American Elephants

Parables About Property” by The Elephant's Child
December 26, 2010, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Taxes | Tags: , ,

This brief fictional exchange took place at a blog called Easy Opinions, titled “Property and Pigs.”

Official:  I see that you have a large income. We need more of it.

Mike:  I work legally for my income and I pay 35% at the top tax rate. Isn’t that enough?

Official:  The economy is bad now. We need to take your money and pay other people. They will spend it and improve the economy.

Mike:  Why do you think the economy will improve?

Official:  10 years ago the top rate was 39.6% and the economy was good.

Mike:  Those things aren’t related. How would higher tax rates produce a growing economy?

Official:  I don’t have time to discuss philosophy with you. You have the money. We want the money.

The pigs part is included in the same post, and titled How to Catch Wild Pigs.Don’t miss it.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Lots of Talk, Little Action. by The Elephant's Child
April 28, 2010, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Economic freedom helps to create jobs.  For over a decade, the Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation have tracked the march of economic freedom around the world with the Index of Economic Freedom. Now there is more evidence from a state-level study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.  The authors state:

Our results suggest that policy-makers concerned with employment should seriously consider the degree to which their own labor market policies, as well as those of the national government, may be limiting economic growth and development in their respective states.

Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his own labor and property.  In a society that is economically free, individuals are free to work, produce, consume and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state, but unconstrained by the state.

In economically free states, governments allow labor, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.                                          (click to enlarge)

The stimulus was supposed to bring back the jobs and keep unemployment below 8.8 percent. The reality is something quite different.   Long- term unemployment has been growing significantly, and the stimulus bill and other “job bills” didn’t change the trend.  There are another 5.8 million  workers who want employment but are excluded from BLS unemployment statistics.

Texas significantly continues to outperform the rest of the American economy, especially California.  The reasons can be summed up in three little words:  unions, taxes and spending. The role of unions, particularly public unions is huge in California.  Texas has a relatively low rate of unionization — about a third of Californias.

Texas has had a good long run of small-government, low-tax conservatism.  Texas has a trillion-dollar economy that would make it the 15th largest national economy in the world if it were a country.  By one estimate, 70 percent of the new jobs created in the United States in 2008 were created in Texas.  That’s economic freedom, and it works.

The Obama administration had spent lots of words on job creation, but the legislation passed has favored unions, higher taxes, and lots of spending.  For example, the Democrats’ student-loan “reform” which was tacked onto the health-care reconciliation bill caused student lender Sallie Mae to close a call center in Killeen, Texas, eliminating 500 jobs.

The health-care bill itself will eliminate many jobs.  Higher taxes, higher premium costs, an ineffective small business credit, and the high cost of complying with health care regulations will hinder growth of small business and make increased hiring unlikely.

The inclination and beliefs of the administration lean toward big government.   Few in the administration have any significant experience in the business world, and they do not grasp the fact that government jobs are just another drain on the pocketbook of taxpayers.  They are jobs, but it simply doesn’t count as job growth.

Try explaining that to a Democrat.

Capital, Taxes, Regulation and Consequences, and Oh Yes, Jobs. by The Elephant's Child
April 13, 2010, 12:26 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, Taxes | Tags: , ,

Walter Wriston, former chairman of CitiCorp, was among the most innovative financiers of our time, and among the first to recognize the tumultuous changes reshaping the world in the information  technology revolution. He said, in his 1992 book The Twilight of Sovereignty, that:

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 governmental power
can restrain it for long.

Walter Wriston is talking about consequences.  Legislatures often think that they can raise taxes at will, impose mandates and regulations, and nothing will change  except that more money will flow in.  A Democratic Congress, fondly remembering FDR, is  sure that raising taxes is no big deal because under Roosevelt the top marginal tax rate was 94 percent on all income over $200,000, and we got along with that, didn’t we?

Companies are exiting California, and the same is true for other high-tax states.  Doctors are leaving Massachusetts where mandates and restrictions take both pleasure and profit out of their work.   When the business climate turns sour, sensible businessmen go where the climate is better and there is opportunity. When ObamaCare enacts a tax on companies that manufacture medical equipment that  makes it impossible for that business to make a profit, that business will probably look for a way to manufacture in a location where costs are lower, often overseas. Capital will go where it is wanted, and stay where it is well treated.

The farmer in a rural area who always depended on a buyer who traveled through the region, with the availability of a telephone can learn about prices in the city, in the country, and is no longer dependent.  The politician, who once was protected by his dignity and his office, now finds that his words and actions can be captured and exposed on YouTube and in his opponent’s campaign commercials almost overnight. When people have more information, they can act on it.

ObamaCare is built on a house of cards.  It takes hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicare to fund ObamaCare, then claims that those cuts will make Medicare more solvent, even though the money “saved” will be spent on ObamaCare instead of being used to close the gap between income and outgo in Medicare.  It is largely a sleight of hand arrangement that spends the same money more than once.  Voters who are becoming informed increasingly are demanding repeal.  50 percent of likely voters “strongly” support repealing ObamaCare, 58 percent support repeal, while only 32 percent “strongly” disagree.

