American Elephants


Water,water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. by The Elephant's Child

Sustainability is identified as the code word for eco-friendly policies, lower industrial production, lower personal consumption, economic equality and other measures of global “social justice.” City mayors and City Councils all over the country have been recruited by ICLEI– Local Governments for Sustainability.  Originally called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives — hence the acronym — the group is the product of a United Nations conference:  The UN World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future.  That conference, held in New York City in 1990 brought together delegates from 200 local governments and 43 countries.  They were united by a belief that cities do not need to wait  for national governments before taking action on global climate issues. (And the chance for a free trip to a conference and a chance for some good shopping as well).

Ambitious local politicians around the world are using ICLEI as an international platform that allows them to build their careers and quickly network with one another on environmental issues.  The international organization is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and has 150 staff located in 11 offices worldwide.  (www.iclei-usa.org)

The Capital Research Center has done marvelous work in explaining the “wonders” of ICLEI and their vision of sustainability.  Seattle’s mayor Greg Nickels is the poster child of mayors who have bought into the ICLEI vision.

A 20 cent green tax on paper and plastic shopping bags as well as a ban on foam containers goes into effect on January 1, 2009. He recently shut down a couple of streets to keep people from driving.  The Parks Commission is planning to ban beach fires to prevent their contribution to global warming.  Utility ratepayers are encouraged to pay a little more on their electric bill every month — a “green” premium — to allow the city to “invest in” solar power pilot projects (Solar?  We can go months here without ever seeing the sun!).

Forbes Magazine ranked Seattle the “Most Overpriced City” in 2004 and 2005.  In 2008 Forbes called Seattle “America’s Most Increasingly Unaffordable City.”  The inflation rate at that time was 5.8%, the highest in the U.S.

At the prompting of ICLEI, and environmental activists,  bottled water is being banned by cities all over the country.  Ann Arbor, Albuquerque, Suffolk County NY, Takoma Park MD, San Francisco and  Salt Lake City.  The City of Chicago has used the trend as an excuse to levy a new tax of five cents per bottle of water regardless of size.  Washington State is looking into a statewide anti-bottled water law.  The proposed law would ban the sale of petroleum-based water bottles as well as prohibit state agencies from buying such products.  To top off the insanity, the bill imposes fines for the sale of petroleum-based bottles at $250 per day!

The website www.enjoybottledwater.org explores the depths and complete nuttiness of environmental water nannies.   Bottled water has been essential to saving lives in disasters large and small across the world. It is essential for firemen, necessary at athletic events, and useful for people on the road.

In June, 2008, the nation’ s mayors passed a resolution on bottled water resolving that:

The Conference of Mayors encourages cities to phase out, where feasible, government use of bottled water and promote the importance of municipal water.

Last year Seattle and Seattle suburbs were arguing over new sources for municipal water because of the danger of insufficient supplies. Then there is the constant chlorine contretemps which is why many people turn to bottled water, and of course the ferocious fluoride fuss.

If you are really interested in food police, a visit to Activist Cash to investigate the Center for Science in  the Public Interest which sounds like a wholesome group, is highly worthwhile.  It’s founder, Michael Jacobson argues that people can’t be trusted to make wise and healthful decisions on their own. “People tend to eat most healthily during hard times,” Jacobson has argued.  “Heart disease plummeted in Holland and Denmark during the most severe food shortages of World War II.  Records of English manors in the 1600s reveal that the peasantry feasted on perhaps a pound of bread, a spud, and a couple of carrots per day.”  And that, to Jacobson, is “basically a wonderfully healthy diet.”

So there you go.  Environmental activists want to control the water you drink and what you drink it out of, the food you eat, what kind of Christmas tree you buy and what you do with it when you are done with it, and then they want to control the big stuff too.

