American Elephants


Myth, Lies And Capitalism by The Elephant's Child

Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, economist, and french horn player, gives a short class in Capitalism, always a worthy endeavor. Free enterprise works to lift people all over the world out of poverty.



Familiar (or not) Quotations — Worth Repeating! by The Elephant's Child
May 19, 2015, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Politics | Tags: , , ,

childPoverty-image

This Robert Heinlein quote may be familiar, or not, but it is certainly worth repeating:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”.



Why Is Freedom of Speech So Hard To Understand? by The Elephant's Child

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and
to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances.

So, naturally, Hillary Clinton, who has desperately wanted to be President ever since she failed to be co-president with Bill (because the people of the United States reminded her that she was not elected) announced as the item of first importance in her quest to be the first woman president 23 years later, that she wants to rewrite the First Amendment to get rid of that annoying bit about “freedom of speech.”

If you need extreme evidence of the failure of our schools to teach the history of our country — there you go. Were you taught why the founders came to believe that the Bill of Rights was an essential part of the Constitution that had, at first, been overlooked?  That’s a dramatic story in itself.

The clear lesson of history is that individual liberty,
the basic underpinning of American society, requires
constant defense against the encroachment of the state.¹

Far too many people simply do not understand what the First Amendment is about. They like the idea of free speech until they find out that it means that people can say unpleasant, offensive or even hateful things, and you can’t get the police or the government to force them to stop. (The faculty will probably help). But “hate speech?” Triggering? Free-Speech Zones? Have American universities become only places of indoctrination rather than citadels of free thought?

The Left today has little use for free speech. After all, they used to be plain “Democrats,” then they became “Liberals,” and when that name fell into disrepute they became “Progressives.” They are deeply concerned with the use of language to sway minds. That’s why they are so careful about “talking points.” They don’t want anyone to foul up the conversation by not using the approved words. They get very annoyed when conservatives respond with pure logic, or even facts.

You have probably noticed that Leftists don’t like to be disagreed with. It depends on the particular subject, but in general, the Left approaches problems emotionally. They are deeply troubled by inequality, overflowing with empathy, and want to take all the extra money the rich have tucked away and give it to the unfortunate.

Free speech is under threat today as never before, especially on our college campuses, where students are often too fragile to hear a speaker who might deliver words uncomfortable to tender ears. Banned speakers have been George Will, Condoleeza Rice, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali — brilliant people who have important things to say.

Pamela Geller is a courageous woman who is trying to expose the reality of radical Islam. She helped to plan a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that was attacked by two gunmen in Garland, Texas over the weekend. Organizers knew they’d be targeted, but refused to back down.The contest was designed to show the importance of freedom of speech and the savagery of the Islamic State. A policeman was shot, and the two shooters were killed by the police.

Pamela Geller has been threatened with an anonymous message boasting of “71 trained soldiers in 15 different states, ready at our word to attack.”  That’s serious. Judicial Watch has identified an ISIS training camp just 8 miles south of the border in Mexico. Homeland Security denied any such camp, though Mexican authorities authenticated it to Judicial Watch.

What is particularly disgusting is the American media, who attacked Pamela Geller for staging a contest that would offend Muslims, rather than attacking the shooters who claimed to represent ISIS.

That the American media should be so lacking in understanding of the importance of free speech is astonishing, for they are extremely conscious of the freedom of the press, another part of the First Amendment, and depend on it for their livelihoods. But conformity with Leftist talking points trumps liberty every time.

And certainly they are aware of the Charlie Hebdo murders, and the beginning of the cartoon controversy in 2005 as the Danish newspaper published a series of cartoons on September 30, some depicting the Prophet Mohammad as a terrorist with a bomb. If you missed that whole thing, or didn’t understand what the fuss was all about, The Telegraph has published a complete timeline from the beginning at Jyllands-Posten down to today and the shooting at Garland, Texas.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. “The belief that Islam prohibits drawing Prophet Mohammed pervades public debate over what causes “cartoon” violence.