Information matters.  It changes the world. That is one reason why so much regarding politics and taxation takes place in back rooms.  They don’t want you to be informed — even if they talk about “transparency.”

The Monstrous Mess of ObamaCare. by The Elephant's Child
December 14, 2009, 2:27 am
Filed under: Economy, Freedom, Health Care, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Health-care reform.  Someone on the left actually said that Democrats have to pass something so that Obama has an accomplishment for the State of the Union speech. Is that really what  this is all about?

Voters oppose the bill by 52% to 38%, and President Obama’s handling gets even more of a thumbs down, with 56% disapproving.  By 71% to 21%, voters don’t think universal coverage is worth lower quality of care. 66% believe that free market competition would do a better job of reducing costs.

The bill being debated by the Senate is a monstrous mess. It will raise the cost of medical care for everyone. It will reduce the quality of care. You will lose your private health care coverage.  And it will leave 24 million people still uninsured.

A family earning $54,000 a year, buying a nationwide Blue Cross/ Blue Shield policy through FEHBP (Federal Employees Health Benefit Program) would pay monthly premiums over $825 after a $10,100 government subsidy.

Everything promised:  insure the uninsured, reduce the deficit, improve the quality of care, ” if you like your plan you can keep it”, reduce the amount you pay for your health care, reduce the rapid increase in costs and “you can keep the coverage from your employer”.  All a lie.

They will eliminate the government option, and allow people to “buy into”Medicare early at 55 or 60. [Another way to get you under government control]  An individual, age 55 could buy into Medicare for only $7,600 or $15,200 for a couple.

Robert Tracinski describes the three disastrous provisions in the Reid/Baucus/Obama health-care bill:

Guaranteed Issue — requires insurance companies to offer coverage to people who are already sick, and limits companies’ ability to charge higher rates for customers who pose a higher risk.  This means that everyone’s premiums will rise sharply.   Young healthy people would quickly realize that there was no point in buying insurance and paying high premiums until they got sick.

Individual Mandate — The fix for guaranteed issue is to require everyone to buy insurance or pay a tax set at $750.  This is a tax for existing.  Cheaper to pay the tax, and continue to refuse to buy insurance than to buy it.  So prison is an option.

All New Policies Are Part of a Government Controlled “Exchange” — This is designed to eliminate low-cost plans like owning a catastrophic care policy along with a Health Savings Account.  Under the guise of making insurance more affordable, insurance will be restricted to the most expensive options.

As Tracinski says:

That is the final and perhaps most compelling reason to kill this bill: the sheer arrogance of the whole enterprise. It is the arrogance of stampeding an unwilling public toward a monstrous 2,000-page piece of legislation while admitting that it still has huge problems, but promising that it will all somehow be fixed later on. It’s the arrogance of selling us a bill that expands government spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while telling us that it will reduce the deficit. It is the sheer unmitigated gall of appointing a bureaucrat to run a government-controlled insurance market that takes away all of our health choices-and then calling this bureaucrat the Health Choices Commissioner.

The Democrat leadership is determined to pass something, which they will “fix” later.  They will use every trick in the book to make it happen.

You need to let them hear from you.  The National Center for Policy Analysis and the Salem Radio Network have made an opportunity for you to call your senators and representatives toll-free.

Please take advantage of it!

American Voters Are Very Angry at the Federal Government. by The Elephant's Child

Rasmussen Reports that 71 percent of Americans are Angry at the federal government.  That figure includes 46 percent who are Very Angry.

The latest national telephone survey finds that only 27 percent are Not Angry about the government’s policies, including 10 percent who are Not at All Angry.

Men are angrier than women.  Voters over 40 are more angry than those who are younger.  A majority of those over 40 are Very Angry.  Only 25 percent of under-30 voters share that view.  And the data suggests that the level of anger is growing.  The 46 percent who are Very Angry is up 10 percentage points since September.

Only nine percent of voters trust the judgment of America’s political leaders more than the judgment of the American people.  Americans now view being a member of Congress as the least respected job one can hold.  Ouch!

Well, polls come and go, but if I were a member of Congress debating the health care bills now being considered, these polling results might just make me stop and think — or then again, maybe not.   And that might be the very reason why voters are so very, very angry.

There is a Time for Care, a Time for Caution and a Time for Careful Deliberation. by The Elephant's Child
July 23, 2009, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Economy, Health Care | Tags: , ,

Let’s talk some very basic common sense.  Our health care system represents 17 percent of our national economy.  It will affect the quality of the lives of every one of our citizens to some extent, and for many it will mean life or death.

We currently have the best health care system in the world.  Anyone can go to an emergency room and receive treatment,  no one is refused. Our outcomes for the serious stuff are the best in the world.   People from all over the world come here for specialized care that they cannot get in their own countries, including heads of state, who surely could get the very best care their own countries have to offer.

