American Elephants


Where Is Your Congressman? by The Elephant's Child

No Town hall meetings?  Absent from office hours?  Just where is your Congressman?  They have a lot to answer for, and a lot to explain!

(h/t: The Foundry)



Who’s Extreme? by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: National Review)



The Great Obama Depression. by The Elephant's Child
July 2, 2010, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

President Obama gave a speech to a town hall meeting in Racine,  Wisconsin this week. Straw men, not his fault, economy recovering, Recovery Act working, Bush’s fault, Republicans won’t help, stimulus worked, more straw men, border more secure than ever, not his fault, more straw men.  Promoting the “merits” of his stimulus bill, President Obama said:

Now, every economist who’s looked at it said that the Recovery [Act] did its job…The problem is, number one, it’s hard to argue sometimes, “things could have been a lot worse. Right?  So people kind of say, “Yeah, but unemployment’s still at 9.6 percent.” Yes, but it’s not 12 or 13 or 15.  People say “Well, you know, the stock market didn’t fully recover.” Yeah, but it’s recovered more than people expected last year.  So part of the challenge in delivering this message about all the Recovery Act accomplished is that things are still tough, they just aren’t as bad as they could have been..  They could have been a catastrophe.  In that sense [the stimulus] worked.

New claims for jobless benefits jumped last month by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 472,000.  The number of people continuing to claim benefits rose by 43,000 to 9.6 million.  The number collecting extended benefits fell by 376,000. Since unemployment figures count only those actively seeking work, the real number is said to be around 17 percent.

“Unemployment’s still at 9.6 percent.
But it’s not 12 or 13 or 25.”

Every economist certainly did not say that the Recovery Act did its job. Alan Meltzer, professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon, said in the Wall Street Journal yesterday “The administration’s stimulus program has failed.” as innumerable other economists have said.  Even Keynesian economist Jeffrey Sachs said that the stimulus failed.

Allan Meltzer added that “The president, his friends and advisers talk endlessly about the circumstances they inherited as a way of avoiding responsibility for the 18 months for which they are responsible.  But they want new stimulus measures — which is convincing evidence that they too recognize that the earlier measures failed.”

Obama got somewhat of a chilly reception from world leaders at the G-20 summit over the past weekend when he pressed them to continue with spending to bolster the global economy. Many nations in Europe and elsewhere have had to grapple with their own debt crises, and have been forced to enact tough austerity measures.

In 1981, President Reagan reduced marginal and corporate tax rates and slowed the growth of nondefense spending.  Recovery began about a year later.  After 18 months, the economy grew more than 9% and continued to expand above trend rates. The administration economists neglected the longer-term  consequences of their actions.

Economist Larry Kudlow says:

The economic power of business is the missing link in the faux debate that is now raging over spending and deficit policies. A brief look at the recent jobs report for June tells this story. After spending more than $1 trillion through so-called government stimulus, we are at best experiencing a grinding and anemic jobs recovery. Private payrolls are growing slowly. The workweek is again shrinking. And average hourly earnings have declined. The unemployment rate dropped to 9.5 percent, but that’s because 650,000 people left the labor force.

The economic power of business is the missing link in the faux debate that is now raging over spending and deficit policies. A brief look at the recent jobs report for June tells this story. After spending more than $1 trillion through so-called government stimulus, we are at best experiencing a grinding and anemic jobs recovery. Private payrolls are growing slowly. The workweek is again shrinking. And average hourly earnings have declined. The unemployment rate dropped to 9.5 percent, but that’s because 650,000 people left the labor force.

So what about all this stimulus spending? Well, it hasn’t worked.

Business, in order to hire, plan for the future, increase spending, needs more than vague hope.  They need some kind of certainty.  Right now, everything is up in the air.  There’s a new health care law, how much will it cost business? Nobody knows.  Will the Bush tax-cuts be extended? Will Congress enact new taxes?  What is in the new Dodd-Frank bill’s 2000+ pages and how will it affect business?  What new regulations are going to be imposed? Cap-and-trade would  be an enormous cost on doing business, will it pass, and what will it mean to business?  Are we in for a double-dip recession? How can a business, hoping to make a profit in an economy where everyone is reluctant to buy, reluctant to spend, know what to do?

Misdiagnosis of the problem, and a lack of understanding of the possible remedies has made the problem far worse than it needed to be. The far left blames “capitalism” for most of the world’s problems, but “capitalism” is simply the name Marx gave to the free market.

