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Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, a record number as businesses were forced to shut down to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 3.28 million claims were filed in the week that ended March 21. That marked an increase of more than 3 million claims over the week prior, when 282,000 claims were filed.

The previous high in a single week, according to the department, was in October 1982, when about 695,000 claims were filed. The nearly 3.3 million claims filed last week is nearly five times the prior record.

The hotel industry alone has lost more than a million jobs, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

 

A $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that passed the U.S. Senate late Wednesday night includes an expansion of unemployment benefits. The measure, which still awaits action in the U.S. House, would extend jobless insurance benefits by 13 weeks. It would include independent contractors such as freelancers, furloughed employees and gig workers, such as Uber drivers.

Among the states, Pennsylvania saw the most drastic increase: 378,908 claims filed last week compared to 15,439 the week prior, an increase of 363,469.

California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas and Washington also saw six-figure increases.

 
 

​Dan McCaleb 

the center square

Sooooooooooo.... We need to call Bull Crap.......... on the idea that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and the Democrats came up with a 1,119 page COVID-19 relief bill over the weekend.

They didn’t. What they did was take a bunch of Democratic plans that have been percolating for a while and throw them into a bill one Republican senator described as a “Disney World wish list.”

This presented bill was a veritable cornucopia of stuff the Democrats have been looking to implement for a while that had nothing to do with fighting the coronavirus threat or helping America recover economically.

see full story : https://www.westernjournal.com/dems-put-1000-page-covid-bill-together-1-weekend-didnt-set/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=jeffersonnewsletter&utm_campaign=lminetwork&utm_content=2020-03-24&fbclid=IwAR1ElPgDAXijyGr9vHOauf1Gc6sk04UjnxQSH2CJEXrrNbrJwDp8HH0dor4

This presented bill was a veritable cornucopia of stuff the Democrats have been looking to implement for a while that had nothing to do with fighting the coronavirus threat or helping America recover economically.

see full story : https://www.westernjournal.com/dems-put-1000-page-covid-bill-together-1-weekend-didnt-set/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=jeffersonnewsletter&utm_campaign=lminetwork&utm_content=2020-03-24&fbclid=IwAR1ElPgDAXijyGr9vHOauf1Gc6sk04UjnxQSH2CJEXrrNbrJwDp8HH0dor4

Telemedicine and older patients were made for each other. The inconvenience and infection risk associated with constant rounds to various waiting rooms constitute a waste of elders' time and limited health care resources.

The recent move by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to use its new power to pay physicians who perform consultations with Medicare recipients by phone and video has the potential to revolutionize the way geriatric care is delivered in this country.

Telemedicine can save lives now, during the outbreak of a novel virus that has already demonstrated devastating power to sweep through communities where older residents are clustered together. And it can save even more lives in the future, as a huge cohort of baby boomers, living with a host of chronic diseases, age into a health care environment where geriatric expertise is becoming increasingly rare.

"The use of telemedicine and remote care services are critical to the management of the COVID-19," Patrice A. Harris, president of the American Medical Association noted Tuesday, "while also ensuring uninterrupted care for 100 million Americans with chronic conditions. The AMA encourages any private payers that are not already covering telehealth services to remove those limitations now."

In a meeting Tuesday with President Donald Trump, private insurers said they would pay for virtual doctor visits with people who may have the novel coronavirus -- an important move toward expanding access within an overtaxed system, while sustaining the social separations that can suppress the spread of illness.

Telemedicine -- from long-distance doctor-patient conferences to remote monitoring of vital signs -- has been around since the dawn of video chats. But the reluctance of Medicare administrators, as the primary change agents of the U.S. health care system, to reimburse doctors for time spent in this way has prevented the highest and best use of a relatively simple technology. Only in rural America, with its shameful shortages of adequate medical service, have pilot projects in telemedicine been fully funded.

Now -- just as the exigencies of World War II prompted Great Britain to establish the urgent care operation that would become its national health network -- the novel coronavirus pandemic could prove to be the shock to our system that will allow us to make our own medical history.

In Southwest Florida, a pressing necessity among the oldest old is for reliable transportation to multiple medical appointments. Telemedicine cannot remove all requirements for in-person visits to clinics and hospitals, but it can put a sizable dent in this ongoing challenge.

Telehealth holds promise to become a vital means of cultural connection. Now that medical professionals can be properly paid for adapting their practices to this technology, retirement communities and other centers that serve older adults can become supportive hubs for checkups, education, treatments and therapies.

