It's time to face a fundamental question. Is locking down the economy to fight Covid-19 worth the tradeoff of a self-imposed great depression?
Experts have estimated that more than 30% of the small businesses closed will never reopen. Yet, there are some so-called leaders, even in Texas, who don't really care.
Economically, in six plus weeks the shutdown has wiped out our economic gains of the last four years. Remember just a few months ago, we had the lowest unemployment rate in decades, we're now on our way to the worst numbers since the 1930's and the job destruction has been self-imposed.
It seems that those who want the shutdown to continue are always moving the goal line. The latest "requirement," we need millions of tests before we can reopen America. It could take another three or four months to achieve that. Let's be honest, at this rate, in four months the unemployment could be greater than 40%.
This economic destruction causes unbelievable stress and yes, stress destroys lives. As summarized last week by Rush Limbaugh, "We are destroying businesses... we are destroying livelihoods. We're destroying dreams. We are destroying lives."
Another result of the shutdown is that in this short period our food banks around the country are being overwhelmed. What do you think months more of this will do?
The liberal media can always be counted on to attack the wrong thing. Axios (left wing media web newsletter) on Friday April 17, 2020, called out President Trump because he encouraged citizens to push to reopen the economy. First Amendment anyone?
The problem is we can all start speaking out and get America moving again or stay quiet and be led like lambs to the economic slaughterhouse.
Let's be smart, take sensible precautions and find ways to open up our economy.
Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste
If you've been following the news, the Democrats and their allies are already pushing for an all-mail election this November on the pretext it would be dangerous to vote in person.
First, over 65's who are in the higher risk Covid-19 group already can vote by mail in Texas and other states.
Second, reliable research shows that vote by mail is the easiest voting method to defraud. The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) has studied this in depth and has found numerous areas of concern.
(1) Between 2012 and 2018, 28 million ballots mailed to registered voters went missing.
(2) PILF studied the proposed ballot by mail plan for New Mexico now subject to litigation and found:
(a) Inadequate voter lists, specifically 1,500 voters 100 years old or older. 1,681 registrants were found to have published obituaries. Those who passed away and still on the rolls showed death dates from 1983 to 2018.
(b) In-county/in-state duplicate registrations. 1,584 found in a small sampling effort.
(c) Use of non-residential commercial addresses for voter registrations. 190 instances of registrants not living at home which under N.M. law requires street address where you reside. Note: This is a problem in Texas where commercial addresses and post office box private companies are used.
The problem with ballot by mail is that it opens up significant opportunity to commit fraud by "ballot harvesting." As described by Joel Ross of Citadel Realty Advisors here is what is going on here:
"If you can't get them (the liberals) to go vote use vote harvesting which is what all the vote by mail is all about. It is a way to control huge numbers of votes… What Trump objects to with mail in voting, happened in CA where they allowed vote harvesting, where Democratic operatives sat in a living room and got people to sign mail in ballots on election day, and then when they got delivered they reversed the outcome in six (6) Congressional seats where Republicans had won at the ballot box."
State Senator and former Harris County Tax Assessor (and Voters Registrar) Paul Bettencourt observed:
"The real problem in Texas is voter harvesting, which is one person votes for other people and sometimes as many as 500. Our laws have rules currently and our prosecutors have shown a reluctance to pursue them. Vote harvesters actually sell the votes they can 'harvest.'"
The Story The Houston Chronicle
"We need to clean up our elections before opening doors to widespread fraud."
Forgot To Report
You may recall all the histrionics regarding Covid-19 and the Harris County Jail. The same crew went back to the US District Judge who approved of a misdemeanor bond deal last year.
The get out of jail free card crowd ignores public safety, and tries to use the virus panic to stage a massive jailbreak.
The plan was to sue, and strike a deal with the leftists on the Harris County Commissioner's Court, Hidalgo, Ellis and Garcia.
Good news, it didn't work. This time, due to Senator Paul Bettencourt and his Harris County House colleagues, Sam Harless, Dan Huberty, Briscoe Cain, Dennis Paul, Tom Oliverson, James Murphy, Dwayne Bohac, and Valoree Swanson, the intervention of Attorney General Ken Paxton and the active opposition by Democrat District Attorney Kim Ogg, the Judge said no. Your editor was privileged to represent the legislative members in their intervention into the federal jail suit.
This important story was covered by some TV stations in Houston, but the daily paper? Nope. We even did a web search. Its sister paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, covered it via an AP wire story.
Talk about media censorship. The story was covered before the decision, which the Chronicle had editorialized on the opposite side of what happened.
With circulation and the size of the paper in freefall, it's no wonder you only get the "story" they are selling and nothing else. The citizens of greater-Houston are voting with their dollars and they are saying no thanks to their biased, one-sided coverage.
