What’s Really Going On

May 24, 2020

by Steve Stofka

In the latest cable news media surveys, Fox News had 3.7 million prime time viewers, outdistancing cable news/talk outlets CNN and MSNBC (Watson, 2020). Traditional broadcast networks ABC and NBC have 12 million viewers, three times the number of Fox viewers and six times that of MSNBC and CNN (Koblin, 2020). For the 21 million households that have never had cable TV, broadcast news is their only choice.

The Fox News model courts conspiracy theorists, salacious news and rumor. In any country, there is a pool of people eager to believe speculation if it conforms to their sentiments. There are two kinds of conspiracy theorists: those who don’t know any better and those have seen it all and do know better. Conspiracies join the old and the young. 

At first I dismissed speculation that President Johnson would send thousands of young men like myself to their deaths to bolster his political reputation. He secretly taped many phone conversations in the White House. His own words substantiate the claims (Sanger, 2001).

After President Nixon’s landslide victory over Democratic rival George McGovern in 1972, rumors circulated that Nixon had ordered a burglary and wiretapping of  Democratic National Committee headquarters. That’s how Nixon won. Oh, come on. Sore losers. McGovern ran a bad campaign. Within months, those rumors became the subject of public hearings. After Nixon had resigned because he lost party support, some Republicans I spoke with still believed that Watergate was a hoax, Democratic payback for getting trounced in the election. Really? I asked. I was too young to understand, they said.

After yet another trouncing of the Democratic candidate in the 1984 Presidential election, rumors circulated that the Reagan White House was selling weapons to Iran to get money to support the right wing Contra rebels in Nicaragua (Wikipedia, n.d.). The Democrats in Congress had blocked funding for the Contras, but there were any number of ways that the administration could secretly route money to the rebels. Why would White House officials use Iran as a go-between? The country’s head of state had called us the devil. Sore losers, those Democrats. Vicious rumors against the President.

In response to the subsequent Iran-Contra investigation, White House officials destroyed many documents relating to the affair. After several years of denial, Reagan finally acknowledged that there had been such an arrangement but never admitted that he knew about it.

In 2004, rumors circulated that President George Bush concocted evidence so that he could go to war in Iraq and kill Saddam Hussein, the dictator who had tried to kill Bush’s dad in 1993. A ridiculous story meant to take down a President before the election. Democrats were still angry that a conservative Supreme Court had given the Presidency to George Bush in the 2000 election. The sacrifice of so many Iraqi and American lives because of the President’s spite? Come on, gimme a break.

Did Bush go to war with Iraq as payback? Probably not. Did the Bush team manipulate the evidence for going to war? Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction that Saddam Hussein had hidden? Still hidden.

Why do conspiracy theories persist through the centuries? Many of us like puzzles. There are elements of truth in some conspiracy theories. Are conspiracy  theories true most of the time? No. Is prayer effective most of the time? No. It only has to work a small amount of the time and people pray. Why not? Can’t hurt. If a prayer cost $100, would there be fewer prayers?

Martin Luther protested the selling of indulgences by the Catholic Church to those faithful who were concerned for the health of their everlasting souls.  People who could afford such indulgences were guaranteed a place in heaven. Those who were poor might be condemned to an eternity in hell. He sparked a movement that rejected the intermediation of clergy between each person and God.

Why do people need the intermediation of scientists between each person and the truth?  Scientists can be wrong. That’s the opinion of some Fox News hosts. If scientists are wrong 5% of the time, that is a reason to have doubt, isn’t it? Using the methods of conspiracy theorists, I only need a slim chance of error to disbelieve scientists, and a slim chance of truth to believe a conspiracy theory. Casinos depend on this kind of thinking to make their profits.

Rupert Murdoch is the billionaire head of News Corp, and the owner of Fox News. He is a smart man who understands that the presentation of the news is as important as the news itself. He is a pragmatic man. Anticipating a win by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, Mr. Murdoch was fashioning Fox News into a more moderate news outlet (Folkenflik, 2017).

In reaction to Mr. Trump’s unexpected win, he turned Fox News into a megaphone for the White House and the Conspiracy-Theorist-In-Chief, Donald J. Trump. Fox News is the only network to grow its audience each year. That’s smart. Give people what they want. 

Is Fox News spinning fewer fairy tales that feature the President as the saving hero? Lately, he has attacked the network on Twitter because they are not doing enough to get him and other Republicans elected this year (Ward, 2020). Yes, he wrote that. Will the network give the hero of the fairy tale what he wants?

This post has been corrected. An earlier version incorrectly stated that Disney now owned Fox News. The network was not included in the deal when Disney bought 21st Century Fox earlier this year. Thanks to a reader for noting the error.

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Notes:

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

Folkenflik, D. (2017, March 14). Murdoch And Trump, An Alliance Of Mutual Interest. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/14/520080606/murdoch-and-trump-an-alliance-of-mutual-interest

Koblin, J. (2020, March 24). The Evening News Is Back. N.Y.Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/business/media/coronavirus-evening-news.html

Sanger, D. E. (2001, November 6). New Tapes Indicate Johnson Doubted Attack in Tonkin Gulf. N.Y. Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/06/us/new-tapes-indicate-johnson-doubted-attack-in-tonkin-gulf.html. (See U. Virginia entry for transcriptions.)

U.S. Senate. (2019, December 12). Watergate Leaks Lead to Open Hearings. Retrieved from https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Watergate_Investigation.htm

U. Virginia. (n.d.). The Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson. Retrieved from https://prde.upress.virginia.edu/content/johnson. (Paywall – summaries free).

Ward, M. (2020, May 21). Trump attacks Fox News for ‘doing nothing to help Republicans, and me,’ get reelected. Politico. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/21/trump-attacks-fox-news-doing-nothing-to-help-republicans-in-november-273612

Watson, A. (2020, May 18). U.S. cable news network viewership 2020. Statista. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/373814/cable-news-network-viewership-usa/

Wikipedia. (2020, May 14). Iran–Contra affair. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran–Contra_affair

The View From Here

May 17, 2020

by Steve Stofka

The editorial page of the Wall St Journal criticized the provision in the CARES act that paid an additional $600 in unemployment benefits to working people told to stay home by their state and local governments (WSJ, 2020). An attack on a policy that supports people during this historic crisis is a personal attack on working families. Some workers are earning more in benefits than they did when working. This offends elitist sympathies. As families overwhelm the resources of food banks nationwide, the country club set worry about the moral hazard of providing an income of basic sustenance to those forced to stay home. What level of hell birthed such sentiments?