By becoming early adopters of the opportunity to use computers and cell phones as tools for healing and staying well, our elders can lead the way in transforming our medical culture.

               

Thursday, 26 March 2020 09:57

The Robot Rule

What if?

The novel coronavirus' fatality rate is highest in men over 70. All three men left in this presidential race are over 70. I am certainly not the only one who has thought about this.

Parties, not states or the federal government, control the nominating process. I know the Democratic rules; for better and for worse, I wrote some of them.

So what if a nominee, say, Joe Biden, gets infected after the Democratic National Convention? While the convention is technically the governing body of the Democratic Party, the party doesn't hold a new one when situations change.

The Democratic National Committee then meets and decides.

The DNC. When I told people I worked there, people would look at me strangely thinking it had something to do with a gynecological procedure. When I was a member, I got invited to all kinds of fun things and met great friends. How did I get there? Did it matter that my dear friends were running the governor's political operation? Might that also have something to do with my chairmanship of the Ballot Law Commission? Many of my old pals are still members.

The DNC is equally divided between men and women. It is diverse and inclusive. It is not exactly independent -- if, by that, you mean that members decide everything like an outside director. Not a bit.

Governors have way more power than senators because they run the home-state operation. There are definitely money people, lots of union people, longtime party stalwarts. Last time I checked, this was not Bernie Sanders' crowd. Independent is another matter.

If the DNC picks -- if it's after the convention -- you'll be crazy not to put your money on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

BUT what if ...

Biden gets sick before the convention? He wants to withdraw? He does withdraw? He doesn't withdraw? Does Bernie get all his delegates? Does he get to decide who is voted for?

Some of the more recent histories of the Democratic Party quote the longtime party rule that pledged delegates are pledged, but they are not bound. They may have gotten there because of Biden or Sanders or anyone else, but that doesn't mean they're bound to vote for who they pledged to, or for a candidate they endorse. This is not the longtime rule.

Back in 1980, the reelection campaign of President Jimmy Carter, obviously afraid of the risks ahead, inserted a paragraph in the call to the convention and the party rules, rule F(3)(c), that for the first time, purported to "bind" them to vote for the candidate whose votes got them there.

We called it the Robot Rule. We had pins that depicted a robot with a red slash across it. It became the central fight of the convention. It became the raison d'etre then-Sen. Ted Kennedy did not withdraw from the race and instead traveled around the country all summer before the convention "briefing" our enthusiastic delegates about the fights ahead, saying that Carter was trying to force the convention to vote for him rather than win their support.

We wanted a real vote. What was Carter afraid of?

To this day, I don't know. His campaign must have known what we did: that delegates who pass the scrutiny of the candidate's campaign, as they must, are as committed as the pig in the ham and egg breakfast. All a delegate had to do if she wanted to vote for Kennedy instead of Carter was vote with us on the rule. Hours of debate on prime time. Do you want to guess how many Carter delegates voted with Kennedy? Two. When a commission was formed after that loss, we got rid of the robot rule. I can't think of a single instance in which it mattered.

There won't be a brokered convention. That is too big of a risk. One lesson we learned too well is that if you have a "bad" convention -- if you can't control your message and all you do is fight -- you pay for it in the general election. But there will also certainly be plenty of brokering before we get there. Or at least plenty of trying. The back room may not be smoky, and we women have earned our seats, but it's still a back room.

Susan Estrich

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, everyone should read Robert Higgs' economic classic "Crisis and Leviathan." The critical warning of this masterpiece is that government always uses a crisis -- from the Civil War to the Great Depression to World War II -- to expand power, not only during the emergency but also afterward. Emergencies tend to ratchet up the cost and power of government permanently.

That expansion of government authority is especially unwise now, given that when this coronavirus fiasco is finally over, it may go down in history as one of the greatest government screwups in American history. That's saying a lot.

As a nation, we spend just short of $5 trillion a year in Washington and at least another $1 trillion at the state and local level. Our government spends 1 of every 3 dollars that passes through the U.S. economy. It is the largest enterprise in the history of the world.

You don't have to be an Ayn Rand devotee to see how the government has stumbled in its primary function: protecting the health and security of the public. Every citizen should ask elected officials: How was the health security system in America, with $1 trillion of federal tax dollars spent, so radically unprepared and ill-equipped?

