Stimulus but no relief

By Steve Woodward

A headline proclaims, “Senate Coronavirus Bill Prohibits Trump’s Hotels From Receiving Bailouts”.

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Trump International employees

What a relief, unless you happen to be a “worker” (the Left’s favorite word) in a Trump property currently shut down and taking a financial hit along with every other major hotel operator in the world. Which has us thinking about the surprise expressed by the mainstream media when President Trump said he hoped to resume economic activity across the country after Easter Sunday, April 12.

The reason this $2 trillion Corona-stimulus seems so randomly doled out is that many of the lawmakers behind it, especially the entrenched, career defenders of the status quo, have no idea how businesses are run, how they manage costs, manage labor and engage every day in staving off strangling regulations, which typically are chock full of unintended consequences.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the now notorious visionary Jim Clyborne, the South Carolina Rep. salivating on TV at the opportunity to hijack actual stimulus goals in favor of underwriting social re-engineering, do not employ people and are not dependent on a transactional economy. They rarely have run anything other than staffs paid for by taxpayers.

And although it comes as no surprise that petty Democrats in Congress would insist that Trump International be specifically shut out from the “stimulus” package, it also comes as we observe Trump understanding, intuitively, that a sick economy will do more damage to real people over time than a spreading virus that threatens a fraction of the population.

It is indisputable that Trump is perhaps the first modern U.S. President wired to empathize with a local restaurant owner who has grown from operating a small cafe to running numerous eateries, employing hundreds of people earning much more than a minimum wage. Trump’s hotels and golf resorts employ many times more than a multi-unit restaurateur but both face the same challenges, especially now.

The media pounced as soon as Trump suggested he foresaw the country “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” “Reckless”, trumpeted The Washington Post, failing to note that it and other former news organizations delight in seeing the U.S. economy decimated. In the long run, the media will not blame Chinese bats.

As days of closures begin to threaten even the most robust businesses, owners are speaking up and shouting down the “solutions” coming out of Washington. One is Raleigh, NC-based caterer Houston Loper, who released a letter he forwarded to members of Congress that was published by North State Journal. Loper echoes what Moore County chef-owners such as Mark Elliott are espousing. Forget stimulus; let us get back to work.

This is Loper’s summation: “The goal should be to keep as many people employed and businesses running as possible. This pay-out decision (aka, stimulus) would cause businesses to close and more people to be unemployed and reliant on government assistance. If the government helped small businesses first, fewer people would be out of work.”

Mr. Loper is correct. The problem is this: the dignity of work is not well understood by the ruling elite in Washington. They pay lip service to the American spirit.

 

 

King Cooper

By Steve Woodward

A random tweet brought everything into focus. Twitter is derided by many but it is often a dispensary of common sense. The tweeter recognized we are going to have to come to grips as a nation with prioritizing how we help those vulnerable to COVID-19 versus how we mitigate the economic impact we impose on everybody else.

Forest Official PhotoEverybody else will take a much greater and longer lasting hit. But wait, you say. People will die. Yes, people do. Die. Every day. That’s not part of our context here. Restaurants closing under Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper’s iron-fisted executive order might never re-open. In fact, a majority will not. Jobs lost will never come back. The chains will survive, but your locally owned eateries and cafes will die, slowly, under the current scenario. I know these people. They are in disbelief.

North Carolina’s Republican Lt. Governor Dan Forest, a formidable opponent of Gov. Cooper in this fall’s election showdown, recognizes this. Forest called it out.

Earlier today Governor Cooper announced, via a press release, that all North Carolina restaurants and bars must close in-restaurant seating by 5 this evening. His mandate will devastate our economy, shutter many small businesses, and leave many people unemployed, especially in the rural areas of our state where food supply is already critical.

After the press release, and shortly before a scheduled press conference, I, along with other Council of State members, was asked to concur with the Governor’s decision with no discussion. The Governor held his press conference and made the announcement even after a majority of the Council of State voted not to concur with the Governor. Thus, he does not have the authority to issue this part of his executive order.

While I understand that all actions in a time of crisis are very difficult decisions and have many consequences, some decisions are so serious they require, by law, discussion with, and approval of, other state leaders.

Lt. Governor Dan Forest makes an important point. The necessity of closing all NC restaurants and bars might be debatable — especially if you own one — but there is no debate about this: the Governor is not a dictator who can ignore legal protocol, even in a crisis.

After his office issued a statement Forest elaborated via Twitter (@LtGovDanForest): “My statement today was about the rule of law, not about the rightness of the decision made by the Governor. Had a majority of council of state concurred with the governor, I would be in full support. … But a pandemic should not lead to unquestioned acceptance of every decision a Governor makes, especially when (his) authority to do so is anything but certain.” The Council of State has 10 members. Six opposed Cooper’s decision. All six are Republicans. He ignored them. Cooper presumes he is a king.

