Diversity Lands on Mars

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

The diversity movement has broken free of all earthly bounds

It was recently announced that 40% of management positions on Mars will be filled by minorities.

No, not the red planet, but my former employer, the privately-held Mars, Inc., a conglomerate with an estimated $37 billion in revenue and 130,000 employees.

The announcement is an example of how the diversity movement has become untethered from reality and is now being propelled across the ether by platitudes, virtue-signaling, group-think, double standards, and racial stereotypes.

The announcement was made almost simultaneously with the company changing the name of its Uncle Ben’s Rice to Ben’s Rice, after the Houston-based rice division had been accused of racial insensitivity for the former name and the accompanying caricature of a black man as venerable Uncle Ben. The accusation must’ve shocked the family owners, because they had always avoided politics and prided themselves on their progressive employment practices, high pay for plant workers, and concerns for all stakeholders.

No good deed goes unpunished in today’s hypersensitive America.

To digress for a moment, here’s why I’m qualified to speak about diversity and Mars:

In 1992, the Wall Street Journal published a long commentary of mine that touted the management philosophy of Mars, based on my experience working there as an executive in the 1980s. The article was subsequently used as a case study in business schools.

One of my responsibilities at the company was diversity, although it wasn’t called that at the time, because this was prior to the term being coined in 1990 by R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr., in his landmark article in the Harvard Business Review. It was called equal employment opportunity or affirmative action and was often accompanied with sensitivity training and with the firing of managers and workers for prejudicial behavior—all of which I oversaw.

Mars was known for its marketing prowess and for high productivity and efficiency, a deserved reputation that was due in large part to its recruiting at some of the best business schools and engineering schools around the world, as well as its practice of rotating managers between divisions and countries in order to spread best practices across the organization. For example, when I worked at the headquarters of its U.S. confectionery division, the vice president of manufacturing was Dutch, the vice president of R&D was British, the division president was British, and the vice president of human resources had come from Mars’ pet food division.

The company’s divisional offices were always connected to a plant. Although one of the company’s first U.S. plants/offices was in Chicago, and although one of its first European plants/offices was in Slough, the working-class part of metro London, it preferred to locate its newer plants/offices in semi-rural locations in the States and Europe. The thinking was that the work ethic was better than in cities, and that cities had too many constraints in terms of limited space, poor truck access, and neighbors who might object to the noise and odors of 24/7 operations.

This is why, a half-century ago, the company moved the headquarters of its U.S. confectionery business, as well as the adjoining plant that made M&Ms, from Newark, NJ, to Hackettstown, NJ, in the northwestern part of the state near the Pennsylvania border.

It was of course more difficult to attract blacks and Hispanics in Hackettstown than in Newark. The same for semi-rural locations in the Netherlands and Germany. But these limitations were more than compensated for by its operations in diverse parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Texas.

Cultural dynamics changed within the company when the family retired from day-to-day operations. The dynamics further changed with Mars’ purchase of Chicago-based Wrigley in 2008 for $23 billion. It became more “professionally” managed, which is a euphemism for being managed in accord with conventional American business practices—practices that have resulted in manufacturing workers in other industries being treated like widgets and seeing their jobs shipped to Mexico and China.

It is Mars’ prerogative to change its longstanding management development policies and plant/office locations to advance diversity—and to send a potentially divisive message to its workforce that preferences will be given to some employees over others until 40% of managers are minorities. But there are two troubling societal aspects to this.

The first is legal. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act unequivocally states that employment decisions should not be based on race or ethnicity. Although it’s legal to eliminate racial and ethnic barriers to employment and promotion and to reach out to previously overlooked groups, it is legally questionable to favor some groups over others in order to meet some arbitrary racial mix—not that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cares about discrimination masquerading as diversity.

The second troubling aspect is the ambiguous meaning of “minority.” Most people would say they know what it means, but do they really?

They would say that in the context of diversity, “minority” refers to those races that are in the minority in America in terms of numbers, such as African Americans, Asians and non-white Latinos. Not only are there business benefits to this racial form of diversity, the thinking goes, but it’s a way of redressing past discrimination and achieving social justice for historically disadvantaged people.

 

A PhD dissertation could be written on the fallacies in this thinking, but since PhD dissertations put people to sleep, let’s look at the biggest fallacy.

The biggest fallacy of the current zeitgeist on diversity is that it is based on stereotypes. The underlying assumption is that all individuals within an official governmental racial category are the same in terms values, beliefs, outlooks, and socioeconomic circumstance. As such, all whites are seen as coming from privilege, even though many are impoverished, unlike, let’s say, college-educated emigrants from an upper-caste in India, or Latinos from the Spanish aristocracy of Mexico. Moreover, all whites are seen as being in the majority, even though there are over 100 unique ethnic minority groups within the so-called white race, such as Italian Americans, who are only six percent of the population, or Iranian Americans, who are only a tenth of a percent of the population.

Memo to stereotypers: A coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia didn’t grow up with the privileges and perspectives of a Mars daughter. Likewise, this grandson of a coal miner didn’t grow up with the privileges and perspectives of a descendant of a Boston blueblood family that became wealthy from the cotton trade. For you to believe otherwise suggests a political agenda or reflects appalling ignorance.

Japan, South Korea and China are manufacturing powerhouses and big markets for Mars and other American companies. But, ironically, they are not very diverse in terms of race, although China has some degree of ethnic diversity. Time will tell if diversity will prove to be a competitive advantage for U.S.-based companies. But even if it doesn’t, diversity should be pursued for other reasons, as long as it’s done legally and includes ethnic and socioeconomic diversity.

