The Press-Dispatch

May 20, 2020

The Press-Dispatch

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The Press-Dispatch Wednesday, May 20, 2020 B-9 OPINION Submit Letters to the Editor: Letters must be signed and received by noon on Mondays. Email: or bring in a hard copy: 820 E. Poplar Street, Petersburg I have a dear friend I have known for many years. He has a knack for finding good stuff from his friends. He then sends me a variety of things, some fun- ny, some witty, some wise, some otherwise. Since we have focused so much on this long and misera- ble topic called COVID-19, let me share some lighthearted items he had sent. This will be the comic section in our great local paper but without the pictures, because I can't draw. Here they are. "I thought the dryer made my clothes shrink. It turns out it was the refrigerator." "My stomach is flat. The L is just silent." "My wife and I have found out the secret to making marriage last. Two times a week we go to a nice restaurant and have a great meal with music and candlelight. She goes on Tuesdays, I go on Fri- days." A true story: Two of our kids have big yards so they built a chicken coop for their kids to raise chickens. My grand- kids have really en- joyed taking care of the chicks. It has kept them busy and enter- tained. The chicks have now started to grow bigger and the kids are looking for- ward to harvesting eggs one of these days. I asked if they have given names to the chicks. They already had. I suggested names for the next set like nuggets, dumpling, pie, mar- sala, but they all hollered 'no way'. They already have christened them better names. A word of caution: "Please con- tinue to do social distancing from your food pantry. There are plenty of other things to do." Since restau- rants and fast foods have started to open up, always keep in mind the basic food groups…to go, take- out, microwaved, left- over, etc. • • • Enough about food. Let's go over a variety of silly things to laugh about. This is a true story. My neighbor placed a sign on his yard that read, "Cau- tion, we have cabin-19 fever." On homeschooling day 6, the child says, "I hope I don't have the same teacher next school year." "I know we have lots of time to do housework but here's one piece of advice worth following: don't wear headphones while vac- uuming your house. I just finished cleaning the whole house before My Point of View By Dr. H. K. Fenol, Jr., M.D. Humor: the best medicine Minority View By Walter E. Williams Let's not waste a crisis Continued on page 10 Continued on page 10 Continued on page 10 Former Barack Obama adviser Rahm Emanuel, during a recent in- terview, reminded us of his 2008 financial crisis quotation, "Nev- er allow a crisis to go to waste." The COVID-19 pandemic has pre- sented a wonderful opportunity for those of us who want greater con- trol over our lives. Sadly, too ma- ny Americans have already taken the bait. We've allowed politicians and bureaucrats to dictate to us what's an essential business and what isn't, who has access to hos- pitals and who hasn't, and a host of minor and major dictates. Leftist politicians who want to get into our pocketbooks are be- ginning to argue that the COV- ID-19 pandemic is the best argu- ment for a wealth tax. Let's first define a wealth tax. A wealth tax is applicable to and levied on a va- riety of accumulated assets that in- clude cash, money market funds, real property, trust funds, owner- occupied housing and other wealth accumulations. Assume a taxpay- er earns $150,000 a year and falls in the 32 percent tax bracket. That individual's income tax liability for the year will be 32 percent x $150,000 or $48,800. Say the tax- payer has a net worth of $500,000 consisting of a business or home and the government imposes a wealth tax of 32 percent, the per- son's tax liability is $160,000. The problem with most politicians is when they enact a law, they seldom ask, "Then what? " They assume a world of what economists call zero elasticity where- in people behave after a tax is imposed just as they behaved before the tax was imposed and the only difference is that more money comes into the government's tax coffers. The long-term effect of a wealth tax is that people will try to avoid it by not accumulating as much wealth or concealing the wealth they ac- cumulate. A wealth tax has become in- creasingly attractive because it lends itself to demagoguery about the significant wealth disparity in the United States. The Federal Reserve reports that, in 2018, the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans owned 70 percent of the country's wealth, and the richest 1 percent owned 32 percent of the wealth. That fact gave Democratic presi- dential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in- centives to propose a wealth tax as a part of their cam- paign rhetoric. Left- ists lament that mul- tibillionaires such as Charles Koch, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison and Sheldon Adelson have not made charita- ble efforts to address the coronavirus crisis. My questions to these political leeches are: To whom does the billionaire's wealth belong? And how did they accumulate such wealth? Did they accumulate their great wealth by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man, as has been the case throughout most of human history? No, they