Unemployment is the problem.  Yet most policies adopted by the Obama administration increase unemployment.  Slapping a heavy tax on makers of medical devices means lower employment in that industry.  Unnecessarily shutting down all oil rigs in the Gulf creates huge unemployment as rigs leave the area.  Failing to take quick action to prevent oil slicks from reaching the coastline means unemployment all up and down the coast.  Requiring people to switch to CFL lightbulbs means that industry will take place in China.  Closing  federal lands to oil exploration means lost jobs. Putting too many regulations and taxes on business means businesses will move to somewhere where they are better treated. There are always consequences.



This Dandy Graph Speaks for Itself. It’s a Sad Story! by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Veronique du Rugy)



Some Politicians Have Not Yet Grasped That Whatever They Say Can Be Captured By You Tube! by The Elephant's Child

Poor Harry Reid.  He keeps making commercials for his opponents in the next election.  Or you could title this “Things I Wish I had Never Said.”

Not getting worse has become the new success.  The national unemployment rate remained constant in February, but employers shed a net 36,000 jobs.

The administration made encouraging noises.  President Obama was visiting an Arlington, VA small business to speak on “clean energy and job creation.” The “severe storms all along the East Coast are estimated to have had a depressing effect on the numbers,” Obama said.   Others said that jobs should have ticked up a little because of all the people hired to deal with the snow.

The President remains convinced that “clean energy” is just the thing, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.



The Green Jobs Myth, and Clean Green Energy is a Myth As Well. by The Elephant's Child
February 26, 2010, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

In spite of the hoopla of the Blair House theater summit yesterday, the American people keep trying to remind the President and Congress that health care ranks pretty far down on their list.  They are much more concerned about the economy and unemployment.

“Green jobs” remain a central pillar of the Obama administration’s policy to promote clean energy.  New jobless claims were up by 22,000 this week, over last week.  But how does the administration’s claim stand up? The facts challenge policymakers’ wishful thinking.

The Obama administration has allocated more than $4 billion in funding from the Stimulus bill to the “smart grid,” for its job-creation potential.  Much of this is to be spent installing close to 20 million “smart meters” over the next five years.

Smart meters are digital versions of the spinning electric meter on every house.  Spinning meters haven’t changed in the last century, and must be read by workers.  Smart meters automatically transmit consumption data for electricity to a utility.  By essentially eliminating human intervention, smart meters promise more accurate usage measurement as well as efficient management of energy production resources.

Farewell to meter-readers.

It takes one worker today roughly 15 minutes to read a single meter. So in a day, a meter reader can scan about 30 meters, or about 700 meters a month. Meters are typically read once a month, making it the base period to calculate meter-reading jobs. Reading a million meters every month engages about 1,400 personnel. In five years, 20 million manually read meters are expected to disappear, taking with them some  28,000 meter-reading jobs.

Nearly 40 million smart meters have been installed worldwide, mostly in Europe.  The jobs created in this industry can be broadly classified into four categories: installation, manufacturing, research and development and information technology services.

It takes two certified electricians about 30 minutes to replace a spinning meter.  About 5,000 a year, for 400 installation jobs or 1,600 jobs over 5 years to install 20 million meters.

Manufacturing is highly automated, and mostly accomplished overseas, with American jobs only in the hundreds.  In R&D and IT services, the number of jobs created is forecast to be in the hundreds or low thousands.

So smart metering will result in net job destruction.  The “clean energy” jobs from wind and solar, in Spain resulted in a loss of 2.5 jobs in the private sector for every “green job.” Electric vehicles are a promising green sector, but the technology is not yet there, and jobs would simply be cannibalized from gasoline powered cars.



Job Creation 101. Some Prior Business Experience Required. by The Elephant's Child
February 13, 2010, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Politics, Taxes | Tags: , , ,

If you wanted to know why the Obama administration seems to be at such a loss as to a way to create jobs, this little graph explains.  Nobody much in this administration has ever worked in the private sector.  No familiarity with the workings of the free market.  Capitalism, — well, you know what Academe has to say about that.

Here’s  economist Veronique de Rugy, at Big Government, yesterday:

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different outcomes.  The different versions of the jobs bills circulating in Washington DC these days are perfect example of that point.

See for instance, the  jobs tax credit for hiring new workers idea. What a brilliant example of bipartisan nonsense that is. Pushed by President Obama during his State of the Union address earlier this month and most recently picked up by Senators Schumer and Hatch.

