Tag: COVID-19

Trump Doesn’t Need Death Camps — He Has COVID-19

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Auschwitz – Photo by The Guardian

Stalin and his predecessors have killed nearly 62 million people in Russia/Soviet Union. Hitler and his Nazi cronies killed 6 to 7 million in the death camps they built. A recent report puts that number around 20 million. But Trump, in his infinite callousness, simply must ignore science to reach death tolls of approximately 7–8 million people.

The sheer convenience of this should escape no one. Trump does not have to spend tax dollars building death camps, nor does he have to round up millions of Americans and have them work for slave labor. Nope, he just needs to convince enough people that “it will just go away”. What wannabe dictator would not love this scenario?

Like so many that have fallen under the spell of promises made from power-crazed politicians, we have seen 35–40% of Americans be blindly led to the edge of a cliff. They are willing to leap without a parachute into the abyss created by a false prophet.

And just like German citizens who recognized what Hitler was and stood silently by while their country was hijacked, so too are many Americans doing the same in their complacency regarding a lawless president.

Trump has simply given up pretending that he cares. Every time he speaks regarding COVID-19 he brings up herd “mentality”. Just three days ago in a town hall meeting, he once again gave no other solution to the pandemic. He is promising a vaccine will be available by the election (how convenient) when all the science says otherwise. Several scientists have stated that at best it would take until late 2021 to manufacture and distribute a vaccine to all Americans, assuming one has proven safe and effective.

Let us break down the math of herd immunity. To reach a herd immunity threshold 70% of the population would have to recover from the virus. Keep in mind that COVID-19 is a novel virus and scientists still can’t be certain that reinfection won’t occur in those that already recovered from it. Using this template approximately 245 million Americans will need to recover from COVID-19 to reach herd immunity.

The current positive test rate of the virus in the United States is 8%, far short of 70%. The current death rate is 3.3%. Taking the death rate of 3.3% and multiplying that times the 245 million needed to reach herd immunity we come to the conclusion that approximately 8 million Americans will need to die in order to achieve Trump’s solution to the virus. EIGHT MILLION!

That is more dead Americans than the Civil War, WWI, 1918 Spanish Flu, WWII, Korean, Viet Nam, and Afghanistan wars combined. This scenario does not consider the introduction of a successful vaccine that would drastically reduce this number. But because of Trump’s lies and constant reprisals of his own CDC, many Americans may simply not trust a vaccine and simply not get one.

Just who will feel the brunt of this cruel strategy? Trump supporters. Yes, the very people that support this derelict of a president will be the ones most affected. They won’t wear masks, they won’t socially distance, but they will suffer far more than those trying to keep safe. The vast majority of those making up “the herd” will be from Red states largely supporting Trump. Rather ironic, don’t you think?

The level of contempt and disregard for the lives of Americans displayed on a daily level by Trump and this White House is also a novel virus that needs to be immunized this November. VOTE.

Rural Vs Urban The Real Division in America

Why has the USA struggled more than any other country to get a grasp on COVID-19? Like any global pandemic there are certainly several reasons that lead to success or failure in treating and eliminating a deadly virus.

The first and most obvious case in America is Trump’s utter failure to create a national strategy to address this pandemic. Every country in the world that has seen success in containing COVID-19 has HAD A PLAN. A leader that wallows in chaos and destruction is incapable of planning anything other than more chaos.

Industrial Revolution

But the bigger and more problematic issue in America is the division between rural and urban Americans. This division has grown exponentially since Trump has run for office. But it is not new to America. This division has been seeping into the American mindset for over 100 years. The industrial revolution in the early 1900s led to a boon for metropolitan areas while rural America began to lose its identity. There was a massive population movement that saw millions of Americans leave their rural roots for more opportunities that were being made available daily in the rapidly growing urban communities.

