All posts by Marcy

About Marcy

Advocate of Constitutional guarantees to individual liberty.

Leaves Turning Brown

California Emptyin’

Thank you to Steve Frank, publisher of California Political News & Views, for publishing my adieu to California. In October 2021, my family and I joined the exodus out of a state we once loved and once offered so many opportunities for work and growth. A misguided political class that rose to power in the early 1990s has chased away the middle class, invited in the billionaires, and blanketed the streets with the homeless.

Those of us who bailed out are not looking back. Those who chose to stay behind have one more choice to make: fight for a return to sanity or slowly descend into irrelevance.

Marcy Berry
Just Vote No Editor

________________________________

California Emptyin’

Some of us are old enough to remember the Mamas and the Papas’ iconic hit California Dreamin’.

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk
On a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin’
On such a winter’s d
ay

There was a time when people did dream of coming to California. There was a time when L.A. was safe. But today, California is experiencing it’s own kind of winter’s day. There is less of California dreamin’ and more of California emptyin’.

Today the middle class – the backbone of America’s economy – is choosing brown leaves and wintry days over California’s nightmare of inordinate living costs, back-breaking taxes, endless restrictions, miserable schools, homelessness, and unsightly streets.

As I look out of the window of my new home in North Carolina, I see loads of brown leaves. I have already felt a couple of days of bone-chilling breezes, and I have been advised to purchase some heavy winter clothes. And I have met several California ex-pats who are happy to be here and are not looking back. We are the middle class. We are the workers on the ground. And we are leaving California.

The California political class is either amazingly brilliant or abysmally dull on the head. If their aim is to grow and cement inordinate power by methodically obliterating their constituents’ individual rights, they are doing a magnificent job. If they are hoping to maintain California’s stature as having an impressive production of goods and services, they are, as the saying goes, not all there.

Either way, though, the picture is not pretty. Either way, the state will disintegrate as other jurisdictions from Rome to Detroit have in the past.

This is the time to choose: bail out, roll up your sleeves and fight, or quietly descend into irrelevance.

Our family chose to bail out of California. But we have not chosen to stop fighting for the survival of the Republic our Founding Fathers envisioned.

We send you best wishes.

Workers vaccine protest

Mandates v. the survival of our Republic

Yes, we have a pandemic. It does not matter whether the pandemic originated from some spliced bug engineered with the help of the U.S. Chief Medical Advisor or not. We still need to deal with the bug. How we deal with it, though, has become a determinant whether our nation remains a free Republic or a restrictive Fascist state.

To elucidate, a free Republic is what our Founding Fathers envisioned – a nation ruled by a government that abides by the will of its people. A Fascist state is ruled by the will of the unholy alliance of government and corporations. And socialism? Questionable whether socialism is taking hold in the U.S. For starters, true socialism views all citizens as responsible for one another, not one group solely responsible for another group.

Now, back to the subject at hand, mandates.

On September 9, 2021, President Joe Biden directed the U.S. Department of Labor to draft a rule to require all businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate that their employees receive the COVID-19 injection or undergo a weekly COVID-19 test.

On November 4, 2021, Biden and the Department of Labor announced the mandate, including heavy fines for employers that do not comply with the injection or testing mandates.

Big corporations, including pharmaceutical corporations, have been reaping government largess for the last couple of decades. Cheap money courtesy of the Fed has allowed corporations to gobble up small and nascent businesses – their competition – creating the kleptocracy we now have. Big Pharma has joined Big Data in their alliance with Big Government, while we the average Janes and Joes of America lose our individual freedoms, our economic power, and our will to fight back.

The Pushback

But that is not the end of the story. It might be that this nation is still the land of the free and the brave. It might be that some are drawing their line in the sand issuing the same warning as the Revolutionaries did back in 1775,

DON’T TREAD ON ME

Yes, we have a pandemic. Yes, our hearts break when we lose a loved one to COVID-19. But some states like Florida and Texas are not willing to let our Republic die too. Citizens of those states, and brave souls in more repressive states such as California and New York, are willing to let nature and natural immunity take their course. They are willing to take chances on behalf of the survival of our Republic.

Pockets of resistance to decrees from above have been popping up, in spite of mainstream media’s habit of calling resisters to government overreach “anti-government,” in spite of peer pressure calling resisters “selfish,” in spite of loss of jobs for resisting. Here are some high-profile upsets to the status quo:

* Airlines, healthcare, and municipal workers were among the first to protest vaccine mandates.

* On November 2, 2021, Edward Durr, a commercial truck driver won the New Jersey Senate seat over long-standing politician Steve Sweeney. His words,

It’s people told they can’t have a job. They can’t go to church. They can’t go to school. You can’t go shopping. They can’t go and eat dinner. …You cannot continue to tell people they cannot do things when we live in the freest country in the world. Edward Durr

* In Virginia financier and political newcomer Glenn Youngkin defeated career politician Terry McAuliffe in the governor’s race. Youngkin’s platform included private sector creation of jobs and lower taxes. But what prompted his win was his support for parents of school-age children concerned about school closures, mask mandates, and curriculum over which parents exercised little control.

