American Elephants


Empathy, they claim. But Generosity Requires Wealth With Which To Be Generous. by The Elephant's Child

In the countries that most enthusiastically embraced capitalism” some two hundred years ago, real, per capita economic growth has increased by 1.5 percent annually. Owing to the miracle of compound interest, this increase has meant a 19-fold increase in living standards over the past two centuries which, she contends, is a “change in the human condition” that “ranks with the first domestication of plants and animals and the building of the first towns”… this enormous economic result had a cause that was cultural rather than economic. Humans did not suddenly become more acquisitive or creative. Rather “when people treat the marketers and inventors as having some dignity and liberty, innovation takes hold.” The new respectability of bourgeois life, the belief that the creativity of capitalism’s creative destruction more than offset its destruction, was the decisive attitudinal change that rendered human life in the past two centuries decisively different from what it had been throughout the preceding millennia.

This is from William Voegeli’s The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal CompassionAbout Economist Deirdre McCloskey. The quotations are from McCloskey. Voegeli adds: In McCloskey’s view, “I don’t much care how ‘capitalism ‘ is defined, so long as it is not defined a priori to mean vice incarnate.” The default position for modern thinking, however, characterizes :commercial society at the outset to be bad by any standard higher than successful greed.”

You will find Voegeli’s Never Enough on the same page. I recommend both highly. They’ve been out for quite a while so there are very inexpensive used copies as well.



The Impossible Dream of Socialism and Social Welfare by The Elephant's Child

From William Voegeli’s Never Enough:

“The socialist dream of organizing an economy around the purposes of advancing social welfare, as it is governmentally determined and meted out, seems destined to remain an abstraction irrelevant to the world’s political and economic needs. One strange result of the collapse of socialism, and the absence of any other credible way to avoid relying on markets is that the welfare state is heavily dependent on the health of capitalism. The government cannot disburse wealth that never gets created, and creating the wealth required for modern, prosperous societies without the knowledge conveyed by prices set in markets appears to be impossible.”



Words of Wisdom, Pertinent to the Day by The Elephant's Child

“The vision of the Left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves—a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create “social justice” and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalted vision that few are ready to give up, or to risk on a roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to. Maybe that is why there are so many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages, or innumerable other issues—and why they react so viscerally to those who challenge their vision.”

Thomas Sowell, 1/22/2014, Front Page Magazine

“In contrast to America, countries like Canada and Australia treat immigration the way Harvard treats college admission or the New England Patriots treat the NFL draft as a way to get the talented that can benefit the institution and keep out the untalented. Here in America we increasingly treat immigration as if it were a sacred civil right possessed by 7 billion foreigners.”

William Voegeli: The Pity Party

“Once politics was about only a few things; today it is about nearly everything…Once the “legitimacy barrier” has fallen, political conflict takes a very different form. New programs need not await the advent of a crisis or an extraordinary majority, because no program is any longer “new”—it is seen, rather, as a extension, a modification, or an enlargement of something the government is already doing…Since there is virtually nothing the government has not tried to do, there is little it cannot be asked to do.”

James Q. Wilson,”American Politics, Then and Now” Commentary, Feb, 1979



Government: Is It Ever Big Enough? by The Elephant's Child

Can the government ever be too big? How much spending is enough spending? And if there can be too much spending, where is that point? William Voegeli, Senior Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, explores these complex questions and offers some clear answers.



A Civil War Against the “Liberal Ethos?” Yes. by The Elephant's Child

In 1993 after the USSR had dissolved and the Berlin Wall been pounded into souvenirs, Irving Kristol wrote, “There is no ‘after the Cold War’ for me.” Instead, the defeat of Soviet Communism signified only that “the real cold war has begun,” a multi-front civil war against the “liberal ethos,” which “aims simultaneously at political and social collectivism  on the one hand, and moral anarchy on the other.” Kristol explained that he had come to believe that “rot and decadence was no longer the consequence of liberalism but was the actual agenda of contemporary liberalism.”

The fight against collectivism hasn’t been won, but remains hard-fought and competitive. The end of the Cold War signaled the demise of socialism and central planning as ideals people fought for, or even took seriously. In 1997 Richard Rorty chided his fellow leftists for their vague desire to repudiate and move beyond capitalism, despite failing to figure out “what in the absence of markets, will set prices and regulate distribution. Until the left comes up with clear compelling answers to such basic questions, he said, it should limit its ambitions to “piecemeal reform within the framework of a market economy.”

These are the first two paragraphs of an essay by William Voegeli in The Claremont Review of Books, and well worth pondering. Is that what the Left is all about? Political and social collectivism on the one hand and moral anarchy on the other? It seems to me that they talk collectivism and supposedly dream of collectivism, but in action, or in the real world they want to make other people equal but put themselves in charge of doing so. They want to control, regulate, force, and make the necessary laws, just like Stalin who starved millions of Ukrainians to death in the Holodomor to enforce collective farming.

Moral anarchy — yes.  That’s obvious.




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