Stop School Shootings Like We Stopped School Fires – From The Inside

Saturday, Dec. 1, 2020, marked the 62th anniversary of the 2nd worst school fire in US history – the Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School fire in Chicago killing 92 children and three nuns.    The worst school fire was in Collinwood, Ohio on March 4, 1908, killing 172 students, two teachers, and one rescuer.  Decades later, deadly school fires are truly a thing of the past, they are a distant memory and no longer a concern.

Today, however, we have a daily and very real fear of school shootings. How have deadly school fires been cut to zero nationwide, while school shootings are still a horrific reality? The answer lies within the walls of the schools.

As exhibited above, it took 50 years after the Collinwood fire for the US to wake up to school fire danger. After the 1908 disaster in Ohio, a new, brick “fireproof” school was built near the old one. Some fire codes were updated and improved locally, but only after the 1958 Chicago fire was their motivation to mandate nationwide change. Within one year of the Queen of Angels school tragedy, 16,500 schools were upgraded to what is now the current code.

Today, our schools are safe from fire disaster due to five basic concepts:

  1. Fireproof construction – inside, outside, and all conceivable materials and furnishings are non-combustible.
  2. Smart fire detection and alarm systems that communicate directly to fire departments.
  3. Accessible fire extinguishers in all areas (the burned area of the Chicago school only had four, each mounted out of reach, 7 feet off the floor) and advanced fire suppression systems
  4. Preparedness and training (fire drills, etc.)
  5. Automatic fire sprinkler systems

Despite virtually all children in the US being educated in fireproof schools and there being no recent deaths from school fires, we continue to have mandated fire drills, inspections, upgrades, precautions, and updated fire codes – and all with better and fully equipped fire departments mere blocks and minutes away.  Why, when our schools simply cannot burn?

In an editorial entitled “11 Minutes” columnist Patrick Bobko states that it took 11 minutes – 11 minutes during which most of the killing was done – from the initial call for help for true first responders to arrive at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida and to enter the building.  Arriving too late to stop the worst of the carnage, he alludes to a solution:

People believe in the Second Amendment because they don’t want the safety and security of their friends and families to depend upon the bravery of others. They are not willing to put the lives of those dear to them, or their own, at risk because the armed person the government assigned to protect them is cowering behind his patrol car.

Returning to our “solved” problem of school fires, let’s imagine that chemistry teacher Mr. Jones performs an experiment he’s done hundreds of times, today before a full classroom of 7th graders. Only this time, something goes wrong:  Poof, and in an instant, the countertop in front of the class is ablaze. In Ohio in 1908, or in Chicago in 1958, Mr. Jones would have had a huge and perhaps fatal problem. Surrounded with flammable materials (including the countertop) the flames would have quickly consumed the oxygen in the room and formed a deadly atmosphere for everyone therein. But in the modern chemistry lab of today, the countertop is fireproof and a fire extinguisher is immediately at hand, charged with the specific chemicals to fight the type of fire most likely in a chemistry lab. Were the fire to escalate, a schoolwide alarm would automatically sound and simultaneously notify the fire department, students would use their cell phones to alert their parents, and sprinklers would automatically activate. Either way, the fire would be quickly extinguished, the room aired out, the class would resume. It should be noted that all actions and/or precautions to fight the fire have taken place within the walls of the school. The successful outcome was the result of civilian actions and reactions, again within the walls of the school.

Contrast the above with the recent rash of school shootings. Like combatting fire,  the solution lies within the school walls – and that these shooters can be stopped – and stopped much sooner. The solution is to arm teachers.  Not just any teacher – but certain teachers. Which ones? I propose those elected by their peers as trusted and wise individuals. Once elected, those teachers would be asked to volunteer to be trained and licensed to carry concealed. If any would decline, once again the teachers would vote, and continue to do so until there are enough to provide sufficient coverage.

Recent school shooters always gravitate to schools that post “Gun-Free Zone” signs – signs that may as well state “School Shooters Welcome! You will face no opposition from this gallery of students and teachers.” Absurd as it sounds, that is exactly what has already happened more than a dozen times.  Until help arrives (think “11 Minutes”) nearly every shot fired has resulted in another fatality.

Yes, I know – I have been challenged by a retired Ph.D. educator and former school board member with this question: “What if an armed teacher goes berserk?” My response was, “You mean that teacher who has been alone with our children for hours on end, week after week, month after month, year after year – you mean THAT teacher? That teacher who, between today and the last time you checked, could have stockpiled more ammo and weaponry in their classroom closet than the Las Vegas shooter used to kill 59? THAT teacher?”

He has yet to get back to me.

Shooters are getting smarter – and deadlier. I listened to a news interview with horror as one surviving girl in Florida described how, hearing gunfire and following the rules for lockdown, the classroom door was locked and the students assembled against the wall where the door was located, out of sight of the shooter. The shooter came to their door, broke the window, and unable to reach the lock then extended his arm inside and (without seeing what he was shooting) turned the gun in the direction of the students and fired. The shots hit her girlfriend next to her, killing her. A fellow student, the gunman was familiar with the rules and knew exactly where his targets would be hiding.

That old saying, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” holds true. Yet some label all guns and/or the people that own them as evil. In the column mentioned above, Patrick Bobko states:

See, the thing that’s hardest to communicate to “gun control” advocates is that all the people who own firearms aren’t caricatured “gun nuts” who drink Wild Turkey out of the bottle. They aren’t “survivalists” stockpiling ammunition and canned tuna living in cabins in the woods. Their convictions don’t spring from some sort of strange gun fetish or allegiance to an anachronistic ideology birthed in a less civilized time. They are not morally flawed because they have an “assault rifle” in their gun safe. They are instead people who, in moments of heart-pounding necessity, believe they would stand their ground during those eleven minutes. A considerable portion of the American public is armed for no other reason than it aspires to be brave in the darkest of moments when them [sic] and theirs are threatened. They want to be able to defend their loved ones and themselves for those eleven minutes when nobody else will – or can.

Ask yourself this question: Would your preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college student be better protected by a somewhat-timid but trained and licensed armed teacher – or face alone the likes of Dylan Klebold, Adam Lanza, Eric Harris, Nikolas Cruz or others? Would or could the death toll at Virginia Tech have been 2 instead of 32? At Sandy Hook – 7 instead of 27? At Parkland – 1 instead of 17? We will never know until we move the solution inside like we did with school fires – and respond at 1 minute instead of 11.

*****

Karl William Jenkins resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Catastrophic Impact of Covid Forced Societal Lockdowns

The present Covid-inspired forced lockdowns on business and school closures are and have been counterproductive, not sustainable and are, quite frankly, meritless and unscientific. They have been disastrous and just plain wrong! There has been no good reason for this. These unparalleled public health actions have been enacted for a virus with an infection mortality rate (IFR) roughly similar (or likely lower once all infection data are collected) to seasonal influenza. Stanford’s John P.A. Ioannidis identified 36 studies (43 estimates) along with an additional 7 preliminary national estimates (50 pieces of data) and concluded that among people <70 years old across the world, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.57% with a median of 0.05% across the different global locations (with a corrected median of 0.04%). Let me write this again, 0.05%. Can one even imagine the implementation of such draconian regulations for the annual flu? Of course not! Not satisfied with the current and well-documented failures of lockdowns, our leaders are inexplicably doubling and tripling down and introducing or even hardening punitive lockdowns and constraints. They are locking us down ‘harder.’ Indeed, an illustration of the spurious need for these ill-informed actions is that they are being done in the face of clear scientific evidence showing that during strict prior societal lockdowns, school lockdowns, mask mandates, and additional societal restrictions, the number of positive cases went up! No one can point to any instance where lockdowns have worked in this Covid pandemic.

It is also noteworthy that these irrational and unreasonable restrictive actions are not limited to any one jurisdiction such as the US, but shockingly have occurred across the globe. It is stupefying as to why governments, whose primary roles are to protect their citizens, are taking these punitive actions despite the compelling evidence that these policies are misdirected and very harmful; causing palpable harm to human welfare on so many levels. It’s tantamount to insanity what governments have done to their populations and largely based on no scientific basis. None! In this, we have lost our civil liberties and essential rights, all based on spurious ‘science’ or worse, opinion, and this erosion of fundamental freedoms and democracy is being championed by government leaders who are disregarding the Constitutional (USA) and Charter (Canada) limits to their right to make and enact policy. These unconstitutional and unprecedented restrictions have taken a staggering toll on our health and well-being and also target the very precepts of democracy; particularly given the fact that this viral pandemic is no different in overall impact on society than any previous pandemics. There is simply no defensible rationale to treat this pandemic any differently.

There is absolutely no reason to lock down, constrain and harm ordinarily healthy, well, and younger or middle-aged members of the population irreparably; the very people who will be expected to help extricate us from this factitious nightmare and to help us survive the damages caused by possibly the greatest self-inflicted public health fiasco ever promulgated on societies. There is no reason to continue this illogical policy that is doing far greater harm than good. Never in human history have we done this and employed such overtly oppressive restrictions with no basis. A fundamental tenet of public health medicine is that those with actual disease or who are at great risk of contracting disease are quarantined, not people with low disease risk; not the well! This seems to have been ignored by an embarrassingly large number of health experts upon whom our politicians rely for advice. Rather we should be using a more ‘targeted’ (population-specific age and risk) approach in relation to the implementation of public health measures as opposed to the inelegant and shotgun tactics being forced upon us now. Optimally, the key elements for modern public health include refraining from causing societal disruption (or at most, minimally) and to ensure freedom is maintained in the advent of pathogen emergence while concurrently protecting overall health and well-being. We also understand that at the outset of the pandemic there was little to no reliable information regarding SARS CoV-2. Indeed, initial case fatality rate (CFR) reports were staggeringly high and so it made sense, earlier, to impose strict lockdowns and other measures until such a time as the danger passed or we understood more clearly the nature of this virus, the data, and how it might be managed. But why would we continue this way and for so long once the factual characteristics of this virus became evident and as alluded to above, we finally realized that its infection fatality rate (IFR) which is a more accurate and realistic reflection of mortality than CFR, was really no worse than annual influenza? Governments and medical experts continuing to cite CFR are deeply deceitful and erroneous and meant to scare populations with an exaggerated risk of death. The prevailing opinion of our experts and politicians seems to be to “stop Covid at all costs.” If so, this is a highly destructive, illogical, and unsound policy and flies in the face of all accepted concepts related to modern public health medicine. Unfortunately, it seems that our political leadership is still bound to following the now debunked and discredited models of pandemic progression, the most injurious and impactful model having been released upon the world in the form of the Imperial College Ferguson model that was based on untested fictional projections and assumptions that have been flat wrong. These models used inaccurate input and were fatally flawed.

