Free Market Solutions to Big Government Bullies

Big government is bad whether my side is in charge or the other guys are. 

We as conservatives should try not to use the government as a sledgehammer to force people to do what we want like Democrats do.  They want us to stay home and close our restaurants; they use the government, and threats to take away liquor licenses to strong arm those restaurants.  They want a baker or a florist to participate in a same-sex wedding; they use government threats and fines to force them to go against their religious beliefs.  They want “free” healthcare, college, or whatever else they think they can promise for votes; they use the government to confiscate money from people to pay for it.

Conservatives should not become authoritarian tyrants like those on the left.  We should be true to our principles and keep the government out of people’s lives as much as possible.  Instead of wielding government power to get our way, I suggest we use imaginative free market ways to fight for our side when we can.  I have a few suggestions.

1. This is an idea for Christians who still want to work in the wedding industry.  Bakers, florists and musicians have been targeted by bullies who cannot tolerate anyone who does not agree with them or does not do exactly what they want.  The most publicized of these instances was Jack Phillips, the baker in Colorado who politely declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding because of religious convictions.  In true leftist fashion, the couple ran to the government to compel Phillips to bake cakes for same-sex weddings.  He had to fight the government all the way up to the Supreme Court where, fortunately, he prevailed. 

There are certainly times to fight in court and I am thrilled that Jack Phillips was victorious, but my solution would keep the government out of it and instead use the freedom to choose.  I suggest simply putting in place a policy that says this:

“A percentage of the profits from all same-sex weddings will be donated in the name of the couple to charity.  They may choose between Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, or Focus on the Family.”

2. The loss of liberty we have experienced in 2020 is unprecedented in the United States.  The government has locked us in our homes, taken our jobs, closed our businesses, cancelled our sports and entertainment, and even stopped us from seeing a friendly smile to brighten our day. 

This is a very urgent fight right now, and it has to be done through the free market in places like California because big government Democrats control every part of the government.  The method of attack is pretty clear.  Businesses have to fight the government every step of the way and we, the customers, have to support them by frequenting the places that are fighting.  In fact, in May I started a fundraiser through my blog for people to donate to businesses that opened up against the lockdown orders.  Last week my friends and I went down and presented a check to Jeff Gourley, the owner of Nomads Canteen, which was the first restaurant in Orange County to open up back in May.  If you want to donate, click here and we will give it to another deserving business who is standing up for our freedom. 

3. When Colin Kaepernick started slandering our police as racists who go to work looking for black people to murder and NFL players all around the league jumped on board with that lie I anticipated a problem.  How was I going to show my disapproval?  The obvious answer was to stop watching NFL games, but I dismissed that solution because I could see it leading to quite a moral dilemma for me down the road.  You see, consistency is very important to me.  I could handle boycotting the NFL because football is not one of my top priorities, but baseball is my life, and what would I do when some brain-dead baseball player decided to kneel during the national anthem? 

Then it came to me.  It was such a brilliant alternative that I think we should try to make it a movement.  These kneeling players wanted to make a difference, so I thought of a way to let them know that they did.  I vowed on social media that for every cop hating player who kneels for the anthem I will donate $1 in their name to President Trump’s re-election campaign fund.  Today I am fulfilling that promise by donating $212 to President Trump’s campaign.   It took some research but the best lists I found showed 211 NFL players who joined in on the anthem protests.  I intend to tweet every player that I can find to let them know about their contribution. 

Oh yeah.  You might be wondering about that extra dollar.  It is for Bruce Maxwell, the only Major League Baseball player who knelt during the national anthem.  He is no longer in the league, not because of his protest, but because he might have trouble hitting off of some of the Little Leaguers I train.

 

 

Following Up

This is a quick update to my previous article, “This is Tyranny but What Can We Do?” In it, we started a GoFundMe for businesses that were willing to open up and fight for our freedom. This Thursday we went down to Nomads Canteen in San Clemente, the first Orange County restaurant that opened up back in May, and presented the money we raised to owner Jeff Gourley. This is a picture of me with Jeff after giving him the check. The food is great, too, so go check it out!

The fundraiser is still up and there are other businesses who fought and are still fighting, so if you would like to help them you can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/bt6qz-reopen-america

Father’s Day in California

Have you ever had the feeling you were on some kind of a hidden camera show?  One of those times where everything around you seems so ridiculous that you think somebody is just messing with you for laughs?  This Sunday was one of those days for me. 

My day started out normal.  Well, not normal.  A normal Sunday would begin with me going to church.  Since apparently they had it wrong in 1776 that liberty is endowed by our creator and we no longer have the freedom to attend church without a mask, I watched the service on my computer.  It was after church that things started to get weird. 

