American Elephants

Yoo Hoo, President Obama: by The Elephant's Child


A Small Victory Against the Encroaching Nanny State by The Elephant's Child

A New York State Appeals Court has ruled that Mayor Bloomberg’s New York City plan to ban large sugary drinks from restaurants and other eateries was an illegal overreach of executive power, upholding a lower court decision in March that struck down the law.

The law would have prohibited those businesses from selling sodas or any other large sugary beverage larger than 16 ounces. The law “violated the state principle of separation of powers” the Appellate Division said in a unanimous decision.

Mayor Bloomberg had advanced the regulation to combat obesity among city residents. Beverage makers and business groups challenged it in court. Good for them. It’s not Mayor Bloomberg’s business.

Free People or Nanny Government? by The Elephant's Child

For all the talk about civility and bipartisanship, and media admiration for the  phenomenon, there is a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon between the parties.  President Obama made that clear in his State of the Union speech last night.

The President does not believe in the free market.  He believes that the market needs the intervention and control of government in order to function most effectively.  Government will promote innovation.  Government will choose which industries should succeed and which are undeserving. And government can best decide what products should be made by American industry.  Perhaps that is why all the GE Volts are being bought by either GE or the Government.

It is true.  The free market requires trusting that ordinary Americans are capable of innovation, that they are capable of producing world-class products, and high-tech products without government direction.  If your basic belief is that you and your friends are brighter and more capable than ordinary people because you went to the right school, or because you won an election, or won a prize, then it may seem that those bitter clingers need your help.

But neither Orville nor Wilbur Wright had a pilot’s license.  Bill Gates was a college dropout, as was Mark Zuckerberg.  And what government would have thought that a social network was needed?  President Obama wants to reinvent himself as business friendly, but his idea of being friendly to business means government subsidies, corporate-government cooperation and less competition.

The ideal is apparently Jeffrey Immelt’s General Electric.  Subsidies are GE’s lifeblood.  In his op-ed announcing his appointment (as chairman of Obama’s jobs commission), Immelt called for a “coordinated commitment among business, labor and government,” and wrote that “government should incentivize …investment in innovation.” He advocated “partnership between business and government on education and innovation in area where America can lead, such as clean energy, are essential to sustainable growth.”

Sure enough, wherever Obama has led, GE has followed. Obama has championed cap and trade in greenhouse gasses, and GE has started a business dedicated to creating and trading greenhouse gas credits. As Obama expanded subsidies on embryonic stem cells, GE opened an embryonic stem-cell business. Obama pushed rail subsidies, and GE hired Linda Daschle — wife of Obama confidant Tom Daschle — as a rail lobbyist. GE, with its windmills, its high-tech batteries, its health care equipment, and its smart meters, was the biggest beneficiary of Obama’s stimulus.

To get these gears in sync isn’t cheap: The company has spent $65.7 million on lobbying during the Obama administration — more than any other company by far. So much for Obama’s war on lobbyists.

For much of the media, the nuances will be lost: You’re either pro-business or anti-business. But the distinction is crucial between making a profit through subsidy, regulation, and bailouts on one hand, and competition and innovation on the other hand. The latter creates wealth. The former consumes it.

Europeans, and what we have come to call the left, have always been suspicious of ordinary people. They were accustomed to monarchs and Czars and a nobility that ruled over the common people.  They referred to “the masses,” the” bourgeoisie”, the “common people” who needed direction and control.  You would think that 235 years of success and invention and innovation would teach the nannies something about what works and what doesn’t.

You would think that the lessons of Spain’s disastrous flirtation with green energy and green jobs, and Germany’s experience with solar energy, and Denmark’s romance with wind would make some impression, but such is not the case.

Innovation and invention are the result of free people set free to do what they strive to do.   Some will fail, but free people learn from their mistakes, and do better the next time.  But some will succeed beyond their wildest dreams.  It takes an amazing amount of arrogance to think that you can direct the lives of 310 million free people  better than they can themselves.  But then arrogance is not in short supply.

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