American Elephants


Is Income Inequality Really the Burning Issue of Our Times? by The Elephant's Child

Bernie-Sanders-3

A constant theme for the Democratic presidential race has been income inequality. Democrats always want to increase envy in the minds of their loyalists, and what better way than to insist that America’s affluent got rich, unjustly, at the expense of the poor and the middle class. Envy and resentment stoke the fires of class warfare, and the Obama Administration’s lackluster economy and slow growth make people feel helpless and more inclined to blame others for their circumstances.

Liberals want to address income inequality by redistributing wealth from the well-to-do and giving it to the poor. It’s comforting to believe that the misfortunes of your life can be blamed on someone else. But natural demographic changes and lifetime income cycles distort the estimates of income inequality.

Young people just beginning a career not only don’t earn very much, but they want to get married and buy cars and houses and have babies. And they go into debt to do so. Their parents have been saving all of their lives, educating their children, and gradually building up some wealth. U.S Census data show a clear relationship between age and median net-worth in every quintile, Moreover, the death rate has fallen sharply — people are living longer, and there are more of them. Young people have less retirement savings, and the old folks have a far higher homeownership rate. Older workers have more skills built up over a lifetime, and are worth more to employers because they are more productive.

e21_inequality_3
Economist Thomas Sowell has explained:

Only by focusing on the income brackets, instead of the actual people moving between those brackets, have the intelligentsia been able to verbally create a “problem” for which a “solution” is necessary. They have created a powerful vision of “classes” with “disparities” and “inequities” in income, caused by “barriers” created by “society.” But the routine rise of millions of people out of the lowest quintile over time makes a mockery of the “barriers” assumed by many, if not most, of the intelligentsia.

The Left believes in government, not in the free market, which they don’t understand at all. The only way that government can create jobs is to hire more people — which they do regularly by creating more regulations and more agencies — all of which is paid for by the taxpayers, thereby reducing the wealth of the people and the economy. This is what they call progress.

Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns are based on finding ever more ways to redistribute wealth, taking more money from more productive people and giving it to the less productive.

Raising the minimum wage is one way. “No one can raise a family on the minimum wage” they say. No one is supposed to. Minimum wage jobs are meant to be jobs for first-time workers. How many people do you suppose are qualified to wipe off tables, sweep the floor and punch labeled keys on the cash register at a fast food restaurant? Conversely, how many people do you suppose are qualified to manage 20,000 employees in 20 separate divisions of a giant corporation in fierce competition with other giant corporations in the same business?

“But it isn’t fair!” is the cry. Your mother probably told you that life is not fair. She was right. The young person who graduates from college and graduate school with excellent grades and an advanced degree is going to have a different life than the young person who dropped out of high school without graduating, and has had trouble finding a steady job. That isn’t about fairness.

In actuality, the middle class is just fine, and still driving the economy. What is happening is more a result of how the researchers  divide up the quintiles into which they separate Americans. You have the poor, the lower middle class, the middle class, the upper middle class and the rich. Pew Research, for example, takes the median income in a given year, with half richer and half poorer. And how you define “middle income” can create all sorts of mischief and all sorts of interesting headlines.  Pew’s definition of “middle income” isn’t anchored to any fixed standard of living, but in fact represents a rising standard of living over time. And surprisingly, everybody is substantially better off than they were 45 years ago.

Poverty has decreased across the world, and in 2015, food prices are down by 19 percent in just the last year. Food is more abundant, probably due to  slight increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a natural fertilizer for plants which is greening the world.



The Bill of Rights Will Be 225 Years Old This Year, And Nobody seems to Understand it After All This Time! by The Elephant's Child

shutterstock_105467189-630x286
Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof; or Abridging the Freedom of Speech,
or of the Press; or the Right of the People Peaceably
to Assemble, and To Petition the Government
for a Redress of Grievances.

The Bill of Rights will be 225 years old this year, and remains as contentious as ever. In a way, it’s only natural. Nobody likes rude comments directed to them, or to someone or someone they favor. Depending on just how rude — you probably want them silenced. Certainly we have a current problem on college campuses where the students not only don’t want to be offended, but they don’t want any microaggressions, and want to be protected from having to hear anyone who might disagree with them.

Well so much for education. No one who needs protection from opinions different from their own has any interest in being educated. ‘Protection from’ and ‘education’ are antithetical. Parents, you’re wasting your money.

“December 17, 2015 ought henceforth to be a date which will live in infamy, as that was the day that some of the leading Democrats in the House of Representatives came out in favor of the destruction of the First Amendment. House Resolution 569 condemns “violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States.”

That freedom of speech thing is all very well until it is your own ox being gored. How did we get to a place where understanding the meaning of free speech is so hard?

Here’s a short history of how the Bill of Rights came about. and follow that up with Wikipedia’s account of the Alien and Sedition Acts. What? You mean they can throw you in prison for criticizing the government?  That’s what Sedition is, and in many countries it is grounds for being arrested, thrown in prison, or even having your head chopped off. ISIS chops off heads of those who criticize the Caliphate or its leaders, or the prophet, or its rules. Iran does the same, and Saudi Arabia just executed 47 prisoners. You will find many countries where Sedition is against the law.