* On November 12, a three-member panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed its ruling to place President Biden’s on hold.

The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions – even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials. Circuit Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt

* A slick video, reminiscent of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, landed on DC Patriots website opposing P&G’s vaccine mandate. The video reminds viewers of the byword “our body our choice,” and warns of the results of our allowing politicians and corporations to push producers too hard.

Our company has threatened us with termination in the near future for daring to say “our body our choice.” … When the factories in which we work grind to a halt you will be to blame.

The Real Fight

Children suffocate under masks, workers live under threats of termination, going to work or going to our house of worship now comes with numerous restrictions.

The fight is no longer against a bug. The fight is for the survival of our free Republic.

Picture: New York City firefighters protest vaccine mandates in front of Mayor’s office.

Chaos at Kabul Airport

Afghanistan and the sunk-cost dilemma

Afghanistan is back in Taliban hands after 20 years of U.S. occupation. On August 16, 2021, President Joe Biden explained his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.

So I’m left again to ask of those who argue that we should stay: How many more generations of America’s daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghans — Afghanistan’s civil war when Afghan troops will not? How many more lives — American lives — is it worth? How many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?

I’m clear on my answer: I will not repeat the mistakes we’ve made in the past — the mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interest of the United States, of doubling down on a civil war in a foreign country, of attempting to remake a country through the endless military deployments of U.S. forces. Joe Biden, August 16, 2021

U. S. costs since 2001 have been: 2,500 U.S. military deaths, 4,000 U.S. civilian contractors killed, an estimated 167,000 Afghan deaths, and $2 trillion spent.

The probability was low that Afghanistan’s central government installed after the U.S. 2001 invasion would survive without a strong U.S. presence.

When I hosted President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah at the White House in June and again when I spoke by phone to Ghani in July, we had very frank conversations. We talked about how Afghanistan should prepare to fight their civil wars after the U.S. military departed, to clean up the corruption in government so the government could function for the Afghan people. We talked extensively about the need for Afghan leaders to unite politically. They failed to do any of that. Joe Biden, August 16, 2021

A good interpreter interacting with the locals might let you in that the locals were confused about our presence there. A great interpreter would take the time to explain to you that outside of a few select people tied directly to the government, many locals were confused by even the mention of Afghanistan. They identified themselves as “Pashtuns” and if asked where they lived, believed they were in “Pashtunistan,” encompassing a region that is parts of Southern Afghanistan and Pakistan. Task & Purpose, August 17, 2021

Joe Biden’s predecessor, President Donald Trump, recognized the realities in Afghanistan, and on February 29, 2020, signed an agreement with Taliban leaders that set the date for U.S. troop withdrawal by May 1, 2021, and lay down a strategy for evacuating U.S. personnel and allies.

Although Biden shared Trump’s vision of troop withdrawal sooner rather than later, he delayed the withdrawal and the evacuation, allowing the Taliban to take control before allies were orderly evacuated. The ensuing chaos, reminiscent of the fall of Saigon in 1975, prompted criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.

There has also been criticism of perceived disregard for the fate under Taliban rule of women and girls. The Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic principles calls for the subservience of women. The Taliban is now in charge, and expecting the U.S. government to dictate how the Taliban should treat women appears arrogant. If women and girls of Afghanistan value their education, right to work outside the home, owning property, and having other individual freedoms enjoyed by men, they have a challenging road ahead.

Shibboleths like “You broke it, you own it,” feel more like someone’s admonition at Faberge than a reference to the devastation of wars. The U.S. went into Afghanistan to rid itself of Al-Qaeda. It appears it did that, for now. In the context of war, no further action is required.

In the context of diplomacy and intelligence, there is much that can be done, especially now that the Taliban wants to be seen as a gentler, kinder version of its former self.

Since capturing Kabul, the Taliban have sought to rebrand themselves as more moderate, promising former rivals amnesty, urging women to join their government, pledging stability at home and trying to persuade the international community to see beyond a bloody past defined by violence and repression. New York Times, August 21, 2021

The correct response to the sunk-cost dilemma is to realistically evaluate the situation, and if most variables are not conducive to success, get out – mitigate as best you can, but get out. President Joe Biden failed to conduct an orderly conclusion to U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, but at least he gave the orders to get out.

Congress could still be MIA after new war powers bill

On a regular basis, members of Congress grumble about the Executive Branch usurping the war powers granted to Congress by the U.S. Constitution. Nevertheless, air strikes and other incursions continue unabated. Last month, President Joe Biden ordered “defensive precision air strikes” in Iraq and Syria, reportedly in response to drone attacks on U.S. personnel stationed in Iraq.