How Did We Get Here?

Let us start with a core position that just because there is an emergency situation, if we cannot stop it, this does not provide a rationale for instituting strategies that have no effect or are even worse. We have to fight the concept that if there’s truly nothing we can do to alter the course of a situation (e.g., disease), we still have to do something even if it’s ineffective! Moreover, we do not implement a public health policy that is catastrophic and not working, and then continue its implementation knowing it is disastrous. Let us also start with the basic fact that the government bureaucrats and their medical experts deceived the public by failing to explain in the beginning that everyone is not at equal risk of severe outcome if infected. This is a key Covid omission and this omission has been used tacitly and wordlessly to drive hysteria and fear. Indeed, the public still does not understand this critically important distinction. The vast majority of people are at little if any risk of severe illness and yet these very people are needlessly cowering in fear because of misinformation and, sadly, disinformation. Yet, lockdowns did nothing to change the trajectory of this pandemic, anywhere! Indeed, it’s highly probable that if lockdowns did anything at all to change the course of the pandemic, they extended our time of suffering.

What are The Effects of Lockdowns on the General Population?

On the basis of actuarial and real-time data we know that there are tremendous harms caused by these unprecedented lockdowns and school closures. These strategies have devastated the most vulnerable among us – the poor – who are now worse off. It has hit the African-American, Latino, and South Asian communities devastatingly. Lockdowns and especially the extended ones have been deeply destructive. There is absolutely no reason to even quarantine those up to 70 years old. Readily accessible data show there is near 100% probability of survival from Covid for those 70 and under. This is why the young and healthiest among us should be ‘allowed’ to become infected naturally, and spread the virus among themselves. This is not heresy. It is classic biology and modern public health medicine! And yes, we are referring to ‘herd immunity,’ the latter condition which for reasons that are beyond logic is being touted as a dangerous policy despite the fact that herd immunity has protected us from millions of viruses for tens of thousands of years. Those in the low to no risk categories must live reasonably normal lives with sensible common-sense precautions (while doubling and tripling down with strong protections of the high-risk persons and vulnerable elderly), and they can become a case ‘naturally’ as they are at almost zero risk of subsequent illness or death. This approach could have helped bring the pandemic to an end much more rapidly as noted above, and we also hold that the immunity developed from a natural infection is likely much more robust and stable than anything that could be developed from a vaccine. In following this optimal approach, we will actually protect the highest at risk amongst us.

Where has Common Sense and True Scientific Thought Gone?

There appears to be a surfeit of panic but a paucity of logic and common sense when it comes to advising our politicians and the public in relation to the pandemic. We hear often misleading information from hundreds of individuals who either hold themselves out as being infallible medical experts or are crowned as such by mainstream media. And we are bombarded relentlessly with their ill-informed, often illogical, and unempirical advice on a 24/7 basis. Much of the advice can only be described as being intellectually dishonest, absurd, untethered from reality and devoid of common sense. They exhibit a kind of academic sloppiness and cognitive dissonance that ignores key data or facts, while driving a sense of hopelessness and helplessness among the public. These ‘experts’ seem unable to read the science or simply do not understand the data, or seem blinded by it. They and our government leaders talk about “following the science” but do not appear to understand the science enough in order to apply the knowledge towards the decision-making process (if there are processes, that is; most political mandates appear random at best and capricious at worst). These experts have lost all credibility. And all this despite the fact that our bureaucrats now have had at their disposal nearly one year of data and experience to inform their decision-making and despite this they continue to listen to the nonsensical advice they receive from people who are not actually experts. Consequently, we are now faced with a self-created medical and societal disaster with losses that might never be reversed.

Sadly, when faced with rational arguments that run counter to the near religiously held beliefs, which hold that lockdowns save lives, bureaucrats and medical experts act as ideological enforcers. They attack anyone who disagrees with them and even use the media as their attack dogs once their fiats are questioned. Even more egregious are the often successful actions aimed at destroying the reputations of anyone holding diverse views related to the Covid pandemic. There is also no interest or debate on the crushing harms on societies caused by decrees made by ideologues. The everyday clinicians and nurses at the forefront of the battle are our real heroes and we must never forget and confuse these Praetorian vanguards with the unempirical and often reckless ‘medical experts.’ We hold that the very essence of science and logical thought includes the ability and in fact the responsibility to challenge (reasonably) currently held dogmas; a philosophy that appears to be anathema to our leaders and their advisors.

Current Data Concerning Lockdown Effects

Let us start with the staggering statement by Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Muller, who has openly cautioned that global lockdown measures will result in the killing of more people than Covid itself. A recent Lancet study reported that government strategies to deal with Covid such as lockdowns, physical distancing, and school closures are worsening child malnutrition globally, whereby “strained health systems and interruptions in humanitarian response are eroding access to essential and often life-saving nutrition services.”

What is the actual study-level/report evidence in terms of lockdowns? We present 31 high-quality sources of evidence below for consideration that run the gamut of technical reports to scientific manuscripts (including several under peer-review, but which we have subjected to rigorous review ourselves). We set the table with this, for the evidence emphatically questions the merits of lockdowns, and shows that lockdowns have been an abject failure, do not work to prevent viral spread and in fact cause great harm. This proof includes: evidence from Northern Jutland in Denmark, country level analysis by Chaudhry, evidence from Germany on lockdown validity, UK research evidence, Flaxman research on the European experience, evidence originating from Israel, further European lockdown evidence, Western European evidence published by Meunier, European evidence from ColomboNorthern Ireland and Great British evidence published by Rice, additional Israeli data by Shlomai, evidence from Cohen and Lipsitch, Altman’s research on the negative effectsDjaparidze’s research on SARS-CoV-2 waves across Europe, Bjørnskov’s research on the economics of lockdowns, Atkeson’s global research on nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), Belarusian evidence, British evidence from Forbes on spread from children to adults, Nell’s PANDATA analysis of intercountry mortality and lockdowns, principal component analysis by De Larochelambert, McCann’s research on states with lowest Covid restrictions, Taiwanese research, Levitt’s research, New Zealand’s research, Bhalla’s Covid research on India and the IMF, nonpharmaceutical lockdown interventions (NPIs) research by Ioannidis, effects of lockdowns by Herby, and lockdown groupthink by Joffe. The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) further outlines prominent public health leaders and agencies’ positions on societal lockdowns, all questioning and arguing against the effectiveness of lockdowns.

A recent pivotal study from Stanford University looking at stay-at-home and business closure lockdown effects on the spread of Covid by Bendavid, Bhattacharya, and Ioannidis examined restrictive versus less restrictive Covid policies in 10 nations (8 countries with harsh lockdowns versus two with light public health restrictions). They concluded that there was no clear benefit of lockdown restrictions on case growth in any of the 10 nations.

Key seminal evidence arguing against lockdowns and societal restrictions emerged from a recent quasi-natural experiment (case-controlled experimental data) that emerged in the Northern Jutland region in Denmark. Seven of the 11 municipalities (similar and comparable) in the region went into extreme lockdown that involved a travel ban across municipal borders, closing schools, the hospitality sector and other settings and venues (in early November 2020) while the four remaining municipalities employed the usual restrictions of the rest of the nation (moderate). Researchers reported that reductions in infection had occurred prior to the lockdowns and also decreased in the four municipalities without lockdowns. Conclusion: surveillance and voluntary compliance make lockdowns essentially meaningless.

Moreover, in a similarly comprehensive analysis of global statistics regarding Covid, carried out by Chaudhry and company involved assessment of the top 50 countries (ranked as having the most cases of Covid) and concluded that “rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and widespread testing were not associated with Covid mortality per million people.” Conclusion: there is no evidence that the restrictive government actions saved lives.

A very recent publication by Duke, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins researchers reported that there could be approximately one million excess deaths over the next two decades in the US due to lockdowns. These researchers employed time series analyses to examine the historical relation between unemployment, life expectancy, and mortality rates. They report in their analysis that the shocks to unemployment are then followed by significant rises (statistically) in mortality rates and reductions in life expectancy. Alarmingly, they approximate that the size of the Covid-19-related unemployment to fall between 2 and 5 times larger than the typical unemployment shock, and this is due to (associated with) race/gender. There is a projected 3.0% rise in the mortality rate and a 0.5% reduction in life expectancy over the next 10 to 15 years for the overall American population and due to the lockdowns. This impact they reported will be disproportionate for minorities e.g. African-Americans and also for women in the short term, and with more severe consequences for white males over the longer term. This will result in an approximate 1 million additional deaths during the next 15 years due to the consequences of lockdown policies. The researchers wrote that the deaths caused by the economic and societal deterioration due to lockdowns may “far exceed those immediately related to the acute Covid-19 critical illness…the recession caused by the pandemic can jeopardize population health for the next two decades.”

Overall, the research evidence alluded to here (including a lucid summary by Ethan Yang of the AIER) suggests that lockdowns and school closures do not lead to lower mortality or case numbers and have not worked as intended. It is clear that lockdowns have not slowed or stopped the spread of Covid. Often, effects are artifactual and superfluous as declines were taking place even before lockdowns came into effect. In fact, in Europe, it was shown that in most cases, mortality rates were already 50% lower than peak rates by the time lockdowns were instituted, thus making claims that lockdowns were effective in reducing mortality spurious at best. Of course, this also means that the presumptive positive effects of lockdowns were and have been exaggerated grossly. Evidence shows that nations and settings that apply less stringent social distancing measures and lockdowns experience the same evolution (e.g. deaths per million) of the epidemic as those that apply far more stringent regulations.

What does this all mean?

As a consequence of their (hopefully) well-intended actions, our governments along with their medical experts have created a disaster for people. It means that the public’s trust has been severely eroded. Lockdowns are not an acceptable long-term strategy, have failed and have severely impacted populations socially, economically, psychologically, and health wise! Future generations would be crippled by these actions. The policies have been poorly thought out and are economically unsustainable and there is a massive cost to it as it is highly destructive. Our children and younger people are going to be shouldered with the indirect but very real harms and costs of lockdowns for a generation to come at least.

What are the real impacts on populations from these disastrous restrictive policies? Well, the poorer among us have been at increased risk from deaths of despair (e.g. suicides, opioid-related overdoses, murder/manslaughter, severe child abuse etc.). Politicians, media, and irrational medical experts must stop lying to the public by only telling stories of the suffering from Covid while ignoring the catastrophic harms caused by their decree actions. Lives are being ruined and lost and businesses are being destroyed forever. Lower-income Americans, Canadians, and other global citizens are much more likely to be compelled to work in unsafe conditions. These are employees with the least bargaining power, tending to be minority, female, and hourly paid employees. Moreover, Covid has revealed itself as a disease of disparity and poverty. This means that black and minority communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic itself and they take a double hit, being additionally and disproportionately ravaged by the effects of the restrictive policies.

