American Elephants

Government Workers Make 78 Percent More Than Their Counterparts In The Private Sector by The Elephant's Child


Annoyance or Last Straw? The federal government employs 2.1 million civilian workers in an uncountable (new ones pop up all the time) number of agencies or offices  across the nation. “This federal workforce imposes a substantial burden on American taxpayers.” says the CATO Institute. “In 2015 wages and benefits for executive branch civilian workers will cost more than $260 billion,”

Since the 1990s, federal workers have enjoyed faster compensation growth than private-sector workers. In 2014 federal workers earned 78 percent more, on average, than private-sector workers. Federal workers earned 43 percent more, on average, than state and local government workers. The federal government has become an elite island of secure and high-paid employment, separated from the ocean of average Americans competing in the economy.
After the “Worst recession since the Great Depression” as Obama always claims for his excuse, after more than six years of economic “recovery,” the middle class is worse off than at the end of the Great Recession in 2009. The number of working age people not in the workforce is over 92,000,000.

In 2014 federal civilian workers had an average wage of $84,153, according the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). By comparison, the average wage for the nation’s 111 million private-sector workers was $56,350. …

The BEA data can be broken down by industry. Among 21 major sectors that span the U.S. economy, the federal government has the fourth highest paid workers after only utilities, mining, and management of companies.6 Federal compensation is higher, on average, than compensation in the information industry, finance and insurance, and professional and scientific industries.
The federal government has the fourth highest paid workers after only utilities, mining, and company management. Federal compensation is higher on average than compensation in the information industry, finance and insurance, and professional and scientific industries.
Rising federal compensation stems from legislated increases in general pay, increases in locality pay, expansions in benefits, and growth in the number of high-paid jobs as bureaucracies become more top-heavy. Compensation growth is also fueled by routine adjustments that move federal workers into higher salary brackets regardless of performance, and by federal jobs that are redefined upward into higher pay ranges.
The little dip in the blue line of rising federal wages is the recent partial pay freeze. The chart above includes benefits such as health care and pensions, which makes the advantage over private sector workers even larger. The level of compensation does not represent the nation’s highest skilled workers, but the security of working for the government. (The quit rate for the federal government is ¼ of the rate for the private sector. Security and generous benefits.)

The benefits package is overly generous. Jobs should be privatized wherever possible. It is the nature of a bureaucracy to grow. Congress has shoved way too much of the task of lawmaking off to federal agencies — easy example: the sloppy designation of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act (congressmen weren’t sure what they meant so they left it to the EPA and other agencies to figure it out, This has resulted in a power grab perhaps unrivaled in the history of bureaucracies.) And there is SEIU, the Service Employees International Union. If you can manage the time, do read the whole thing. It should affect your vote.

They’re At it Again! Another EPA Spill! by The Elephant's Child

WASGINGTON DC, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2013/06/03: EPA building, Environmental Protection Agency. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

It’s not the Gold King Mine this time, it’s the Standard Mine, and it’s not 3 million gallons of toxic waste, but only 2,000 gallons — so much smaller, but once again the EPA neglected to notify the appropriate officials and agencies of the spill in a timely manner.  Once again it’s in Colorado.

The Standard King Mine is an EPA designated superfund site, where the EPA has been directing ongoing clean-up at another abandoned mine.  A spokesman for Rep Scott Tipton (R-CO) said that more than 2,000 gallons of reportedly uncontaminated water were spilled from the mine site Wednesday into a local watershed.

So what has happened to the noxious mustard yellow spill from the Gold King Mine into the Animas river? Last we heard it was moving though Lake Mead on its way to the Grand Canyon, our beloved National Park. It just dropped out of the news didn’t it? Funny how things detrimental to the administration do that.

I suspect that what infuriates people most is that when a rancher makes a small pond to water his stock, the EPA descends with threats and warrants and massive charges designed to reduce the victims to abject terror. The size of the fines is designed to terrorize. But when it’s the EPA at fault — ho hum.