At the root of Muslim protestations is the false belief that Islam prohibits the depiction of Prophet Mohammed. There is no prohibition on creating images of Prophet Mohammed in the Qur’an. Up until the 14th century; such depictions were common in the non-Arab Muslim world. On my website, www.tarekfatah.com, I have posted many depictions of Prophet Mohammed, drawn mostly by Muslim artists. Even if it were true that such depictions were prohibited, the prohibition would not be applicable to non-Muslims.

That article was published in The Toronto Sun, not in the “mainstream” American press. Do read the whole piece from the Middle East Forum. The key sentence: “On the contrary, many Muslims rejected Geller’s right to freedom of expression, admitting that even as Americans they believe there should be limits to free speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.”

“Here is the hard truth; that the world contains many cultures inured to tyranny from time out of mind. There are peoples who may long for freedom, but have no practical idea how it can be got and maintained; or if they know, no energy for the task.” ²

¹ Walter Wriston: Risk and Other Four Letter Words
² David Warren
three-man-imprisoned-nearly-40-years-thanks-teenagers-lie


George Will, Who Was Disinvited, Spoke at the Disinvitation Dinner by The Elephant's Child

The William F. Buckley Program at Yale University, sponsored a “Disinvitation Dinner,” in honor of those who our American universities had invited to speak, and then disinvited because some of our precious students had been frightened by the possibility they might hear some words spoken which disagreed with their own. Excellent idea. The dinner, not the disinvitation. Students are enrolled in our colleges and universities because they don’t know much of anything, a fact of which they need be reminded.

George Will gives an excellent speech that is very funny about the very serious matter of freedom of speech, which is under threat today as never before. Make time for this when you can. You will enjoy every minute.



Hillary, Searching for a Political Advantage, Takes On Fortune 500 CEOs , Who She Thinks Make Too Much Money! by The Elephant's Child

hillary clinton

The news today seems to be mostly about Hillary, and about income and wealth distribution. But I repeat myself. The phrase that sticks in my mind from Hillary supporters goes something like “Don’t you want a really powerful woman to be our next president?” Well, no. And Hillary is not a “powerful woman.” She’s a celebrity — famous for being famous. Powerful women are deemed to be powerful based on their accomplishments. We can all recite a number of Hillary’s scandals, but accomplishments are harder to come up with.

(Reuters) – Hillary Clinton, under pressure from the left-wing of her Democratic Party to aggressively campaign against income inequality, voiced concern about the hefty paychecks of some corporate executives in an email to supporters.

Striking a populist note, Clinton, who announced on Sunday she was running for president in 2016, said American families were still facing financial hardship at a time “when the average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes.

That’s an old phony statistic derived from an ABC News article citing a 2009 study, comparing the income from the CEOs of S&P 500 companies (which are only a part of the largest companies in the country, many of which are privately owned). And who is the average worker? Does this compare union longshoremen in west coast ports with McDonalds workers? Is the comparison with average workers in those S&P 500 companies? This is a favorite theme of the left, trying to drum up class envy and then promising to help everyone on the lower end. They talk a lot about income inequality. What they don’t talk about is human nature.

Some people are born with the proverbial silver spoon in their pampered lives. Some people desperately want to be rich, really rich. Hillary charges $300,000 a speech for a half-hour of platitudes, often to Universities who are sticking kids with huge student-loan bills. She adds on amenities due to one in her position. Some people would like to make a little more, but prefer a life that is not centered on a drive for money. They value other things in life more.

What amazes me is that Hillary’s life has been centered on becoming the first woman president. I simply don’t understand that kind of goal. Hillary has been in the public eye for 23 years. One would assume that she would have some pretty definite ideas about what she would want to accomplish as president. Apparently not. She is being urged to champion income inequality by supporters of Elizabeth Warren who like Warren’s attacks on big banks.

