Send Children To School

I want to stipulate up front that sending children to school in the midst of a pandemic is a very difficult decision for parents. Isn’t it the primary job of parents to keep their loved ones safe?

Nicholas Kristof, op-Ed columnist at the New York Times, makes a compelling case to send children back to their classrooms. Here are a list of facts and observations he makes in a piece published on Thursday (some are actual quotes):

  • Millions of students will soon have missed a year’s worth of in-person instruction. This is inflicting permanent damage to the group.
  • Republicans’ reluctance to wear face masks and distance is one reason so many Americans have died.
  • Democrats, disproportionately, are culpable for letting bars stay open while keeping schools closed. Democrats presided over one of the worst blows to the education of disadvantage Americans in history.
  • The aforementioned actions the political parties have resulted in more dropouts, less literacy, widening race gaps and long-term harm to some of the most marginalized youth in our country.
  • The San Francisco Federal Reserve estimates that educational disruptions may increase the number of dropouts over 10 years by three percent. This will decrease the number of educated workers in the labor force.
  • Rich kids have gone back to school and have been mostly on affected.
  • Low-income students often do not have Internet or Zoom services.
  • Children are disappearing. Some never login and some give up trying to learn online.
  • Financial aid applications for colleges have decreased by 10%.

According to McKinsey & Company school closures exacerbate racial inequality.

  • Remote learning does not work well for many students.
  • The Center for Disease Control found that in person learning has not increase community transmission of Covid.

Notwithstanding all of this evidence, no parents should be forced to send their child to school. But these same people must recognize that the perils of not doing so are not as great as they think, and the damage to their children could be long-lasting.

If I did have a child of school age, I would send them to school if it were available.

Biden Thinks He Can Negotiate With Iran

President Biden is falling into the same trap as his former boss and mentor, Barack Obama. Biden mistakenly believes he can negotiate with, and reason with, Iran’s ayatollahs relating to their nuclear weapons aspirations and that sanctions are an impediment to peace.

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial, has seconded the generally accepted belief that Iran will take advantage of US negotiators if the 2015 nuclear deal is revamped. After all, Obama hacks have joined Biden’s negotiating team and are prepared to give away the ranch one more time.

If a new deal enables Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction at any time in the future, the effort will be a failure. Correspondingly, an agreement that increases Iran’s cash flow to fund terrorism would be disastrous. Don’t be misled, Iran’s two principal objective are these items.

Trump abrogated the aforementioned deal with Iran and ratcheted up sanctions with the goal of encouraging regime change. The sanctions are essentially bankrupting Iran and its people. Oil revenues were slashed, and warmongering Iranian clerics continue to use every available rial to fund new weapons research and to pay for their far-ranging terrorist agenda.

Rockets struck a US base in Iraq this week. A contractor was killed, and several others were wounded. To make matters worse, a US service member also died in the attack. The State Department said the US would bring those responsible to justice. Most experts believe an Iran-backed militia group was behind the attack, and Iran either implicitly or explicitly was involved. Nevertheless, the US “has responded with a major concession on Iran sanctions that will … support such groups”.

No doubt Tehran believes Biden is so anxious to make a deal that he will ignore or downplay further hostile activity towards the US and its allies.

The Biden administration “will rescind Mr. Trump’s claim that UN sanctions … had been restored on Iran through the ‘snap back mechanism.’” This effectively acknowledges that Iran has the right to purchase advanced weapons. The Wall Street Journal said, “it’s a strange way to hold accountable people trying to kill Americans.”

This is deja vu all over again. Obama wanted to do a legacy deal with our worst enemy that was based upon mutual trust. Yet, the ayatollahs cannot be trusted. Why would the US agree to allow a rogue nation, committed to destroying Israel and killing Sunnis, to build a nuclear device that will totally destabilize the Middle East?

Regime change should be our goal. There will be no peace in the region until the current regime is replaced with more moderate leaders.

My Covid Tale

I passed another Covid milestone yesterday, after having received my initial vaccine inoculation. The Covid experience has not been smooth sailing for me during the past year as I already had the virus and have been told that at my age, I’m vulnerable.

Logistically, I’ve had some issues as well. A few weeks ago, I returned from Miami, and schlepped to an armory in northern Manhattan. My wife was able to get me an appointment to receive the vaccine by making scores of phone calls to the facilities that are dispersing the vaccine. I arrived at the armory in time and was greeted by some very nice people who guided me through the process.

While filling out one of many questionnaires, there was a query about being out of the state within the last 10 days. This was the day after I arrived from Florida. I told my interviewer about my return to New York, who said I might not be able to get a vaccine because Florida was on the blacklist, meaning that one had to quarantine for 10 days upon arriving from the Sunshine State. Apparently, the Floridians are not following the rules.

No way would I lie; it would have been criminal and immoral to do so. I didn’t follow the eligibility standards, and so I had to wait several more days before I would be qualified to receive the vaccine. It really is an honor system that I hope not too many Americans are gaming. I would not be able to live with myself if I made someone sick inadvertently.