The problems?   Not what they are claimed to be.  The biggest problem is that the vast baby-boom generation will, in a very few years, begin to turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare. The peak year of the baby-boom does not even arrive until 2024.  Medicare is running out of funds.  Oddly enough, the health care plans on the table in the House and the Senate do not address this problem, except to cut reimbursement for doctors and hospitals, insuring that fewer doctors will accept Medicare patients.

But the Uninsured — 47 million uninsured?  According to Dr. John Dale Dunn, the cost of uninsured care in the United States is less than $50 billion, or less than 2 percent of the total cost of American health care.  Emergency care is well less than 5 percent of the total cost of health care. Not a crisis.

Why would a handful of people, who for the most part have never run anything, feel themselves competent to rearrange 17 percent of the American economy and assume control over the health insurance of 300 million Americans — health insurance that they assiduously avoid using themselves?

Such a program, such a plan, involving so many lives, so deeply, surely demands long, slow careful deliberation.

It requires lengthy debate.  Claims must be investigated, statistics must be checked.  We must hear from doctors and nurses, from insurance providers, from pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies and from the manufacturers of medical equipment.  Public and private hospitals and clinics need to offer their expertise. Is the aim to create the best health insurance and the best health care; or only to push the Democrats quickie version before anyone can find out what it prescribes.

Nobody wants any deliberation! Don’t learn about the rules and regulations in this over 1000 page stack of unfinished documents that have been passed out of committee.  Nobody needs to read or question the contents. Pay no attention.  Never mind. We have not a moment to waste.  It must be passed quickly in just a couple of weeks.

There is a history of government efforts to control health insurance and health care.  It’s not a pretty story.

President Obama had a press conference on national television last night.  Both the Associated Press and the New York Times (neither known to be Obama opponents) felt it necessary to fact check Obama’s statements.  That wasn’t pretty either.

Nancy Pelosi smiled at the camera and said “We will have a cap on costs.  And we will have no cap on benefits.” Even the economically illiterate must recognize the absolute absurdity of that statement.  And I think she actually means it.

Deliberation and caution are not partisan issues. There is no need for haste that is legitimate.  Bullying, buying off opponents, demanding, forcing, lying, misstating are not the way to accomplish serious policies.

It’s time for Congress to recognize the need for slow, deliberate debate and consideration, for that is in their self-interest as well.  We will hold them accountable.

Leftists Indulge in Wishful Thinking. We Get to Pay For It! by The Elephant's Child

Remember all the fuss about stem cells? Candidate Obama was going to restore science to its rightful place in the wake of the dreadful Bush administration which was apparently completely unfamiliar with science or the scientific method. Embryonic stem cells, freed from the religious fundamentalism of the Bushies, would cure diseases, allow the lame to walk and provide scientific honors for those who engaged in federally funded embryonic stem cell research, as well as endless riches for those who developed the wondrous new treatments. President Obama quickly lifted the ban that limited federally funded research to existing lines of cells. (Please note, there was no ban on research).

Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health, was once an embryonic stem cell enthusiast. She now calls such research “obsolete.” Medical-research insiders know that embryonic stem cell technology is proving to be a dead end. Senator Arlen Specter, (D-PA) said the research “has the most remarkable potential of any scientific discovery ever made with respect to human health.” That statement gives an idea of the enthusiasm. Remarkable potential indeed. Real results were another thing.

First of all, there is the rejection problem. Your body naturally fights off foreign cells, even ones that might help. So cell recipients must permanently use imunosuppresive drugs, which are dangerous themselves. Then there is the unpleasant tendency of ES cells to become cancerous or to form teratomas — tumors that can grow larger than a football and contain hair or teeth.

The problem of rejection may someday be solved, but University of Wisconsin scientist James Thomson, who created the first human ES-cell line, says that treatments and cures could be decades away.

Adult stem cells do not have the problem of rejection, for they come from the patient’s own body.  They have treated scores of illnesses including many cancers, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, immunodeficiency disorders, neural degenerative diseases, anemia and other blood disorders.  They have been used in over 2,000 clinical trials.  No uncomfortable moral questions, just cautious, responsible science.

Although it was long thought that only embryonic cells could become pluripotent, researchers in 2006,  led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Japan’s Kyoto University, were able to reprogram human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells.

Several states now fund embryonic stem cell research.  Dead broke California  created a $3 billion research effort with their Proposition 7, and other states such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut also fund the research, which may be a dead end.  Federal funds are flowing.

We’re investing a remarkable amount of money in things that are supported by enthusiasm rather than science.  Liberals have always been utopians,  attached to a romantic view of  policy: ending climate change, stopping the seas from rising, powering the world with the wind and the sun, curing disease and injury with embryonic stem cells.  It’s not going to happen.   But they always want the rest of us to support their flights of fancy with our taxpayer dollars.

And if their romantic policies don’t work?  They cannot  fail, it’s just that they did not appropriate enough money.

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