Most first ladies have had a philanthropic cause that they champion, though there is no formal need to do so. Laura Bush championed books and reading as a former librarian. Lady Bird Johnson chose highway beautification. There are a number of websites that tell the story of the President’s wives and their accomplishments. You can look up Hillary.

We are always fascinated by the lives of the very rich (consider Downton Abbey and the struggle to maintain that great architectural pile and avoid bankruptcy). Most people who appear on the Forbes 500 move off the list within a few years, and most people who are among the poor move up. The top 20% of the income pile pay 85% of all taxes. The bottom 20% don’t pay any taxes and are subsidized with 2.3% of national income.

Think of the kid who gets his first real job and moves out of his parents’ home. Shares an apartment, eats lots of Top Ramen and macaroni and cheese. As he gains experience and skills, he moves up. In a bad economy some move back into the parents’ home. Most of us have known someone whose drive to make money trumps everything else. Or there are those who choose to marry money. Or musicians who work dumb jobs to support their music, hoping to someday make it pay. That’s real life. It’s all very well to cite data, but real human beings are not data. Life happens.There is such a thing as luck. Some people fall into a situation where their abilities and ideas are highly valued, and some people get fired.

Real people are not statistics. Statistics and data can tell us some things, but they are not very useful in describing human nature. Some people are sure they can regulate social justice, make everything fair, end poverty, stop crime, end wars. Life doesn’t work that way. On the whole, poverty is declining everywhere. Capitalism and free markets are making everyone’s lives better, while at the same time religious fanatics are chopping off heads and throwing people into the ocean to drown because they believe in a different religion. If you don’t understand human nature in all its strengths and flaws and go on a fevered crusade to pretend to make everybody equal — it’s not going to work out too well for real people.



Free Speech Has Been Expelled From Our Universities. Students Must Be Shielded from Uncomfortable Ideas. by The Elephant's Child

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The cries of pain from our coddled college students grows ever more shrill. It would be helpful if the media stopped paying attention. It is not newsworthy. It is largely about a misunderstood First Amendment to the Constitution with which they are seriously, deeply, unfamiliar. Clearly, they have not the slightest understanding of freedom of speech, human nature, nor real life. No wonder they don’t seem to know anything.

The problem is that they are easily offended, and not just that, but they somehow have the idea that they have a right not to be offended. And even beyond that, there is an expectation that they shouldn’t encounter opinions that conflict with their own. And these are supposed to be institutions of higher learning? Jack Kelly wrote at Real Clear Politics:

The Center for Campus Involvement at the University of Michigan recently cancelled a screening of “American Sniper” the Clint Eastwood film about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. It was cancelled after sophomore Lamees Mekkaoui gathered “roughly 200″ signatures (out of a student body of 42,700) on a petition alleging that the film “promotes anti-Muslim rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer.”

The Center for Campus Involvement said in a statement “We deeply regret causing harm to members of our community, and appreciate the thoughtful feedback provided to us by students.”

In a recent essay for the Weekly Standard, historian Gordon S, Wood wrote about his own history professor and mentor Bernard Bailyn and the state of history in our colleges and universities. Bailyn got off on the wrong foot from the outset with his “Peopling of British North America Project.” Didn’t he know, his critics carped, that there were people, indigenous people already here before the English came?”

College students and many historians have become obsessed with inequality and white privilege in American society. And this obsession has seriously affected the writing of American history. The inequalities of race and gender now permeate much of academic history-writing, so much so that the general reading public that wants to learn about the whole of our nation’s past has had to turn to history books written by nonacademics who have no Ph.D.s and are not involved in the incestuous conversations of the academic scholars.

But a new generation of historians is no longer interested in how the United States came to be. That kind of narrative history of the nation, they say, is not only inherently triumphalist but has a teleological bias built into it. Those who write narrative histories necessarily have to choose and assign significance to events in terms of a known outcome, and that, the moral critics believe, is bound to glorify the nation. So instead of writing full-scale narrative histories, the new generation of historians has devoted itself to isolating and recovering stories of the dispossessed: the women kept in dependence; the American Indians shorn of their lands; the black slaves brought in chains from Africa. Consequently, much of their history is fragmentary and essentially anachronistic—condemning the past for not being more like the present. It has no real interest in the pastness of the past.

