American Elephants

What Precisely IS Social Justice? by The Elephant's Child

Justice is what is embodied in our Constitution and our body of law, as it is administered by the courts. Calling redistribution of wealth “justice” is a little hard to take. May be a rallying cry for the self-interested (who did you think was going to do the redistributing?)

The people (Progressives) who shout the loudest about “social Justice” are those who want to be in charge, and have no interest or intention in having their wealth redistributed. They want to feel virtuous by taking the wealth of the rich and giving it to the poor. How about a world in which we try to improve conditions for all, which is what we have been doing successfully for several hundred years, or did you think that the world’s dictators had a better idea?

You Want Social Justice? Who Decides Who Gets What? by The Elephant's Child


Funny how some things in common parlance become so common that we really don’t pay attention to them any more. The protesters in some  cities across the country claimed to be protesting for “justice” for Michael Brown. Justice is a matter of our nation’s laws and the Constitution, as determined  in this case by a Grand Jury investigation, which was conducted at length according to the law. The results of the labors of the jury are justice.

What the protesters were demanding was, instead,”social justice.” Social Justice is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “justice in the form of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privilege within a society.” There’s the rub. We are not talking, as the Declaration of Independence states, of the equal opportunity to pursue Liberty and Happiness — but of an equal outcome.

The Urban Dictionary defines social justice as:

Promoting tolerance, freedom, and equality for all people regardless of race, sex, orientation, national origin, handicap, etc… except for white, straight, cisgendered males. Fuck those guys, they’re overprivileged no matter what. “In the name of social justice, check your privilege.”

Same source, second definition:

Mob violence, usually associated with a victim group.
1969 Stonewall riots.
1992 LA riots.

Mostly the term is undefined, but it sounds good doesn’t it? The academics who used to have to teach at least 15 hours a semester now have a lot more free time, and the faculty lounge is afloat with theory. The distribution of advantages and disadvantages in society. This supposes that there is some normal state to which everything must be distributed to make things fair and equal.

The word equal, in English, is derived from the word equitable, suggesting fairness, but what is fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal, but what is proportionate to the efforts of each.  In France, on the other hand, the word is Égalité which means the “equals sign.” What is on one side must be equal to that which is on the other side. This is very different from the English idea of “equitable.”

Social justice is often associated with the idea of the “common good.” Which brings up some questions. Who decides what is fair? Who determines what is equal? Who decides what must be distributed from who and to whom? If these questions are turned over to the government, as the idea of “the common good” would suggest — because who else is going to do it — then you’ve got trouble, or more accurately Socialism, Communism, Dictatorship, Tyranny in one form or another. Giving someone or some group the power to decide, and once decided, it must  be enforced, and there you go.

Free Market Capitalism does not promise equal outcomes, only the opportunity to do with your life what you choose to do, or what you can do with the opportunities you find. We have  plenty of  examples of those who have been born into poverty, and the ghetto and who rise through hard work and determination to the very highest levels of society. You can probably come up with a list easily. And we are a society with a lot of empathy and compassion and arrange to help those who are in need of help. Americans are the most generous people on Earth.

That said, I don’t get the envy part. Isn’t life a struggle with yourself to see what you can make of it? Is life suddenly made wonderful if you win the lottery? The stories of those who did suggest that it doesn’t work out so well. What makes life good is not the material things you are given, but what you accomplish with what you’ve got in your own determination and character.

Inequality, Hypocrisy, Pretense, Lies, and Politics of Course. by The Elephant's Child

The Democratic Party has made it clear that they are planning to run on “Income Inequality” in the 2014 midterm election. Liberal Washington Post writer Greg Sargent has suggested that this strategy is part of the reason for Harry Reid’s embarrassing war on the Koch brothers.

When all else fails, you rely on “class warfare.” Otherwise defined as “envy,” one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Liberals’ ideas about income inequality always involve higher taxes on the rich, and more government benefits for the poor. Most of the people who are currently suffering from income inequality would prefer to have a decent job. After six years Obama’s policies still aren’t  creating jobs.

The number of long-term unemployed increased by 203,000 — at the same time that Obama brags about total non-farm payroll employment increasing by 175,000 —  you see the problem. The labor force participation rate remains at only 63 percent, a level not seen since the stagflation of the 1970s, and well below the rate when President Obama took office.

Where is Income Inequality the greatest? The gap between the wealthy and the poor is most extreme in several of the United States’ most prosperous and largest cities. The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are significantly greater than the national average.

The one city that has hardly noticed a recession is Washington D.C.  There is plenty of income inequality, but more than half the members of Congress are millionaires. Members have long been  far wealthier than the typical American, but now a majority of members are, for the first time — millionaires.

So, if almost everybody is a millionaire, and Harry Reid certainly is, why is he at war with the Koch brothers? Liberal politics is seldom about what it claims to be about. The war on the Koch brothers is about discouraging any wealthy American from donating to the Republican party. That is what the IRS scandal is largely about — if you donate to the hated Republicans, we will attack you and make your name a poison among right-thinking people.

Democrats, on the other hand, are bountifully financed — contrary to all claims of thousands of small donations from regular folks — by the Democracy Alliance, a shadowy non-profit, self-described “liberal organization” which serves as a funding clearinghouse for progressive groups. DA members, called “partners,” include individuals and organizations alike. Partnership is by invitation only. There originally was an initial $25,000 fee, and $30,000 yearly dues thereafter. They must give at least $200,000 to groups which the Alliance endorses. There are at least 100 donor-partners. Members and staff have been working to establish subchapters in all 50 states.

There’s George Soros; Taco Bell heir Robert McKay; Tides Foundation founder Drummond Pike; Golden West Financial Corp. founders Herb and Marion Sandler; the AFL-CIO; Television producer Normal Lear; Progressive Insurance Co Chairman, Peter Lewis — for a sampling of partners. So you can see why attacking the philanthropic Koch brothers is so important. And why President Obama’s  IRS has gone to such lengths to illegally discourage donors to the Republicans with audits, searches and questionable investigations.

The man who professes solidarity with the poor has seen poverty increase every year of his presidency. His supporters and bundlers grow richer on government contracts, subsidies or grants to “green” start-ups that promptly go bankrupt. He claims to care deeply about the future of poor black children, yet teacher’s union opposition to charter schools trumps the most successful route to success for poor black kids. Charter schools have produced markedly better test scores than traditional public schools.

Inequality is no barrier to growth. There are no negative macroeconomic effects of inequality. We need to grow the ranks of working adults and shrink the rolls of those dependent on government.

The President’s latest big idea is “manufacturing hubs”— the first has been in operation in a once-abandoned furniture warehouse in Youngstown, Ohio. This  first in a series of ‘America Makes‘ operations is supposed to ensure “a steady stream of good jobs” into the 21st century. The focus is Three-D printers. The problem is that once they are programmed and loaded with raw materials, they work their magic with not a single human hand. If they are ever widely adopted, the main reason will be that they use less labor than traditional manufacturing.

Typical, typical, typical. The “ruling class” who are supposed to be ever so much smarter than any of us, have not, as usual, done their homework. Oh, they have some statistics, and some studies — but they are missing plain old common sense. So busy congratulating themselves on their brilliance, they have no understanding of how the world works; and the people they disdain as dumb, and needing job training, and food stamps, and welfare, and handouts, need government to get out of the way and give them a chance. Here’s the sleek new workplace of the future with an ever-declining need for workers. Go figure.

3D printers of all shapes and sizes fill the studios at America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio

Can Inequality Be Fixed? Can There Be Social Justice? by The Elephant's Child

The current theme of the Democrats seems to be “Inequality.” Or “Social Justice” if you prefer. They speak of a growing gap between the very rich and ordinary folk, with the insinuation that anyone who gets very rich must have been unjust in their accumulation of wealth. Certainly this has been a major theme for Barack Obama. He spoke of redistribution even farther back than his famed encounter with Joe the Plumber. Michelle Obama spoke on the campaign trail of coercive redistribution of wealth, and the basic unfairness of America.

I have trouble with the concept of ‘social justice’— for the definition seems to vary from equality of opportunity, equal ability to develop one’s human potential, to the idea that society should treat all equally well who deserve being treated equally.

The gap between our IT billionaires and the poor is measured and remeasured.  We have had successful products in the past, but never before a product that is required by every person in every business and even in the poorest homes. Of course those who came up with new products, the applications and the updates and the new improved versions were going to be rewarded with fabulous wealth. Does the life of a poor person become worse because a new product enters the world? Is it somehow unfair that someone had the ideas and skills to develop those products is rewarded for so doing? How is this in any way— unjust?

If we must redistribute wealth to be just, how much do we have to redistribute? How much do we have to take away from the rich man to give to the poor man? Barack Obama promised “change” and millions of black Americans were sure that meant that their situation in life would improve. He has vigorously promoted redistribution of wealth for 4½ years, and the welfare of poor black Americans has steadily declined. The unemployment rate for black young people is a staggering 60%. The president wants to raise the minimum wage, but statistics show that will increase the unemployment rate for beginning workers, not help them.

Creating jobs for the unemployed is not what the redistributionists have in mind, however. What they have in mind is more welfare, and making the poor more dependent on government largesse. If they depend on government and their politicians for their food and housing, their health care, welfare and social services, they are very likely to vote for those who make the largesse available. The object is not “social justice” or “equality” but power for those who distribute the welfare.

It’s Not a Health Policy. It’s Redistribution of Wealth. by The Elephant's Child

ObamaCare is meant not as a health policy, but as a mechanism for redistribution of wealth, created in the guise of medical insurance. By insisting that people pay for what they do not need, it is in effect a mandated policy imposed on the young and healthy, who are asked to pay big bucks for things they don’t need, to cover the costs of older people on the exchanges whose medical needs they will be paying for.

That is the big secret behind the cancellation letters people are receiving, and why people who get policies through their employers will find the firms they work for dropping their policies and forcing them into the exchanges as well. It was meant to do exactly that, because otherwise the whole program would collapse.

Ronald Radosh quotes a Facebook post from University of Chicago political scientist Charles Lipson who explains its meaning:

Why do I keep emphasizing the fundamental problems with Obamacare? Not just because I think it is a full-scale public policy shambles, the worst domestic policy mistake since high-rise public housing. Not just because I think the President either didn’t understand his own signature achievement or else he deliberately deceived the public when he said you could keep your policy and your doctor. Not just because the same problems that affect individual insurance policies will swamp group plans next year. Not just because I think the President’s statement yesterday was lawless when he said he would simply ignore the ACA’s specific provisions. (What happened to his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the laws?) All these are indicia of a deeper problem: Washington has become an overreaching Nanny State, run by smug elites who know better than ordinary people what we should do, think, buy, invade, or snoop on. This Nanny State is precisely the GOAL of this administration, sometimes nudging but more often simply ordering. It goes well beyond providing an essential safety net, which I favor. It starts to mandate more and more behavior, strip away the liberties of a free people, transfer wealth for the sake of distributional equity, and muddle headlong into complex markets with no understanding of the unintended consequences. That is EXACTLY what you are seeing with Obamacare. It raises the most fundamental questions about the country’s future–ultimately a choice between a European-style social democracy and an American-style central government of limited and specified powers.

This is Barack Obama’s “fundamental transformation of America” that was his goal. And how do you like it now?

Redistribution Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

This particular video is causing some outrage among the media wing of the Obama Campaign. “What’s the matter with redistribution” they ask plaintively? Redistribution is a good thing. How do you promote equality without redistributing wealth? Doesn’t the Constitution say that all men are supposed to be equal? Well, no it doesn’t. The Declaration of Independence declares that all men are created equal. What that promises is — equality of opportunity and equality before the law.

The Declaration is one of our founding documents, but “redistribution” is not in the Constitution or the Declaration.

The Left is always deeply concerned that some people are very wealthy while others are poor. It’s Not Fair they wail. Liberals are so concerned about the poor that that they are anxious to give them other people’s money. All that talk, which is particularly loud during campaign season, about classes, about the poor, about the 99 percent, about “the rich,”is designed to divide people into voting groups, promote envy, and win votes.

Liberals want to take money away from the wealthy and give it to the poor and permanently get the gratitude and votes of the poor. Much is made of the gap between the poorest and the wealthiest,with disdain and cries of it isn’t fair ringing over every dollar. Special enmity is reserved for anyone making big money on Wall Street or for Corporate CEOs. Oddly, no such disdain focuses on members of Congress who double dip, by after securing their retirement serve on multiple boards of directors or head foundations. Or, for that matter, members of Congress who unexpectedly manage to become multimillionaires on a bureaucrat’s salary.

The United States of America already has the most redistributive tax system in the world.

Liberals always want to move the poor into the middle class by giving the trappings of the middle class. You cannot take enough money away from the rich to give everyone a middle class life. There are those who need help, and that’s why we try to provide a safety net, and have done a pretty good job of it.

A few years back, Liberals decided to really go after the wealthy, and slapped on a luxury tax. It bit especially hard on yachts — big sailboats and motor cruisers. The wealthy just bought their boats in Bermuda, and the boat building industry was decimated, with job losses in the thousands.  States raise income taxes and property taxes on their wealthiest citizens, and the wealthy pack their bags and move to a more welcoming state. The housing that Liberals build for the poor, meant to move them into the middle class, turns into slums; and contractors get rich while doing shoddy work.

If you want to move the poor (who are only the bottom 20% of the income pie) into the middle class, you need to provide a growing economy that offers good jobs. A growing economy has great  mobility. Those who started out poor grow rich or at least richer, and some of the rich grow poorer. That has always been the nature of the American economy.

Most people would much rather have a decent job and be able to care for themselves and their families. Frightened people may depend more on government handouts. Encouraging dependence is not only unfair, but evil.

And about the notion of equality, go watch on YouTube:

2081 Universal Absurdity

A short film adaption of Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron. 2081 depicts a dystopian future in which, thanks to the 212th Amendment to the Constitution and the unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General, everyone is finally equal.