As an aside, it is astonishing that even after the government collapse, we still have politicians who are peddling "Medicare for All." Is there any sane person who wants to expand the state's control of the medical care system after this?

At the center of this calamity is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a $10-billion agency that did not have a screen or easily administered test to find out whether citizens had contracted the virus. My Heritage Foundation colleague Robert Moffit, a health care expert, recently explained the problems at the CDC. He said, "Germany and Japan quickly developed diagnostic testing for the new virus, and South Korea was soon testing large numbers of patients quickly. By comparison, the American performance was subpar." He says that private pharmaceutical companies were developing tests, but "public health authorities were restricted to using the failed CDC test."

These failures wound up costing the U.S. economy at least $1 trillion of lost output. How is it that Korea had more effective screening than we did?

President Donald Trump's adversaries blame this mess on his proposed cuts in funding at the National Institutes of Health and the CDC. But those cuts never happened. Trump must take some of the blame because he was president when the CDC failed us. But it's doubtful more money would have averted this crisis. The CDC was too preoccupied looking into gun control, climate change, and gay and transgender issues.

Despite this epic failure, few, if any, will be fired at the CDC, the NIH or the Department of Health and Human Services. Trump can't fire the incompetents because a corrupt civil service system protects almost all government workers.

The politicians say that no one saw the coronavirus coming, but this, too, is a cop-out. We have confronted killer viruses since the Middle Ages and the days of the bubonic plague. A century ago, we had influenza, which killed more than half a million Americans, and yet 100 years later, the government is less prepared for a pandemic than they were then.

How indefensible that in this advanced technological age -- over 50 years after we put a man on the moon and a time when we have cellphones for less than $100 with the computing power of all the computers used during the World War-era -- the central government planners had no contingency plan to deal with a pandemic? So, we have been stuck with a Soviet-style shutdown of the entire American economy with curfews, food rationing and the equivalent of martial law in major cities such as San Francisco.

The most bizarre outcome of all of this is we now have politicians telling us that to solve the destruction that the government failed to prevent, we need more governmental authority and bigger budgets -- more programs, more bureaucrats and more giveaways. Estimates are now $2 trillion to $3 trillion of new government spending. The "stimulus" plans have never worked and may even cause more long-term damage to the economy than this mendacious, microscopic virus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants not just temporary but permanent paid sick leave for workers, underwritten by financially strapped businesses. Just as Higgs warned, she sees this crisis as something that must not go to waste in advancing a liberal agenda.

Perhaps if any good comes out of this dismal performance by the political class, it is that we will have more Americans who have learned that, as Ronald Reagan put it, "government is not the solution; government is the problem." There must be some better way for the folks in Washington to waste $5 trillion a year.

 

Stephen Moore

Thursday, 26 March 2020 09:45

Notes From My Dining Room Table

In 2020, people talk about "two Americas." During the coronavirus outbreak, there is one America, a sheltered America, with people who -- like me -- can work at home. And another America, an edgier America, that stands to be devastated by coronavirus closures.

There is also a third America that can be seen in the three states hardest hit by the COVID-19 and virtually shut down. In order to keep the rest of America from turning into that third America, sheltered America argues, stringent measures must be imposed on all of America.

To which edgy America responds: If elected officials close up America for one month or two months, what will be left?

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested a lid on gatherings of 50 people for eight weeks, Cathy Merrill, owner of Washingtonian Magazine, which employs some 75 people, wrote in The Washington Post that the so-called eight-week "hiatus" could serve as a "death sentence" for her business. While she was working at home, Merrill wondered how many of those setting emergency policy have ever run a small business.

I write this from my dining room table. I showed symptoms for coronavirus and had covered an event attended by someone who later learned he was infected.

I saw a doctor. I'm in home lockdown for two weeks. I don't know if I have COVID-19 because I have not been able to take the test.

There was a lot of blame hurled unfairly at President Donald Trump for the CDC's delays in getting tests where they are needed. The tests now have hit states, and people with symptoms still are waiting.

My doctor in Virginia has had tests since Monday, but a lack of protective equipment, general confusion and state protocols prevent him from administering them.

Unexpected kinks happen in a crisis. You fix them and keep going.

If this fight to contain the pandemic is going to work, the test situation has to be fixed quickly. I've been scrupulous about staying at home without knowing if I have COVID-19 because I can report and write at home. But I think it's too much to expect everyone to stay home just in case they are infected -- especially asymptomatic people living paycheck to paycheck or struggling to keep small businesses afloat.