Back at the University of Michigan, the screening was back on a day later. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he would show “American Sniper” to the football team.”Proud of Kris Kyle and proud to be an American,” Mr. Harbaugh tweeted. “if that offends anybody, then so be it.”

Denying free speech is “a horrible betrayal of everything universities are supposed to be about” wrote Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College. But the worst thing about “PC stupidity and mandatory cocooning on campus is…the catastrophic dumbing down of a younger generation that is becoming too fragile to exist in the current world.”

If you expect to get through life without being offended, you’re going to have a hard time of it. Colleges are offering “safe spaces” to students who are traumatized by “microaggressions.” Smith College President Kathleen McCartney apologized for causing students to be “hurt” and “made to feel unsafe” because she didn’t object when a fellow panel member uttered the “N word” during a discussion about teaching “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Free speech advocate Wendy Kaminer, wrote “It’s amazing to me [students] can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech.”

Back at Michigan, the CCI scheduled an alternative film for those who objected to “American Sniper,” a children’s movie about a stuffed bear. When “American Sniper” was screened, the 150-seat room was filled to near capacity. Most applauded as the credits rolled. Only seven students chose to watch “Paddington Bear.”

It is interesting, if appalling, to pay a little attention to the whining students to see just what subjects or what speakers draw the outrage and offense of students, and just who those students seem to be.The Media will not touch that question.They remain unidentified.

ADDENDUM: Christina Hoff Summers of the American Enterprise Institute, also blogs as the “Factual Feminist.” An outstanding scholar, she took on a misleading ad campaign by Verizon which portrays girls as victims of sexism in math and science. Actually, girls are thriving in math and science, and it has nothing to do with sexism. But the precious little girls at Georgetown were “invited to a “Safe Space” if they feel triggered or upset by today’s events. Hate speech will not be appreciated in this space.” Can’t have their ideas questioned. They are victims, and proud of it.



Best Headline Of The Week! by The Elephant's Child

Economist Mark J. Perry, wrote at the American Enterprise Institute:

Why do progressives hate Walmart for low prices and its 3% profit margin but love high-priced Apple and its 24% profit margin?

Evil Walmart makes a lot of money, right? We hear that all the time even though the retail giant’s profit margin was only 3.12% in the most recent quarter. Interestingly, we never seem to hear as much about the much higher profit margin of Apple, the “darling of the progressives.” In the most recent quarter, the computer behemoth with a market capitalization ($725 billion) that exceeds the value of the entire stock markets of Mexico, Thailand and Russia, had a whopping profit margin of 24.2%. No wonder its market cap is so astronomical.

Here’s one way to put Walmart’s 3.12% profit margin in perspective. Over a typical 31-day period like the month of March for example, Walmart generates about $40.5 billion in sales revenue (roughly $1.3 billion per day). To generate that amount of sales, it costs Walmart about $39.3 billion every 31 days to pay for all of its expenses: merchandise to stock its stores, shipping expenses, the cost of labor including fringe benefits, utilities, corporate income taxes, property taxes, payroll taxes, interest expenses, advertising, etc. After incurring all of those costs to provide the merchandise for consumers over a 31-day period, there’s about $1.26 billion left over for profits, which is also 3.12% of the $40.5 billion in sales revenue.

In contrast, Apple’s whopping 24.2% profit margin means that the company can typically cover its costs to operate for 31 days in a little more than three weeks (23.5 days) and it then usually has 7.5 “profit days” every 31 days. That is, for more than an entire week every month, all of the sales revenue collected by Apple during those 7.5 days turns into profits for Apple’s shareholders.

Do read the whole thing. There’s lots more, and a good lesson in both politics and economics. And Progressivism as well.




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