Jonathan Rauch wrote a splendid little book back in 1993 called “Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought. The jacket flap says “Thou shall not hurt others with words. The commandment looks harmless even admirable. But it is neither. As Jonathan Rauch states in the groundbreaking book, “This moral principle is deadly—inherently deadly, not incidentally so—to intellectual freedom and to the productive and peaceful pursuit of knowledge.”

The most frightening thing of the year has been to discover that there are significant numbers of students who have been admitted to good colleges, even ivy league colleges, who have not the slightest idea of  the importance of free speech, nor of the blessings of living in a country that has such protections. American schools go to great lengths to inform us that they are teaching “critical thinking.” That is a lie, and a big one. They are teaching the art of being a victim. They are teaching “social justice,” unaware that there is only one kind of justice in this country—which is embodied in the Constitution, the laws of the nation, the states, and the courts.

A reading list might start with Kindly Inquisitors, include 1984, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Add to that Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag: an account of the 22 years author Armando Valladares spent as a prisoner of conscience under Fidel Castro. His only crime was upholding his Catholic faith by refusing to display Marxist propaganda on his work desk. He was kept up at night by the sound of Castro’s firing squads murdering innocent Cubans, brutally beaten, immersed in human feces, forced to watch guards abuse and even murder other prisoners. President Reagan read his memoir and appointed Valladares the U.S. ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights.

The pitiful “snowflakes” on our campuses, having been “organized” by former protesters from Ferguson and Baltimore, Acorn, and Obama’s Americorps, were protesting faux racial offenses, and nonexistent hate crimes. There was no excuse for administrators and faculty who forgot how to behave like adults, and pandered and resigned in disgrace.

Greg Lukianoff of the organization FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has been defending freedom of expression on campus since 1999. He wrote today at Cato, an essay titled “Campus Free Speech Has Been in Trouble for a Long Time.” FIRE is a splendid organization and his essay is worth your time. If we do not stand up for freedom of speech, we may end up with a new batch of Sedition laws. The Left is certainly of the opinion that freedom of speech should be curtailed.  Or do you not understand what the Citizens United case was all about? Our presidential candidates on the Left promise to get rid of the decision.

Another essay worth your time is “Campus Turmoil Begins in High School” by Jonathan Haidt. The kids are heading back to school after Christmas vacation. We’ll see if the holidays (or their parents) have mellowed the returning students at all. We can only hope.



Why American Politics Is the Way It Is by The Elephant's Child

American-Flag-Background-Vintage-580x271
from
Take No Prisoners
by David Horowitz

A defining characteristic of the progressive outlook is its belief in the doctrine of original innocence. The modern source of this belief is the French radical Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who maintained that private property is the source of social evils and that “Man is born free but is everywhere in chains.” This is doctrine so obviously false it hardly  needs refutation except progressives believe it. What they believe is that “society” is the root cause of social problems. In their view, human beings are naturally cooperative and sharing, honest and moral, but are corrupted by social institutions that encourage prejudice and greed and set them against each other. They believe that  “social justice” is the model of how human beings naturally relate to each other, that equality and cooperation reflect human nature, and that socialism is therefore the name of a truly  human future.

Conservatives believe the opposite. They believe that human beings are the root cause of social problems and that social institutions are corrupt because human beings create and run them. It is the barbarity of the species that requires the intervention of a social order with the disciplines of morality and law to civilize its inhabitants. This is also what the Founders believed. It is why they did not create a pure democracy that would express the popular will, which they regarded as unruly, emotion driven, and dangerous. Instead they devised a system of checks and balances to frustrate the majority’s natural instinct to tyrannize the weak and outnumbered. And they set limits to government.

Take No Prisoners by David Horowitz



Who Me Worry? Well, Yes, Yes I Do. by The Elephant's Child

We have been told for some time that in less than 50 years Europe will be Muslim. Simple demographics. The European birthrate is far below replacement numbers, except for Muslim families. But that is what we were told before the current wave of refugees/migrants.

And the Muslim immigrants are apparently aware of the demographic claims. They have said, and it has been reported, that they will impregnate Europeans to hasten the transition. What happens when Muslims outnumber the Europeans and control the factories and facilities of European nations, including their military assets? We are in a religious war. We may not recognize that fact, but Iran and ISIS readily admit it.

Do we then have another great European War? We turned back the invasion of Europe once before at the Gates of Vienna. Is it all inevitable or are we just being Islamophobic? President Obama appears to believe that if we just turn the Middle East over to Iran to manage, then all will be well and we can just mind our own business. And that “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” business is just some kind of local PR. Iran would never, ever, use a bomb.

That ‘s when I get worried. I’m not convinced that anyone is thinking clearly about what is happening in the world today, particularly in this administration. Pat Condell is a clear-thinking and clear speaking British gentleman, and it pays to listen to what he has to say.

