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.



“Obama’s Last Lecture” by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama delivered his final address to the U.N General assembly on Tuesday. I listened to a bit online, and decided to get the transcript, as I prefer to read it unadulterated. The Wall Street Journal headline over their commentary was “Obama’s Last Lecture,” and my immediate response was “Please God, Make It So.” President Obama started right off to tell the delegates just what an impressive difference he had made in the world and how very important it was. As  usual, it was all about him.

From the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our time, we coordinated our response to avoid further catastrophe and return the global economy to growth.  We’ve taken away terrorist safe havens, strengthened the nonproliferation regime, resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy.  We opened relations with Cuba, helped Colombia end Latin America’s longest war, and we welcome a democratically elected leader of Myanmar to this Assembly.  Our assistance is helping people feed themselves, care for the sick, power communities across Africa, and promote models of development rather than dependence.  And we have made international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund more representative, while establishing a framework to protect our planet from the ravages of climate change.

This is important work.  It has made a real difference in the lives of our people.  And it could not have happened had we not worked together.  And yet, around the globe we are seeing the same forces of global integration that have made us interdependent also expose deep fault lines in the existing international order.

We see it in the headlines every day.  Around the world, refugees flow across borders in flight from brutal conflict.  Financial disruptions continue to weigh upon our workers and entire communities.  Across vast swaths of the Middle East, basic security, basic order has broken down.  We see too many governments muzzling journalists, and quashing dissent, and censoring the flow of information.  Terrorist networks use social media to prey upon the minds of our youth, endangering open societies and spurring anger against innocent immigrants and Muslims.  Powerful nations contest the constraints placed on them by international law.

He hit all his favorite progressive notes: inequality, the one percent controlling all the wealth, beggar thy neighbors policies, injustice undermining people’s faith in the system, soulless capitalism,  the gap between rich and poor, and I loved this one: “with further investment in infrastructure and early childhood education and basic research, I’m confident that such progress will continue.” About infrastructure, remember there weren’t any shovel-ready jobs. It has been a dismal eight years, with no real recovery, an economy never reaching even a basic 3% growth, an economy burdened by excessive regulation, overreaching controls, and of course the constant pursuit of some way, any way, to stop the normal warming and cooling of our planet, on which he has squandered billions to no avail whatsoever.

On the other hand he’s for democracy, our democratic Constitution, our Bill of Rights and the ideals which let our ordinary  people organize and march and protest.  The American narrative, I guess. It was a lecture.

The speech is here if you want to read it.



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.



The Campaign Is Not Addressing the Real Issues! by The Elephant's Child


This has not been the presidential campaign I would have chosen. These are not the candidates I would have chosen, but here we are. I heard on the radio today, a black woman who is deeply troubled by Donald Trump’s lack of respect for women — which seems to mean his lack of deference to Hillary because she is a woman — one who just accused his voters of being a “basket of deplorables,” bigoted, racist, intolerant. I guess Hillary will blame that misstep on her pneumonia.

Sorry, Hillary, believing in immigration laws and insisting on preventing the flow of illegal aliens is not bigotry, but common sense. It’s high time the President of the United States and his administration start to take terrorism seriously. The Jihadists do take it seriously, and want to destroy Israel and the United States, and are working seriously towards that goal, while we succumb to political correctness and being afraid to criticize Muslims. That is immediately controlled with cries of “Islamophobia.” The most important thing is never to offend?

Donald Trump is quite clearly not a racist, but that’s a charge the Left drags out in every election. Bill Clinton just snidely said “Make America Great Again” is racist. “If you’re a white Southerner, you know exactly what it means, don’t you,” he told voters in Orlando last Wednesday.“What it means is, ‘I’ll give you the economy you had 50 years ago, and I’ll move you back up on the social totem pole, and other people down.” What that means is that Democrats are fuming at Trump’s outreach to Blacks. They cannot defend their own appalling record at bettering black lives,

Democrats cannot run on the Obama-Clinton economy — a growth rate of 0.95% can’t really even be called a recovery. They can’t run on ObamaCare, which is about to collapse. (Hillary called it “one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, the Democratic party and of our country.”) Uh huh, prices are rising dramatically, as much as 50% in some areas, and health insurers are dumping the exchanges. The goal of ObamaCare as a way to switch to single-payer health care is absurd in the light of Britain’s NHS nearing collapse, and killing far too many of their patients. They surely cannot run on their defeat of terrorism and keeping America safe.

They’ve not got much left but the race card to run on. And that is not proving very successful as the black body count rises in Chicago, as the police step back. Heather MacDonald reported yesterday that in 2016, nearly 3,000 people have been shot in the city, an average of one victim every two hours. That’s not improving the lives of black Americans, nor is it something that can be blamed on guns.

“President Obama takes every opportunity to accuse police of racially profiling blacks and Hispanics. The media, activists and academics routinely denounce pedestrian stops and public-order enforcement—such as dispersing crowds of unruly teens—as racial oppression intended to ‘control African-American and poor communities,’ in the words of Columbia law professor Bernard Harcourt. Never mind that it is the law-abiding residents of High crime areas who beg the police to clear their corners of loiterers and trespassers.” MacDonald continues:

The media blame poverty, racism and a lack of government services for the growing mayhem. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson blames lenient prison sentences for releasing Chicago’s gun criminals onto the streets too soon. The Illinois Legislature’s Black Caucus, however, blocks any effort to mandate stricter sentences for gun-toting felons—in a sub rosa acknowledgment that the vast majority (80%) of Chicago’s gun criminals are black.

