American Elephants


Economics Can Be Fun, Honest! Lessons for Trump, Clinton and Sanders. by The Elephant's Child

Dr. Madsen Pirie, President of the Adam Smith Institute is explaining how basic economics is based on fundamental understanding of human nature. I posted this back in 2012, and found it in the archives when one visitor called it to my attention. This clearly demonstrates why Donald Trump doesn’t understand Trade at all, and is up the river without a paddle for his canoe. Ditto Hillary and Bernie.

Economics often seems too complicated for us everyday mortals, but it’s just based on understanding the real world. The workings of the market, the everyday buying and selling, profit and loss, tell us, if we choose to pay attention, how money, trade and markets really work.

Never fear, these are all really, really short, and worth your time.

Economics can be fun, and here’s another lesson: Economics is fun, Part 2. All about Price. How do products get priced, and what is the right price?

Part 3 is about Specialization. This is not about those puzzling charts and graphs,  and how Money, Trade and Markets really work.

Part 4 is about Trade and how countries become rich.

Part 5 is about Time and Investment.

Part 6 of Economics is fun is about Money:

There are more, but so far you have invested around ten minutes. If you want more, go to You Tube and enter “Economics is fun” and start with lesson 7. You are better armored against the  remarkable statements of our politicians on the stump. A little knowledge, as they say, is a dangerous thing. You might try them out on your kids if they are the right age.



The Fake and the Real, Playing With Your Emotions and Your Mind. by The Elephant's Child

This is one of those posts that leaves you scratching your head and wondering if it is real — or just a giant hoax. It sounds authentic, but I’ll leave it to you to decide. It’s about crowd sourcing — as a business. It comes in The California Sunday Magazine, which I guess we will assume is real. I mean these days how can you tell?

The story is about a company called Crowds on Demand. The author signs on as a recruit, doesn’t know what he’ll be doing, really, but it pays $15 an hour.  The 24-year-old CEO started the company as a 21 year-old UCLA undergrad after he had volunteered with Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial campaign and found that it could be challenging to attract large crowds to speeches. He believed that there was an opportunity for a service to turn out—well— fake crowds. Plenty of bodies to give the impression of enthusiasm. Once he got started he found there was a demand not only for crowds to support a candidate, but for crowds to protest a candidate.

I just wrote about the increasing unreality as it becomes more and more difficult to discern what is real and what is not. In the age of Photoshop, with skilled artists, it’s impossible to tell. The young CEO is getting very rich, very fast, and drives a silver Tesla.

When people inquire about a potential event, Adam guides them through the possibilities and the approximate costs: $600 for fake paparazzi at a birthday dinner; $3,000 for a flash mob dancing, chanting, and handing out fliers as a PR stunt; $10,000 for a weeklong political demonstration; $25,000 to $50,000 for a prolonged campaign of protests. According to Adam, protests have become the company’s growth sector, and just as with advertising, repeat impressions are key. “When the targets of our actions see that we’re going to be back, day after day, they get really scared,” he says. “We’re in it for the long haul, and the problem’s not going to go away on its own.”

Fascinating article, excellent illustrations, and really quite scary. We are not doing well as a nation at managing the flow from the Information Age. As the information becomes more and more unreal, or more questionable, all the checks and balances are disappearing, and we need to pay more and closer attention — but are we up for it?



United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team by The Elephant's Child

Halftime of the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns game at Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX. The Marines Corps silent drill platoon performs. I had never heard of this group before. They are impressive.



Only a Tube of Toothpaste… by The Elephant's Child
Zahnpaste, toothpaste


The Wall Street Journal offers this in their “Notable & Quotable ” column. From author César Hidalgo’s “Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economics: (Basic Books, 2015)

In my talks I often ask the attendees to raise their hands if they have used toothpaste that morning. [Then] I ask audience members to keep their hands up only if they know how to synthesize sodium fluoride. As you can imagine, all hands go down. . . .

When we are buying toothpaste we are not simply buying paste in a tube. Instead we are buying access to the practical uses of the creativity of the person who invented toothpaste, the scientific knowledge informing the chemical synthesis that is required to make toothpaste, the knowhow required to synthesize sodium fluoride, put it inside a tube, and make it available across the planet, and the knowledge that fluoride makes our teeth stronger and has beneficial effects on our health. Something as simple as toothpaste gives us indirect access to the practical uses of the imagination, knowledge, and knowhow that exist, or existed, in the nervous systems of people we have probably never met.

Very nice.

 



Who Is Donald Trump? The Billionaire New York Businessman? by The Elephant's Child

static2.politico.com

John O’Sullivan is a prominent British conservative political journalist who was once speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher, and is an editor for National Review. Can’t vote here, not a citizen, but a visitor. He remarked “But it’s obvious that this election cycle is about Trump rather than about the other candidates. He has come from nowhere and surged ahead of the pack. My suspicion is that he didn’t originally expect to be a contender for long and was surprised when he established a strong lead. But he overcame his surprise and began to do things candidates do – put out position papers, etc. – while sticking to his unique style of campaigning, namely riffing entertainingly on the day’s news, jabbing opponents with sharp verbal sticks, and treating his audiences like neighborhood friends.” I thought that a particularly sharp observation.

