American Elephants


Why Do They Never Learn? Socialism Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

BN-KA013_venloo_J_20150825170528How is it possible, in a world that has demonstrated so clearly that Socialism simply does not work, to have a candidate for the office of President of the United States who is an avowed socialist? Barack Obama may not adopt the label, but his efforts to expand government control over ever more of the economy, to regulate American lives, and to strive for more redistribution of wealth and “social justice” or forced equality have no relation to free markets and free people.

Democrats’ big ideas aren’t working. Detroit, under Democratic governance has declined from America’s richest city to a cesspool of poverty. New York, cleaned up under Rudy Giuliani, has declined into crime again, and New Yorkers are not only complaining, but becoming fearful.

San Francisco, designated as a “sanctuary city,” has that designation to thank for the murder of Kate Steinle by an illegal alien who had been deported over and over.  In 1994, the voters approved a “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law which led to  overcrowded prisons. The Supreme Court in 2009 ordered the state to reduce the prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity, or one inmate per cell.

That led to Prop 47, which reduced many felonies to misdemeanors, and an 50,000 reduction in the prison population and a rise in crime. The responsibility for incarcerating prisons was turned over to local sheriffs. Neighborhood are not as safe. People are moving out of California in droves. Yet “Black Lives Matter” is a very real drive to blame the high murder rate in inner city neighborhoods on policing. There are always unintended consequences.

Social justice in California has led to a wealthy coastal corridor and poverty in the rest of the state.

If the failure of Democrats’ ideas of social justice utopias in America don’t convince you, let’s turn to the newly-reopened embassy in Havana. Obama said that if 50 years of isolating Cuba had not worked, we should try something else. But precisely what does he mean by hadn’t worked? Cuba is a poverty stricken country where the people have to line up for bread, the 1950’s era cars are not there because they are quaint and picturesque, but because that’s all they have. Fidel Castro, on the other hand has been listed in Forbes as one of the world’s richest men. A lot of arms dealing, narco-terrorism, that sort of thing. Viva  la revolucion!

Obama’s big idea seems to be that if America just stops being the big bully, throwing our weight around, and offers our helping hand in peace, while removing all sanctions and barriers, then they will reciprocate because they care about their people and their children. Unfortunately, no they don’t.

In Venezuela, it’s all falling apart. Socialism is in a death spiral. The people have to stand in line for hours to buy ordinary staples like corn flour or laundry soap. Looting and violence are on the rise in supermarkets, but there’s nothing on the shelves anyway. No toilet paper, food shortages, people are going hungry.    There are fights when delivery trucks arrive with chicken or milk. The break-even price for Venezuelan oil is estimated to be $151 per barrel.  Today’s  price for Brent crude   is $47.10.

Supporters of the ruling Socialist Party note that the network of subsidized state-run grocery stores created by late president Hugo Chavez and financed by plentiful oil revenue helped reduce poverty and hunger during his 1999-2013 rule.

Typically, the late  Hugo Chavez’s  second-eldest daughter  may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela. Maria Gabriela Chavez reportedly has stashed away a cool $4.2 billion in American and Andorran banks according to Diario las Americas. The ruling class typically does pretty well.

Hugo Chavez  was, after Fidel Castro, the tin pot dictator most admired by Democrats in Hollywood and Washington.

When Senator Bernie Sanders describes himself as a socialist,his critics point to such experiments as Cuba and North Korea, but they explain, no, no Democratic socialism. Socialism does not work.

Nicholas Maduro has been cracking down for years on newspapers, radio, any source of free speech. You cannot have free speech and a socialist government. Have you not noticed the Obama administration’s attacks on free speech?

Venezuelans are running out of food, and starvation is possible. Medicines, even the most usual kinds are unavailable. Everything the Maduro government does makes things worse.

Armed soldiers monitor supermarkets as part of an effort the president calls “Operation People’s Liberation.”

The picture is simply one of the lines for non-existent food in Venezuela.