This month, Congress’ grumbling resulted in Senate Bill 2391, the National Security Powers Act, introduced on 07/20/21 by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

SB 2391 aims to do the following:

  • Increase Congress’ control over the authorization of military actions.
  • Reform the review of weapons sales to foreign countries.
  • Increase Congress’ control over the declaration of national emergencies.

The Bill aims to accomplish its objectives principally by the following:

  • Repeal of the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
  • Sunset four existing authorizations for the use of military force. One of which is the open-ended authorization President Dwight Eisenhower obtained from Congress in 1957 purportedly to protect Middle Eastern nations from Communist aggression. The remaining three authorizations are those Congress granted following the 9/11 attack on the U.S.
  • Set forth the minutia of what words in the Bill mean, when a U.S. President can send troops into military action without Congress’ authorization, and when authorizations are supposed to end.
  • Require Congressional authorization for foreign arms sales over certain amounts.
  • Require a President submit underlying laws and protocols supporting declarations of emergency, and limit the duration of states of emergency.

In spite of rhetoric about usurpation of war powers, all this bill aims to accomplish is a reform of how Congress can continue to dodge its Constitutional responsibility to speedily and efficiently deliberate on matters of war, and choose to declare or not declare war when military hostilities arise.

If Congress were really serious about curbing Presidential usurpation of power in matters of military action, all that Congress needs to do is repeal all war-related statutory authorizations now on the books and abide solely by what the U.S. Constitution states in Article I, Section 8, Clause 11; and Article II, Section 2,

Article I – Congress shall have the power,

  • To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
  • To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
  • To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.

Article II –

  • The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.

Articles I and II make clear that Congress needs to declare war before a President exercises his duties as Commander in Chief. Constitutionally, in matters of war a President’s duties are solely military, directing deployments of troops placed at his command by Congress.

This Bill requires Congressional approval of government foreign arms sales over certain amounts. This requirement implies Congress’ view that choosing arms buyers is akin to choosing friends and foes. Besides, the U.S. Constitution gives Congress sole power in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 to “Regulate commerce with foreign nations.”

The last time Congress exercised its Constitutional responsibility under Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 was December 1941. For the last 80 years, men and women in the military have been sent into battle without public debate or a formal declaration of war. Although Senate Bill 2391 falls short in requiring that Congress exercise its Constitutional duty regarding the declaration of war, it does call for some restraints that could prevent the Executive Branch from engaging the nation in forever wars.

Pictured: Korean War – Nearly 40,000 U.S. soldiers died in action and more than 100,000 were wounded in a war that was never declared by the U.S. Congress.

Yoga Moms United for Slow Streets

Today’s urban streets that feature barricades prohibiting thru traffic sport different names depending on target population – slow streets, car-free streets, safe streets, and open streets are the most popular titles.  Bikers, joggers, and central planners love these streets.  Central planners especially have been dreaming about the extinction of automobiles for decades.

The COVID-19 pandemic was the brass ring, the golden ticket for car-free-streets implementation in cities throughout the U.S.  Sheltered-in-place folks in urban areas needed safe outdoor spaces for fresh air and exercise, and car-free streets stepped in as a solution.

The City of Oakland was the first in California to implement a slow-streets program back in April 2020.  The cities of Emeryville, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Berkeley, Alameda, and others soon followed.   

However now as the pandemic wanes, so does the temporary nature of car-free streets.  Local legislation is popping up to make these streets permanent.  Cities are rebranding the streets’ existence as good for health, recreation and pedestrian protection regardless of pandemics. 

California assembly member Adrin Nazarian (D-LA) introduced AB 773 (at present awaiting referral) to facilitate the “closing of a portion of any street to through vehicular traffic if local authorities deem such action necessary for the safety and protection of people using that portion of the street.”

All the enthusiasm for car-free streets comes with a measure of cynicism. 

Car-free streets are best suited for yoga moms, cycling dads and others in the higher-income brackets.  They fit right in with the lifestyles of work-from-home professionals that like to go out for a stroll between Zoom meetings.  They are fantastic for bike messengers and able-bodied non-workers. 

Generally, they are impediments for workers that need to drop off their kids in daycare and/or school and be at work by 8:00 am.  Closed areas that provide direct access to destinations, such as the Great Highway in San Francisco, represent scarce time spent on meandering.  Car-free streets do not serve residents of neighborhoods plagued with crime, where taking a stroll down a street might not be the wise thing to do. 

In spite of talk of aiming for racial equity in car-free streets initiatives, neighborhoods with majority black and brown residents often reject them. 

Ah, but slow streets help small businesses that often employ those of lower income, no?  – picture of happy people sitting outside in a “shared space” on a sunny day enjoying their margaritas.  Feels more like advertising than truthful reporting. 

