American Elephants

A Short Essay on Modern Life, Or Something Like That. by The Elephant's Child

4886682532_b29722fd6b_bI had to go to the grocery store yesterday for a few things, and I was annoyed when they hadn’t gotten in any more strawberries. And I considered my annoyance. End of November in the Great Northwest and there are no fresh strawberries? How quickly we get used to the comforts of modern life. I can certainly remember when strawberries came in the few weeks when the local strawberry fields actually had fruit on the vine.

I picked up a package of 3″ x 5″ scratch pads — the kind you write your grocery list on, and discovered that the package of 4 pads was — imported from China. So there you go. Two direct reminders of how times have changed and in spite of all our complaining, we are blessed with plenty.

So I bought a package of fresh raspberries instead, and added two containers of fresh blueberries and went on home.  (Sorry!  I’m easily amused.)

Francine’s Interview — France by The Elephant's Child

Born in August, 1933, Francine Christophe was deported with her mother to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944. Released the following year, she continues to share her experience and memories with the younger generation.

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)

“We Are Not Manufacturing Anything Anymore” And Other Fables of the Left. by The Elephant's Child

A common complaint bandied about is that we are not manufacturing anything any more, and there are no manufacturing jobs. But we should always check on ‘common complaints’ to see if they are actually true. The reality is a bit different. America is manufacturing more than ever. Mark J. Perry is the proprietor of the Carpe Diem blog at AEI, and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.

America is a very big and prosperous country — even in the slowest recovery since 1945. Obama liked to call it the worst recession since the Great Depression (blamed entirely on Bush) and he’s been talking up his recovery ever since, which has been the slowest since 1945. Obama clearly wants America to be a smaller influence in the world (stop being a bully) perhaps turn us into a gentle giant? An odd ambition for an America president. But during campaign season a frequent claim is that we don’t manufacture anything anymore.  Not so.

Our manufacturing workers are more productive than ever before. Europeans worry more about vacation time and time off. Americans for the most part expect and like to be productive, and consider that to be the way to get ahead. They hate union rules which mean that you have to wait for someone from another union to replace the lightbulb, and support right-to-work laws.

The real recession was short, ending in June 2009 — it’s the recovery that has been problematic. Keynesian economics doesn’t work. Neither does adding on hundreds of new regulations, new restrictions, higher corporate taxes, and ObamaCare.

We are manufacturing more stuff, making more profit, and increasing productivity per worker— with fewer people. Jobs that are simple and repetitive are being replaced by robots. Manufacturing output has increased more than five-fold over the last 67 years — from $410 billion in 1947 to a record-setting level last year of $2.09 trillion. The number of manufacturing employees has steadily declined to a low in 2010 of 11.6 million workers to rebounding slightly to more than 12 million last year. Remember that the jobs replaced by robots were mostly those that the worker hated. Doing exactly the same thing every 8 hours can get poisonously boring, and building robots would be way more interesting.

The ability of the U.S manufacturing sector to produce increasing amounts of output with fewer workers is a sign of economic strength and vitality. Disruptive for displaced workers, of course — but it only happens because of new inventions and new processes with more opportunity involved. Automation is here to stay, and results in lower prices and a healthier economy. Robots don’t get hurt, have pensions, make mistakes or take vacations, and they don’t join unions.

The clever engineers who devise robots will devise more machines, which will also have to be manufactured. But manufacturing isn’t really the romantic idea of “working with your hands” anymore either. For that scroll down to the clever parody of “Artisanal Firewood

Donald Trump was grumbling the other day about having to buy televisions manufactured in South Korea and wondering why the US would defend a nation that sells such reasonably priced products. “I don’t think anybody makes television sets in the United States anymore. We don’t make anything anymore.” Let’s cut the talk about “bringing jobs back.” Bad idea.

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)

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.

The Secret Meanings Behind Some Familiar Phrases by The Elephant's Child

Jonah Goldberg stars in a short video for Prager University.  We are easy marks. We can be fooled by clever use of language. Take time to stop and appreciate the unraveling of meaning.


Something Very Special by The Elephant's Child
July 4, 2015, 6:55 am
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, Military, Music | Tags: , ,

Amazing Grace

Condoleezza Rice and Jenny Oaks Baker

All proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warriors Project


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