American Elephants

Plastic Bags Are a Great Modern Invention! by The Elephant's Child

bags2 As long as I’m on a roll, let’s address the plastic bag problem. Actually, there is no plastic bag problem, but a problem with aggressive Greens. I’ve written about plastic bags way too often. Just enter “plastic bags” in the search bar over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar. You can learn how this all came about, the dangers of cloth bags, the cost-benefit effect, and all about City Councils’ overbearing regulations.

Seattle, always sensitive to ‘sustainability’ problems or sensitivity among their residents, essentially bans paper and plastic bags. They will charge you if you don’t bring your own cloth bag. Which may be fine and dandy for  a single person living in a small apartment just a few blocks from the grocery store.

I don’t particularly enjoy grocery shopping — it’s just another task, so I try to go no more than once a week. I load up something over 20 plastic bags. I’m supposed to buy 30 cloth bags and wash them (necessary for safety) between each use? I have ranted far too many times, but Katherine Mangu-Ward writing in Reason magazine says:

Plastic bags for retail purchases are banned or taxed in more than 200 municipalities and a dozen countries, from San Francisco to South Africa, Bellingham to Bangladesh. Each region serves up its own custom blend of alarmist rhetoric; coastal areas blame the wispy totes for everything from asphyxiated sea turtles to melting glaciers, while inland banners decry the bags’ role in urban landscape pollution and thoughtless consumerism.

But a closer look at the facts and figures reveals shaky science and the uncritical repetition of improbable statistics tossed about to shore up the case for a mostly aesthetic, symbolic act of conservation.

Her article is thorough and well done, and worth your time. She has traced the plastic bag back to it’s beginnings, and covers the dangers inherent in cloth bags, though I’m not sure she emphasizes them enough. But finally, she admits to cultural and economic pressures, and uses cloth bags herself.

I remain defiant and unreformed. The objections to modern plastic bags are ill informed, the dangers of unwashed cloth bags too severe, and besides I have two cats and I need plastic bags for the kitty litter, and the other noxious things that turn up around my house in the woods.

I’m also getting really tired of the ‘public service announcements’ that are designed to make me hew to the green agenda, and whatever new idea the EPA has this week.

Honda “Paper” by The Elephant's Child
October 4, 2015, 7:05 am
Filed under: Art, Entertainment, Free Markets, Freedom, Heartwarming, Humor, Japan | Tags: , ,

Advertising that makes you pay attention! Very, very , very clever.

(h/t: vanderleun)

President Obama’s Legacy In 9 Simple Charts From The Federal Reserve. by The Elephant's Child

CP6eZ_CWsAAyWVe.jpg large(Click to enlarge)

Take your time, read the small print. The nine charts do not, of course cover everything. There’s still the Iran Deal, the mess in Syria, the Taliban’s success in Afghanistan, excessive regulation. It would be easy to chart another nine, and then another. But it is a start on an all too real record. Some Legacy!

The Most Powerful Defense of Market Capitalism You Will Ever Read. by The Elephant's Child

(Click to enlarge)

Economist Deirdre McCloskey recently spoke in London, and this brief summary captures the essence of her talk and her work on the power of economic freedom. Next year, her latest book: “Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World”  will arrive, the final book of a trilogy on the wonder-working power of modern capitalism. Here is a seven page summary of her upcoming book, and below is a summary of her summary by James Pethokoukis of AEI.


Perhaps you yourself still believe in nationalism or socialism or proliferating regulation. And perhaps you are in the grip of pessimism about growth or consumerism or the environment or inequality.

Please, for the good of the wretched of the earth, reconsider.

Many humans, in short, are now stunningly better off than their ancestors were in 1800.  … Hear again that last, crucial, astonishing fact, discovered by economic historians over the past few decades. It is: in the two centuries after 1800 the trade-tested goods and services available to the average person in Sweden or Taiwan rose by a factor of 30 or 100. Not 100 percent, understand—a mere doubling—but in its highest estimate a factor of 100, nearly 10,000 percent, and at least a factor of 30, or 2,900 percent. The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has dwarfed any of the previous and temporary enrichments. Explaining it is the central scientific task of economics and economic history, and it matters for any other sort of social science or recent history.

What explains it? The causes were not (to pick from the apparently inexhaustible list of materialist factors promoted by this or that economist or economic historian) coal, thrift, transport, high male wages, low female and child wages, surplus value, human capital, geography, railways, institutions, infrastructure, nationalism, the quickening of commerce, the late medieval run-up, Renaissance individualism, the First Divergence, the Black Death, American silver, the original accumulation of capital, piracy, empire, eugenic improvement, the mathematization of celestial mechanics, technical education, or a perfection of property rights. Such conditions had been routine in a dozen of the leading organized societies of Eurasia, from ancient Egypt and China down to Tokugawa Japan and the Ottoman Empire, and not unknown in Meso-America and the Andes. Routines cannot account for the strangest secular event in human history, which began with bourgeois dignity in Holland after 1600, gathered up its tools for betterment in England after 1700, and burst on northwestern Europe and then the world after 1800.

The modern world was made by a slow-motion revolution in ethical convictions about virtues and vices, in particular by a much higher level than in earlier times of toleration for trade-tested progress—letting people make mutually advantageous deals, and even admiring them for doing so, and especially admiring them when Steve-Jobs like they imagine betterments. The change, the Bourgeois Revaluation, was the coming of a business-respecting civilization, an acceptance of the Bourgeois Deal: “Let me make money in the first act, and by the third act I will make you all rich.”

