American Elephants

Man of Mystery or Actor Playing a Role? by The Elephant's Child

It is only two weeks until the election, and Barack Obama remains a man of mystery.  He has played a role, revealing little of himself.  It’s like his autobiography, some people are made up, and conversations are made up, and some people are composites, but other than being partly fiction, how much is real?  His supporters seem more enchanted than informed.

So what do we know about his positions? First, he claims to be for free trade. It is just that he votes against it every time it comes up for a vote.   He voted against the Free Trade Agreement with Columbia, one of our closest allies in South America.  He voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement and he has stated that he wants to re-negotiate NAFTA, which has been hugely successful for us and for Canada and Mexico.  Canada is already negotiating a new free trade agreement with France because they are worried about the U.S.  The Smoot-Hawley tariffs were a major cause of the Great Depression.  The current credit crisis would seem to be an exceptionally poor time to be opposing free trade which has been nothing but a benefit to our country, and to the world.

Obama is opposed to Capitalism, which is simply the name Karl Marx gave to the natural workings of the free market.  You hear it over and over in his positions.  He doesn’t like “big business”, as if being big is somehow worse than being small or middle sized.  He is offended by businesses that report healthy profits, apparently in the belief that there is something wrong with profit — which is the only reason that a business exists, even a small business.  This odd idea, that profit is bad, doesn’t affect you unless you work for a business or sell to a business, or buy things like groceries and clothing, or use things like oil and gas and electricity and water.

He has pushed a bill to rein in CEO pay. There are very few people who are capable of running large corporations, and they don’t get there without a long learning period and vast experience, unlike some politicians. A skilled CEO can make a difference of billions in corporate profit and growth, or rescue a corporation from going under.  Obama is offended that corporations sometimes have to lay people off.  This shows a vast ignorance of how business operates, but Obama has never worked for business, and seems to feel that it is somehow a lesser occupation than a “service” job — feeding at the public trough.  Perhaps Mr. Obama can point out where the power to regulate pay occurs in the constitution.

Obama seems to know that small business creates most of the new jobs in this country. He just doesn’t understand what a small business is.  According to a Gallup survey conducted for the National Federation of Independent Business conducted at the beginning of the year, only 10% of businesses that hire between one and nine employees would pay the Obama tax.  But 19.5% of employers with 10 to 19 employees would be hit by the tax, and 50% of firms with 20 to 249 workers would pay the tax. His plan is an incentive to hire fewer workers.

Third, Obama believes in redistribution, a policy that is opposed by majorities of every political party. Someone who believes in wealth resistribution usually labors under the misconception that there is a pie of wealth and that one needs to divide it into equal slices. The economy is not a pie, but grows to meet the needs of the participants. You do not help people by making them dependent on the government — that helps only politicians who want reliable voters, for if you are dependent you cannot vote against those who give you sustenance. Obama’s tax plan is simply a back-door return to welfare.

You will notice that all solutions in Obama’s world involve passing out taxpayer money and more government control. But if there is one thing we have learned, it is that government does not do things well. Although we have long experience with foreign aid and it’s propensity to line the pockets or Swiss bank accounts of some dictator, Obama is ready to pass out billions to alleviate world poverty. Very little foreign aid ever reaches the intended recipients.  What actually alleviates world poverty is free trade.  There is very substantial evidence for that.

Fourth, Obama wants the EPA to regulate CO2. You remember, the stuff you breathe out. This would put the EPA in charge of regulating your lawnmower, your chainsaw, your motorcycle or your boat, a really bad idea.  He wants to do this to force Congress to pass taxes on carbon dioxide or some kind of cap-and-trade program. This would be disastrous for the economy. Even the Europeans realize a financial crisis is not the time for climate pacts on CO2 reduction. CO2 is not a pollutant, and is not a cause of global warming.  Europe is realizing that ethanol was a bad idea, but Obama is still supporting it. Economists have warned that cap-and-trade or carbon taxes could devastate the economy, but environmental organizations don’t care.

Fifth, Obama has a nasty tendency to try to silence his critics. His campaign sent out e-mails to get supporters to shut down a talk show that was interviewing scholar Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center about his research into Acorn and the Annenberg Challenge, and again when author David Freddoso appeared on the same program.  He demanded that the Justice Department investigate the Bush administration for Republicans’ allegations that ACORN was committing vote fraud. The attempts to silence his critics by playing the race card are numerous. The most recent claim is that the word “socialism” is a code word for blacks.

Sixth,The Employer Free Choice Act is a startling deprivation of workers’ freedom.  It forces union recognition without elections and employment contracts through mandatory arbitration thereafter.  Workers no longer would get a choice of whether to belong to a union or not.  It’s something the unions want, and Obama owes the unions for their support.

Obama has promised something new, hope and change, but all his ideas are borrowed from the past in the presumption that old tired Democrat ideas will be different if we just do it again.  Roosevelt’s bad ideas prolonged the Great Depression, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society was a flop.  Doing the same thing over and over again is…probably a mistake.


Losing Your Freedom… a Little at a Time by The Elephant's Child

How much are you willing to allow the government to interfere in your life? To what extent are you willing to give up personal freedoms? We have already been told what kind of shower heads we may have, and what kind of toilets we shall have in our bathrooms. Soon, we will have to change from incandescent lightbulbs to the fluorescent kind. California is considering outlawing fireplaces. When is enough enough? When do you get out the pitchfork and march on city hall or your congressman’s office?

Today, the Japanese government institutes its compulsory “flab checks” for all workers over the age of 40. To stem Japan’s “soaring obesity,” the health ministry has mandated that all waistlines among its 56 million workers over age 40 be below ‘regulation size’ of 33.5 inches (for men). Any company failing to bring its employees’ weight under control — as well as the weights of their family members — will be fined up to 10% of its earnings by the government.

According to government officials as reported by the Independent, 27 million Japanese — that’s about half of all adult workers! — have health indices (cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and BMI) that don’t meet ideal numbers. They will be targeted for mandatory medical intervention. That means compulsory medication, because, as we know, health indices have been set so low that most adults with normal aging will fall on the wrong side.

You can imagine the array of weight loss gimmicks and health and fitness machines now being marketed. And “special undergarments” for Japanese businessmen (girdles) are now popular. [Read the whole thing.]

This is happening in a country with almost no fat people. We live in a country where both of the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination want to install government-controlled health care. If you find the idea of government-paid health care appealing (and please remember that the only money the government has, it gets from you) then, having given them control of the purse-strings, you have given them control of your health and your body. It might be wise to keep the Japanese in mind.

Certainly a part of this is the current “fad” of deep concern about obesity, in the media. When the buzz reaches a certain level, bureaucracies feel they must “do something”. And that, too, is a problem.

“A free society, if it is to remain free, requires citizens who take the risk of standing up to be counted, on the issues of the day.”

~Walter Wriston

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