A Partisan SCOTUS- Is It Here To Stay?

A Partisan SCOTUS- Is It Here To Stay?                                                                                                            

Robert A. Levine      

McConnell and Trump got what they wanted. A partisan Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority. McConnell prevailed by using unethical tactics, but he did not care. Though Trump and McConnell did not and still don’t see eye to eye on many issues, they both agreed that a conservative Supreme Court was a vital matter and any means that were necessary to reach their objective was worth it: by hook or by crook and they used both. No moral or ethical compass for either.

The unethical procedures began in the last year of Obama’s presidency when a seat opened up on the Supreme Court and the president nominated Merrick Garland, a centrist candidate who was well thought of in legal circles for the position. Disregarding precedent, McConnell decided that a nominee for the highest court should not be confirmed in the last year of a president’s term. This had never happened before, but McConnell proclaimed a new rule. He was hoping that a conservative Republican would next win the presidency and nominate a conservative candidate for the Court. His wishes were granted and Trump was elected president because of the arcane and undemocratic mechanism of the Electoral College, even though Trump lost the popular vote.

Trump’s initial nominee to the Court was conservative Neil Gorsuch who took the seat that should have gone to Merrick Garland. His second nominee was conservative Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of attempted rape by Professor Christine Blasey Ford when he was a high school student, and of sexual assaults on other occasions. He was also known in high school and at Yale as a heavy drinker. The FBI was not given permission by Trump and the Justice Department to look into all the complaints of sexual assault before Kavanaugh was confirmed by a Republican majority Senate. It was believed that Kavanaugh had likely lied to the Senate when questioned about the assaults.

The most hypocritical confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee shepherded in by McConnell came at the end of October 2020 when President Trump only had two and a half months left on his term. Amy Coney Barrett, another conservative was confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate, 52-48. She rose from being a little known law professor at Notre Dame to the Supreme Court in three years. Mitch McConnell simply changed his mind about nominating a member of the Court in the last year of a presidential term when that person happened to be a staunch conservative. And it wasn’t in the last year but the last two and a half months. Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal justice who was held in very high regard in legal circles.

Prior to Trump’s presidency in 2013, the Supreme Court voted to overturn the main part of the 1965 voting rights act by a 5-4 vote, allowing nine states, mainly in the South, to alter their voting laws without obtaining federal approval in advance. The Court said that society had changed and federal supervision was no longer necessary. Since then, there have been major efforts to suppress minority voting in a number of states, by making registration and voting much more difficult. In fact, the Justice Department recently sued the state of Texas for their restrictive laws, a case that is certain to go before the Supreme Court. This term, the Court will also rule on a restrictive law regarding abortion passed by the state of Mississippi. Given the questioning by the Court of both sides, it is likely that Mississippi’s law will be upheld and Roe v Wade may even be overturned.

It is sad for our democracy that presidents who lost the popular vote have handed the Supreme Court over to conservatives who were confirmed by Senators who in total had less popular votes in being elected than their Democratic opponents. Is this the way democracy works? Unfortunately, it is. The only way this partisan Court can be changed is by Democrats maintaining control of the Senate and voting to expand the number of justices on the Court. Limiting the terms of justices so there is more frequent turnover would also be a sensible idea.     

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The American Economy Needs More Immigrants

The American Economy Needs More Immigrants                                                                                                                                                           Robert A. Levine

Even prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, American businesses needed more workers. But since the pandemic started, more workers have retired and have decided not to return to work. Not only is there a current need for more workers, but the future also looks bleak with American women not having enough children to replace our population. (This is also a problem for Japan, Europe and most advanced economies.) The unemployment rate in Nebraska in October was 1.9 percent, the lowest any state has recorded since data collection started in 1976 according to AP.

To large extent, economic growth is dependent on population growth. Not only are workers needed in capitalist economies, but consumers are also required to buy more goods and America is a consumer driven economy. More consumers requires a larger population.

Though there are specific positions that are in great demand like truck drivers, mechanics, stevedores, retail employees, nurses and teachers, virtually every job description faces shortages of vital employees. Agricultural workers are needed on farms to pick crops which will rot if not harvested at the proper time. Immigrant workers who process beef, pork and chicken are required, jobs that most Americans will not consider taking.