(h/t: Thomas Lifson )



Never Enough, or What’s Wrong With the Welfare State? by The Elephant's Child

one-dollar-bill-largeFrom William Voegeli’s Never Enough:

“The socialist dream of organizing an economy around the purposes of advancing social welfare, as it is governmentally determined and meted out, seems destined to remain an abstraction, irrelevant to the world’s political and economic needs. One strange result of the collapse of socialism, and the absence of any other credible way to avoid relying on markets is that the welfare state is heavily dependent on the health of capitalism. The government cannot disburse wealth that never gets created, and creating the wealth required for modern, prosperous societies without the knowledge conveyed by prices set in markets appears to be impossible.”



It Isn’t Every Day That a Police State Takes Such a Beating by The Elephant's Child

Nicolas-Maduro-sworn-Venezuelan-president_4-20-2013_97573_lThere are bits of good news out today, which is a relief after the doom engendered by last night’s speech from the Oval Office which mostly said that the President has no idea what to do about ISIS nor how to prevent terrorist attacks. He reportedly believed he was reassuring the American people.

According to a new CNN/ORC poll, Americans disapprove of Obama’s foreign policy by 57% to 40%. When asked about his dealing with ISIS, the disagreement soared to 64% to 33%. A huge 61% of Americans think that a terror attack in the next few weeks is likely. But to turn to the good news:

It isn’t every day that a police state takes such a beating at the polls that it has to admit defeat in its own rigged election. So kudos to the Venezuelan opposition, which thrashed the government’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in Sunday’s national assembly election, even taking the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass major economic and judicial reforms.

President Nicholás Maduro, the late Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor accepted the vote , at least for now. An impressive 75% of the electorate turned out to vote because of things like hyperinflation (200%), food shortages, no toilet paper, crumbling public works, empty market shelves and climbing murder rates (second highest in the world) brought by 16 years of repressive socialist rule. Even the military seems to be fed up with the decline, which probably accounts for Maduro’s accepting the vote. We’ll see.

At least they have a chance, if they can keep it. The Iranians have been actively penetrating the entire continent based on their alliance with Chavez. There’s a long hard road to climb back. Socialism doesn’t work— proved once again in the real world.



EPA’s New Regulations Will Cause Double-Digit Increases in the Cost of Electricity in Most States. by The Elephant's Child

blobThe EPA’s Clean Power Plan is meant to fulfill Obama’s brag about bankrupting the coal industry. Burning coal produces carbon dioxide, which Obama believes to be the cause of global warming which he sees as the greatest threat to mankind, and darn it, he’s just determined to save us all from the horrors of a warming planet. Even NASA has said the 2015 is the warmest year ever, but they came up with those numbers by making up temperatures for the vast areas of South America where there are no temperatures available.

Two new studies by Energy Ventures Analysis and NERA Economic Consulting claim the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will raise electricity prices in every state it covers, with nearly all of them seeing price increases of 10 to 25 percent by the 2030s, which will accomplish nothing, nothing at all.

Forty-six states will face double digit increases in wholesale electricity cost when the CPP is fully implemented in 2030, with 16 states projected to experience a 25+ percent increase,” according to EVA’s report that was done on behalf of the National Mining Association.

NERA’s study found that “40 states could have average retail electricity price increases of 10% or more” and “17 states could have average retail electricity price increases of 20% or more.” Another “10 states could have average retail electricity price increases of 30% or more,” according to NERA’s study, financed by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Many noted scientists believe that the globe is cooling, rather than warming, and shuttering coal-fired power plants may be disastrous in colder parts of the country. Obama’s favored wind turbines are inclined to shut down  when it freezes.

The goal is to achieve a 32 percent reduction in CO2 by 2030. With its usual hubris, the EPA claims the CPP will yield $26 billion to $45 billion in net health and climate benefits from fewer power plants. That will be all the children who didn’t get the asthma they surely would have suffered from if nothing were done. As I keep pointing out, the EPA always goes for asthma, because doctors don’t know the cause.

Republican lawmakers  and dozens of states have warned that any global climate treaty can be undone in the courts. Obama expects to get China and other Asian countries to sign on to his climate change treaty, but China and India, and all the nations in between are building coal-fired power plants as fast as they can be built.They want the benefits of low cost power to grow their economies.

The Germans are turning back to coal fired plants, and the British will likely follow. They have done wind and solar and found them wanting, and now they want out.

Obama sees a planetary disaster, but the American people are not much interested. We have been threatened with disaster for over 20 years, and Americans are not willing to carpool, ride a bike or forego a vacation, In 1980, 0.05 percent of American biked to work. Today 0.06 percent of the people do. (That’s why we built all those expensive bike lanes.) Americans tell pollsters that they care about global warming, but when it comes right down to it — they seem to be pretty dubious.

Affordable power has meant growth and prosperity wherever it is available. Shutting down coal-fired plants will accomplish nothing, nothing at all, except a lot of unemployment and a lot of misery. It will make not the slightest differece in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. A higher cost of electricity will go a long way towards eliminating any growth in the economy. Takes sheer brilliance to accomplish all that.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,550 other followers

%d bloggers like this: