Don’t take QAnon seriously!

Michael Judge wrote in an essay in Today’s Register (10/20/20), asking Iowa politicians to “…publicly denounce” QAnon and its related conspiracy theories.  (See link below.)  Asking politicians to publicly denounce the conspiracy theories surrounding QAnon is like asking them to call out the phony entertainment “news” in The National Inquirer magazine or The Onion.  It’s better just to ignore the bizarre QAnon lies and let them die.  Those who believe such obvious fiction will only be reinforced in their belief if people in power take them seriously enough to make public statements opposing the conspiracy theories.  It would be better to laugh at their gullibility. I’m guessing that the creators of QAnon are doing just that.

Link to Register essay:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2020/10/20/qanon-conspiracy-needs-called-out-iowa-politicians/3664412001/

How to raise a snowflake.

Recently, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported that a ninth-grade teacher in the Iowa City school district was teaching her students about the enormous challenges faced by freed slaves in 1865.  She assigned her students to put themselves in the place of a freed slave and write four sentences about difficulties they would have faced, given that they were illiterate and had only known slavery.  A student of color in the online class was “uncomfortable” with the assignment and her mother didn’t want to let, “one soul make you uncomfortable for who you are.”. The district put the teacher on administrative leave because of her actions.  The mother is demanding that the teacher apologize.  A spokesperson said the district “does not support and will not tolerate this type of instruction.”  The teacher’s intentions were good – and that matters!  The student, parent, and school district could have taken the opposite position: That going through an uncomfortable situation can make us mentally stronger and more resilient.  Which approach has the better result?

Link to Press-Citizen article: https://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/2020/09/18/iowa-city-schools-teacher-leave-slavery-assignment-racism-race-education/5818146002/

Good news for Iowans – COVID-19 on the decline.

Here’s some good news for Iowans:  Although more than 75,000 Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19, that represents less than 3 out of every 100 people – and two-thirds of those have recovered.  Although more than 1,200 Iowans have died from COVID-19, the highest peak was in May and the current trend is sharply down from the lower second peak in early September.  We have kept COVID-19 hospitalizations, intensive care bed use and ventilator use well below our capacity, and healthcare system availability continues to get even better..  The number of Iowans being tested for COVID-19 continues to increase and the percentage of people testing positive continues to decrease.  So, Iowans, keep up the social distancing and the wearing face masks when appropriate so that these positive trends continue until a vaccine becomes available.

 

Source: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/#CurrentStatus

Grassley and Ernst are being prudent with taxpayer money.

In his recent essay, Danny Homan wrote that Iowa’s governments will have to start laying off workers, and, “Unless Congress delivers $1 trillion in aid to states, cities, towns and schools, our nation’s veterans will be among those unemployed.”  What he did not mention is that, according to our Governor’s office, Iowa has already been awarded over $4 billion in federal pandemic funding and has only spent about $2.8 billion, leaving $1.2 billion still available. (See link below.)  Homan wrote that, “Iowa has a projected revenue decline of $150 million for the year that ended in June and $360 million this year.”  Since we have much more than that still available, it seems quite premature to ask for  more funding at this time. Senators Grassley and Ernst have resisted the Democrat’s call for an additional $1 trillion spending for the states because they are being prudent with taxpayer money, while keeping our promises to support our veterans.
Link to Homan essay in The Des Moines Register:

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2020/08/26/already-strained-resources-veterans-threaten-get-slimmer/5636068002/

Link to Governor’s Office federal pandemic spending summary: https://recovery-finance.iowa.gov/#!/year/default

Don’t create government subsidized carbon credit program for farmers.

Contrary to the recent letter to the editor in The Des Moines Register from Rod Pierce, our government should not create or subsidize a carbon credit market in order to create an additional source of income for farmers.  It reminds me of the ethanol debacle.  Fifteen years ago our government created a market for corn-based ethanol by forcing fuel suppliers to add ethanol to gasoline under the misleadingly named Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  Farmers and ethanol producers fight tooth and nail to prevent our government from phasing out the RFS.   A carbon credit scheme could very well be another government program that will be costly to maintain and difficult to ever end.  Farmers become dependent on subsidies just like everyone else.  We don’t know what new technologies will emerge – just like no one predicted the shale oil boom in North Dakota.  Our government needs to stay out of the energy and agricultural markets.  Farmers will be on a surer footing when they don’t depend on government subsidies.