Sunday was Father’s Day and my dad picked his favorite pizza place for lunch, so I said I would drive up and meet them there.  I parked my car and saw theirs so I knew they were already inside the restaurant.  When I walked in an employee rushed over and stopped me. 

“They’re already seated,” I said as I walked towards the tables. 

“You need to put on a mask,” he replied. 

“I don’t have one,” I said. 

He persisted, “You have to have one on until you get to the table.  Here, we have some for you to use,” as he grabbed a box on the counter. 

Two thoughts crossed my mind in the next couple of seconds.  First, I thought about how completely gullible and illogical so many people are to go along with this.  Apparently, if I walk 20 feet to a table without wearing a mask, everybody in the restaurant will be dead.  Yet, if I get to the table, remove the mask, and eat for an hour, then everything will be fine.  Insanity.  The other thought was that my family is going to make fun of me but I have to do the right thing.  We can’t let the bad guys win.  “Never mind,” I said, and I turned around and walked out.

I think my dad was annoyed, amused, and proud at the same time.  When he came out to walk down to the bakery to get dessert I was sitting on a bench outside.  I walked with him. 

“We missed you at lunch,” he said. 

“Yeah, me too,” I answered.  “You know why I’m like this?  Why I stand up for what I believe like that?”

“McDonald’s?” Dad asked.

“Yep,” I said, and he busted out laughing.

You see, when I was a kid my mom would occasionally take us to McDonald’s because they were the first fast food place to put in a playground.  In August of 1987 Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, made a $1 million contribution to the Democratic National Committee.  At the time it was the largest single contribution to the party ever.  Dad heard about Kroc’s donation and banned us from going to McDonald’s until George Bush defeated Michael Dukakis a year later.  We gave my dad a hard time about that for years.  Now look at me, Dad!

Side note:  As a general rule, I don’t like to boycott businesses for disagreeing with me politically except under certain circumstances.  I think it’s a bad precedent to set to make everything about politics.  For example, I still eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  I like it.  Plus I get a kick out of the fact that two Vermont leftists got rich because of free market capitalism.

After lunch we went to my parent’s house and watched Hondo, the John Wayne western.  Then dinner was even more entertaining than lunch.  My parents, my sister’s family, and I went to a Mexican restaurant.  My parents and I arrived first and I ordered a margarita.  When my drink came out I was disappointed to find one of those awful paper straws in it.  You know the ones.  They make whatever you’re drinking taste like cardboard and then they get soggy and mushy.  So far not funny, just annoying.  Then I noticed my mom’s iced tea had a real, plastic straw in it.  I asked the waitress, “Can I please get a real straw like hers?”  I couldn’t tell if she had a look of confusion on her face because, well, she was wearing a mask, but she walked off for my straw.  A minute later she returned to our table with two straws.  Two more PAPER straws!  I was not wearing a mask so I’m sure everyone could see the perplexed look on my face.  Was she messing with me?  Did she not understand me?  Was Ashton Kutcher hiding around the corner? 

“No.  I meant a real straw.  Like that one,” I said as I pointed at my mom’s tea. 

She looked at me blankly, followed by some unintelligible mumbling from beneath her mask about not having any.  I asked if that was the last one in my mom’s drink.  She mumbled again, nodded, and walked away.  My family laughed hysterically because I was so confused.  I glanced around again for Ashton Kutcher.  Nowhere.  Oh well.  I guess Mom had gotten the last real straw. 

A minute later the waitress brought my nephew his water because he had gotten there a little later.  My Dad said, “Hey Steve, look at his straw.”  Sure enough, in my nephew’s glass was a real, plastic straw.  Laughter ensued.  Ashton Kutcher never popped out.

Imagine: Crime and Punishment in Our Leftist Utopia

In 1971, John Lennon wrote the iconic song, Imagine, about his dreams of a leftist utopian world with no religion, countries, or possessions.  The song is beautiful, but as many wise conservatives have explained, terribly blind to the horrors its prescriptions would lead to.

We are now at a point in our country where the left is trying to pitch new ideas to build their utopian society.  This time they want to change how we deal with law and order.  Once again, their views are naïve and dangerous at best.  A great way to imagine the ideas of the left in practice is to take a look at a story and compare how it would play out using their positions as opposed to how a conservative thinks it should happen.  First, let’s tell the story with a conservative vision.

Michelle is walking home one night.  Suddenly, out of the shadows, a large man grabs her and drags her into a dark alley.  She struggles and manages to pull the gun she carries from her purse.  Bang!  She shoots the man dead.  Shaken, she calls the police.  They arrive at the scene and follow the evidence, which corroborates Michelle’s story.  The next day there is a story on the news about the brave girl who fought off an attacker.

Now, let’s look at the same story in the fanciful world of the left.