In addition to blue collar workers, educated immigrants are also necessary to work in technology companies, as physicians and all health care positions. H1-B immigrant quotas should be opened up as these people are responsible for generating many start-up companies that employ Americans.  They also work at start-up companies and generate new start-ups and many patents. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many universities are suffering from a lack of foreign students, many of whom pay full tuition. These students if welcomed in the United States will usually stay and become productive members of our society.

We should not be opening our borders to accept undocumented immigrants en masse but provide more visas in their countries to allow them to come to the United States legally. Statistics show that not only are immigrants to our country hard workers and productive, but crimes rates among immigrants are lower than our population in general.

The DACA problem must also be addressed and these people allowed to become citizens. They have no other country but the United States as they were brought here by their parents as young children. They have gone to school here, speak English and for the most part have good jobs. Their track record is excellent and they deserve citizenship. Politicians have been promising them a path to citizenship for years, but nothing has yet been done about it. Deporting them would be an unfortunate human rights violation and should be taken off the table.

With America growing older and a decline in our population, there is no question that more immigration is required if the nation is going to remain an economic power. Making legal immigration more difficult is very shortsighted and will damage America’s economic viability.                      www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                                       Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon and Barnes and Noble


America's Centrists and Crazy Extremists

America’s Centrism and Crazy Extremists                                                                                                                                              Robert A. Levine

America’s citizenry is basically moderate and centrist. This has been confirmed over the years by various surveys that give independents, moderates, centrists a plurality no matter how they are labeled. When moderates and centrists in the two established parties that lean to the left or the right are included in the tally, centrists generally achieve a majority. Yet both Republicans and Democrats appear to be under the control of the extremists in the parties in terms of policies and candidates who are given party support. This merely adds to the rancor and partisanship between the parties and the inability to get things done that benefit the country.

Increasingly, politics has come to be perceived as a zero-sum game. If a bill introduced and supported by the Democrats is passed and becomes law, Republicans see it as a loss for them. And vice versa. The parties give little consideration to whether bills that are passed will be of value to the nation.

A prime example of this zero-sum thinking is the recent passage of the infrastructure bill by the House. The Senate had passed the bill months earlier with bipartisan support, including that of Mitch McConnell, the Minority leader. But the thirteen Republicans in the House who voted for the bill were considered traitors by many of the other House Republicans expecting a straight party line vote on important measures. Many GOP members feel that the dissenting Republicans who voted for the bill gave Biden and the Democrats a victory, without considering that the bill was badly needed and greatly benefits America.

In fact, a number of GOP Representatives asked Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, to remove the Republicans who voted for the bill from their positions on House committees as payback for their votes favoring the bill. Even worse, because of the extremism that has infected the base of the Party, the thirteen supporters of the bill have received thousands of threatening, damning and viciously offensive phone calls. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted the home phone numbers of these members and Steve Bannon gave out the numbers of the 19 Republican Senators who backed the bill. Ex-President Trump labeled them all as RINOs- Republicans in name only. The phone calls not only included threats to murder the Republicans supporters of the bill, but also to murder or torture them or members of their families. How far has extreme tribalism deviated from the moderate center of the electorate to spawn these messages of hate?

Meanwhile, in the Democratic Party, six members of the so-called extremist “Squad” voted against the infrastructure bill necessitating the Republican votes in order to insure passage in the House. These “progressives” do not seem to care about the re-election chances of the moderates in their party and it seems that for them it’s “my way or the highway” in the bills they support. They are willing to lose control of the House if the Democrats do not adhere to their precepts.

On the other hand, Biden’s Build Back Better bill that contains many social measures and has already been cut by more than half, has its passage in doubt because of imaginary moderates in the Senate, Manchin and Sistema who say they are reluctant to spend so much money and increase the national debt. However, in Manchin’s case, it’s probably more about cutting the use of coal to try and contain climate change. Maybe enough has been done to reshape the bill to generate the two recalcitrant Senator’s support.

Tribalism and extremist beliefs in both Parties are a danger to America’s democracy, much more so on the Republican right with its threats of violence than on the Democratic left. America is basically a moderate, centrist nation. How do we control extremism and rabid hatred against political opponents, spread by virulent demagogues over right-wing media and social platforms? It seems to be getting worse rather than better.

