Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Wind’s Tale

From Edmund Dulac (1882-1953).
The story by Hans Christian Andersen, HERE.

By Edmund Dulac

Obama and the Economy

From The New York Post:
Barack Obama is trying to take credit for the booming economy under President Trump. “When you hear how great the economy is doing right now,” Obama said on the campaign trail for Democratic candidates a few days ago, “let’s just remember when this recovery started.” By this logic, the Kingston Trio laid the groundwork for the Beatles. But the contrast in economic performance between the two presidents is undeniable. Obama’s multitrillion-dollar spend-and-borrow policies produced 2 percent growth. In his final year, Obama handed off to Trump an economy that was limping at 1.6 percent.

After only 18 months in office, Trump has elevated growth to 3 percent on an annual rate and the latest projections are that the growth rate for the second and third quarter (which ends Sept. 30) will be over 4 percent. One might say all it took to get the economy really crackling was getting Obama out of office. Obama is right that this has been a long recovery — beginning in June 2009. But the real economic boom started almost the day after the election in 2016 with the surge in small business, investor and consumer confidence.

No one on the left, least of all Obama, thought this was remotely possible. Two years ago, Obama famously ridiculed Trump’s campaign promise of faster growth and a comeback in manufacturing jobs by saying this could only happen if Trump was waving “a magic wand.” Obama’s first chief economist, Larry Summers, proclaimed to the world that 2 percent was the best we could hope for. Other liberal economists were so disdainful of Trump’s tax cuts, deregulation and energy development that they predicted Trump would crash the world economy and the stock market. It’s a little early to be declaring Trump’s policies a “miracle,” as Trump has boasted. All we can say is whatever he’s doing, it’s working.

And that Obama’s economic experiment of Keynesian economics on steroids was a profound disappointment. It began with the $830 billion stimulus plan, and then cash-for-clunkers, bailouts, ObamaCare, tax hikes on the rich, minimum-wage hikes and a wave of financial and economic regulations. All told, the national debt nearly doubled in eight years. Meanwhile, the Obama recovery was remarkably flimsy. In 2015, the Joint Economic Committee of Congress found that compared to the eight previous post-recession events, “the Obama recovery was the weakest on record.”

The recovery was so shallow that had Obama merely achieved a normal pace of recovery, personal income in 2014 would have been $3,200 higher. If the economy had matched the Reagan trajectory, GDP in 2016 would have been almost $3 trillion larger (equivalent to the combined GDP of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania). Even as measured by the left’s favorite metric, “economic fairness,” the policies failed. The index of income inequality rose nearly every year under Obama.

While Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Washington, DC, Wall Street and the energy states did spectacularly well (thanks to shale oil and gas), in the Rust Belt regions of the country — from upstate New York to Ohio and Wisconsin, West Virginia and Kentucky — family incomes remained flat at best. On the campaign trail, I often asked folks in small towns across the Midwest about the Obama recovery, and their response was: What recovery?

Trump didn’t just run against Hillary Clinton and her closet overflowing with scandals, but the meager Obama economy as well. He ran against the runaway costs of ObamaCare. He ran against the regulatory assault, the tax hikes, unpopular trade deals and climate-change fanaticism. He ran against hopelessness, against opioid addiction, the $10 trillion rise in the national debt and income stagnation. (Read more.)

Socialist Tyranny

From Townhall:
Remember, under socialism we aren’t minting any new billionaires, so where do we go for the money once the low-hanging billionaire fruit is picked clean? Millionaires! A 2017 report says there are probably 10.8 millionaires in what would be the People’s Republic of America: “In 2016, there were 9.4 million individuals with net worth between $1 million and $5 million, 1.3 million individuals with net worth between $5 million and $25 million, and 156,000 households with more than $25 million in net worth, the report says.” Now we’re hitting regular folks. If you have a house in Los Angeles or Washington, welcome to millionairehood! Or a small business – lots of us are rich on paper. Well, what’s ours is…theirs. The fact is our socialist pals are going to have to reach way down below the 1% to find enough stuff to redistribute so that everyone can have everything they want (but not enough to work for) while robots mop out the toilets. (Read more.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