When governments order people to stop working, they have a responsibility for monetary damages as well as some compensation for pain and suffering. Some in our country’s aristocracy prefer a system that makes people desperate to work in order to eat and pay their bills. Such workers will be more inclined to compromise their safety and return to work. Who will clean the bathrooms and offices of the executives that own America?

Almost a hundred years ago the German director Fritz Lang painted a dystopian account of social and economic classes in his film “Metropolis.” Each day the workers descended into the underground to keep the machinery of the city running. Above ground, the sons of the elite enjoyed sporting contests and idle pleasures. 

In a past century the elite wore powdered wigs and flared waistcoats to distinguish themselves from the commoners. On the jogging paths in Central Park they might be indistinguishable from other runners. Unlike aliens from another planet the patrician class look human. Their attitudes are not.

State and local governments mandated business closures. Losing a job includes the loss of someone’s employer-sponsored insurance. The $1200 stimulus payment covered one month of COBRA replacement insurance for a family (Garfield, 2020). The elite write these barbaric rules.

To protect themselves, the elite left their tony neighborhoods in crowded Manhattan and Brooklyn (Quealy, 2020). Are they spending quality time at their homes in the Hamptons? The social and economic hierarchy of this world has changed little from the century old society that F. Scott Fitzgerald captured in The Great Gatsby.

As Fitzgerald wrote, the privileged believe that they deserve their entitlements. To criticize such thinking is Socialism or Communism. The elite claim to be the moral standard bearers of the country, the high priests of a religion they call Capitalism. Whatever serves their self-interest is enfolded into that religion. Whatever does not serve their interests is an ism that is un-American. To appease their god, the priests need the sacrifice of thousands of families. Let the subservient workers shed their concerns for their safety and shuffle to their daily toil. So sayeth the precious persons of privilege.

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Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

Garfield, R., Claxton, G., Damico, A., & Levitt, L. (2020, May 12). Eligibility for ACA Health Coverage Following Job Loss. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/eligibility-for-aca-health-coverage-following-job-loss/. Key highlights by one of the authors https://twitter.com/larry_levitt/status/1261303328425689088?s=21

Quealy, K. (2020, May 15). The Richest Neighborhoods Emptied Out Most as Coronavirus Hit New York City. NY Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/05/15/upshot/who-left-new-york-coronavirus.html

WSJ Editorial Board. (2020, May 14). Opinion | Pelosi’s Presidential Platform. Wall St. Journal.  Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/pelosis-presidential-platform-11589499163 (Paywall).

Making Sense

May 10, 2020

by Steve Stofka

65 years ago, the scientist and author Isaac Asimov published a novel “The Naked Sun” (Asimov, 1956 – Wikipedia).  A robot detective investigates a murder on Solaria where the inhabitants rarely have physical contact with each other. They teleconference via holograph TV. How did we become characters in a science fiction novel?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is closed but online visitors can look at some of the collections (MetMuseum, n.d.). Via Zoom, patients can have HIPAA-compliant remote sessions with their therapist (Zoom, 2020). When a friend had a fever, his doctor performed a preliminary screening remotely. Some questions. Tilt your laptop screen down a bit. Hold your head in that position. Good. Open wide and turn slightly to your right. Shine your flashlight down. Hold it there. Turn back toward me. Tilt your head down and to the left. Ok.

The monthly employment was released on Friday. In two months, the unemployment rate went from less than 4%, one of the best in the past century, to 15%, the same level as 1940, when eleven years of a Depression economy had ground the American spirit into a permanent state of disbelief. Industrial production in April was the lowest ever recorded. Annualized auto sales dropped below the levels of the financial crisis in 2008-9.

This country is a world leader in data collection. “Just the facts, ma’am” was an iconic trope of the mid-century TV show “Dragnet.” Because this is the land of so many uncomfortable truths, we shy away from facts. This is the land where boosterism was invented. Thousands of people were drawn to Midwest and western towns by exaggerated claims of opportunity (NEH, n.d.). The taking of land from native peoples, the dismal performance of untrained cavalry in battle against the Plains Indians, and the repeated breaking of treaties were conveniently suffocated by editors and publishers who wanted to appeal to newly arrived European immigrants on the east coast. Those who reported the facts were asked to change their stories to make the settlers and the soldiers look heroic. If Indian people had bought books and magazines, the editors might have portrayed them in a better light.

In the 19th century, most people grew their own food. It was and is hard work. After exhausting the soil many families either worked for a larger farmer or moved to another area and started again. Slavery was a convenient institution for an agricultural economy. Centuries of abuse by Southern landowners were buried in the landfill of American history.

For the next century, scholars in economics, history and social studies will tell the story of this pandemic. High school students will have to remember facts about the pandemic and produce an essay of 250 words for the AP history exam. The people who suffered through the pandemic will be marked by a million graves in cemeteries across the country.  The businesses that faltered and fell will be forgotten.

The economic data produced during this era will become a benchmark for future generations. A record drop in employment, in production, in retail sales, etc. The policies enacted in response to this crisis will certainly influence future generations. Our institutions are shackled by the chains of historical crises.

Former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang ran on a platform of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), a monthly payment to all Americans as a substitute for the dozens of housing, food and education subsidies that clog our bureaucracy and contaminate our politics. His supporters –  the Yang Gang – continue to support this common sense platform. It is simple. It gives people dignity and some control. Mr. Yang could not gain popular traction among Democratic voters. The party thrives on complex bureaucratic programs that require a lot of administrative staff. Simplicity is a long word that many Democratic politicians cannot spell.