Roy Cooper was born into a tobacco family. He worked in the family law firm after earning his law degree from the University of North Carolina. Cooper was elected to the General Assembly in 1987. He has not held a job most of his adult life, never had to make a payroll, never had to adapt to government imposed regulations. The irony in 2020 is that Cooper is afforded the luxury of ruling by fiat because the GOP-led Assembly since 2011 has taken steps fiscally which find North Carolina sitting on a multi-billion dollar “rainy day fund”.

We are living in a time of marked extremism. We have a governor in North Carolina who would rather drain our budget surplus than let people keep their jobs and sustain their livelihoods. The suspicion — the reality — is he is taking advantage of an opportunity to expand  government control and reduce self reliance. It’s straight out of the American Left’s playbook. They’ve been waiting. China obliged.

Socialism = misery

By Norman Zanetti

People in countries throughout the world have lived and continue to live amid the ruins and failings of a socialistic system of government. Why then do Democratic party contenders for President find it a promising path for America to undertake?
Socialism has proven to be a system uniquely adept at the equal distribution of misery.  On the other hand, capitalism and the vast wealth it generates has made America the envy of the world. Our constitutional principles bind us to ancestors who had great foresight in promoting the American dream. It has fueled innovation, risk taking, and invention. With that comes wealth and prosperity.
Our wealth has allowed us to assist impoverished nations with financial and medical aid, and offer protection for them against unlawful aggression. Our success only has been nurtured by competing truths and opposing ideas.
Today’s world might seem too complicated to fit into one rigid political system; one ideology can’t be applied to all problems. But America could not have existed and expanded if it had been founded on economic redistribution. It took hard work and determination, with all citizens taking part. Free market capitalism is adaptable and resilient.
Socialism is a deeply unpopular domestic agenda for those who truly understand it. It affords draconian controls over liberties. It escalates into a government that gives the masses what they feel they deserve, forgetting that someone has to pay for it, borrow it,
tax for it and print money to cover it. To think millionaires, billionaires and corporations can pay for these excesses is ludicrous. Every strata of tax payer will be impacted.
A January Gallup poll supports the presumption that Americans know this intuitively. Gallup asked if voters would support a well-qualified candidate who is Muslim, or atheist, or a socialist. Sixty-six percent would vote for a Muslim; while 60 percent would vote for a self-described atheist. Support for a socialist drops to 45 percent.
Those touting socialism — including but not limited to Democrat presidential frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders — reveal an inexperience in governing we can’t afford to adopt in any way, shape, or form.

Liberty first

By Steve Woodward
As we say so long to 2019, just off the top of my head …

  • Wage increases within the workforce rising at their fastest rate in more than a decade, faster than for supervisors (bosses).
  • Record or near-record setting gains for the Nasdaq (35%) and S&P 500 (28%).
  • Dramatic declines in illegal US-Mexico border crossings. The mayor of Yuma, Ariz., recently lifted a state of emergency declared last April because “the release of migrant families into the Yuma area has ceased.”

    Labor surge
    Wages rose 4.5% year-over-year in November among bottom 25% of earners.
  • Record low unemployment among black and Hispanic populations.
  • Lowest unemployment overall since 1969.
  • Energy independence from foreign sources.
  • Trade deal set with Canada and Mexico.
  • Pending trade deal with China that will end decades of trade abuse by the Chinese.
  • Record federal judicial confirmations of Trump nominees (48 in three years).
I’m beginning to think it might be safe, finally, to retrieve the gold, cash and firearms I buried in anticipation of Y2K!
Conservative bulldog Sean Hannity repeatedly urges, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Many of us are not there yet. Democrats present much about which to be perpetually troubled. (The drums of impeachment will awaken us from our New Year’s hangovers soon enough). But, consider more positive awakenings such as two I discovered with pleasant shock in The Wall Street Journal‘s December 28 letters to the editor.
They are letters written by residents of California and Illinois, no less, where the radical lefts reigns. They are direct smackdowns of columnist Peggy Noonan, a Never Trumper and out-of-touch Upper East Side New Yorker. Noonan is all for impeaching President Donald Trump if for no other reason than he is an objectionable character.
From Evanston, Ill.: “Ms. Noonan writes that many ‘serious’ witnesses of ‘obvious stature’ in the House impeachment hearings said the president abused his power. I don’t see it that way. Those bureaucrats said they disagreed with Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, which they think they (emphasis added), rather than the president, get to determine. Ms. Noonan should not mistake their arrogance for seriousness.”
From Mill Valley, Calif.: “We want the craziness of the left highlighted plainly. We want the corruption of elected politicians, permanent bureaucracy, intelligence services, judiciary and media exposed and cornered. We are tired of the politically correct speech codes and the protected classes for whom there can be no consequences. We prefer liberty.”
That is as powerful a mantra as I can think of to sustain us in the battles ahead in 2020. Republicans prefer liberty.