Michelle is walking home one night, thinking about how wonderful life is now that her city disbanded the police force.  Sure, there have been some minor problems, like a precipitous rise in the murder rate.  And yes, the murder rate in the black community has quadrupled, but that’s a small price to pay to save black lives.

Suddenly, out of the shadows, a large man grabs her and drags her into a dark alley.  As she struggles, she has the vile thought that it would be nice if she had a gun now, but she quickly remembers how bad guns are and why the government banned them.  Fortunately, out of the corner of her eye she sees a whiskey bottle that must have been left in the alley by one of the many homeless people who had flocked to the city since they began their program to help the homeless.  Michelle grabs the bottle and swings as hard as she can, smashing it over the man’s head.  Shaken, she checks his pulse.  Dead. 

“It’s ok,” she thinks, not because the evidence would exonerate her of course, because that’s beside the point.  She is a woman and you have to believe all women unless they accuse a Democrat presidential nominee.  As she pulls out her phone to call the coroner to come get the body, the light from the device gives her a closer look at the deceased, and a look of horror comes over her face.  He is black!  The realization hits her that she is not the victim, but instead a racist and a murderer.

Michelle breaks down in tears.  “How could I have not seen the signs?” she cries.  “I used to like Drew Brees and he had the audacity to say that people should respect the flag.  I am a modern day Bull Connor!” 

Feeling guilty and dejected, Michelle goes to the former police station, now the Office of Social Justice, and tells them what happened.  The official is shocked at her bigotry and tells her that they are going to throw the book at her.  “Oh no!” she exclaims.  “But you outlawed the death penalty!  Are you going to send me to prison?” 

“Of course not,” he responds.  “Prisons are draconian and punitive.  We only use those for people who continue to think differently than they should.  You will be sent to a conformity school, where you can relearn the right things to think.”

The next day the leading story in the news reads, “Unarmed Black Man Killed by White Woman.”

There you have a look at how crime and punishment would work in our parallel universes.  I should add a disclaimer here because people will twist the meaning.  I am in no way conflating this story with Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  What he did was wrong and he deserves to be punished, but not because of race; because of the facts.  The point of the story was that justice based on evidence yields much different results than “social justice” based on skin color.  There is no reason for thousands to take to the streets in protest of something that we already agree on, that racism is bad and people should be treated fairly regardless of skin color.  Too bad John Lennon didn’t imagine people being judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.  I think somebody else did, though.  Imagine that.

When the Police are in the Wrong – But so is Everyone Else

As a general rule I almost always defend the police.  There are many reasons for this default position, chief among them is that social justice warriors are constantly crying wolf and making exaggerated claims of police brutality.  Whenever a new allegation of excessive force hits the news my initial instinct is to roll my eyes and say, “Here we go again.” 

Fair minded people have been trained to respond this way after listening to these unfair accusations for so many years.   When we heard that Michael Brown was senselessly murdered by a racist cop in Ferguson, Missouri, and then found out that Brown was a dangerous criminal who was trying to assault the officer, some credibility was lost.  When protesters and rioters took to the streets after the incident even more credibility was lost.  When this pattern repeated itself time and time again across America, all credibility was lost.  Now when we hear about wrongdoing by the police we jump to the conclusion that the accusers are either exaggerating, twisting the facts, or flat out lying.

This was my gut reaction when I heard about the incident that occurred in Minneapolis.  “Time to defend another police officer from slander,” I thought.  Then I watched the video and realized something very rare had occurred.  I was wrong.  Making any kind of judgement based on a video is usually unwise because it rarely shows what led up to the events you see on the screen, but the video that shows now former police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on the neck of George Floyd is different.  The problem is not that Floyd was innocent.  He was a bad guy who had committed a crime.  He then refused to get into the police car, so force was warranted.  The problem is that once he was no longer a threat, Chauvin remained on his neck.  Even if you say that Floyd was still somehow dangerous in handcuffs, the officer remained on top of him even after he had lost consciousness.  This was certainly excessive force.  There is no excuse for Chauvin’s actions and he deserves to be punished firmly.  In fact, the Bible tells us that the punishment for murder should be death.

We should all be united on this.  Unfortunately, there is the race problem.  No, I don’t mean with the police.  In fact, I watched the video multiple times and there is exactly zero evidence that race played any part in Floyd’s death.  Chauvin used terrible judgement and is certainly in the wrong, but there is no reason to believe that Floyd’s race was a factor in what occurred.  So who has the race problem?  The people who are making it about race, obviously. 

The racial division and rioting we have seen is not just because of what happened to George Floyd.  It is a result of the media reporting on the events and ridiculous statements by public figures.  The left is once again trying to divide us.  If you are the one who makes it about race, then you have the race problem.  When the headlines constantly tell us that “an unarmed black man” was killed, they are giving us irrelevant information unless there is evidence that he was killed because he was black.  Correlation does not equal causation.  George Floyd being black was not the cause of his murder.  George Floyd was murdered and he happened to be black. 