The only group that should be excluded from diversity considerations are aliens from the planet Mars.

IMPRIMIS: A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVID Strategy

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

The following is adapted from a panel presentation on October 9, 2020, in Omaha, Nebraska, at a Hillsdale College Free Market Forum.

My goal today is, first, to present the facts about how deadly COVID-19 actually is; second, to present the facts about who is at risk from COVID; third, to present some facts about how deadly the widespread lockdowns have been; and fourth, to recommend a shift in public policy.

1. The COVID-19 Fatality Rate

In discussing the deadliness of COVID, we need to distinguish COVID casesfrom COVID infections. A lot of fear and confusion has resulted from failing to understand the difference.

We have heard much this year about the “case fatality rate” of COVID. In early March, the case fatality rate in the U.S. was roughly three percent—nearly three out of every hundred people who were identified as “cases” of COVID in early March died from it. Compare that to today, when the fatality rate of COVID is known to be less than one half of one percent.

In other words, when the World Health Organization said back in early March that three percent of people who get COVID die from it, they were wrong by at least one order of magnitude. The COVID fatality rate is much closer to 0.2 or 0.3 percent. The reason for the highly inaccurate early estimates is simple: in early March, we were not identifying most of the people who had been infected by COVID.

“Case fatality rate” is computed by dividing the number of deaths by the total number of confirmed cases. But to obtain an accurate COVID fatality rate, the number in the denominator should be the number of people who have been infected—the number of people who have actually had the disease—rather than the number of confirmed cases.

In March, only the small fraction of infected people who got sick and went to the hospital were identified as cases. But the majority of people who are infected by COVID have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. These people weren’t identified in the early days, which resulted in a highly misleading fatality rate. And that is what drove public policy. Even worse, it continues to sow fear and panic, because the perception of too many people about COVID is frozen in the misleading data from March.

So how do we get an accurate fatality rate? To use a technical term, we test for seroprevalence—in other words, we test to find out how many people have evidence in their bloodstream of having had COVID.

This is easy with some viruses. Anyone who has had chickenpox, for instance, still has that virus living in them—it stays in the body forever. COVID, on the other hand, like other coronaviruses, doesn’t stay in the body. Someone who is infected with COVID and then clears it will be immune from it, but it won’t still be living in them.

What we need to test for, then, are antibodies or other evidence that someone has had COVID. And even antibodies fade over time, so testing for them still results in an underestimate of total infections.

Seroprevalence is what I worked on in the early days of the epidemic. In April, I ran a series of studies, using antibody tests, to see how many people in California’s Santa Clara County, where I live, had been infected. At the time, there were about 1,000 COVID cases that had been identified in the county, but our antibody tests found that 50,000 people had been infected—i.e., there were 50 times more infections than identified cases. This was enormously important, because it meant that the fatality rate was not three percent, but closer to 0.2 percent; not three in 100, but two in 1,000.

When it came out, this Santa Clara study was controversial. But science is like that, and the way science tests controversial studies is to see if they can be replicated. And indeed, there are now 82 similar seroprevalence studies from around the world, and the median result of these 82 studies is a fatality rate of about 0.2 percent—exactly what we found in Santa Clara County.

In some places, of course, the fatality rate was higher: in New York City it was more like 0.5 percent. In other places it was lower: the rate in Idaho was 0.13 percent. What this variation shows is that the fatality rate is not simply a function of how deadly a virus is. It is also a function of who gets infected and of the quality of the health care system. In the early days of the virus, our health care systems managed COVID poorly. Part of this was due to ignorance: we pursued very aggressive treatments, for instance, such as the use of ventilators, that in retrospect might have been counterproductive. And part of it was due to negligence: in some places, we needlessly allowed a lot of people in nursing homes to get infected.

But the bottom line is that the COVID fatality rate is in the neighborhood of 0.2 percent.

Continue reading at:  https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/sensible-compassionate-anti-covid-strategy


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Jay Bhattacharya is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, where he received both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in economics. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and director of the Stanford Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging. A co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, his research has been published in economics, statistics, legal, medical, public health, and health policy journals.

 

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of the sponsors.

 

‘1619 Project’ Founder Melts Down After Criticism Of Her Fake History

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

This article was originally published by  the Federalist on October 16, 2020.

The lead writer of The New York Times’ anti-American “1619 Project” suffered a meltdown last week when a colleague at her paper offered fair criticism of its revisionist and inaccurate account of history.

On Oct. 9, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens published a more than 3,000-word essay outlining the project’s blunders that have led the academics with the National Association of Scholars (NAS) to call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke its award to the project’s chief essayist, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

“Journalists are, most often, in the business of writing the first rough draft of history, not trying to have the last word on it,” Stephens wrote. “We are best when we try to tell truths with a lowercase t, following evidence in directions unseen, not the capital-T truth of a pre-established narrative in which inconvenient facts get discarded. And we’re supposed to report and comment on the political issues of the day, not become the issue itself.”

Under this model, Stephens writes, “for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize – the 1619 Project has failed.

At the heart of his criticism is the project’s central thesis to revise the date of America’s “true founding” to the year 1619, when the first African slaves found their way to the colonies (Native American tribes had kept slaves on the continent for centuries by then). Several months after the campaign’s launch, now that it is infecting some 4,500 K-12 classrooms, the legacy newspaper stealth-edited the project to remove the language of its “true founding” to when the “moment [America] began.”