I'm not talking about college kids on spring break, but entrepreneurs, service workers and families in tight spaces.

Which brings to mind Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who last weekend shut down the state's public schools through April 6. Why? The CDC website recommends school closures only when someone with a confirmed infection has been in a school or in districts with community transmission. Even then, the CDC recommends closures for two to five days.

If you go into the state's coronavirus webpage, there's a link to the CDC guidelines. CDC modeling projects no change in the infection curve or hospitalizations after school closures of two to four weeks. And the models predict multiple downsides -- interrupted learning, increased risk for grandparent caretakers, more social mixing outside of school. Not to mention there's no school.

But state's governors were so eager to look as if they were ahead of the curve that more than 30 of them shut down all their schools.

Sisolak could counter that there is a risk, as Heard Elementary School in North Las Vegas reported a Clark County school's first case. It's a sad milestone that would call for school closure and cleanup is already underway. But is it worth the closure of every Nevada public, private and magnet school?

On Tuesday night, Sisolak called for a 30-day closure of "nonessential businesses" -- with little explanation as to why his constituents should stop making money for a month when the president's coronavirus task force is pushing "15 Days to Slow the Spread."

Sisolak spokesman Ryan McInerney said that the chief medical officers of all of Nevada's hospitals advised in favor of a 30-day closure.

Sisolak told Nevadans: "This is affecting the lives of our citizens. People are dying. You know, every day that is delayed here, I'm losing a dozen people on the back end. They're going to die as a result of this."

The inference is that if you question the policy, you want people to die. It took guts then for Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman to appeal to the governor to shorten his 30-day shutdown because she doesn't want to see Las Vegas choke.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued more measured restrictions, such as a mandate that 75% of nonessential workforce work from home. Thursday morning, he tried to quell the panic when he told reporters, "Let's just take a deep breath and make sure we're all acting on facts instead of acting on fear." He added, "The facts we can handle."

My fear is that when governments impose -- not suggest -- closures too soon, and those measures don't stem the tide sufficiently, but they do manage to destroy people's livelihoods, the public will tire of closures if and when more stringent measures are needed.

Debra J. Saunders

Thursday, 26 March 2020 09:42

Chutzpah: ADL Wants a Federal Bailout

 

When I think of "essential" workers in America, the smear merchants of the Anti-Defamation League are at the bottom of the barrel. For decades, they've demonized conservatives and Christians as agents of "hate" and treated our very existence as incitements to violence. The ADL's manufactured outrage machine has broadened its target list to anyone remotely critical of Israel for any reason, President Donald Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, "America First" college students, innocuous hand gestures, cartoon frogs and anyone who dares to think or write that "It's OK to be white."

               

Now, in the wake of the "Chinese flu" pandemic, ADL is lining up with all the other federal bailout vultures clamoring for free money. This week, the group issued a statement calling on Congress to include "relief for charities" in any COVID-19 legislation. "In times of crisis," ADL self-righteously urged, "nonprofits are on the front lines, ready to respond and serve communities across the nation -- but funds are needed to continue doing so." The "relief package" pushed by ADL and several hundred other groups demands $60 billion in "emergency stimulus funding to support our work... during this time of crisis and need."

               

What a crock. The primary "front lines" ADL occupies are on the battlefields against American sovereignty and free speech. By my count, the open borders zealots of ADL have filed 17 amicus briefs in our courts supporting obstruction of Trump's immigration enforcement and national security measures. The group is particularly proud of its brief in Trump v. Hawaii, in which it "led a coalition of six Jewish organizations using our unique moral voice to passionately argue against the so-called Muslim ban, citing three historical examples when our nation later recognized that we were wrong to turn our back, including denying refuge to Jews fleeing the Nazis." The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the travel restrictions and affirmed the broad plenary powers of the executive branch over immigration.

               

On top of the $60 billion ADL wants for itself and its ideological fellow travelers (including tax-funded refugee resettlement contractors Catholic Charities, Church World Service and Lutheran Services), the group called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week to include Medicaid coverage and tax rebates for illegal immigrants in her Chinese flu rescue package. ADL's full-throated promotion of America's demographic transformation through mass migration stands in stark contrast to its unapologetic defense of Israel's restrictionist immigration policies and militarized borders.

               

But heaven forbid you point out the hypocrisy.

