably frightened by this virus, we don’t know how deadly it will be. The reports from other countries like Iran and Italy are devastating, We don’t know how many Chinese have died from the Wuhan virus, nor do we know if what the Chinese claim can be trusted. Communist governments are not usually forthcoming with anything that reflects badly on them.

Even President Trump’s advisors don’t know how long the virus will last, how many people it is likely to infect, whether it will die off as warm weather comes on, it’s all guesswork. We have had corona viruses before, but each has its own schedule and invasive qualities. Many states have been only very lightly affected. People compare it to the national deaths from the flu, from traffic accidents, but that doesn’t mean much of anything. I’ll bet when the pharmacies start telling us next year to get our flu shots, more of us will pay attention.

President Trump said in his press conference today that he hopes they can relax the control of groups and meetings by Easter so people can go to church on Easter Sunday, but we don’t know. The media, of course, wanted to excoriate him for even suggesting that it would be over by Easter, but if he hadn’t they would be excoriating him for not, or for something else. The Democrat Media has exhibited an irresponsibility that is rather startling in its extent. They don’t like President Trump, and make that clear at every opportunity. No wonder he calls them Fake News.

Since we in the Seattle Area were the first ones hit in this country, perhaps our results will be the first to show when and if it is tapering off. We’ll see. In the meantime, try being a good neighbor. Help out if you can. Give blood. Try not to “stock up” to such a extent that you are leaving your neighbors without. And take care of yourselves.



A Bit of History That You Probably Never Knew by The Elephant's Child

The photo is from Venezuela, a line of hungry people trying to get groceries, and scarce toilet paper. Here in the Seattle area we are having runs on toilet paper, people are desperately trying to stock up. Some stores are limiting how many packages of rolls one may buy. We have a delivery of groceries coming on Monday, and won’t know until then how much, if any, toilet paper will be included with the order. Thanks to Covid-19.

That leads those of us who read a lot to check into the history of toilet paper, and a lot of people are doing so. You may know that the “slang term” for the toilet is “the crapper.” This is not a bad word for the facility, but the name of the gentleman, Thomas Crapper, who patented his valve and siphon design in 1891. Philadelphia was the first city that switched entirely to cast iron pipes for their new system of water delivery.

Chicago was the first city in the country in 1885, to have a comprehensive sewer system. The Tremont Hotel in Boston was the first hotel of its kind to feature indoor plumbing for guests in 1829. Eight water closets were built by Isaiah Rogers. Until that time indoor water closets were commonly found in the homes of the rich and in luxury hotels.  Soon soap was introduced during bathing,(!) and it was adapted widely for hygiene purposes. Think about that one, with what you know of history in general. Before there were comprehensive sewer systems, there was often a town pump where you went with your bucket. We live in such an age of invention that it’s hard to think about previous generations as not having them. My mother bought her first television so she could see the first moon landing. But there was a time when someone in the family bought their first toilet, and someone first bought toilet paper. Before that the pages of the Sears and Roebuck catalog usually were used.

The first water pipes were discovered by archeologists in the Indus River in India, dating back to 4000-3000 B.C. Egyptian ruler Menes supported a thriving civilization by constructing canals, irrigation ditches, and basins.

This comes from a History of Plumbing Timeline: The Invention of Indoor Plumbing posted by John C. Flood of Virginia, apparently a plumbing company. Do take the time to visit it and learn a bit about our history that you probably never knew. Always good for starting a new conversation at a boring party.



What’s the Real Difference between Democrats and Republicans? by The Elephant's Child

You see it again in the current political campaign. Democrats want to buy your votes, with, say, “Medicare for All”, or “The Green New Deal.” The basic problem with this is not just that such programs would be absurdly costly. The problem is that the federal government has no money of it’s own, and can only “give” you these wonderful benefits by raising your taxes. Of course they say — not yours, just the taxes on the very wealthy, Big Business, rich people. Part of the problem is that Big Business and those who run those big businesses are those who create and fill good jobs.

Republicans want to cut taxes, not just on the rich as Democrats pretend, but on everybody, because that allows businesses to grow and expand, offer new products, and gives those who want to start businesses a little extra to do it with. And that is a very good thing. It allows people, the unemployed, to rise. The February Jobs report showed the economy’s payrolls soaring by 273,000 new jobs. And many more want to hire. Congress is talking about adding more visas for temporary workers. If the unemployed want jobs, they can probably get one. Average hourly earnings increased by 0.3%. Looks like a good climate for graduating seniors.

I think that because Democrats see themselves as morally superior, and the Republicans as lesser beings, giving stuff is seen as the way to garner votes. I think that people would rather have a good job than be given stuff, they want to provide for their families themselves, and they want to work hard and advance. And the gifts Democrats want to give people end up costing far more than was planned and everybody has to pay.



