American Elephants


Technology is Changing the World, Faster Than You Think! by The Elephant's Child

Technology has advanced so rapidly that a laptop computer
today is 96% cheaper than a 1994 model
and 1,000 times better.

Some more good news from Economist Mark Perry at the
American Enterprise Institute.

bestbuy1-768x495Best Buy is currently advertising a Dell Inspiron 23.8″ Touch-Screen All-In-One computer for only $650 (without a printer), with about 1,400 tunes more hard drive space (1TB vs, 720MB) and 2,000 times more memory (8GB vs, 4MB) as the 1994 Compaq.

bestbuyYou spend $200 today for a basic laptop that has performance standards infinitely better than the notebooks available in 1994 that cost more than $5,ooo (in 2016 dollars). And you can get computers today with thousands of times more memory, speed, performance and disk storage space than computers in the mid 1990s at a fraction of the price. Sometimes we just accept these advances without really thinking about them and fail to appreciate the benefits of the change.

We hear constantly from Bernie Sanders and other progressives that all the economic gains from the last 20 years have gone only to the top 1% of Americans. But the top 1% could always afford any computer they wanted. It’s the poor, low-income and middle-class Americans who benefit from the “miracle of the marketplace” that now delivers $200 laptops.

Bernie doesn’t want to talk about Venezuela, He says he’s running for president.



How About a Little Really Good News Instead? by The Elephant's Child

poverty2

Economic charts may not get framed and put on the wall, but some of them deserve a little celebration. This one represents “the Greatest and Single Most Remarkable Achievement in Human History — the significant reduction of the share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty over the last two hundred years, especially the 84% reduction in just the last 40 years from 60% of the world’s population in 1970 to less than 10% last year. ”

“We can thank the free enterprise system for the remarkable reduction in world poverty. It is America’s gift to the world. “



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

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“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

 



It’s Not Really About Transgenderism by The Elephant's Child

The Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has added a new rule change to the Affordable Care Act. All health providers receiving taxpayer dollars must perform sex-change operations or lose their federal funding.

Can government possibly become any more absurd? Sex-change operations do not change anyone’s sex. That is not possible. Sex is determined by your DNA and cutting off temporarily offending organs does not change sex, but merely mutilates. Transgenderism is a dysphoria, or mental problem. Other dysphorias are Anorexia, whose victims see themselves as fat and essentially starve themselves to death. Bodily dysphoria has led victims to amputate healthy limbs, or if they cannot find a surgeon who will do it, amputate Cat mantheir own. Several cases who identify as cats have been reported.

The new rule sates that under Title IX any hospital receiving funding from HHS must “treat individuals consistent with their gender identity.” The administration sent letters to every school district in the country mandating that they open bathrooms lockers rooms and showers to all students, regardless of their biological sex.

The drive for transgender bathrooms is part of the Cultural Marxist attack on modesty and personal privacy. Children should be taught from an early age that sexual behavior is harmless physical gratification, completely unimportant. There are no consequences of physical gratification that cannot be prevented or “taken care of” by a visit to the doctor. Marriage and the family are only lifestyle choices, and not different from any other. Useless people can be disposed of by physician assisted suicide, minor misbehavior should not mean punishment and things like shoplifting, drug use, petty theft, fraud, or forgery should be misdemeanors.

Cultural Marxism demands a compliant state-dependent population who will vote as they are told, and request ever more comforts from an overpowering government. You can see the results in Venezuela, where a hamburger costs $170, and food is getting desperately short. And there’s Cuba, of course. Lots of examples. The kids are being trained in government controlled schools, or haven’t you noticed the nuttiness going on in our colleges? A generation of progressives went a little crazy in the sixties, and they have never really recovered. They don’t want to be told what to do, they want to protest and man the barricades and really want a real revolution, as long as there isn’t any violence and nobody hurts anyone’s feelings.



Private Property Rights Seem Unimportant Until They’re Yours, and They’re Gone. by The Elephant's Child

WY-Pond-550x309
Andy and Katie Johnson own a small 8-acre ranch near Bridger, Wyoming, on which they run 10 head of cattle and 4 horses. A creek runs through the property. Mr. Johnson wanted to build a stock pond to water his animals. He got approval from the local government and from the State of Wyoming, and they invested most of their savings in building the stock pond. Birds, fish and other wildlife came.

So did the EPA, who went after the family for violating the Clean Water Act. EPA Director Gina McCarthy used the Johnson family to test the power of the EPA in advance of the passage of their harsh new rules. The rule wasn’t even passed when Ms. McCarthy took out her pen and her phone.

McCarthy
EPA regulators showed up at the Johnson property in 2014, and announced that the Johnsons were facing a “very serious matter.” The EPA claimed the Johnsons violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA claims the pond discharges into other waterways. Mr. Johnson was ordered to restore the property to its pre-pond state, according to EPA rules for restoration, and pay a fine of $37,500 a day until it was completely restored, and face criminal charges as well.