Iowa does not have the highest coronavirus growth rates in the U.S.!

The statistics used in the recently published White House coronavirus report for Iowa, and published in The Des Moines Register do not prove that the coronavirus is growing faster in Iowa than the rest of the nation.  The two key statistics used are not valid indicators.  The statistic “average number of positive tests per day per 100,000 population” is not valid because the results vary depending on how many tests are reported each day, and because those getting tested are not representative of the entire population.  The statistic “percent of tests reported each day that are positive”, (the positivity rate), is not valid because, again, those getting tested are not representative of the entire population.  The only currently available valid statistic is the death rate, which is a lagging indicator, and which is going down.  We should not be locking down parts of our economy based on bad data.  We should continue to encourage mask-wearing and social distancing when appropriate.

LInk to Register article:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/health/2020/08/31/white-house-coronavirus-taskforce-says-iowa-has-highest-rate-country/3449153001/

Transportation efficiency means more that just cost per passenger mile.

In a letter to the editor in The Des Moines Register, Lauren Lasswell asked, “Why do we support a transportation system that’s incredibly inefficient?”  (See link below to Lasswell’s letter published 8/14/20.)  She advocated for more public mass transit.  She wrote, “…the gas and money saved… would be astounding.”  She does not account for the fact that the vast majority of roads are paid for by fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, much of which would go away if people moved away from passenger cars to mass transit.  Also not mentioned is that our freely made individual decisions make it clear that most people prefer the convenience and time saved by using their own passenger car to go quickly and directly from any place to another.

Two steps to help end systemic racism.

I agree with William Cotton’s essay in The Des Moines Register that we must make changes to eliminate systemic racism.  (See link below to his essay in the Register.)  Here are two specific actions we should take:  1. Eliminate stops by police of vehicles with equipment violations such as broken lights.  If appropriate, tickets can be issued by mail against the owner of the vehicle based on videos or photos.  This will help eliminate pre-textual stops.  2. Repeal or stop enforcement of laws against the possession of marijuana.  It has been clearly established that marijuana possession laws are enforced unequally between black and white people.  We have made great progress over time in reducing government-supported racism in our country, but we must continue to eliminate it everywhere we find it.

Science recommends, individuals or politics decide.

The editorial team at The Des Moines Register, (as well as many liberals), seem to think that anyone who does not follow the recommendations of our government’s scientists is a “science denier.”    That’s not true.  People can believe the science but disagree about how to respond politically.  Science can give us a pretty good idea of what will happen when we take certain actions, but science does not tell us what risks are acceptable or what trade-offs we are willing to make to achieve any specific level of safety.  Those are either individual or political decisions.  We could stop COVID-19 completely if everyone was required to stay in their home for the next 30 days.   But even then, some would die in their homes. There is no perfect answer.  It is a proper role of government to use its force to stop or slow the spread of a communicable disease.   But as we can clearly see there are wide differences of opinion regarding what trade-offs we are willing to make and what level of safety should be our goal.  To the extent that those who are not willing to take a risk can protect themselves, others should be free to take risks.

Evidence of systemic racism in our criminal justice system?

I just started listening to the audio podcast of the Soho Forum debate: “There is overwhelming evidence that our criminal justice system is racist.” The debaters are Radley Balko (for), and Rafael Mangual (against).

The opening statement by Radley Balko is full of evidence of systemic racism in the administration of our criminal justice system.  If you want specifics, the video and audio links are below.

Link to YouTube video of the debate:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbWZM94nwD8

Link to Reason.com Soho Debates podcast:  https://reason.com/podcast/radley-balko-and-rafael-mangual-debate-systemic-racism/