Connect with us

Opinion

On Socialism: Grandpa to Grandkids

Published

on

An Meine Enkelinnen (To My granddaughters)

I am compelled by the tenor of our times. I am compelled by the fact that you are flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. I am compelled because time is precious. I am compelled because I love you.

I must share with you or forever regret that I failed to do so.

First, I must remind you of my bona fides, that is, the documentary evidence of my legitimacy, my credentials. Your professors call this Curriculum Vitae. It’s how they explain the alphabet soup they place following their names.

Most professors offer you the vegetables of their personal garden plots. Doctoral dissertations. Masters theses. Few, if any, of these academics can match my bona fides.

My sources are what I have seen and experienced, in situ, that is, in and within its original place. My sources are street-level, nitty-gritty, real people who lived with and during socialism, communism, and national socialism. I spoke, and still speak, face-to-face with these people. I dined with them. I lodged with them. I went to their weddings and their funerals. I wept with them and laughed with them. I went with them into their churches, their schools. I worked and sweat with them. Picked mushrooms in the forests with them. I shopped with them. Played cards and chess with them. I learned their language, their history, their culture.

So, damn it, when I tell you what I know about socialism, communism, and national socialism, listen to me!

Your professors can lecture you on Engels, Marx, Hegel, Trotsky, and Lenin. That’s their turf. I, on the other hand, offer you a reality check. Consider this: if I throw an apple to break a window, does that rob all apples of nutrients? Ought we campaign to remove all apples from the grocer’s shelves? Alas, this is the flaw in the writings of Engels, Marx, and the rest. I won’t argue whether these scholars observed abuse at the hands of some they called capitalists. But we don’t behead a sick hen in the attempt to cure her! At least not if we wish to continue having eggs. This is likewise the very illogic indulged in by many who today call themselves progressives or liberals and seek to cure our ills with socialism. They speak of utopian dreams. I reduce those dreams to hard facts.

Let’s start with hard fact number one. Let’s say I apply to an apple a sticky-label reading “banana.” Does the apple become a banana? Of course not. And the same is true with the label “socialist” and, for that matter, “communist.” If I label an autocracy as socialist, it remains an autocracy. Likewise true for a communist state labeled “Democratic Republic.”

Have I ever seen a communist country bearing the label “Democratic Republic”? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I have! I have even traveled to and within such a place. The German Democratic Republic. That happens to be the place your grandmother Josefine was born.

Problem is, only one word of that label was true. It was German. But it most assuredly was not democratic. Nor was it a republic.

The point here is that just as we cannot judge a book by its cover, neither can we judge a country by its label. We have to examine how it behaves and what it does. Only then can we decide what it is.

Speaking of labels and terminology, stop for a moment and reflect on these questions:

What is the difference between an oligarchy and an autocracy?

Who has greater prestige – the proletariat or the bourgeoisie?

How does socialism differ from communism?

Is one better off being an Apparatchik or being a Politburo member?

Is the United States a democracy? Or, is our country a republic?

What is the meaning of the suffix “cracy”?

If you can answer these questions with ease, thank your high school teacher or your college professor. If, on the other hand, you struggle with any of these, your professors may not be worth their paychecks.

Now, let’s get back to labels. And some facts.

Russia was not a communist country. But it was an oligarchy hiding behind the label of communism. Had it been communist, it would have been a classless society. But it wasn’t, and still isn’t. Those at the helm of leadership and most of their apparatchiks had privileges not available to the rest of society. They had special stores where they could buy Western products. They had private country villas (dacha — a country house or cottage). They drove quality cars – the Volga rather than the Lada. The working-class rode — and still ride — street cars, buses, and subways.

Definitely not classless. The oligarchs lived a lifestyle several notches above that of the commoners. “But they have elections,” you might say. True, but their elections are like crystal selling for the price of diamond. Later we’ll examine detailed facts about elections in Russia, Cuba and Iran. But for now, ponder, please, on this:

2018 – Vladimir Putin, President (Prime Minister is Dmitry Medvedev)

2012-2018 Vladimir Putin, President (Prime Minister is Dmitry Medvedev)

2008-2012 Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister (President is Dmitry Medvedev)

2000-2008 Vladimir Putin, President

This exercise of musical chairs is oligarchy at its most brazen. And what your professors likely do not tell you is this: Executive power in each of these political dances always remained with Putin. When Medvedev was president, the office was ceremonial head of state, while the office of prime minister under Putin wielded executive power.

What I most hope you will discern is how people who seek power will abuse labels – sort of the wolf in sheep’s clothing – to gain control over others. Hopefully, once adequately informed, you can avoid buying into the deceit offered by those who choose to ignore, or hide, reality.

So let’s take a closer look at elections. What I am about to reveal to you is true for Russia, China, and Cuba to mention only three. But it also is true for Iran. Iran? Yes, but the labels are different. A hammer remains a hammer even when it has a religious label!

I don’t wish for this essay to grow to the 560 pages of Marx’s Capital, so I’ll be concise. I’ll focus on common denominators to put it arithmetical terms. Let’s start with a few quotes from sources you might recognize. These folks are telling you what I – as noted earlier – already know because I have seen and witnessed these events over a period of years.