Ten days later, my wife began a new search for a vaccine appointment. Bingo. this time I schlepped from Manhattan to Queens and into an elementary school converted into a virus vaccination facility.

My wife dispatched my younger daughter to accompany me. Sometimes I get lost or run into trouble on my own. It’s not easy being over 70. My daughter handled all the paperwork for me and even filled out my application. She also served as my interpreter because I cannot understand anyone who speaks with a mask on their face.

To reiterate I’m aged, frequently get into trouble when visiting medical facilities and doctors, and I don’t hear so well. I inadvertently left my “ears” (hearing aid) at home.

I was chatting with a male nurse who was preparing to give me the vaccine. I begged him not to hurt me. I’m a little bit of a cry baby. He said it wouldn’t until tomorrow. I said thanks. The second day is supposed to be a real kick in the pants.

Every single person I interfaced with was respectful and polite. It was a well-organized. The only problem was that the place was not crowded. It’s no wonder the inoculations are taking so long. You call up for an appointment at a bunch of places, and they all claim they’re full. In the meantime, when you do get a time, there are empty seats and staff looking for someone to take care of.

So here I am. I had Covid, I had a high level of antibodies, I’m still masked and distanced at all times, I’m, vaccinated and still wondering whether I can contract Covid again, see my family safely, travel, pass the disease to others and so on. I even listened to Dr. Fauci and have 50 questions that remain unanswered.

It’s going to be a long haul. But at least the vaccine didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.

Should The US Forgive Student Loans?

There is $1.7 trillion of student debt outstanding in the US. The Biden administration is considering a debt forgiveness program that would reduce that amount somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000 per student. These proposals would not have any impact on private student debt or debt already paid by borrowers.

Three out of four Americans are in favor of reducing student debt by $10,000, according to the latest College Investor Survey; this amount has been endorsed by the Biden administration. If instituted, it probably would be with an executive order and not enactment of a new law. Biden’s fellow Democrats are pushing for a $50,000 per student reduction, including Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren. They claimed that such a move would “close the nation’s racial wealth gap.”

Women and people of color would be the greatest beneficiaries of a debt forgiveness program. At $50,000, 80% of federal student loans would be stricken. This would reduce debt for 36 million Americans. Women owe 2/3 of the total student loans, $31,300 is the average for white women, $29,900 is the average for white males and $35,700 is the average for Black males. Within the last 12 years, 38% of Blacks have defaulted on loans, three times higher than whites. 85% of Black Bachelor of Arts recipients have student debt and 69% of whites have student debt. 90 percent of student debtors have accepted government offers to put monthly payments on pause during the pandemic.

[Note: Fox News 8 and Pimco were the sources for most of the aforementioned statistics.]

The questions surrounding this costly entitlement proposal are:

  • What if any benefits would accrue to students who have paid back loans? Answer: None.
  • Where will money come from to pay for the program? Answer: From taxpayers.
  • How much money would accrue to debtors? Answer: Zero. Loan payments would cease.
  • How would forgiveness of debt impact the economy? Answer: It would increase the chances of inflation as the federal government cancels debt and increases payments to those affected by the pandemic.
  • How would students who have been paying feel about the program? Answer: Probably, they would feel cheated.

What alternatives could be considered in lieu of forgiveness of debt?

  • A universal reduction in college tuition across the board.
  • A moratorium on debt payments, rather than forgiveness of debt. It would give debtors a chance to catch up on payments 5 to 10 years in the future when they are earning more money.
  • Forgive $10,000 per student, not $50,000.
  • A surcharge on tuition for wealthy families. Once again, look to the affluent to pay more to subsidize the needy.
  • Elimination of college tax exempt status. This would force colleges to pay taxes on profits.
  • Free tuition at state and community colleges.
  • Revamp college curricula to include more practical studies that would increase employment and wages.
  • Force private colleges to give more scholarships rather than using cash to increase endowments.

Defying Orders Means More Suffering And Death

Covid has literally turned our world upside down. The vicious disease has the entire world on edge. I find it hard to believe that everything is so out of control. And yet, there are so many Americans that are resisting authoritative demands to be more careful about how they live their lives during these times.

I spent time in Florida during the pandemic. While walking along the boardwalk in Miami, I witnessed a sinful attitude among so many fellow Americans. I estimate that over 80% of the of individuals walking, running, riding bicycles and parents strolling with young ones were not wearing masks. What a travesty. How could so many be so self-centered and uncaring for their neighbors?

One sick person in a small group can easily infect hundreds and even thousands of people. Relatives and friends of those infected on the boardwalk automatically become targets of this horrible disease.

So many of the clubs along the same route play loud music and several offer happy hour prices to lure in young people. Again, many were unmasked, and they were certainly not distancing. How can you live with yourself when you flagrantly defy orders to cover up and separate? How can you live with the fact that you carelessly made others ill and possibly killed a vulnerable innocent person?