Why would we impose more catastrophic restrictive policies when they have not worked? We even have government leaders now enacting harder and even more draconian lockdowns after admitting that the prior ones have failed. These are the very experts and leaders making societal policies and demands without them having to experience the effects of their policies. There is absolutely no good justification for what was done and continues to be done to societies, when we know of the very low risk of severe illness from Covid for vast portions of societies! We do not need to destroy our societies, the lives of our people, our economies, or our school systems to handle Covid. We cannot stop Covid at all costs!

How is Population Health and Well-being in the US Affected by Current Public Health Measures?

Businesses have closed and many are never to return, jobs have been lost, and lives ruined and more of this is on the way; meanwhile, we have seen an increase in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, dependency, suicidal ideation, financial ruin, and deaths of despair across societies due to the lockdowns. For example, preventive healthcare has been delayed. Life-saving surgeries and tests/biopsies were stopped across the US. All types of deaths escalated and loss of life years increased across the last year. Chemotherapy and hip replacements for Americans were sidelined along with vaccines for vaccine-preventable illness in children (approximately 50%). Thousands may have died who might have otherwise survived an injury or heart ailment or even acute stroke but did not seek clinical or hospital help out of fear of contracting Covid.

Specifically, and based on CDC reporting (and generalizable to global nations), during the month of June in the US, approximately 25% (1 in 4) Americans aged 18-24 considered suicide not due to Covid, but due to the lockdowns and the loss of freedom and control in their lives and lost jobs etc. There were over 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May 2020 in the US, the most ever recorded in a 12-month period. In late June 2020, 40% of US adults reported that they were having very difficult times with mental health or substance abuse and linked to the lockdowns. Approximately 11% of adults reported thoughts of suicide in 2020 compared to approximately 4% in 2018. During April to October 2020, emergency room visits linked to mental health for children aged 5-11 increased near 25% and increased 31% for those aged 12-17 years old as compared to 2019. During June 2020, 13% of survey respondents said that they had begun or substantially increased substance use as a means to cope day-to-day with the pandemic and lockdowns. Over 40 states reported rises in opioid-related deaths. Roughly 7 in 10 Gen-Z adults (18-23) reported depressive symptoms from August 4 to 26. There is a projected decrease in life expectancy by near 6 million years of life in US children due to the US primary school closure. These are some of the real harms in the US and we have not even discussed the devastation falling upon other nations. From June to August 2020, homicides increased over 50% and aggravated assaults increased 14% compared to the same period in 2019. Diagnosis for breast cancer declined 52% in 2020 compared to 2018. Pancreatic cancer diagnosis declined 25% in 2020 compared to 2018. The diagnosis for 6 leading cancers e.g. breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, gastric, and esophageal declined 47% in 2020 compared to 2018. From March 25 and April 10 in the US, “nearly one-third of adults (31.0 percent) reported that their families could not pay the rent, mortgage, or utility bills, were food insecure, or went without medical care because of the cost.”

Sadly, the very elderly we seek to protect the most are being decimated by the lockdowns and restrictions imposed at the nursing/long-term/assisted-living/care homes they reside in. Just look at the death and disaster New York has endured under Governor Andrew Cuomo with the nursing home deaths and the Department of Health (DOH) Covid reporting. The Attorney General Letitia James deserves credit for her bravery, for it brings to light not only a very dark day in New York’s history with Covid but that of the US on the whole given that New York and the accrued deaths make up such a large proportion of all deaths in the US and nursing homes from Covid-19. Deaths as per James may be at least 50% higher than was reported by Cuomo. Cuomo’s policy to send hospitalized Covid patients back to the nursing homes was catastrophic and caused many deaths. Gut wrenchingly, across the US nursing homes, reports are showing that the restrictions from visitations and normal routines for our seniors in these settings have accelerated the aging process, with many reports of increased falls (often with fatal outcomes) due to declining strength and loss of ability to adequately ambulate. Dementia is escalating as the rhyme and rhythm of daily life is lost for our precious elderly in these nursing homes, long-term care (LTC), and assisted-living homes (AL) and there is a sense of hopelessness and depression with the isolation from restricting the irreplaceable interaction with loved ones.

The truth also is that many children – and particularly those less advantaged – get their main needs met at school, including nutrition, eye tests and glasses, and hearing tests. Importantly, schools often function as a protective system or watchguard for children who are sexually or physically abused and the visibility of it declines with school closures. Due to the lockdowns and the lost jobs, adult parents are very angry and bitter, and the stress and pressure in the home escalates due to lost jobs/income and loss of independence and control over their lives as well as the dysfunctional remote schooling that they often cannot optimally help with. Some tragically are reacting by lashing out at each other and their children. There are even reports that children are being taken to the ER with parents stating that they think they may have killed their child who is unresponsive. In fact, since the Covid lockdowns were initiated in Great Britain as an example, it has been reported that incidence of abusive head trauma in children has risen by almost 1,500%!

In addition, the widespread mass testing of asymptomatic persons in a society is very harmful to public health. The key metric is not the number of new active cases (i.e. positive PCR test results) being reported and misrepresented by the vocal experts and media, but rather what are the hospitalizations that result, the ICU bed use, the ventilation use, and the deaths. We only become concerned with a new ‘case’ if the person becomes ill. If you are a case but do not get ill or at very low risk of getting ill, what does it matter if the high risk and elderly are already properly secured? It is also remarkable that while hospitals had nearly 10-11 months to prepare for the putative second wave of Covid, why do these healthcare institutions claim to be unprepared? Are the lockdowns and the resulting loss of businesses, jobs, homes, lives, and anguish that result, really due to government’s failures? And what are the reasons for the mass hysteria when most data show that whether prepared or not, most hospitals are not experiencing any more strain on their capacity than seen in most normal flu seasons? Why the misleading information to the public? This makes absolutely no sense.

Are we anywhere ahead today? In no way and we are much worse off today. So why not allow people to make common sense decisions, take precautions, and go on with their daily lives? We know that children 0-10 years or so have a near zero risk of death from Covid (with a very small risk of spreading Covid in schools, spreading to adults, or taking it home). We know that persons 0-19 years have an approximate 99.997 percent likelihood of survival, those 20-49 have roughly a 99.98 percent probability of survival, and those 50-69/70 years an approximate 99.5 percent risk of survival. But this ‘good news’ data is never reported by the media and “experts.” Covid is less deadly for young people/children than the annual flu and more deadly for older people than the flu. We must not downplay this virus and it is different to the flu and can be catastrophic for the elderly. However, the vast majority of people (reasonably healthy persons) do not have any substantial risk of dying from Covid. The risk of severe illness and death under 70 years or so is vanishingly small. We do not lock a nation down for such a low death rate for persons under 70 years of age, especially if they are reasonably healthy people. We target the at-risk and allow the rest of society to function with reasonable precautions and we move to safely reopen society and schools immediately. Moreover, and this cannot be overstated, there are available early treatments for Covid that would reduce hospitalization and death by at least 60-80% as we will discuss below.

Early Multidrug Therapy for Covid Reduces Hospitalization and Death

We must take common-sense mitigation precautions as we go on with life. This does not mean we stop life altogether! This does not mean we destroy the society to stop each case of Covid! We must let people get back to normal life. In fact, the most important information that is being withheld, bizarrely, from the US population is that there are safe and effective treatments for Covid! And most importantly we now know how to treat Covid much more successfully than at the outset of the pandemic. This therapeutic nihilism is very troubling given there are therapeutics that while each on their own could not be considered as being a ‘silver bullet,’ they can be used on a multidrug basis or as a ‘cocktail’ approach akin to treatment of AIDS and so many other diseases! This includes responding proactively to higher-risk populations (in private homes or in nursing homes) who test positive for SARS CoV-2 or have symptoms consistent with Covid by intervening much earlier (even offering early outpatient sequenced/combined drug treatment to prevent decline to severe illness while the illness is still self-limiting with mild flu-like illness). Early home treatment (championed by research clinicians such as McCullough, Risch, Zelenko, and Kory) ideally on the first day (including but not limited to anti-infectives such as doxycycline, ivermectin, favipiravir, and hydroxychloroquine, corticosteroids, and anti-platelet drugs that are safe, cheap, and effective) that is sequenced and via a multi-drug approach, have been shown to convincingly reduce hospitalization by 85% and death by 50%.

The key is starting treatment very early (outpatient/ambulatory) in the disease sequelae (ideally on the 1st day of symptoms emergence to within the first 5 days) before the person/resident has worsened. This early treatment approach holds tremendous utility for high-risk elderly residents in our nursing homes and long-term care/assisted-living facilities, including within their private homes, who are often told to ‘wait-and-see’ and all the while they worsen and survival becomes more problematic. We are talking about using drugs that are used in-hospital but we argue must be started much earlier in high-risk persons. This demands that governments and healthcare systems/medical establishments paralyzed with nihilism step back and allow frontline doctors the clinical decision-making and discretion as before in how they treat their Covid-19 high-risk patients. From where we started 9 to 11 months ago in the US (and Canada, Britain, and other nations), between the therapeutics and an early outpatient treatment approach, this is very good news! We must also not discount the potential damage to normally healthy immune systems that have not been locked down like this before but which otherwise could be expected to fight infection effectively in younger individuals at the least. We have to be concerned about the immune systems of our children that are normally healthy and functional and we have no idea how their immune systems will function into the future given these far-reaching restrictions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, given the cogent argument by Dr. Scott Atlas on the failure of lockdowns and school closures globally and the totality of the evidence presented above and AIER’s troubling compilation of the crushing harms of lockdowns, it is way past time to end the lockdowns and get life back to normal for everyone but the higher-risk among us. It is time we target efforts to where they are beneficial. Such targeted measures geared to specific populations can protect the most vulnerable from Covid, while not adversely impacting those not at risk. Why? Because we know better who is at risk and should take sensible and reasonable steps to protect them. Alarmingly, President Biden has already stated that there is nothing that can be done to stop the trajectory of the pandemic, yet fails to recognize that across the US, cases are already falling markedly, even going as far to warn of more deaths. More incredulous is that those in charge and particularly the ‘medical experts’ continue to fail to admit they were very very wrong. They were all wrong in what they advocated and implemented and are trying now to lay the blame on those of us who looked at the data and science and reflected and weighed the benefits as well as harms of the policies. They are blaming those of us who opposed lockdowns and school closures. They are using the tact that since you opposed these illogical and unreasonable restrictions and mandates, then it caused the failures, thus pretending and not admitting that their policies are indeed the reason for the catastrophic societal failures. Not our opposition and arguments against the specious and unsound policies.