Soft tyranny prevails

By Steve Woodward

The presumption on the left in 2019 is that Republicans enter public service to engage in activities that advance human suffering. This despite common knowledge that politicians across the spectrum have proven themselves across the ages to be deeply flawed, and largely harmless more often than not. On this many can agree. But a recent diatribe by a fellow resident of Pinehurst serves as a reminder that, while all humans are flawed, some also are deranged.

In a July 31 letter-to-the-editor published by The Pilot, a newspaper in the Sandhills run by media lefties, Ken Owens of Pinehurst, a suspected invader from a northern state opined:

“When Gov. Roy Cooper explained why he would veto the Republican-backed budget plan, he got straight to the heart of what is wrong with our Republican legislators. … There are a lot of poor people in North Carolina, and it seems that the Republican legislators want to keep them that way. Note to Mr. Owens: The state’s poverty rate has fallen every year since 2012 after spiking to 18%, entirely during the rule of a Democrat controlled General Assembly for 140 years through 2010. Look it up.

The writer then ramped up his scolding of Republican policies.

  1. They refuse to expand Medicaid. Because it is rife with peril to do so for the people who allegedly will benefit. Gov. Cooper vetoed the 2019-21 state budget because it does not expand Medicaid. Guess what? If North Carolina covers the so-called Medicaid insurance gap and the federal government rolls back its current 90% coverage of the cost to states, NC will be rocked by a cost surge and Medicaid for All will become Medicaid for Fewer. In the shorter term physicians will cease taking on new Medicaid patients to avoid being overburdened, or simply to stay in business. Meanwhile, the Cooper veto is denying state employees and public school teachers scheduled pay raises. Look it up: States that bought into expansion when Obamacare passed are regretting the decision today. Costs have spiraled upward, limiting expansion as intended.
  2. They cut unemployment compensations. Unemployment compensation at previous levels was unsustainable and smothering the state in debt north of $2 billion. Today, the state has a budget surplus and unemployment is trending downward in step with a national trend. Do the math.
  3. By raising the sales tax, they (Republicans), in effect, raised taxes on the bottom 40 percent at the same time that they were cutting taxes for the top 5 percent. The Democrat-controlled General Assembly passed legislation in 2007 allowing counties to raise sales taxes by a quarter-cent to increase revenue as needed. Meanwhile, the state sales tax (4.75%) is lower today than it was in 2011 (5.75%). Which “they” are you accusing of political malpractice?
  4. They removed many poor people from food stamp programs. No one has been “removed”. In 2015, the state legislature took a common sense step to rein in food stamp program abuse. It reinstated a federal requirement — invoked during the Obama administration — requiring food stamp applicants to demonstrate they are working, volunteering or taking classes a minimum of 20 hours a week. And it impacted only adults under 50 who do not have children. As usual, Democrats eventually opposed these minimum standards because they champion soft tyranny through economic enslavement of citizens. They want reliable voters to become addicted to entitlements that go on forever, no questions asked. 
  5. They cut child care subsidies and slashed dental care programs for poor kids. Another blanket, baseless accusation ignoring reality. Government funded child care is complex because no amount of subsidized care will make everyone happy, or address every need. Ever. In 2014 the General Assembly tweaked qualifications to direct more subsidized child care to children under age 6 — citing the importance child care experts place on nurturing children from infancy. There have been no “cuts”. The pending 2019 state budget adds $3.2 million to the program. Activists dismiss this because there are kids on waiting lists representing a fraction of those receiving subsidized care. Of course, under the soft tyranny of liberalism, it is out of bounds to ask why many low income families continue having children they can not afford to raise. It is not an unfair question: If a couple already has one or more children, and both parents are working full time to support their families, why is it the state and federal government’s responsibility to underwrite child care for yet another child brought into the world, planned or unplanned?  

“What I don’t understand is why “the people” keep re-electing them”, Owens laments. “They are not there ‘for the people’. They are there to please the wealthy and the corporations that donate to them.” Who donates to Democrat candidates? Homeless people and companies too small to incorporate? No, to the contrary Democrats have been known to collect from sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, socialist billionaire George Soros and sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, not to mention employees of the largest publicly held companies in America: Amazon, Facebook, Google and the list goes on.