Still no one seems to wonder, why would employers pay a new worker $40,000 to earn a $5,000 credit unless that worker generates at least $35,000 of revenue? Even when the advice comes from economists at the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the largest association of small business owners in the country, it is ignored by the President and Congress.

Think about it this way:

If your business is slow, and your customers are not buying your goods and services, it is likely that your tax liability will be significantly reduced or nonexistent even.  No tax liability, no need for a tax credit. Better yet, no customers, no need for employees, tax credit or not. (Duh)

Of course the same can be said about Obama’s proposal to use $30 billion of the repaid TARP money to prop up small business lending. There will be no demand for loans as long as the economy is doing poorly and customers are not buying goods and services produced by small businesses.

If Obama wants to help small businesses he should stop pretending to give with one hand while stealing big time from the other hand. What do I mean? Well, he gives useless tax credits on the one hand but is proposing big tax increases for those earning more than $250,000 a year on the other, including all the small business owners that report their business income as individual income. These guys aren’t going to take loans and invest in their businesses and hire new employees if they are going to be hammered with tax the following year.

The Stimulus Bill was not about “stimulating the economy,” nor about spurring economic recovery.  It was about funding favored Liberal policies.  Stimulus II is not called a “stimulus” because the first stimulus notably failed to stimulate and people have noticed. It is instead called  “A Jobs Bill,”  but it also is not about spurring economic recovery. If Congress includes the tax hikes included in the budget into law, countless more jobs will be lost.

President Obama has said that his number one goal for 2010 is to create jobs.  He’s not only not particularly interested, he’s uninterested in learning how it’s done.



The Anatomy of a Recession: by The Elephant's Child
January 6, 2010, 1:48 am
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy | Tags: , ,

Here is a fascinating interactive graphic showing the geography of a recession by unemployment rate per county and how it slowly spreads across the country, beginning in 2007 — nearly a year before the recession began.   From the folks at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.



How Jobs are Created, Part II. by The Elephant's Child
December 10, 2009, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Politics | Tags: , ,

I have just been listening, on the radio, to a conversation between Minority Leader John Boehner and Michael Medved concerning a meeting of Congressional Republicans about jobs with President Obama.  Republicans urged the president to put a freeze on spending, for the EPA Endangerment Finding and  the Health Care bill are huge job killers.

The president was aghast. Everyone knows that to create jobs we have to spend lots of money.  Borrowing it makes no difference.  It was Republicans and Business that were holding employment down.  Boehner said they used the examples of some of the truly wasteful 200 earmarks to show how spending was ineffective, but that the President  just didn’t get it. The president said that the problem with the economy was that the GOP was scaring people. He said angrily, “Name me one economist who wants to cut spending now!”

The Republicans in the meeting were shocked at the extent to which the Democrats simply didn’t get it.  The president sees Republicans as evil people who are working against him, which certainly does pretty much eliminate any bipartisanship.  Interesting.



Free Enterprise, Capitalism, Free Markets, Free Trade and Other Unfashionable Notions. by The Elephant's Child
December 5, 2009, 2:59 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Taxes | Tags: , , ,

The United States lost another 11,000 jobs last month, and everyone is celebrating because 11,000 is fewer jobs lost than in September, and the smallest monthly number since the recession began.  I guess that if you are grasping at straws you grab onto anything that floats.

Democrats are really concerned about the unemployment situation.  People vote their pocketbooks and mid-term elections are coming next year. If you include those who involuntarily have only part-time work and those who want a job but have stopped looking, the under-employment rate is 17.5 percent, a postwar peak.  When everyone is really concerned it is important to look as if you are doing something, so the President held a “Jobs Summit.

He invited union people and environmentalists, liberal economists from academia, some high-tech companies and Wall-Street types, but not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce nor the National Federation of Independent Business.  Liberals labor under the illusion that jobs are created largely by the government.

They are still dreaming of non-existent “green jobs,” though so far all the green-job money is going to China, where wind turbines are being manufactured.  We have all sorts of businesses in the private sector here who replace windows, install insulation, caulk doors and windows, but they are mostly hurting for business, in spite of government rebates.

Government does not create jobs.  Government takes taxpayer money and gives it to people for performing a task.  No product is created, and less money goes back into the economy than was taken from taxpayers. The ‘multiplier-effect’ doesn’t seem to work.

