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Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National
Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21

CONSERVATIVEBLOG.ORG

Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21

Ten Years to Save Corporate America From Leftists

Ten Years to Save Corporate America From Leftists

Warning that the radicalization common on college campuses is gaining a foothold in corporate boardrooms, Free Enterprise Project (FEP) Director Justin Danhof, Esq., thinks the business community could become a tool of the political left within a decade unless conservatives fight back right now.

In an interview with Decision, the magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Justin points out that “the progressive crowd is the most vocal.” And their in-your-face strategy has won victories for social justice warriors ranging from corporate donations to the abortion lobby to the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle in commercials.

And, in the case of North Carolina lawmakers who pushed back by passing legislation to require people to use group bathrooms appropriate to their biological gender, LGBTQ activists were able to engineer its repeal by whipping up corporate outrage and threats of companies and sports organizations pulling their business out of the Tarheel State:

The clear message was that any state or city that bucks the demands of the LGBTQ agenda will be publicly shamed and have its economic vitality threatened. And the chief enforcers of this hardball approach? Big corporations—using stigma and the almighty dollar as weapons.

But FEP is standing in the left’s way of a smooth takeover of the business world:

Justin Danhof, general counsel for the National Center for Public Policy Research and a member of the Christian Legal Society, is one of the few people trying earnestly to stop the Left’s advance on corporate America.

His group owns modest shares in dozens of large companies, and Danhof attends shareholder meetings, pleading the case that corporations should be in the business of ethically maximizing profits for shareholders instead of giving millions to the abortion lobby, gay rights groups and radical environmental groups. In fact, he has a dire prediction that Christians and sympathetic conservatives should hear.

“The bottom line is, what the Left is doing to corporate America is what they’ve already done to the college campuses,” Danhof says. “It’s the same tack. I tell people that in my best estimation, we’ve got about a decade to stop this before corporate America—and we’re speaking in this instance of large, publicly traded companies—becomes [like] the college campus.”

Setting the business community back to politically neutral is not an easy task when FEP is effectively fighting a war on three fronts:

Danhof says the co-opting of corporations by the social Left is a “tri-part problem”: A new breed of progressive CEOs and corporate directors from liberal elite colleges; small but vocal employee groups that lobby internally for progressive social policies; and outside forces pressuring companies to fall in line in order to be validated as socially responsible.

Decision also profiled the work of 2ndVote, which rates companies politically so people can make informed decisions about where they spend their hard-earned dollars.

To read the entire Decision article, click here.

Wokescolds Will Be Cancel Culture’s Casualties

Wokescolds Will Be Cancel Culture's Casualties

Just as the coronavirus will someday be overcome, Scott Shepard – coordinator of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project – sees a day when the extreme political correctness now at its zenith is relegated to the dustbin of history. And those who are reveling in it right now, the wokescolds, won’t be looked upon kindly.

That’s a problem in itself.

In a commentary published by Issues & Insights, Scott examines young Americans’ “defining tic,” which he says is “the wholesale adoption by its most assertive wing of ‘cancel culture.’” Assigning absolutely no redeeming value to this tic, he writes about its unfortunate spread:

Everything is wrong with cancel culture. If not the chief then certainly the incipient flaw lies in the fact that we as a society have ceded to the young an authority to destroy the careers and reputations of those of long-standing, stature and experience. This is folly. The young by definition must be relatively ill-informed about most things. The activist, demanding sort of young people are almost as reliably driven by an understandable, though seldom terribly insight-generating, bias for the novel and outré, and a deeply misplaced conviction that they have the world – and truth – all figured out. Why we, the adults, have allowed this cancel culture to flourish is unclear, and far beyond the scope of an opinion column.

Scott advises that the rest of us – those in the high-risk pool for being cancelled – can fend off the “woke brigades” by “protecting our places of work, investment and learning from viewpoint discrimination.” Having these protections in place, he writes, “would protect us all from the possibility of calamity every time social mores shift, in this technological age of pervasive intrusion and genuine ‘permanent records.’”

Interestingly, Scott believes those young people currently engaging in the cancel culture movement are likely to be hurt the most in the long run. While their targets – from historical figures such as the Founding Fathers to current figures including comedian Louis C.K. and former Senator Al Franken – will most likely be rehabilitated, the environment the brigades are creating is “almost perfectly designed to end up destroying most completely the very young people who propel it today in its wild and haphazard course through adult society.”