Had such a monthly program been in place, a lot of suffering might have been avoided.  The IRS reports that it has sent out stimulus checks to one-third of the population (Keshner, 2020). Are you in the fortunate group who has received the funds? Millions of people are waiting for their stimulus check. Millions of applicants anxiously await their unemployment checks. The state systems are overwhelmed by the number of people applying for benefits. Food banks are reporting even more demand than they experienced during the financial crisis.

We live in a highly developed and educated society, but we respond to crisis with our monkey brains. Each of us has a unique sense of what is fair, and injustice triggers our sense of outrage. Politicians know this. They work hard to control the policy levers. They need us to vote for them. A monthly check to everyone does not secure political loyalty from anyone. Mr. Yang, stop making sense!

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Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

Asimov, I. (1956). The Naked Sun. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Naked_Sun

Keshner, A. (2020, May 8). IRS has paid out over $218 billion in stimulus checks. Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-irs-has-already-paid-out-over-half-the-stimulus-check-money-heres-where-it-went-2020-04-24

Metropolitan Museum of Art. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.metmuseum.org/

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). (n.d.). Boosterism on the Prairie. Retrieved from https://publications.newberry.org/makebigplans/node/3162

Zoom. (2020, April). Video Conferencing, Web Conferencing, Webinars, Screen Sharing. Retrieved from http://zoom.us/. HIPAA Compliance Document. https://zoom.us/docs/doc/Zoom-hipaa.pdf

A Turn to Normal

May 3, 2020

by Steve Stofka

Deaths from the Covid-19 virus passed a milestone this week. More people have died from the virus than the number of Americans who died fighting the Vietnam War (Strochlic, 2020). I wanted to compare that with other gruesome milestones.

One hundred years ago, the Spanish flu killed 675,000 Americans (CDC, 2019). 62,000 were World War 1 soldiers, more than the number of war casualties (Gilbert, 1998). That is our next milestone. The flu was called the Spanish flu only because newspapers in neutral Spain first reported the disease (Flanagan, 2020). Under wartime restrictions, the media in other countries were not allowed to report the casualties.

Some talking heads have portrayed this disease as just a bad flu. Is it? During the moderately bad 2018-2019 flu season there were 490,000 people hospitalized (CDC, 2019/01). The 2017-2018 flu season was severe. The CDC estimates that 800,000 people were hospitalized for that season’s flu (CDC, 2019/11).  The agency reports 136,000 people hospitalized for Covid-19 (CDC, 2020). That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

 New York City has about 40,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations, 3/8ths of those in the entire country (NYC, 2020). A 2012 survey by the city identified about 26,000 hospital beds (NYC-IBO, 2012). Large city mayors around the country look in horror at the refrigerated trucks parked outside some NYC hospitals to hold the dead bodies.  

Nine million people live in NYC. The Census Bureau estimates that there are 327 million Americans, more than 30 times the number living in NYC. I will use a 20x multiplier instead of 30x. Multiplying 136,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations by 20 produces 2.7 million hospitalizations, 3-1/2 times the severe flu season of 2017-18.

The American Hospital Association estimates that there are about one million beds in the U.S. (AHA, 2020). In an emergency, hospitals can increase their bed count but not when the emergency is a highly infectious disease. Areas of the hospital must be set aside exclusively for Covid-19 patients.

The first wave of the Spanish flu epidemic washed over the U.S. in the spring of 1918. The tsunami – the killing wave – came in the fall of that year, when many people thought the worst had passed.  We all want to get back to normal, even if that is a new normal. We hope that normal does not invite abnormal.

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Notes:

Photo by 丁亦然 on Unsplash

AHA. (2020, February). Fast Facts on U.S. Hospitals, 2020: AHA. Retrieved from https://www.aha.org/statistics/fast-facts-us-hospitals

CDC. (2020, January 8). Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths in the United States – 2018–2019 influenza season. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html

CDC. (2019, March 20). 1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n1.html

CDC. (2019, November 22). Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths in the United States – 2017–2018 influenza season. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2017-2018.htm

CDC. (2020, April 24). COVID-View Weekly Summary. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html

Flanagan, E. (2020, March 14). Spanish flu: How Belfast newspapers reported 1918 pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-51818777

Gilbert, M. (1998). A history of the twentieth century. London: HarperCollins. (p. 532).

NYC. (2020, May 1). COVID-19: Data. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page

NYC-IBO. (2012, November 15). How Many of the City’s Hospitals, and Hospital Beds, Were at Risk During Hurricane Sandy. Retrieved from https://ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/printnycbtn5.pdf

Strochlic, N. (2020, April 28). U.S. coronavirus deaths now surpass fatalities in the Vietnam War. National Geographic. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/04/coronavirus-death-toll-vietnam-war-cvd/

Faceless

April 26, 2020

by Steve Stofka

In the name of public safety, our elected officials are picking winners and losers. In the process, they are selectively destroying businesses. Their job is to protect lives, they claim. Faceless legislative staff craft regulations that destroy some lives while they protect others.

In my neighborhood there is a Sprouts grocery store in a strip mall. That’s open. Next to it are several clothing stores, all closed now. A nail salon – closed. A mattress and bedding store is closed. The liquor store is open.

Across the street is a Walmart with a grocery store inside. The parking lot is almost full. Wal-Mart restricts access to the store entrance to safely stagger customers. There are a lot of signs and tape on the floor to remind people to stay six feet back when waiting in line. Most people are wearing masks.

The chiropractor across the boulevard is temporarily closed. We elect state and local politicians who delegate the work of governing to office staff. A committee decided that people with pinched nerves in their necks and backs are not important. Can’t work because you are having muscle spasms? Too bad. Some bureaucrat has decided that your pain is not essential. Stay home and ease the pain with marijuana or alcohol. Those store are essential. It is a slap in the face to those with chronic pain.

A month ago, the mayor’s office of Denver issued a stay-at-home order that did not include liquor stores and pet stores as essential businesses. What will be closed next? By mid-afternoon, just two hours after the edict was issued, cars crowded the streets of Denver and adjoining counties. People lined up inside liquor stores. Two bottles of Seagram 7. A few quarts of vodka. Four cases of Bud. Panic buying or those looking to profit from the coming shutdown. Social media alerted the mayor’s office and they immediately amended the order.