The EPA’s new rule is a power grab, clean and simple. When Congress created the Clean Water Act, they neglected to define “water.” Big mistake. The Supreme Court defined “the waters of the United States” as “navigable waters” which the EPA promptly redefined as anything that flowed into the navigable waters, and believed they were justified in tracing the “navigable waters” right back to your downspout. Imagine! I’ve used a picture of a trickle in a roadside ditch to point out what they are after. Ms McCarthy wants to be a Commissar of the EPA’s own Empire.

The Johnsons refused to cave in, and enlisted the help of Wyoming Senators Barasso and Enzi, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, and the Libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation. The Clean Water Act specifically excludes stock ponds. No matter.The fines had reached $16 million when Mr. Johnson’s counter lawsuit against the EPA reached the courts.

More than two years later, Johnson won. In a settlement reached with the EPA, he gets to keep his pond, he won’t need to get a federal permit, the EPA fines have been removed, and all Johnson agreed to do was plant some willow trees and limit access to a portion of his pond for a while.

Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Jonathan Wood called the settlement “a win for the Johnson family, and a win for the environment.”

The federal government stormed onto private property, threatened  a family with massive fines (could $37,500 a day be any more absurd?) and walked away only after being countersued. While the Johnsons were being harassed, the EPA was finalizing their new rule to cover anything from prairie puddles to power plants.

A lawsuit filed by several states came to a halt when a federal judge in North Dakota blocked the EPA from enforcing the rule, which the judge said was “arbitrary and capricious.” The judge ruled that the injunction be applied to all 50 states, but the EPA decided that they would go ahead and enforce the rule in the states that hadn’t sued, until an appeals court stepped in and blocked that runaround.

The EPA has been slapped down by the courts repeatedly for overreaching , but they are zealots — intent on power. “The environment” has become a magical word to which  every business is careful to genuflect. That’s power. Packages and papers come with a notation to ‘please recycle’. Laws protecting the people from polluted air or polluted water are in place.

The EPA is reduced to scanning archives for old studies, not necessarily valid, that will give them a legal leg to stand on. Words are parsed for other possible meanings. Your freedom and property rights depend on a lawyer asking the right questions to get you off whatever hook the EPA decides to impale you with. The agency has long outlived its usefulness and needs to be disbanded permanently.

This is how you suddenly wake up one morning to find yourself resident in a tyranny — with no rights at all. Democrats are quite up front about their contempt for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Constitution provides only Impeachment as a remedy for “high crimes and misdemeanors” — not for overreaching with executive orders and pardon powers and the regulations handed down by agencies established by the executive. We’d all better pay real attention. Government is not a spectator sport.



Words of Wisdom: Copy and Send to Your School Board by The Elephant's Child

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“Schooling is done in public places, but the roots of an education grow only in the hidden ground of the mind. Lessons are taught in social institutions but they can be learned only by private people. The acts that are at once the means and the end of education: knowing, thinking, understanding, judging, are all committed in solitude. It is only in a mind that the work can be done. There is no such thing as “collective thinking.” Our schools can be an instrument for socialization or an incentive to thoughtfulness, but they cannot be both.”

…”At the root of our widespread and institutionalized illiteracy is a fevered commitment to socialization and an equally unhealthy hostility to the solitary, and thus probably anti-social work of the mind. In school, the inane and uninformed regurgitations of the ninth-grade rap session on solar energy as a viable alternative to nuclear power are positive, creative, self-esteem-enhancing student behavioral outcomes; the child who sits alone at the turning of the staircase, reading, is a weirdo. The students did not bring that “appreciation” to school: they learned it there.”
………………………………………………………. Richard Mitchell
……………………………………………………….The Graves of Academe



Mark Steyn is in Australia Trying to Explain Free Speech to the Aussies. by The Elephant's Child

Mark Steyn was in Australia this week, trying to explain free speech to the Aussies. It’s an interesting panel discussion because it clearly explains the problem that always arises in any discussion of free speech. Everybody is absolutely for free speech, except no one should be allowed to make cruel, unpleasant, wrong, nasty, morally objectionable remarks or other things that might offend.

Shouldn’t there be standards? And there’s the rub.  People are still expected to have manners, be thoughtful, not advocate those things which society says are beyond the pale, and you can object, condemn them for what they said, smack them down or refuse to associate with them, but you cannot make a law against speech that you don’t like. Government has no role in abridging the right of free speech. None.

You can walk away, turn your back, or argue vociferously. If you punch them in the nose, you may get in trouble with the law for battery. But you may not silence them by force of law. Why? The minute you try to protect against one kind of offensive speech, there is no end to the speech your opponents will find unacceptable. It’s a very hard argument for even the Aussies and many Americans to grasp in full.




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