It is very evident to populations that lockdown policies have been extraordinarily harmful. It is way past time to end these lockdowns, these school closures, and these unscientific mask mandates (see State-by-State listing) as they have a very limited benefit but more importantly are causing serious harm with long-term consequences, and especially among those least able to withstand them! Indeed, the Federalist published a very comprehensive description showing how masks do nothing to stop Covid spread. There is no justifiable reason for this and government leaders must stop this now given the severe and long-term implications! Donald A. Henderson, who helped eradicate smallpox, gave us a road map that we have failed to follow here, when he wrote about the 1957-58 Asian Flu pandemic and stated “The pandemic was such a rapidly spreading disease that it became quickly apparent to U.S. health officials that efforts to stop or slow its spread were futile. Thus, no efforts were made to quarantine individuals or groups, and a deliberate decision was made not to cancel or postpone large meetings such as conferences, church gatherings, or athletic events for the purpose of reducing transmission. No attempt was made to limit travel or to otherwise screen travelers. Emphasis was placed on providing medical care to those who were afflicted and on sustaining the continued functioning of community and health services.”

Dr. Henderson along with Dr. Thomas Inglesby also wrote, “Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.” Overall, they messaged that several options exist for governments of free societies to use to mitigate the spread of pathogens (traditional public health responses which are less intrusive and disturbing) but closing down the society or parts of it is not one of them. These experts never championed or endorsed lockdowns as a strategy when confronting epidemics or pandemics for they knew and articulated the devastation that would fall upon societies that were in many instances potentially irrecoverable.

As Dr. Martin Kulldorff explains, it is critical that the bureaucrats, the public health system, and medical experts listen to the public who are the ones actually living and experiencing the public health consequences of their forced lockdown and other actions. Social isolation due to the lockdowns has devastating effects and cannot be disregarded and government bureaucrats must recognize that shutting down a society leads to suicidal thoughts and behaviour and excess deaths (deaths of despair to name one). I end by perhaps the most cogent phrase by experts (The Great Barrington Declaration): “Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone.”

1Dr. Paul Alexander (University of Oxford, University of Toronto, McMaster University-Assistant Professor, Health Research Methods (HEI))

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This article was originally published by the American Institute of Economic Research on January 30, 2021, and is reproduced with permission.

Imprimis: Orwell’s 1984 and Today

The following is adapted from a speech delivered at a Hillsdale College reception in Rogers, Arkansas, on November 17, 2020. The content is from the December 2020 edition of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis.

On September 17, Constitution Day, I chaired a panel organized by the White House. It was an extraordinary thing. The panel’s purpose was to identify what has gone wrong in the teaching of American history and to lay forth a plan for recovering the truth. It took place in the National Archives—we were sitting in front of the originals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—a very beautiful place. When we were done, President Trump came and gave a speech about the beauty of the American Founding and the importance of teaching American history to the preservation of freedom.

This remarkable event reminded me of an essay by a teacher of mine, Harry Jaffa, called “On the Necessity of a Scholarship of the Politics of Freedom.” Its point was that a certain kind of scholarship is needed to support the principles of a nation such as ours. America is the most deliberate nation in history—it was built for reasons that are stated in the legal documents that form its founding. The reasons are given in abstract and universal terms, and without good scholarship they can be turned astray. I was reminded of that essay because this event was the greatest exhibition in my experience of the combination of the scholarship and the politics of freedom.

The panel was part of an initiative of President Trump, mostly ignored by the media, to counter the New York Times’ 1619 Project. The 1619 Project promotes the teaching that slavery, not freedom, is the defining fact of American history. President Trump’s 1776 Commission aims to restore truth and honesty to the teaching of American history. It is an initiative we must work tirelessly to carry on, regardless of whether we have a president in the White House who is on our side in the fight.

We must carry on the fight because our country is at stake. Indeed, in a larger sense, civilization itself is at stake, because the forces arrayed against the scholarship and the politics of freedom today have more radical aims than just destroying America.

I taught a course this fall semester on totalitarian novels. We read four of them: George Orwell’s 1984, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength.

The totalitarian novel is a relatively new genre. In fact, the word “totalitarian” did not exist before the 20th century. The older word for the worst possible form of government is “tyranny”—a word Aristotle defined as the rule of one person, or of a small group of people, in their own interests and according to their will. Totalitarianism was unknown to Aristotle, because it is a form of government that only became possible after the emergence of modern science and technology.

The old word “science” comes from a Latin word meaning “to know.” The new word “technology” comes from a Greek word meaning “to make.” The transition from traditional to modern science means that we are not so much seeking to know when we study nature as seeking to make things—and ultimately, to remake nature itself. That spirit of remaking nature—including human nature—greatly emboldens both human beings and governments. Imbued with that spirit, and employing the tools of modern science, totalitarianism is a form of government that reaches farther than tyranny and attempts to control the totality of things.

In the beginning of his history of the Persian War, Herodotus recounts that in Persia it was considered illegal even to think about something that was illegal to do—in other words, the law sought to control people’s thoughts. Herodotus makes plain that the Persians were not able to do this. We today are able to get closer through the use of modern technology. In Orwell’s 1984, there are telescreens everywhere, as well as hidden cameras and microphones. Nearly everything you do is watched and heard. It even emerges that the watchers have become expert at reading people’s faces. The organization that oversees all this is called the Thought Police.

If it sounds far-fetched, look at China today: there are cameras everywhere watching the people, and everything they do on the Internet is monitored. Algorithms are run and experiments are underway to assign each individual a social score. If you don’t act or think in the politically correct way, things happen to you—you lose the ability to travel, for instance, or you lose your job. It’s a very comprehensive system. And by the way, you can also look at how big tech companies here in the U.S. are tracking people’s movements and activities to the extent that they are often able to know in advance what people will be doing. Even more alarming, these companies are increasingly able and willing to use the information they compile to manipulate people’s thoughts and decisions…..

Continue reading at Imprimis: Orwell’s 1984 and Today

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Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. From 1977 to 1980, he also studied at the London School of Economics and at Worcester College, Oxford University, where he served as director of research for Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill. From 1985 until his appointment as president of Hillsdale College in 2000, he was president of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. He is the author of Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education; The Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution; and Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government.

A Feel Good Story to End a Challenging Year

The year 2020 most people would love to erase from the calendar. A worldwide pandemic caused shutdowns and premature deaths. Then there was our year-long contentious national election. Let’s end the year with a story that will bring a smile to your face and possibly a tear to your eye. While it recently came to my attention, it is not new so you may have heard the story. Regardless, it is well worth reading as we launch ourselves into a much brighter 2021.

It is about a poor Mexican American kid who grew up in a Southern California household with 14 family members. He struggled in school and had meager success learning English. He left formal education in the fourth grade and went to work at odd jobs and on farms for years. Then he had a chance to get a job that was a step up.

His wife had to fill out the application because of his weak English skills. He got a janitorial position and a big pay boost to $4 per hour (this was back in 1970s). His grandfather understood something I taught my children as young adults. No matter what job you are doing be the best at it. Be proud of the job you do. His grandfather told him “make sure that floor shines. And let them know a Montañez mopped it”.

Richard set off to become the best janitor the company ever had. When he wasn’t mopping and cleaning, he started to learn about the international company for which he worked. He learned about all the company’s products, how they manufactured and marketed them and other aspects of the company. He badgered salespeople to tag along and watch them sell.

A sales slump hit the company a decade after he started there. The world-famous CEO called on all 300,000 employees to “Act like an owner.” He empowered them and Richard took that to heart.

While riding along with a salesperson, Richard noticed there was a shortcoming with one of the major products of the company. It has some varieties, but none that really appealed to the burgeoning Hispanic population. While visiting a store in a Latino neighborhood, this product was placed next to Mexican spices on the rack, but none of those spices were used. He thought Mexicans like spicy and there were no spicy or hot options.

He went home with some of the product from the plant and started testing. He started putting a homemade chili powder on the product. He gave samples to friends and family who found it be a winner. The product was ready to present. Richard just had to get the nerve to make the call.

When he was ready, he called the CEO’s office.

“Mr. Enrico’s office, who is this?”

“Richard Montañez, In California.”

“You’re the VP overseeing California?

“No, I work at the Rancho Cucamonga plant.”

“Oh, so you’re the VP of ops?”

“No, I work inside the plant.”

“You’re the manager?”

“No, I’m the janitor.”

Mr. Enrico took the call. He loved the initiative. He instructed Richard to prepare a presentation and set a meeting two weeks hence when Enrico was planning a visit to the plant. Richard went about studying marketing.Then the day for the meeting came.

The janitor walked into the room with the head honcho together with his support team. After taking a deep breath he started telling the people what he had learned about the company and what he had been working on. He presented the bags with his product inside that he had sealed with a clothing iron and hand decorated with a logo on each.

When he finished his presentation the room fell silent. After a few moments the great Roger Enrico looked at him and said “Put that mop away, you are coming with us.”

From that meeting Frito-Lay birthed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It became one of the company’s most successful product launches. It became a cultural sensation.

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This article is reproduced by permission of the author. It first appeared in Flash Report December 30, 2020.

Fifty-Five Years of Denial about Black Lives

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was right in 1965 about the black underclass but continues to be ignored or maligned.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was “woke” about the injustices suffered by African Americans before most of today’s “wokes” were born. He was also right about the root cause of the permanency of the black underclass.

Strangely, however, instead of being remembered for his insights and caring, Moynihan has been maligned by the American intelligentsia through the years and is largely unknown by the new generation of social-justice activists and by the Black Lives Matter movement.

In 1965, Moynihan was a sociologist for the U.S. Department of Labor. He would later become a U.S. Senator. He published a scholarly paper in March of that year for the DOL, a report that contained an N-word in its title, which turns off prospective readers but was the official government terminology of the day: “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”

Moynihan should be a hero to today’s wokes. With sensitivity, compassion and honesty, he explained that slavery in the U.S. had been especially vile, because, unlike slavery in Brazil and elsewhere, slaves were seen by slaveowners as chattel and not as humans, a belief that resulted in male and female slaves not being allowed to marry, in slaves being separated from their families and sold, and in the establishment of a matriarchal subculture.

Later, during Jim Crow, black men who attempted to protect their families were humiliated or worse. And later still, welfare made black men unnecessary in providing for their families. These developments further entrenched the matriarchal culture and led black men to find counterproductive and self-defeating ways of expressing their masculinity.

Of course, as Moynihan went on to explain, blacks also faced poverty, discrimination, bad schools, and biased law enforcement. So did certain immigrant groups, but not to the same extent as blacks. With the advent of civil rights and voting rights, many blacks did overcome these barriers and rise to the middle-class, but to a lesser degree than disadvantaged immigrants.

