American Elephants

This Is Just Not Right! by The Elephant's Child

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided that 15 year-old girls can purchase the “morning-after” pill over-the-counter without a prescription or without the knowledge of their parents. They remain not old enough to drive, not old enough to decide what they want for lunch, not old enough to get an aspirin for a headache, not old enough to go on a school field trip without an official signed permission slip from their parents, but the “morning after” pill — no problem.  Go figure.

The so-called Sexual Revolution has a lot to answer for.


The One Chart to Doom them All: by The Elephant's Child

This chart from the Republican Study Committee bears a little study. (Click to enlarge). It kinda plays hob with the “It’s Bush’s fault” storyline. Stimulus didn’t work either.  And “Cash for Clunkers” was a real disaster. Recovery Summer didn’t recover, and it’s still headed down. The real unemployment rate is closer to 15%, but reality depends on how many people who want to be in the workforce are not, and that’s hard to measure.

We forget that more people are being added to the population of working age all the time, but unemployment rates are worst for young people with little or no experience, and the Democrats keep wanting to boost up the minimum wage to make sure that they can’t get a job.  It didn’t have to be this way. We have a national history of how to recover from recessions, and we have a national history of what not to do. Some people just are not prepared to learn the lessons of the past and are thus doomed to repeat them.

White House Authoritarianism Has Been Tried Before. Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

Like many “bookish” people, I usually have a stack of books that I have not yet read. Often they are some that I bought because I wanted to read them, then I get distracted with something else and they sit there waiting patiently. So I’m seldom reading what is hot right now.

I’m currently reading Amity Schlaes’ The Forgotten Man, which is a new history of the Great Depression, and fascinating.  And remarkably pertinent to today’s news. FDR, in his First Hundred Days, embarked on a vast experimentation with the economy with the help of his “brain trust” of academics.  He, like the current occupant of the White House, determined that he could do just about anything he wanted, and ended up tangling with the Supreme Court, which made a laughingstock of the NRA (The National Recovery Act), and led to further battles between the president and the Supreme Court. So here I was, sitting up in bed at three-o’clock in the morning, giggling about the Schechter case, which was about selling chickens. About that time, Felix Frankfurter moved into the White House, which signaled a shift in Roosevelt’s outlook:

He was tired of utopias, he now decided.  They had not necessarily helped the economy.  the hope that experiments like the NRA would bring full recovery had not proven valid.  Roosevelt had played around with economics, and economics hadn’t served him very well..  He would therefore give up on the discipline and concentrate on an area he knew better, politics.

The president formulated a bet.  If he followed his political instincts, furiously converting ephemeral bits of legislation into solid law for specific groups of voters, then we would win reelection.  He would focus on farmers, big labor, pensioners, veterans, perhaps women and blacks.  He would get through a law for pensioners, and one for organized labor…Rex Tugwell would take care of the poor and homeless of the countryside — Tugwell was to have a staff of more than 5,0-00, $91 million, and options on ten million acres of land, all to try out suburban and urban resettlement.  There was also $2.75 million for Dutch elm disease…

Bringing down big enterprises and wealthy families liberated smaller companies and thrivers to thrive…Giving cash to new constituents meant that they would spend and strengthen the economy…Taxing big business might also balance the budget, just as Roosevelt had learned as a young man.  The president relished squeezing cash for the poor out of the well-to-do…

But the emphasis remained political.  “He illuminated objectives —even fantastically unrealizable objectives.  These excited and inspired,” Ray Moley would later write of Roosevelt, only slightly bitterly.  “When one set of these objectives — faded, he provided another.” The fact that he shifted did not have to matter.”

There are similarities with Barack Obama, in the disregard for the Constitution, law and tradition, but plenty of differences as well. Obama’s assumption that he “inherited the worst crisis since the Great Depression” is self-aggrandizement. It didn’t have to be this way, but almost every action Obama has taken has continued and worsened the downward spiral. Here is what the Great Depression was like: November, 1933: Unemployment: 23.2 percent, Dow Jones Industrial Average: 90.  November 1, 1934, Unemployment 23.2 percent, Dow Jones Industrial Average: 93. July 1935: Unemployment; 21.3 percent Dow Jones Industrial Average: 119.  The economy didn’t really recover until well after the war.  The assumption that the war ended the Depression is not true. During WWII the country turned to vast manufacturing of war materials, which made for lots of jobs, under wage and price controls. But the war materials were simply used up, leaving the country no more prosperous.