The media needs to stick to the facts, remain fair, and quit advocating for the left and trying to divide us.  Last week President Trump said something obviously true, that mail-in voting will make it easier to cheat in elections, and was “fact-checked” for making claims that lacked evidence.  (Could the claim lack evidence because voter fraud is now so easy to get away with?)  If the media wanted to make things better in our country maybe they should fact-check Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey when he said of Floyd, “He’d be alive today if he were white.”  That claim surely lacks evidence considering the fact that 42 white people have been shot and killed by the police this year.  The only reason to say something like that is to pit people against each other based on skin color.  It is evil.

Then we have the protesters.  What is it that they want to accomplish?  Please do not hit me with the Colin Kaepernick memes.  He was supposedly protesting “bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”  Chauvin was arrested and will be prosecuted for his crime.  I just said he should face the death penalty.  Explain to me how Kaepernick or the protesters want a tougher punishment than I suggest, and remember, leftists are usually the people who are against capital punishment.  Also, do not tell me they are protesting for the murdering to stop.  Almost everyone wants that so who are they trying to persuade?  How is throwing rocks through windows and burning down buildings supposed to end murder?

People will point out that some of these feelings are based on historical racial injustices.  They are undeniably correct, but that should be more reason to avoid cheapening real claims of racism by saying everything is about race when it is not.  Remember from the story of the boy who cried wolf, when he actually encountered a real wolf, nobody believed him and came to help.

Why is the left trying to sow division?  The usual reason, power.  They know that if people are united then they will lose votes.  This is why the media is always trying to scare people and cause hysteria.  At least this might give the hysterical people something else to focus on instead of trying to stop friends from eating dinner together, going to church, and keeping kids from playing Little League games.

This is Tyranny but What Can We Do?

In the 1995 Best Picture winner Braveheart, William Wallace rallies his troops with a speech that seems very fit for the time we live in right now.  Early in the film William knows that the English are bad, but when they murder his young wife he knows he has to do something.  He has to fight.  We in America, and especially in the blue states like where I am in California, are at that point now.  Our jobs and businesses have been taken by the government.  Our ability to meet freely with people has been taken by the government.  Our sports and entertainment have been taken by the government.  If we want our freedom back we have to stand up and fight back.  The big question I have been asked is, “How? What can we do?”  Fortunately, I have come up with multiple, specific actions you can take to help us regain our freedom, and they are much easier actions than the Scots had to take against the English.

  1. Vote for candidates who promote small government.  The lesson to be learned from this should not be to trust one party’s politicians to control our lives.  The lesson should be that we should not trust the government to control our lives no matter who is in power.  Our country was set up to restrain the government, not to restrain the people.  The people themselves will disagree on things.  The question to ask is, “what do you think should happen when someone disagrees with you?”  If the answer is, “use the government to force them to do what I want,” then that is a problem.  The answer should be, “let them disagree with me and live how they want.”  Our goal should not be to force people to do what we want.  Our goal should be freedom.
  2. Go to church.  People need God, and people need community.
  3. Open your business.  If you are a business owner you have the most at stake.  You have worked hard all of your lives to open a restaurant or store and should be allowed to succeed if people like your product or service.  Take Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s example.  He just opened up his factory in Fremont, California, tweeting, “I will be on the line with everyone else.  If anyone is arrested I ask that it only be me.”
  4. Support businesses that open up!  This is where the rest of us can help, and I promise you it can be fun.  You don’t even have to be able to afford a Tesla, although if you can, go for it!  I have been to Nomad’s Canteen in San Clemente three times since owner Jeff Gourley reopened last week against government orders.  Gourley is a friendly guy who told us about how he got his chicken recipe from a local while he was living in Belize.  The food is fantastic and the people are even better!  This is the most important thing to do right now.  It will make a difference and here’s why.  The line to get into Nomad’s was all the way out to the street.  The first weekend they were open there were so many customers that they sold out of almost everything on the menu and had to close again for a few days.  When other businesses see lines of people eager to spend money they will want in on the action.  More and more places will open.  When people see that all of us are out and surviving, the floodgates will open and we the people will win. 
  5. The first restaurant that I heard about that opened up against government orders was Café El Dorado near Sacramento, California.  I considered driving up there to show my support but it would be about 16 hours round trip.  That gave me my next idea.  For those of you who cannot make it to San Clemente or Sacramento, CA, or Castle Rock, Colorado to eat, or to Auburn, CA or Owosso, Michigan to get your hair cut, but want to show your support for the brave business owners and their employees who are trying to bring freedom back to our land, I have started a GoFundMe so that you can make a donation that will be given to those establishments that stand up against tyranny and open up.  Not a penny will go into my pocket and I will post receipts on this blog so that you can see exactly where the donations are going.  Also, if you donate and know of a business that has opened up, let me know in the comments or send me a message.  The more money that is donated, the more people we can support! 
  6. If you are scared, stay home.  In fact, you should stay home forever because there are a lot of things outside that can kill you.  As of this writing, 1 out of every 3,865 people in America have died of coronavirus.  I don’t want to scare you panicky people, but according to numbers from the National Safety Council, 1 out of 106 people will die in a car accident.  1 in 111 will die in a fall.  You can be killed in a gun assault; 1 in 298.  Or getting hit by a car as a pedestrian; 1 in 541.  You may drown; 1 in 1,121.  You don’t even have to leave your house to choke on food; 1 in 2,618, so you should certainly switch to a liquid diet just to be on the safe side.  There’s even a 1 in 118,776 chance you will be killed by a dog.  It’s a dangerous world out there.  Stay home!  Besides, I like that there’s no traffic.