Now Is The Time For Forward Thinking
For Our Country And Texas
By Brian Ettinger, Contributing Editor
The United States has been through many hardships over the last hundred years. Two World Wars, Spanish Flu, Great Depression, a decade of promise and unrest with the assassination of a President and other major figures set to change the world, the demise of the President as first elected President resigned from office. A country run by fanatics kidnaps U.S. citizens and do not release them until after the election of a new President. The U.S. begins a newfound patriotism by winning a hockey game at the 1980 Olympics. Next, the age of technology and infringement on individual rights. Then a tragic event on 9/11 with the deaths of thousands of people and the decade was focused on security and terrorism. Then, there was the collapse of the financial markets. Now, we face a new challenge with a virus that has caused a worldwide panic and pandemic presenting challenges to our way of life. We have faced many challenges, but we have overcome them all. This total shutdown of our nation and economy is something we needed to do to save lives, but the time is now for testing and therapy to deal with this virus to lead us to a vaccination. We have developed vaccines for the flu, polio, smallpox and other diseases so we have the know-how and we will get it done. But, as we come out of these challenging times, we need to develop a plan to restart businesses, energy, manufacturing, construction, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, restaurants, bars and sporting events. We need to perform testing and have treatments to give people confidence to go back to work and be out in public. Schools need to re-open and even hold school this summer.
The Federal Government needed to spend and print money to stimulate our economy, but it also created a substantial deficit and inflation. We cannot just tax our way out of this situation. We need to look at alternative revenue sources, consumption, taxes, national lottery program, and a program of public/private investing in industries that generate revenues for the federal government. The State of Texas needs to look at alternative revenues instead of increasing taxes. In Texas, the Governor needs to call a special session this summer and pass in-person sports gaming licensing and regulate this business to collect the 8.25 percent sales taxes and license fees with background checks by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The state does not need to set up another bureaucracy. The Texas Lottery Commission could regulate these licenses and businesses. What they have brought to Nevada, New Jersey and over 10 other states by having legalized sports gaming is a $12 billion a year industry. Projections show Texas could generate $5 billion in the first year with the state generating over half a billion dollars dedicated to use for state programs, just as the lottery generates revenues for Texas. But, with this shutdown, the Lottery Program revenues are down. So, Governor Abbott, you need to be a forward thinker. You, and Lt. Governor Patrick need to push forward a plan on this front. If not, then put it up for a statewide referendum and let Texans vote. Let them decide if they want the state to raise funds without increasing sales taxes, property taxes, franchise taxes and corporate taxes. We need to come out of this situation not taxing businesses, but by generating alternative revenue sources.
Brian Ettinger is a practicing attorney and contributing editor to TCR. He is a strong conservative who is concerned about America's future.
Did Dr. Fauci Flatten The Death Curve
Or The Economy?
By Neland D. Nobel, Contributing Editor
As the nation struggles to deal with CCP virus, the diminutive epidemiologist from Brooklyn has taken on either mythical status or is the focal point of growing rage.
To those who constantly bleat "believe the experts", he is the expert they have most in mind. In fact, his expertise in his narrow field, is believed to be the sum total of wisdom on the subject, particularly for Progressives, Democrats, and the press, which is frequently one in the same.
To those who suggest his expertise is limited, he is the person most likely to have convinced the President to shut down the economy and embolden local officials to run roughshod over the Constitution.
The reasons are meritorious: to save lives, keep from swamping the hospital system, and to buy time for either a vaccine or a drug regime that proves effective.
Whatever your own reaction is, it is complicated by the fact that there is much contradictory information flowing to the public from a variety of sources, not only from Dr. Fauci. Indeed, the good doctor has had to react, and then advise, in a world of doubt and poor information. For that, the man deserves some slack.
But if that is the case, then his words are only as good as the latest information and more reason to accept them with caution.
We all are having to deal with fragmented and contradictory information.
One hears that heat will kill the virus, and then maybe not.
That masks will help protect others, but personally, only really to remind you not to touch your face.
Most of us will have a mild case of the virus, while others seem genetically vulnerable to inflammatory storms. Yet, many of us, are walking about and don't even know we have it.
Enough of us must get it to develop herd immunity, except maybe you can get it again.
We can understand rules to limit the possibility of exposure but some local officials, channeling their inner tyrant, have banned one-person paddle boarding, fishing, skate boarding, and buying seeds. None of these it would seem increase the chance of exposure.
To be fair, Dr. Fauci is not responsible for these malignant idiocies in Michigan and California. But he is responsible for his own misstatements and confusions.
Dr. Fauci at times seems oblivious to non-medical factors, such as his statement that shutting down the global economy, destroying livelihoods, families, Constitutional liberties, and the future for our children; is an "inconvenience." As this crisis fully hits Third World countries, mass famine is more likely than not.
Or his strange reaction to a question about people using the computer service Tinder raised some eyebrows. This service is used mostly, but not exclusively, for hooking up. Hooking up is a nice way of saying casual, non-committal sex with strangers. He said basically that it is a risk that people will have to make a judgment about.