The EPA is under investigation by the Interior Department for the Gold King Mine  near Silverton, Colorado. I’m sure the Interior Department will deal with them fairly, and they will be found to have dealt with a difficult situation with the grace and efficiency expected from an agency of the United States Government.

Brain freeze: corrected. The Gold King Mine spill was 3 million gallons (est,) the Standard Mine spill was 2,000 gallons of”gray water” maybe toxic, maybe not. (est.)

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.

I’m Not Going to Comment. But I Invite You To. by The Elephant's Child


The Illusions of Green Energy by The Elephant's Child best places for wind turbines have already been used. To supply the United States with energy from wind power would take a wind farm the size of Texas with densely sited turbines, but there’s not windy places for the turbines everywhere. A turbine requires wind blowing at a certain speed to produce power. If it blows too hard, the turbines have to shut down for they could be damaged. If it blows too gently, they do not produce energy at all , the backup power station which has been running all the time has to take over the production of energy.

I frequently say that the great fault of wind power is that wind is too intermittent. It just doesn’t blow at a steady strength at all, but you have been out in the wind, and you know that.
part-1-fig-11-1024x6611 Here is a graph of electricity production as a percent of wind capacity. I think this one is from Bonneville Power, but I just saved the graph, not the source. Assume that the correct speed for producing electricity from these turbines is at the 50% mark. The power plant operating on natural gas is chugging away, and whenever the wind drops below 50% the gas takes over. So to however much the energy produced by the turbines costs, you have to add in the cost of the natural gas fired power plant.

The Obama administration is eager to shut down any coal-fired power plants to eliminate the CO2 that might go into the atmosphere to fertilize the plants of the earth and enhance our food supply, might add to the tiny bit of CO2 in the atmosphere and cause the earth to warm uncontrollably, although the amount is almost too small to be measured, and there has been no warming at all for eighteen years and eight months. Here’s a bit of reality.


Up until very recently our coal-fired power plants were producing over 40 percent of our electricity. Obama, persuaded that an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere would cause the oceans to rise and the earth to boil,  set about shutting down coal-fired power plants, which will accomplish nothing at all except to put more hundreds of workers out of a job. Oddly enough, as the big coal companies neared bankruptcy, thanks to Mr. Obama, George Soros popped up to buy a controlling interest in the big coal companies. You can figure out what that means on your own.

The Iran Deal and the Information Age. by The Elephant's Child


I’m not sure just how much we can take away from these “man on the street ” quick interviews, but it’s not very encouraging. Makes one long for the days before the information revolution, when there weren’t quite so many sources of information — comedy shows, reality shows,or am I misremembering a time that never was? I’ve read that large numbers of people get their news from Colbert, Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien — really?

Colbert is currently wearing bracelets celebrating “Black Lives Matter”, apparently wanting to show his empathy for police lives who don’t matter, or something or other. Is he unaware of the climbing murder rate, recruits dropping out of police academies because it’s not worth it. The worst thing anyone could do for the black community is to make the police department reluctant to protect those black lives because they are afraid of being attacked.

But here you go, an interview on the upper west side of Manhattan, a liberal enclave, and they are unanimously approving ov Obama’s Iran Deal.  Except…

When Talking Immigration, Ususally No Two People Are Talking About The Same Thing. by The Elephant's Child

pic_embed920_042815_SM_Amnesty-Rally-GThe biggest problem with writing about the immigration issue is usually that no two people are actually talking about the same thing. There are those who look benignly on the issue and proclaim that immigrants have greatly benefitted the United States, ‘melting pot’ and all that. And they are absolutely correct.

The assumption is that our illegal immigrant problem is located on our southern border and entirely Hispanic. Pundits have made fun of Governor Scott Walker for suggesting that there is a problem with our border in Canada. We may be annoyed with Mexico at present, but we love Canadians.