The same holds true for medical experts and politicians who wantonly pass along guesses about the peril of the virus and encourage others to act normal in spite of the presence of the disease? Our leaders and medical experts should be working together, collaborating and giving us accurate and important data. How can we decide what to do with our families? Should the kids go to school or study remotely? Can you contract Covid a second time? Are young people not candidates to parish from the disease? How dangerous is it to fly on commercial airlines? To make good decisions for our families we need accurate assessments.

CEOs and boards of directors of major companies have been forced to make life and death decisions for their employees. It’s not that simple to allow employees to work from home when a business is dependent upon workers selling face to face or assembling products. And what about eateries and grocery stores? These people need to come to work and be exposed to more danger than most.

Our leaders and lawmakers must set priorities, not use the pandemic as a political football. They should be focused on the disease because it, or a stronger related virus, might be capable of wiping out the human race. Really, how can we not take the threat seriously? The disease has ruined our lives for a year to this point. Are we going to let it prevent us from having a normal existence for another year or two? Are we going to take the chance that Covid can kill every one of us?

It’s time all Americans and other countries around the world recognize that we are at war with an enemy that is more powerful than any weapon of mass destruction. Most of our focus should be on wiping out the disease.

You may ask what can we do short-term to protect ourselves? It’s the same old story over and over again. Wear masks, distance, wash your hands thoroughly every time you are near a bathroom and avoid crowds.  

Musings About Covid

It’s been an eventful year. Unfortunately, I contracted the Covid flu last March. It was a harrowing experience that continues to threaten so many people worldwide. It has changed the way we live each day of our lives.

My bout with the virus can be described as relatively moderate. I had a low-grade fever and suffered from aches and pains for several days. I was confined to my bedroom where I slept 15 to 18 hours each day and ate all of my meals alone. One good thing is that I didn’t realize how dangerous the disease could be for someone my age, 70 plus. If I knew how vulnerable I was, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown on top of all the other terrible feelings I had at the time.

At one point, I complained to my wife that I felt trapped in my room. I was losing my mind being cooped up for such a long period of time. I should point out that I was also recuperating from a minor medical procedure, which necessitated taking some strong medication. So, besides feeling like hell, I had to deal with anxiety and reactions to the drugs, which was disquieting to say the least.

I persevered and tried to get back into a strong physical fitness regimen. Every day, I walked in the oppressive heat. And, I resumed my yoga practice, which included meditation and physical fitness. I worked diligently trying to relax and fight off the negativity that overwhelmed me. It all ended successfully for me, but Covid still threatens the world every day.

The disease is sinister and sneaky. It attacks and kills individuals that suffer from respiratory problems, auto-immune issues and other maladies such as diabetes and asthma. I’ve commented before on this blog that I’m surprised the virus has overwhelmed us, and we have been so unprepared to deal with it. Billions of dollars are spent on medical research each year. Why hasn’t concern about a virus that could wipe out the human race gotten more attention and research dollars?

In 1919, millions of people died from a similar pandemic. In 2020, medical experts were surprised and ineffective dealing with Covid. Is it possible that not enough money has been dedicated to virus research? Is political correctness getting in the way of allocating our research dollars towards the most dangerous threats?

Information dispersed to the public has been misleading, incorrect and downright harmful. How many times have medical experts changed their minds about this malady? Have the experts done a good job cataloging the disease? Kudos are warranted for drug companies that created vaccines in record time. But the simple process of distribution has been abominable.

There is no consensus about who should be inoculated first or second or third. We don’t know whether we can be re-infected with Covid. We really are unsure about whether the antibodies protect us after we contract the disease. We don’t know a lot of things including whether Covid will impact our lives in future years. We learned nothing from the pandemic that took place 100 years ago.

Our federal and state governments have failed us miserably. They botched the distribution of vaccines. About 1.5 million people have received two doses of the vaccine out of a total of 340 million in America. The vaccine has been available for 30 days. You do the math. It’s going to be a long time before everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be fully vaccinated. Bitter disputes between federal and state officials have messed up the process. One would think that the federal government should lead the charge given the severity of the pandemic.

The Democrat government is once again wasting time trying to denigrate Donald Trump. Their efforts should be directed at supporting our economy and getting vaccine into every American.

Every day, my wife and I discuss the return to normalcy. What does it mean? Will we once again dine inside restaurants, and not have to eat on the street in 30-degree weather? Will we be able to go to a movie or are we destined to watch films at home on next Netflix forever? Will our children be able to go to classrooms to learn again without the threat of contracting the virus? Will all the people who were furloughed regain their jobs and be able to support their families? Seems to me the vaccine is the first step, and we need to produce more vaccines as quickly as possible.

Another major issue is travel. My family is uncomfortable traveling on commercial flights domestically. Will foreign travel bounce back and be safe in the near future? Will Americans once again be able to visit London, Paris and Tokyo?

And finally, my heart goes out to those that have delayed weddings, birthday parties, religious ceremonies, christenings, anniversary get togethers etc.

I wish everybody good health, and if you are sick, a speedy recovery.