In some office buildings, therapists cannot get into their office because the building is locked. They are non-essential. Where are their patient notes? In the locked building. Got problems? Try Zooming your therapist. Remember – your government committee is trying to keep you safe.

Therapists and chiropractors not essential. Oil and gas extraction is essential because, well, it just is. The drop in demand for gasoline has produced a glut in oil. Companies are storing the extra in super tankers on the world’s oceans. Got back problems? Rub some crude oil on it.  

President Trump suggested that “medical doctors” – not the other kind of doctors like PhD doctors – but medical doctors could inject disinfectant like Lysol into people infected with the coronavirus. It’s OK if medical doctors do it. The maker of Lysol was quick to issue a warning. Do not inject Lysol into your body, they warned.   

Mr. Trump has become the country’s voodoo doctor. The warm weather was going to kill the virus. Then it was a malaria drug. Now it is Lysol. Put on your voodoo doctor headdress, Mr. Trump. Get your cauldron fired up and cook us up one of your special potions. The folks at Fox News will endorse your medicine. 

The President is the visible menace. The folks who work in our state and local offices are the invisible threat. A select few decide which businesses are essential, whose pain gets treated and who is important. They decide who gets unemployment insurance and who does not.  Many small businesses will not recover. It can take ten years or more to build up enough savings to start a small business. A second mortgage on a house is often used to capitalize a business. A faceless committee in a government building says your business is not important. Bye-bye business. Bye-bye savings. You can give up your dream and find work somewhere. Hope you can keep your house. It’s not essential. You are not important.

If – when – businesses reopen, business owners have a lot of questions. Will the state exempt businesses from liability if a customer or employee gets sick? Does the state have that power, the governor asks. The state has the power to issue edicts that crush small businesses but not the power to help business owners recover. You are not important.

After three deaths due to corona virus, the health department shut down a Wal-Mart store in our area (Butzer, 2020). Wal-Mart has deep pockets and legions of lawyers. Will an insurance company insure a small business against a coronavirus lawsuit? How much extra premium will it cost? What is the protocol? Should a business owner hire someone to screen customers before they come into the establishment? Does anyone have an answer?

The supply chain is an invisible river of goods and services that enables local businesses to service their customers. Is that supply chain broken? We will find out. The pandemic has caused a surge in orders for computers, but China has shuttered computer factories (Brandom, 2020).

Let’s turn to the faces of those we elected. Congress hurriedly passed an 800-page bill to provide $350 billion in loans and grants to small businesses – the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 28% of the funds were grabbed up by publicly held companies (Beltran, 2020).  The original provision in the bill was that any business with more than 500 employees was not eligible for the funds. Faceless lobbyists pressured the faceless staffs of lawmakers to make a small change. Just a few words. Change the wording to exclude companies with 500 employees at any one location. Done. No problem. The senator appreciates your support.

Senator Marco Rubio is the chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. When the Wall St. Journal contacted his staff about large businesses scooping up the funds intended for small business, reporters were told they were mistaken. Mr. Rubio would not allow such language. The staff later admitted their error (The Journal, 2020). Lawmakers routinely vote for legislation without knowing what is in it. Prior to passage of the ACA (Obamacare) bill in 2010, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi replied that legislators wouldn’t know what was in the bill until it passed. Legislative sausage making by faceless staff and anonymous lobby groups. No, we’re not for sale, lawmakers insist. Yes, thank you for your support, they reply to the campaign contributions of the lobbyists.

The pandemic response of government has exposed our vulnerability. With great power and an incomprehension of the effect of their edicts, faceless legislative staff act as the executioners of the French Revolution.  Some small business owners must kneel down at the guillotine and await the fall of the blade.

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Notes:

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

Beltran, L. (2020, April 23). Restaurant Chains Received Many of the Biggest PPP Loans. Retrieved from https://www.barrons.com/articles/restaurant-chains-received-many-of-the-biggest-ppp-loans-51587573556

Brandom, R. (2020, March 27). Electronics companies are getting gridlocked by coronavirus lockdowns. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/27/21195953/tech-manufacturing-companies-coronavirus-lockdown-apple-electronics-china

Butzer, S. (2020, April 24). Health department closes Aurora Walmart amid COVID-19 deaths, positive cases connected to store. KMGH. Retrieved from https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/coronavirus/health-department-closes-aurora-walmart-amid-covid-19-deaths-positive-cases-connected-to-store

The Journal. (2020, April 22). How Big Businesses Got Small Business Relief Money. [Audio, 21 mins]. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/podcasts/the-journal/how-big-businesses-got-small-business-relief-money/7C5DAB5C-71C0-4D50-9D13-9D9633E633AC

Ain’t It Great?!

April 19, 2020

By Steve Stofka

Has this pandemic prompted people to have a greater respect for science? Or has the science of the internet fostered more conspiracy theories and information hoaxes typical of countries with low literacy rates? This week – the rise and fall of science in American politics.

Let’s turn the dial back to World War 2. In the space of thirty years at mid-century, scientific understanding and accomplishment leapt forward. People expected that rate of achievement to continue into this century. Flying cars. Supersonic planes. A cure for cancer and the common cold. Lifetimes of 200 hundred years.

In the health sciences, the development of vaccines and antibiotics allayed the fears of millions of parents. Many who had survived the Depression and World War 2 remembered  when Calvin Coolidge Jr., the President’s son, had died from a simple blister he got while playing lawn tennis (Rhoads, 2014). Thousands of World War 1 soldiers died from simple bacterial infections on their skin. In the course of two decades, antibiotics were developed and saved thousands in the next war.

The polio vaccine, developed in the 1950s, removed the threat of death or lifelong disability from the disease. In 1916, a quarter of the people in New York City who contracted the disease died (Smithsonian, 2005). Cities imposed quarantines on individual homes and public transportation during summer months when the disease was most prevalent.