               

Instead of fighting defamation, the ADL traffics in false accusations of anti-Semitism under the guise of "Never Again" repeating the Holocaust. Putting American citizens over hundreds of thousands of Third World and Muslim refugees is "xenophobic," the ADL decries, and would lead to a repeat of World War II Nazism. Hanging banners from highway overpasses calling for our government to "secure borders" or "defend American workers" is a "white supremacist tactic." And pointing out the obvious nexus between open borders and disease will put you on the dreaded ADL "extremism" radar.

               

Yes, the ADL prides itself on "monitor(ing) and report(ing) on the rhetoric of anti-immigration activists and their supporters... (who) have long promoted the notion of immigrants as bringing disease, crime and environmental problems into the United States." Instead of refuting the facts, they just point, sputter and smear. In 2009, during the swine flu outbreak traced to Mexico, I wrote on my blog that "the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S." was the "result of uncontrolled immigration." ADL swooped in with a raging condemnation of me and others who "demonize Mexicans and immigrants, blaming them for the spread of the virus."

ADL's virtue-signalers went on to warn that "(a)nti-immigrant groups and some mainstream media commentators are using the outbreak to advance their prejudiced views and agendas, warning that the virus in the U.S. is the result of illegal immigration."

It's not "prejudice." It's reality. Every sovereign nation on every continent, including Israel, has now closed its borders to foreign travelers and trespassers to head off this global pandemic. If we had learned from swine flu history 11 years ago, perhaps the current outbreak would not have resulted in such a delayed and addled response mired in deadly political correctness. But the ADL is still conducting business as usual during this latest open borders contagion, blithely attacking "anti-Semitic, racist tropes" as the real public health menace. Really.

According to its most recent financial statements, ADL and the ADL Foundation raked in nearly $80 million in operating revenues in 2018, with net assets at the worth more than $92 million. Fear-mongering is big business. The idea that ADL's professional character assassins serve any vital role in assisting vulnerable American citizens in need of food, shelter or medical assistance is pure chutzpah. The notion that they should be entitled to a single penny of taxpayer subsidies from American workers being laid off in droves is an affront to decency. Crying "racism" and "diversity" to fill coffers and silence political opponents exacerbated the current catastrophe. ADL's treachery should be reviled, not rewarded.

 

Michelle Malkin

               

Rapper and actor O'Shea Jackson, commonly known as Ice Cube, supported President Donald Trump's impeachment and removal from office. Cube recently said he "can't wait to see" Trump in handcuffs. So, the black rapper, who became rich and famous by attacking the country's "racist" criminal justice system, now cheers on criminal justice -- at least when it comes to Trump.

               

But when it comes to how blacks have fared under Trump, Cube's objection to him becomes hard to fathom. Precoronavirus, blacks, under Trump, saw record lows in unemployment. Trump restored funding for historically black colleges and universities. He wants to stop unskilled illegal aliens from competing against unskilled Americans for jobs and wages. He increased funding for "opportunity zones" -- economically disadvantaged census tracts where investors receive favored capital gains tax treatment.

               

Trump signed the First Step Act that, during its first four months last year, allowed nearly 1,000 blacks to have their sentences reduced. The sentences for more than 1,000 prisoners of all races were reduced by a mean of 73 months, or 29.4%, but over 91% of the individuals whose sentences were shortened were black, and 98% were male. Trump posthumously pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion and a victim of a racially motivated prosecution. Johnson originally applied for his pardon in 1920.

               

But there's an even bigger reason that blacks, like Cube, ought to get over their Trump Derangement Syndrome: School choice.

               

Cube, unlike most black kids living in urban America, was raised by two parents who wanted him to get the best possible education. Cube, in the movie "Boyz n the Hood," played a tough ghetto kid living in the gritty Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. But in real life, Cube did not attend Crenshaw High School.

               

About Cube, biography.com notes: "When Cube reached his teens, his parents pulled him out of his local school and bussed him to a suburban high school in the San Fernando Valley. For the young Cube, who'd known little beyond the deteriorating South Central L.A., the affluence and stability that marked his new surroundings left a deep impression. He saw his hometown in a new light and wondered why the violence and drugs that were wreaking havoc on it weren't generating more attention."