But slow streets reduce pollution and traffic fatalities! – no picture of the irate motorist barreling through a slow street barricade, or another just clogging up the parallel street.

San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton made pretty clear what he thinks of slow-street equity.  Of the proposed permanent closure of the eastern half of Golden Gate Park’s JFK Drive, Supervisor Walton said like “1950s in the South.”  Walton’s supervisorial district contains large populations of lower-income residents that live in less than safe areas, without efficient public transit.  Thus car ownership and usage is high compared to the rest of the City.  Where do they park if they want to visit the north-eastern part of GGP?  No parking along the closed portion of JFK, and the park’s underground garage is expensive.

In the city of Oakland, initial surveys on car-free streets showed the program was popular.  Problem was, two thirds of survey respondents were white and 40% had household incomes of $150,000 or more (Oakland’s population is over 70% non-white, and the median household income is $76,000).  So, Oakland’s Essential Places program, designed for lower-income neighborhoods, chucked the strolling/biking narrative, strengthened barricades so cars would not plow through them, and rebranded objectives as helping pedestrians move around safely in reaching essential destinations.  Maybe lower-income Oaklanders view slow streets as suspiciously as does San Francisco Supervisor Walton? 

Government programs are immortal by nature.  Like government bureaus, they are also “the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”   Especially so are programs such as car-free streets that help implement agendas like climate change, smart cities, or transit-oriented development.  For example, Smart Growth America, advocates for smart cities, contributed to the funding for Oakland’s slow-street initiative. 

The elites can comfortably ignore or embrace these agendas. The less affluent cannot.  Urban housing developments have contributed to gentrification and increased cost of housing for families.  Divestment from petroleum has increased the cost of energy and transportation.  Slow streets, coupled with a “transit first” policy that lacks reliable transit, only serve to inconvenience the working poor. 

Politicians and the public need to stop the cynicism.  Streets are for transit and responsible drivers that need to get where they need to go.  Bike lanes, street crossings, sidewalks, playgrounds and parks are the domain of folks not driving at the time. 

This article, written by JVN website editor, was first published on California Political News and Views

Horseshoe bat flying with wings extended

Bats, Labs – Neither pandemic hypothesis is entirely credible

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was recently in the news for once again pillorying Dr. Anthony Fauci with questions on the COVID-19 pandemic. This time Senator Paul wanted to know whether the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducting gain of function research, and whether the National Institutes of Health contributed funding to that research.

Dr. Fauci’s response was in essence no and no. This response is satisfactorily general. Underlying possibilities such as indirect funding and dissembling by Chinese authorities (or dissembling by anyone suddenly placed in a bind) are absent from the response.

Senator Paul’s rather theatrical statements at this hearing of the Senate’s committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions of May 11, 2021, contained some dubious assertions. However, his insistence on learning more about the origins of the pandemic and about any involvement U.S. government agencies may have had is exactly what is needed.

Lockstep narratives might be waning

The COVID-19 pandemic has now lasted 18 months. Guidance from health officials and government mandates have been draconian. A large portion of the U.S. public has accepted prescribed narratives. Suggestions that depart from prescribed narratives have been summarily dismissed as misinformation or conspiracy – or worse, censored out of existence.

Fortunately some, like Senator Paul, still have the audacity to question authority. Among the most notable critics of COVID-19 response are the epidemiologists and public health scientists that published the Barrington Declaration, questioning the wisdom of the lockdowns, in October of 2020. More recently, May 14, 2021, 18 virus and immunology experts published a letter in Science demanding more investigation and more transparency regarding the origins of COVID-19.

Under pressure, ruling elites sometimes relent. Kaiser Health News reported on May 19, 2021, that Dr. Anthony Fauci told them in an email that “we at the NIH are very much in favor of a thorough investigation as to the origins of SARS-CoV-2.”

A timeline without conclusions

Expressions of interest and information crumbs are a start, but hopefully those seeking the truth will get more than that. The web of participants, funding and risks has become very tangled. A timeline of reported events since 2011 contradicts many of today’s narratives.

2011 – National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) suppressed two studies involving H5N1 viruses that had been modified to allow airborne transmission over concerns that methods used could be replicated by bioterrorists.

2014 – Breaches of protocol occurred at US government laboratories. Several workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were possibly exposed to anthrax. Vials of smallpox virus were not securely stored at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The CDC accidentally sent out samples of ordinary influenza virus contaminated with H5N1.

2014 – The Cambridge Working Group published Consensus Statement on the Creation of Potential Pandemic Pathogens, signed by over 200 scientists. The statement argued for a cessation of experiments involving gain of function studies that manipulate deadly viruses to increase their transmissibility or virulence, until a credible assessment of risks and benefits was created.