The development of plastics, vitamins, TVs, personal radios, semi-conductors and many more inventions changed our daily lives. Men (mostly) of learning and business leaders schooled in efficient business practices were recruited to government to help run a world that was increasingly complicated.

During the 1960s President Kennedy hired Robert McNamara, the head of the Ford Motor Company, to run the Defense Department. Yes, that happened. McNamara was one of the Whiz Kids, experts in management and the efficient deployment of technology that would refashion the U.S. military during the Cold War against Communism. McNamara made many mistakes in the first five years of the Vietnam War, but hid them until his autobiography  in 1995 (Biography, 2019).

Whiz kids headed by economist Paul Samuelson transformed monetary and economic policy with a precise mathematical approach that modeled human economic behavior as well as the movement of money, goods and services. Inspired by the work of John Maynard Keynes, who advocated strong government intervention, the new economic thinking promised to transform fiscal policy into an efficient tool that would benefit all ranks of society.

Big government spending during the 1960s spurred higher inflation. The economic Whiz Kids could not head off a recession at the end of the decade. When the Arab oil embargo caused gasoline prices to jump, inflation bit hard, and President Nixon instituted wage and price controls to curb inflation. After he left office in ignominy, his successor President Ford, fought inflation by wearing a button on his lapel that said “WIN.” Yes, that happened. The acronym stood for Whip Inflation Now (Smithsonian, n.d.). The experts were not as knowledgeable as they thought. They had tried, they had failed and their ascendancy was at an end.

Enter Ronald Reagan. He had developed a folksy manner as a host for a TV western series. He led California during its oil boom heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His tenure ended just as California’s economy hit the skids. Exit the experts. Enter charisma and myth. Mr. Reagan touted Star Wars defense ideas that were products of an illustrator’s imagination. He believed in a form of wishful thinking called supply side economics. He dismissed the evidence from his own scientists when a mysterious disease began to ravage young men in the gay community. He flaunted a simplistic campaign of “Just Say No” to drug use while he backed insurgents in Central America who used American communities to build a drug empire based on crack cocaine. Mr. Reagan was a pragmatic politician who believed that facts should bend to the will of political leaders. He led the country through the most severe recession since the 1930s Depression. His two terms in office were marked by tax reform, strong economic gains, a resurgence of conservative political ideas and repeated scandals. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the conservative myth machine concocted a narrative that Reagan was responsible for the downfall of the empire. Like the iconic sheriff in a western movie, Reagan had strode out onto the dusty street of the global town and faced down the bad guy, the USSR.

Charisma left the stage when Reagan’s Vice-President, George H.W. Bush, won the election in 1988. Bush was the compromise between charisma and expertise. He had vast experience in many corners of civilian and military government. In the 1991 Gulf War, he and his Secretary of Defense, Colin Powell, demonstrated a technical prowess and efficiency that lifted the reputation of experts once again. Mr. Bush made a bargain with Congressional Democrats to raise taxes to help balance the budget. Conservatives were angry and disaffected and an expert businessman waited in the wings.

Ross Perot was the billionaire founder of a tech company. As a hard-nosed third-party candidate, he promised to bring honesty and efficiency to government finances. He took a whopping 19% of votes from Bush and gave Clinton the election by default. A contentious three-way race had given another Democrat, President Wilson, a default victory in 1912. Clinton’s vote percentage was 43% (Wikipedia, n.d.). Wilson’s was 42%. President Lincoln holds the record with the lowest vote percentage for a winning Presidential race – less than 40%.

President Clinton was the folksy governor of a backwater state called Arkansas, home to the Walton family, the owners of Wal-Mart. He was also a Rhodes scholar. Clinton promised to join expertise and charm. As with Lincoln and Wilson, those on the other side of the political aisle regarded Clinton as an illegitimate President and were determined to remove him from office. After five years of investigation, Republicans successfully impeached him on a charge of lying to Congress about an affair – a dalliance might be a more accurate description – with a White House intern. The leader of the Republican effort, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, was himself having a long affair with a young Congressional aide. Yes, that happened.

It was the 1990s. Mr. Clinton presided over an explosion in computer technology. From its early development in research labs, government and universities, the internet became public in 1993. A different group of Whiz Kids were in charge. Dot com this. Dot com that. Too much money chasing too few opportunities in the burgeoning field of online commerce led to a bust.

After 9-11, the invasion of Iraq demonstrated the power of science. The subsequent campaign demonstrated the even greater power of human hubris and folly. In 2007-2009, technological folly and greed produced the greatest recession since the 1930s Depression. Americans split into two factions: those who believed in expertise and  those who mistrusted it.

President Obama was elected by those who were confident in experts. Policy experts would soon get the country out of the financial mess that the bankers and fast fingers on Wall Street had made of the lives of ordinary Americans on Main Street.

Mr. Obama’s two terms in office proved the inefficacy and arrogance of policy experts. The experts joined forces with vain politicians and created havoc in the lives of many Americans. A stimulus program was mismanaged, ill-timed and weighed down by burdensome regulation. An embarrassed President Obama admitted that there weren’t as many “shovel-ready” projects as he had hoped. Each agency protected its kingdom of regulatory power. Programs to help people stay in their homes floundered. A Cash for Clunkers auto buying program gave a temporary boost but its effect vanished within a few months. The promise of an efficient health care system that allowed Americans their choice of doctor was a fiasco. When the health care exchange web site debuted in 2013, it looked like the weekend effort of incompetent programmers. More embarrassment. Washington experts couldn’t be trusted to change the oil on someone’s car.

In 2016, almost half of voters rejected so-called experience, expertise and a posture of stately reserve in their President. After eight years of President Obama, they had had enough. They wanted the bluster of a pro wrestler and the charisma of a reality show star. Send in the clown!

America is home to the world’s best universities and most innovative companies and attract the best minds and the most capital from around the world. Blah, blah, blah. Americans were tired of best. They wanted great. They wanted insanely crazy great. They got crazy instead. Welcome to America.