In Praise of Hands

From Under the Gables:
No matter where found, the ancient art of the cave people features the stenciled or traced hand. "The human hand forms one of the most ancient themes of human art," reports a study of hand stencils in Upper Palaeolithic cave art, published by Durham University. "Prehistoric examples of hand prints (positive images formed by covering the hand with paint and placing it on a surface, rather like modern children create) and stencils (negative images formed by placing the hand against a surface and blowing paint around it) are known from prehistoric contexts in Latin America, the Sahara, Indonesia, Australia and Tasmania, in many cases dating back several thousand years. For decades these have been thought to be Mid Upper Palaeolithic in age (around 22-29,000 14C BP) but recent dating and critical evaluation of existing data have shown that they are among the earliest examples of European Upper Palaeolithic cave art., stretching back at least to 35,000 (calendar) years ago."
Investigations by Anthropology professor Dean Snow at Pennsylvania State University further show that many of the hands stenciled or traced are those of women, and it is thought that this could mean that the stenciling of hands had a religious significance. Henri Focillion would not be surprised by such conclusions. "I seem to see primitive man inhaling the world through his hands," Focillon writes in his essay "In Praise of Hands," "stretching his fingers into a web to catch the imponderable." (Read more.)

On Those Things a President Cannot Solve

From TFP:
There are many issues that President Trump can solve. His first great accomplishment was solving the election. Almost all conservatives adopted a thank-God-it’s-not-Hillary approach to the Trump presidency. There was a general sigh of relief over a bullet dodged. As time passes, the administration now stands on its own merits beyond being not-Hillary. In this respect, President Trump’s economic policies have helped expand the economy. His pro-life stances have been encouraging. His choices for justices are significantly improving the makeup of the Supreme Court. While there are many good things to celebrate, there are also those things that President Trump cannot solve. And these issues are tearing the nation apart. It should be stressed that this is not the president’s fault. His actions can influence these issues but not fix them. His efforts may improve the situation but not solve it. Government action or legislation alone is not sufficient to change things. These are festering matters left unsettled for decades that are now coming due. (Read more.)

When John Quincy Adams Met Madame de Staël

From Shannon Selin:
After Napoleon’s defeat in 1814, Madame de Staël returned to Paris. Visiting the city in February of 1815, John Quincy Adams had another opportunity to visit her. He regarded her more favourably, since her enthusiasm for Britain had cooled. As Adams wrote to his mother, Abigail:
[S]ince the overthrow of Napoleon, and the European peace, she has been among the most distinguished friends of our country, and contributed in no small degree to give the tone to the public opinion of France and Europe, with regard to the vandalism of the British exploit at Washington. (6)
Adams called on Madame de Staël on February 8, 1815. He again found himself in a company of about 20 strangers. His hostess introduced him to French journalist Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Suard and an Englishman whose name he was unable to determine. They conversed on general topics. On February 15, Adams went to Madame de Staël’s for dinner. There were 17 people at the table, including Henry Clay, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the French writer and political activist Benjamin Constant, who was Madame de Staël’s lover.
The conversation was not very interesting – some conversation between the lady and Mr. Constant, who seemed to consider it as a principle to contradict her. At one time there were symptoms of a conversation arising upon a subject of political economy, upon which she said, ‘J’interdis tout discours sur l’économie politique. Ah! Je crains l’économie politique, comme le feu.’ [I forbid any talk of political economy. Ah! I fear political economy, like fire.]
Immediately after dinner she left us, saying ‘Je vous laisse mon fils, qui est très-aimable,’ [I leave you my son, who is very agreeable] and went to the Theatre Français to see the tragedy of Esther. She invited me to come and see her again, and said she was at home almost every evening. She also apologized for being obliged to leave her company so soon ‘pour aller au spectacle’ [to go to the show]. I went myself with Mr. Le Ray de Chaumont to the Odeon and saw ‘Le Nozze de Figaro’ with the music of Mozart.” (7)
They did not meet again. On February 26, Napoleon escaped from Elba. Upon learning he had landed in France, Madame de Staël fled to Switzerland. John Quincy Adams went to London to take up the post of US Minister to Britain. Madame de Staël died on July 14, 1817, at the age of 51. (Read more.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Shifting Perspectives

