American Elephants


If You Know History, Change Will Not Seem So Scary! by The Elephant's Child

I have the impression, which may be false, that American companies ordinarily went to great lengths to essentially stay out of politics. They might get involved when potential legislation negatively affected their company, or when their corporate knowledge suggested that something being considered was a very bad idea, that sort of thing. At that point corporate involvement would probably be requested anyway.

Today it is a different story. It has been reported that workers in a company may inform their management that they are opposed to something that is simply a political issue and has nothing to do with their company’s business. Last I heard, a company had an executive board and a president to decide corporate positions, and the workers were not invited to participate but only to vote in local and national elections like everybody else. And the discontented would probably get canned. But there was no corporate position anyway.

When I was a worker bee, I certainly had no illusion that I had a vote in corporate business nor did I have any expectation that my personal politics were anyone else’s concern, nor that it would be acceptable to announce who I was voting for or why. But then there was never an occasion when there were riots in the streets and company policies regarding race were up for discussion. I had a black boss, and associates came from a wide variety of national heritages, like life outside of work. Nobody wore campaign buttons or gave any idea of who they were planning to vote for. So it’s weird to see groups of workers attempting to inform their management  about what is acceptable and what is not.

Are the mayors who have been so prominent in the media up for reelection? I live in a Seattle suburb not Seattle itself, but Seattle is pretty far left. They voted for Mayor Jenny Durkan at some point, and Portland once voted for Mayor Wheeler, and we now have a clear understanding of how they perform under stress. and the same is true across the country. Democrats have been trying to convince Americans that the Corona virus and all accompanying problems are Trump’s fault, but the facts would indicate that he’s done a pretty good job. Governors have been grateful for prompt supplies of needed materials like ventilators and masks, and companies nationwide have started producing them to meet the needs. The Seattle area had the first cases in the country, and travel from China was halted immediately.

I expect that there will be long term changes. The big cities will lose population as residents move to places where riots are unacceptable. Businesses will move. Will working from home become the norm? Some businesses have already announced that working from home will extend into 2021 or more. Not having to maintain corporate offices would save a lot of money if a good portion of the workforce could work from home. If “daytime pajamas” become the norm rather than tailored suits, there will be vast changes in the fashion industry. What precautions will become necessary for business to avoid disruption? Things change, but the impetus is not always clear. If you know history, change will not seem so scary.

Schooling seems to be on the brink of mass disruption. States are trying to decide if schools will be open or closed. Charter schools are an extremely beneficial change for black kids, but extremely unacceptable to teacher’s unions. The unions do not want to return to the classroom, but online education is not working, partly because teachers don’t know how to make their online classes interesting and compulsive as well as get the necessary learning into student heads. So far, a lot of kids just aren’t doing the online work. Some well-to-do families are getting together to hire tutors. I don’t know how much we know about kids’ home situations. Do most parents go out to work and leave the kids home alone? There’s a recipe for disaster. Homeschooling may rise in popularity, but some families don’t really have choices. Parents need to work. So expect big changes, not all of which will be acceptable.

I live in a Seattle suburb. The area has many international businesses, some of them famous, who hire many workers from abroad. My suburb is dotted with little storefront schools that teach English, and small storefront groceries that carry the foods from worker’s home countries. Does this go on all over the country? Are international companies just situated on the coasts or are they the norm everywhere? I have no idea. Immigrants from some countries populated different parts of the country because of climate or industry there. Washington and Idaho and Montana have lots of wheat growers and lumbering. Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska have major fishing industry, and so it goes across the country. Meatpacking ended up in the Midwest. Potatoes in Idaho and Maine.

Britain’s invention of machines to make thread out of cotton led to America’s slavery, but less than 5% of African slaves were brought to America. The majority went to the sugar islands and to South America. Early on, indentured servitude was popular in the Thirteen Colonies because of a large demand for labor, and more than half of immigrants to British colonies south of New England were white servants who came under indenture, because of the high cost of transatlantic transportation which was beyond the means of European workers. Between the 1630s and the Revolution one half to two thirds of the total white immigration came  under indenture.

The British Empire ended slavery in 1833, but did not prohibit the practice of indentured servitude until 1917. Somewhere between one half and two thirds of European immigrants to America came under indentures, usually as young men or women. Most went to the South where cash crops were common, for the North industrialized earlier. Remember that Australia was partly populated by prisoners who were transported. It’s all a fascinating history, probably not very familiar to today’s rioters. The movement of people and customs around the globe is not over, and will not end any time soon, and we are still making new history. We’ll have to wait a bit to see what the Space Force turns up.



Politics Does Not Belong in the Workplace. by The Elephant's Child

Just saw, online, another of those annoying claims that profess to know every public figure’s IQ. They do not. They claim to know the IQ of Presidents going way back, which they do not. The IQ test was not devised until 1904. They’re making it up.