Scott explains:

Perhaps, ironically (and in the narrow sense of Greek literature, tragically), the people most in danger of true and lasting cancellation are the very enfants terribles who are powering the current cancel-culture trend. These young people who have embraced their ill-nurtured power to ruin the lives of those who have preceded them have not, one suspects, thought through the implications of their cancel-culture position (or of many other of their moral stands). For whether they recognize it or not, time and morality have not stopped with their portfolio of profundities. In a few years, the avant garde will have moved past them to stake out new showy demonstrations of their own youthful importance. And because so much that the young think is now recorded for all time on Twitter and Instagram and wherever else they have migrated, the evidence of their no-longer-fully-acceptable positions will be forever available for all to see and judge. Will the world, even when it has re-evaluated and rehabilitated so many who have been temporarily written out of our common life, be gentle with those whose first sentient communal acts have been to demand the destruction of anyone who’s ever committed, by the then-current standards of the time, any wrong think?

It would be condign punishment for these young radicals to find themselves hoist on their own petard: to be the one group who is held to their own absurd cancel-culture standards once the dragon of cancelation turns around on them, and to be the only group ineligible for reevaluation and recontextualization, given their eagerness to deprive everyone else of those graces.

With this in mind, Scott prescribes mercy. While they are ruthless in their indignation right now, these young, woke perpetrators will want – and need – a second chance. “[W]e should make sure that it’s there for them,” Scott counsels, “even as it’s there for the people whom they are temporarily trying to destroy.”

Issues and Insights is a website created by the former editorial page staff of Investor’s Business Daily. It is described – by that staff – as “unapologetically free market and for limited government.” To read all of Scott’s commentary – “Warning From a Cancel Culture Cassandra” – click here.

Trump Seeks Mother Lode of Rare Earth Minerals

Trump Seeks Mother Lode of Rare Earth Minerals

American mining policy reform is needed to help prepare for health crises such as the current battle against COVID-19. The Trump Administration is making progress, and the U.S. Supreme Court has also offered a hand.

At issue are “rare earth minerals” – including the nearly unpronounceable yttrium, neodymium, terbium and gadolinium. They exist in abundance in the United States, but are largely out of reach right now due to government regulations on the mining industry.

With American resources locked up and in high demand, National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. unveils a surprising fact in an Epoch Times news analysis:

The beneficiary of America’s regulatory morass is the government in Beijing, which has long recognized the strategic importance of rare earths and now controls over 95 percent of these minerals’ supply chain.

Bonner adds:

After successive administrations had largely ignored the geopolitical implications of U.S. dependence on China for critical minerals, the Trump White House abruptly reversed course…. It called on agencies across the federal government to develop a strategy to reduce the nation’s susceptibility to disruptions of critical mineral supplies.

These rare earth minerals are extremely important to the American economy because they are vital for everyday items like catalytic converters in cars and televisions screens. They are also instrumental in fossil fuel production such as oil refining and for magnets in wind turbines. In health care, they are necessary for CT and MRI scanners, computers, protective glass and lighting.

Yet regulations have given much of the market to hostile government powers.

Bonner reports that the Trump Administration has made three concrete steps toward making the process of mining rare earth minerals domestically an easier process:

  • Executive Order 13817 “called on agencies across the federal government to develop a strategy to reduce the nation’s susceptibility to disruptions of critical mineral supplies.”
  • The National Defense Authorization Act, passed late in 2019, seeks to wean the government and defense contractors away from seeking their supply of rare earth minerals from hostile countries such as China, Russia and Iran.
  • The U.S. Army is talking with American mining companies about domestic options for “heavy rare earths” to be used in weapons programs.

But, as all of this is being done to secure a steady supply of these strategic minerals, “efforts to create a reliable domestic supply of the crucial minerals are being undermined by bureaucrats deep within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” under the auspices of the Clean Water Act (CWA), notes Bonner. State officials have also stopped rare earth mineral mining for the same reasons.

At issue are efforts at “small-scale suction dredge mining” that involve “passing water and sediment over a sluice tray, which separates out the sought-after heavier metals, and then discharging the remaining material back into the water from whence it came,” Bonner says.