Now you have no excuses.  The challenge is out there and you know what you can do.  Here is the link to the “Reopen America” GoFundMe page: www.gofundme.com/bt6qz-reopen-america    

And remember…  “They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!”

Update: Gavin Newsom has ordered ABC to start revoking liquor licenses of businesses who open up. Nomad’s is closed while they pursue legal action against King Newsom. We need to fight more than ever!

Updating History

America has a rich, long history of inspiring speeches and eloquently written documents.  As I sat here contemplating this history, it became apparent to me that most of those words are out of sync with the values of our country today.  We need to update them to reflect the enlightened views of modern America.  After all, the coronavirus should teach us that these ideas are far too risky to let stand the way we learned them as kids.  They often even led to people dying!

Let’s start by updating a short one so you get the idea.  Some of you probably know the state motto of New Hampshire.  It actually comes from a quote by Revolutionary War General John Stark.  “Live free or die:  Death is not the worst of evils.”  Obviously, that concept is terribly dangerous, but we can fix it.  Instead, “Live free and you’ll die.”  With just a slight, barely noticeable adjustment, New Hampshire license plates go from being a reckless endangerment to a somber warning.

If you aren’t an expert on American history you might not even notice some of the subtle changes.  See if you catch this one from the Declaration of Independence.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their government with certain Rights that may only be rescinded if exercising those Rights carries any risk, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

A lot of that crazy fringe of people who still want to do things have been using a famous quote by Patrick Henry.  They fail to point out that life expectancy back in that era was only about 38 years, so people wouldn’t have lived to be old enough to die of coronavirus anyways.  That means his words are obsolete and need an update.  Possibly, “Give me a mask or give me death!”  It now becomes a practical health advisory instead of a dangerous demand for freedom.

Here’s one for the kids to recite before they watch school on the computer.  “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with social distancing and unemployment benefits for all.”  And while we’re on things that you stand up for unless you’re a washed up quarterback, we also have to change the last line of our national anthem.  Actually, sports aren’t allowed anymore so we don’t need to worry about that.

The next one comes with some challenges.  Did you know that the inscription on the Liberty Bell comes from the Bible?  It currently reads, “PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF LEV. XXV X.”  Coming up with the rewrite is easy enough.  “PROCLAIM STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF.”  In fact, since we obviously have to change the name of the bell, we might as well call it the Stay-At-Home Bell and people can ring miniature replicates to report their neighbors who are playing at the park.  Now, the hard part.  You might think the difficulty would be telling millions of Americans that their Bibles are wrong, but that has been a favorite pastime of Democrats in our country for years now.  The real problem is figuring out how to change the inscription on a 267 year old copper bell that has already been cracked once.  Fortunately, figuring stuff out is only for the scientists now.  Maybe Dr. Fauci can handle it.

This brings us to probably the two most famous speeches in American history.  The first one is a big problem.  I don’t think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech can be salvaged.  He speaks far too much about freedom ringing.  If we censor out all of that unsafe talk about freedom, the speech would sound like The Wolf of Wall Street edited for network televisionIt just cannot be done.  I think the whole thing has to be stricken from the record.

The other one can be rewritten, and it was a short speech so we can do the whole thing.  Just picture the Great Emancipator, President Lincoln, when he first said these words at the battlefield in Gettysburg:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived to protect us from ourselves, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.  We are met, six feet apart, on a great battlefield of that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live safely hidden in their homes.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.  It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under the experts, shall have a new birth of dependence – and that government instructing the people, monitoring the people, and regulating the people, shall not perish from the earth.