 Some thoughts on health, gardens and canning from my sister Sarah Laughland, actress, writer and photographer:
This year I also learned how to can vegetables. My farmer friend, Jason, and I spent a day in the kitchen peeling, slicing, snapping, boiling, pouring, measuring, goofing, guessing, and rejoicing over the finished products at the end of the day. It felt like it didn’t yield much by the looks of it, but it expands when you crack that quart open! I saved enough sweet potatoes, squashes, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, honey, canned and frozen beans to last me all winter, all bought from the farmer’s market in bulk. That’s no packaging and much less money spent at a corporate grocery store, and for me in general. And it feels amazing. There’s this unexplainable giddiness I get from cracking open a jar of food that I preserved, or heading to my container of sweet potatoes and picking out food that a farmer I know, grew. It makes the food I eat feel precious. I grew tomatoes, basil, and green peppers this year. It certainly wasn’t a whole lot, but it was enough to feel mighty proud. The excitement of walking outside on a lunch break, tossing tomatoes into a bowl and immediately washing them and eating them gave me more than just a dollar or two off, but for the first time I felt this connection. Subtle as it may be—no exploding feeling of change in my soul—but a shift. By taking care in more seemingly “monotonous” parts of my day, I started to feel a greater sense of purpose without the feeling of leaving such a heavy imprint on the earth. (Read more.)


The Neo-Marxist Takeover of Our Universities

Including some of the Catholic ones. From The Spectator:
According to Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, America’s universities have succumbed to ‘safetyism’, whereby students are protected from anything that might cause them anxiety or discomfort. In their book The Coddling of the American Mind, published this week, they attribute the spread of ‘trigger warnings’, ‘safe spaces’ and ‘bias hotlines’ on campus to a misplaced concern about the psychological fragility of students. In their view, millennials aren’t ‘snowflakes’, but imagine themselves to be on account of having been surrounded by over-protective parents and teachers. The fact they are the first generation of ‘digital natives’ hasn’t helped, since it has left them marooned in echo chambers, unaccustomed to challenge. In addition, students’ familiarity with social media and their ability to whip up outrage mobs to shame university authorities into doing their bidding has shifted the balance of power in their favour.

No doubt there is some truth in this, and from a tactical point of view it may be the most sensible way of getting university authorities and students to engage in a dialogue about free speech. It enables Lukianoff and Haidt to draw on a wealth of research showing that the suppression of dissenting views is, in fact, bad for students’ psychological wellbeing. That’s more pragmatic than complaining about left-wing bias or a culture of political correctness, which is likely to result in the authors being dismissed as ‘alt-right’ or, worse, ‘white supremacists’. By focusing on mental health — a big concern of millennials — they will at least get a hearing.

But reading between the lines, it’s clear that the real problem on college campuses is not the whiny, neurotic students, but the post-modern neo-Marxist professors who are manipulating them. After all, the people being no-platformed are not disciples of crackpot post-structuralists like Jacques Lacan, whose psychoanalytical theories about castration are weird enough to disturb even the most robust students, but mainstream conservatives such as Heather MacDonald and Ben Shapiro.

The domination of US universities by the left, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, is well documented. In 2016 a survey carried out by Econ Journal Watch looked at the voter registration of faculty members at 40 leading US universities in the fields of economics, history, law, psychology and journalism/communications. It found that Democrats outnumber Republicans by an average of 11.5 to one. In psychology, the ratio is 17.4 to one; in history, 33.5 to one.

This helps explain a phenomenon identified by the French economist Thomas Piketty whereby university graduates have drifted to the left over the past 50 years. In a paper last February, he analysed post-electoral surveys from 1948 to 2017 and found that, from the 1940s to the 1960s, the more educated voters were, the more likely they were to vote Republican. Today, the opposite is true, with 70 per cent of those with a master’s degree voting for Hillary in 2016. (Read more.)