2014 – The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced cessation of any government funding for pathogenicity-enhancing gain of function research until the federal government completed a risk/benefit assessment and developed a new funding policy.

21017 – With new guidelines in place contain greater scrutiny, the White House lifted the ban on government funding for gain of function research.

2020 – The White House raised questions regarding EcoHealth Alliance’s research partnership with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In April 2020, the NIH suspended funding of EcoHealth’s surveillance of coronaviruses borne by bats in China. The surveillance aimed to prevent transmission of the virus to humans and to aid in the development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs. The White House’s concern was that EcoAlliance had funneled portions of NIH grants to the Wuhan lab. In August 2020, the NIH reinstated funding to EcoHealth with the stipulation that EcoHealth provide data relating to WIV’s research on coronaviruses, a most unlikely possibility.

2021 – A World Health Organization team of scientists visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology with the intention of gathering enough data to determine if the lab was in any way responsible for the spread of the coronavirus. Although the lab issued statements of cooperation, it did not give the WHO team any meaningful data.

2021 – On May 11, Senate Committee met to hear Update from Federal Officials on Efforts to Combat COVID-19. Senator Rand Paul asks forceful questions regarding origins of the pandemic, gain of function research, and NIH funding for GOF. Dr. Anthony Fauci responded that the coronavirus evolved in bats, and the NIH never funded research at the WIV.

2021 – On May 19, 2021, Kaiser Health News published To the Bat Cave: In Search of Covid’s Origins, Scientists Reignite Polarizing Debate on Wuhan ‘Lab Leak.’ The article acknowledges the accepted hypotheses that the coronavirus arose through natural mutations as it spread from bats to humans. But also notes the alternative theory that the virus escaped from the WIV, possibly after pathological enhancements.

The lab leak hypothesis has picked up more adherents as time passes and scientists fail to detect a bat or other animal infected with a virus that has COVID’s signature genetics. By contrast, within a few months of the start of the 2003 SARS pandemic, scientists found the culprit coronavirus in animals sold in Chinese markets. But samples from 80,000 animals to date have failed to turn up a virus pointing to the origins of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID.

Safety and clarity can only come from good information

The COVID-19 experience has been devastating. It is desirable to avoid a similar experience in the future as best we can.

Virologists say that one way to get a jump on pandemics is to know how pathogens behave when mutations increase virulence and transmissibility. Gain of function experiments can produce such mutations in a laboratory.

Virologists also know that if these enhanced viruses escape from a laboratory, the pandemic they were trying to avoid could wreak global havoc.

A credible origin of COVID-19 – be the origin a sick bat at a market or a lapse of protocol at a lab — could help improve safety standards. For that we need more open minds not wedded to prescribed narratives, and more effective investigative strategies what we have seen so far.

children tearing up covid masks

Two Generation C Embraced by the Establishment

The term Generation C is popping up in the press, “C” standing for corona virus or COVID-19. But the “C” in Generation C has another definition, connectedness or connected consumer. The latter definition predates the former by more than a decade.

Generation C: The corona virus generation

The corona virus generation describes those born between 2016 and 2030. Children born in 2016 would be four years old when the pandemic surfaced, and the country started to shut down. Those born during the pandemic would be 10 years old in 2030.

The response to COVID-19, especially in progressive states, produced one of the greatest economic and social upheavals in the nation’s recent history. Children’s education, friendships, routines, and even livelihoods suffered great disruptions. Children were forced to wear masks, stay away from their grandmas, and admonished not to hug their friends.

Such events can instill anxieties and fears in developing minds that go on to define a generation. Children of the Great Depression became The Silent Generation — cautious, thrifty, and loyal. Young minds that experienced the tragedy of 9/11 while in school or college grew into Millennial adulthood in the shadow of the Patriot Act — they are comfortable with government mandates and restrictions.

It is of course too early to say what the characteristics of the corona virus generation will be. We can only point out that masks and social distancing might prove to be Generation COVID’s Patriot Act.

Generation C: The consumer generation

Way back in 2010, Strategy& published The rise of Generation C: Implications for the world of 2020. Here Generation C refers to the “connected” generation, young people that “live online.” These “digital natives” have vast networks of connections and contacts that rank as pure gold in strategies of communications and technology companies.

In the face of declining revenues from traditional services, the challenge for the communication and technology industries will be to abandon successful but outlived business models and refocus on what it takes to thrive in the Generation C environment. This shouldn’t be taken as bad news, however; the rise of ubiquitous broadband, and of newly connected populations from emerging economies, will enable operators to capitalize on a vast new array of services. The Rise of Generation C, Strategy&, March 26, 2010.