               

About Cube's upbringing, rapper Krazy D said: "He grew up in a bad area, but that still didn't make him authentic. He lived in an upper-class neighborhood, nice home, parents had money; he's always had it made. Not to take anything away from him, but he's an actor, right? He was acting like a gangster, and he was good at it. You can't take anything away from it, he's an incredible talent, but just he ain't the real deal."

               

The route to the middle class requires, at minimum, a high-school education. And, as Cube's parents knew, many urban high schools face huge student discipline problems. Many students cannot read, write or compute at grade level. To ensure that her son obtain a quality education, Barack Obama's mother sent Obama to live with his maternal grandparents in Hawaii. Obama attended the finest prep school in the state. As for Michelle Obama, she chose to be bussed three hours a day to a high school out of her neighborhood rather than attend the inferior local school. Daughters Sasha and Malia attended the private K-12 University of Chicago Lab School, where the current tuition for the highest grade offered is over $37,000. When the Obamas moved into the White House, the girls attended the exclusive Sidwell Friends School, where the 2020-2021 tuition is over $46,000.

               

About school choice, Trump said: "We believe that every parent should have educational freedom for their children. ... People want school choice." His secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, advocates the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act. In an opinion piece co-authored by DeVos, she said: "Education Freedom Scholarships would annually give hundreds of thousands of students across the country opportunities to find the right fit for their education. The program would offer a dollar-for-dollar federal income tax credit for contributions to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships for individual elementary and secondary school students. These scholarships would most benefit America's forgotten students who would finally have opportunities to pursue the best education for them in ways that rich, powerful and connected families always have."

               

"Racist" Trump wants to give the children of urban parents the same thing Barack Obama, the former Michelle Robinson and Ice Cube exercised -- a better education through school choice. So, by all means, let's bring out the handcuffs for this president who wants urban kids, like Cube, to have a better future.

                Larry Elder

Thursday, 26 March 2020 09:24

Must We Kill the Economy to Kill the Virus?

 

"We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," tweeted the president on Sunday night, adding that, after the current 15-day shutdown, "we will make a decision as to which way we want to go."

President Trump is said to be privately expressing a deepening concern at the damage the coronavirus shutdown is doing to the U.S. economy and debating whether it can be safely reopened.

Though castigated for his remark, Trump has a point.

The U.S. is rightly using extreme measures to meet the threat and control the virus that threatens the lives of millions of Americans, with the elderly sick foremost among them. And we need to do so without killing the economy upon which scores of millions of other Americans depend.

Clearly, America was unprepared for this pandemic.

And there will be time enough to assess responsibility for the lack of surgical masks, medical gowns, rubber gloves, respirators, ventilators and hospital beds.

The immediate imperative is to produce those beds and that equipment and get it delivered to doctors, nurses and hospital staff, the front-line troops in the battle to control the virus.

However, during this shutdown, all "nonessential businesses" are being closed and their workers sent home to shelter in place and to keep "social distance" from friends and neighbors to minimize the risk of spreading this easily transmissible virus.

Unfortunately, what is "nonessential" to some -- bars, restaurants, hotels, stores, cruise ships, tourist sites, shops, malls -- are places of employment and indispensable sources of income for millions of other Americans.

Close the businesses where these Americans work and you terminate the paychecks on which they depend to pay the rent and buy the food and medicines they and their families need to shelter and live. And if the salaries and wages on which workers depend are cut off, how are these millions of newly unemployed supposed to live?

How do those who follow the instructions of the president and governors to remain in their homes get their prescriptions filled and buy the food to feed their families?

How long can the shutdown be sustained if the necessities of life for the unemployed and unpaid begin to run out? Is it necessary to create an economic and social crisis to solve the medical crisis?

"We had to destroy the village in order to save it," was a remark attributed to a U.S. Army officer in the Vietnam War. Must we cripple or destroy the economy to rescue the American nation from the coronavirus crisis of 2020?

Then there is the matter of time. Many Americans can survive on what they have on hand for two or four weeks. Far fewer can survive without income for two or four months.

If we shut down the economy, what will we have when the medical crisis passes, be that in May, June, July, August or September?

Will all those nonessential businesses we put to sleep come back to life?

The free market system that is the legacy of Hamilton and the Founding Fathers is the world's best design for the distribution of goods and services and ensuring prosperity. And in a population where life expectancy is decades beyond what it was in the early 20th century, there are government programs to provide the necessities of life for those who can no longer access or afford them.

But businesses are needed to deliver the goods.