“These were not minor points,” Stephen wrote. “The deleted assertions went to the core of the project’s most controversial goal, ‘to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regards 1619 as our nation’s birth year.”

The criticism sent the architect of the project into a rage, according to the Washington Post, predictably calling the fair-minded critiques of her deceptive scholarship racist.

“Hannah-Jones, though, was livid, and let Kingsbury and Stephens know it in emails ahead of publication,” the Post reported. “One the day the NAS called for the revocation of her Pulitzer, she tweeted that efforts to discredit her work ‘put me in a long tradition of [Black women] who failed to know their places.’ She changed her Twitter bio to ‘slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress’ – a tribute to the trailblazing journalist Ida B. Wells, whom the Times slurred with those same words in 1894.”

The revisionist project, which has attracted sharp scrutiny since its publication last year, has since maintained full editorial support from the newspaper despite major corrections to its essays and leagues of historians debunking its primary claims.

After a group of leading historians objected to the Times’ project’s false information, the magazine’s Editor in Chief Jake Silverstein wrote back that “historical understanding is not fixed.” In other words, the Times doesn’t care what historians with decades of experience think if it counters the religious narrative that critical race theory demands.

Several months later, the Times finally did issue a two-word correction to its lead essay authored by none other than Hannah-Jones clarifying that keeping slavery was only a primary motivation for some of the colonists rather than all of the colonists to seek independence from Great Britain. While it might seem a minor change, it’s actually a significant one provided that the project has been adopted widely into curriculum teaching children the United States was built for the sole purpose to oppress, a key tenet of the left’s critical race theory driving the nation’s 21st century woke revolution.

It’s worth noting this correction was made before the Pulitzer committee awarded Hannah-Jones its prestigious prize based on an essay that the Times admitted was historically inaccurate.

Despite the corrections, the inaccuracies, the controversies, and the criticisms of the project, Dean Baquet, the executive director of the Times, rejected Stephens’ arguments.

“Our readers, and I believe our country, have benefited immensely from the principles, rigorous and groundbreaking journalism of Nikole,” Baquet wrote, celebrating the work of the same writer who said “it would be an honor” for the nation’s explosion of deadly unrest which tore through the cities this summer to be named”the 1619 Riots.”

Tristan Justice is a staff writer at The Federalist focusing on the 2020 presidential campaigns. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.

This column from the Federalist is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of the sponsors.

A Perspective on Social Justice

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Consider the expression “social justice”. What does it actually mean? Presumably, everyone is in favor of justice, as opposed to unfairness. But let’s consider what the people bloviating most strongly actually mean by the expression. What do they really want?

In the broadest sense the expression suggests that someone (or some group) is getting more than they deserve, while someone else (or some other group) is getting less than they deserve. It is not necessarily money. It can be anything from treatment by police to treatment by banks when considering mortgage applications or treatment by employers when deciding whom to promote.

Proponents of social justice always assume that either there is bad will on the part of someone making decisions or else that unfair outcomes have been institutionalized by historical events. In other words, either decisions are being made by racists or inherent racism is just the way things have developed over time. Such racism may be either overt or covert. Here I am using the word “racism” to cover all forms of discrimination for reasons of gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

I don’t think there is much argument that overt racism has been on the decline for many years. It certainly is not gone completely but incidents of everything from lynching to official redlining are no longer acceptable. When they do occur (as it appears may have been the case in the George Floyd killing) public outcry swiftly condemns perpetrators.

It is the hidden aspects of the problem that is causing the recent upsurge in controversy. How do we account for disparate punishment of criminals by courts? How do we explain pay disparities between groups that seems alike except for race, gender, etc.? Why do certain groups never seem to make it into positions of preference, power or prestige?  Is “the system” somehow holding them back or do they have certain characteristics or behavior that is a root cause of the problem?

I do not want to get caught up in debate over whether cops arrest more blacks because blacks commit more crimes or the issue of why blacks get harsher sentences on average than white. I know the arguments on both sides and I know the remedies that have been suggested. If society does not like “search and frisk” policies, it has to choose between frisking fewer blacks, frisking more whites, or frisking no one. NYC is conducting a lab with respect to the third alternative under Mayor de Blasio and the results are not encouraging.

However, the debate over social justice has moved beyond preventing discrimination in the future to undoing it in the past. In its most daring form, it is called “a conversation about reparations”. It starts with a recitation of past history and argues that bad things that happened in the past have effects that carry over into current generations and prevent them from achieving equality. Therefore, the argument goes, society has a moral obligation to somehow make up to the current generation of “victims” for the past injustices to their forebears. For example, if slave families were callously broken up a century and a half ago, that should excuse weak acceptance of familial responsibilities among many black men today. Similarly, if slaves were denied an education, that explains (at least in part) why blacks tend to do less well in school today, since they may not have grown up in a family environment that fostered educational achievement.

While these arguments are weakened by the multigenerational time periods involved since slavery ended, nevertheless, they cannot be dismissed out of hand.

The question is what can and should be done about it, if anything?

No matter how one tries to present it in order to make it palatable, social “justice” boils down to taking money from one group (taxpayers) and transferring it either in cash or services to a group labeled as “victims” of past injustice, even if was perpetrated on others many years ago. The scheme proposed by Senator Warren involves a wealth tax, which is simply a way of clawing back “ill-gotten gains” and redistributing them. If an entrepreneur or CEO paid his employees starvation wages while rewarding himself handsomely, the concept is to recapture and redistribute some of his accumulated wealth.

