American Elephants

Moving, Moving, Moving — Moving On. by The Elephant's Child


Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated.
It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation of its value
or use and no government power can restrain it for long.
Walter Wriston: The Twilight of Sovereignty

Americans move with their feet, and they also move and vote with their dollars, their work and their businesses. Between 2000 and 2010, New York has lost $45.6 billion in income to other states as workers have moved out. No other state has lost as much. It came in dead last, 50th out of 50 states.

Next in line at 49th, is California which lost $20.4 billion over the same period. 48th is Illinois, with a $20.4 billion loss, then New Jersey $15.5 billion, and completing the top five is Ohio at $14.7 billion. What do these five states have in common? High taxes and excessive regulation. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

Where did the money go? Mostly to Florida. $67.3 billion has been added to the Florida economy. Second is Arizona at $17.7 billion, then Texas is third as $17.6 billion, then North Carolina $16.2 billion and Nevada at $11.2 billion.

Public policy matters. People will go where they are well treated, and they’ll take their money with them. Those who think that if you need more money you can just raise taxes — need to recognize that there are always consequences.

Elbert Guillory anounces the “Free at Last” PAC by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know what I could add. He said it all very eloquently.

Charles Kesler on the Grand Liberal Project by The Elephant's Child

In a sweeping review of American political history, Kesler outlines the grand liberal project begun a century ago. It is a project, he asserts, that has expressed itself in three distinct waves: political liberalism, economic liberalism, and cultural liberalism. Kesler further maintains that Barack Obama seeks nothing less than to complete and perfect this project. Finally, he confronts the issues of how conservatism lost its way in the face of the liberal project and how it might regain its imitative.

Elbert Guillory Just Became a Republican, and Eloquently Tells Us Why. by The Elephant's Child

Oddly enough, people who become Republicans can usually tell you why. They have thought long and deeply about what political parties stand for, and they usually choose to stand on principle. Welcome, Mr. Guillory. Glad to have you here.

The Supreme Court Struck Down Arizona’s Proof of Citizenship for Voting, But… by The Elephant's Child

The Supreme Court ruled today on Arizona’s requirement that voters must present proof of citizenship in order to vote. The Court held, by a seven to two vote, that federal law preempts — renders invalid— An Arizona law requiring voter registration officials to reject a voter’s application for registration if it is not accompanied by evidence of U.S. citizenship above and beyond the attestation of citizenship the applicant has made on the federal “Motor Voter” form.

Many conservative writers erupted in high dudgeon, assuming that the majority had just made voter fraud easier than credit card fraud.  This is a real dividing point between the two political parties. Democrats usually insist that there is no evidence of any widespread voter fraud. Republicans point to any number of elections that were determined largely by voter fraud. Republicans believe that Democrats depend on voter fraud of one kid or another to win elections. Democrats complain the requiring photo ID keeps many people from being able to vote. Republicans point out that you have to present photo ID to open a bank account, get food stamps, apply for welfare, board a plane, or get into City Hall in most cases.

All is not as it seems though. The Court usually gives some precedence to laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. In this case, the Arizona law came after the “Motor Voter” law and attempted to supersede it. At the end of its opinion, the Court suggests several ways that Arizona can accomplish proof of citizenship — ranging from returning to the Election Assistance Commission to getting a clarifying statute enacted by Congress, with several other options in between. Complicated. Here is the explanation from the Scotus blog, and here are the objections from an Investors’ editorial.

Thomas Sowell Talks About Intellectuals and Race by The Elephant's Child

On the Hoover Institution’s Uncommon Knowledge, Thomas Sowell talks about his newest book on Intellectuals and Race. Dr. Sowell  has been uncluttering language and thought for many years. I keep copying down things he has said casually, because they are so well said, I want to remember them. He occupies a goodly percentage of my personal book of quotations. Bartletts doesn’t answer anymore. Too dusty.

A Conversation with Governor Scott Walker by The Elephant's Child

Wisconsin’s outstanding young governor, Scott Walker,  appears on the Hoover Institution’s Uncommon Knowledge, wonderful interviews conducted by Peter Robinson.

I am deeply impressed with this young man. He was elected to face a state in trouble, with problems with the schools, the state budget, domineering public sector unions. The Democrats in the Legislature skipped town to avoid having to face up to a vote they might lose. The Governor was picketed, threatened, the subject of near riots by angry protesters, and he went ahead and did what was right anyway. Courage, and then some.

He has fixed the problems, survived a recall election, and put Wisconsin on the path to freedom and good government, opportunity and growth. Courage, character and determination.  He seems to be a really nice guy as well.

Is Congress Above the Law? Is the President? by The Elephant's Child

In Monday’s Wall Street Journal Gerald D. Skoning argued that we need a 28th Amendment to the Constitution providing that all members of Congress have to comply with all laws that other citizens have to obey.