Holman Jenkins said “They say they like Mr. Trump because he tells it like it is, except he doesn’t. They say he is politically incorrect, but he is factually incorrect.”
“The Donald may be as surprised as anybody by the way his campaign has taken fire — his utterances certainly suggest so.”

He likes riding the wave and may be unable or unwilling to get off. He launched this adventure purely to accrue value in his lifelong personal brand-building pursuit.

That doesn’t mean he ever seriously thought about being president, having to do the job. And one way that might become apparent is when, after winning the nomination and celebrating his personal triumph, he turns to the GOP and its donor armies to see what they are willing to do to win him the presidency. If it’s not as much as he would like—if he would actually have to fulfill his promise to finance his own honest-to-goodness presidential campaign, which could cost $1 billion—that’s when things get hinky.

That’s a second observation that Trump was just fooling around with a campaign, and then people took him seriously, so he’s going to see how far it can go.

Have you ever known a real con-man? I have. He was, for a time a new manager in the department where I worked. Everybody liked him because he was so personable. They thought he was great, but one day one of his stories touched on something I actually knew about. It was a complete and deliberate lie, for no reason at all.  It wasn’t much longer before he departed, fired for some irregular problems with his expense accounts. That was my first hustler. It’s not comfortable to have been taken for a fool, even though I wasn’t alone.

From Bloomberg Business: 2/26/2016

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the casino operator founded by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, emerged from bankruptcy court protection on Friday and is now a subsidiary of billionaire Carl Icahn’s Icahn Enterprises LP.
Trump opened the Taj Mahal in 1990. The parent company continually struggled with debt, and Trump Entertainment filed for bankruptcy court protection in September 2014. The filing coincided with a protracted downturn in betting in Atlantic City that led four of the city’s 12 casinos to close. It was the Trump casino businesses’ fourth time in bankruptcy.

From Jim Geraghty at National Review: “What if Trump Doesn’t Have Billions?” “There’s a good chance we’ll never see his tax returns.

Trump told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show a year ago that he would release his tax return shortly, as soon as they were completed. A few years ago he refused to release “un-redacted tax returns, even when it could help him win a $5 billion libel lawsuit against a New York Times reporter. Forbes magazine estimated his net worth after 80 interviews and many resources as less than half of what he claimed last year. Others with direct knowledge of his finances think his net worth is closer to $150 -$250 million. Still comfortably wealthy but not a billionaire.

Trump said that was a lie and sued, lost in court, appealed, and lost again. The case dragged on because he would not turn over the tax returns. So the likelihood that they will be released to the public is slim.

Bloomberg Politics, February 24, 2016 “A Look Inside Trump’s Global Deals Exposes Trouble in Many Spots” In Panama, condominium owners are trying to fire him.  In Canada and Turkey, his business partners want to cut him loose. In Scotland and Ireland, he claims to be making millions on his golf courses, but so far is losing money. In Toronto the Toronto Tower Owners want Trump out.

“Donald Trump says his organization is in talks on more than 100 deals, 85 percent of them outside the U.S., and that if elected president he will bring to international relations the savvy he has demonstrated as a global deal maker.”

The article suggests that an examination of his operations shows that while he has made millions selling his name, he has chosen inexperienced or questionable partners, and there are legal conflicts amid claims of broken promises and empty apartments. Trump disputes the claims.

Yahoo Finance 10/19/2014 “12 Donald Trump businesses that no longer exist:” Also see “Donald Trump’s Record of Business Failures and Bluster” 2/16/2016, PJ Media.

  1. Trump Mortgage (announced 2006, closed 2007)
  2. Trump Steaks (2007-?)
  3. Trump Vodka (2006-2011)
  4. Trump: The Game (1989-1990, 2005)
  5. Trump Ice (Shut down 2010)
  6. Go Trump.com (2006-2007)
  7. Trump Magazine
  8. The New Jersey Generals (1983-1985)
  9. Trump Airlines (1989-1992)
  10. Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. 4 bankruptcies (1991, 2004, 2009, 2014)
  11. Trump Tower Tampa (2006-2007)
  12. Trump University (2005 -2011) Current lawsuit for fraud

“Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected” by Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, 2/25/2016

I don’t know. Donald Trump seems to me to be a hustler. Too many lies, too much Big talk. Everything is going to be Great!, Beautiful! He knows how to do that. He knows how to fix that. But he never tells us how, or who is going to pay for it and how. There are some really big problems in the world and we have no hint about how Trump might address them.



The Dark Ages Weren’t Really Dark! by The Elephant's Child

Medieval, the Dark Ages, a time of plagues and starvation, and gloom. Where did we get those ideas? And what was the real truth? Here’s a little historical correction for us.



Here’s The Donald: The Businessman from New York. by The Elephant's Child

Whether you are an admirer of the businessman from New York, or one of his detractors,  you should get acquainted with this documentary made a few years back about ‘the Donald.’ It is long, but utterly fascinating.  I come from the other side of the Rocky Mountains, and New York ways are not really familiar territory. We have enough trouble with the West Coast ways of Seattle and environs, and enviros. I added that last because I liked the combination, but Seattle is excessively environmentally loony.




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