Ten years ago, I retired and moved from the Chicago area to a small retirement community in Arkansas. Half of the population (12,000) is over 50 years of age. It is a beautiful area and people tend to be very friendly. Many are like me and retired here from other parts of the country. But what I have observed through my time here is most of those who have retired here are from other rural areas. They were looking for a similar rural vibe with better weather and lower taxes. This contrasts with the many retirees from metro areas that tend to move to warmer metro areas.

The division between rural and urban Americans is becoming more evident every day. Urban citizens tend to rely on each other more. Many rely on public transportation. Their workplace environments most often require interdependence with others to do their jobs effectively. This naturally leads to better team-building skills and better communication skills. Urban dwellers also are more likely to have advanced education, whether it be scholastically or trade school environments.

Rural inhabitants are nearly the exact opposite of their urban brothers and sisters. What I found most shocking to me when I moved here was how many people were obsessed with owning land. Not necessarily a home, just land. Now some do earn their living off the land and that certainly makes sense. But many own acres of land just because. They do nothing with it, have no plan to develop it, do little to care for it. I have concluded that it is just a shelter for them. To separate themselves from neighbors. There is no question that the average rural occupant has a more “don’t bother me, leave me alone, stay off my property” attitude than their urban cousins.

And herein lies the real danger from the rural and urban divisions in a pandemic. Everyday city dwellers rely on those around them to perform their daily functions. Because of this reliance, they understand that each of them needs to do their part if they are going to be successful in defeating COVID-19 and see a return to normal life. They are also far more likely to know someone who has died from it.

On the other hand, the more typical attitude of rural folks is one skepticism, indifference, and defiance. So many simply do not care if they are exposed or expose others. It’s just a hoax. This blew my mind and I have been here for 10 years! They talk about freedom as if it is something they inherited, like blue eyes or red hair from Gramma. “I’m an American and I can do whatever I want.” Yeah, try not paying your taxes and see how well that works out. I really am shocked at how indifferent they are towards so many Americans dying. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me since most of them I have met believes that Trump can walk on water.

I do have some hope as most of the younger people I have met here are more inquisitive and more likely to get their information from a variety of sources. Sadly, those fortunate enough to go away to college will be less likely to return to their rural home to make a life. Once exposed to a variety of people and knowledge at a university their world view changes significantly.

Do I hold out any hope that these divisions can be healed? No, I do not. Rural communities by their very nature are isolated. Most have little to no industry, high-speed internet, or access to Interstate highways. The only hope for rural America to have a chance of surviving would be a massive infrastructure bill to come out of Washington. And we all know that won’t happen.

America will continue to spiral down the rabbit hole that COVID-19 and Trump’s response to it has created. Rural communities will choose their “freedom” over the health of the nation. I was hoping that I could inject some humorous quip into this article at some point. I just can’t find a single thing humorous about this massive and apparently hopeless division in America.

Democracy The American Illusion

No one is welcome in America anymore. No one wants to come to America anymore.

Democracy has become an American illusion under the auspices of President Trump. Americans have watched with rose-colored glasses as Trump has systematically dismantled their cherished democracy. Gone are the days when Americans took to the streets to defend their cherished Bill of Rights. Now, today as you read this, Americans have decided that instead of fighting for their holy Constitution they would rather spend their time on Facebook and Twitter. As if that would somehow sway a dictator in waiting who has caged children, or attacked every American no matter their race, religion, or political affiliation that does not bow before the lord and master. One who has put Gestapo like troops into the cities of America.

Democracy is messy. I was fortunate to see that mess in action as a young American man in the late 60s and early 70s when I marched in Viet Nam protests. The youth of that time were far more aware politically and historically. It was not just the war we were protesting. It was the government’s actions to send our young to die in a war only fought to protect American mining interest. I am still so proud to have lived in a time when the youth, black and white, fought for what is spelled out in the Constitution.