First this from Cuba’s most recent election:

“If the Cuban Communist Party — the only party allowed to participate in elections under the one-party regime….”

“The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, which is designated by the constitution as ‘the superior guiding force of society and the state.’ As a result, he will still be the most powerful person in Cuba for the time being.”

“As in Cuba’s legislative elections, all of the leaders selected Wednesday were picked by a government-appointed commission. Ballots offer only the option of approval or disapproval and candidates generally receive more than 95 percent of the votes in their favor.”

And now this from Iran’s most recent election:

“The Supreme Leader — currently an ultra-conservative cleric named Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — helps appoint the Guardian Council, an unelected panel of conservatives that decides who gets to run for president (and who doesn’t). Many popular reformist candidates have been disqualified from running in recent elections.”

“But not everyone is allowed to take part. The guardian council, a powerful body of six clergymen and six jurists, vets each candidacy. Political competence and loyalty to the fundamental principles of the Islamic republic and its religion are among the main issues considered by the council. This year, out of more than 1,600 who applied to run, only six candidates were accepted.”

Not too difficult to spot common denominators, eh? Single party, government appointed commission, only “vetted” candidates permitted. And, yes, the labels vary, but this process is the same for Russia and China.

Do you really need arithmetic now to grasp why candidates in these –and other such – countries receive 95% of votes cast. (Okay, sometimes for appearance sake we’ll see only 75% or so. That usually means that only 75% voted, not that 25% voted for another candidate. After all, there was no other candidate.)

Now let’s shift our attention to economics.

You may notice I’ll be making little distinction here between communism and socialism when it comes to economics. That’s because it’s sort of a Fifty Shades of Grey thing. What one calls state ownership of the means of production, the other calls social ownership and workers’ self-management of the means of production. With Cuba, it’s blatantly black-and-white. Not much grey. Here is how the New York Times puts it:

“The Cuban military, through its conglomerate Gaesa, owns the vast majority of firms that operate engaged [sic] in trade, from hotels to foreign exchange houses to ports, which gives it control of up to 60 percent of incoming hard currency. Any economic reformer knows that breaking a monopoly is difficult, even more so if the monopolist also holds power over arms and intelligence. Cuba’s military is committed to not just one-party rule, but also, it seems, to one-firm economics. And because Cuba’s economy is so closed, the private sector is small and weak.”

Just for emphasis if not for clarification, I would add this: Cuba’s military and Cuba’s communist party is a symbiotic relationship so tightly bound it could pass for a Möbius strip.

But let’s get to the point here. When we speak of socialism/communism, we must clearly discern its effect on a nation’s economy. Otherwise, we are simply fooling ourselves. Or, we are allowing ourselves to be fooled. Take your pick.

Here the Chicago Tribune puts it well:

“He (Castro) has failed to fix the generally unproductive and highly subsidized state-run businesses that, along with a Soviet-model bureaucracy, employ three of every four Cubans. State salaries average $30 a month, leaving workers struggling to feed their families, and often dependent on corruption or remittances from relatives overseas.”

Don’t allow the arithmetic to slip past you here. A whopping 75% of Cubans earn an average of $30 a month. Keep that in mind as adherents of socialism in our country block your view with labels!

Speaking of $30 a month, allow me to share with you how and where I learned about the “benefits” of socialism. In this case “democratic socialism.” That’s a blended system. Seen in such places as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

So, what do I know about Socialism in Denmark? Well, I lived and worked side by side with two Danes for a full year. In a place called Thule. Owing to periods of 24-hour darkness and others of 24-hour daylight, there’s plenty of time for chatting. Their names were Michael Lindblad and Lars Norgard and what they had to say astounded me, then and still does today.

Unlike the Americans who spent a year at Thule (a U.S. Air Force Base not far from geographic North Pole, which itself was not far from North Magnetic Pole) many Danes remained living and working at Thule for 10, 15, or 20 years before heading back to Denmark.

One day I asked Michael and Lars why they stayed so long at Thule. They explained it was because of taxes. As long as they worked at Thule, their income was 100% tax-free. And that made a lot more sense when they added the rest of the story. Danes back home paid taxes of 60% on their income. Sixty-percent! Reverse that and you’ll see that Danes receive only 40% of their income. For every 10 hours of work they’d receive 4 hours of pay.

Do I need to tell you more about Socialism? I will, because there’s much more to tell. But keep this image in mind. It’ll be useful as we progress.

Progress. That’s an interesting word. It can be a noun. It can also be a verb. Notice the shift in sound. What we need to notice is that progress, in the sense of productivity, is what suffers first and most when socialism (or unions) change the emphasis of a company from creating and producing widgets to creating and fostering a social agenda for the workers.

Here’s what happens. A company is founded by one or more investors. These folks invest cash to launch the company. They do so in a quest for profit. That’s not evil, by the way. Especially when investors use profit to build more companies. More workers have jobs.

