American Elephants


Obama’s Ill Conceived Overtime Rule Gives Workers a Teeny Raise. Costs Companies Billions. by The Elephant's Child

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Government data released last Wednesday showed the number of private- sector job opening was at an all time high in April. But the companies doing the hiring took on the smallest number of people on a seasonally adjusted basis in nine months.  What?

The JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) data the government released showed there were 5,2809,000 private-sector job openings  in April — 114,000 more than in March. The government report also showed that private-sector hires declined by 169,000 compared to March. Well no wonder eyes glaze over when reading government press releases.

With the private companies advertising so many job openings, why aren’t they filling the openings? The federal government has imposed vastly higher costs for employing people. It is not only more expensive, but it is more complicated as well.

President Obama’s new overtime rule was meant to help workers. Unfortunately too many government people have never worked in the private sector. The government’s new rule effectively turns millions of salaried workers into hourly employees. It won’t increase their earnings, but it will reduce their control over their schedules. Salaried employees get paid to do a job. Hourly workers must be paid overtime for working over 40 hours a week. What happens in real life is that in order to avoid lawsuits to overtime-eligible workers, many employers deny flexible work schedules to them, because it is a big legal risk. Hourly workers are more unlikely to move up to salaried positions. On Wednesday the government raised the overtime “threshold” test for salaried employees to $47,500 a year.  All salaried employees making less than that, no matter how advanced their job duties, now qualify for overtime. The Feds just thought they would give workers more pay by making more of them overtime eligible.

When Leftists are in charge of the economy, they usually make a mess of it. They assume that being “the best and the brightest”, their ideas are better but often they are simply transplants from academe who are entirely unfamiliar with business and how it operates. They have spent years envying the captains of industry who make unbelievable amounts of money, and they don’t even have PhD’s. What leftist academics fail to recognize is that the average term of a CEO is only 6 or 7 years, and they got there on the record of lots of successes. A CEO of a major corporation may oversee 20 divisions of 2o,ooo people each, and he has to report to the shareholders  every quarter. Silly academics can’t even tell protesting kids to knock it off.



Monumental Carelessness at the Highest Levels of Government by The Elephant's Child

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Those unimportant emails, that were just for Hillary’s convenience, show that she picked a grossly unqualified donor to the Clinton Foundation to a very sensitive State Department advisory board that handled top-secret national security information — the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) that deals with matters like nuclear disarmament and arms control. It’s a kind of carelessness that can get people killed.

After inquiries from ABC News, Clinton’s staff tried to “protect the name” of the Secretary of State, “stall” the ABC News reporter, but as soon as the donor, Rajiv Fernando, a Chicago securities trader who specialized in electronic investing, learned that the media was questioning the appointment, he resigned, saying he needed to devote more time to his business.

Fernando was a longtime and prolific donor to the Clintons, dating back to 2003. He was an early supporter of Hillary  Clinton’s 2008 bid for president giving maximum contributions to her campaign and to HillPAC in 2007 and 2008. He was a fundraising bundler for Hillary collecting more than $100,000 from others. Prior to the State Department appointment Fernando had given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation and another $30,000 to a political advocacy group that indirectly helped Hillary retire her 2008 campaign debts by renting her campaign email list.

The ISAB is not a normal, or suitable, place to put a big donor. He was a “securities” trader, but not the same kind of “security” as those on the ISAB board. His associates on the board would have been David Kay, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group and UN Chief Weapons Inspector; Lt. Gen Brent Scowcroft, a former National Security Advisor to two presidents; two former congressmen; and Former Senator Chuck Robb. William Perry, the former Secretary of Defense, chaired the panel. The appointment would have qualified Fernando for one of the highest levels of top secret access.

Even more astounding is that Hillary could have believed such an appointment acceptable.  Hillary has long demonstrated a carelessness that is entirely out of line with the seriousness of the office to which she was appointed by President Obama. But then Obama’s appointment of Hillary wasn’t all that serious either.



The Highest Economic Growth in The Obama Administration was Only 2.5% by The Elephant's Child

From Economist Mark Perry at The American Enterprise Institute:

Economic Fact of the Day. There hasn’t been a single president in US history whose time in office didn’t include at least one year of 3% economic growth (real GDP), which is the average growth rate in the post-WWII era. The highest growth during Obama’s seven years in office was 2.5% in 2010, and the average growth from 2009 to 2015 was 1.4% (and 2.1% without the -2.8% growth in 2009).