Think of the process as similar to prospectors panning for gold in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” or “The Call of the Wild” – but on a much larger scale. Stopping the process, Bonner notes, are the government officials with the stinkin’ badges:

Suction dredging is permitted under federal mining laws.  But the practice has been stopped in its tracks in recent years, because regulators in California and Oregon refuse to issue the necessary permits. Washington state is expected to join those two soon, as its legislature has passed a bill prohibiting all forms of motorized mining in streams where Endangered Species Act listed fish are present.  This would effectively ban suction dredging in those streams.

These states can do this because EPA has delegated administration of a key section (402) of the Clean Water Act to the states.  This has enabled state regulators to block suction dredging, saying the “mere movement” of pre-existing material in jurisdictional waters constitutes an “addition” of a pollutant under the CWA.

While such edicts have been both upheld and questioned by lower state and federal courts, the U.S. Supreme Court was petitioned to rule on Section 402. The justices have asked Oregon officials to rule on the miners’ complaint in one instance that, Bonner suggests, is “a clear sign that the high court is taking the case seriously.”

Regarding the troubles in meeting the president’s new mining agenda at the federal level, Bonner suggests:

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has aggressively pursued reforms at the agency and may not be aware how those responsible are overseeing the 402 program.

The Epoch Times has a reported circulation of over 1.3 million with 67 different editions in 21 languages. To read Bonner’s rare earth mineral policy news analysis – “Federal, State Agencies and Courts Undermine Efforts to Free U.S. From China’s Stranglehold on Rare Earths” – in its entirety, click here.

Epoch Times China Bonner Cohen

 

Avoiding Abuse of the Defense Production Act

Avoiding Abuse of the Defense Production Act

To keep up with health care demands of coronavirus cases, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently said the federal government “should nationalize medical supply acquisition.” But President Donald Trump has been prudent so far in his use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) that could compel American businesses to take their marching orders from Washington.

In a Newsmax commentary, National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper, an expert in constitutional law issues, explains that the president’s discretion is a virtue rather than a vice. Blunting criticism of the White House from big government proponents, he writes that “abiding by constitutional precepts and respecting legal limitations are not signs of a do-nothing president.”

To be clear, the DPA was recently invoked to enlist General Motors in producing 100,000 ventilators. But Horace notes that Cuomo’s more all-encompassing demand shows that misuse of this awesome power is a looming threat:

The health and economic crises facing the country are real, and so is the pressure to exceed the president’s statutory and constitutional authority to address them. Even in the face of high profile critics like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, [President Trump] is right to resist.

Created by Congress 70 years ago as a means of assisting in military readiness, the DPA can be effective in focusing federal efforts in areas such as contracting, loans and investments so the nation can be kept at peak preparedness and fighting strength, notes Horace. But there are concerns about the DPA exceeding constitutional limitations:

Congress has already dangerously expanded the DPA’s original purpose and definition of “national defense” over the years. According to the Congressional Research Service, the DPA now may be used to “enhance and support domestic preparedness, response, and recovery from natural hazards, terrorist attacks and other national emergencies.”

But calls to conscript private companies and industries in the name of virus protection and medical preparedness would push the DPA well past where it was ever meant to go and more importantly beyond where the Constitution allows.

Authorizing emergency purchases and bypassing regulatory contract procedures are far cries from taking over U.S. factories.

Horace notes that important legal precedent has reined in the power of presidents to invoke the DPA, and President Trump is abiding by this check on his powers:

His restraint in the face of mounting pressure deserves praise. The President understands that even in times of uncharted crisis, his powers and those of the federal government writ-large remain rightly limited by our founders. He may no more commandeer medical supply companies and pharmaceutical firms to do his bidding than he may deploy the army or local sheriffs to arrest citizens who fail to keep the recommended “social distance” between themselves and their friends.

Instead, and what Americans have seen during daily press briefings, the White House is working closely with the business community to try to avoid the use of the DPA and government-imposed mandates:

President Trump’s instinctive reliance on the American people, its big and small corporations, and its state and local governments to rise up and meet this challenge signals the president’s genuine understanding of America’s greatness. Although the powers of the president may be limited, the power, resolve, and generosity of the American people are not— and Mr. Trump knows it.