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The Democrats Keep Self-Destructing

The Democrats Keep Self-Destructing                                                                                                                                                                                                           Robert A. Levine

Anyone who joins the Democratic non-party and runs under its banner must have a secret death wish or a masochistic psyche. It seems that whenever the party is in a position to control the federal government and enact critical legislation, elected officials cannot get their s—t together to pass the necessary laws. It seems that often times the moderate wing of the Party will not back down on their stances and compromise on what they want, and the progressive wing is even worse in terms of compromising and allowing necessary legislation to get passed. With both wings, it’s my way or the highway, endangering their slim margins in the House and the Senate. The American electorate wants to see things getting done in Washington and rightfully blames the party in power for the stalemate.

Of course, Republicans are not helpful in the least. They act almost as a solid bloc with very few members willing to buck the leadership and do what they might feel is best for the nation. With the GOP it always seems to be party over country when essential votes are taken. But their near unity makes them appear to the nation at large as a party that can get things done, even though the things they do may have a malign effect on the non-affluent majority segment of the electorate.

Because of the Democrats lack of progress on passage of the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better bill endorsed by President Joe Biden, Democratic candidates running for office had a difficult time this year. The situation may even be worse in 2022 when the stakes are much higher. Will the political ramifications of the intransigence of the two wings of the Democratic Party make them see the urgency of the need to act, because the social and financial needs of the populace so far have not made them budge one bit. And the GOP whose fealty to Trump and all his lies are disgusting, are certainly not going to come to the rescue of the Democrats and Americans in need.

What is the answer to the Democrats inexorable drive for self-destruction? A more aggressive Joe Biden would surely help. If he would act more like LBJ and tell the Democrats in the House and the Senate what must be done, perhaps we would see more accomplished. But Biden is laid back and prone to negotiate rather make demands even though he is the supposed leader of the Party. The likelihood is that he is a lame duck president, either by the choice of not running again or by losing the next election. Other strong Democrats need to step forward and tell the Progressive wing and the hesitant moderates what is necessary if the Party is to have any chance of holding on to the House and the Senate in 2022 and the presidency in 2024. The word to remember is compromise, to get things done for the good of the party and the good of the country. Self-destruction for the progressives or the moderates to get their way should not be an option. But both segments of the party see their objectives as paramount and and are unwilling to give an inch. Their stances will only result in losses.

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Progressive Democrats and Moderate Sensibilities

Progressive Democrats and Moderate Sensibilities                                                                                                                                                                                                             Robert A. Levine

I consider myself a moderate or centrist who in the past voted for candidates from both parties but now vote almost exclusively Democratic. The change in my voting pattern was spurred by the Republican coronation of Trump, their fealty to the ex-president and their unwillingness to confront him about any of his obvious lies and corruption. Their support for his claims that the presidential election of 2020 was stolen is an act of cowardice that has infected nearly the entire GOP whose members know (if they are halfway intelligent) that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election.

However, I am also bothered by the behavior of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party which makes it more difficult to vote for moderate Democrats. I am particularly upset by progressive unwillingness to compromise in order to get important legislation passed. While Manchin and Sinima, so-called moderates, are holding up passage of Biden’s Build Back Better bill by claiming it is too expensive, progressives in the House refuse to accept this as a fact of life and will not pass the physical infrastructure bill already passed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate.

Candidates running in 2022 have to show that the Democrats have been able to enact some laws that benefit the nation as a whole, which the physical infrastructure bill does. If the Democrats don’t pass the physical infrastructure bill and some form of the social infrastructure bill (BBB), they can kiss 2022 and control of the House and Senate goodbye. It is up to the progressives to back down and make sure that these bills get passed.

And what the Republicans call ‘cancel culture’ does have a basis in fact, pushed by progressives. Our history is our history and pictures and statues of important figures should not be taken down from their places in government offices and public squares because of racist behavior and slave owning which was culturally endorsed at the time they lived. Slavery was an abhorrent conduct that was socially acceptable prior to the Civil War, particularly in the Southern states. To try and eliminate our historical memory of what existed is foolish and will not be successful.

Thomas Jefferson’s statue will be removed from New York’s City Hall soon because of progressive complaints. Do the progressives realize that slavery was also common among African tribes long before it occurred in the United States? On that basis perhaps all statues of African-Americans should be removed from public places because of their previous practices. Many Northern Africans, Muslims or not, also accepted clitoral removal from young girls so they would not find pleasure in sex and be faithful to their husbands. Perhaps that’s another reason to eliminate all statues and paintings of African-American men.

Eliminating depictions of historical figures from prominent places because of their conduct will not change our country’s history. We should concentrate on eliminating current racism and abhorrent behavior rather than canceling what was wrong with our past. And progressives should think about what their actions mean for the future of the Democratic Party whose control of government is now hanging by a thread.                                   www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                              

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Why Can't the Democrats Get Anything Done?