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Obama has been out bragging about the success of the economy in his administration. The candidates running to succeed him excoriate the Obama economy. They’re right, but I’m not sure any of them are capable of improving it.



Models are Models. Science is Something Different. by The Elephant's Child

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We are so in love with our computers and what they can do, that we often forget what they cannot do. G.I.G.O.— garbage in garbage out. The climate models on which the panic about global warming depends are only very partly based on science. The models themselves aren’t science. There are some scientific facts that are known and accepted. Once  you get beyond that small amount — all is based on modelling. That means you take the known, add some approximations, some guesswork, and your favorite theory and you get a model of the earth’s climate, that may have little to do with the real world.

“Patrick Michaels and David E. Wojick wrote last week in a Cato at Liberty blog post that modelling completely dominates climate change research” What that means  is that climate change science is only about 4% of the whole, and not all climate science is about climate change. They are putting their faith in math calculations rather than scientific observation. The energy and the resources are directed to improving the models, which have a remarkable record of being consistently wrong.They cannot even accurately predict the climate that has already happened.

We have very little understanding of the action of the clouds, though they clearly effect climate. The heat that the models have predicted has not arrived. In science, there are questions, and a hypothesis is developed, then tested through repeated experimentation.” The federal government has spent billions —close to $100 billion since fiscal 2012 —on “science” that is undergirded by failed models.” The models were unable to predict the greening of the world caused by slight increases in CO2. Most of the money goes to improving and upgrading the models, and what most climate scientists will consider improved models to be those that predict greater amounts of warming.

For a more authoritative explanation of Global Warming go here.



Understanding the Obvious is Sometimes Difficult by The Elephant's Child

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I suspect that ISIS is having trouble with their fighters losing enthusiasm for the fight. More deserters. There have been reports in recent days that they are putting the disaffected in cages and dissolving them slowly in acid baths, and/or feeding them to viscous and starving dogs.

That is the idea of terrorism of course — to defeat the enemy by striking terror into his heart. But they seem to be running out of really gruesome ways to dispose of people. Beheading is passé. They’ve tried setting victims on fire in cages, and drowning them in cages — and apparently they are still having trouble with a lack of eagerness and a desire to escape among the militants.

Is this a good sign? It does make the official position of never calling a terrorist a terrorist seem a little silly, doesn’t it. And perhaps releasing “the worst of the worst” from Guantanamo in order to please European leftists isn’t such a good idea after all.

Here’s Charles Krauthammer on “the arc of the moral universe” which Obama insists “is long, but bends towards justice.”



The Miraculous Explosion of Human Progress in the Past Two Centuries by The Elephant's Child

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“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.” That’s from an article by economist Dierdre McCloskey.

An American, on average earns $130 a day, China is roughly $20 a day, and India at $10 after their release from a crippling socialism of $1 a day. And the growth of material plenty has been stunning. McCloskey quotes Matt Ridley in his book The Rational Optimist (2010) that what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” There is no end to what people can do when they are set free to have ideas and have the freedom to act upon them. Once you have the ideas, getting the wherewithal to do them is simple because they are so obviously profitable.

“The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has one primary source: the liberation of ordinary people to pursue their dreams of economic betterment.” How very odd then that the Progressives are so sure that the only route to a better world is for enlightened leaders like themselves to control and regulate the economy, and the people. (As I just said, they really don’t understand cause and effect).

The Heritage Foundation just released their annual report on the tide of red tape that threatens to drown American consumers and businesses. The Obama administration has added 20,642 new regulations during his presidency. More than $22 billion per year in new regulatory costs were imposed on Americans last year.

Professor Richard A. Epstein wrote in an article for the Hoover Institution that:

One of the most disturbing trends in the United States is the relentless concentration of power in the federal government. Ever since the New Deal, the classical liberal vision of limited government and strong property rights has taken a back seat to a progressive vision of a robust administrative state, dominated by supposed experts, whose powers are largely unimpeded by legal constraints. Wholly apart from Congress, the new administrative state has adopted and enforced its own laws and regulations, and is defined by unilateral actions by the President and other members of the executive branch, all of which threaten the system of checks and balances built into the original constitutional design.