Today, America’s youth seems far more content to let their country collapse in the sinkhole that is Trump’s Washington. From the first day in office, he began to dismantle the government by replacing non-partisan diplomats that had decades of experience with loyal lackeys that only care about pleasing the king while enriching themselves in the process. This led to his takeover of the Justice Department and State Department. The capable men and women that were not let go quit after trying their best to keep things afloat. Their moral character would not allow them to participate in the destruction of what they had fought and worked for most of their adult lives.

And like any good authoritarian Trump has used the apathy Americans have displayed to put a stranglehold on what was once the “shining city on the hill’. No one is welcome in America anymore. No one wants to come to America anymore. Many Americans’ with the means to do so are retiring out of the country. The world looks in horror at the destruction of America. They simply cannot fathom why the American people are not surrounding the Capitol every day demanding Trump’s removal. The answer is relatively simple. And no, it is not the fact that Americans never had to stand up and fight for their democracy like most of the global democratic countries, although that is certainly part of the equation. It is simply this, the rich and powerful have become far richer and more powerful under Trump’s guidance.

There are exceptions. There are people in government and in corporate management that still fight for the civil rights of Americans. Day by day their numbers are dwindling, and their efforts are being attacked or stifled at every turn by the autocratic machine now running the government.

Black Lives Matter Protest

Most Americans have shuttered the portions of their brains that are screaming at them 24 hours a day to wake up. They stutter as if sleepwalking while being quite content in their nonchalance. If not for the Black Lives Matter movement one would think the whole country’s water supply was being drugged with sedatives.

The atrocious handling of the COVID-19 crises by Trump is unquestionably intentional to anyone willing to look past their nose. It was a godsend for Trump. It was a perfect distraction to hide all the machinations he has done behind the scenes to gut the government of the dedicated, professional employees, only to replace them with his cronies willing to do anything to defend his defenseless actions. These attacks came at the expense of the departments that were the bedrock of American democracy, until Trump. The independent Justice Department that is the first line of defense from autocrats. The National Security organizations that protect the country from outside influences. The FBI, the leading law enforcement team. The United States Postal Service signed into law by George Washington. As an American, I can firmly state that no government organization has operated more efficiently than the Post Office. Trump went to work immediately on all these institutions. Institutions created to keep the country’s democracy safe. Are you beginning to see the picture now?

If Trump is still in office at the time of the election, he will tie up the results in court while at the same to securing his wall of defense around the White House. His and his buddy Putin’s propaganda machine will be raging on Twitter and Facebook 24/7 and he will be encouraging his rabid followers to arm themselves and take to the streets. For those who lack historical context we have seen this movie before, and it is about to play out in the streets of the United States. The ending is never pleasant and always leads to authoritarianism.

This is your future Americans. This is what will happen if you fail to grow a conscience and march in the millions to Washington D.C. The only way to get your country back is to frighten the rich and powerful and make them understand that without you they have nothing. If you believe you have too much to lose by doing so, consider how much you may lose by not doing so. Just your country. No big deal, right?

Rural America Is Not In Decline

Rural America is not in decline. It is already dead. For years now there have been countless articles from multiple sources contemplating the dire situation of rural America. The typical questions raised were, can rural America rebound, can rural America recover, will rural America ever return to its glory days, why don’t rural Americans relocate?

All good questions. All bad answers. Let us face facts, none of which rural communities across the country want to hear. It is too late. Yes, too late for rural communities to return to their heyday. For a quarter of a century the state of rural America has been experiencing a shrinking and aging population, less productivity, incomes on the decline, growing drug use and rising crime rates. To make matters even worse the trade policies of Trump’s administration has devastated farmers across the country, many selling out to the corporate giants.

Rural America, for all the reasons previously mentioned, is also bleeding their best and brightest. Students fortunate enough to go to college rarely return to their hometowns. While at university they were exposed to a new world. One that included people that did not look like them, that shared experiences they never dreamed of, and opportunities they never knew existed.

