American Elephants

A Quotation to Keep in Mind for the Coming Week: by The Elephant's Child

The real motives of liberals  have nothing to do with the welfare of other people. Instead, they have two related goals—to establish themselves as morally and intellectually superior to the rather distasteful population of common people, and to gather as much power as possible to tell those distasteful common people how they must live their lives.

…………………………………………………….Thomas Sowell

Did You Hear What Hillary…Of Course You Didn’t. The Only News Was That Trump Said Something Crude. by The Elephant's Child

More releases of Hillary e-mails, and more than 2,500 e-mails from John Podesta, Hillary’s Campaign Chairman*, were released by Wikileaks, with more promised. The Podesta e-mails included excerpts from Hillary’s speeches to Wall Street groups. Podesta was a former Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton, a longtime antiwar activist of the New Left, and is currently the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress. His most lasting contribution to the Left’s cause was:

his promotion of a strategy that White House aides dubbed “Project Podesta.” This was a system that enabled the Clintons to push through unpopular policies that neither Congress nor the American people wanted. Its implementation marked a dramatic tilt in the balance of power, giving the executive branch an unprecedented ability to force its will on the legislative branch.

Project Podesta enabled the President to bypass Congress through the use of executive orders, presidential decision directives, White-House-sponsored lawsuits, vacancy appointments to high federal office, selective regulatory actions against targeted corporations, and a host of other extra-constitutional tactics.

Hillary went to ground, and lo and behold, an audio of Donald Trump being crude about women surfaced just in time to keep the media talking about the awfulness of Trump and overshadowing anything that Hillary might have said in those speeches she was so reluctant to talk about. Just a coincidence of course.

Donald Trump is a flawed candidate, not my first choice, nor the first choice of many others. The fact that he said something crude about a woman in a tape from 2005 in a private conversation with another man is not exactly a surprise. We all knew that Trump was frequently crude. Hillary said in a 2013 “private” speech to the National Multifamily Housing Council that it was important to hold two positions on political issues — a “public” one and a separate “private” one. That’s hardly a surprise either.  We all knew that her public pronouncements were just for public consumption. Truth and accuracy are not among her better known characteristics.

The reaction from major Republicans has been outrage and horror that they might get tarnished with the effluent from Trump’s “shocking” remarks. There seems to be some extra importance to the fact that his crude remarks were about women. Would there be as much outrage if he had made crude remarks about men? Or don’t the advances women have made in the way of equality count when they require the extra consideration due simply because they are female?

Donald Trump is not the first politician to make crude remarks. I give you LBJ, who was remarkably crude, And Bill Clinton has been accused of far, far worse. Hillary told executives at a Brazilian bank in a private speech that:

My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders,” Clinton says in an excerpt from a speech to Unibanco Itau, a Brazilian bank. “We have to resists protectionism [and] other kinds of barriers to market access and to trade.”

The EU has been such a colossal failure that it’s hard to imagine anyone actually believing a common market in this hemisphere would be desirable. Free markets and trade, of course, but a common market run by the usual corrupt and unaccountable bureaucrats — is one of the dumber ideas I’ve ever heard. No wonder she didn’t want anyone to know what she said in her speeches, to get such big donations for the Clinton Foundation.

Donald Trump has said some rude things, that he shouldn’t have said. Hillary has played fast and loose with our national secrets to get enough payola to afford her walled estate, and the lifestyle among the rich and famous that is so important to her. I was astounded the other day when I heard a woman on a radio show remark that” Hillary had done so much for women.” I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about.

Like so many on the Left, Hillary believes that the recession (the worst since the Great Depression) was caused by George W. Bush’s tax cuts. Collapse of the Housing Bubble? Never heard of it. They also believe firmly that extended unemployment benefits and food stamps help to grow the economy — which is apparently why we have had such a marvelous recovery. Taxes, especially on the rich, bring lots of “government money” which when spent on, oh, global warming and  welfare benefits and food stamps, circulates through the economy, growing as it passes through each hand. Nancy Pelosi explained the economics carefully in a speech at the Brookings Institution. You can look it up.

*I said John Podesta was Hillary’s campaign manager. That was incorrect. He is Campaign Chairman. Campaign Manager is Robert Mook. Corrected.

How Much Money have Humans Created? by The Elephant's Child

All stock markets added together are worth $70 trillion, and global debt is $199 trillion.

That’s all impressive, but the derivatives market takes the cake. Derivatives are contracts between parties that derive value from the performance of underlying assets, indices, or entities. On the low end, the notional value of the derivatives market is estimated to be a whopping $630 trillion according to the Bank of International Settlements.

However, that only accounts for OTC (over-the-counter) derivatives, and the truth is that no one actually knows the size of the derivatives market. It’s been estimated by some that it could be as high as $1.2 quadrillion, and others estimate it could be even higher.

There are many financial critics who worry about the risk that these contracts pile onto the global financial system. With the sheer size of the derivative market dwarfing all others, it’s understandable why business mogul Warren Buffett has called derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction”.