Immigrants and poor whites in general had an advantage that blacks didn’t have: a much higher incidence of two-parent families. To that point, Moynihan wrote this:

As a direct result of this high rate of divorce, separation, and desertion, a very large percent of Negro families are headed by females. While the percentage of such families among whites has been dropping since 1940, it has been rising among Negroes.

The percent of nonwhite [black] families headed by a female is more than double the percent for whites. Fatherless nonwhite families increased by a sixth between 1950 and 1960, but held constant for white families.

It has been estimated that only a minority of Negro children reach the age of 18 having lived all their lives with both of their parents.

On a related note, Moynihan provided the following statistics on the welfare program known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children:

The AFDC program, deriving from the long-established Mothers’ Aid programs, was established in 1935 principally to care for widows and orphans, although the legislation covered all children in homes deprived of parental support because one or both of their parents are absent or incapacitated.

In the beginning, the number of AFDC families in which the father was absent because of desertion was less than a third of the total. Today it is two thirds. HEW estimates “that between two thirds and three fourths of the 50 percent increase from 1948 to 1955 in the number of absent father families receiving ADC may be explained by an increase in broken homes in the population.”

A 1960 study of Aid to Dependent Children in Cook County, Ill. stated:

“The ‘typical’ ADC mother in Cook County was married and had children by her husband, who deserted; his whereabouts are unknown, and he does not contribute to the support of his children. She is not free to remarry and has had an illegitimate child since her husband left. (Almost 90 percent of the ADC families are Negro.)”

These excerpts are but a tiny fraction of the sobering statistics in the Moynihan report.

The key message of the report was that the trend of broken black families was going in the wrong direction and would result in a permanent underclass and increased social pathologies, which would not be overcome by civil rights (or by diversity and inclusion today). Indeed, since the report, the percent of one-parent black families has more than doubled, with a corresponding rise in pathologies, especially and most horrendously, the shootings of teens by other teens. This mirrors what Moynihan predicted, as follows:

The family structure of lower-class Negroes is highly unstable, and in many urban centers is approaching complete breakdown.

There is considerable evidence that the Negro community is in fact dividing between a stable middle class group that is steadily growing stronger and more successful, and an increasingly disorganized and disadvantaged lower class group. There are indications, for example, that the middle class Negro family puts a higher premium on family stability and the conserving of family resources than does the white middle class family.

What Moynihan didn’t foresee was that the percent of one-parent white families would also more than double over the upcoming decades, due to changing mores, women entering the workforce, and the feminist movement – a trend that also has resulted in entrenched social pathologies.

Today, tellingly, certain Asian races in America have the highest percent of traditional families and the highest income and educational achievement.

Many middle- and working-class communities have become Potemkin villages, whether white or black. From the outside they look like communities of yesteryear, with nice ranch homes, lawns, and tree-lined streets. But the facades hide a divorce rate of 50%, substance abuse, and despondent, angry children – and in some cities, gangs of teens who sell drugs and prey on their neighbors, which in turn results in a larger police presence and the increased likelihood of misunderstandings or worse between cops and citizens.

The suburb of Ferguson outside of my hometown of St. Louis is a case in point. From the outside, the homes are nicer than the homes in my boyhood working-class neighborhood, but the worst thing my friends and I did as kids in the old hood was soap windows or ring doorbells and run. We didn’t steal from a neighborhood store, or walk the streets in the middle of the night, or fear the cops, who were part of the community and known by name.

Anyway, given that Moynihan has been proven prophetic, why is his report maligned or ignored today? Three reasons:

First, the report used the N-word, which at best is now seen as anachronistic, and at worst, is a trigger for accusations of racism or calls for cancelling.

Second, overly-sensitive feminists misinterpret Moynihan as having advocated for a patriarchal society, because of his concern over fathers being displaced from family life.

Third, his reference to illegitimacy is incorrectly seen as passing moral judgment, when in fact, he did no such thing but simply used statistics that were available at the time and were rough proxies for fatherless families. He knew that unmarried parents were not necessarily irresponsible parents or single parents.

I’ll close on a personal note and retell an anecdote that I’ve written about elsewhere.

At about the same time as the Moynihan report, I was a teen working as the only white on an otherwise all-black clubhouse staff at an exclusive St. Louis country club, where Italians and Jews weren’t welcome as members. St. Louis was the city known for the infamous Dredd Scott case, the infamous Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex, racial tensions and riots, and white flight to the suburbs. Now the city has just a fraction of its former population and one of the highest crime rates in the nation.

Waiters at the clubhouse restaurant were former waiters on Pullman train cars and were solidly in the middle-class. They were the epitome of good manners, personal grooming, and classy dress The same for clubhouse manager Bill Williams, who wore tailored suits and cufflinks, which were two articles of attire that my dad didn’t own.

For extra money on my off-hours, I would wash and wax their big Buicks and Pontiacs, which, unlike our family car, didn’t have rusted-out floorboards, through which the pavement could be seen flying by. Neighbors marveled at the cars and marveled even more when Bill Williams came for a visit.

At the lower end of the class spectrum were the cooks, dishwasher and janitors. A former prize fighter, the dishwasher had a long scar on his face and a violent temper, especially when drunk.

One of my jobs was cleaning the employee restroom in the basement of the clubhouse. After I had finished the chore one morning, the dishwasher walked into the restroom, peed on the floor, and said, “Clean it up whitey.” A young and muscular coworker, who happened to walk by at that moment, threw the dishwasher against the wall and said, “You clean it up, you black motherf _ _ _ _r.” Not wanting trouble, I said, “That’s okay. I’ll get it.”

Despite these class and behavioral differences, and despite the discrimination my coworkers faced in St. Louis, almost all of them were married and took pride in being good family men. They would invite me to their family picnics in Forest Park, where they would cook the best barbecued ribs in the world. Other than skin color and cuisine, the picnics were just like the picnics of Italian families.

Sadly, as Moynihan had warned, much of this family foundation subsequently crumbled, not only for many blacks but also for many whites. Sadder still, wokes don’t know this history and are unaware of the dreadful socioeconomic consequences of fatherless families.

The Moynihan report should be required reading in colleges, but that’s a pipe dream.

Cost of Lockdowns: A Preliminary Report

In the debate over coronavirus policy, there has been far too little focus on the costs of lockdowns. It’s very common for the proponents of these interventions to write articles and large studies without even mentioning the downsides.

Here is a brief look at the cost of stringencies in the United States, and around the world, including stay-at-home orders, closings of business and schools, restrictions on gatherings, shutting of arts and sports, restrictions on medical services, and interventions in the freedom of movement.

Continue reading at: https:/www.aier.org/article/cost-of-lockdowns-a-preliminary-report

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This column from American Institute for Economic Research was published on 11/18/20 and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of our sponsors.

Founded in 1933, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is one of the oldest and most respected nonpartisan economic research and advocacy organizations in the country. With a global reach and influence, AIER is dedicated to developing and promoting the ideas of pure freedom and private governance by combining advanced economic research with accessible media outreach and educational programming to cultivate a better, broader understanding of the fundamental principles that enable peace and prosperity around the world.

 

Lockdowns Haven’t Brought down Covid Mortality. But They Have Killed Millions of Jobs.

During the early onset of covid-19 in the spring, government officials across the political spectrum widely agreed that government intervention and forced closure of many businesses was necessary to protect public health. This approach has clearly failed in the United States as it led to widespread economic devastation, including millions of jobs lost, bankruptcies, and extremely severe losses in profitability. Nor have states with strict lockdowns succeeded in bringing about fewer covid deaths per million than states that were less strict.

Consequently, a few months into the pandemic, some governors weighed the competing economic costs with covid-19 containment and slowly reopened their economies. Of course, these governors did not mandate businesses reopen; however, they provided businesses the option to reopen.

Hysteria ensued as many viewed easing restrictions as akin to mass murder. The Atlantic famously dubbed  Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s easing of restrictions as “human sacrifice” and referred to Georgians as being in a “case study in pandemic exceptionalism.” Instead, we should view the lockdowns as a case study in the failure of heavy-handed approaches in containing a highly infectious virus.

Now that we are nine months into this pandemic, there is a clearer picture of how state government approaches varied widely. It is clear that “reopened” economies are faring much better overall than less “reopened” economies. “Fueled by broader, faster economic reopenings following the initial coronavirus rash, conservative-leaning red states are by and large far outpacing liberal-leaning blue states in terms of putting people back to work,” writes Carrie Sheffield. This follows logically especially when considering that human beings learn to adapt very quickly. Now, we have learned much more about treating this virus and about who is most at risk from infection.

Not Everyone Can #StayHome

Even so, many proponents of lockdowns still contend that every covid infection is a failure of public policy. But this position is largely a luxury of white-collar workers who can afford to work from home. Lockdowns have been described as “the worst assault on the working class in half a century.” Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician, says, “the blue-collar class is ‘out there working, including high-risk people in their 60s.” Kulldorff’s colleague Jay Bhattacharya notes that one reason “minority populations have had higher mortality in the U.S. from the epidemic is because they don’t often have the option…to stay at home.” In effect, top-down lockdown policies are “regressive” and reflect a “monomania,” says Dr. Bhattacharya. With this in mind, it is easy to see why more affluent Americans tend to view restrictive measures as the appropriate response.

For many Americans, prolonged periods of time without gainful employment, income, or social interaction are not only impossible but potentially deadly. Martin Kulldorff notes that covid-19 restrictions do not consider broader public health issues and create collateral damage; among the collateral damage is a “worsening incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer and an alarming decline in immunization.” Dr. Bhattacharya correctly notes that society will be “counting the health harms from these lockdowns for a very long time.”

Mixed Messages

Bhattacharya emphasized the politicization of these restrictions: “When Black Lives Matter protests broke out in the spring, ‘1,300 epidemiologists signed a letter saying that the gatherings were consistent with good public health practice,’” while those same epidemiologists argued that “we should essentially quarantine in place.” Such a contradiction defies logic and undercuts arguments about the lethality of this virus. If this novel virus truly were as devastating to the broader public as advertised, then political leaders supporting mass protests and riots during a pandemic seem to be ill founded. This contradiction has been cited in countless lawsuits challenging the validity and constitutionality of covid-19 restrictions.

Separately, these often heavy-handed restrictions have targeted constitutionally protected rights like the freedom of religion. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticized the Nevada governor’s restrictions saying, “that Nevada would discriminate in favor of the powerful gaming industry and its employees may not come as a surprise…We have a duty to defend the Constitution, and even a public health emergency does not absolve us of that responsibility.” This scathing criticism, however, did not gain the support of the Supreme Court as a 5–4 majority deferred to the governor’s “responsibility to protect the public in a pandemic.”