In theory, that is not absurd, although obviously not all of those being clawed would agree that their wealth was obtained immorally. This is not like seizing Bernie Madoff’s stolen funds and making restitution to those whom he defrauded. This is an all-wise Government deciding who is deserving of fleecing, who was shorn and who should benefit from it all.

In practice, “reparations” is a non-starter, even if you believe it has moral value (which I don’t, for reasons I will get to in a minute). Here are some real practical problems.

  1. Who decides and on what basis?
  2. What is the justification for taxing wealthy individuals whose parents were immigrants and did not benefit from slavery?
  3. Do those who qualify on racial grounds but are already wealthy get benefits or do they pay a reparations tax?
  4. How can the public be protected from benefits going primarily to supporters of the party in power?
  5. Why just blacks? Many other groups have also suffered from lack of social justice. Once we start deciding on victims, where does it end?
  6. Reparations are just another form of reverse-discrimination, doing good for one group by doing bad for the rest.

America was created out of equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. There is no question that various groups have been used and abused, starting with the indigenous peoples we threw off their lands and extending through various waves of immigrants. Not just black slaves, but also Irish, middle Europeans, Asians, Jews, Catholics, homosexuals, etc. all had to fight their way out of poverty and extreme, often brutal discrimination. Women also were in many ways kept in bondage for many decades. It may not have been as legal slaves, but they were systematically denied opportunities for education, training, and admission to professions for which they were deemed incompetent. Women were told they were mentally inferior.

This was all unjust. But tearing everything down in order to right the wrongs of the past will not make a stronger America. It will only strengthen the bitter animosity that divides us now. It will be in everyone’s interest to personally identify with some group of victims in order to get in on the largess. (Pocahontas comes to mind.) All of the groups mentioned above have made tremendous strides, sometimes helped by laws but more often by hard work and sacrifice. Little was handed to them on a silver platter. Now the folks clamoring for more social justice today want it for free, by taking from someone else, in order that they may live better. Confiscation is never a sound basis for social harmony and economic strength. Progress takes time, but we are increasingly living in a world dangerously used to and insistent upon instant answers.

Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of players in the NBA and NFL are black, the BLM movement insists that there is discrimination because too few coaches are black. There are few jobs more competitive than sports coaching. It is truly a matter of produce or perish. Black coaches have been appointed, but only a few have succeeded. I have no easy explanation. Undoubtedly, more will be tried. But is it not insanity for teams to aim for racial equality in the coaching positions instead of success on the field? If black coaches have talent, they will succeed, just as they have in the games. But most coaches fail. It isn’t easy nor should it be.

Some will argue that economic growth should take a back seat to social justice. This is the naive thinking of dreamers who believe that mankind is a perfectible species, capable of whatever sacrifice is needed to realize their dreams. While civilized humans possess an unusual willingness to help their neighbor and often exhibit a high degree of altruism, there are limits. Martyrs for a cause are in short supply. Dreamers would prefer that someone else be the martyr for their cause.

The economist Henry Hazlitt once summed it up by observing that when A and B get together and worry about the plight of C, they often call on D to do something about it. Hazlitt said that in that situation, the one that he worries about more is D.

I do not advocate doing nothing about discrimination, bad cops, etc. Specific situations need to be addressed, as it seems they have not been in the past. But defunding the police, toppling statues, rewriting history, and reparations are not the answer. Many injustices were ignored for too long and many remain to be corrected. Nothing, however, will be achieved by hatred and violence.

Ken Veit is a retired insurance company CEO and actuary.

A Contagion of Hatred and Hysteria

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Lockdown is a blunt, indiscriminate policy that forces the poorest and most vulnerable people to bear the brunt of the fight against coronavirus. As an infectious diseases epidemiologist, I believe there has to be a better way.

That is why, earlier this month, with two other international scientists, I co-authored a proposal for an alternative approach — one that shields those most at risk while enabling the rest of the population to resume their ordinary lives to some extent.

I expected debate and disagreement about our ideas, published as the Great Barrington Declaration.

As a scientist, I would welcome that. After all, science progresses through its ideas and counter-ideas.

But I was utterly unprepared for the onslaught of insults, personal criticism, intimidation and threats that met our proposal. The level of vitriol and hostility, not just from members of the public online but from journalists and academics, has horrified me.

I am not a politician. The hurly-burly of political life and being in the eye of the media do not appeal to me at all.

I am first and foremost a scientist; one who is far more comfortable sitting in my office or laboratory than in front of a television camera.

Of course, I do have deeply held political ideals — ones that I would describe as inherently Left-wing. I would not, it is fair to say, normally align myself with the Daily Mail.

I have strong views about the distribution of wealth, about the importance of the Welfare State, about the need for publicly owned utilities and government investment in nationalised industries.

But Covid-19 is not a political phenomenon. It is a public health issue — indeed, it is one so serious that the response to it has already led to a humanitarian crisis. So I have been aghast to see a political rift open up, with outright abuse meted out to those who, like me, question the orthodoxy.

At the heart of our proposal is the recognition that mass lockdowns cause enormous damage.

We are already seeing how current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.

The results — to name just a few — include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health.

Such pitfalls of national lockdowns must not be ignored, especially when it is the working class and younger members of society who carry the heaviest burden.

I was also deeply concerned that lockdowns only delay the inevitable spread of the virus. Indeed, we believe that a better way forward would be to target protective measures at specific vulnerable groups, such as the elderly in care homes.