accumu- lated great wealth by serving and pleasing their fellow man in the pursuit of profits. Unfortunately, demagoguery and lack of under- standing has led to "profit" becom- ing a dirty word. Profit is a pay- ment to entrepreneurs just as wag- es are payments to labor, interest to capital and rent to land. In or- der to earn profits in free markets, entrepreneurs must identify and satisfy human wants in a way that Race for the Cure By Star Parker Points to Ponder by Rev. Ford Bond We have the answer The COVID-19 panic has cap- ture the world's attention and the media driven hysteria is not going away soon. This is good and bad. Bad in that cooler heads are not prevailing in spreading the infor- mation that this is a virus that will move through the population and it cannot be stopped. This is what a virus does! All you can do is slow it down. Therefore, America and the world needs to reopen so people can get back to work. The good part is this down time has given all people time to con- sider "What is life," and more so, 'What are the important things of life? " In a recent column George Giles [Lost In Space], who spent years at NASA, pondered, "Imagine for a moment some advanced civiliza- tion existed whose technology is the stuff of our dreams and they have easy and convenient interstel- lar travel…What would they do? What Giles wrote caught my eye because of what he left out of his visitor's report. He is writing from an engineering, libertarian, and conservationists viewpoint and points out the many issues all na- tions are facing. He mused, "Would these visi- tors come to Earth and share their technology, invade and conquer us, or kill us all? Most likely, we would never know they had been here. They would pass by, sensors on, to learn about us and then pro- duce something like this in a re- port home…" Giles suggested an intelligent life flying by earth would report [I paraphrase], "The dominant species [called humans] are so- cial but at times act uncivilized. Their organized "governments" have developed a refined scheme that steals from their citizens who for the most part do not complain." "In addition, it is evident scan- ning their history books that na- tions periodically massacre each other's citizens including their own. It is common for citizens to steal from-and on occasion kill one another." "Our analysis noted that Earth's atmosphere is necessary to sus- tain all life, yet humans pollute their atmosphere without having a reclamation system. Their most advanced method of travel is called a "jet or airplane," and flies high in their atmosphere with no remedia- tion for pollutants." "Most countries allow the envi- ronment to be despoiled and they pour toxins into their biome." "One final note: Water is nec- essary for all life to thrive yet the planet's oceans, lakes, and rivers are slowly being inundated with pollution. Their limited fresh water in many places around the world is becoming undrinkable. We con- clude that there is not enough safe to drink clean fresh water for all the population to drink." In these few sentences, Giles lays out many of the global issues mankind faces. What he left out was the height of humanity's cul- ture in art, literature, medicine, and many philanthropic endeav- ors. Giles suggests that our alien visitors would conclude, "humans have enough religion to hate but not to love. They have not admitted that peace, freedom, and voluntary cooperation are the only way to be civilized. They have a prophet that led the way to this paradise," The solution according to Giles, is the libertarian prophet Ludwig von Mises and the holy book is his magnum opus "Human Action," which is to be used in organiz- ing paradise. We have everything to turn life on Earth into a Para- dise, and the only thing lacking is peace, freedom, and cooperation." Allow me to cut to the heart of the matter. Libertarian philosophy cannot transform humanity from self-centeredness to self-reliance and individual freedom. I wish we could make ourselves whole! Secular philosophy is difficult to square with the apostle John's analyses of the malaise that has in- fected the human condition; " For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Fa- ther but is of the world; And the Now that we've gotten COVID-19 testing for active infections well un- der way across the country, many who have already been infected have understandably asked if they are now immune to reinfection. This question applies both to those who had developed only mild/ moderate symptoms, and those who had more serious/severe symptoms that may have required medical at- tention. It will also be important for those who never developed symptoms but suspect they were exposed, be- cause antibody testing will reveal if they were. A new study indicates that SARS - CoV-2 may have been capable of hu- man transmission and circulating in China as early as last October–which is earlier than the widely accepted December time frame. We've identified the first case here in the United States as appearing in late January, but it's possible the vi- rus could've been around earlier, meaning many may have been ex- posed to the virus already. Human immunity, not surprising- ly, is complicated. There are two im- portant issues in de- termining immunity: testing for the pres- ence of virus-neutral- izing antibodies in a blood test