And if, by government command, America's free economy is partly shut down as unessential in this medical crisis, the government could be responsible for imposing the conditions that lead to social disorder.

At some point, the country is going to have to open up the supply chains and take the risks to let the market work to provide food -- or people will engage in panic buying, hoarding and using any means to get what they need for themselves and their families.

Reports of folks in this heavily armed nation stocking up on guns and ammunition suggest a widespread apprehension of what may be coming.

If the medical crisis is allowed to induce an economic crisis that leads to a social crisis, the American political system, our democratic system, may itself be severely tested.

Lest we forget: In the greatest crisis in this nation's history, in which the issue was whether the American Union would be severed into two nations, Abraham Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus, shut down state legislatures, closed newspapers, jailed journalists and was prepared to arrest the chief justice. And for the dictatorial measures he took, and for waging the

bloodiest war in U.S. history, against fellow Americans, Lincoln is now regarded by many as our greatest president.

Patrick J. Buchanan

 

We’re in the middle of a highly charged 2020 presidential campaign and along comes the coronavirus health crisis. The idea of a “perfect storm” conveys a confluence of events and conditions which combine to become a powerful and dangerous situation. Our politics and the very real coronavirus threat are combining into a very real societal perfect storm.

It started on December 31, 2019. The world was alerted to the pneumonia-like COVID-19, but too much was going on for us to take much notice. In early January the CDC issued a travel notice for Wuhan, China, and on January 31 Trump declared a public health emergency and banned travel to and from China. The intrepid campaigner Joe Biden wasted no time before calling the President’s response “hysterical xenophobia,” and “fear-mongering.” This early political maneuvering added an early layer of energy to the developing “perfect storm.”

The impeachment proceedings left no room in the newsrooms, nor in our collective consciousness, to be on top of Trump’s dealings on the healthcare front. And Congress was too taken up with the impeachment proceedings to really be diligent about what was going on in Wuhan, China. Trump was acquitted on February 5th and gradually we let ourselves become aware of something dangerous happening, as the storm quietly gained momentum.

During February, Democrats accelerated charging Trump with racism, xenophobia, fumbling the virus situation, and failing as president. In March, the economic shut-down, and the ensuing tanking of the stock market really got our attention. A few days ago, we were close to bi-partisan agreement on financial relief legislation when democrat leadership shouted “STOP”! We began to understand that partisan politics ruled the day when House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) told Democrats: “This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” You could feel the growing intensity of the gathering storm. Thankfully, it appears historic financial relief legislation will finally get done.

Other elements adding to this storm continue to pile on. Consider the following:

· Border control, a political hot potato, is important for stopping the spreading virus.

· After using the “China virus” tag for weeks, the mainstream press decided to stop and accuse Trump of racism for doing the same thing.

· Federal and state governments jockeyed for position on advancing a solution and are blaming one another for advancing the problem.

· Democrats falsely accused Trump of calling COVID-19 a hoax.

· We’re becoming aware of our country’s alarming reliance on China for pharmaceuticals.

· It’s becoming apparent that the push, during recent decades, for high density housing and mass transportation, increases the contagion of viruses.

· ACLU is pushing for mass release of prisoners, for their own protection.

· Hatred of Trump by his opposition does battle with his outrageous and hyperbolic, style.

These elements build and feed on each other, and we all react in different, sometimes unusual ways. While paging through a newspaper, I came across an ominous photo coming out of Afghanistan. There was a picture of two masked men, one standing rigidly as the other held a gun to the obviously nervous fellows head. I got a sinking feeling when I saw this obvious Islamist execution. Then I read the caption. It was an Afghan health official taking a citizen’s temperature. The “gun” was a temperature scanner device. We see things through our own filters, and things aren’t necessarily as they first appear.

For many of us, this crisis brings us face to face with our mortality, and we’re learning how much we hold life near and dear. People do unexpected things to provide comfort and safety for themselves and loved ones. You’ve certainly heard the term, “grasping for straws.” That’s what people are doing. In this case it’s toilet paper and hand sanitizer, not “straws.” I think I’m finally understanding this human reflex. Comfort is found in unexpected places. Humans want to have some sense of control, and to feel like they are contributing to their own safety and comfort.

In closing, I’ll quote from an editorial letter in the March 24th Waterloo, Iowa Courier: “To those who are filled with hate, please isolate yourselves so you don’t infect others. Find the cure and join the rest in love and hope!”

 

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Steve Bakke, Fort Myers

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