Of course, there will be challenges, such as where people are being cared for in their own multi-generational family homes.

I am certainly not pretending I have all the answers, but these issues need to be discussed and thrashed out thoroughly.

That is why I have found it so frustrating how, in recent weeks, proponents of lockdown policies have seemed intent on shutting down debate rather than promoting reasoned discussion.

It is perplexing to me that so many refuse even to consider the potential benefits of allowing non-vulnerable citizens, such as the young, to go about their lives and risk infection, when in doing so they would build up herd immunity and thereby protect the lives of vulnerable citizens.

Yet rather than engage in serious, rational discussion with us, our critics have dismissed our ideas as ‘pixie dust’ and ‘wishful thinking’.

This refusal to cherish the value of the scientific method strikes at the heart of everything I, as a scientist, hold dear. To me, the reasoned exchange of ideas is the basis of civilised society.

So I was left stunned after being invited on to a mid-morning radio programme recently, only for a producer to warn me minutes before we went on air that I was not to mention the Great Barrington Declaration. The producer repeated the warning and indicated that this was an instruction from a senior broadcasting executive.

I demanded an explanation and, with seconds to go, was told that the public wouldn’t be familiar with the meaning of the phrase ‘Great Barrington Declaration’.

And this was not an isolated experience. A few days later, another national radio station approached my office to set up an interview, then withdrew the invitation. They felt, on reflection, that giving airtime to me would ‘not be in the national interest’.

But the Great Barrington Declaration represents a heartfelt attempt by a group of academics with decades of experience in this field to limit the harm of lockdown. I cannot conceive how anyone can construe this as ‘against the national interest’.

Moreover, matters certainly are not helped by outlets such as The Guardian, which has repeatedly published opinion pieces making factually incorrect and scientifically flawed statements, as well as borderline defamatory comments about me, while refusing to give our side of the debate an opportunity to present our view.

I am surprised, given the importance of the issues at stake — not least the principle of fair, balanced journalism — that The Guardian would not want to present all the evidence to its readers. After all, how else are we to encourage proper, frank debate about the science?

On social media, meanwhile, much of the discourse has lacked any decorum whatsoever.

I have all but stopped using Twitter, but I am aware that a number of academics have taken to using it to make personal attacks on my character, while my work is dismissed as ‘pseudo- science’. Depressingly, our critics have also taken to ridiculing the Great Barrington Declaration as ‘fringe’ and ‘dangerous’.

But ‘fringe’ is a ridiculous word, implying that only mainstream science matters. If that were the case, science would stagnate. And dismissing us as ‘dangerous’ is equally unhelpful, not least because it is an inflammatory, emotional term charged with implications of irresponsibility. When it is hurled around by people with influence, it becomes toxic.

But this pandemic is an international crisis. To shut down the discussion with abuse and smears — that is truly dangerous.

Yet of all the criticisms flung at us, the one I find most upsetting is the accusation that we are indulging in ‘policy-based evidence-making’ — in other words, drumming up facts to fit our ideological agenda.

And that ideology, according to some, is one of Right-wing libertarian extremism.

According to Wikipedia, for instance, the Great Barrington Declaration was funded by a Right-wing think-tank with links to climate-change deniers.

It should be obvious to anyone that writing a short proposal and posting it on a website requires no great financing. But let me spell it out, since, apparently, I have to: I did not accept payment to co-author the Great Barrington Declaration.

Money has never been the motivation in my career. It hurts me profoundly that anyone who knows me, or has even a passing professional acquaintance, could believe for a minute that I would accept a clandestine payment for anything.

I am very fortunate to have a house and garden I love, and I couldn’t ask for more material wealth than that. Far more important to me are my family and my work. Yet the abuse continues to flood in, increasingly of a personal nature.

I have been accused of not having the right expertise, of being a ‘theoretical’ epidemiologist with her head in the clouds. In fact, within my research group, we have a thriving laboratory that was one of the first to develop an antibody test for the coronavirus.

We were able to do so because we have been working for the past six years on a flu vaccine, using a combination of laboratory and theoretical techniques. Our technology has already been patented and licensed and presents a rare example of a mathematical model leading to the development of a vaccine.

Even more encouraging, however, is that there is now a groundswell of movements — Us For Them, PanData19 and The Price of Panic, to name but three — seeking to give a voice to those, like me, who believe that the collateral damage of lockdown can be worse than the virus itself.

On Thursday, a broad coalition was launched under the banner of Recovery. Drawing people from across the mainstream of political views, the movement is calling for balance and moderation in our response to Covid-19, backed by a proper public debate and a comprehensive public inquiry.

I am delighted that it has received such a level of support.

For, ultimately, lockdown is a luxury of the affluent; something that can be afforded only in wealthy countries — and even then, only by the better-off households in those countries.

One way to go about shifting our perspective would be to catalogue all the ways in which lockdowns across the world are damaging societies. At present, I am collaborating with a number of colleagues to do just this, under the banner www.collateralglobal.org.

For the simple truth is that Covid-19 will not just go away if we continue to impose enough meaningless restrictions on ourselves. And the longer we fail to recognise this, the worse will be the permanent economic damage — the brunt of which, again, will be borne by the disadvantaged and the young.

When I signed the Great Barrington Declaration on October 4, I did so with fellow scientists to express our view that national lockdowns won’t cure us of Covid.

Clearly, none of us anticipated such a vitriolic response.

The abuse that has followed has been nothing short of shameful.

