DISPATCH FROM THE VIRUS HIBERNATION

I didn’t suffer much during the hibernation. I ate well. As a matter of fact, I ate a little better with daughter-in-law Julie cooking meatloaf, banana nut bread and a few other specialties she cooked up to keep from getting bored. I probably gained a pound or two. I had all the comforts of my home. I just didn’t have the freedom I was used to. That was true to a great extent even before the virus finally got our government officials to catch up with what was needed to help slow the spread of this unwanted visitor.

Being in the most vulnerable group of potential virus victims, I was personally very cautious.

My life changed only slightly and in a few strange ways. Writing my blogs was difficult and my interest in finding new material for blogs was down to zero.

The other strange thing was I kept thinking—as soon as this is over, “we can move back to our old neighborhood in our own country.”

Contrary to logic, I was convinced we were in a different country. I know that wasn’t literally true, but it seemed right.

So let me share with you just a few of the things that did catch my interest in the virus fog.

The Mythology of Inequality: Debunking the Wealth Inequality “Crisis”

Many political leaders and pundits consider wealth inequality to be a major economic and social problem. They complain about a shift of wealth to the top at everyone else’s expense and claim that plutocrats dominate policymaking in Washington.

This is an oft-repeated refrain, especially among Democratic presidential candidates—but is it true?

Cato’s Chris Edwards and Ryan Bourne examined the truths and falsehoods surrounding the wealth inequality narrative in their latest policy analysis, “Exploring Wealth Inequality.”

The authors focused on six aspects of wealth inequality, discussing the evidence for claims that wealth inequality is drastically increasing. They found that wealth inequality has changed surprisingly little given the large economic changes in recent decades driven by technology and globalization.

Moreover, Edwards and Bourne identify several shortcomings of current wealth inequality data, which provide no information on levels of poverty or prosperity and are not useful tools for guiding public policy.

The study also debunks the claims of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that most top wealth was inherited, not earned. Among the Forbes list of 400 Americans with the highest net worth since 1982, only 40 percent were self-made. By 2011, the share of self-made billionaires on the list rose to 69 percent.

Edwards and Bourne also point to the biggest contributor to wealth inequality in the United States: cronyism and regressive government regulations that undermine wealth-building.

As talk turns to the future of Gaza, these haunting words of Golda Meir are as current as today’s headlines. She could have been talking about Hamas,

“We can forgive [them] for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with [them] when they love their children more than they hate us…” – Golda Meir (1957)

How JFK Censored Right-Wing Radio

In the early 1960s, President Kennedy’s administration launched one of the most successful censorship campaigns in U.S. history. The subjects of Kennedy’s ire were conservative radio broadcasters, who constantly attached the administration’s policy proposals. Worried about his reelection chances, Kennedy instructed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to target the offending broadcasters with tax audits and heightened regulatory scrutiny. Within a few years, this censorship campaign had driven conservative broadcasters off hundreds of radio stations; it would be more than a decade before the end of the Fairness Doctrine enabled the resurgence of political talk radio.

To give a sense of the scale of what I call the “Radio Right,” consider that the single 1960s broadcaster with the greatest reach—a fundamentalist preacher from New Jersey named Carl McIntire—had a weekly audience estimated at 20 million, which is comparable to the number of listeners that Rush Limbaugh could claim at his height decades later. McIntire’s show had gone from airing on just two radio stations in 1957 to airing on more than a hundred stations in 1960 and surpassing 475 stations in 1964. But McIntire was only one of a dozen conservative broadcasters who aired on at least a hundred stations nationwide.

An Honest Politician

Harry Truman was a different kind of president. He probably made as many, or more important, decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other 42 presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence, Missouri. His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father; and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an “allowance” and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was on Secret Service following them.

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, saying, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the president, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.”

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.”

As president, he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale.

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!”

I say dig him up and clone him!

Enjoy life NOW—it has an expiration date!

The Future After the Pandemic

In 1970, a book called “Future Shock” sold six million copied by basically saying innovation would change the world.

Shocking? Not so much.

Today a real future shock is forming because of the contagion and all of our lives will be affected.

Let me give you one example of the coming changes: Jobs.

Pandemic layoffs give companies the chance to clean house. Any employee deemed unnecessary or a nuisance is in the kill zone. By mid-summer, it is likely that 40 million Americans will be unemployed.

That’s staggering!

Companies understand that laying off older workers with good salaries can get them sued for age-discrimination. Fire a woman, don’t be surprised to see a “misconduct” allegation. There are legions of “protected” folks in the workplace only they are suddenly unprotected. The virus gives license to kill jobs.

So, the employment picture will be drastically altered. And there will be millions of folks looking for work. Therefore, companies both large and small will be looking to upgrade their workforce.

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