“Congress shall make no law,” the amendment might read, “that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the senators and/or representatives, and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the senators and/or representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.”

I agree absolutely. We would not have this disgraceful mess of ObamaCare legislation were not the members of Congress and the government excused from any participation in it. Some may have faith in the high moral character of their elected officials and argue that it shouldn’t take an amendment to make the members of Congress behave. True, it shouldn’t, but it apparently does. Mr. Skoning enumerates a bit of the telling  history:

  1. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act established the minimum wage, the 40-hour workweek, and time-and-a-half for overtime. Congress exempted itself from coverage of the law, and congressional employees were left without the protections afforded the rest of Americans.
  2. In 1964, President Johnson signed the Landmark Civil Rights Act, including Title VII, which protected all Americans from employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Congress exempted themselves, and staffers and employees were left with no equal-opportunity protection, nor protection against sexual harassment, of which there have been innumerable examples.
  3. The same blanket exemption of Congress was contained in a total of 10 other federal statutes regulating the American workplace, including protections from age and disability discrimination, occupational safety and health , family and medical leave — all issues that Congress felt were important to impose on American industry, but not to civilian employees working in the Capitol.
  4. The Reform of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 left critics unable to eliminate the exemption. Members of Congress remained immune to lawsuits for compensatory and punitive damages in cases of employment discrimination. Instead they enacted a self-policing system where Congress investigated and enforced its own compliance with civil rights laws.
  5. In 1995, with Republicans in control of both houses, the Congressional Accountability Act was passed eliminating the congressional exemption for all workplace laws and regulations. Some thought that was the end of Congressional exceptionalism. They were mistaken.
  6. Insider trading (buying or selling stocks based on insider information not available to the public) has been a violation of federal securities laws for almost 80 years. It was never illegal for members of Congress. CBS’s 60 Minutes did a segment with the Hoover Institution’s Peter Schweizer for his book “Throw Them all Out”. He testified that it was an opportunity to leverage your position in public service and use that position to enrich yourself, your friends and your family. Six months later, Congress passed and the president signed the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012″ — which required online posting of their financial transactions. Just last week while voters were focused on gun control and immigration, House and Senate members voted to repeal the provision that required the online posting of their financial transactions.

If the question is — does it take a Constitutional Amendment to make the members of Congress behave responsibly? — the answer seems to be  yes indeed, and Congress isn’t all that inclined to obey the letter of the Constitution either, nor is the President. Something to think about. America has always been a nation of laws, but it’s certainly getting a little loosey-goosey isn’t it?

Uncommon Knowledge: Economist John B. Taylor by The Elephant's Child

High unemployment. Business in the doldrums, the recovery that Obama keeps promising remains elusive, in spite of his claims. Many small businesses that are the usual engine of growth are struggling. The elephant remarked yesterday that the only business that seems to be visibly expanding is the gun range.

The business organizations, the Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Association and others readily say that uncertainty is holding them back. To open and run a business is a risk. There are all sorts of uncertainties that affect your bottom line. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. The actions of this administration have been to increase uncertainty across the board. Will taxes go up? Are energy costs going to rise and by how much? What new regulations are going to be issued? Have I broken any regulation that I don’t even know about that will have an armed swat team breaking in my front door? What crazy new environmental regulation is the EPA going to come out with tomorrow? John Taylor explains.


Lady Margaret Thatcher, R.I.P. by The Elephant's Child

The watershed year was 1979, and the battlefield was Britain. After an unprecedented series of strikes, especially in the public sector, dubbed by the media ‘the winter of discontent,’ Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to become leader of a British political party became  Britain’s first woman Prime Minister on 4 May 1979, having led the Conservatives to a 43-seat electoral victory. Mrs. Thatcher, soon dubbed by the Brezhnev regime “the Iron Lady’ (a title she relished), called herself a ‘conviction’ politician, as opposed to a consensus one. She implicitly  repudiated much of Conservative post-war policy, and especially its tacit agreement with the Labour Party that whole areas of British public life, including the welfare state and the nationalized sector, were sacrosanct. Her first task was to curb the legal power of the trade unions which, as we have seen, had been growing steadily since 1945. A previous attempt at reform by the Conservative government in 1971, the comprehensive and ultra-complex Industrial Relations Act, had proved unworkable and had been promptly scrapped by the incoming Labour Cabinet in 1974. Mrs. Thatcher’s government, having learned the lesson, set about the problem on a step-by-step basis, enacting in all five separate acts, over the space of three parliaments, which progressively ended a whole series of special union legal privileges, made many strikes and forms of picketing unlawful, and subjected unions that broke the law to severe financial penalties. Mrs. Thatcher also made it clear that the police, in dealing with ‘mass’, ‘flying’ and ‘secondary’ pickets, which had made it virtually impossible in the 1970s for employers to resist strike demands and so inflicted grievous damage on both the private and public sector would be fully backed by her government. …