But rest assured. Whatever they throw at us, it won’t do anything to sway me — or my colleagues — from the principles that sit behind what we wrote.

Dr. Gupta is a professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

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This column  from  American Institute for Economic Research is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of the sponsors.

 

Leg-Shootin’ Joe (Biden)

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

To paraphrase Will Rogers, it ain’t so much what Joe Biden doesn’t know about guns; it’s what he is sure he knows that just isn’t so.

Biden considers himself an expert on guns; just ask him. He is completely unaware that he knows nothing, and that what he thinks he knows is just flat wrong. Jaw-droppingly, eye- rollingly, what-in-blazes-is-he-babbling-about wrong. Like Cliff Klaven, he speaks foolishness, but with supreme confidence. “Always wrong, but never in doubt.”

His latest Klavenism is this, in response to an ABC interviewer’s question about police reform:

“There’s a lot of things we’ve learned and it takes time, but we can do this,” Biden said. “You can ban chokeholds … you have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances. … Instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg.”

Shoot them in the leg? Really? Seriously? He said that? Out loud? On television? OMG.

Let’s start with the basics: The only thing that justifies shooting another human being is the overwhelming need to make that person stop doing whatever they are doing to imperil a life. That need must be so urgent that it does not matter – morally or legally – whether that person dies. Here is an example: A Bad Guy (hereinafter “BG” – and how judgmental!) is running through a shopping mall, hacking people with his machete. He has already hacked six people, and now he is approaching a young mother holding her child. You have a gun. If you do not shoot, it is 100% certain that he will chop the mother and the child. Are you justified in shooting? Of course. What if you shoot the BG, but he chops the mother and the child, and then dies in the ambulance? Was that a successful shooting? No, because you didn’t stop him. What if you shoot the BG, and he stops, and does not chop the mother and child – but recovers from his gunshot wound and does not die? Successful shooting? Yes, because the objective was to stop him, not kill him. Whether he dies or not is irrelevant. Thus, we (police and non-police alike) never shoot to kill; we shoot to stop. We don’t care whether the BG lives or dies, because the goal is to make the BG stop.

Here is a surprise for the Bidens of the world: people don’t always stop when you shoot them. This ain’t the movies, where BGs are thrown backwards through plate glass windows when they are shot, while Good Guys shake it off because “it’s only a flesh wound.” If the bullet happens to hit the central nervous system (brain or spinal column), then the BG stops instantaneously; the electrical system is shut down. Otherwise, stopping is caused by one of three things: blood loss, pain, or psychological distress (fear). Blood loss can take a long time, often too long. Pain is an iffy thing, especially if the BG has lots of painkillers on board (alcohol and/or other drugs). Most stops are caused by fear: “Oh my God; I’ve been shot! I’m gonna die!”

Here is another surprise for those, like Biden, who are not knowledgeable about guns: hitting what you are shooting at is difficult. It’s darned hard to hit a human-sized paper target that is not moving. It’s much harder to hit an actual human who is moving, and who is trying, with great determination, to kill you. Depending on the police department, police officers hit the people they are trying to shoot somewhere between 10 and 50 percent of the time. For that reason, we practice shooting “center of mass.” That improves our chances of hitting the BG somewhere. If we aim at the center of the torso (approximately the heart), we consider ourselves lucky – and skilled – if we manage to hit the elbow or the hip. Because BGs don’t always stop when shot, and because so many shots miss, we don’t just shoot once and admire our work; we shoot a lot. How much? Twice? Ten times? We shoot until the BG stops doing the awful thing that made shooting him necessary and justified.

Trying to shoot somebody in the leg is an incredibly stupid idea. For one thing, it greatly increases the chances of missing. There are two downsides of missing: (1) the BG will not stop doing the awful thing that we need him to stop doing, and (2) every shot that misses has the potential to hit a Good Guy, such as the child that the BG was trying to hack with the machete or the man on the bus  a mile away. In addition, a shot in the leg rarely causes a person to stop, unless by luck the shot hits the femoral artery, in which case quick death is almost certain. Ironically, then, leg shots decrease the likelihood of stopping, but increase the likelihood of death. Biden certainly does not understand this.

On the subject of guns, as well as so many other subjects, Leg-Shootin’ Biden is full of – um – misinformation.

Don’t Mail Your Ballot (Anymore)!  But do VOTE.  And vote for me (please!)

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Election Day is less than a week away and that means that if you’re an Arizona voter, you should no longer mail your ballot.  If you’re a resident of Maricopa County, you can still take your mail-in ballot to any of the locations listed on this website, and drop it in a special box without waiting in line.  If you choose to vote this way, please drop off your ballot by Friday, so that it can be signature verified in time to be part of the initial returns.  You can then track your ballot by clicking “Check Your Status” on this website. You can also, of course, vote in person on Tuesday, Election Day.  By going to that same website, you can find a nearby voting location that allows in person voting.  You must bring valid identification.  You will get a ballot printed after waiting in line.  Fill out the ballot, and then feed it directly into a tabulation machine.

Whatever method you prefer, please VOTE!

So far, significantly more Democrats have voted.

As of October 26, Maricopa County has had:

  • 457,859 Democrat ballots returned
  • 421,858 Republican ballots returned
  • 295,622 Other ballots returned (Independents, No Party Declared, Libertarian)

This is not good for Republicans, but there is still time to catch and pass the Democrats.  There are approximately 2.6 million registered voters in Maricopa County.  They are divided accordingly:

  • Republicans = 917,596 (35.3%)
  • Democrats = 815,894 (31.4%)
  • Libertarians = 25,061 (1%)
  • Others = 839,407 (32.3%)

Republicans have the registration advantage.  Now we just need to put it to work by VOTING.