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Notes:

Photo by humberto chavez on Unsplash

Biography. (2019, October 3). Robert S. McNamara. Retrieved from https://www.biography.com/political-figure/robert-s-mcnamara

Rhoads, J. N. (2014, July 7). The Medical Context of Calvin Jr.’s Untimely Death. Retrieved from https://www.coolidgefoundation.org/blog/the-medical-context-of-calvin-jr-s-untimely-death/

Smithsonian Institution. (2005, February 1). Individual Rights versus the Public’s Health. Retrieved from https://amhistory.si.edu/polio/americanepi/communities.htm

Smithsonian Institution. (n.d.). Knowing the Presidents: Gerald R. Ford. Retrieved from https://www.si.edu/spotlight/knowing-the-presidents-gerald-r-ford

Wikipedia. (n.d.) 1992 United States Presidential Election. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_United_States_presidential_election

You Don’t Count

April 12, 2020

by Steve Stofka

Wisconsin voters held their state’s primary this past week. At stake was an important state Supreme Court seat. The long lines at the few polling places open in urban areas highlighted the distinction in voting power between urban and rural communities. Voters in urban areas that are largely Democratic must wait for hours to vote while those in rural Republican leaning districts experience short wait times when they vote (NCSL, 2014).

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi advocates a federal law requiring states to have a mail in ballot as an option in federal elections. Republicans from low population states want to protect the enormous power that their rural communities have over those in urban areas. They continue to resist mail in ballots.

The map below from the Census Bureau shows the population density per county (US Census Bureau, 2018). The light green and yellow areas have populations below the U.S. average, which is only 88 people per square mile. Western European countries have an average of 468 people per square mile, more than 5 times the density of the U.S.

I have numbered the 7 states that had not implemented stay at home orders as of April 6th (Silverstein, 2020). Each state is one of 21 states that have less than 1% of the nation’s population (List, 2020).

Twelve of those states have majority rural populations (HAC, 2011).  25 states have only 20% of the country’s population but each state gets two Senators, regardless of population. The Senate does not have proportional representation.  20% of voters control half of the Senate.

This outrageous discrepancy in voting power grew out of – stop reading and guess. Did you guess slavery? That’s right. At this country’s founding, the slave states in the south did not want the more populous states in the north to make slavery illegal in the southern states. In an age when most people grew their own food, the northern states guessed that the population of the southern states would grow more quickly because of the longer growing season. The Senate and the Electoral College were a compromise between slave and free states at the country’s founding.

Many of the plains and Rocky Mountain states have little population but have the same power in the Senate as states with twenty times their population. Why are there so many states with so few people? Stop reading and guess again. Did you guess slavery? Right again. There were 37 states in 1870, five years after the Civil War, but the western territories had already been formed during or just prior to the Civil War. So how did slavery lead to the formation of states?

Let’s look at the example of Colorado. The discovery of gold near Pikes Peak attracted a large influx of people into the region in 1859. In December 1860, a month after Lincoln was elected President, South Carolina seceded from the Union. In February 1861, two months before the formal secession of the other states, an act was introduced into the Congress to make Colorado a territory. Why? To secure mineral rights for the coming war. 15 years later, Colorado finally became a state.

In January 1862, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, recognized Arizona as a Territory. The population was sympathetic to slavery and Davis hoped to use Arizona as a launching point to capture California and it’s gold. Imagine the Confederate Army camped out on the Colorado River, in present day Lake Havasu, prepared to invade – yes, hundreds of miles of godforsaken desert. This was not a well thought out plan by Mr. Davis.

Tit for tat. A month later, the U.S. Congress, composed of only delegates from Union states, recognized Arizona as a territory along different borders to block the recognition of the Territory under the borders established by the Confederacy.  Because of its low population, the territories of Arizona and neighboring New Mexico did not become states until 1912, when progressives of both parties overcame persistent opposition in the Senate to pass the 17th Amendment (NCC, n.d.). That amendment gave voters in each state the power to elect their state’s two Senators.

 Wyoming used to have more sheep than people (USDA, 2018). People in the state now outnumber sheep almost 2-to-1. It was part of the Nebraska Territory that was created along with the Kansas Territory prior to the Civil War as part of the Kansas-Nebraska act. A month after S. Carolina’s secession in response to Lincoln’s election, Kansas entered the union as a free state in 1861. Both the Union and the Confederacy engaged in a concerted effort to secure territory and its resources in anticipation of war.  Nebraska became a state after the Civil War. The Union states wanted power in the Senate to secure the Civil War Amendments and other legislation passed after the war. Nebraska voters get 20 times more clout in the Senate than voters in New York. Why? Don’t pause. The answer is slavery again.

As part of the effort to secure the Civil War Amendments, Nevada was made a state a month after the 13th Amendment passed out of the Senate on its way to the states in 1864. As it is today, there were few people living in the territory. Congress wanted access to the silver mines in the territory and it mandated that Nevada outlaw slavery as a precondition to statehood.

The territories of Utah and New Mexico were created as part of the Compromise of 1850 to keep a balance between the slave holding states and the free states. Antipathy to Mormons delayed admission of the Utah Territory into the Union until 1896.

Will the Civil War continue to influence our everyday lives? During the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s we would read about animosities between Albanians and Serbs that dated back to the 14th Century (Geldenhuys, 2014). Shi’a and Sunni Muslims are still killing each other over a controversy about Mohammed’s successor following his death in the 7th century (McLean, n.d.). If America lasts a few more centuries, the Civil War’s legacy of injustice and bitterness will infect our descendants because it is baked into our institutions.

For a hundred years after the Civil War, Democrats fought to limit access to the vote and punished or killed those who fought for the rights of black voters in southern states. For the past fifty years, the baton of injustice has passed to the Republicans who deny people this fundamental right. Voting is a blood sport. Those who want greater access to voting will have to fight for it.

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Notes:

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Geldenhuys, D. (2014). Contested States In World Politics. New York. Palgrave MacMillan. (p. 107-8)

Housing Assistance Council (HAC). (2011, November). Rurality in the United States. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/research_notes/Rural_Research_Note_Rurality_web.pdf (p.4).