They want you to drive an electric car.  They want you to use only wind and solar power which will not produce enough electricity to maintain your lifestyle or keep your house warm. They want to ban all fossil fuel use, and keep all natural resources where they ‘naturally’ belong — still in the ground.  They would prefer that you do not reproduce, for they believe the world has too many people, and they are reasonably unconcerned about other people dying.  They want to do all this in the name of saving the planet from vastly over-hyped global warming that scientific observation suggests is a natural process of warming and cooling that has been going on for centuries.

Environmental activists are not particularly interested in the environment.  They care about control.  They care about eliminating capitalism and freedom, in some vague hope of a socialist utopia to come.



Bush and McCain each tried to reform Fannie Mae. Democrats Blocked them both times. by The Elephant's Child

First from the New York Times: Note the date!

September 11, 2003– The Bush Administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry,

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies.  It would exercise authority over any new lines of business.  And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt — is broken.  A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.

Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

From the Congressional Record: Again, Note the Date!

FEDERAL HOUSING ENTERPRISE REGULATOR REFORM ACT OF 2005
The United States Senate, May 25, 2006

Sen. John McCain [R-AZ]:  Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were “illusions deliberately and systematically created” by the company’s senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight Oversight’s report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives.  In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s former chief executive officer, OFHEO’s report shows that over half of Mr. Raines’ compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets.  The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac. …

For Years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs— and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market.  OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns.  In fact, the report does quite the contrary.  OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

Democrats blocked both attempts to reform Fannie Mae.

Thanks to Sweetness &Light which has printed these two articles in full.

Barack Obama is out trying to blame this all on the Bush Administration, as usual, and scare people as much as he can, — so that he can promise to “rescue” them.  But his solutions are the worst possible, and his speeches are irresponsible.

First Trust economists note that:

The most important thing to remember is that the emphasis belongs on the word financial. These financial market problems are not a result of general market weakness, otherwise known as a recession.  In fact, real GDP has grown 2.2% in the past year and accelerated to a 3.3% annualized growth rate in the second quarter.

The economy is not taking down investment banks; lousy lending standards and the excessive use of leverage are taking down investment banks.

This whole thing had its’ beginnings in a well-intentioned law during the Carter Administration, The Community Redevelopment Act, which was designed to encourage minority homeownership.  President Clinton, influenced by multiculturalism, encouraged it further by dictating where mortgage lenders could lend.  Tough new regulations required that lenders increase their lending in high-risk areas where they had no choice but to lower lending standards to make loans that sound business practices had previously rejected.  Clinton cronies Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorelick became multimillionaires through their supervision of the quasi-governmental agencies that came to manage the real estate market in America.

Low interest rates in the marketplace persuaded Investment banks to purchase packages of sub-prime loans, and risky decisions and a little greed, of course, let them use too much leverage.

This is not the first time that Investment Banks have failed and disappeared. E.F. Hutton, Goodbody & Company, and Kidder Peabody are three of the vanished.  Today’s Investment Banks did not do anything against the law, they just exercised bad business judgment.

Unemployment in the economy is largely confined to the housing crisis with home builders and related trades suffering, as well as the auto industry and related trades and now there will be some investment bankers on the unemployment line.

They are in trouble because they are affected by unfortunate laws made by a Congress that does not always understand what they do. Remember that most congressmen never read the bills that they sign. Congress has long been inclined to well-intentioned regulation to help the poor and save the planet.  They fall in love with the goals, and never consider or learn about the consequences of what they do.

It seems kind to help a poor family get into a house larger than they can really afford, with less of a down payment, but it isn’t really kind.  Kindness would be helping them to learn how to work hard and save their money, and how to move up to better jobs. Government can make it easier for private industry to build smaller, more affordable houses, without telling them what kind of houses to build, where to build them and under what qualifications to sell them.

The great problem with Socialism is their pursuit of “social justice”.  They believe that they can make the poor — not poor — by taking money from the well-to-do and giving it to the poor.  Never works.  Though there is extraordinary mobility in our society, those who are induced into dependency on government are inclined to lose that mobility.

Barack Obama, in all his economic plans, is extraordinarily invested in the pursuit of “social justice”. That should be a serious warning.




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