Okay, so that’s a brief primer on free enterprise, also known as capitalism. (Investors put up the capital. They also shoulder the risk of failure.) Investors fund research and development. When it’s time to produce widgets (my term for any product), the company hires people. Then the buzz begins. Investors purchase raw materials. Transportation enters the picture. Company work staff assembles and finishes the widgets. Transportation reenters the picture. Move the widgets from the factory to the marketplace.

And so it goes. Until? Well, until we look at the impact of socialism – by whatever label. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that labor and management in free enterprise should not identify and address issues to improve the workplace and the workforce. That’s an obvious win-win for all concerned. The issue is a matter of responsible balance. In most successful businesses, this practice is already well-established.

The impact of socialism has already been partially addressed. Earlier I mentioned what suffers first and most when socialism (or unions) change the emphasis of a company. There is a shift from creating and producing widgets to creating and fostering a social agenda for the workers. In my Air Force career, we spoke of “time over target,” and in my teaching career we spoke of “time on task.” Both of these referred to the amount of time devoted to a particular task. (Though the Air Force term could also refer to time-of-arrival over target.) So, let’s focus on widgets and the time necessary to produce them.

Here, the number 86,400 comes to mind. That’s the total number of seconds in a day. Now let’s reduce that to a standard 8-hour shift at work in the factory. Now we’re down to 28,800. That’s the number of seconds workers in any factory have to produce widgets. That looks like a hefty number of time until we reduce it to minutes. We have but 480 minutes in that 8-hour shift to produce widgets.

This makes it easier to see the impact of socialism in the factory environment. The first thing we lose is time-on-task. That translates to fewer widgets. And that, in turn, translates to fewer sales. You see where this is going, right?

Socialism (and our own labor unions) bring about a second reduction in both productivity and profit owing to the issue of work incentives. But before departing too far from that word profit, let us keep in mind that it is profit in free enterprise business that allows owner-investors to fund growth in the company. Often, this is overlooked by critics of capitalism.

Now, returning to work and work incentives, allow me to remind you that my source materials for the following are both my own personal experience (labor union) together with the experience of family, friends, and co-workers I mentioned above.

Labor unions reduce productivity in this way: Labor and management negotiate to establish a quota. Let’s say 15 widgets produced per hour per employee. An employee – eager to achieve – produces 20 widgets per hour. This employee will be severely ostracized, cold-shouldered, shunned by fellow employees and especially by the union. Why? First, because the overachiever makes fellow employees appear to be laggards. But more important – to the union – is that owner-management would be encouraged to raise the quota having seen the achievement. But union leaders do not want a quota raised. Why? They want owner-management to hire additional employees. Why? Each union employee pays monthly dues to the union.

We’ll return to the effects of Socialism upon a nation’s economy following this brief segue into labor union realities. Looking solely at the AFL-CIO (a federation of some 56 unions), here are some revealing facts which illustrate the above “why” questions. This federation of unions:

Has 12,475,220 members.

Collects member monthly dues of $112,276,800.

That’s an annual sum of $1,743,321,600.

Pays its top 10 employees an annual sum of $2,413,604.00.

Contributes $1,562,358,840.00 in election donations.

Of these election donations 93.5% goes to Democrat Party.

(I did not “invent” these facts. They come directly from this web page

And, please, don’t overlook this rather salient detail: That annual sum of employee dues paid is $1.7 billion that would have gone into employee paychecks and into the economy had it not gone to the union! And that’s just AFL-CIO money. If you have a bit more curiosity than a lizard has fur, you might ferret out an aggregate figure for all union dues. I’d be impressed!

Now let’s review those “why” questions:

But union leaders do not want a quota raised. Why? They want owner-management to hire additional employees. Why? Each union employee pays monthly dues to the union.

With this as a means of comparison, not to dollar figures, but to the effects of socialism upon a nation’s economy, let’s dig deeper.

While I know from personal observation and family discussions what follows, I’ll be quoting from a clearly written article. I’ll source the article for you at the end of this section. You might want to read “the rest of the story” to quote Paul Harvey. But let’s begin with these nuggets:

Socialism creates a strong incentive to shirk.

Socialism penalizes industrious behavior.

Socialism rewards sloth and indolence.

Socialism promises prosperity and freedom. But the incentives created by socialism place it in a dilemma. If the workers are allowed to remain “free,” they will not produce. To stimulate production, they must be denied their freedom. Thus, socialism cannot achieve both prosperity and freedom. Usually it results in neither.

This anecdote reveals the conundrum:

Assume that an individual, Clem, is a member of a socialist commune. Assume that there are 1,000 members of the commune and that the output is divided equally among the members. (For the sake of simplicity, we will ignore matters such as capital investment.) Let’s say that the production of the commune totals 100,000 bushels of wheat a year, or an average of 100 bushels per member. At a price of, say, $5.00 per bushel total receipts for the commune are $500,000, or $500 per member. The question is: How is Clem likely to behave? Will he work hard? Will he shirk?