The Strategy& analysis labels Generation C as those born after 1990. However, others have postulated that although most members of Generation C do fall into the Millennial category, they comprise a group that is more psychographic than demographic, with a mindset that spans generations. Google has studied this group and says,

Most recently, we conducted a global study on Gen C with Ipsos MediaCT and TNS2 and for the first time we’re now able to see the behaviors that make Gen C such a potent force. From electronics to travel, clothes to cosmetics, live events to fitness, Gen C buy products and services with far greater regularity than do their non-Gen C counterparts; they’re up to 3.6x more likely to purchase. And two thirds of Gen C around the world say that, “If there is a brand I love, I tend to tell everyone about it.The Power of Gen C: Connecting with Your Best Customers, Google Marketing Strategies, January 2014.

Thus, this Generation C is the holy grail, pursued at every click of their smart device. Their reward is a vast array of apps that gives them instant gratification and endless connectivity.

Same difference

These two generations are different in age and general attributes. But they share an inclination anathema to The Silent and Boomer generations – trust in the establishment.

Silents and Boomers are skeptical. Millennials are trusting, as evidenced by their willingness to share limitless amounts of information. They are happy to live in the fishbowl of connectivity and be plugged into the smart grids of smart cities.

Although it is too early to define the corona virus generation, it might be safe to assume they too will trust. Their developing minds are saturated with mandates that are willingly obeyed: wear masks, stay 6 feet apart, stay home from work or school, vaccinate, and do not say anything counter to CDC guidelines on social media.

Is the trend becoming apparent?

As major difficulties occur – the Great Depression, 9/11, COVID-19 – mandates and obedience to them are normalized. Such mandates are not limited to government edicts. They can be pressures to conform applied by those that benefit from specific behaviors. The populace is promised safety, convenience or peer acceptance, in exchange for trust in the establishment. A drift towards increasing levels of dependence on the establishment becomes inevitable, obliterating individual freedoms.

If wariness of democracy and free speech does not represent a political position, what does it represent? What unites so many young Americans in these attitudes? I propose that the answer is fear — the ultimate enemy of freedom … When people are afraid, they cling to the certainty of the world they know and avoid taking physical, emotional and intellectual risks. In short, fear causes people to privilege psychological security over liberty. Why Are Millennials Wary of Freedom? New York Times Opinion, October 14, 2017.

[Featured Image of school children tearing up a giant mask: Picture by Trent Nelson, in Salt Lake Tribune of April 24, 2021, article 3 Utah school districts now allow students to skip masks, based on their parents’ judgment]

MLK I have a dream

Critical Race Theory: A Dream Cancelled

Andrew Gutmann, parent of a 4th grader at the elite Brearley School in New York City, has touched a nerve in today’s woke culture. His 1,700-word letter to 650 parents at the school, decrying the famed institution’s race-saturated curriculum went viral after being leaked.

Mr. Gutmann explained in his April 13, 2021, letter why he and his family decided not to reenroll their daughter at Brearley for the 2021-22 school year. The letter discusses his objections to the schools’ embrace of critical race theory. Here are two of his objections that are particularly forceful.

I object to the view that I should be judged by the color of my skin. I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs. By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died.

I object to the idea that Blacks are unable to succeed in this country without aid from government or from whites. Brearley, by adopting critical race theory, is advocating the abhorrent viewpoint that Blacks should forever be regarded as helpless victims, and are incapable of success regardless of their skills, talents, or hard work. What Brearley is teaching our children is precisely the true and correct definition of racism.

Predictably, the response from the Brearley administration is to suggest Mr. Gutmann is a racist, ignoring that what he was so vehemently opposing in his letter was the racism inherent in critical race theory. Surely the Brearley administration is capable of grasping how anti-racism has devolved from the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr to the decrees of Black Lives Matter. Or perhaps not.

We express our unequivocal support for our Black, Asian, Indigenous, Multiracial and Latinx students, faculty, staff, and alums. Many of our students of color, especially those who identify as Black, felt that the letter questioned their belonging in the Brearley community. Their belonging and their excellence are unquestionable.

Brearley Is Not Alon

* Paul Rossi, a teacher at Grace Church High School in Manhattan, wrote an essay, which podcaster Bari Weiss published on April 13 (as she did Andrew Gutmann’s letter). Mr. Rossi warned that Grace Church’s focus on race was damaging to students. Here is a short excerpt of his essay.

As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding …

My school, like so many others, induces students via shame and sophistry to identify primarily with their race before their individual identities are fully formed. Students are pressured to conform their opinions to those broadly associated with their race and gender and to minimize or dismiss individual experiences that don’t match those assumptions.

* “Parents at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles gather to strategize in their war on the school’s race orthodoxy. Bari Weiss was invited to one such gathering, and reported what transpired in “The Miseducation of America’s Elites.” This from City Journal

Affluent parents, terrified of running afoul of the new orthodoxy in their children’s private schools, organize in secret.