The strong wear weights, the beautiful wear masks, and the intelligent wear earpieces that fire off loud noises to keep them from taking unfair advantage of their brains.  It is a poetic tale of triumph and tragedy about a broken family, a brutal government, and an act of defiance that changes everything.

Nevermind the Economy, Obama Wants to Do Climate Change. by The Elephant's Child

According to Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker,” Obama has an ambitious second-term agenda. The President has said that the most important policy he could address in his second term is climate change” supposedly to “improve the world.” Huh?

I spoke about “tipping points” yesterday. I think we have had one in the great bubble called “climate change,” previously known as “global warming., now morphing into “sustainable development.” What has happened, of course, is the economic crisis. When governments are talking austerity and cutting back, wind and solar energy don’t meet any kind of cost-benefit analysis. They are costly, have never produced the energy promised, require constant backup from conventional power plants, and if government subsidies are withdrawn, they go out of business. Nobody can really afford subsidies now. Obama has not noticed.

China is still making solar panels for sale to the United States, but they have rejected wind and solar for their own use, and are instead planning more nuclear power plants, and  buying crude oil like crazy. We, on the other hand,  are dumping plans for the Keystone XL pipeline and its 20,000 jobs and shutting power plants.

Oh we still have plenty of warmists who believe firmly in anthropogenic global warming, and are sure that disaster waits just around the corner, but science is leaving them behind. The IPCC has lost credibility, and ‘green energy’ has been left behind in a swamp of scandals, with a world newly awash in plentiful oil and natural gas. IPCC Lead Author Ottmar Edenhofer admitted over a year ago that global warming was about redistributing the world’s wealth.

First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.

Rio+20 Earth Summit on Sustainable Development start in another week or so, and seems to have dissolved into a dysfunctional mess that generates nothing but endless meetings and reports. One of the key objectives of “sustainable development” was to kill off the fossil fuel industry.  Both Canada and the United States have become fossil fuel powerhouses. The world has changed, and the plaintive claims of “Peak Oil” which sustained the sustainable development movement have faded into history.  Peter Foster describes te beginnings in the Financial Post:

The phrase “sustainable development” first achieved wide currency as the result of the 1987 report of the United Nations’ Brundtland commission, a body of self-styled “eminent persons” who appointed themselves to prepare “a global agenda for change” in the face of the alleged “interlocking crises” of failing economic development and deteriorating environment.

Behind Brundtland’s seemingly reasonable definition of sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” lay the implication that free markets were unsustainable.

It has never been about the climate. Obama’s second term promise of improving the world by addressing climate change provides an excellent reason for denying him another term. Wind is too intermittent to be a successful source of energy, and the sun is too diffuse, problems that cannot be overcome by a new kind of rare earth or a new twist in windmills. Hydraulic fracturing has made shale deposits all over the world a plentiful source of energy. If we run out of that in a hundred years or so, we can start with  methane hydrates.

No president has ever spent money on climate change as Obama has. The CBO estimates that since 1998 $99 billion has been spent by 14 agencies on “climate change.”In poll after poll, since 2009 — climate change ranks deal last in public concerns, and the issue even failed among environmentalists.  Glaciers aren’t melting, the arctic isn’t melting, data has been fudged and climate change is rapidly being exposed as junk science. Obama hasn’t noticed.

The top concern for the public is the economy. Obama’s answer is to do more of the same. And he has apparently been so busy campaigning that he hasn’t noticed that climate change is not of interest to much of anyone. “Climate change” is no longer “sustainable.”

The Pitiful Occupy People’s Wealth Is Getting Redistributed! by The Elephant's Child

                                                                                photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman
The Occupy Wall Street crowd, Zuccotti Park chapter, are indignant!  Their wealth is getting redistributed.  Somebody is stealing their stuff, and they don’t like it one bit!  Their iPods and iPads and iPhones are getting ripped off by thieves in the night. Snort.  I find this endlessly amusing.

Gosh, here they are demanding that “the rich” give them their wealth so they don’t have to pay for their college loans and work at jobs they don’t like, and when their own wealth gets redistributed, they don’t grasp the hypocrisy at all.

They talk idealistically about their feeling of belonging, being part of a community— but don’t recognize that in the vast array of human nature, people aren’t perfect and some are real lemons.  “Community” in the idealistic sense, where  you all agree, is a fantasy and communitarian societies end up executing those who don’t toe the line.  There are lots of examples— the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, Cuba, North Korea and more. Proof?  More than One Hundred Million mass graves.

Well, the revolution is not arriving fast enough. They are not getting enough attention. They’re wondering if they should take on the World Series, streak on the field and demonstrate at the gates. There’s a reason why people find the Occupy “movement” pathetic, rather than inspiring. Life is hard, and we are incredibly fortunate to live in a country where freedom and opportunity are so readily available.

Sorry folks, there is no such thing as social justice. They lied about that too.

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