When you do vote, I ask that you vote for me, Stephen Richer, for Maricopa County Recorder, the office that oversees recordings, voter registration, and election administration.

I wrote previously for The Prickly Pear that we need to Make The Recorder’s Office Boring Again.”  If you want a reminder as to how it unfortunately became not-boring, then check out www.FireFontes.com or PhonyFontes.com, a website produced by The Arizona Free Enterprise Club to get a sense of how the current Recorder has been incompetent, unfair, unlawful, and uncivil.

VOTE!

Stephen Richer is an attorney, businessman, and the Republican nominee for Maricopa County Recorder. He and his wife (who met while both in law school at The University of Chicago) live at the base of South Mountain in Phoenix. Learn more about Stephen at his website www.RicherForRecorder.com.

America, Please Beware: A Toxic Theory of Race Relations in Our Schools

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Most Americans were not aware when a toxic theory of race relations deeply embedded itself into our culture, especially our schools.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) sounds like sophisticated academic reasoning, but it is not rooted in any science nor subjected to disciplined analysis. It is based on the assumption that white people are born with a belief in their own superiority and with fixed prejudice against other races. It can never be eliminated because it is ‘inborn’.

Racism is defined as the mindset of judging people on the basis of their race. It is profoundly racist to believe that any person’s beliefs can be reliably determined based only on their skin color.

CRT represents the exact opposite of the vision proclaimed by generations of American civil rights leaders, culminating in Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. King’s dream was of an America where races live together amicably, where color blindness was a shared goal and where race really didn’t matter that much.

To the CRT crowd, race infuses every aspect of life. It determines our character and behavior. If all white people are bigoted, then the nation they founded and its institutions must also be racist, so the notion of ‘institutional’ or ‘systemic’ racism naturally follows.

Critical Race Theory thus becomes the public ideological foundation of Black Lives Matter (despite their true Marxist identity and goals) and others wishing to foment hatred toward America. CRT also places the rest of us on a cruel hamster wheel. If we really are unable to forgo our innate racism, why even try? What good are attempts at interracial friendship and mutual acts of kindness? And if you object to being deemed automatically racist, that only provides further proof of your bigotry.

But does systemic racism really explain, for example, higher black incarceration rates? Blacks comprise 13% of America’s population, yet committed 53% of the murders in 2018, 54% of robberies and 34% of armed robberies, which would logically result in higher arrest and incarceration rates.

Asians, by contrast, comprise 5.6% of the population but commit to just 1.3% of the murders, 1.4% of the robberies and 2.1% of armed robberies. Is this proof that police have a pro-Asian bias and ignore Asian criminality?

Or is it more likely because across the races, there is a direct correlation between having a father in the home and crime rates. Take note of this ominous statistic – there’s a greater than 70% unwed pregnancy rate among blacks? Even more ominous, the Marxist founders of BLM advocate eliminating the nuclear family throughout society.

Still, almost unbelievably, CRT has become mainstream academic dogma in our universities. Although proponents avoid publicity, many parents are now discovering that even elementary school children are being introduced to the basics of CRT.

They’re serious. One national organization insists that “stopping the systemic dehumanization” requires “flooding our children with counter messages… until there is no racial inequality in incarceration and no brutality from the police and others.”

Educators in Chicago are provided with a “say their name” tool kit where Angela Davis, an unrepentant terrorist, admonishes that “in a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” In other words, kids, no room for discussion or nuance. You are either all in for BLM/CRT or you are the enemy of decency.

Major corporations, hoping to avoid racial shaming, are supportive. In the name of ‘diversity training’, white employees are told they should “struggle to own their racism“ and “invest in race-based growth“ .’Safe spaces’ are created where humiliated whites sit in mandated silence while black employees explain “the discomfort of their racism“ and “what it means to be black”. If they become too emotional or too mean, whites are not allowed to protest.

It’s chilling to think how far we’ve come from the days when racial hostility was in decline, when in response to our racist past, Americans were determined to do better and to bring us together. Critical Race Theory drives us apart and precludes the very initiatives that would support progress for black citizens.

Make no mistake, this is not an accident. CRT is not meant to improve the lot of blacks but to stoke the resentments that will enable the Marxist takeover of the American Republic that BLM and their radical allies fervently seek.

America, please beware.

 

Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute.

The “Myth” of Pre-Existing Conditions

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you have a history of hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, breast or prostate cancer, lumbar stenosis, treated grand-mal seizures or any of tens of thousands of conditions in the spectrum of human disease, you have a pre-existing condition.  As a member of the human race, you either have or will eventually have one or multiple pre-existing conditions in your life. Not one medical condition or diagnosis in the vast universe of human pathology, whether minor or life-threatening, is mythical. As an anesthesiologist retired from a forty-year clinical career, virtually all of my patients had one or multiple “pre-existing” conditions. The co-morbidities in a given patient often have an important or critical impact on the management of the anesthetic. Why have I entitled this essay as The “Myth” of Pre-existing Conditions?

Let us shift our focus to the political and insurance implications of “Pre-Existing Conditions”. This focus is quite different from the medical reality of 320 million Americans’ true health care profiles. A different story always emerges when actual facts are considered in any political story, especially during an election season immersed in malignant partisan behavior. Consider the following about the history of “pre-existing conditions” since the 1990s to the present day.