The Leftists are so sure of their moral superiority, and that their aims are correct that they feel no need to study up on the questions of the day. Obama frequently notes that some things are “on the right side of history” and others are on “the wrong side of history. “Cosmic forces both agree with him, and are unimpeachable. Anything to do with climate is “settled science”and those who disagree should be punished.

Yet one gets the distinct impression that the president has never read a word of the science, and only seen that which is presented to him as from “unimpeachable sources,” without considering the possibility that there is another view.

The view that it is freedom that releases people to come up with the ideas and that the generation of new ideas leads to more and more creativity, growth and prosperity is so foreign to the philosophy of the Left that they are literally frightened of what people might do if left without the guidance of the enlightened and morally correct public servants of the nation’s capitol. For our “public servants’, Herb Meyer remarked recently, Washington D.C. is not a city, it is a profession.

We must be guided, controlled, and led down the correct paths to a brighter future. There is no other way.

See: “The Myth of Progress” by  Victor Davis Hanson, from the Hoover Institution.

The Rise of American Socialism” by Paul R. Gregory, from the Hoover Institution

 



Leftists Don’t Understand “Cause & Effect” And That Makes a Huge Problem for the Rest of Us! by The Elephant's Child

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Progressives, Liberals, Lefties consistently have trouble understanding cause and effect. I’ve been noticing this for quite a while, particularly in relation to crime. That is where the famous “Butterfield Fallacy” comes in( well, maybe not famous, but it should be.) Fox Butterfield was a reporter for the New York Times, “whose crime stories served as the archetype for his eponymous fallacy.”

“It has become a comforting story for five straight years, crime has been falling, led by a drop in murder,” Butterfield wrote in 1997. “So why is the number of inmates in prisons and jails around the nation still going up?’  He repeated the trope in 2003: “The nation’s prison population grew 2.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 1999, according to a study by the Justice Department. The jump came despite a small decline in serious crime in 2002.” And in 2004: “The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.”

The Butterfield Fallacy consists of misidentifying as a paradox, that which is a simple cause-and-effect relationship. You put more bad guys behind bars, and the crime rate goes down. Lefties disapprove of sending people to prison because they believe it to be racially discriminatory. “In 2004 almost 10 percent of American black men were in prison” and it diverts tax money from what should be higher priorities. I’ve written about this a number of times, but I have a hard time recognizing how pervasive the inability to understand cause and effect is.

Today’s problems also include the “Ferguson Effect” which has resulted in policemen being more hesitant to arrest or deal with crime, especially in the black community — because of the blowback from the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson MI.

When the demand for a higher minimum wage began to circulate, we explained that a minimum wage was a starting wage for beginners, and low because they weren’t worth more, and there was no end to the numbers of people who wanted a starting-out job. We explained that most get a raise within the first 6 months. We mentioned automation. But the Lefties said “you can’t raise a family on the minimum wage.” Of course you can’t — the minimum wage is for beginners.

So Lefties are raising the minimum wage legally (government has no business telling businesses how much they must pay workers). Well effect follows cause and Wendy’s Restaurants are installing self-service kiosks in their approximately 6,000 restaurants across the country in the second half of the year. There are 258 Wendy’s in California where the minimum wage has gone up to $10 an hour. The former CEO of McDonalds warned that Robots cost less than paying a $15 minimum wage. Hillary jumped in on the controversy to demand an end to disabled workers’ exemption from minimum wage requirements — and got a stinging rebuke from economist Don Boudreaux.  Cause and effect.

Greenies usually use Denmark as a stunning example of the beneficial use of natural wind power. Well, Denmark is abandoning wind power. Danes’ cost of energy has been climbing and climbing, with 66% of the bill being “green taxes” and only 15% going to energy generation. Denmark’s energy prices were the highest in Europe, and politicians are abandoning wind power as too expensive. Greenies celebrate the natural source of energy, but the problem remains that wind does not blow at the correct speed to generate power even most of the time. They’ve tried to remedy that with taller turbines, more exotic minerals, better designs — doesn’t matter. The cause is the nature of wind, the effect is unaffordability.

In desperation our federal government has raised the numbers of eagles and other birds that the wind farms and solar arrays can chop up or fry each year, But that too is a cause and will have an effect — not yet recognized.  In the meantime, the world’s largest solar array at Ivanpah which has never produced the electricity they promised (cause) and is under enormous pressure to do something — did. It caught on fire.

Keep an eye on the inability of the Left to grasp this simple fact, you will find that it explains a lot.




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