Let’s assume that Clem is both naturally industrious and socially conscientious. He is concerned about the overall good of the commune. As a result, Clem works very hard and increases his production from 100 to 150 bushels of wheat a year. This increases the annual output of the commune from 100,000 to 100,050 bushels. At $5.00 per bushel the income of the commune increases from $500,000 to $500,250. Since total income is divided equally among the members, the income of each member rises from $500 to $500.25 a year. Thus, because of his extra work Clem’s production increased 50 per cent. But his income increased by a mere 25¢ or by 0.05 per cent. Moreover, the income of the other 999 members also increased by 25¢ even though they did not work any harder and their productivity did not increase.

Clearly, Clem’s activities benefited everyone in the commune except himself. Everyone else had his income increase without increasing his work. But Clem’s income increased only 25¢ despite increasing his work load by 50 per cent. While the benefits of the extra production were diffused throughout the commune, the costs were concentrated on Clem.

Poor Clem! He’s no better off than the American union laborer who gets ostracized for exceeding his quota. Hmmm.

But thanks to Clem, we are now in a better position to understand today’s Cuba and this quote:

He (Castro) has failed to fix the generally unproductive and highly subsidized state-run businesses that, along with a Soviet-model bureaucracy, employ three of every four Cubans. State salaries average $30 a month, leaving workers struggling to feed their families, and often dependent on corruption or remittances from relatives overseas.

So, returning to where we began. Your professors can lecture you on Engels, Marx, Hegel, Trotsky, and Lenin. That’s their turf. I, on the other hand, offer you a reality check.

That is what I am compelled to do. Because I love you enough to give a damn!

-30-

Compassion!

It is written:

Feed a man a fish for he has hunger.

Teach a man to fish, he’ll feed himself.

The first sates his hunger.

The second grants him dignity.

The first without the second creates dependency.

The second without the first invites failure.

So, which is compassionate?

Clearly both.

Share the News:

Opinion

Coronavirus: Case for Eradication of Stupidity, Not Case for War

Published

on

Suppose I told you our current coronavirus pandemic can be traced to Wuhan, China. “Old news,” you might say.

Suppose I added that four published academic journals dating from 2007 reveal research on this virus. “So what?” you might say.

Suppose I added that ten staff members of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have contributed to the coronavirus research. “Sounds reasonable,” you add.

Suppose I added that working with the University of North Carolina staff members was Zhengli-Li Shi of the Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Will you still say, “Sounds reasonable”?

And if you are ready now to question what sounds reasonable, let’s add one more tidbit. Suppose I added that this same Zhengli-Li Shi of China secured a Chinese grant to jointly fund this research and at least one other such study mentioned in this article.

A Chinese grant?

Now is a good time to introduce ourselves to Professor Francis Boyle.

“What might Boyle contribute to the discussion?” you might ask.

Quite a bit, actually. Boyle knows all that’s worth knowing about biological warfare. He is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He drafted the U.S. implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.

And what does he say about today’s coronavirus?

He says China “bought” our science (remember the grant?) and took it back to China.

Boyle calls what China bought “a turbo-charged biological weapon.” Science calls it a “gain of function.” In brief, add genetic engineering to SARS and HIV to make a more potent biological weapon.

We should recall before proceeding further that biological warfare is nothing new. And because some nations pursue such weapons, others must devise defensive measures. In this article, I am not proposing that the United States has been attacked. Yet.

More likely, given where and when this coronavirus originated, I believe it to be more likely that a mishap in Wuhan might account for our present pandemic. What nation would test its biological weapon on its own citizens before deploying it as a weapon?

But Professor Boyle, in his video update on coronavirus bioweapon video, does reveal his concerns over more lethal, more infectious (gain of function) weapons being “studied.”

I will later offer relevant quotations from some of those studies. We will see the why of Boyle’s concerns.

But for now, let’s go back to September 11, 2001. There is a troublesome similarity between that attack and our current “coronavirus” pandemic. It is clear that we have not learned the lessons of that horrific attack.

The similarity? In the 9/11 attack, our enemy used us to attack us. Terrorists had used our country – lived among us. They used our flight training schools. They used our own aircraft as weapons.

From the standpoint of post-attack analysis, we are forced to credit our 9/11 enemy with excellent planning, excellent preparation, excellent mission accomplishment.

So, why do we now fail to detect that our enemy “uses us” in preparation to attack us?

Sure, we can argue that we all benefit from shared research and that our research is dedicated to finding and preventing yet more lethal virus variations.

But now, keep an eye out for how many times the name Zhengli-Li Shi of China is associated with biological research within the United States. Notice the grants from China. Notice shared information. Ask yourself, have we failed to learn the lessons of 9/11?

I’ll conclude with selected quotations from the four published studies I’ve consulted. I encourage you to seek out those studies, or others, with an eye to the thin line between biological research and biological warfare.