It is in the realm of letting people make their own judgments about risk that he is the most vulnerable. Shutting down the country basically posits we are too stupid to properly weigh the risk versus the reward, and therefore should be denied the choice.
Feeding the family, preserving the family fortune are "non-essential" while having temporary pleasure with a stranger somehow ranks higher in the order of needs?
These odd statements aside, the main issue has been the promotion of the idea of total lock down of the country. Dr. Fauci has closely associated himself with this position and seems to have uncanny timing in squelching hopes to get out of this economic catastrophe.
We can't open up until things are "safe". What does safe mean in this context of weighing economic disaster against say the latest shifting data on infection rates and morbidity?
The press says, "believe the science", ironically ignoring their own coverage of the story that shows the "science" is constantly changing. Which iteration of the evolving scientific story do you follow?
To repeat: the ostensible reasons were to save lives, preserve the health care system, and gain time for medical breakthroughs.
It should also be made clear that the term shutdown or lockdown means the closing down of all "non-essential" business (never defined with any rigor). It does not mean wearing masks, hand washing, social distancing, and protecting elderly populations, all of which can and have been done without shutting down commerce.
Is it saving lives? That is not clear. California was one of the first states to shut down, treating conditions in Los Angeles the same as in Bakersfield or Susanville. Apparently one size fits all despite infection rates, population density, or climate.
Florida followed about ten days later. Florida had been exposed more to people from the hot spot of New York and has the highest elderly population in the country, the most vulnerable. But their late and reluctant shut down has produced no more per capital deaths, despite Florida's disadvantages.
Data from Sweden is also interesting, but not definitive. It appears that not shutting down is not that much more deadly than shutting down.
So, if the shutdown has saved lives, that is not yet demonstrably clear. This is especially so if you start to count the people (no one is doing this) that may die because of the shutdown. This would include those with non-virus conditions that could not get medical care, suicide, drug and alcohol issues, family violence, despair, and poverty. We should also point out mass unemployment means millions formerly covered by employer paid health insurance lost it. How does that help?
After this mess, it is an honest question to ask. Did it really save lives, in the overall scheme of things?
As to saving the medical system, New York, the hardest hit locale, never used the capacity they had, let alone that which was added by the help of the US States Army and Navy. And, there is increasing evidence that by cancelling all non-virus-related treatments, the shutdown is harming hospitals and the medical delivery system. Indeed, it is leading to bankruptcies among hospitals, not a good thing to have when fighting a pandemic.
In addition, the economic shut down is badly harming the budgets of many non-hospital related practices, many state funded health and social welfare programs, and the financial markets that raise and allocate capital to the health system.
Finally, the argument that the shut down has bought us time to get much needed medical discovery done is a tough one to make. It suggests that in the absence of a total shut down, with thousands dying and many more likely to be infected, the medical system would strangely drag its feet and is ONLY prodded forward by economic depression.
It seems lost on advocates of this position that the towering trillions lost in the lock down, are not going to be available for medical research, of any kind. Do you think devastated investors, charities, and governments will have more or less resources to deal with the problem, because of the shutdown?
In the calculation of risk, we have also the juxtaposition of the known versus the unknown.
It is not known at this time if the shutdown really accomplished the three goals its advocates pursued. And, it is clear we are still learning hard facts about this virus and how to deal with it. It may not be as deadly as originally presumed in the models.
On the other hand, there was no doubt in the mind of an economist or a businessman, that if you simultaneously shut off both supply and demand, for almost the entire world at the same time, in a world that was over indebted and over leveraged, that the consequences would be swift and certain economic catastrophe.
Shutdown advocates even suggest if during the process of opening the country back up, if "hotspots" appear, will have to selectively shut down those specific areas. That is sensible. Why then did they push for total shutdown, rather than targeted shutdown in the first place?
So, we had to balance the certainty of economic calamity versus the uncertain world of our understanding of the virus. So, where has this left us? It has left us in the middle of an economic depression with still all the doubts about the virus still flying about and less resources to deal with it.
It is not clear that the advocacy of shut down really reduced the rate of death and infection although it may have delayed its progress. We will have to open up at some point and the bug is likely to make another run at us and another total shutdown would be impossible. But it is abundantly clear it flattened the economy and did so immediately and worldwide.
Dr. Fauci, with all due respect, that does not seem like a sensible tradeoff.
Neland D. Nobel is an Arizona based free market economist and a contributing editor for TCR.
TCR on the Air
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About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his twenty-fifth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last nineteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 17 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 18th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on Houston Public Media TV 8 PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary serves on the Board of Directors of American Values, a national pro-family, pro-faith, conservative organization supporting the unity of the American people around the vision of our founding fathers and dedicated to reminding the public of the conservative principles fundamental to the survival of our nation. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.