Most rural Americans will look to find blame for all of this elsewhere. But it is the rural mindset that is the major reason for the death of rural America. The vast majority want their neighbors to look like them, think like them, share their faith and politics and are less than inviting to those that do not. In other words, they are set in their ways. The problem they face is that the world around them is growing in ways they refuse to adapt to. What business would want a workforce that is less educated and less likely to adapt to the modern and ever-changing technologies and socioeconomic diversity in today’s business world? Very few, unless they want to take advantage of the lower wages they will pay in rural communities.

The last time rural counties experienced a significant economic growth rate was in the early to mid-1990s. Since then all those gains have been decimated. In an article penned by the New York Times in 2018, the author made a striking observation still relevant today. “No one – not experts or policymakers or people in these communities – knows quite how to pick rural America up.” Two years later it is safe to say rural America is dead.

Rural Americans are not doomed to the same fate. They have a choice. They can stay and try to eke out a meager living where job opportunities are shrinking, healthcare facilities are limited, and hope for a brighter future for themselves and their children is just that, hope. Or they relocate. They take that scary step to build a better life for their families outside their comfort zones. For decades now a large percentage of economic growth has been achieved in the metropolitan areas of the United States. This should be no surprise as these areas have greater tools at their disposal. High-speed internet, greater educational opportunities, union trade schools, superior infrastructure. Everything that businesses use to their advantage.

I retired from Chicago to a small rural community of 12,000 in the Ozarks ten years ago. I like the area. It is beautiful and the winters are mild compared to Chicago. But, to make a point about the aging of rural America over 50% of the population is over 50 years old. I have seen small businesses come and go with a surprisingly rapid rate. I also see a level of mediocrity within the business community. They can settle for being “okay” because there is not a high level of competition. The vast majority of those doing business in this rural town would not last a month in Chicago. I only mention this to drive home the fact this is just one more example of why rural America is dead. It is not meant to disparage those working hard to keep their businesses afloat.

Like the businesses they patronize rural Americans are settling for mediocrity. They make excuses as to why it is so great to live where they live. I have heard them all. Less traffic, less crime, more freedom, blah, blah, blah. Let’s break this down. No doubt there is less traffic. It is because there is nowhere to go and far fewer people going there. There is less crime, but not necessarily per capita and this will be especially true as poverty continues to grow in rural America. And more freedom? Really? Freedom to do what exactly? Work for poverty-level wages even if you can get a job? Freedom to fly the flag or own a gun? You can do that anywhere.

Now, to be honest, as an old retired guy, I am grateful for the ease of which I can get around. It takes me ten minutes tops to get anywhere I need to go. And that is why rural America is aging. More retired folks are relocating to areas like the one I live in for a less hectic life where taxes and real estate are less costly.

I and others in my position have several advantages over most rural Americans. We came from areas where decades of high wage earnings and in many cases pensions that allowed for comfortable retirements. We do not work for low wages unless we choose to just to keep busy. We have the freedom to travel when we choose. We are not bound by our surroundings.

Because of my rural experience I have come to understand that for most younger rural folks making a move to “the big city” can be a daunting task. That is largely due to a mindset that is reflecting on what they would miss if they moved.

What they fail to focus on is what they can gain. The opportunity to have more fulfilling careers, a chance for greater educational opportunities, better schools for their children, a growing social environment with world-class museums, theaters, sporting events, travel options, and more.

The emergence of COVID-19 will exacerbate the problems rural America will now face. Cash strapped states (more likely to be rural ones) will need to allocate their tax dollars where it will benefit the most people. That will be in their metropolitan regions. Any infrastructure projects in rural communities could very likely be put on hold or abandoned altogether. Rural school districts that receive state aid could find themselves in dire straits. In any case, the COVID economy will most certainly hurt small-town America harder.

Sadly, most rural inhabitants will never experience all the advantages a metropolitan life offers. They simply don’t know what they don’t know. I fear that soon they will have little choice as rural America is dead. It won’t be long before America will have more ghost towns to visit.