Some revealing quotations:

“Since furin is highly expressed in the lungs, and enveloped virus that infects the respiratory tract may successfully exploit this.” (2)

“ …may provide a gain-of-function to the 2019-nCoV for efficient spreading in the human population.” (2)

“…plasmids encoding bat and human ACE2s were infected with pseudovirus HIV/BJ01-S. Infectivity was determined by measuring the activity of reporter luciferase as described…” (3)

“…these viruses may become infectious to humans if they undergo N-terminal sequence variation, for example, through recombination with other CoVs, which in turn might lead to a productive interaction with ACE2 or other surface proteins on human cells. (4)

“Using this approach, we characterized CoV infection mediated by the SHC014 spike protein in primary human airway cells….” (5)

“To extend these findings, primary human airway epithelial (HAE) cultures were infected and showed robust replication of both viruses (Fig. 1d). Together, the data confirm the ability of viruses with the SHC014 spike to infect human airway cells and underscore the potential threat of cross-species transmission of SHC014-CoV.” (5)

Even at a glance, with these quotations we can see – if not completely understand the science – why it is we need to be applying the lessons we ought to have learned from the 9/11 attack.

We are sharing, giving away, and selling (via grants) that allow others to “use us to defeat us.”

Sources:
1. Prof. Francis Boyle Update on Coronavirus Bioweapon
From <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DAI3c9wE0Q>

Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.

2. The spike glycoprotein of the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV contains a furin-like cleavage site absent in CoV of the same clade.

3. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) proteins of different bat species confer variable susceptibility to SARS-CoV entry.

4. The difference in Receptor Usage between Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Coronavirus and SARS-Like Coronavirus of Bat Origin
American Society for Microbiology, Journal of Virology, 12 December 2007 Vol 82-4.

5. An sARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronavirus pose a threat for human emergence
The National Library of Medicine National Medical 2016, April 22.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

A response to “Better Safe than Sorry”

Published

on

I’m confused by the letter to Editor from Mr. Bianchini titled ‘Better Safe than Sorry? ‘ because many know that he is a Reporter/Editor FOR the Royal Examiner. Actually, I thought that the opinions of Editors were Editorials and represented the definitive point of view of a paper. However, I know that the ‘Better Safe…..” letter wasn’t an Editorial because the Editor in Chief of the Examiner had clearly indicated that his opinion virtually mirrored the sentiments I expressed in my ‘COVID-19, Gov’t Help or Hinderance’ letter. I recommend not spending much time trying to make sense of an Editor penning a letter to himself though or you’ll end up needing a couple of aspirins or a stiff drink. I think if the truth was known, there may be an underlying issue of philosophical difference here between a more progressive individual and one with a more conservative-leaning.

With that said, the Better Safe… letter alleges that my comments are based on partisan ideology rather than objective analysis. Plus, that indictment is used to suggest that many other observations I made in my March 20 letter should be summarily discredited as a result. Since I always attempt to be objective and pragmatic and being concerned that his statements damaged my credibility as a community advocate, I felt the need to pen this response.

Mr. Bianchini states that my criticism of the Governor’s order limiting public access to restaurants and gyms was evidence of my partisan bias. However, I never mentioned the political persuasion of the Governor and would have made the same criticism if a Republican had acted the same way. The fact that his order was consistent with actions by other state governors and supported by respected scientists in the health field was not a basis for justifying the Governor’s order, in my opinion, because I felt the officials were solely focused on health issues with no consideration of economic issues. In all of the media presentations I watched on the pandemic, and there were many, not once did I hear a health official comment on any economic impact associated with the virus mitigations they recommended. Plus, each state has had varying experiences with the virus so I expected our Governor to be an independent thinker and make decisions based on circumstances that existed solely within our boundaries. When the Governor issued his restrictions there was minimal virus impact in Virginia. Additionally, I opined that social distancing occurred in both the placement of restaurant tables and gym equipment under normal conditions and thus the Governor’s 10 patron limit accomplished virtually nothing except causing many of those businesses to close and jobs to be lost.

Mr. Bianchini said that I defended President Trump when Democrats called him out on saying the virus was a hoax. Clearly, anyone paying attention to media reports would have heard the term was used to describe the Democrat and media response to the President’s actions and statements on the crisis rather than him suggesting the virus itself was a hoax. My defense was also supposed to relate to the President restricting European flights except for two countries where the President owns golf courses. That theory is ridiculous on its face. After entering office, the President gave up management of all of his companies, donated his full salary to the country and has more money than he could spend in several lifetimes. Additionally, wouldn’t it make better sense that the travel exemptions could have been based on the fact that those affected countries (England and Ireland I believe) were geographically separated from other European countries and did not have the volume of virus cases other European countries had? No evidence was included in the ‘Better Safe….” letter that golf courses had any influence on the President’s decision. Strangely enough though, very shortly after those countries were exempted from the travel restriction, they themselves were included in the ban because their virus experience increased significantly.

My claim that ‘the cure was more damaging than the disease’ was based on facts about other serious diseases where government actions were NOT taken that caused a negative impact on our economy. It is estimated that the typical flu will kill 50,000 Americans this year alone and society seems to take that death rate in stride without alarm or precautions which cause a great disruption to our economy. In 2009, the swine flu killed more than 10,000 Americans and a national emergency wasn’t even declared by the President then until 1,000 deaths had occurred. As of the morning of March 23, approximately 42,000 Americans had tested positive for Coronavirus and slightly more than 500 had died but the mitigation recommendations from health scientists have contributed to the virtual economic collapse that affects everyone.