Barack Obama, Keeping Us Safe From Those People He Won’t Describe Because it Might Offend by The Elephant's Child

*Click to enlarge

It doesn’t always take a long-winded discussion to explain just what is going on in our world. Michael Ramirez strikes again!

When You Don’t Understand the Economy, You’re Not Apt to Provide Correct Solutions! by The Elephant's Child


When the economy seems dismal, and nothing seems to be going right, you may have noticed that reasons start appearing why we just have to settle for a less prosperous world. Obama’s answers in his speech to the UN General Assembly are particularly interesting. We have to make the global economy work better for all people, not just those at the top. Open markets and  capitalism have raised standards of living around the globe, but globalization and rapid progress and technology have weakened the position of workers and their ability to secure a decent wage. Unions have been undermined and manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Here’s Obama:

But I do believe there’s another path — one that fuels growth and innovation, and offers the clearest route to individual opportunity and national success.  It does not require succumbing to a soulless capitalism that benefits only the few, but rather recognizes that economies are more successful when we close the gap between rich and poor, and growth is broadly based. And that means respecting the rights of workers so they can organize into independent unions and earn a living wage.  It means investing in our people — their skills, their education, their capacity to take an idea and turn it into a business.  It means strengthening the safety net that protects our people from hardship and allows them to take more risks — to look for a new job, or start a new venture.

Forgive me, but this is pure claptrap. “Soulless Capitalism” indeed. That benefits only a few? Too much time going to Socialist meetings, and a deep ignorance of basic economics. Robert Barro, professor of economics at Harvard and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute corrected the president:

The Obama administration and some economists argue that the recovery since the Great Recession ended in 2009 has been unusually weak because of the recession’s severity and the fact that it was accompanied by a major financial crisis. Yet in a recent study of economic downturns in the U.S. and elsewhere since 1870, economist Tao Jin and I found that historically the opposite has been true. Empirically, the growth rate during a recovery relates positively to the magnitude of decline during the downturn, economist Tao Jin and I found that historically the opposite has been true. …

On average, during a recovery, an economy recoups about half the GDP lost during the downturn. The recovery is typically quick, with an average duration around two years. For example, a 4% decline in per capita GDP during a contraction predicts subsequent recovery of 2%, implying 1% per year higher growth than normal during the recovery. Hence, the growth rate of U.S. per capita GDP from 2009 to 2011 should have been around 3% per year, rather than the 1.5% that materialized.

The Left is burdened with the ideas that things need be done by government, that those in government (themselves) know better how to manage businesses and direct trade, and decide what needs to be done in the future. They are so filled with themselves and their self-admiration that they cannot conceive of letting people be free to pursue their own ideas and ambitions. Yet this is the very way you welcome growth and invention. Economist Dierdre McCloskey points out that:

“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.”…

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.

The capital became productive because of ideas for betterment—ideas enacted by a country carpenter or a boy telegrapher or a teenage Seattle computer whiz. As Matt Ridley put it in his book “The Rational Optimist” (2010), what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” The idea of a railroad was a coupling of high-pressure steam engines with cars running on coal-mining rails. The idea for a lawn mower coupled a miniature gasoline engine with a miniature mechanical reaper. And so on, through every imaginable sort of invention. The coupling of ideas in the heads of the common people yielded an explosion of betterments.

Another article by Dierdre McCloskey covering many of the same ideas is available at The New York Times. Both may be behind subscription barriers, but you can find them on Google. It’s worth trying to track them down.  I love Matt Ridley’s brilliant description of  “ideas having sex.” But that’s how it works. You suddenly put two ideas previously unconnected— together and suddenly you have a new and different thing. And it’s how people and nations get rich as well.

About International Trade: by The Elephant's Child



From economist Mark Perry st AEI: The quotation of the day on international trade comes from President Ronald Reagan’s radio address to the nation on international trade on August 6, 1983:

The winds and waters of commerce carry opportunities that help nations grow and bring citizens of the world closer together. Put simply, increased trade spells more jobs, higher earnings, better products, less inflation, and cooperation over confrontation. The freer the flow of world trade, the stronger the tides for economic progress and peace among nations.

I’ve seen in my lifetime what happens when leaders forget these timeless principles. They seek to protect industries and jobs, but they end up doing the opposite. One economic lesson of the 1930s is protectionism increases international tensions. We bought less from our trading partners, but then they bought less from us. Economic growth dried up. World trade contracted by over 60 percent, and we had the Great Depression.

Why World War II Matters — Victor Davis Hanson by The Elephant's Child

Here’s a fascinating lecture by Victor Davis Hanson on why World War II matters. It ended 71 years ago, ancient history. The very last of those who served in the war are nearly all gone, and even those who really remember are passing on. How do we make those to whom it is ancient history, who may not even know who was fighting or why they were fighting or why it matters understand?

Dr. Hanson, Central Valley farmer, college professor, military historian, columnist, author and fellow at the Hoover Institution is presented here by the Hillsdale College History Department. Enjoy. It’s well worth your time.

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