To read all of Horace’s Newsmax commentary – “Memo to Gov. Cuomo: 1950 Act Not a License for Takeovers” – click here. Called a “news powerhouse” in Forbes magazine, Newsmax reaches over 25 million people a month through its online presence, a print magazine and 24/7 cable channel.

Netflix and Learn: Honoring Black Entrepreneurship

Netflix and Learn: Honoring Black Entrepreneurship

Coronavirus binge-watching doesn’t need to be exclusively “The Mandalorian,” “Game of Thrones” or “Tiger King.”

I was excited to watch “Self Made,” a four-part miniseries on Netflix about the real-life rise of Sarah Breedlove from dirt-poor washerwoman to America’s first self-made female millionaire.

Adopting the name Madam C.J. Walker, Breedlove built a business empire creating and selling haircare products to other black women in the early 20th century. She created an industry that not only catered to an underserved demographic, but also enhanced opportunities for black women in workplace roles previously unavailable to them.

Outside of a postage stamp in 1998, Walker’s compelling story has largely gone overlooked. This is a shame. Even Netflix’s premiere missed the extra notoriety it might have gotten during Black History Month. I think her story is so inspiring that I pushed long ago for her portrait to be featured on our currency.

Late in the Obama presidency, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that abolitionist Harriett Tubman would replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill by 2020. But that process is delayed due to anti-counterfeiting concerns related to the design of the new bill.

With no disrespect intended toward Tubman – the icon of the Underground Railroad – I backed Walker in a 2015 New Visions Commentary published by Project 21:

Since it’s money, how about having the first woman immortalized on paper currency be the first female self-made millionaire in American history?

Madam C.J. Walker is that woman, and her inspiring story makes her an ideal candidate.

Before Tubman was designated as the new face of the $20 bill, there were plenty of political/feminist suggestions for the honor. Walker didn’t even make the list! I was particularly critical of the efforts of the group Women on 20s, which was engaged in lobbying the White House:

This group, however, doesn’t just want any woman. They want a woman of their own choosing. They will send President Barack Obama the specific woman they think should grace a future $20 bill. Civil rights icon Rosa Parks, abolitionist Harriet Tubman and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt were selected through an online vote from their 15 top choices. A fourth, Wilma Mankiller, the first female elected as a Native American tribal leader, was added “by popular demand” and as an obvious statement about the harsh Native American policies during the Jackson presidency.

All of these candidates share the distinction of being feminist icons, well-known historical figures or both. If this must be done at all, why not make a bold choice — one that’s free of a political agenda?

I explained how Walker earned the honor: by meeting and surpassing many of the same expectations faced by the more politicized suggestions.

Walker persevered in a male-dominated era where separate-but-equal Jim Crow discrimination was the law of the land. She saw how other businesses ignored black customers, and she stepped in to fill the void and became a success.

At the same time, she created jobs and new wealth in the black American community. She founded institutions that educated tens of thousands of “Walker Agents” and built factories to make her products. In 1914, Walker told the National Negro Business League: “I am not merely satisfied in making money for myself, for I am endeavoring to provide employment for hundreds of women of my race.”

Netflix’s series is “inspired by” Walker’s life. There are obviously conversations that were dreamed up by screenwriters and events that never happened. While the series is based on a biography written by Walker’s great-granddaughter, there are also Hollywood additions to the story that are disputed by the author, such as a potential lesbian relationship involving historical characters.

Nonetheless, “Self Made” is an inspiring story that is indeed binge-worthy. And, for older children, it’s a great history lesson that they likely wouldn’t hear if classes were in session.

To read my entire 2015 commentary, click here.

Giving Google Credit, But Not a Pass

Giving Google Credit, But Not a Pass

Elected leaders come and go, but bureaucracy sticks around forever. Therein lies the inherent problem with government.

While the Trump Administration is doing its best to bring about commonsense regulatory and legal reforms, a lot of what are known as “deep state” shenanigans are often overlooked.

So it heartens us to be able to praise the likes of Google and other companies that have stood up and fought back. In a CNSNews.com commentary, I write that we admire these companies for their “efforts to drain the D.C. swamp.”

Despite many of these same companies being among those who have rightfully earned the criticism of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) in the past – and who will most likely earn it again in the future – we are happy to give them credit in this case for doing something right.