Walker is quite correct. There is a different, much less publicized form of illegal immigrant coming in from Canada. U.S, Customs and Border Protection  (CPB) has apprehended border jumpers from Albania, The Czech Republic, Israel and India. The downturn in our employment numbers has had the benefit of lowering the incentive to try to get in. They cross the waterways by boat, jet ski or by swimming, and Wisconsin is on the border.

There are H1B immigrants. Obama has granted their wives permission to take jobs. The August jobs report came in with only 173,000 new jobs, and only 62.6 percent of working age Americans actually working. Disney not only fired their tech workers — to be replaced by H1B immigrants, but forced them to train their replacements or lose their severance pay.

We  have illegal aliens marching in the streets with signs proclaiming that “No Human Being Is Illegal,” which is a fatuous statement. According to Merriam Webster: il•le•gal (adj.) not allowed by law, or not according to or authorized by law. Simple clear definition. No racial or ethnic prejudice is involved. Alien (noun) a person who was born in different country and is not a citizen of the country in which he now lives. A foreign born resident who has not been naturalized and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country. The illegal-immigration lobby has banned the term ” illegal alien.”

There is an assumption by some that illegal aliens are here because they want to be Americans. Yet, in 2001 Christopher Jenks reported that “Roughly 10 % of the American population now speaks Spanish at home.”

Many Mexicans…see themselves as sojourners who will return home once they have made some money. The typical Mexican male earns about half what a non-Latino white earns, so if he compares himself to other Americans he is likely to feel like a failure. But if he compares himself to the Mexicans with whom he grew up, he is likely to feel quite successful. So he clings to his Mexican identity, sends money back to his parents, goes home for holidays with gifts that his relatives could not otherwise afford, tries to buy property in Mexico for his retirement, and retains his Mexican citizenship.

Victor Davis Hanson writes in an important column about some of the current problems. Do read the whole thing.

“Mexico and Central American nations receive $50 billion a year in remittances from their expatriate citizens in the United States. But if illegal aliens were impoverished and exploited as their home countries alleged, how could they transfer such monumental sums back home — and why would not their mother countries worry about the ensuing burdens placed upon their low-wage-earning citizens abroad?”

“Then the myth arose that criminality among illegal aliens was in fact lower that found in the general population, as if it mattered not at all that a quarter of all federal prisoners were in the United States illegally, or that some states reported that more than a fourth of their felonies were attributable to illegal aliens, or that around 20,000 illegal aliens from south of the border were routinely incarcerated in California prisons alone. Completely lost in the back and forth was the old notion that an immigrant, legal or illegal, was supposed to be a guest, whose behavior should be the model, rather than defended as no worse than those whom he joined.”

The State Department only occasionally releases numbers of people on the waiting list for family based immigration. In 2009, they reported that more than 2.7 million people were awaiting interviews overseas for their immigrant visa. There were also another 2.7 million waiting in the United States for USCIS to process their family visa application. Visa demand at that time was more than 20 times what our law allows in annual visa issuances. That’s for family members of legal immigrants.

Canada and Australia limit their numbers of immigrants roughly as Harvard and Stanford limit their admissions. They have many applicants and see no reason why they should not admit only those most qualified and most likely to be of the most value to the country. Why is this not a sound idea?

In 2012, 4.6 million individuals world-wide who had been approved to be sponsored for green cards by U.S. citizens had to step aside for a while in order for the USCIS to process the deferred action applications of people hoping to qualify under the Obama administration’s Dreamers Scheme.

None of this has anything to do with the influx of illegals and unaccompanied children who arrive on top of Mexican trains to be greeted at the border and disseminated by the Obama administration all over the 50 states. Few have reported back to Immigration as they were told to do, and have just dissolved into the general population.

Partisan politics has intruded on legal immigration laws. Democrats want more Democrat voters, and are anxious to get them registered to vote, ignoring our voting laws as well as our immigration laws. It’s little wonder that Donald Trump has struck a sensitive chord in the general electorate.  Unfortunately his only solution is to build a great big wall — across all 2,000 miles of our southern border.


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