Mr. Bianchini’s March 20, letter to himself asserted that time was needed to determine the impacts on the economy and small businesses. However, there is already overwhelming evidence that the economy is in free-fall with no end in sight. Fact, the stock market has lost over 35% of its value in just several weeks from an all-time high of over 29,000 and trillions of dollars have been lost in Americans’ 401Ks. Fact, the Federal Reserve reduced the interest rate by 100 basis points to .25 percent several days ago in an unprecedented action. The FED has taken other unusual quantitative easing steps to ensure liquidity as well. Fact, our Treasury Secretary projected the unemployment rate could jump above 20% when a couple of weeks ago it was the lowest (3.5) in over 50 years. Fact, a multitude of respected financial institutions have predicted the US Gross Domestic Product will decline by more than 20% in the second quarter of this year. Fact, small businesses have been closing, employees have been furloughed or fired and respected economists have predicted over 2 million jobs could be lost. Considering the above, only an individual with their head in the sand would question whether our economy is in severe distress yet!

The information presented above provides a basis for increasing the validity of other comments I made in the March 20 letter rather than reducing their credibility.

  • Students and parents are being terribly affected by school closings.
  • The oil supply conflict between Russia and the Saudi’s is exacerbating an already bad situation and the President should use sanctions if necessary to convince them to behave differently.
  • Stimulus payments should be targeted to individuals that lost jobs and income rather than broad-based.
  • Bail-outs to big corporations should come with limitations on stock buy-backs and executive bonuses.
  • A balance needs to be struck between protecting the health of a limited at-risk population and maintaining economic prosperity.
  • Critical products such as pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, electronics, etc. should be manufactured in the US vs China who is an adversary and is using trade imbalance profits to build a military that we may one day have to address with force.
  • Congress possibly approving a stimulus package of an obscene amount (trillions! )and increasing our national debt is not fiscally responsible behavior. How selfish is it that we want future citizens to pay for debt we create to address today’s problems?

In conclusion, my presentation here should dispel any claims made in the ‘Better Safe….’ letter that my opinions were based on partisan ideology rather than objective analysis, critical thinking and common sense. The truth is that I have substantial criticisms of the President’s behavior and character shortcomings while still being grateful for his Administration’s accomplishments that have benefited virtually all levels of the American public. Plus, the basis for my March 20 letter to the Editor is that I disagreed with the government’s actions because I felt they caused more damage than the virus had. Finally, I am not a member of either major political party and consider myself a Libertarian. Thus, if there is any partisan ideology or bias being represented in recent letters to the Editor, I leave it to you to judge whose it is.

Gary Kushner
Front Royal, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

If your party loyalty is greater than your commitment to all the citizens, please resign

Published

on

The first premise for Town Council to consider: if your party loyalty is greater than your commitment to all the citizens, please resign. Then, the question. “What does the Town Council seem to be and/or actually do?”

The answer is that our governance unit has members who are offenders by a legal definition of an offense, some are opossums for playing dead to the Interim Town Manager and the offenders; one active person, and one too new perhaps to help. What have they allowed for the past few months?

They have ignored dealing with offenders who were part of firing people who advanced the economic well being of our town. Those who do nothing about the offenders and the offenders themselves go to fire the best help—people who did not make mistakes fired by people who do. Does that suggest party loyalty over nonpartisan commitment which is the standard in our Town Charter?

The gauntlet has been thrown down: if a person will not act on wrongdoing, then that person is condoning or complicit in the wrongful act. There are personnel complaints. The Town Council is not known to have dealt with any of the complaints. Act to discipline or get out of governance.

What does the Town Council plan to do? Who knows?

In the meantime, thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for taking up the cause of the Visitor Center to ensure accurate information about it is reported.

Linda Allen
Front Royal, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

Are we thinking long term?

Published

on

The time is now for our County Board of Supervisors and our Interim Town Manager/Town Council, to think about the long term effects of this pandemic.

Our economy will continue downward. Job loss will continue to grow. The inability of so many to pay their bills will continue. The town income is uncertain for this year and next year’s budget. The loss of meal tax and lodging tax alone are only two of the huge losses the Town and County will face.

Mr. Tederick and the Town Council’s tax rate reduction from the rate of $13.5 to $.13 cents per hundred, which was an obvious political move by Mr. Tederick and his Republican Party for votes in the upcoming election, will certainly come back to haunt them. I believe the following are only a few items that could be considered at this time.

  1. County and Town Tax bills to be deferred for several months or until the end of the year. This I believe can be a request to the state government.
  2. County and Town budgets should be deferred until all citizens can safely attend the meetings and have their input. I’m sure we can get an extension on the deadline from our state government.
  3. All large items cut from the upcoming budget: town infrastructure loan – what is one or two more years of kicking the can down the road, assistant town manager, redundant water line to the corridor – which the town citizens should not be paying for anyway. This was a request from Dominion Power. It is not mandatory for the town to do this project. , town road paving project – which should be done over a couple of years instead of one year.