The Worst State and Local Offenders

Such deference may be politically beneficial for the Supreme Court, but it presents a much more significant problem for basic freedoms. For one, many of these covid restrictions have been issued by state governors or administrative agencies rather than through democratic means. Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has been targeted for her continued sidestepping of democratic channels and for her top-down approach.

These covid restrictions are somewhat meaningless without ample enforcement and resources, so many major American cities have created task forces for enforcing these covid restrictions. For example, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has threatened to shut off public utilities for those who host massive house parties. Garcetti wants to treat private gatherings similarly to the bars and nightclubs he has forced closed. Not only is this ridiculous, but it is also authoritarian; there have been few checks on his ability to weaponize public utilities this way. The New York City Sheriff’s Office recently “busted a party of more than 200 people who were flouting coronavirus restrictions.” Their crime? Deputies found around two hundred maskless individuals “dancing, drinking and smoking hookah inside.” In typical government fashion, the owner of the venue was “slapped with five summonses…for violation of emergency orders, unlicensed sale of alcohol and unlicensed warehousing of alcohol.” What would we do without the government?

California governor Gavin Newsom has long been a part of this effort to restrict freedoms under the guise of public health. Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health released new “safety” guidelines for all private gatherings during the Thanksgiving holiday. According to Newsweek, “all gatherings must include no more than three households, including hosts and guests, and must be held outdoors, lasting for two hours or less.” Given Newsom’s interventionist tendencies, it is likely that these restrictions will be enforced. How will the government determine how many households are at a Thanksgiving meal and who will enforce the two-hour window? These are questions that journalists should ask.

Meanwhile, the varying levels of economic recovery between red states and blue states demonstrate how top-down policy can be a failure. Strict lockdowns have devastated millions of families’ incomes while failing to bring success in suppressing covid mortality. This failed experiment must be brought to an end.

Mitchell Nemeth is a Risk Management and Compliance professional in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a Master in the Study of Law from the University of Georgia Law School, and he has a BBA in Finance from the University of Georgia. His work has been featured at the Foundation for Economic Education, RealClearMarkets, Merion West, and Medium.

This column, published 11/12/20, from Mises Wire (at Mises Institute) is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of the sponsors.

Bloomberg and Rosenwald: Compare & Contrast

Michael Bloomberg, a Jewish billionaire who built his fortune on a computerized data base and computer terminal used by Wall Street firms, put in $100 million in Florida to try to swing the election for Democrats.

Numerous other billionaire tech moguls, are pumping millions of dollars into Black Lives Matter, a Marxist organization dividing America.

No doubt both think their actions will help black people.  Or perhaps they think they can buy off the mob by aiding those that want to destroy the free enterprise system that made these moguls wealthy. It is hard to know.

Contrast this tendency among today’s ultra-rich with the story of Julius Rosenwald.

In the 1870s through the 1890s, the revolution in retailing was the mail order business. Montgomery Ward became the Amazon of the era, servicing customers in the underserved rural market with low prices, variety and quality.

Around the turn of the 20th century, a new competitor was launched by two watch salesmen, Alvah Roebuck and Richard Sears.  The firm they founded expanded rapidly under the leadership of a Jewish clothing salesman, Julius Rosenwald.

The firm did very well but as demographics shifted from farm to city, Sears Roebuck kept its mail order business but also pivoted with a major emphasis on retail stores in urban areas.  The company did even better.

The firm sold just about anything, including kits for the construction of homes.  A good collection of these can be found still occupied in Bisbee, Arizona.

Rosenwald pumped his own money into the firm to support it during the Great Depression.

While running this very successful company, Rosenwald developed a deep concern about the plight of blacks in the Democrat ruled South. Democrats had imposed a series of legal restrictions based on race, that parade under the name of Jim Crow laws.  Educational funding for blacks was minimal.

After meeting with Booker T. Washington, the outstanding black leader of the Tuskegee Institute (later the source of courageous black fighter pilots known as the ‘Red Tails’), Rosenwald began building schools for poor blacks in rural areas.

Eventually, he built over 5,300 schools that educated about 36% of the southern black population.

The schools were simple and successful.  Many studies suggest these schools helped black income climb over a third in relation to white incomes at the time, raised scores for military entry, increased both the odds and success of migration out of the South, and even raised IQ scores. They functioned until the 1954 school desegregation decision.

Contrast this program with what we see today, millions of dollars poured into Marxist oriented organizations that have been involved in promoting racism with reverse discrimination and civil disturbance.

Millions more are poured into the Democratic Party, that has blacks trapped in horrible inner-city schools in cities like Baltimore where students can graduate barely knowing how to read.  In 2019, only 13% of Baltimore 4th graders could read at their grade level.  Another study showed that of city of 700,000, about 200,000 people in Baltimore are functionally illiterate.

Many of these cities have been dominated by the Democratic Party and its largest contributor, the teacher’s union, for a half century or more.  The platform of the Democratic Party has come out foursquare against school choice. They will not tolerate competition for the educational establishment.

Today’s billionaires apparently either want to double down on failure or to double down on cowardice.

Rosenwald always treated blacks with respect. He required parents to have a stake in the game by contributing something towards their children’s education, even if it was labor to construct a school. Rosenwald took a different direction in philanthropy wherein he made large grants to various causes on the condition that recipients also raise funds to “cure the things that seem to be wrong.”

He did not give grants for political lobbying. He did not give grants without self-help. He did not give money to buy off violent protestors. He did not give money for racial isolation. White groups were often required to “buy in” to get a project done.

Rosenwald put his money where his mouth is out of religious conviction while today’s billionaires put their money where their political interest is.

A Contagion of Hatred and Hysteria

Lockdown is a blunt, indiscriminate policy that forces the poorest and most vulnerable people to bear the brunt of the fight against coronavirus. As an infectious diseases epidemiologist, I believe there has to be a better way.

That is why, earlier this month, with two other international scientists, I co-authored a proposal for an alternative approach — one that shields those most at risk while enabling the rest of the population to resume their ordinary lives to some extent.

I expected debate and disagreement about our ideas, published as the Great Barrington Declaration.

As a scientist, I would welcome that. After all, science progresses through its ideas and counter-ideas.

But I was utterly unprepared for the onslaught of insults, personal criticism, intimidation and threats that met our proposal. The level of vitriol and hostility, not just from members of the public online but from journalists and academics, has horrified me.

I am not a politician. The hurly-burly of political life and being in the eye of the media do not appeal to me at all.

I am first and foremost a scientist; one who is far more comfortable sitting in my office or laboratory than in front of a television camera.

Of course, I do have deeply held political ideals — ones that I would describe as inherently Left-wing. I would not, it is fair to say, normally align myself with the Daily Mail.

I have strong views about the distribution of wealth, about the importance of the Welfare State, about the need for publicly owned utilities and government investment in nationalised industries.

But Covid-19 is not a political phenomenon. It is a public health issue — indeed, it is one so serious that the response to it has already led to a humanitarian crisis. So I have been aghast to see a political rift open up, with outright abuse meted out to those who, like me, question the orthodoxy.

At the heart of our proposal is the recognition that mass lockdowns cause enormous damage.

We are already seeing how current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.

The results — to name just a few — include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health.

Such pitfalls of national lockdowns must not be ignored, especially when it is the working class and younger members of society who carry the heaviest burden.

I was also deeply concerned that lockdowns only delay the inevitable spread of the virus. Indeed, we believe that a better way forward would be to target protective measures at specific vulnerable groups, such as the elderly in care homes.

Of course, there will be challenges, such as where people are being cared for in their own multi-generational family homes.

I am certainly not pretending I have all the answers, but these issues need to be discussed and thrashed out thoroughly.

That is why I have found it so frustrating how, in recent weeks, proponents of lockdown policies have seemed intent on shutting down debate rather than promoting reasoned discussion.

It is perplexing to me that so many refuse even to consider the potential benefits of allowing non-vulnerable citizens, such as the young, to go about their lives and risk infection, when in doing so they would build up herd immunity and thereby protect the lives of vulnerable citizens.

Yet rather than engage in serious, rational discussion with us, our critics have dismissed our ideas as ‘pixie dust’ and ‘wishful thinking’.

This refusal to cherish the value of the scientific method strikes at the heart of everything I, as a scientist, hold dear. To me, the reasoned exchange of ideas is the basis of civilised society.

So I was left stunned after being invited on to a mid-morning radio programme recently, only for a producer to warn me minutes before we went on air that I was not to mention the Great Barrington Declaration. The producer repeated the warning and indicated that this was an instruction from a senior broadcasting executive.

I demanded an explanation and, with seconds to go, was told that the public wouldn’t be familiar with the meaning of the phrase ‘Great Barrington Declaration’.

And this was not an isolated experience. A few days later, another national radio station approached my office to set up an interview, then withdrew the invitation. They felt, on reflection, that giving airtime to me would ‘not be in the national interest’.

But the Great Barrington Declaration represents a heartfelt attempt by a group of academics with decades of experience in this field to limit the harm of lockdown. I cannot conceive how anyone can construe this as ‘against the national interest’.

Moreover, matters certainly are not helped by outlets such as The Guardian, which has repeatedly published opinion pieces making factually incorrect and scientifically flawed statements, as well as borderline defamatory comments about me, while refusing to give our side of the debate an opportunity to present our view.

I am surprised, given the importance of the issues at stake — not least the principle of fair, balanced journalism — that The Guardian would not want to present all the evidence to its readers. After all, how else are we to encourage proper, frank debate about the science?

On social media, meanwhile, much of the discourse has lacked any decorum whatsoever.

I have all but stopped using Twitter, but I am aware that a number of academics have taken to using it to make personal attacks on my character, while my work is dismissed as ‘pseudo- science’. Depressingly, our critics have also taken to ridiculing the Great Barrington Declaration as ‘fringe’ and ‘dangerous’.

But ‘fringe’ is a ridiculous word, implying that only mainstream science matters. If that were the case, science would stagnate. And dismissing us as ‘dangerous’ is equally unhelpful, not least because it is an inflammatory, emotional term charged with implications of irresponsibility. When it is hurled around by people with influence, it becomes toxic.

But this pandemic is an international crisis. To shut down the discussion with abuse and smears — that is truly dangerous.

Yet of all the criticisms flung at us, the one I find most upsetting is the accusation that we are indulging in ‘policy-based evidence-making’ — in other words, drumming up facts to fit our ideological agenda.

And that ideology, according to some, is one of Right-wing libertarian extremism.

According to Wikipedia, for instance, the Great Barrington Declaration was funded by a Right-wing think-tank with links to climate-change deniers.