In this case, it’s Google, Oracle and others who are standing up to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and its “practice of filing race and gender discrimination lawsuits” against them and other high tech corporations:

The National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP), the nation’s leading activism arm for conservative shareholders, regularly takes Google and its parent company, Alphabet, to task for trampling intellectual property rights, promoting liberal groupthink in Silicon Valley and even fighting our efforts to protect conservative employees from retribution related to their political beliefs.

Yet Google and other companies have our support in one area, as they fight lawsuits brought against them by an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor that is suing companies over discrimination claims that are rooted solely in statistical bean-counting.

Overall, we feel Google would best serve its investors, customers and employees by being politically neutral and focusing on quality products and services instead of public policy. Likewise, we believe the federal government best helps the marketplace and taxpayers when the bureaucracy isn’t abusing its powers to pursue a woke agenda.

The federal lawsuits against these companies started in the final days of the Obama Administration, but they have festered during the Trump presidency. Challenging the OFCCP’s allegations is brave because this agency has the power to blackball companies from being able to maintain and bid for new federal contracts.

“While some challenged companies have thrown in the towel,” I point out, “Oracle and Google are fighting back. Good for them, and for that they deserve our support.”

I add:

Not only is this all an injustice, but it’s a waste of taxpayer money. The federal government’s witch hunt is compelling these businesses to spend millions of dollars to defend themselves against what appear to be flimsy charges against them.

This is why it’s important for the people in charge of the Labor Department, most notably Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, to step in and rein in the OFCCP’s radical crusade.

But our support is earned. We will still be seeing Google and other companies who do not properly respect the free-market fundamentals that have helped make them great as this year’s shareholder season ramps up:

Kudos to companies like Google for fighting back against the OFCCP. We will still criticize Google when it fails to protect ideological diversity in its workplaces, but taking this stand against D.C.’s swamp creatures is admirable.

To read all of this commentary – “Google Finally Does Something Right” – at the website of CNSNews.com, click here. CNSNews.com describes itself as “a news source for individuals, news organizations and broadcasters who put a higher premium on balance than spin and seek news that’s ignored or under-reported as a result of media bias by omission.”

Saving Black Jobs From Coronavirus Chaos

Saving Black Jobs From Coronavirus Chaos

The outbreak of the coronavirus has thrown the economy into turmoil. It is also making unprecedented demands on the nation’s infrastructure.

This crisis is of particular importance and peril to black Americans, who have recently benefited from new job prospects and increased opportunities for wealth-creation and social mobility. These gains are now at risk of being ripped away while the nation hunkers down.

But regulatory reform may help these things bounce back. The National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network is optimistic about one aspect of that reform in particular.

As part of his economic and regulatory agenda, President Donald Trump announced a proposed rule to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) at the beginning of the year. Untouched for over 40 years, NEPA oversees major construction and land use projects. It can greatly delay beneficial projects that bring jobs and opportunity to businesses and workers alike.

Council Nedd

In a commentary published by Issues and Insights, Project 21 Co-Chairman Council Nedd II states:

Commonsense NEPA reform, with a mindful balance of environmental protection and economic growth, is key to a more productive America that helps all of its citizens.

In explaining the inherent problems with the current application of NEPA, Council adds:

NEPA unnecessarily impedes the growth and improvement of our economy and infrastructure. Furthermore, it keeps Americans who want to work from being able to find good jobs that will provide them and their families with income, opportunity and advancement…

All too often, and at the nation’s peril, environmental regulation like NEPA remains protected from necessary scrutiny. An unwillingness by special interests and the media to embrace review and reform comes at a cost for the economic well-being of American businesses, investors and workers – specifically disadvantaged black Americans seeking jobs in construction, service and related industries.

While not diluting or changing environmental laws, NEPA reform is designed to offer “a faster process” that allows for input and oversight by the government that won’t “deter investment” or make America “less economically competitive,” according to Mary Neumayr, the chairman of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality.

Project 21 submitted a public comment supporting NEPA reform, citing recent gains in black employment as one reason to support the increased options for building and service jobs. The comment also suggested a “minority impact analysis” be added that could further promote black job opportunities:

Regulatory reform has increased job prospects. A Project 21 analysis of federal jobs data noted that the black unemployment rate has reached a record low six times during this administration. It is our hope for this trend to continue.