Much of the elite, and then also much of the non-elite of northwestern Europe and its offshoots, came to accept or even admire the values of trade and betterment. Or at the least the polity did not attempt to block such values, as it had done energetically in earlier times. Especially it did not do so in the new United States. Then likewise, the elites and then the common people in more of the world followed, including now, startlingly, China and India. They undertook to respect—or at least not to utterly despise and overtax and stupidly regulate—the bourgeoisie.

Why, then, the Bourgeois Revaluation that after made for trade-tested betterment, the Great Enrichment? The answer is the surprising, black-swan luck of northwestern Europe’s reaction to the turmoil of the early modern—the coincidence in northwestern Europe of successful Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution: “the Four Rs,” if you please. The dice were rolled by Gutenberg, Luther, Willem van Oranje, and Oliver Cromwell. By a lucky chance for England their payoffs were deposited in that formerly inconsequential nation in a pile late in the seventeenth century. None of the Four Rs had deep English or European causes. All could have rolled the other way. They were bizarre and unpredictable. In 1400 or even in 1600 a canny observer would have bet on an industrial revolution and a great enrichment—if she could have imagined such freakish events—in technologically advanced China, or in the vigorous Ottoman Empire. Not in backward, quarrelsome Europe.

A result of Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution was a fifth R, a crucial Revaluation of the bourgeoisie, first in Holland and then in Britain. The Revaluation was part of an R-caused, egalitarian reappraisal of ordinary people.  … The cause of the bourgeois betterments, that is, was an economic liberation and a sociological dignifying of, say, a barber and wig-maker of Bolton, son of a tailor, messing about with spinning machines, who died in 1792 as Sir Richard Arkwright, possessed of one of the largest bourgeois fortunes in England. The Industrial Revolution and especially the Great Enrichment came from liberating commoners from compelled service to a hereditary elite, such as the noble lord in the castle, or compelled obedience to a state functionary, such as the economic planner in the city hall. And it came from according honor to the formerly despised of Bolton—or of Ōsaka, or of Lake Wobegon—commoners exercising their liberty to relocate a factory or invent airbrakes.

What? You Mean America is Not a Hotbed of Racial Hatred? by The Elephant's Child

DiverssityMapIn this worldwide poll, people were asked to choose which, if any, groups of people they would not want as neighbors. (Click to enlarge)  Kind of a test of prejudice or diversity. The nations of the Anglosphere, with some additions from South America, are the least likely to object to having people of another race or religion as neighbors. (I guess they didn’t ask in the grey areas)

So much for Democrats propaganda about diversity and inclusion, which they use constantly to tell people of other races in this country that 1. The Democrats are very inclusive, and care about diversity, and thus thus they care about people of other races.  2. They have found that by dividing the electorate up into voting groups they can direct specific messages of how prejudiced the Republicans are to those specific groups, and gain votes.

This is why Obama is attempting to get so many illegals into the country and offer them amnesty, and why he wants to import so many refugees. Republicans will reliably object, because we are a nation of laws and Republicans want the laws obeyed.

As far as I can tell, Republicans don’t spend a lot of time worrying about race simply because they don’t think a different race is a big deal. They, for the most part, actually do judge a person on their character, not the color of their skin. When they object to illegal aliens, it is not because of their race or ethnicity, but because of the illegal part.

And About Socialized Medicine Like The Canadians Have by The Elephant's Child

This is a story we’ve heard before. Usually The Canadians deny it, and the Americans deny it; cross border relations, you know. But as with our VA Health Care, and the Indian Health Service, and the poor Alaska natives living on the Canadian coast who can’t get a simple road to the airport so they can fly out for live-saving care — our Secretary of the Interior denies them a road because it might disturb the birds. Government does many things poorly, and many things very badly. Bureaucracy is an enemy, and the larger it grows the more poorly it works and the worse the results.

Two Down, Fourteen to Go. by The Elephant's Child

I’m really troubled. The two most accomplished governors in the country have both suspended their campaigns for the Republican nomination. Rick Perry administered a state that created most of the new jobs in the country. Liberals predicted that Texas would go bust along with oil prices when they started to drop, but 2014 was the year that oil prices fell to $53 a barrel in December from more than $107 in June.

But Austin has little exposure to the energy industry, and business other than government is booming. Texas has no personal or corporate income tax, and job growth continues to soar. Texas is in the business of wealth creation, not redistribution.

Scott Walker shifted power from unions to workers, where it belongs. Wisconsin has outdone the nation on most economic indicators. The unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and improving. After four years of Gov. Walker, more Wisconsinites are employed and his policies are clearly working. Add in an attempt to recall him, death threats to his family, protests at his parent’s home, and the use of law enforcement as a political instrument in an attempt to undo election results. Above all, he clearly has a steel spine, something we have all been wishing for.

Well, sour grapes. Walker, perhaps rose to the top too soon,too fast, and the vast number of candidates, hostile unions determined to destroy him,  a liberal media that regarded him as the most dangerous man in the bunch — liberals will do anything to silence those who disagree, and someone who is successful in overturning everything in the original progressive state is very dangerous to the liberal agenda.

I expected some to drop out, but not my two favorites while the less deserving, hang on. It’s politics, and the unexpected usually happens.

ADDENDUM: I’ve read dozens of other commentary on Scott Walkers suspension of his campaign. The only satisfying answer, setting aside the snark, is that he entered the race on a vast wave of enthusiasm, and the campaign spent way too much money in the first weeks, and as yet people are just getting acquainted with the candidates, and not really ready to settle on a single favorite. The too much money spent too early wasn’t getting replenished that fast. He just ran out of money and poll numbers.


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