I will leave you with this one.  For those of you who are not sufficiently scared by coronavirus simply because the odds of dying from it are incredibly small, you need to remember what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is being around people!”

The Four Types of People

I have observed four different types of people when it comes to the coronavirus quarantine.  Type 1’s are people who are genuinely scared.  They think that we need to hide in our houses because otherwise they, or many of their friends and family members are all going to die of coronavirus.  I mostly feel bad for these people because, as I discussed before, their fears are completely irrational if you look at the odds.  Unfortunately, type 1’s sometimes overlap with the worst group, type 2.

Type 2’s are the people who are spreading the fear.  They consist of those overlapping type 1’s, politicians, and the media.  The driving force of this whole debacle is, by far, the media.  They have a couple of reasons to blow things out of proportion and scare people.  The first is attention and power.  Bad news equals ratings.  When they scare people, those people keep listening to them.  Members of the media love to feel important and affect our lives.  If the media scares enough people the politicians jump on board because they are scared by scared voters.  Plus they also love power over people’s lives.  Second, the media sees it as a chance to take down a president that they have been trying unsuccessfully to destroy since before he took office.  It very well may work.  Every person who dies, every business that closes down, and every person who loses their job is a good thing for Democrats come November.

Some of the many tactics that type 2’s use are: 

  1.  They give seemingly large numbers without providing any perspective.  The new estimate of 60,000 deaths may seem big, but the media doesn’t tell us that about that many people die every 8 days in the United States.
  2. They use models to predict future outcomes.  Later, when the actual numbers don’t match their predictions they simply update the model to reflect the new data.  They expect us to accept their models as truth even though we have seen them be incorrect time and time again.
  3. They tell us about celebrities who test positive for coronavirus.  They have to put a face to the disease and they realize that since almost none of us will personally know anybody who dies of the virus, they have to tell us about Tom Hanks, Kevin Durant and Idris Elba catching it to scare us into compliance.  The thing is, celebrities have always gotten sick.  It just normally is not reported.
  4. They lie about the death rate being much higher than the flu.  Considering the current reported numbers, combined with the fact that for every reported case there are likely 50 to 85 unreported cases, the death rate for coronavirus is hovering in the 0.066% to 0.1% range.  In other words, right around the same as the flu.

Type 2’s are also the people who feel the need to attack and shame anybody who dares to question the wisdom of giving up our liberty or, God forbid, doesn’t socially distance.  You see them on social media posting grim stories about how everybody is going to die, or complaining about people who aren’t wearing masks, or are playing tennis in the park, or want to attend church services.  They mock people as morons or say they have a death wish if they are seen with other people.  Unfortunately, type 2’s are the people you hear the most from.

Type 3’s are the people like me who think that the fear of coronavirus is irrational because the numbers do not justify it.  That does not mean that they think it isn’t real.  It certainly is, and the sick and elderly should stay at home.  Young, healthy people should be allowed to choose for themselves if they want to quarantine or not.  It should be up to that individual instead of the government.  Type 3’s still value individual liberty.  Some ignore social distancing rules, yet stay alive at a massively high rate.  The reason has nothing to do with them.  It is simply because the survival rate is massively high in general.  Type 3’s realize that it is dishonest when people are led to believe that there is a binary choice between quantity and quality of life.  The real choice is between a long, lower quality life and a long, higher quality life.  They choose the latter.  Unfortunately, type 1’s and 2’s are probably lost causes, and they outnumber type 3’s and control public policy right now.

This leads us to our last group, and possibly our last hope.  Right now public opinion is solidly in favor of the quarantine.  I know I’m in the minority, and the type 1’s and 2’s are not going to change their minds because the odds don’t matter to them and liberty is a disposable value to them.  Their numbers are relatively small, though.  The reason the polls still favor the quarantine is because of the type 4’s.

Type 4’s are the largest group.  At this point, they are in favor of the quarantine.  They are simply being cautious.  Their motto is, “better safe than sorry.”  While they are very averse to risk, they are also logical people who look around and don’t see the scary results that the type 2’s keep touting.  I have heard, more times than I can count, things like, “this doesn’t seem that bad, but let’s play it safe and see what happens.”  They observantly notice that nobody that they know is dying.  They also see that the few people they hear about who do catch coronavirus are surviving.  They see the numbers, and the fact that they just don’t match the gloom and doom predictions they heard from the media.  Most importantly, they do see the damage that the quarantine is doing.  They see a third of the country out of work.  They see kids missing out on proms and graduations.  They see people becoming depressed because they are lonely and barred from doing the things they love.  They will start to miss restaurants, sports, and live music.  The reason that they are our last hope is because at a certain point reality will start to become clear and they will begin to feel safe enough to want freedom again.  As type 4’s get more courageous, things will get better. 