And, in its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America,” Project 21 advocates for adopting a “minority impact assessment” to examine potential positive and negative effects of proposed federal regulations on jobs, wages, homeownership and consumer prices for minorities in comparison to the general population. Its goal is to encourage reflection before pernicious regulation is enacted. This would be a welcome addition to the proposed NEPA reform.

The comment also compared health care-related construction projects here and in China to show that the impact of NEPA here could be a matter of life and death.

Issues and Insights is a website created by the former editorial page staff of Investor’s Business Daily. It is described – by that staff – as “unapologetically free market and for limited government.”

To read the full text of Council’s commentary – “Regulatory Reform Benefits Black America” – click here.

Props for the President on COVID-19 Response

Props for the President on COVID-19 Response

In this time of worldwide crisis, what’s the best thing President Donald Trump can do to help find a cure to the coronavirus, heal the sick, rebuild the economy and reassure a nervous nation?

How about “resign immediately”? That’s the silly suggestion of Robert Weissman, the president of the left-wing group Public Citizen. He writes that in a pro-con set of commentaries for InsideSources that also features Project 21 Co-Chairman Stacy Washington writing in support of President Trump’s advances in the containment of the coronavirus in the face of adversity.

“President Trump is making the most of the resources available to him in both the public and private sectors to the benefit of all Americans,” Stacy remarks, “and I for one am grateful for that.”

While Weissman looks for fault in presidential statements and complains about things such as border closings, Stacy notes that President Trump was presented with a full-blown problem. The Chinese government withheld vital information that could have made containment and the search for a cure much easier. As Stacy explains:

[T]he virus was allowed to spread unchecked for nearly two months, before the tightly controlled communist Chinese government would go on to share information with the World Health Organization.

This allowed it to spread unchecked for far longer than it should have. And while Weissman suggests the president didn’t get serious quickly enough, Stacy points out that quick action from the White House was likely the reason a real disaster was averted:

With the first case of novel coronavirus identified in Washington state on January 30, President Donald Trump took action, suspending all travel from China the next day. This action was met with howls of racism and xenophobia, but can now be credited with preventing the rapid spread of the virus from person-to-person by travelers.

Italy took no such measures and, just two short months later, experienced an outbreak that has overwhelmed their medical system and killed thousands of its citizens…

All of this was done before COVID-19 had severe effects on Americans. Contrast this with President Barack Obama waiting nine months into the H1N1 pandemic when 60.8 million Americans were infected and 12,469 people had already died before declaring an emergency.

Weissman complains that the Trump Administration “inexplicably has failed to deliver vitally needed coronavirus tests to health care providers.” The president did take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to task for not being ready with a plan for rapid testing, and he did respond by acting to make it that “All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!”

Stacy adds:

But bureaucracy never moves fast, and the CDC opted to create its own test kits instead of accepting those offered by South Korea. The administration enlisted the assistance of private-sector stakeholders to advise on best practices and worked to change Federal Drug Administration rules to permit state labs, university and private hospitals to perform their own testing.

And allegations that a key office for dealing with just this sort of pandemic situation had been disbanded are flat-out false, Stacy says:

It turns out the office still exists, is fully staffed and was not subject to any actions by Trump officials. This attack was obviously politically motivated.

To read all of Stacy’s commentary – “Trump Administration’s Reaction to Coronavirus has been Good for America” – in its entirety, click here. The commentary has appeared in newspapers including the Finger Lakes TimesBryan Eagle and St. Joseph News-Press.

InsideSources syndicates to almost 300 newspapers nationwide with a readership of over 25 million people.

Worried About COVID-19? Did You Get a Flu Shot?

Worried About COVID-19? Did You Get a Flu Shot?

With Americans going into lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, they are looking to the government for a solution. In a new commentary, I ask people to first ask themselves if they did their part by maintaining their post-9/11 emergency “go bag” or by getting a flu shot last fall.

As a society, how we prepare for everything from minor inconveniences to major crises is a good indicator of how well we are going to weather the potentially long and anguished quarantine that has been recommended to help slow the spread of the virus.

And, when it comes to looking at the readiness of the Trump Administration, I suggest that the White House’s regulatory agenda has likely aided the fight against COVID-19 – the deadly strain of the coronavirus.