It should be obvious to anyone that writing a short proposal and posting it on a website requires no great financing. But let me spell it out, since, apparently, I have to: I did not accept payment to co-author the Great Barrington Declaration.

Money has never been the motivation in my career. It hurts me profoundly that anyone who knows me, or has even a passing professional acquaintance, could believe for a minute that I would accept a clandestine payment for anything.

I am very fortunate to have a house and garden I love, and I couldn’t ask for more material wealth than that. Far more important to me are my family and my work. Yet the abuse continues to flood in, increasingly of a personal nature.

I have been accused of not having the right expertise, of being a ‘theoretical’ epidemiologist with her head in the clouds. In fact, within my research group, we have a thriving laboratory that was one of the first to develop an antibody test for the coronavirus.

We were able to do so because we have been working for the past six years on a flu vaccine, using a combination of laboratory and theoretical techniques. Our technology has already been patented and licensed and presents a rare example of a mathematical model leading to the development of a vaccine.

Even more encouraging, however, is that there is now a groundswell of movements — Us For Them, PanData19 and The Price of Panic, to name but three — seeking to give a voice to those, like me, who believe that the collateral damage of lockdown can be worse than the virus itself.

On Thursday, a broad coalition was launched under the banner of Recovery. Drawing people from across the mainstream of political views, the movement is calling for balance and moderation in our response to Covid-19, backed by a proper public debate and a comprehensive public inquiry.

I am delighted that it has received such a level of support.

For, ultimately, lockdown is a luxury of the affluent; something that can be afforded only in wealthy countries — and even then, only by the better-off households in those countries.

One way to go about shifting our perspective would be to catalogue all the ways in which lockdowns across the world are damaging societies. At present, I am collaborating with a number of colleagues to do just this, under the banner www.collateralglobal.org.

For the simple truth is that Covid-19 will not just go away if we continue to impose enough meaningless restrictions on ourselves. And the longer we fail to recognise this, the worse will be the permanent economic damage — the brunt of which, again, will be borne by the disadvantaged and the young.

When I signed the Great Barrington Declaration on October 4, I did so with fellow scientists to express our view that national lockdowns won’t cure us of Covid.

Clearly, none of us anticipated such a vitriolic response.

The abuse that has followed has been nothing short of shameful.

But rest assured. Whatever they throw at us, it won’t do anything to sway me — or my colleagues — from the principles that sit behind what we wrote.

Dr. Gupta is a professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

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This column  from  American Institute for Economic Research is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of the sponsors.

 

Leg-Shootin’ Joe (Biden)

To paraphrase Will Rogers, it ain’t so much what Joe Biden doesn’t know about guns; it’s what he is sure he knows that just isn’t so.

Biden considers himself an expert on guns; just ask him. He is completely unaware that he knows nothing, and that what he thinks he knows is just flat wrong. Jaw-droppingly, eye- rollingly, what-in-blazes-is-he-babbling-about wrong. Like Cliff Klaven, he speaks foolishness, but with supreme confidence. “Always wrong, but never in doubt.”

His latest Klavenism is this, in response to an ABC interviewer’s question about police reform:

“There’s a lot of things we’ve learned and it takes time, but we can do this,” Biden said. “You can ban chokeholds … you have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances. … Instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg.”

Shoot them in the leg? Really? Seriously? He said that? Out loud? On television? OMG.

Let’s start with the basics: The only thing that justifies shooting another human being is the overwhelming need to make that person stop doing whatever they are doing to imperil a life. That need must be so urgent that it does not matter – morally or legally – whether that person dies. Here is an example: A Bad Guy (hereinafter “BG” – and how judgmental!) is running through a shopping mall, hacking people with his machete. He has already hacked six people, and now he is approaching a young mother holding her child. You have a gun. If you do not shoot, it is 100% certain that he will chop the mother and the child. Are you justified in shooting? Of course. What if you shoot the BG, but he chops the mother and the child, and then dies in the ambulance? Was that a successful shooting? No, because you didn’t stop him. What if you shoot the BG, and he stops, and does not chop the mother and child – but recovers from his gunshot wound and does not die? Successful shooting? Yes, because the objective was to stop him, not kill him. Whether he dies or not is irrelevant. Thus, we (police and non-police alike) never shoot to kill; we shoot to stop. We don’t care whether the BG lives or dies, because the goal is to make the BG stop.

Here is a surprise for the Bidens of the world: people don’t always stop when you shoot them. This ain’t the movies, where BGs are thrown backwards through plate glass windows when they are shot, while Good Guys shake it off because “it’s only a flesh wound.” If the bullet happens to hit the central nervous system (brain or spinal column), then the BG stops instantaneously; the electrical system is shut down. Otherwise, stopping is caused by one of three things: blood loss, pain, or psychological distress (fear). Blood loss can take a long time, often too long. Pain is an iffy thing, especially if the BG has lots of painkillers on board (alcohol and/or other drugs). Most stops are caused by fear: “Oh my God; I’ve been shot! I’m gonna die!”

Here is another surprise for those, like Biden, who are not knowledgeable about guns: hitting what you are shooting at is difficult. It’s darned hard to hit a human-sized paper target that is not moving. It’s much harder to hit an actual human who is moving, and who is trying, with great determination, to kill you. Depending on the police department, police officers hit the people they are trying to shoot somewhere between 10 and 50 percent of the time. For that reason, we practice shooting “center of mass.” That improves our chances of hitting the BG somewhere. If we aim at the center of the torso (approximately the heart), we consider ourselves lucky – and skilled – if we manage to hit the elbow or the hip. Because BGs don’t always stop when shot, and because so many shots miss, we don’t just shoot once and admire our work; we shoot a lot. How much? Twice? Ten times? We shoot until the BG stops doing the awful thing that made shooting him necessary and justified.

Trying to shoot somebody in the leg is an incredibly stupid idea. For one thing, it greatly increases the chances of missing. There are two downsides of missing: (1) the BG will not stop doing the awful thing that we need him to stop doing, and (2) every shot that misses has the potential to hit a Good Guy, such as the child that the BG was trying to hack with the machete or the man on the bus  a mile away. In addition, a shot in the leg rarely causes a person to stop, unless by luck the shot hits the femoral artery, in which case quick death is almost certain. Ironically, then, leg shots decrease the likelihood of stopping, but increase the likelihood of death. Biden certainly does not understand this.

On the subject of guns, as well as so many other subjects, Leg-Shootin’ Biden is full of – um – misinformation.

The “Myth” of Pre-Existing Conditions

If you have a history of hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, breast or prostate cancer, lumbar stenosis, treated grand-mal seizures or any of tens of thousands of conditions in the spectrum of human disease, you have a pre-existing condition.  As a member of the human race, you either have or will eventually have one or multiple pre-existing conditions in your life. Not one medical condition or diagnosis in the vast universe of human pathology, whether minor or life-threatening, is mythical. As an anesthesiologist retired from a forty-year clinical career, virtually all of my patients had one or multiple “pre-existing” conditions. The co-morbidities in a given patient often have an important or critical impact on the management of the anesthetic. Why have I entitled this essay as The “Myth” of Pre-existing Conditions?

Let us shift our focus to the political and insurance implications of “Pre-Existing Conditions”. This focus is quite different from the medical reality of 320 million Americans’ true health care profiles. A different story always emerges when actual facts are considered in any political story, especially during an election season immersed in malignant partisan behavior. Consider the following about the history of “pre-existing conditions” since the 1990s to the present day.

  • The incessant cry of Americans being bankrupted by a “pre-existing condition” was used in the run-up to the March, 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act by a one-party majority legislative juggernaut with complete absence of any bipartisanship. Its purpose was to create fear and anxiety in the citizenry.
  • The real story of “pre-existing conditions” was then and is now that the vast majority of Americans, a large percentage of whom have existing medical conditions, are insured through employer-provided insurance (fully or in part), Medicare, Medicaid, VA coverage, the Indian Health Service and other insurance platforms that accept all patients with or without pre-existing conditions.
  • The problems of pre-existing conditions pertained to less than 1% of the population in 2009 and had been effectively dealt with by state-run, tax-subsidized high-risk pools in 37 states. The increasing movement toward state-subsidized, high-risk insurance plans for the very small (0.67%) segment of the American population trapped without insurance from job loss or a decision not to insure before illness occurred was growing, effective and appropriate for a society caring for its most needy. Obamacare ended this abruptly.
  • The 1996 HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) legislation was directed at protecting the maintenance of health insurance for Americans as well as issues surrounding “confidentiality” of medical information. Insurance companies were forbidden by statute to cancel insurance for a new condition or charging exorbitant premiums for clients continually insured prior to a new, now “pre-existing condition”.
  • The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, raised insurance costs for American families and limited insurance options to the extreme. If you have an ACA “protected” pre-existing condition and are insured in the market outside of Medicare or Medicaid, premiums are more than 200% of pre-ACA costs and individual and family deductibles have risen to many thousands of dollars. If you or a family member have an expensive medical condition that was previously (pre-Obamacare) well covered by private health insurance with affordable premiums and deductibles, the annual cost of ACA insurance premiums and deductibles may now reach $20,000 or more before the first dollar of insurance coverage is triggered. A family with an annual income of $60,000 or more and ineligible for Obamacare subsidies is in a financial nightmare. This is not protection of “pre-existing conditions”, the rallying cry and fear mongering that was used to force the ACA into existence by a one-party vote.

This constant “Pre-Existing Condition” cry by the Democrat party and every Democrat candidate in the 2018 mid-terms and in the current election is indeed a political myth. Despite the GOP response always being to “Protect Pre-Existing Conditions”, the mythical perversion of a real medical and insurance coverage concern for a very small segment of the American population is a disgraceful use of language as a propaganda tool.

Reform of health care costs is the overwhelming issue for our economy and for all Americans relating to their medical care and access to the health care system. Unless voters are armed with the facts about health insurance and the reality of actual coverage for pre-existing conditions, their votes may be cast for candidates and a party seeking to achieve the century-long goal of a single-payer, government health care system primarily to advance political power and to create dependence. The majority of Americans wisely know or sense that a government controlled, single-payer health care system would deprive us of high-quality medical care by mandated rationing of resources and diminished future advances in medical care we expect and deserve.

CNN Butchers the Facts on Late-Term Abortions

This article was originally published by JustFactsDaily on October 12, 2020

In a so-called “fact check” of the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, CNN reporter Caroline Kelly presents a barrage of disinformation that hides the realities of late-term abortion and the agenda of the Biden–Harris campaign.