  • The incessant cry of Americans being bankrupted by a “pre-existing condition” was used in the run-up to the March, 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act by a one-party majority legislative juggernaut with complete absence of any bipartisanship. Its purpose was to create fear and anxiety in the citizenry.
  • The real story of “pre-existing conditions” was then and is now that the vast majority of Americans, a large percentage of whom have existing medical conditions, are insured through employer-provided insurance (fully or in part), Medicare, Medicaid, VA coverage, the Indian Health Service and other insurance platforms that accept all patients with or without pre-existing conditions.
  • The problems of pre-existing conditions pertained to less than 1% of the population in 2009 and had been effectively dealt with by state-run, tax-subsidized high-risk pools in 37 states. The increasing movement toward state-subsidized, high-risk insurance plans for the very small (0.67%) segment of the American population trapped without insurance from job loss or a decision not to insure before illness occurred was growing, effective and appropriate for a society caring for its most needy. Obamacare ended this abruptly.
  • The 1996 HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) legislation was directed at protecting the maintenance of health insurance for Americans as well as issues surrounding “confidentiality” of medical information. Insurance companies were forbidden by statute to cancel insurance for a new condition or charging exorbitant premiums for clients continually insured prior to a new, now “pre-existing condition”.
  • The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, raised insurance costs for American families and limited insurance options to the extreme. If you have an ACA “protected” pre-existing condition and are insured in the market outside of Medicare or Medicaid, premiums are more than 200% of pre-ACA costs and individual and family deductibles have risen to many thousands of dollars. If you or a family member have an expensive medical condition that was previously (pre-Obamacare) well covered by private health insurance with affordable premiums and deductibles, the annual cost of ACA insurance premiums and deductibles may now reach $20,000 or more before the first dollar of insurance coverage is triggered. A family with an annual income of $60,000 or more and ineligible for Obamacare subsidies is in a financial nightmare. This is not protection of “pre-existing conditions”, the rallying cry and fear mongering that was used to force the ACA into existence by a one-party vote.

This constant “Pre-Existing Condition” cry by the Democrat party and every Democrat candidate in the 2018 mid-terms and in the current election is indeed a political myth. Despite the GOP response always being to “Protect Pre-Existing Conditions”, the mythical perversion of a real medical and insurance coverage concern for a very small segment of the American population is a disgraceful use of language as a propaganda tool.

Reform of health care costs is the overwhelming issue for our economy and for all Americans relating to their medical care and access to the health care system. Unless voters are armed with the facts about health insurance and the reality of actual coverage for pre-existing conditions, their votes may be cast for candidates and a party seeking to achieve the century-long goal of a single-payer, government health care system primarily to advance political power and to create dependence. The majority of Americans wisely know or sense that a government controlled, single-payer health care system would deprive us of high-quality medical care by mandated rationing of resources and diminished future advances in medical care we expect and deserve.

Biden’s Plans to Restrict Second Amendment Rights

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Biden/Harris campaign has posted The Biden Plan To End Our Gun Violence Epidemic  on their campaign website.  To spare you the discomfort of having to read through their proposal to regulate the Second Amendment out of existence, the following are some key features.

  • Banning the manufacture and sale of so-called “high-capacity” magazines and “assault weapons,” identified by cosmetic and functional features. The Biden euphemism for these is “weapons of war.”  Candidate Biden also wants them regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) like full-auto firearms, short barrel rifles and sound suppressors.  Existing owners will have the “choice” of registering their “evil black rifles” as NFA firearms or surrendering them to the government.
  • Restricting firearm purchases to one-per-month and outlawing the private transfer of firearms. Online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits and gun parts would also be prohibited.  So would the possession of so-called “ghost guns” that can be assembled from kits, parts or 3D printing.  There would also be a federal requirement to report a lost or stolen firearm and punishment for not “safely” storing your firearm or preventing access by a minor.
  • Expanding prohibited possessors to include those convicted of certain misdemeanors and those adjudicated by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as unable to manage their affairs (like paying bills or writing checks) for mental reasons. They also propose the rapid identification of those who become prohibited possessors, for whatever reason, for swift confiscation of their firearms.
  • Extending the time limit that a NICS background check must be completed. Also, requiring local law enforcement to be notified when someone fails a background check.  Statistically, there is over a 99% chance that a failed NICS check is a false positive.  Under a President Biden, several hundred thousand law-abiding gun owners could experience an oh-dark-thirty SWAT raid simply because of a computer mismatch.
  • Incentivizing the state level passage of Red Flag laws that allow for firearms confiscations without due process. “Incentivizing” is political-speak for dangling the promise of federal funds to states to compel them to pass legislation.
  • Incentivizing states to establish a system to “license” firearms owners. Unelected bureaucrats would decide whether or not you would be allowed to exercise your Right to Keep and Bear Arms. They also want to treat “gun violence” as a public health epidemic.  It won’t be long before the dots are connected to prohibit firearms ownership as a medical preventative.
  • Repeal of the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” that protects firearms manufacturers from civil liability for criminal misuse of a firearm.
  • A whole lot more, such as empowering the U.S. Justice Department to enforce all these laws.
  • Remember in November!  How do you want your future as a gun owner to look?  Not voting is a decision to surrender your rights.

This article is reproduced by permission granted by the Arizona Citizens Defense League.

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The ACDL is the foremost Arizona organization protecting your Second Amendment rights, helping Arizona achieve the number one position in gun rights by Guns & Ammo magazine.