 



Crime is Surging, Activists Should Be Careful What They Wish For. by The Elephant's Child

ows_140641963894859“Everett D. Mitchell is the Director of Community Relations at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.  He is also an attorney, pastor and community leader.”

At a recent panel discussion, addressing policing practices, Mr. Mitchell said that police should stop prosecuting individuals who shoplift from Wal-Mart and Target.

He simply believes that police have no justification to arrest thieves who steal from Wal-Mart or Target—because they are big box stores with insurance.

“I just don’t think they should be prosecuting cases for people who steal from Wal-Mart. I don’t think that. I don’t think that Target, and all them other places – the big boxes that have insurance – they shouldn’t be using the people that steal from there as justification to start engaging in aggressive police behavior.”

He began his speech advocating for legal relativism, the notion that communities should decide for themselves which laws should be enforced and which laws should not, in order to better recognize what safety means for that specific community.

There are some poor neighborhoods that are largely black, where drugs and crime are a major problem. Drug use and drug sales bring more crime, and gangs. High crime can foster drug use. Single parents have a harder time of bringing up kids and keeping them out of trouble. If one lives in such a neighborhood, and friends’ brothers or husbands are in jail, friends have gone to prison—it would be easy to assume that it was aggressive police behavior, not misbehavior by your friends or relatives.

In the wake of the Ferguson riots, the “hands up, don’t shoot”cry of activists gradually died out when it became clear that wasn’t even true. The new slogan became “Black Lives Matter,” which is having a poisonous effect on the very neighborhoods where the protests are taking place.

Police become afraid of arresting a suspect if they will be accused of racism or improper policing. Contrary to Mr. Mitchell’s views, stealing from Wal-Mart is against the law just as much as stealing from a bank. But if smaller crimes are not dealt with, criminal behavior increases.

Rudy Giuliani cleaned up a dangerous and crime-ridden New York City by adhering to what is called the “Broken Windows Theory.” If a parked car has broken windows and they are not repaired, it will soon be stripped because it is assumed that it is abandoned and nobody cares. Ditto buildings. When police cracked down on the small stuff, the squeegee men, the litter, and the disorder, with walking neighborhood patrols, people felt safer and things improved, even if the crime rate didn’t immediately drop.

The temptation is to assume that police are the problem, and if they can just get rid of the police and policing they will be safer. All police are not perfect, but they take on what is often a dangerous job of protecting the citizens in their jurisdiction. If police are badly treated,  their orders ignored, or if police are attacked, the activists may get what they want, and quickly come to regret what they have lost. Police are only human, and way too many are killed in the line of duty.



Thanks, Obama! U.S. Drops to Number 20 In The Human Freedom Index. by The Elephant's Child
August 21, 2015, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Environment, Freedom, Health Care, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes

The Cato Institute, the Libertarian think-tank, publishes an annual Human Freedom Index, ranking 152 countries in the world according to the level of liberty enjoyed by its citizens.

The index represents a broad measure of human freedom. which can be understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 76 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in these areas:

Rule of Law
Security and Safety
Movement
Religion
Association, Assembly, and Civil Society
Expression
Relationships
Size of Government
Legal System and Property Rights
Access to Sound Money
Freedom to Trade Internationally
Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business

This reflects the degree to which people enjoy the freedom to engage in voluntary exchange and enjoy major liberties such as freedom of speech, religion and association. Also measures freedom of movement, women’s freedoms, safety and security and the rule of law.

Hong Kong and Switzerland top the list, followed by Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Malta, Luxembourg, Chile, Mauritius —and finally, The United States at Number 20, followed by the Czech Republic, Estonia, Belgium, Taiwan and Portugal.

The U.S. was 17th in 2014. but think of EPA regulations, scheduled speakers disinvited, the government confiscating a big chunk of a raisin farmer’s crop, ObamaCare regulations, you might try tallying up the new constraints you have seen or felt. Swat teams breaking into the wrong house, Lois Lerner, the attack by the Left on anything connected to the South and it’s Civil War history. The attack on free speech has been not only notable, but widespread — things you cannot say. So we are at number 20 and declining. We talk a lot about the Left’s drive for increased regulation and increased control — and just look at where that’s got us!