List of U.S. states by population (List). (2020, April 2). Retrieved from https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population

McLean, J. (n.d.). World Civilization. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-hccc-worldcivilization/chapter/muhammads-successors/

National Constitution Center (NCC). (n.d.). The Seventeenth Amendment. Retrieved from https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/interpretation/amendment-xvii/interps/147

NCSL. (2014, October). States and Election Reform. The Canvass (Issue 52). [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.ncsl.org/Documents/legismgt/elect/Canvass_Oct_2014_No_52.pdf

Silverstein, J. (2020, April 6). 43 states now have stay-at-home orders for coronavirus. These are the 7 that don’t. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stay-at-home-orders-states/

US Census Bureau. (2018, May 7). Population Density by County: 2010. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2010/geo/population-density-county-2010.html

All Together Now

April 5, 2020

by Steve Stofka

We’re all in this together. Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York State, tells us that in his daily conference. N.Y. State reported its first case of Coronavirus on March 1. In a month, the emergency rooms of some hospitals in New York City look like a war zone. President Trump says those photos are fake news. Deaths in red states are real. Deaths in blue states are not?

We’re all in this together proclaims Phil Murphy, the governor of the neighboring state of New Jersey. The zombies are already in his state but, as he looks across the Hudson River at NYC, he knows that vast hordes of zombies are coming. They are microscopic and invisible. They are not the Kaiju of Pacific Rim or the burrowing monsters of Tremors. They are the invisible demons of Poltergeist. Patients come into New York hospitals frantically gasping for air (NBC New York, 2020).

During this pandemic, we are discovering who is in this together. The maintenance man at the local school has just discovered that he is not essential now that the school has closed for the semester. This is the week when lawn maintenance companies begin mowing grass in much of the U.S. That maintenance man could be weeding and mowing grass, but the school district gave that job away to an outside lawn maintenance contractor to save money on employee pension and health benefits. Public private partnerships reduce the burden of local government on taxpayers.

He could be doing a hundred different fixups around the school now that it is empty. Patching and touch up painting, plumbing, the loose stalls in the bathroom, reglue those cove base tile that he hasn’t had time to get to during the school year. Upgrade those light bulbs. Something he’s been meaning to get to. Empty hallways is a good time for that. The school district says that he is not essential. Preventive maintenance is not essential. Someone at headquarters decided to wait until it’s broke. Then it’s essential.

The people who are essential are the policymakers and their minions who spend hours crafting memos that explain to employees why they are not essential.  Explaining the loss of health and pension benefits to employees is a delicate topic and requires a lot of training. We’re in this together but we’re not in this together. You do understand, don’t you?

Many teachers have discovered that they are not essential. Knowing their students well would be an asset in redesigning classes for an online format. But that job is done by instructional designers who have little experience in a classroom. They are experts in the design of education content. They are essential. Teachers are not.

Nurses are essential. Well, now they are. There is a shortage of nurses across the country because nursing schools have not been expanded to meet the needs of the population (Moore, 2019). Nurses have demonstrated for better patient care, for more investment in nursing, and in a safer patient nurse ratio (Lardieri, 2019). Sorry, nurses. Put down your signs. You’re not essential. Well, that was last year and the year before that and the year before that. This year is different.

Here, we have protective clothing for you, our essential workers. Here’s a 39-gallon lawn and leaf garbage bag. Yep, they’re the big ones with lots of room. One size fits all! Take these scissors and cut out a hole for your head in the bottom of the bag, then cut out armholes in each side. See, isn’t that good? It comes almost to your knees. Yes, it is a little bit hot because garbage bags don’t breathe very well. But it will keep you protected from nasty Covid-19 air thingees.

What about face masks? Oh sure, they are coming. President Trump told us so a few weeks ago. Here, just spray some bleach on the face mask you are wearing, then take a hair dryer and dry it out. See, good as new! I told you. We are all in this together.

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Notes:

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

Lardieri, A. (2019, September 20). Thousands of Nurses Strike for More Staffing, Better Patient Ratios. U.S. News & World Report. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2019-09-20/thousands-of-nurses-strike-for-more-staffing-better-patient-ratios

Moore, D. (2019, March 29). A rush for nurses strains colleges and hospitals as health care booms in Pittsburgh. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.post-gazette.com/business/career-workplace/2019/04/22/Nurses-hospitals-Allegheny-Health-Network-UPMC-Pittsburgh-jobs/stories/201903110158

NBC New York. (2020, March 30). ‘Yes It’s Real’: Doctors Describe ‘Eerie’ Way COVID-19 Sickens Random People. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/yes-its-real-doctors-describe-eerie-way-covid-19-sickens-random-people/2350645/

The Best in History

March 29, 2020

by Steve Stofka

The financial crisis a decade ago prepared us to better handle this historic pandemic. Gambling by financial companies, fraud and foolishness sparked that crisis. It had a large impact on the economy and the lives of millions of Americans who lost their homes, savings and jobs. It did not shut down the entire economy.

The Federal Reserve has enacted many emergency measures to support the money market and bond market during the current crisis. Many were set up under the leadership of former Chairman Ben Bernanke in response to the last crisis. In the last crisis, heavy Republican opposition delayed or blocked bailout measures. Republicans whipped up that political sentiment and won back the House in 2010. At a Tea Party rally against Obamacare, one old geezer complained that people used to just go home and die. What does he think now about the pandemic? Should the hospitals turn away all those people? The Tea Party is largely inactive now. Former Congressman Dick Armey helped spark the movement, the Koch Brothers funded it, and the Republican Party rode the wave. In the House, a coalition of about thirty members call themselves the Freedom Caucus (DeSilver, 2015). They are the remnant of the Tea Party movement.

During his campaign, candidate Donald Trump was criticized for his support of the relief policies during the financial crisis (Sherman, 2015). In a recent NBC / Wall Street Journal poll, Republican voters gave President Trump a 92% job approval rating. Overall, the public gives him about 50% on his handling of the coronavirus crisis (POS, 2020).  As a presidential candidate in 2016, Mr. Trump famously joked / bragged that he could shoot somebody on fifth Avenue in Manhattan and get away with it (Diamond, 2016). Have his policies contributed to the deaths of New Yorkers during this crisis? Depends on which political glasses you wear.