But neither Mr. Johnson’s lax-sentencing explanation nor the media’s systemic-injustice explanation aligns with the timing of Chicago’s surge in violence. Sentencing protocols did not weaken in 2015 when crime started rising. Nor did poverty or alleged racism grow worse. What did change was the intensity of antipolice ideology, driven by the Black Lives Matter movement, relentlessly amplified by the press, and echoed by President Obama.

The solution to Chicago’s violence is for at-risk kids to be raised by mothers and fathers. Until that starts, the only hope lies in police regaining control of the streets.

Denouncing the phony “Black Lives Matter” campaign which is designed only to make Blacks believe that Republicans are racist so they will vote for Hillary, would be a help, Their claims of police brutality are clearly false, but the violence stirred up makes the police pull back from the enforcement needed by innocent Black families.



What Precisely IS Social Justice? by The Elephant's Child

Justice is what is embodied in our Constitution and our body of law, as it is administered by the courts. Calling redistribution of wealth “justice” is a little hard to take. May be a rallying cry for the self-interested (who did you think was going to do the redistributing?)

The people (Progressives) who shout the loudest about “social Justice” are those who want to be in charge, and have no interest or intention in having their wealth redistributed. They want to feel virtuous by taking the wealth of the rich and giving it to the poor. How about a world in which we try to improve conditions for all, which is what we have been doing successfully for several hundred years, or did you think that the world’s dictators had a better idea?



“It’s Because She Lies About It!” by The Elephant's Child

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Roger Simon was asked why Hillary’s health is an issue? He said “It’s because she lies about it.”

She has blamed her inability to remember about the classification of her emails, or whether she had any instructions about the security of emails or much of anything else about her emails. And she told the FBI that she didn’t recall, but I remember Rush’s long ago parody song— “I can’t remember, my mind’s like a blender, it’s jello, jello” Was that about Whitewater, or the cattle futures? I can’t remember.

I’ve always regarded lying as a particularly offensive trait. I had a boss for a while who was a compulsive liar. I caught on before senior management did, but they did discover it, along with some funny business with expense reports, and he was gone.

An excellent book about lying is Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life by Sissela Bok, that covers all the basics and all the excuses.  Recommended. Only 1¢ + shipping for used copies. Might be useful in the current context.

The thing is, if someone lies to you and you believe them, and you act upon that information — it is a pretty big deal.  And it is a big deal in the current political  campaign. The current administration has lied to us extensively, one department after another. The EPA, the IRS, if I had to list them all this post would be far too long. People are noticing, and they don’t like it, they don’t like it at all. Here’s Hillary:

Why? What does she get out of it?



Obama Keeps His Promises: 83,000 Unemployed and Lots of Misery –All for Nothing. by The Elephant's Child

Headline in The Daily Caller: “Obama Kept his Promise, 83,000 Coal Jobs Lost and 400 Mines Shuttered.” On Labor Day weekend, America has 83,000 fewer coal jobs and 400 fewer coal mines than it did when Obama was elected in 2008. Following through on his promise to “bankrupt” the coal industry. That represents a lot of misery for communities and unemployed workers, which will accomplish nothing, nothing at all — except the misery.

Before he headed overseas, President Barack Obama made a stop at Lake Tahoe to talk climate change, spending and environmental regulation, and exposed his lightweight understanding of all things climate along the way.

He asserted that climate change is “manmade” as a dogmatic fact. But climate has been changing for centuries. It has been far warmer in the past, and far colder as well. He insisted that “during the first half of this year, carbon pollution hit its lowest level in a quarter century.” Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant — it’s what we exhale every time we breathe. It is a natural fertilizer for plants and the very slight increase in carbon in the atmosphere has meant a greening world, and bumper wheat crops are helping to feed a hungry world, except Venezuela, of course.

Back in the 1960s Entomologist Paul Erlich declared that “the population bomb” would lead to mass starvation by the end of the 1970s. His close associate, John Holdren agreed, and here we are with famine and starvation becoming rarer and rarer, thanks to the slight increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. John Holdren, of course, is Obama’s science advisor.

Fracking did not cause the earthquake in Oklahoma. Oklahoma state regulators ordered 37 disposal wells used by frackers shut down because the Greens were out full force claiming that the technology that fueled America’s oil and natural gas boom naturally causes earthquakes.  U.S. Geological Survey seismologist William Ellsworth said he agrees with the research council that “hydraulic fracturing does not seem to pose much risk for earthquake activity.”

“The mixture used to fracture shale is a benign blend of 90% water, 9.5% sand and 0.5% of chemicals like sodium chloride (table salt) and the citric acid in orange juice. Drinking water aquifers are generally only a hundred feet deep. Shale formations in which fracking is employed are thousands of feet deep.”

Fracking itself is in fact saving the environment by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases the greenies hate. It does not slice and dice birds, including endangered species, en masse like wind turbines, nor does it fry them to a crisp like solar panel farms have done. And it does not cause major disastrous earthquakes.

The flood in Louisiana was not caused by global warming either.




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