As we move forward we will see that type 3’s were right all along.  There will be deaths, but not in the numbers we were warned about.  Frustratingly, the type 2’s will claim that it is because the quarantine worked and stopped people from catching coronavirus.  In fact, it’s likely that more people actually get it, or already had it, but it’s just much milder than how it was portrayed.

What type are you?

Baseball In A Pandemic

“There are three things in my life which I really love:  God, my family, and baseball.  The only problem – once baseball season starts I change the order around a bit.”  – Al Gallagher

I miss baseball.  I’ve always loved and defended my country as the greatest, freest nation on earth.  I realize that some of those liberties have been under attack for a quite a while now.  Since a large portion of our country is now hostile to God and capitalism, the rights I have always feared being taken away were those having to do with religious and economic liberty.  I never thought I’d have to worry about my right to play baseball being taken away.  Heck, even Cuba loves baseball.  But alas, here I am, a modern day “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, banned from playing ball. (More on “Shoeless Joe” later.)

In my depressed state I started thinking about a comparison that I keep hearing about, the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.  The only year I can think of where there was no World Series was the strike year in 1994, so how did baseball handle the Spanish Flu and how does it compare to the coronavirus?  I learned a lot of interesting facts about both.  Here are six of them.

  1. The 1918 season actually was shortened, but not because of the pandemic.  The World Series was moved up to the beginning of September so that players could go off to fight in World War 1.
  2. During the first wave of the pandemic Babe Ruth caught the flu and almost died.  It’s crazy to think how different baseball history would have been had Ruth died and never become a Yankee.  Instead, he recovered and this was the first year that the Babe, still primarily a pitcher, got to play the field and hit on some of the days he wasn’t pitching.  In that part-time role, he led the league in home runs.
  3. Ruth’s Red Sox won the 1918 World Series.  The next year they would trade him to the Yankees and not win another title for 86 years. 
  4. The Spanish flu, for obvious hygienic reasons, was one of the major factors in baseball banning the spit ball.
  5. This brings us back to “Shoeless Joe.”  There are now rumors, that the 1919 “Black Sox” were not the first team to throw the World Series.  The 1918 Cubs had the best record in baseball and there is talk that they threw that year’s World Series. 
  6. The biggest lesson I learned with regards to comparing the Spanish Flu to coronavirus is that the comparison isn’t even fair.  The Spanish Flu was far worse.  It killed young, healthy people at a high rate.  Two big league players died from the Spanish Flu, Larry Chappell and Harry Glenn.  The NHL actually did have to end the Stanley Cup Finals in a 2-2 tie because so many of the Montreal Canadiens got sick they didn’t have enough players to play.  NHL Hall of Famer Joe Hall died.  675,000 Americans died when the population was only 103 million.  In fact, in the entire history of our country, 1918 is the only year where our population declined.  Right now we’re at around 328 million and steadily growing.  The coronavirus is barely a blip on the radar. 

This whole thing has only cemented my opinion that we are overreacting.  When the media started throwing out names of athletes with coronavirus to scare people, I said that athletes get sick all the time.  Hysterical people told me, “But this is different.”  I said, “Fine.  If Kevin Durant dies, I’ll take your side.”  I’m pleased to say the NBA star survived.

As I pointed out in my last post, the odds of dying from coronavirus are slim to none.  We should not be cowering in our homes over something that is likely about 1/25th as dangerous as the Spanish Flu.  We should be booing the Houston Astros right now.  In fact, those cheaters should be forced to play without masks, closer than six feet apart from each other, next to the dirty trashcans that they used to bang on.

One final thought.  Game 1 of the 1918 World Series was the first time the Star Spangled Banner was played before a game.  It made me consider, could Colin Kaepernick have been right?  After all, how can I keep a straight face when I hear “the land of the free and the home of the brave” when we are certainly neither anymore?  My conclusion?  Of course not.  Kaepernick is just as wrong as ever.  I still respect our history.  When I hear that line I’ll be frustrated that it’s a thing of the past, but I’ll still honor those values and the men who fought for them.  Our founding fathers risked everything to set up a government that recognizes that our rights aren’t given by them, but are endowed by our creator.  They chose to fight for liberty even though it meant almost certain death if the British won.  Now we voluntarily give up our liberty over something that has almost no chance of killing us.  It is disappointing, but there is still a small remnant of Americans who value liberty which, at least for me, has to include baseball.   Play ball!

A Cure Worse Than The Disease?

I feel alone.  Not just because the coronavirus quarantine is shutting down the country and forcing us to stay in our homes, but because it seems like such a large majority of the country is willing to just accept it and go along with it.  Then when somebody disagrees, or God forbid, goes outside for something deemed “non-essential,” they are vilified as a horrible, selfish person who doesn’t care about people dying. 