In a backyard behind a four-bedroom home, ten people sat in a circle of plastic Adirondack chairs, eating bags of Skinny Pop. These are the rebels: well-off Los Angeles parents who send their children to Harvard-Westlake, the most prestigious private school in the city.

Most of all, they worry that the school’s new plan to become an “anti-racist institution”—unveiled this July, in a 20-page document—is making their kids fixate on race and attach importance to it in ways that strike them as grotesque.

These are America’s cream of the crop $40,000 – $55,000 a year schools, feeders to Princeton, Yale, and Harvard. Average on-lookers might find it strange that any student at such schools would actually view themselves as oppressed. But, often reality is situational.

Chances are there will be more schools embracing a race-based curriculum

On April 19, The U.S. Department of Education proposed a two-prong approach to embed race-based curriculum in American schools. The proposals are described in The Federal Register (the public comment period of these proposals ends May 19, 2021).

Proposed Priority 1—Projects That Incorporate Racially, Ethnically, Culturally, and Linguistically Diverse Perspectives into Teaching and Learning. Proposed

Priority 2—Promoting Information Literacy Skills.

Proposal #1 is fairly clear. Proposal #2 is open to interpretation, but might mean simply don’t look at anything on Zero Hedge, The Keiser Report, or Alex Jones.

President Joe Biden is considering grants to support implementation of these proposals. Public schools always need more money. Private schools might be welcoming extra funding to make up for loss of tuition due to Covid-19 closure. Federal grant money could be the enforcing mechanism for implementation of critical race theory in American schools.

In Fairness To Woke Progressives

Parents rebelling against today’s critical race theory curriculum are often quoted as saying their children are being indoctrinated, not educated. True, indoctrination of what is occurring.

However, it is only fair to say woke indoctrination on race is not unique in America. Our country’s schools operated under strict government-sanctioned segregation by race for nearly 80 years. The school segregation mirrored the wider culture at the time, when white people felt they needed to be vigilant against black people “forgetting their place.”

Thankfully, there were brave people who fought to dismantle the race-obsessed, baseless indoctrination inherent in Jim Crow.

Let’s ensure today’s parents are not contributing, willing or unwillingly, to raising racists. Let’s not let our desire to foster inclusiveness to turn into obsession with race.

Los Angeles Skid Row

Guaranteed Income: California’s Next Horizon

Guaranteed income pilot programs are emerging throughout the state of California. The programs differ in who is selected and how much recipients get. None have strings attached.

The concept of a guaranteed income gained publicity during the 2020 elections, when presidential contender Andrew Yang made it a central part of his campaign. In California, additional exposure came from Michael Tubbs, who founded Mayors for a Guaranteed Income in June 2020, a coalition that advocates implementation of guaranteed income trials.

Three Sample Guaranteed Income Programs

Michael Tubbs, when mayor of the City of Stockton implemented one of the first guaranteed income pilot programs in the state, with great fanfare and a lot of private donations. The program gave $500 a month to 125 selected low-income residents and ran for two years (February 2019 to January 2021).

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaff launched her pilot guaranteed income program in March 2021. The privately-funded program will give low-income families $500 per month, for 18 months. Families selected are of color, in an effort to close the racial wealth gap.

On April 19, 2021, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, proposed a $24 million tax-payer funded one-year guaranteed income pilot program. The program will give $1,000 per month to 2,000 low-income families adversely affected by Covid-19.

The Selling Points

A guaranteed income, with no strings attached, given in addition to established public assistance programs takes aggressive selling in some communities. In Stockton, for example, Mayor Tubbs was not re-elected in spite of accomplishments. His defeat was in part (there were other adverse circumstances) because some of his constituents were not ready for agendas as progressive as a guaranteed income.

The promotional efforts are convincing, but debatable in some regards. Here is a sample of the press California’s guaranteed income programs have received, followed by clarifications that might be helpful.

  • “The idea of the government providing poor residents with some basic level of income has been floated by a number of prominent people over the years, including civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., libertarian economist Milton Friedman and Republican President Richard Nixon.” L.A. could soon become the largest city in the U.S. to offer guaranteed income for poor residents.” L.A. could soon become the largest city in the U.S. to offer guaranteed income for poor residents, Fortune, April 19, 2021.

Martin Luther King criticized the existing welfare system as fragmented and designed to affect root causes of poverty, not mitigate poverty itself. He did propose a guaranteed income as remedy. However, his plan came with strings attached. Government needed to create “social good” jobs for individuals who the market economy left behind. Dr. King’s plan, therefore, differs from the current “no strings” proposals.

Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax, not a guaranteed basic income. Under Friedman’s plan, people file their tax returns, and depending on their income level, they either pay taxes or receive cash from the government. Also, Friedman’s plan was intended to replace existing welfare programs not supplement them. Today’s guaranteed income plans require nothing of recipients and supporters intend to avoid cannibalizing other public assistance programs.

