American Elephants


Victor Davis Hanson’s Take on the Decline and Fall of the Left by The Elephant's Child

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Enough With the Tired Old Slogans. Let’s Talk About the Real Issues. by The Elephant's Child

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“This is the most important election of my lifetime,” unfortunately, that is a statement you hear in every election. But then, sometimes, it’s true.  So do we worry most about — ISIS? The plight of Europe as they can increasingly not cope with the flood of migrants, many of whom are ISIS fighters? Or do we worry about terrorist attacks in our own country? Is it the Zika Virus? Or is it the economy which after over seven and-a half long years has shown little sign of a real recovery. This is really not the new normal.

Republicans are more apt to recall what they learned in school about separation of powers and federalism. Democrats have decided that they are far more interested in controlling the peoople, and that is a problem.

President Obama has maintained a steady course of increasing new regulations, more spending on”infrastructure,” more spending on the chimera of global warming, and through his unconstitutional executive actions, he has backed federal mandates on business, closed a lot of small businesses, increased taxes and in the strange interest of making America just one among the many countries of the world, made America weak. And then there’s the Iran Deal.

The executive actions are a big problem. All presidents do some, but President Obama has carried it to an extreme, and Congress has found it hard to cope. This is the first time we have had a president, schooled by Saul Alinsky, determined to change the country to something that is more in line with his personal vision of social justice, and unconcerned with following custom or the rules.

Republicans are inclined to believe that there is no such thing as “social” justice — that justice is what is embodied in our courts, our body of laws, our Constitution and the constitutions of the several states.

Democrats have had a degree of success with “social justice” and the associated ideas of an unjust minimum wage, income inequality, racial injustice, “white privilege,” a War on Cops, excessive incarceration of black perpetrators, too many blacks in prison, thousands of Syrian “refugees” who cannot be vetted are put ahead of those who have waited patiently in line as legal immigrants, and of course “crumbling roads and bridges.” You will notice that most of these are rallying cries in the Democrat campaign.

I continually get the sense that Democrats operate with talking points handed down, and thus do not have to study issues, read, or think seriously about history or the world, or about whether their issues are right or workable or even make sense. Or maybe that’s just Hillary.

They seem to be fixated on an improved version of socialism that will be socially just, totally different from all those other socialisms, and will fix all the dreadful problems of America — as it is. They find the old buildings and their peeling paint and the antique cars in Havana charming, and can’t get it through their heads that it is “charming” because that’s all they have. They completely ignore the devastation in Venezuela where the people are dying from lack of the simplest medicines, and plain starvation. They broke into the zoo to kill a horse to eat, but the animals in the zoo are starving to death too.

Hillary wants to raise taxes on the rich, who already pay most of the taxes, and on corporations, capital gains, death taxes and stock transactions, without the slightest understanding that will simply deliver more stagnant growth, falling wages and declining productivity. But then, that’s what her economic plan promises. More of Obama’s “success.”

What makes economies grow and prosper are free markets and free people who can work to come up with new ideas and bring them to fruition in their garage or small town or big city. Freedom works small and big miracles every day. Tried and tested for 240 years.



Milton Friedman Explains Free Trade. This is the Classic. by The Elephant's Child

This is a classic long (48 min.) lecture by Milton Friedman from 1978, in which he explains free trade and tariffs, how they work, why we get confused, trade deficits and government interference. There’s a long section where the film is bad (in the original) with snow/static/ interference early in the film, but it clears up fairly promptly at about 20.42 and remains clear for the remainder of the video. You can still hear Milton Friedman perfectly well throughout. Take notes. Play again until you feel confident that you have it down.

Here’s another, in which Milton Friedman debates a protectionist. It’s from January 2012, and is between Milton Friedman, Michael Walker, and Steven Cohen, from the “Time to Choose”series. This one is just over 15 minutes long.

Our politicians are just ordinary human beings like the rest of us, and they get just as many nutty ideas as we do. Many of the Republicans who are as yet uncomfortable with Donald Trump, are because of his misunderstanding of the Trade issue. Many assume that a “trade deficit” is a bad thing, but do not recognize that the excess dollars we pay for a large quantity of stuff from another country must be invested in the United States. This is not to suggest that there are not some very bad deals, but free trade is the goal.



Myth, Lies And Capitalism by The Elephant's Child
May 29, 2015, 6:24 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom | Tags: , ,

Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, economist, and french horn player, gives a short class in Capitalism, always a worthy endeavor. Free enterprise works to lift people all over the world out of poverty.



Once Cubans Get a Taste of Prosperity? How Does That Work? by The Elephant's Child

President Raúl Castro, Fidel’s little brother, declared victory for the Cuban Revolution in a televised speech before Parliament and a group of favored guests —including Elián Gonzales (remember him?) — reaffirming that any restored relations with the United States did not mean any change in Communist rule in Cuba. He added “We won the war.”

Obama didn’t check in with any of the Cuban community here or with the Cubans who are fighting for freedom in Cuba. They are pretty unanimous in saying that the way Obama has gone about this is a major mistake. The Ladies in White who march in support of political prisoners each week in a major display of courage, said “betrayal” and didn’t understand why Obama had gone back on his statement that “significant steps toward democracy” must precede any liberalization.