11-Liberal-Gated-Community-copy



Schooling the FDA On The Meaning of the First Amendment by The Elephant's Child

_78425952_517716225I’m afraid I’m becoming something of a crank, grumbling constantly about the depredations of bureaucracy. The Food and Drug Administration has believed its powers so encompassing that it can even prohibit drug companies from making true statements about their products unless they are approved by the FDA.

A federal judge has just called this political control a violation of the First Amendment. Once the FDA has approved a new drug for FDA specified uses, physicians often repurpose them in other doses, or for other diseases, or for entirely different patient populations. A drug designed for breast cancer might prove effective against tumors in other parts of the body, or a medicine for adults may prove effective for pediatric care. About one of every five U.S. Prescriptions is for non-FDA approved uses.

In a small miracle, these off-label experiments are legal, and they drive innovation. The artificial conditions that the FDA demands for clinical trials are increasingly divorced from how medicine is practiced, and modern care advances far faster than the FDA’s regulatory molasses. Off-label use is vital for complex conditions like cancer and psychiatric disorders that require trial and error for individual patients, who can’t wait years for the FDA’s blessing.

But the FDA and Justice Department are targeting off-label prescriptions as a threat to their hegemony. Their goal is to force drug makers and physicians to seek FDA approval for every new real-world use, as if it were an entirely new drug. Until recently, drug makers were banned from making off-label claims backed by solid evidence or even from distributing peer-reviewed journal articles.

Prosecutors have also become increasingly aggressive. In 2012 GlaxoSmithKline paid $1 billion for encouraging doctors to use Paxil to treat depression in patients under 18, which research shows helps although the FDA has not endorsed this conclusion. The FDA construes some forms of off-label promotion as crimes, and people are serving jail time.

The nature of a bureaucracy is to grow, prosper, be better rewarded monetarily and extend its reach. Was there ever a bureaucracy that thought that much that they did was unnecessary, and they should probably downsize for the benefit of the taxpayers? I rest my case.

Judge Paul Engelmayer explained to the FDA that if they believed that a different use of a drug gravely undermined the drug approval process, it should have sought review of that decision, not tried to liken distributing information to an assault on their drug-approval authority, and tried to compare it to illegal speech such as blackmail or insider trading. Free speech wins one!

 



The Navajo Nation Will Take Legal Action Against the EPA. Good Luck to Them by The Elephant's Child

“They are not going to get away with this.”

……………………………………– Russell Begaye,
……………………………………..president of the Navajo Nation

The toxic waste is proceeding inexorably downriver. People were advised not to use water for cooking, drinking or bathing before having their water tested. EPA Region 8 administrator Shaun McGrath acknowledged the possibility of long-term damage from toxic metals. Cadmium is responsible for the orange color. The Navajo nation will take legal action. Begaye has instructed the Navajo Nation Department of Justice to take immediate action against the EPA to protect Navajo families and resources.

The plume of sludge is expected to reach the heavily used Lake Powell by Wednesday. Downriver are the Grand Canyon National Park, Hoover Dam, and the water supplies of Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. At least 30 million people are dependent on Colorado River water. This is a very big deal.

When the EPA went after the Sacketts in Priest Lake, Idaho for disturbing a residential lot with a view of the lake, claiming it was a “wetland”, the EPA fined them $37,000 a day for grading the lot in an established development. The EPA has a history of enormous fines designed to frighten the fined into immediate compliance. The Supreme Court put an end to the EPA’s overreach, but any public sympathy for the EPA has pretty much evaporated. I’m with the Navajo Nation on this one.