While the coronavirus is not the flu, the history of what happened during the last pandemic – which was a flu – can show us how much we’ve learned (or not). I write:

Flu shots are a good indicator of our collective preparedness. Twice a year, the world’s top viral experts gather to select the three or four strains that shots will combat in coming months. In 2009, H1N1/swine flu – our last pandemic – was not identified until after shots were made. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that flu during that pandemic caused over 61 million infections and 12,469 deaths.

But even if H1N1 had been included in the shot, only 41.2% of Americans over six months old got a shot for the 2009-2010 flu season. To improve access, state governments later eased regulations so pharmacists could give flu shots. That’s why you can get flu shots everywhere these days.

Despite this easier access and promotional campaigns, only 40 percent to 60 percent of Americans are estimated to have gotten shots for the current flu season.

I remember the years when you had to go to a doctor’s office or scour the newspaper for ads to find the few times when nurses would give shots at grocery stores. Regulatory reform has made it so much easier to get a flu shot. But this past year, despite the relative convenience of flu shots today, the percentage of people who prepared for flu season might have been as low as before the H1N1 pandemic.

Yet now there are people rushing out to get their flu shots! And, even though it’s not a way to stop COVID-19, less cases of the flu would be helpful in terms of allocation of resources.

This is an obvious instance where a large portion of the public has failed in doing its part to help minimize sickness and reduce risk. I present a way for people to redeem themselves right now:

Practice social distancing and self-isolation. Battle through cabin fever and the urge to put yourself potentially in infectious situations like mass gatherings. And be neighborly. If you’re hoarding, spare a roll of toilet paper for the unfortunate in your community. The more conscious we are about preventing the spread of the virus, the faster it can be contained.

This is your opportunity to make up for your neglected go bag or lack of a flu shot.

As for the Trump Administration, even though regulatory reform is vehemently opposed by critics of this presidency, the Commander in Chief seems to have created an environment that has allowed for a much smoother federal response to COVID-19:

[R]egulatory reform is something to rally around. Last year, the Trump Administration enacted new rules to reduce paperwork and increase speed and efficiency. New emergency waivers allow hospitals to increase workloads without running afoul of Medicare and Medicaid rules. Restrictions on telehealth options will be lifted. As Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said, opportunities increase when we “remove the constraints” to fighting the virus.

Another example is a long-deserved reform proposal for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that impacts major construction and land use decisions. Proposed NEPA changes will streamline approval processes. I cite an example of a lightning-fast Chinese hospital construction project to combat COVID-19 compared with a smaller Connecticut hospital a few years ago that took over four years to build. While the American hospital is undoubtedly supremely better quality, the current regulatory regime would make the Chinese model completely unworkable here.

While NEPA reform was not initiated in response to the coronavirus outbreak, and will likely not have an impact on current virus-fighting efforts, it will set the stage for quicker reactions in the future.

No one was prepared for COVID-19, and the cover-up, media sensationalism and politicization of the crisis is making things worse. Given the hand he was dealt, President Trump is effectively working with the business and scientific communities as well as foreign leaders to get us through this as quickly and safely as possible.  We can’t expect anything more than that right now.

My commentary was written for InsideSources, which syndicates to almost 300 newspapers nationwide with a readership of over 25 million people. The commentary has appeared in newspapers including the Orlando Sentinel and Waco Tribune.

To read the commentary in its entirety, click here.

Biblical Wisdom for Coping With COVID-19

Biblical Wisdom for Coping With COVID-19

Council Nedd

Project 21 Co-Chairman Council Nedd II was booked on Pastor Greg Young’s syndicated “Chosen Generation” radio show to discuss the black leadership network’s public comments supporting reform of the National Environmental Policy Act. But the conversation could not avoid discussion about the effects of the coronavirus.

During the discussion, Council – the rector of St. Alban’s Anglican Church in State College, Pennsylvania – cited some biblical advice for living in the “new normal” of the pandemic.

Council cited chapter 22 of the Book of Matthew, in which Jesus provides two commands:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

“We don’t want our neighbors to infect us,” Council said, “so we should not do anything careless to infect our neighbors.”

To listen to Council’s full interview with Pastor Greg, click here.

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