Bookending the week…

As we end another week of isolation some thoughts to share.
First we hope that you and yours are safe, well, and surviving the challenge of the time. The shocking change in our economic condition in weeks is one our children and grandchildren will read and study about in the future. How we handle it will be an example for historians to study.

The dramatic rise in unemployment is staggering. The largest number of individuals applying for unemployment (in a week) was 695,000 before last week. We have had ten million the past two. That is beyond belief. We went from more jobs than people to what might be the highest unemployment in our history. Who could have dreamed, much less predict, that?

Thus the “stimulus” hits today. Let’s be clear, this is not a stimulus. A stimulus means we are driving the economy. In this case people cannot spend it. Stores, retailers and restaurants are closed. We are not stimulating, we are sustaining people. When we get the all clear sign, we will need a stimulus.

The playing of politics in this situation is an absolute shame. Appointing a congressional committee to oversee the federal response is so premature and wrong. There will be plenty of time to judge performances, now is the time to offer solutions. If your solution is to investigate the administration, you are a problem.

Were we ready for this? It’s clear, not at the federal, state or local level were we ready for anything like this. Should we have been? Since we are always trying to understand how terrorists might attack, shouldn’t chemical warfare have been considered? Apparently the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations didn’t. That doesn’t relieve the states like NY. The number one target for any possible attack, and they were totally unprepared? This goes across party lines.

That said, I think we can be proud how the nation has responded and the creativity we have shown. We are finding solutions, but the finger pointing is disturbing. We know the media is going to cover the dramatic and every story that is negative will get coverage. Remember, their drive is ratings and the motto they follow is “if it bleeds, it reads.” Too bad they couldn’t contribute to calming and non sensational coverage. Here’s an example:
The modeling company the government has used to estimate this virus has miscalculated badly up to now. This report released yesterday:
The institute’s coronavirus projection that the U.S. would need 135,000 hospital beds by today was off. There are about 31,000 patients hospitalized.
Let’s hope their projected death rate is as wrong, too.

Look at these suggestions over the past few days from some:

SPEAKER PELOSI suggested to the NYT that Phase Four might be the time to roll back part of the 2017 tax reform bill.
Really?

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, both from Massachusetts, said comprehensive demographic data on people who are tested or treated for the virus that causes COVID-19 does not exist.
Really, you want racial breakdowns?

Senator Sanders joined more than two dozen members of Congress in petitioning the administration to ease the sanctions against Iran.
“Rather than continue to invoke new sanctions in the Iranian people’s hour of need, we urge you to substantially suspend sanctions on Iran during this global public health emergency in a humanitarian gesture to the Iranian people to better enable them to fight the virus,” they wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Mr. Pompeo.
Really?

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden yesterday offered qualified support for aid and sanctions relief for Iran. He said “The Trump administration’s move to abandon the Obama era 2015 nuclear deal and exert a ‘maximum pressure’ strategy has ‘badly backfired.’ “

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded that emergency supplies such as medical goods are exempt from sanctions.

Iran, by the way, has not asked the U.S. for help and rejected any notion that we should.

Think about that argument. The way I see it, we need to take care of our people and nation now. Our people are locked in, we have sickness and death. Let’s have one focus – cure our nation – then argue how to best to save the world.

And when they tell you they knew what was coming, that is a lie. No one did. Just remember, when he blocked travel from China the President was called racist. He didn’t know what was coming, and here are stories from the end of January:

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What Happens Next With China?

For now we have to work to solve our internal issues. Once we get the country back to work we need to examine our relationship with China. We cannot be dependent on another country for our medical needs, equipment and medicine.
That logic should also apply to other vital industries that can impact our nation.

What will the states do next?

Think of the lost revenue for each state in the process. They will be talking of revenue shortfalls and how to raise more revenue. Then consider something we have written of over and over. In the boom times we just experienced, what did they do with the revenue? Did they spend it or did they create a rainy day fund knowing that one day the economy will turn south? Keep an eye on your state and see what happens.
Here’s one example:
The Governor of Connecticut estimated that the pandemic is likely to create a cascade of red ink in the state budget. The shortfall is now likely to top $500 million, even with an expected $1.45 billion in federal relief. In this high tax state what is his solution?
Stay tuned.

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