At any rate, the book reads like a novel, following the characters who created the all-too-real story.  If you enjoy history, I recommend it highly.

Here They Go Again! When Will They Ever Learn? by The Elephant's Child

Dr Scott Gottlieb has a post at National Review this morning, saying:

Fresh off its successes in the green-energy patch, the Obama team is turning its investment skills to the life sciences. Last Friday, President Obama announced his intention to increase the federal government’s involvement in the business of biotechnology.

His plan is for a new federal center inside the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that would be focused on the development and commercialization of new drugs. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) would engage in early drug-development work, eventually handing off programs to private companies for completion. In return the government would take a guaranteed royalty stream on drugs that eventually made it to market. The center would get its seed money by tapping other NIH programs.  Longer term, the administration’s plan is to provide billions in dedicated federal funding to the new drug center.

Um, Oh oh!

The NCATS idea reflects the belief of the president and NIH director Francis Collins that the for-profit drug industry has ignored promising areas of science because these opportunities appeared financially dubious. Collins has said that government can plow scientific fields that profit-driven companies ignore. He suggested during an interview on CNBC earlier this year that NIH drug developers would also get a break from regulators at the Food and Drug Administration. His reasoning seems to be that government regulators could place more trust in government drug developers.

Do read the whole article. This proposal is one of those things that can sound appealing at first glance, yet requires some careful examination. It is coming right at the time when federal regulatory agencies have been squeezing the life-sciences sector.  Regulators have been forcing longer development programs, and this, in turn, has made the cost of creating new drugs dramatically higher.  Fewer new drugs are reaching the market, and fewer programs are being funded. Not interesting unless it happens to be the drug that might have saved your life.

The NIH has great achievements, Gottlieb says, but they are to do with basic science.  The NIH is not very good at drugs. The government spends more than a combined $50 billion a year, but has helped to discover only 84 drugs in the past 60 years.  The agency has also been reluctant to submit to FDA oversight of the same kind required of private drug companies.

This proposal demonstrates nothing so much as Obama’s misplaced faith in Big Government as the proper agent to determine what, in their wisdom, they think the people should or should not have. There are other names for this kind of government, and they are not included in a Constitution that begins “We the People…”

Back a while, Ted Kennedy and Rahm Emanuel introduced a bill removing the “reimportation ban” to make companies subject to FTC action if they refuse to sell to foreign companies that undersell them.  The “Patent Reform Act” would degrade the patent system and patent rights.  It endorses a congressional finding that says “Congress believes access to drugs is more important than protecting corporate rights to produce those drugs.”

The idea was that the poor are going to Canada for drugs and rich pharmaceutical companies care only about profits. This is typical liberal thinking.  The actual consequences would deprive pharmaceutical companies of the financial incentive to develop and market new drugs.  Liberals described it as a way to promote innovation and efficiency in patents. Uh huh. In actuality it would do just the opposite.

In 2007, Senator Bernie Sanders (S – VT) came up with the Medical Innovation Prize Act, which would deprive inventors of medicines and drug treatments of all patent rights, and instead create a bureaucracy  to dole out compensation from a “prize fund.” The theory was that prizes would act as incentive to create new drugs for HIV/AIDS or 3rd world malaria. It just strips all patent rights from all medicine.

I assume that neither of these acts ever saw the light of day, but it demonstrates liberal thinking.  They don’t understand the free market. They hate corporations and don’t understand the profit motive, and essentially think corporations should do nice things for free. Haven’t noticed Sen. Sanders offering to serve in the Senate for free, nor the other two either. Their thinking always has to do with the presumed wisdom of the elites who serve in the federal government.

The world is in turmoil with financial crises created by government. Our current recession was caused by government action, and is being prolonged by government action. It was not caused by greedy corporations or bankers or even Wall Street.  It was caused by government. The Crisis in Europe was caused by government action.  The Conservative Euro-skeptics were right, and have been proven right.  Free markets work.

The independent actions of millions of people acting in their own self-interest have a collective wisdom that governments cannot even begin to imitate. When will they ever learn?

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