Jobs are created by the private sector, and mostly by small business. (Not mom-and-pop small business or free-lance small business, but growing businesses with 15-50 or so employees) hoping to get bigger.

Businesses will hire when they feel some confidence that they can succeed in their endeavors.  Right now, all they see in the near future is uncertainty.  Taxes are going up, but how much is unknown.  Health care reform is claimed to save money, but anyone who has been paying attention knows that it will cost in the trillions.  The government is intent on cap-and-trade in spite of the revelations of ClimateGate, which will also cost the economy trillions of dollars.  Credit for small business has dried up and there is uncertainty about new financial regulation, more bank failures and bailouts.

No administration going back as far as Teddy Roosevelt  has had a cabinet with so little experience in the private sector.   It is no wonder that they simply have no idea how jobs are created.  They are notably unenthusiastic about capitalism and  free enterprise, which they blame for most everything that they cannot blame on Bush.The President says he will have a plan by next Tuesday.  Congress is wondering about spending the rest of the TARP money, the remainder of the stimulus funds that are not being saved for just before the election, or leftover bailout money.  Quite a bit of that is supposed to be our money, but once the government get their hands on it it is government money.

My bet is that the plan will not include tax-relief  for business, health care reform will neither be dropped nor scaled back, and there will be continued war on coal companies and  subsidies for uneconomic wind farms and solar arrays will continue or increase.  Freedom is not really on the table.



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.



Spending $6.4 Billion to Create Jobs in 440 Non-existent Congressional Districts. Brilliant! by The Elephant's Child

The government’s Web site, recovery.com,  that is supposed to be the administration’s effort at transparency in informing taxpayers just how their stimulus dollars are being spent — and which spends $84 million to do so — shows that $6.4 billion has been spent to create jobs in 440 congressional districts that do not exist.

For example, the 15th Congressional District of Arizona, where 30 jobs were saved with $761,420 in spending, according to Recovery.gov, the official government Web site.  ABC News reports:”There is no 15th Congressional District in Arizona, the state has only eight districts.”

The site reports that North Dakota”s 99th district received $2 million in stimulus funding. North Dakota has only one congressional district.  Washington D.C. supposedly contained 35 congressional districts according to the Web site.

Phantom Congressional districts are only part of the problem. The administration wants to laugh the whole thing off as ordinary human  mistakes. Republicans in Congress warned that the hastily passed stimulus bill would be subject to massive fraud.  Though creating non-existent districts is a little over-the-top. It didn’t even take an Inspector General to find this fraud.

There have been reports, long before the fake districts surfaced, of pretend jobs, of pay raises called new jobs, of stimulus funds going to supporters, and even simple confusion about government paperwork. There are no indications that the administration will fess up, nor that anyone will get more than their hands slapped, in spite of Michael Ramirez’s wonderful cartoon from Investors Business Daily.

Jonah Goldberg reported on “Chicago Math,”  November 4, in the Corner:  from the AP:

President Barack Obama’s economic recovery program saved 935 jobs at the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, an impressive success story for the stimulus plan.  Trouble is, only 508 people work there.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Some Head Start preschool programs reported that stimulus money saved the job of every staff member who received a cost-of-living pay raise, according to their filings. Some colleges and universities counted every part-time student work-study position as a full-time job, according to their reports, which are published online at recovery.gov. (…)

“Holy moly, that’s not right,” Teresa Cox, executive director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency in Salem, Ore., said of her organization’s report. It indicated that 205 jobs were created or saved with the agency’s $397,761 federal grant. The money, she said, was used for pay raises.

Economist Veronique de Rugy noted in The American that stimulus funds did not target high-unemployment states, and has a lovely chart to plot the number of  “jobs created” for each 100,000 people in every state’s labor force and the corresponding unemployment rate in that state.

Now that the real unemployment rate — the one that includes people who have quit looking, those who are working part-time while wanting full-time employment — has climbed to over 17 percent, the administration is going to have a symposium on trying to figure out how to create jobs.  The problem is that they have no idea, no idea at all.

ADDENDUM: Watchdog.org has posted a guide to the Stimulus, District by (Phantom) District. Learn to what non-existent districts in your state, real funds have supposedly gone.  According to the list,  Washington state’s (phantom) 39th district got $300,000, but didn’t create a single job.  The OO district created three jobs for only $2.25 million.  Since the districts don’t exist, where oh where has the money gone?




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