The Case for Trump, a Year Ago by The Elephant's Child

This interview from the Hoover Institution was recorded on April  1, 2019. when Victor Davis Hanson’s book The Case for Trump came out. It holds up remarkably well. I’m a great admirer of Dr. Hanson. How did blue collar voters connect with a millionaire builder from Queens? Possibly because, contrary to Democrat shrieks, Donald Trump is authentic, exactly who he says he is. The people like that.

The February Jobs Report: Payrolls soared by 273,000. Might have something to do with current approval.

Maggie’s Farm blog called my attention to this post.

Matt Margolis at pjmedia points out that “We Can Thank Trump for the United States Having Such a Low Per Capita Infection Rate of Coronavirus.”



A Perpetual Motion Machine called Innovation by The Elephant's Child

British columnist Matt Ridley is always worth reading, but yesterday’s column was special.  He wrote:

When you think about it, what has happened to human society in the last 300 years is pretty weird. After trundling along with horses and sailboats, slaves and swords, for millennia, we suddenly got steam engines and search engines, and planes and cars and electricity and computers and social media and DNA sequences. We gave ourselves a perpetual motion machine called innovation. The more we innovated, the more innovation became possible.

It’s by far the biggest story of the last three centuries—the main cause of the decline of extreme poverty to unprecedented levels—yet we know curiously little about why it happened, let alone when and where and how it can be made to continue. It certainly did not start as a result of deliberate policy. Even today, beyond throwing money at scientists in the hope they might start businesses, and subsidies at businesses in the hope they might deliver products, we don’t have much of an idea how to encourage innovation at the political level.

What’s more, free-market economists have been in a special muddle about innovation for a long time. The economics profession spent a couple of centuries assuming that markets tend towards equilibria, through the invisible hand. Hence John Stuart Mill and John Maynard Keynes and pretty well everybody else in between assumed that we would see diminishing returns come to dominate human endeavour. But instead we experienced increasing returns, accelerating invention. As the author David Warsh put it in his book Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations (2006) some years ago, economists obsessed about Adam Smith’s invisible hand but forgot about his pin factory, where specialisation led to innovation.

One of my favorite histories is by John Steele Gordon, who deals with just that: the “Epic History of American Economic Power” in An Empire of Wealth. It’s a great read, and I recommend it enthusiastically. We are seeing all sorts of articles about the horrors of Socialism in the wake of Bernie Sanders, but this one deals with the other part: why Capitalism works and that a state that advances and encourages innovation is a result of a free people and an open society.

How some people can fail to understand those simple facts is apparently due to the failure of our schools and our colleges and universities. Many of our states do not require basic civics and history for graduation, a situation that drastically needs attention. Our colleges and universities are staffed to a significant extent with those who went for graduate degrees as a way to escape the draft for the Vietnamese War. You can hear that echo in banned or protested speakers on campus, and campus demonstrations.



Why Do the Democrats Hate Trump So Much? by The Elephant's Child

Bernie seems to be the leading Democrat candidate at present, and the Democrats are horrified. The object of the entire Democrat campaign is to get rid of Donald Trump, and they don’t think Bernie has much of a chance to defeat him. The Democrats really, really hate Donald Trump. But the commentary out there is interesting.

The Manhattan Contrarian said flatly:”If You Can’t Articulate A Limiting Principle On Government Expansion, You Get Bernie Sanders.” That was his headline, and he added:

Well, if you’re the party of free stuff, why shouldn’t the guy who offers the most free stuff win? Bernie is clearly willing to outbid all of his rivals in the free stuff auction. What makes you think anybody can beat him by just bidding less?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced her endorsement for the 2020 presidential election. She called for “publicly owned and run health care and education so that we have more freedom over our lives than the private sector provides.”

Brian Riedl, writing in City Journal on October 15, 2019 commiserated with Bernie’s heart attack, and said as long as he remains in the race, it’s worth taking his policy ideas seriously, since he has unveiled expensive new spending proposals on a near-weekly basis. All told, Sanders’s current plans would cost as much as $97.5 trillion over the next decade, and total government spending at all levels would surge to as high as 70 percent of gross domestic product. Approximately half of the American workforce would be employed by the government. The ten-year budget deficit would approach $90 trillion, with average annual deficits exceeding 30 percent of GDP.

And Victor Davis Hanson said yesterday, “Universities Breed Anger, Ignorance, and Ingratitude” “In turning out woke and broke graduates, they have a lot to answer for.”

When you get history and economics all mixed up with “social justice”, you are creating a major problem. I reject the idea that there is any such thing as “social justice” and if you go off chasing it, you are never going to arrive at a destination. It’s nice to dream of a world where nobody is poor, everybody has what they want and need, but that’s not how it works. Life is hard, bad stuff happens, there are accidents, illness, deaths, wars, family troubles, and you have to learn to cope. You don’t succeed by waiting for somebody else to fix things for you. The joy and the pride of arriving at a goal make the coping all worthwhile. We currently have an economy where most anyone that wants a job can find one. The rising is up to you.




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