NBC claims that Google has blacklisted Zero Hedge and the Federalist. Google says not so. My immediate response is that the Big Tech companies are too new to the American Business community to grasp that it is unwise for corporations and smaller businesses to publicly profess political leanings.

The other party may well be in control of the government, and be annoyed. Companies of any size have lots of employees, who, despite resident loudmouths, probably vote quite differently. Yes, I know, it’s tempting, if unwise, to assume that everyone thinks the same way as you do, because it’s so obviously the “right way.” Do read the Constitution again, including the Bill of Rights, and remember that the first thing a Socialist government would do is to remove all those silly protections.

Yes, I know that Socialism promises to make everybody equal. That’s bunk. Those who assume that Socialism is a good thing need to look a little closer at socialist governments, beginning with Venezuela and Cuba. Those pushing for Socialism are not pushing for equality, but simply pushing to be in charge.  They want to run things.

Keep politics out of the Workplace, and protect workers’ personal freedom.



The Debates, The Elections, The Media,The Swamp. by The Elephant's Child

We seem to be still  thinking about the debates. The media wants to rank them, decide who moved up and who moved down. Not so much interested in what they actually talked about. The one thing they seemed to be reasonably united on was “Medicare for All” but nobody had studied up to see what it would mean. They were looking for what would get them positive vibes.

“Medicare for All” seems to appeal to a lot of people who have no idea what it means. It would mean that you lose your current health care, including any health care you get through your employment. And your taxes would go way, way up, as the health care you could have would go way, way down.

Most people who are actually on Medicare, who can afford it, purchase Medicare supplement plans to cover what Medicare does not. Many physicians will not see Medicare patients, simply because Medicare does not pay enough. Health care is very expensive. Some people need a lot of it. Some people just like a lot of it.

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) pays for health care for all in very high taxes, yet if you read the British papers, there are always complaints, scandals, ambulances lined up outside hospitals waiting for there to be a vacancy, old folks dying from lack of attention. The wealthy can choose other services. The Brits fear losing it. Canadians keep coming down here to get care that the Canadian system does not offer. Read the Canadian papers online, you’ll see.

We get wrapped up in politics,deciding who we like and who we don’t, and sometimes we pay attention, and mostly not enough.

The enemy is the bureaucracy. The swamp. They are interested in what the people want – to the extent that will get them elected and reelected. They like being important and making big salaries and important decisions. Some try to study up and understand the deep background of issues, but most don’t. They are particularly interested in what their big donors want, and what the media has to say, and if the media is interested in them.

Do you write to your Congressman? Your Senator? Is he a member of your party, or are you represented by someone you didn’t vote for? The only way they will know how you feel is if you write. They may not read your message, but it will be tallied, and if your congressperson gets a lot of letters on a given subject, they will know how their voters feel. So it matters, the more the better. To e-mail your representatives go to House.gov or Senate.gov  and follow the directions. I am represented entirely, at every level, by the opposing party, so I sometimes write representatives from other states explaining that I’m not a constituent, but…  I get on a lot of interesting mailing lists that way.



Those Dratted CEO’s Get Way too Much Money! (or Do They?) by The Elephant's Child

Thomas Sowell had a wonderful column last week at National Review on CEO pay.  He began:

Congress is never more ridiculous than when it tries to look like it is serious.

In the midst of a major national financial crisis, what was one of the first things Congress zeroed in on? The pay of Chief Executive Officers of financial institutions.

If all those CEOs agreed to work for nothing, that would not be enough to lower the bailout money by one percent.  Anyone who was really serious would start with the 99 percent and let the one percent come later.

But however insignificant the pay of CEOs is economically, it is big stuff politically.  Whatever the shortcomings of the Democrats, they are consistent in their message and class envy is a great part of that message.

People who say that they cannot understand how CEOs in general get so many millions of dollars seem not to realize what a trivial thing they are saying.  Most people do not understand most things.  But that is no reason to have national policy guided by their ignorance. …

What really sets some people off is the fact that a CEO who has mismanaged some corporation into losing billions of dollars is rewarded with a severance package worth millions.

Think about it.  If the CEO’s decisions are costing the company billions, it is a bargain to get him out the door immediately for millions, rather than having his departure delayed by either internal struggles or battles in the courts….

Politically imposed limits on the pay of CEOs is one of the most penny-wise and pound-foolish things that can be done.  The difference between a top-notch CEO: and a second-rate CEO can be billions of dollars on the bottom line.

That is what drives up the pay of CEOs.  If you want someone who will be top-notch in running organizations as huge and complex as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there is no point offering $5 million a year if similar enterprises elsewhere are paying $20 million for people with the kind of ability required. [emphasis mine]

Do read the whole thing. It’s a great corrective for faulty thinking, and being honest, we all indulge in a lot of that. Clarifies a lot of the conversation about the “bailout” too. Not too many CEOs enjoy a very long tenure at their firms.




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