During the debate, Pence stated that “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support taxpayer funding of abortion all the way up to the moment of birth, late-term abortion.” CNN, which begins each of its fact checks with the phrase “Facts First,” uses a flurry of falsehoods to undercut Pence’s factual statement.

The “Medical Term” Farce

CNN begins its fact check with an attempt to delegitimize the phrase “late-term” abortion by declaring it “is not a medical term.” This claim is flatly disproven by medical journals that have published articles with titles like:

These medical journals and others, along with Planned Parenthood, abortion clinics, and media outlets have used the phrase “late-term” on numerous occasions to describe abortions that are performed from as few as 14 weeks into pregnancy to as many as 35 weeks or later.

More importantly, a vice-presidential debate is not a medical forum, CNN is not a medical periodical, and journalism guidelines bluntly instruct reporters to avoid medical jargon:

  • The book English for Journalists emphasizes: “A common source of jargon is scientific, medical, government and legal handouts,” and “if you write for a newspaper or general magazine you should try to translate jargon into ordinary English whenever you can.”
  • The New Oxford Guide to Writing states: “Jargon is technical language misused. Technical language, the precise diction demanded by any specialized trade or profession, is necessary when experts communicate with one another. It becomes jargon when it is applied outside the limits of technical discourse.”
  • The book Writing for Journalists drives home the point: “Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.”

In violation of that journalism standard, journalists selectively use medical jargon in ways that obscure the facts that:

A common example of how media outlets use clinical jargon to sanitize the facts of abortion is by inconsistently and incorrectly using the word “fetus,” a medical term derived from a Latin word meaning “offspring” or “newly delivered.” Reporters frequently use this term to describe the object of an abortion, but they use the word “mother” to refer to a pregnant woman instead of the clinically accurate term, “gravida.”

And when the topic is not abortion, journalists often shun the word “fetus” and use “baby” or “child” in its place. In fact, the ombudsman of the Boston Globe once apologized to its readers because the paper used the term “fetus” to describe an unborn child who was killed when his mother was shot in the stomach. The apology was sparked by a torrent of criticism from readers who objected that the Globe “truly dehumanized” the “child” and that “every other news channel, TV, and newspaper called it a baby.”

Beyond their double standards, reporters often misuse the term “fetus,” revealing that they are out of their depth. Per Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, a fetus is “the unborn offspring in the postembryonic period, after major structures have been outlined, in humans from nine weeks after fertilization until birth.” Simply put, the word “fetus” applies from nine weeks after fertilization until birth. Yet, numerous major news organizations have misapplied this term to both before and after this period.

Late-Term Abortions Are Not Rare 

According to CNN, “Doctors say abortions performed later in pregnancy are exceptionally rare.” In truth, late-term abortions are far more common than deaths that the media portrays as frequent occurrences like firearm homicides, young adult Covid-19 fatalities, and murders committed by police officers.

A 2013 paper in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health estimates that “more than 15,000” abortions are performed each year in the U.S. “at 21 weeks or later.” The authors note that this amounts to about 1% of all abortions, “but given an estimated 1.21 million abortions in the United States annually,” “later abortions” add up to “a substantial number of abortions.”

Hence, these “exceptionally rare” late-term abortions are more numerous than the:

  • 12,000 murders per year committed with guns.
  • 6,000 Covid-19-related deaths of people under the age of 45.
  • 50 people per year who are executed under the death penalty.
  • 7 police officers per year who are arrested for murder or manslaughter in an on-duty shooting, and the 1–2 officers who are ultimately convicted of such crimes.

Most Late-Term Abortions Are Not for Medical Reasons

CNN claims that “abortions performed later in pregnancy” are “often” because “of a fetal condition that can’t be treated or in cases of maternal health endangerment.” This is a common talking point of abortion proponents, but the disclosures of abortion providers reveal just the opposite:

  • Martin Haskell, who is credited with inventing the partial-birth abortion procedure stated, “I’ll be quite frank: most of my abortions are elective in that 20-24 week range…. In my particular case, probably 20% are for genetic reasons. And the other 80% are purely elective.”
  • Renee Chelian, president of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, said of late-term abortions, “The spin out of Washington was that it was only done for medical necessity, even though we knew it wasn’t so.”
  • Doctors at two New Jersey abortion clinics independently revealed that each of their clinics was performing roughly 3,000 late-term abortions per year and nearly all of them were elective and not for medical reasons.
  • Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, stated that late-term abortion are “primarily done on healthy women and healthy fetuses.”

The statements above are corroborated by a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute—a research organization whose “Guiding Principles” include support for legalized abortion. As summarized by the New York Times, the study found that “only 2 percent of abortions done after 16 weeks of pregnancy are done because of fetal abnormalities,” and such abortions are “most often performed to end healthy pregnancies because the woman arrived relatively late to her decision to abort.”

Biden and Harris Support Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Up Till Birth

According to CNN, Pence’s statement about Biden and Harris is “partially misleading and partially false” because “a Biden campaign official told CNN that Biden supports Roe v. Wade—the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, as amended by Planned Parenthood v. Casey.”

However, the plain words of those court decisions prove that Pence’s statement is entirely accurate. This is because these rulings prohibit states from banning abortions at any stage of pregnancy if any abortionist claims it is for “the health of the mother.”

Importantly, Roe defines threats to a mother’s health so broadly that they can include practically anything. Some eye-opening examples of what Roe deems to be hazardous to “health” are the work of “child care,” the “stigma of unwed motherhood,” and “the distress” of parenting “an unwanted child.”

In Casey, the Supreme Court ruled that “Roe’s essential holding be retained and reaffirmed,” including “a confirmation of the State’s power to restrict abortions after viability, if the law contains exceptions for pregnancies endangering a woman’s life or health.”

Furthermore, Roe places all decisions about what constitutes “health” into the hands of abortionists. It does this by mandating that Roe “be read together” with Doe v. Bolton, a companion case that the Supreme Court issued on the same day. In Doe, the Court ruled that all abortion providers have full authority to decide if an abortion is necessary to protect a woman’s “health” based solely on their “best clinical judgment.”

Many states have passed laws that defy Roe and Casey, and Biden and Harris say that they will overturn all of them through a federal law that codifies Roe. They also support “repealing the Hyde Amendment,” which has restricted taxpayer funding of abortion for more than 40 years except in cases of rape, incest, and if the life of the mother is endangered.

CNN also alleges without evidence that “no candidate in either political party supports abortion ‘up to the moment of birth’,” but the fact is that Democrats blocked a bill in 2019 that would have required healthcare providers to “preserve the life and health” of children who are aborted and born alive. Harris was among the 42 Democrats who filibustered this bill in the Senate.

Summary

During the vice presidential debate, Mike Pence accurately and straightforwardly described the positions of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden on late-term abortions, noting that they support such abortions up to birth and want them funded by taxpayers.

Yet, CNN deceitfully claimed his statement is misleading in an article that it titled “Pence Echoes Trump’s False Claims at Vice Presidential Debate.” Furthermore, CNN laced its “fact check” with other canards that hide the harsh realities of late-term abortion and the fact that they are performed more than 10,000 times per year on healthy, conscious humans with healthy mothers.

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This column from JustFactsDaily.com is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of the sponsors.

Prop 207: Written by the Marijuana Industry, for the Marijuana Industry

Prop 207 doesn’t simply decriminalize marijuana. That could have been done in a page or two. Marijuana sellers, instead, wrote 17-pages of changes to Arizona law, creating a lucrative recreational marijuana industry for themselves, at the cost of Arizonans. The sweeping changes in Prop 207 would impact current laws governing driving impairment, workplace safety, as well as protections through employers, landlords, and HOAs.

Perhaps the more egregious change is the elimination of Arizona’s DUI standard for marijuana impairment. Prop 207 rids the books of this law without replacing it with another clear standard of impairment. This makes it harder to prosecute impaired drivers, while we still lack the technology to gauge marijuana impairment during a roadside stop by police. This leaves police ill equipped to keep our roadways safe. Marijuana-related traffic deaths in “legal” states bear that out.

After Washington State legalized recreational marijuana, marijuana-related traffic fatalities doubled. In Colorado, someone died every three days in 2018 in marijuana related traffic crashes.

The tragedy on the roadways in these states shouldn’t come as a surprise, nearly 70% of marijuana users in Colorado admit to driving stoned, and almost a third, do it daily.

Prop 207 doesn’t limit the risks to roads. It ties the hands of employers who want to keep a drug-free workplace. The initiative forbids employers from taking any adverse action against employees based on their use of marijuana, and limits their ability to keep employees from coming to work stoned. Prop 207 only allows employers to prohibit employees from using marijuana and its high potency concentrates at the worksite. There is nothing stopping employees from using the drug, and then going to work stoned.

Consider the consequences of day care workers or employees at an elderly care facility.

The authors of Prop 207 put profits above kids by allowing the sale of marijuana-laced candies, gummies, cookies, and other snacks that appeal to kids. They further serve themselves by allowing advertising of such pot-snacks on TV, radio, and social media.

This, though we know marijuana use damages the developing brains or teenagers. It impacts learning, memory and coordination, causing academic failure, according to the Mayo Clinic. It inhibits brain development causing permanent IQ loss, and it hinders learning, attention, and emotional responses. And, it can lead to long-term dependence. 

study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that after the legalization of recreational marijuana, the number of cases of adolescent marijuana use disorder increased 25%. 

States that legalized recreational marijuana have among the highest teen use rates in the nation. Is this what we want for Arizona’s future?

The marijuana sellers who wrote Prop 207 are more concerned about creating and keeping a future customer base. That’s why they made using marijuana a statutory right under the initiative, and hamstrung landlords and HOAs to ensure nothing stops their customers from growing a dozen 10-foot tall plants in their back yard; and virtually no community can ban pot shops from their neighborhoods. They even included in the proposition front porch delivery, regardless of how many kids are playing out front.

You won’t find these details in their ads, on their road signs, or even in most news reports. Instead, they tout the 16% tax that they claim will bring much needed revenue to the state. But the tax is capped, and the revenue is earmarked, assuming it’s ever realized – which is unlikely.

In the six Western states with recreational marijuana, tax revenue accounts for less than 1% of state revenues. And Colorado spends $4.50 on marijuana related expenses for every $1 in marijuana revenue.

As these details emerge, support for Prop 207 drops. A recent poll shows support at just 46%, and opposition at 45%. Another poll puts likely voter support at just 47%. These are far lower numbers than early polls indicated.

As voters consider all the facts, they must remember this key point: Arizona laws passed by ballot initiatives are almost impossible to change or fix. The state legislature cannot remedy problems that arise. Arizona would be stuck with every detail of Prop 207, just as the marijuana industry intended.

Cindy Dahlgren

Communications and Media Specialist
The Center for Arizona Policy

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