2.3 Million Medical Identities Have Been Stolen From ObamaCare’s Required Computerization of Hospitals and Doctors’ Offices by The Elephant's Child

Radiologist_in_San_Diego_CA_2010

Perhaps you remember back when the Democrats were pushing ObamaCare through Congress and nobody had read it, but they were sure it was going to be wonderful. They would put the brightest and most educated people in charge of your insurance, and open new agencies and add new regulations and it would be ever so much more efficient and bring prices down, and if you liked your doctor you could keep your doctor, and everything would cost 20% less. Uh huh.

One of the big ideas that was going to save great quantities of money and make everything more streamlined was to put everyone’s medical records online. Computerized records meant each doctor and nurse or technician could quickly access your full records.

So anybody and everybody in any clinic or hospital could access a patient’s entire medical history? Unintended consequences! Republicans cried. Identity theft, accessing prescriptions, dangerous, not well thought out.

Democrats never understand consequences, particularly anticipating what they might be, and taking care to think things through.

It has taken hospitals years to get each examination room and office outfitted with a computer with a stand and a keyboard that doesn’t take up much room, yet is networked with the whole local medical complex, and it has cost them millions. My hospital finally has it all completed and working efficiently though it has taken several years. Doctors now commune with the computer instead of the patient, but the computer doesn’t complain about aches and pains.

The problem is that each hospital or medical complex hired their own computer experts and paid millions for their systems and getting them up and working — but they don’t work together with other hospitals and clinics and complexes who had different experts do their systems.

The big idea that there would be one national system where the wise and powerful government could access all those records to see what the statistics from the whole country pouring in to Washington would teach them about the real health of the people and what could and should be done. Quite a few people weren’t so sure that Washington DC was any solution to the national health anyway.

Not going to happen in any case. I’d love to see a total on how much this bright idea cost the nation’s hospitals. Unintended consequences indeed!

What has happened and what will happen is exactly as they were warned: 2.3 million  (2,317,969) medical identities have been stolen. Thieves are using others’ insurance information to pay for their own medical visits or drugs. Most victims do not find out about the theft until an average three months later. Or when they notice unusual charges on their billing statement. The Poneman Institute said:

Unlike credit card fraud, victims of medical identity theft in our study had to pay an average of $13,500 to resolve the crime. In some cases, they paid the healthcare provider, repaid the insurer for services obtained by the thief, or they engaged an identity service provider or legal counsel to help resolve the incident and prevent future fraud.

More than $10,000 to pay because someone stole your medical identity? Better check with your medical provider or local hospital to see what they are doing about the problem.



R.I.P. Robert Conquest by The Elephant's Child

Rob-conquest1_3397269b

The great historian of Russia has passed away at the age of 98. Robert Conquest spent 28 years at the Hoover Institution where he was a Senior Research Fellow. He has, perhaps, been best known for his landmark work The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties. Thirty-five years after its publication, the book remains one of the most influential studies of Soviet history and has been translated into more than 20 languages. It is a detailed log of Stalin’s assassinations, arrests, tortures, frame-ups, forced confessions, show trials, executions and incarcerations that destroyed millions of lives.

Conquest was the author of twenty-one books on Soviet history, politics, and international affairs, including Harvest of Sorrow, which exposed the terror famine in the Ukraine, Stalin and the Kirov Murder, The Great Terror a Reassessment, Stalin: Breaker of Nations and Reflections on a Ravaged Century and The Dragons of Expectation. The last two are treasured books of mine.

He wrote one science fiction novel, and lots of poetry for which he also received awards.

He had no shortage of awards, the Jefferson Lectureship, the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for achievement in the humanities (1930), the Dan David Prize (2012), Poland’s Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit (2009), Estonia’s  Cross of Terra Mariana (2008), and the Ukrainian Order of Yaroslav Mudryi (2005).

Educated at Winchester College and the University of Grenoble, he was an exhibitioner in modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving his BA and MA in politics, philosophy, and economics and his DLitt in history.

Conquest-2005-copyConquest served in the British infantry in World War II and thereafter in His Majesty’s Diplomatic Service; he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. In 1996 he was named a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

( from the Hoover Institution, and Cynthia Haven)




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