American Elephants


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

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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

 

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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.



Another Reminder That Those Determined to Attack Us Often Succeed. by The Elephant's Child

In the meantime, the latest news reports an explosion in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, where 25 people were injured and sent to hospitals with injuries, though the Fire Department reported than none seem to be life-threatening. This was preceded by a pipe bomb explosion in Seaside Park, New Jersey, just before a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors.

Not workplace violence.



Compassion Is All Very Fine, But Common Sense Wins Every Time by The Elephant's Child

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The Obama administration has planned to admit 110,000 refugees to the United States during the next fiscal year, a 57% increase over the 70,000 refugees admitted in FY 2015. Only 36% of the American people believe we should admit any Syrian refugees at all.

Americans have watched the surge of migrants into Europe and the subsequent terrorist attacks, rape and sexual attacks on women and girls, and the problems the Europeans are just beginning to learn about.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel was at first extremely welcoming, and many Syrian refugees are refusing to work saying that they are now the guests of Angela Merkel and they don’t have to work.

Turns out many of the Syrian refugees in Europe are not from Syria and are not even “refugees.” Chancellor Merkel has recently admitted that she was mistaken, and the polls don’t look good for her continuation in office. The European Union has been very politically correct, with emphasis on compassion as a virtue. People at first came out with flowers and food to welcome the migrants. After the discovery that they were indeed somewhat dangerous, complained about the housing and food provided, executed terrorist attacks, most notably in France, and regarded sexual gratification as an entitlement, Europeans began to lose their enthusiasm.

We cannot vet refugees from Syria. There is no government to which we can apply. Syrian passports are easily copied and widely available. For many, the simple opportunity to move to a more prosperous country is very appealing, and for others, the welfare and free goodies are the defining element.

A professor of economics at the University of Munich has said that 65% of Syrian refugees are “functionally illiterate — they fail to have basic reading and writing skills in accordance with international standards.” 73% have dropped out of job training classes.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, more than 90% of Syrians applying for refugee status are approved despite the lack of any ability to verify their identity. The Federal government is going to spend $4,6 million to give “emotional wellness” to refugees. The Department of Homeland Security is allegedly refusing to release an immigration study “pinpointing the number of illegal immigrants who successfully sneak across the southern border” because it might help Donald Trump’s campaign.

Since 2013, the Obama administration has allowed 300,000 criminal aliens to return to the United States because their home countries will not take them back. Hillary Clinton had the power to stop it cold, but chose not to. CIS estimates that it costs twelve times as much to resettle refugees here rather than in a neighboring country in the Middle East. The wealthy Arab-Islamic countries near Syria aren’t accepting refugees because of “security concerns.”

The Center for Immigration Studies (cis.org) is a think tank devoted to the issue of immigration. They are pro-immigration and pro-immigrant, but they want immigrants to be legal. It is a very useful website for all things concerning immigration and immigration law. It’s an enormously complicated matter.

George Soros, who backs the Democratic Party with major funding, believes in completely open borders. Apparently so does Hillary, who Trump has accused of wanting to resettle 1 million in her first term. At the other extreme are those who want the flow of immigrants completely stopped.  Which does not bode well for much in the way of compromise.

Every time we offer amnesty, it is an open invitation to the world that we have open borders and they are welcome. One can favor admitting legal immigrants and even refugees. Our laws favor those refugees who face religious persecution, and getting immolated in a cage by ISIS would seem to be a major incentive, but President Obama rejects admitting Christians as the law requires.

For the most part, once refugees are admitted, they’re on their own. Homeland Security has no idea where they are, nor how they are doing. nor does anybody else except for the school districts that have to provide for them, and the police departments who cannot get any help in deporting them because of “sanctuary cities.” By failing to deal with jihad and terrorism, President Obama has created the backlash all by himself from Americans, who do follow the news.



Sources For Everything You Need to Know on Constitution Day by The Elephant's Child

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Where can you get a copy of the United States Constitution? The Cato Institute has dandy pocket Constitutions — 3½” x  5″ for $4.95 each, or 10 copies for $10 — including the Bill of Rights and all the amendments. Make sure each of your kids or grandkids have their own copy, and that they read it.

Birthdays or Christmas, get them a copy of An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power by John Steele Gordon. It explains why things happened the way they did, and why a free people, whose freedoms are guaranteed by the world’s greatest constitution, are the envy of the world.

Here’s a list of the 20 questions kids ask most on Constitution Day.

Here’s a list of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention who signed the Constitution into law, and a brief biography of each one, and of the three Delegates who refused to sign.

Here’s a brief 10 question quiz to test your basic knowledge of the Constitution, and if you don’t excel, refer back to where you get a copy.

Don’t forget that the Constitution was preceded by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The Library of Congress has an excellent overview of the Articles, and  you can read the Articles of Confederation at Yale’s Avalon project to see why we needed a do-over. And here are copies of The Federalist Papers, in many different editions.

Progressives don’t really like the Constitution, as their aim is a socialist paradise of some kind with themselves in charge. Free people and Free Markets just don’t fit into their vision, and apparently they don’t read enough or keep up with the news enough to grasp the long dismal histories of socialist countries — evidenced by Obama’s efforts to make nice with Cuba, or the current situation in Venezuela where the people are starving. Or North Korea, Russia, China, Vietnam, etc., etc. They always believe that those other people just didn’t do it right. That, in itself is a very basic reason to bone up on the Constitution, if you value being a free person in a free country.

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Happy Constitution Day! by The Elephant's Child

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Today is Constitution Day, September 17, celebrating the ratification of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787.  If you are unfamiliar with the day of celebration, you may be forgiven, for it was only established in 2004, and to further confuse matters, if it occurs on a weekend it is celebrated in schools and government offices on the closest weekday, so they supposedly celebrated yesterday. Check with your child if you have one in school.

The law establishing the American federal observance was created with an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004, and mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions, and all federal agencies provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on September 17, 1787. It is also Citizenship Day, commemorating the coming of age or by naturalization, of those who have become citizens. (What? You’re not a citizen until you turn 18?)

Iowa schools started celebrating in 1911, and there’s a long history of attempts to make it a national celebration, which aren’t really important anyway. What is important is that a recent survey determined that most college students had no idea who James Madison was, or why he was important. And were astonished to learn that slavery was not practiced only in the United States. No idea of Muslim raids on the British Isles to capture British slaves, or of Muslim slave traders caravans up from ‘darkest Africa’, nor of  American Indian slaves. Schools across the country have become very lax in the teaching of American History. And our college students have no idea why the Constitution is a big deal. Oddly enough, the institution that makes the most of American history and the study of the Constitution is Hillsdale College, which receives no federal funding at all. Here is Dr. Larry  P. Arn, President of Hillsdale College explaining why they study the Constitution.




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