Richard Nixon introduced in 1969 The Family Assistance Program (FAP), which aimed to implement a negative income tax that would benefit working parents with household incomes under a certain level. Unlike today’s guaranteed income proposals, FAP had a work requirement that applied to most recipients (there were exceptions to mothers with small children at home). The proposal passed the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate.

  • “There’s a number of ways to pay for guaranteed income, from a sovereign wealth fund in which citizens benefit from shared national resources like the Alaska Permanent Fund, to bringing tax rates on the wealthiest Americans to their 20th century historical averages.” Mayors for a Guaranteed Income

Alaska’s principal source of revenue is crude oil. Residents receive an “oil dividend” from a natural resource that theoretically belongs to all residents. It might be difficult for California to come up with a comparable natural resource dividend.

California already has one of the highest tax rates in the nation. Several large employers have recently left California citing high taxes and high costs, among them California icons like Hewlett-Packard and Tesla. Texas and Arizona are among low or no-tax states that are happy to welcome California’s wealthy expatriates.

An objective of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and others is to establish a federal guaranteed income program. The federal government can print copious amounts of money, redistribute revenue from low-spending to high-spending states, and does not need constituents’ approval to raise taxes. The only catch is that residents of low-spending states might not be happy with this plan.

  • Preliminary analysis of Stockton’s guaranteed income program: “Results gathered from the first year, which spanned February of 2019 to February of 2020, found recipients obtained full-time employment at more than twice the rate of non-recipients. Recipients were less anxious and depressed, both over time and compared to the control group … Recipients had a greater ability to pay for unexpected expenses …” University of Tennessee, College of Social Work, March 5, 2021.

“Asian/Pacific Islanders and homeowners comprised a larger share of the debit-card recipients than of the control group , which could have biased the results…The study’s small sample and reliance on self-reported outcomes are bigger problems. It’s difficult to assess a statistically significant effect on employment among such a small group over a one-year period—from Feb. 2019 to Feb. 2020—especially given high labor-market turnover among lower earners.” Universal Basic Income Hype, Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2021.

Conclusion

The highly-promoted Stockton experiment is serving as a catalyst for the proliferation of guaranteed income trials in California. However, it is difficult to see how a study of 125 folks, among them homeowners, can apply to California’s large population of low or no-income residents.

The state of California has a poverty rate of 11% compared to lower-poverty states like New Hampshire at 4.9%. Also, California has the third largest rate of homelessness of all states in the U.S. (after New York and Hawaii).

Guaranteed income programs in California will prove expensive. Local and state jurisdictions will have difficulty finding sources of cash. The federal government, with its ability to create debt, would be a reasonable source, but would low-spending states be willing to subsidize high-spending states?

Lyndon Johnson’s expensive Great Society sounded wonderful, but nothing really got fixed. It will be worth carefully reading the fine print on guaranteed income programs.

Ad for Marshall's Cigarettes

When Cigarettes Cured Asthma

The Stanford School of Medicine has an amazing collection of old cigarette ads. Up until the 1960s, tobacco companies were comfortable targeting children, young mothers, even those with respiratory complaints, since cigarettes carried a tradition of being medicinal.

Some early brands claimed to relieve the symptoms of catarrh, cold in the head, asthma, and hey fever. Starting around the 1930s, tobacco companies claimed doctors recommended their brand as the gentlest and the mildest.

That was the science of the day.

Unfortunately for the tobacco companies, science evolves as events are discovered, documented, and form the basis of new customs and policies. By the mid 1950s, tobacco companies had to confront the growing links between their products and cancer. Their ads then shifted to claims that studies on the dangers of tobacco were inconclusive.

In 1954, tobacco companies released “A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers” arguing that research showing a link between cancer and smoking was alarming but not conclusive.

Recent reports on experiments with mice have given wide publicity to the theory that cigarette smoking is in some way linked with lung cancer in human beings.

Although conducted by doctors of professional standing, these experiments are not regarded as conclusive in the filed of cancer research.

That science apparently made sense back then.

However, thankfully, not everyone was convinced. The U.S. Department of Justice listened to the emerging research on the dangers of tobacco. They sued tobacco companies on the ground that they had mislead the public and misrepresented the addictiveness of nicotine. On August 17, 2006 Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia issued a 1,683 page opinion holding the tobacco companies liable for violating the RICO act by fraudulently covering up the health risks associated with smoking and for marketing their products to children.

At that point, forceful warnings, curtailment of advertising, and high taxation on tobacco products aimed at reducing consumption.

Tobacco companies tried their best to discredit information that went counter to their agenda. While they did, a lot of people kept on smoking and kept on contracting lung cancer.

Given today’s efforts to discourage divergent thoughts on the currently accepted science of hot topics like climate change and pandemics, we all might need a reminder that science evolves – it is supposed to evolve.

Cigarette ad