As usual, Obama does not learn from history. Engagement does not necessarily promote freedom — see China, Vietnam, and increasingly less freedom in those countries.

In an official announcement in the state newspaper Gramma. government officials announced a system in which employees of corporations with foreign capital will be paid two Cuban Pesos for every Convertible Cuban Peso (CUP) which are used exclusively for tourists and is the equivalent of an American dollar and 26.5 Cuban Pesos. The 24 Cuban Pesos that workers will NOT receive amount to 92% of their salaries. So 92% of the value of Cubans’ work will go to prop up the Communist state. How that is supposed to be an important entry in the history books for Mr. Obama is not clear.

Cuba’s major benefactors —Russia and Venezuela — are in deep trouble from the declining price of oil. The current price is far below their ‘break-even’ point. Some Conservatives welcome the change in policy, believing that free trade will make great changes in Cuba. Raúl Castro doesn’t think so. “Once they see better goods and services” they say, but at roughly 67¢ a day in income Cubans cannot buy “better goods.” I don’t know what they have to trade. Reportedly, even their cigars aren’t that good any more.

Will Cuba suddenly allow their people to travel to the U.S.? Not likely. Any visitors to the U.S would be likely to seek asylum. The Cuban Adjustment Act says that any Cuban who is granted parole into the U.S. may, after one year apply for adjustment to permanent resident status. In the past every Cuban who made it here got parole and a green card.

I firmly believe in free markets and free people — but the “free” part seems to be completely missing here.



“Economic Patriotism” Is Plain Old Nonsense. by The Elephant's Child

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Democrats are not happy with President Obama, and they are trying desperately to change the subject from things like ISIS, and Russia, and foreign policy in general, ObamaCare, immigration, the miserable economy, and jobs, and jobs and jobs.

Their natural inclination is to focus on those things which arouse people’s passions, so naturally they are freaking out about Burger King’s plans to merge with Tim Horton’s Canadian coffee and donut chain and move to Canada. “Economic Patriotism” they cry, and moral panic and sheer rage that an American business would consider relocating for the simple reason of paying taxes. Obviously it’s time for my favorite quote from Walter Wriston:

Capital will go where it is wanted and stay
where it is well treated. It will flee from manipulation
or onerous regulation of its value or use and no
government power can restrain it for long.

The business of business is to make a profit. Liberals always want to impose other rules on business. They are deeply suspicious of the whole idea of profits. They are outraged at CEO salaries. Proper people work in service jobs, like government, or for foundations, or righteous causes or universities. Liberals are really quite conflicted about business. They were outraged by the Citizens United decision. And even more so by Mitt Romney’s claim that corporations are just people. On the other hand, they get enthusiastic support from some businesses like Google, or Facebook, but that’s different.

The problem isn’t just that America has the highest corporate taxes in the world, but that America collects taxes on the income earned in other countries., though those other countries collect taxes as well. Because they distrust business in general, Liberals have little hesitation in finding new and better ways to tax business.

Total tax costs are 46.4% lower in Canada than in the U.S. Is it really a surprise that Burger Kind wants to move there? Burger King would still pay their full taxes on income earned in the U.S. but their taxes on income earned in Canada would be taxed at Canadian rates.

The number one issue among American voters is unsurprisingly — jobs. If you vigorously try to maximize the taxes that American businesses pay, they will hire fewer people. If you raise taxes on business, they raise the cost of the goods or services they sell, or reduce their expenses, by cutting the number of people they employ.



What Is The Proper Size of Government? by The Elephant's Child

Politicians keep debating the size of government. Republicans believe that government tries to do way too much, and that government is not very good at the things it does try to do. Democrats are inclined to believe that government needs to do more to alleviate the problems of society.

The recovery from “the Great Recession” has been sluggish at best, and way too many people have left the labor force. To encourage growth, the Obama administration relies on government action: the latest is manufacturing hubs, and it has been infrastructure projects,  crumbling roads and bridges, wind farms and solar arrays, job training programs, and they have all done little to change the unemployment rate, or significantly increase the labor force. But the belief in government action to change and improve society remains firm.

Over the years, economists have measured the effect of the size of government on economic growth and social outcomes like life expectancy, infant mortality, homicide rates, educational attainment and student reading proficiency. One recent addition to the studies of the result of government size comes from a study published by Canada’s Fraser Institute, entitled “Measuring Government in the 21st Century” by Canadian economist and university professor Livio Di Matteo.

Di Mateo’s analysis confirms a large body of empirical research examining the relationship between the size of government and economic outcomes. Canada’s recent retrenchment is an example of a country shrinking government without a trade-off in economic and social outcomes.

When governments focus their spending on basic, needed services like the protection of property. His findings also demonstrate that there is a tipping point at which more government actually hinders economic growth and fails to contribute to social progress in any meaningful way. Di Mateo examines international data and finds that, after controlling for disparate factors, annual per capita GDP growth rates start to decline when government spending consumes 26 percent of the economy.  Economic growth rates start to decline when government spending exceeds this level. Government spending becomes unproductive when it goes to things like corporate subsides, overly generous wages, overly generous benefits for government employees, and crony capitalism.

According to data from the OECD, the size of government in the United States was approximately 40 percent of GDP in 2012, Which suggests that a smaller size of government than we currently have would translate into higher annual economic growth.

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