These large ticket budget items, except for the I & I upgrade, which is mandated by the DEQ should be put on the back burner until we know exactly where the finances of the town will actually be for the rest of this year and next year. To do these items now would be ludicrous and not in the best interest of the town citizens and the small businesses located in the town.

If Mr. Tederick and the Town Council care like they say they do, I encourage each of them to lay down their political views and do what is in the best interest of the citizens, business owners and the Town of Front Royal.

Paul Gabbert
Front Royal, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

Better safe than sorry?

Published

on

Everybody has an opinion – time will tell who is right about the level of response and its impacts on the economy and small business versus the actual health threat the COVID-19 Coronavirus presents to nations and the world as a whole.

However, when one lets partisan ideology interfere with one’s thought process, you tend to stray from objective, analysis-based opinion, into partisan justification and vilification, as Mr. Kushner appears to here. He criticizes Democratic Governor Northam for instituting front-end, proactive measures suggested by the scientific community, as other governors around the nation also are; while defending Republican President Trump for his 180-degree waffling, again blaming Democrats, and one guesses their “allies” in the scientific community, for actions including the president’s one-day flip from calling the COVID-19 Coronavirus “a Democratic hoax” on the campaign stump, to freezing all flights to, from Europe, initially save the two countries where he has golf courses.

If you let partisanship and political ideology prevent objective analysis of portions of your opinion, how measured should we take the rest of one’s analysis to be?

While I have initially tended to agree that much of the COVID-19 response has been over-cautious and perhaps not justified by the national or even international numbers, a medical-scientific-grounded friend has pointed out to me that the potential for viral mutations could suddenly expand the problem on a variety of levels, including numbers.

Doing little or nothing and see how things go without the means to adequately test for the disease to allow for accurate numbers to be calculated and targeted quarantines to be imposed, due to an early federal administrative lapse in response – seems a potentially dangerous course.

The experience of Vo, the small town in Italy where that nation’s first death was reported, points to the importance of being able to calculate ACCURATE numbers, rather than estimates, on how many and who is infected. That town of 3,300 tested every citizen, identifying both symptomatic and non-symptomatic infected people. They were able to isolate and treat all infected while letting the rest of their population function on a more normal level. And it is reported they have stopped the disease in the town.

In the absence of that ability to test all, treat and quarantine based on the result of comprehensive, accurate testing, I find myself drifting in the direction of perhaps “better safe than sorry” – without the mass hysteria hoarding of TP or forced small business closings – is the way to go.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

COVID-19 – Governments help or hindrance?

Published

on

While I am reasonably concerned about having a new virus that affects global health, I am even more troubled by our governments’ overreaction.  I’m taking a moment to vent in an effort to limit my frustration.

As with the government overreaction to 9/11 that gave us the Patriot Act and the TSA, which increased government intrusion in our lives and reduced personal liberty, the state and federal proposals to address COVID-19 are equally troubling.  Wide-ranging economic and societal damage will result from their mitigation plans.  Their social separation and business closing recommendations and spending proposals will cause much more difficulty than the disease itself!  As of March 18, there were only approximately 8,000 test positive and only 118 deaths in a population of approximately 330 million.  That demonstrates that the health effect of this disease is EXTREMELY low, and not even comparable to the flu that has become an accepted part of our daily lives (12,000-62,000 deaths/yr), even though the new virus may have a higher contagion rate.  Government reaction to the 2009 swine flu (10,000+ deaths) was extremely minimal compared to what’s happening today, and the public should be educated on how we were able to take that new health risk in stride without up-ending the social and economic apple cart.

While having any additional health risk to seniors is unfortunate, especially those with underlying medical issues, that circumstance is much less damaging to society than the economic and quality of life results being caused by government reaction.  Disrupting an economy that was functioning at the top of its game, and was the envy of the world, is nothing short of calamitous.  Adding more debt without any plan to return to fiscal sanity is lunacy on steroids.  How can we justify ‘kicking the can down the road’ regarding the responsibility of addressing our country’s debt problem?  We keep putting the same self-absorbed lame-brains in office that refuse to be fiscally responsible, so it’s on us, not them!!!

Virginia’s Governor has brilliantly (NOT) ordered restaurants and work-out facilities to limit itself to 10 patrons at a time.  This all but closes those establishments and puts people out of work because it’s not profitable to stay open for such a low amount of business.  Exercise machines and restaurant tables were basically 6 feet apart anyways so the separation was occurring under normal conditions without the Governor’s short-sighted restrictions.  With masses of people in grocery stores and other retail establishments, the comparative effect of this order was like a drop of water in a 5-gallon bucket. How about we continue business as usual, except that some will get sick but most will survive, and we’ll produce helpful antibodies and give science time to create reasonable therapies.

Closing the schools, with its effects on parents needing child care, is a disastrous disruption.  Kids receive scant beneficial education from our low achieving system anyways (teaching to the test rather than giving critical thinking skills), and having them out of school just exacerbates this problem.