One instinct that I have is to simply turn it around on those people and vilify them as horrible, selfish people who don’t care about millions of people being put out of work, retirement accounts being wiped out, and people becoming more lonely and depressed.  The thing is, I don’t think that’s true.  I think the people in favor of the shutdown do care about the economic and emotional impact of the quarantine but they don’t know how to weigh it against the fear that has been instilled in them about the coronavirus.  Instead of arguing or accusing, I decided it would work best just to clarify my rationale and hope that people can see that it is neither selfish nor illogical.

First, let me clarify my position.  I do believe that coronavirus is real and will kill people.  I think that there are reasonable responses for us to take to combat the virus.  I think that everyone should practice good hygiene. I think that it is reasonable for the elderly and people with medical conditions that make this virus especially dangerous to them to stay at home.  I think that we should lock down nursing homes, and that we should put money and resources into our medical response to the virus.  I just think that shutting down the whole country is not reasonable, rational, or consistent, and will hurt more than it helps. 

We first have to be rational and agree that people have always died, and will continue to die in the future.  This is nothing new.  There is obviously a certain level of risk that we deem reasonable to keeping the country running.  Otherwise, to save around 40,000 lives per year we would lower the speed limit to 10 mph.  We have to decide what level of death is reasonable to us, and what level justifies the effects of shutting down our society. 

As a baseball guy and a poker player I know a lot about probability and odds.  I think a lot about how likely things are to happen.  Considering that 98% of the people who are dying of coronavirus have underlying medical conditions and half of them have at least three, the odds of a young healthy person dying are pretty astronomical.  But what are the chances that I will even know anybody who dies of the virus?  The estimates on the number of deaths vary pretty widely.  Nobody actually knows the real death rate because most of the people who have coronavirus don’t count in the numbers because they can’t even tell they have it.  What is for sure is that it is much lower than the number that gets reported.  As of this moment the reported number comes out to about 1.7%.  As this report says (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/03/24/science.abb3221), it is likely that for every reported case of coronavirus there are 10 other cases.  That would, of course, move the decimal point one spot to the left for a death rate of about 0.17%, or very slightly higher than the 0.1% death rate of the flu.  Ask yourself, how many people do you know who died of the flu this year?  In fact, if we use Dr. Fauci’s doomsday guess that we could have “between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths,” and even if we go with the higher figure, we have lost 200,000 to the flu in the last 6 years.  (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html)  How many people do you know who have died of the flu in the last 6 years?  I would guess for most people the answer would be the same as mine, zero. 

The point is, the numbers we are hearing are likely far worse than the actual numbers.  They may sound big, but we need to have some perspective.  This is where comparing numbers with other situations is actually useful.  The Black Plague famously killed half of the population of Europe and it took about 200 years to get back to the population level it was at before.  I wondered, “what percentage of the United States will this kill and how long will it take us to get back to our current population level?”  So, I looked it up.  The United States population is 327,200,000.  200,000 deaths would be 0.06% of the population.  Then to find out how long it would take for us to recover and get back to our current population level I had to look up how many people normally die each day.  7,452. If we then average out the coronavirus deaths over a year, it would add 548 a day, making it an even 8,000 deaths per day.  Next, we have to look at how many people are born each day to see how long it will take to replace those 8,000 people a day.  There are, on average, 10,388 births per day in our country.  So the answer to my question?  Zero days.  In fact, not only is coronavirus not decimating our population as badly as it is being made out to be, but our population is growing by around 2,388 each day.

This is certainly lower than the threshold of a reasonable level of death to shut down our country that we were looking for, especially considering the damage the quarantine is causing economically and emotionally.  While we have already established that you probably won’t know anybody who dies of coronavirus, you almost certainly do know somebody who has lost their job.  I know several.  You definitely know people who have seen their retirement accounts plummet.  The high school seniors that I coach at baseball have worked hard for four years and will likely never get to play again.  Addicts are unable to attend meetings and many are relapsing.  People who have issues with anxiety or depression are struggling more than ever.  Many businesses and restaurants will go out of business.  There is less joy in the world because sports and concerts are shut down.  Maybe the biggest loss will be the loss of our liberty.  What ever happened to “give me liberty or give me death?”  Yes.  There was a time when Americans valued their freedom even more than their lives.  I fear that I am alone in still believing that.

Let me finish with another comparison.  If we figure out the odds of any random person dying of coronavirus based on the numbers above we get 1 in 1,636.  To put that in perspective, that’s about the same as the odds of dying from falling down the stairs (1 in 1,662) (https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-mortality-risk).  In other words, it does happen, but it’s very, very unlikely.  I suggest we treat coronavirus the same way as we treat stairs.  We have Grandma take the elevator but let everyone else keep climbing.