55 years ago, many Democrats defended President Johnson who sent hundreds of thousands of Democratic and Republican sons to be slaughtered in the swamps of Vietnam. Communism was the virus then. It infected the young and turned them into anti-American socialists. The only remedy was to send the young to another country or beat them with batons at anti-war rallies in Chicago, Washington, and New York City. In the first years of the war, fathers and mothers blamed Communism not President Johnson for the death of their sons. My Lai was the most famous of many atrocities committed during that war (Levesque, 2018). Shortly after that tragedy in March 1968, Mr. Johnson abandoned his re-election bid. Was Mr. Johnson a monster or a hero? Depends on which political glasses you wear.

President Trump is a singular brand but was undoubtedly influenced by the culture of fear and hate that marked his formative years. He wears his hate like a favorite shirt. Like so many, he’s a “used to be”, a former Democrat turned Republican. On C-SPAN’s Washington Journal daily call in program, there’s at least one person who says, “I used to be.” Fill in the blank – either a Democrat or a Republican. They have donned a different shade of glass.

“I’m a this-ism” is another pandemic sweeping the nation. People no longer act in support of their beliefs. Christians declare that they are Christian. They don’t need to act with generosity to others. Progressives declare that they are progressives but don’t have time to vote. That lack of support in the voting booth has hurt the Sanders campaign. He often reminds his supporters that they need to show their enthusiasm at the ballot box. I don’t often hear liberals declare themselves as such. They might be socially liberal but fiscally conservative. Neo-liberals never declare themselves but there are a lot of them, from what I hear. Politicians who have the least restraint in their behavior declare that they are Conservative. Really?

Mr. Trump is the King of Declarations. He’s the greatest President with the greatest policies and his administration is handling this crisis better than any other country. As some people take their last breaths in an emergency room, they are thinking exactly that. This administration is handling this crisis better than anyone in history. How will President Trump’s leadership during this crisis be judged? That will depend on which glasses you wear. Remember, you can trade in for another color of glasses.

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Notes:

DeSilver, D. (2015, October 20). House Freedom Caucus: What is it, and who’s in it? Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/20/house-freedom-caucus-what-is-it-and-whos-in-it/

Diamond, J. (2016, January 24). Donald Trump could ‘shoot somebody and not lose voters’ – CNNPolitics. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/23/politics/donald-trump-shoot-somebody-support/index.html

Levesque, C. J. (2018, March 16). The Truth Behind My Lai. NY Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/16/opinion/the-truth-behind-my-lai.html

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

Public Opinion Strategies (POS). (2020, March 26). Coronavirus National Polling (March 26th). Retrieved from https://pos.org/coronavirus-national-polling-march-26th/

Sherman, A. (2015, September 15). PolitiFact – Did Donald Trump support the Wall Street bailout as anti-tax Club for Growth says? Retrieved from https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2015/sep/15/club-growth/did-donald-trump-support-wall-street-bailout-club-/

Stupid and Smart Money

March 22, 2020

by Steve Stofka

When I took some money out of the ATM this week, I was surprised to see a note scrawled on one of the bills. “Stupid money 2002,” it read. I hadn’t thought about that money in a while and here it was paying me a visit. In those years, my accountant had me on a program of investing regularly every month. The stock market was down 20% from the highs of the dot-com boom that ended in 2000. I didn’t know it at the time, but the market would lose another 30% before hitting bottom. I certainly didn’t like putting money in the market only to see it disappear down a black hole.

“You’re not investing in money,” she advised. “You’re buying shares in profit machines, the top companies in the country. Dollar cost averaging buys more shares when stock prices are low, fewer shares when prices are high.” Ok, fine, I said. I kept shoveling money into a black hole. Two years later, that stupid money had turned into smart money. An Invesco analysis found that investors more than doubled their money even when they invested at the middle point of a stock market downturn (Watts, 2020).

When we withdraw money for retirement income, a child’s education, or to start a business, the money is not separated into stupid and smart. Money is fungible. It can’t be separated. Let’s say I give my child $100 to buy some books for school. The next day he is wearing a new set of headphones and I’m angry. “I didn’t use the $100 you gave me,” he says. “I used my birthday money.” I can’t tell the difference.

That’s a problem for the Senate and House as they draft bills to bail out large companies. Most of the windfall from the 2017 reduction in corporate taxes went to stock buybacks. Now companies complain that they don’t have enough reserves to weather the current crisis.

After receiving bailout funds during the last crisis a decade ago, large companies paid hundreds of millions of dollars to their executives while they laid off millions of workers. Richard Trumka, the President of the AFL-CIO, voices the concerns of many lawmakers when he calls for provisions against the companies using this year’s bailout money for stock buybacks and executive bonuses (C-Span, 2020). In response to a question from reporters at Saturday’s COVID-19 press conference, President Trump agreed that he wants to see a provision against using funds for stock buybacks in any proposed legislation. Will Washington politicians do the right thing? An army of corporate lobbyists and lawyers work tirelessly to suck as much money out of Washington as they can.

How will voters judge Mr. Trump’s response to this crisis? Is this his Katrina? Will there be an election this November? The political viewpoints in this country are so disjointed that voters from each side see the facts through their own ideological filter.

While our leaders call for unity, let’s be on guard against our own pack instincts. Many years ago in New York City during the gas embargo, I watched a man get beat up over one gallon of gas. He didn’t wait his turn.

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Notes: C-Span. (2020, March 19). Newsmakers with Richard Trumka. [Audio, transcript]. Retrieved from https://www.c-span.org/video/?470456-1/newsmakers-richard-trumka

Photo by Colin Watts at Unsplash.com

Watts, W. (2020, March 21). As Dow wipes out over 3 years of stock-market gains, here’s a warning about calling the bottom. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/as-dow-wipes-out-over-3-years-of-stock-market-gains-heres-a-warning-about-calling-the-bottom-2020-03-21?siteid=yhoof2&yptr=yahoo