The proposed Federal actions are even more alarming and will cause much more difficulty.  Everyone staying home will damage small businesses, kill jobs, increase the unemployment rate, interrupt the supply chain and ultimately increase crime.  Let the capitalist system of open market resolve this.  The strong will ultimately thrive, and the weak will be consumed by the strong, and we’ll be better off in the end.  While providing cash stimulus to the public may be beneficial, since our economy is based on public spending, it should be explicitly limited to the lower level earners who are most affected.  Targeting a cash grant to low-income earners based on last year’s IRS tax filing would be a good starting place. With so many companies closed, and many were put out of business, there will not be as many places to even spend the stimulus.  Plus, now that the government has got the public in a panic, many will probably just save it for another rainy day anyways.

Since our economy depends on the success of small businesses, some financial assistance to them would be helpful as in grants or loan guarantees.  The FED institution is already ensuring financial market liquidity and has lowered interest rates to about zero, more efforts there are probably ill-advised.  Bailouts to airlines, who recently elected to buy back stock versus saving for a rainy day, should not be part of the plan. Having the public cover losses to other affected industries is contrary to the open market system and should not be supported.  Any action in that area should involve the public getting part of the business as an offset so when they recover under normal economic conditions the citizens share in that benefit.  Additionally, I think its a better idea to let the airlines, hospitality and cruise-line businesses survive via bankruptcy rather than the public footing that bill.

The source of our problem is not the addition of another disease affecting our health but the adversarial relationship in our two-party system.  President Trump tried initially to be pragmatic by not over-hyping the effect of the new virus, but the Democrats and their co-conspirator media, in their consistent effort to damage our President, pitched such a fit that he was forced politically to bend to the single focus health officials and go overboard with reactions.  Politicians are rushing to throw OUR money at the problem rather than responsibly accepting a greater demise rate in our seniors with certain underlying medical issues as compared to the economic and societal damage government mitigation would cause to the majority of our population.  Being in my 69th year and having an 89-year-old mother and an 80-year-old uncle, my position cannot be alleged to be one that affects others but not me.

Also, the oil supply war happening between Russia and the Saudis is harming our oil industry and should not be tolerated.  Put tariffs and other economic sanctions on both to urge them to find other ways to solve their differences.  While I enjoy low gas prices, it’s better for all to have energy independence as a country and that can’t continue if our fracking industry is destroyed.

The one silver lining in his whole debacle is that I believe there’s been a realization that we need more domestic manufacturing of ‘critical products’, such as pharmaceuticals, health products, and electronic components, etc.  China is an adversary, not an ally, and being reliant on them for anything critical is a bad idea.  For too long we’ve been buying their cheap crap and funding the growth of their military that we may have to challenge in the future.  Let’s produce more in the USA and have more jobs even if we need to pay a bit more for a few things.

Bottom line is that we need to contact our elected leaders and slap them across the face (like Loretta did in Moonstruck) and say SNAP OUT OF IT.  Stop with the overreaction, the panic, job-killing proposals, the irresponsible spending, debt creation, and socialist initiatives.  Life continues to involve risk, so pull up your big boy and girl pants and accept that new health problems will come with globalization and world population growth.  Yes, certain high-risk populations will be affected more than others but that’s the real world we live in.  Come on America, we’re tougher than anyone else on the planet!

Enough with the political games!  It’s time to start doing something to help America, not continue to damage it!  Oh, and don’t forget to cough into your elbow and wash your hands!

Gary Kushner
Front Royal, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading

King Cartoons

Front Royal
63°
Mostly Cloudy
07:0119:33 EDT
Feels like: 63°F
Wind: 4mph SE
Humidity: 80%
Pressure: 29.94"Hg
UV index: 4
SatSunMon
68/54°F
80/51°F
66/43°F

Upcoming Events

Mar
28
Sat
9:00 am TechPilots Camp @ Randolph-Macon Academy
TechPilots Camp @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Mar 28 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
TechPilots Camp @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy will host “TechPilots Camp” on Saturday, March 28th. This one-day immersion experience is for students in grades six through nine. They will explore the fields of drones, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), computer-aided design,[...]
12:30 pm Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Mar 28 @ 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop Do you have a crochet project you need a little help with? Already bought the supplies, but need help reading the pattern? All skill levels are invited to this Bring Your Own Project[...]
2:00 pm Mystery in the Library @ Samuels Public Library
Mystery in the Library @ Samuels Public Library
Mar 28 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mystery in the Library @ Samuels Public Library
A well-known historical character has disappeared from the library. Favorite book characters who were there at the time are all suspect. Teens are invited to dress up as popular book characters, and enjoy snacks as[...]
Mar
31
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Mar 31 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
1
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 1 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
2
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 2 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 2 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
3
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
4
Sat
10:00 am Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 4 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Come to our extremely popular monthly program that gives developing readers the chance to read and relax with a trained therapy dog. For beginning readers and up. Choose a time slot at registration, which begins[...]