The decline of union restrictive practices and of overmanning in many sectors produced a rise in productivity in Britain, which in several years during the decade, was the highest in Europe; and for much of 198os the British economy expanded rapidly: in 1988, for instance, it was still growing at 4 per cent after seven years of continuous expansion, a record unique in the post-war years of continuous expansion, a record unique in the post-war period. But what particularly struck foreigners about the performance of the Thatcher government was its success in reducing the state sector, by the process known as ‘privatization’. This had two aspects. The first was the transfer of nationalized industries, such as Cable & Wireless, British Steel, British Airways, British Telecommunications, British Gas, and the water and the electricity supply and distribution industry into private ownership and management. …Privatization rapidly transformed the loss-makers into  profitable companies.British Steel, for instance, had incurred the largest loss in corporate history, some £500 million, the year before it was privatized; by the end of the 1980s it had the highest productivity rates in the European steel industry and was the most profitable steel company in the world. The turnaround at British Airways was scarcely less spectacular.

The foregoing comes from Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, an essential book.

Then there was the Cold War, and the unlikely triumvirate of the Polish Pope, Britain’s Iron Lady, and the American actor turned President, Ronald Reagan. If you didn’t watch these excerpts from Herb Meyer’s speech, do take the time. If you’re short on time, just watch the middle excerpt.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were essentially soul mates, which doesn’t mean they didn’t have their disagreements, but they were world significant figures in history and will be long remembered. Courage, iron will, and keeping their eyes on the prize. Paul Johnson again:

Thus the year 1989, which the Left throughout the world had planned as a celebration of the bicentennial of the French Revolution — the beginning of modern radical politics, as it was argued — turned into something quite different: a Year of Revolutions indeed, but of revolutions against the established order of Marxism-Leninism. Not all of them succeeded.

Prime Ministers and Presidents come and go, and some of them are significant and put the world on a different path, and some aren’t and don’t. Lady Margaret Thatcher was one of the significant ones.  Rest in Peace.

ADDENDUM: I quoted historian Paul Johnson regarding Margaret Thatcher. The Wall Street Journal opinion page has featured today, an article from Paul Johnson on “The World-Changing Margaret Thatcher: Not since Catherine the Great has there been a woman of such consequence.” It may be behind a pay wall, but here is a link to the piece, and here is the Journal’s own piece.

“Coolidge”: The Right Book at the Right Time by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has made it quite clear that he sees no possibility of reducing government spending. Every penny is necessary. Roger Kimball fortuitously described the president as “fiscally incontinent.”

Amity Shlaes’ magnificent new history of the Great Depression: The Forgotten Man, which all Democrats should have read, and few probably did, has been followed by a splendid biography of our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge., titled simply Coolidge. She calls him “The Great Refrainer.” “I am for economy.” he said. “After that, I am for more economy.”

George Will emphasized that it is the book needed now:

Were Barack Obama, America’s most loquacious president (699 first-term teleprompter speeches), capable of learning from someone with whom he disagrees, he would profit from Amity Shlaes’s new biography of Coolidge, whom she calls “our great refrainer” with an “aptitude for brevity,” as when he said, “Inflation is repudiation.” She says that under his “minimalist” presidency, he “made a virtue of inaction.” As he said, “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”

Will added:

He met his wife, the vivacious Grace, after hearing her laughter when she saw through a window him shaving while wearing a hat. Shlaes’s biography would be even more engaging had she included this oft-repeated anecdote:

When President and Mrs. Coolidge were being given simultaneous but separate tours of a chicken farm, Grace asked her guide whether the rooster copulated more than once a day. “Dozens of times,” she was told. “Tell that to the president,” she said. When told, Coolidge asked, “Same hen every time?” When the guide said, “A different one each time,” the president said: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”

Read this book, and send a copy to your favorite Republican legislator


Bill Whittle At His Amazing Best by The Elephant's Child

Here is Bill Whittle on February 18, 2013, speaking to Orange County GOP Central Committee. Republicans respond enthusiastically to those who can clearly state conservative principles with what seems to be effortless, forceful straight talk.

Some people are quick on the come-back, always ready with a quip and an effective response and a warm positive outlook. Think Reagan. Some people are ready with a quick response, combative and ready to do debate and make mincemeat of an opponent. Think Chris Christie. Others inspire us with courage and straight talk. Think Scott Walker. Others clearly express the American Dream. Think Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are proving to be effective speakers. Most of our Congressmen are not, and far too many are disasters.

I’m always conscious of this because I’m a s-l-o-w thinker, and the connection between my brain and mouth is even slower. No quick responses from me. I may come up with one an hour or so later, yet I can express myself in writing fairly quickly.  But Bill Whittle is purely amazing. Could we have him give a seminar for prospective candidates on what it means to be a conservative in America?

This is worth every minute, don’t miss it.


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