and the testing of the concen- tration of those anti- bodies in the body. Regarding the test- ing for the presence of antibodies, a recent New York City study shows that COVID-19 patients are producing antibodies, but it can take from a few to several weeks af- ter infection for them to show up in serological tests. Since this new virus has been a source of severe consternation for the medical and scientific commu- nities–as it has been for everyone– this is important empirical evidence of a normal immune response and good initial news. The other question is, in the ab- sence of a vaccine, what level–or con- centration–of antibodies is needed to prevent reinfection from SARS - CoV-2? That question will be answered through se- rum neutralization re- search, but some prom- ising studies suggest those who have resolved this particular coronavi- rus infection likely will have enough protection to ward off reinfection. But for how long? Immunity to a virus can wane over time. Protection after an infection could be short-term (months), or, like the common cold (which can be caused by a different coronavirus), it could last a year or at least a cold/ flu season. A defense could go on for longer if SARS -CoV-2 turns out like other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Mid- dle East Respiratory Syndrome, for which virus-derived antibodies have reportedly given protection for two Continued on page 10 Continued on page 10 I'm pleased to read that Republi- can leaders in the White House and on Capitol Hill want to take a pause before enacting more coronavirus stimulus spending. Thinking about the coronavirus debt that my grandchildren will have to endure is already starting to keep me up at night. But what really had me in cold sweats was when I found myself anxiously waiting for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, or PPP loan, to provide assistance to my struggling company. I pondered, with deep angst, that after shedding myself of welfare de- pendency some 35 years ago, sud- denly I find myself back in business with government. Back when I was on means-test- ed welfare programs, the rules were "Don't work. Don't save. Don't get married," and my rich uncle in Washington would reach into some- one else's pocket and provide me security and stability on his govern- ment plantation. Now politicians are setting up commissions and oversight to al- legedly assure compliance with the rules for the trillions of coronavirus stimulus dollars allocated. I say allegedly because, sad- ly, it is largely a show with a sto- ryline that we tell ourselves, pre- tending that politicians can design trillions in spending programs that are targeted and efficient and can be overseen to assure that it's all done right. The PPP program consists of $ 659 billion in loans that will go to millions of businesses around the country. Each of these businesses is unique. What does my Washing- ton, D.C., nonprofit have in com- mon with a dry cleaner or a restau- rant? What does my organization of 12 employees have in common with a business of 500, the largest that qualifies for PPP loans? Yet, the rules for using the PPP loan are the same for everyone. The loans can become grants if 75 percent of the funds are used for payroll and the business is staffed as it was before the crisis. But the way we are going to get out of this crisis is creativity, doing things in new and different ways. Many businesses, including my own, will not and should not be the same. There should be a lot of change and reinventing going on. Yet the condition for the govern- ment money is that you run your business as government tells you how to run it, and that you contin- ue to operate it as you did before — both very bad ideas. Also consider that the PPP was one part of the $2 trillion CARES Act package. Another part includ- ed a $ 600 weekly payment to the unemployed, over and above unem- ployment insurance. So while the PPP demands that employers restore their workforce, many in that workforce are now be- ing subsidized by government to stay out of work. Of course, we are in unique cir- cumstances that require govern- ment action. But the issue is not whether government should act but how. All this could have been done without vast new expenditures and government micromanagement of our lives. The point was to get cash to in- dividuals and businesses to get through the crisis without inter- fering with individual autonomy. This could have been done through a tax holiday, where indi- viduals were sent back their 2019 taxes. If a business paid $ 30,000 in taxes in 2019, refund it. And/or, as Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute sug- gested, short-term credit forbear- ance could have been provided. De- ferral of rent payments, mortgage payments, car payments, utilities, etc., could have been permitted, providing for payment later at a special low interest rate. Brian Riedl at the Manhattan In- stitute estimates that what we've spent so far in this crisis will add another $ 8 trillion to our national debt, which was already approach- ing the size of our entire economy. We've made a big mistake by dealing with a cash flow crisis by introducing massive new govern- Heritage Viewpoint By Peter Brookes Are COVID survivors immune? We're all on welfare now

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