Why Can’t The Democrats Get Anything Done?

                                    Robert A. Levine

America is in trouble in the aftermath of the Trump administration and the devastating effects of the Covid 19 epidemic. It is imperative that politicians in Washington recognize this and work to produce the required solutions.

The Democrats control both Houses of Congress, admittedly by small margins, as well as the presidency. Yet on the President’s most important policy issues, the Democrats in Congress cannot seem reach a consensus and pass the bills that Biden wants. The reason is simple. Unlike the monolithic Republicans who virtually all are in fealty to ex-President Trump’s whims, the Democratic Party is really two separate parties: the moderates and progressives. And so far, the progressives have been unwilling to compromise on their wants for the good of the party and the good of the nation.

The progressive’s unwillingness to compromise makes it even more likely that control of the House and probably the Senate will be taken over by the GOP in the 2022 elections. The party out of power is generally favored in mid-term elections and the Democrat’s lack of success in passing Biden’s infrastructure bill and human infrastructure bill gives the Republicans another issue to pile on the do-nothing-Democrats.

One would think that both the moderate and progressive wing would see the necessity of passing both infrastructure bills merely from a political standpoint. But they are even more important for the country itself in this era when our physical infrastructure is old and decrepit. Our physical infrastructure must be fixed if we are truly to remain a first world country and a leader of the West. However, the level of inequality in the United States is also higher than in any other advanced nation. This means that our social infrastructure, health care, education, child care, and so forth must also be fixed to make the nation fairer and to maximize the use of our man and woman power. In a complex world, with continuous competition with China and other autocratic nations, we must use our human resources wisely. And there is also the issue of climate change that is imperative to manage aggressively.

This brings up another problem that the nation has to address. America is not replacing its population base, as women are not having the 2.1 children on average that is necessary. Adequate child care and perhaps increased benefits for children might be an answer to that problem. However, currently, we are in the midst of a blue collar manpower shortage, with not enough truck drivers, mechanics, agricultural workers and so forth. Increased immigration with specific training programs might be able to help with this. However, we also need educated immigrants in the high-tech and biologic fields. The nation needs to open up the H-1B visa program to have more educated, high skilled immigrants come to America to work in these sectors. They tend to produce start-up companies and innovative ideas and are necessary for America to keep its edge. We also require more primary care physicians, especially in rural underserved areas and in the inner cities. Nurses and medical aides are also vitally needed with many having recently retired under the pressure of the Covid 19 epidemic.

As noted, there are lots of problems which the Democrats must solve while they control both Houses of Congress and the presidency. For the good of the nation and the good of the Party, it is time they got their act together with both sections of the Party working together. It would be even better if the Republicans faced reality and worked with the Democrats to solve the pressing problems. But that is a dream unlikely to occur in this era of abject partisanship.

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Setting Limits on the Treatment of Covid 19

Setting Limits on the Treatment of Covid 19                                                                                                                   

Robert A. Levine

Vaccinations have been a major medical advance, preventing many deaths and disabilities in various illnesses in the last two centuries. In today’s world, it defies belief that so many people refuse to accept scientific data and get vaccinated against Covid 19, particularly when they have already received so many other vaccines..

The conflict over Covid 19 vaccine mandates between the federal and state governments could be settled by physicians and nurses. These health care providers constantly put themselves in harm’s way to treat patients with Covid 19. In fact, many of them have been hospitalized after being infected with the disease and have died. From now on, doctors and nurses should refuse to treat any patient with Covid 19 who has not been vaccinated. Children who have not received the vaccine under parental guidance is another story and deserve accepted treatment if they are infected by Covid.

Physicians are supposed to treat any sick patients regardless of financial considerations, political or religious differences. However, physicians are also obligated to maximize public health and do what is proper for the greater good. With a highly infectious virus causing a pandemic and responsible for well over 600,000 deaths in America, it is incumbent upon physicians to see that their patients are vaccinated against this virus and also encourage patients to wear masks.

People who are not vaccinated are a danger to others in their communities as well as to themselves. Not obtaining the vaccine is a mark of selfishness and ignorance, not of freedom. Those who are unmasked in indoor settings are also a threat to public health and themselves, but masking cannot be sufficiently monitored to stop treatment of these people. Aside from causing unnecessary deaths and illnesses in other people by infecting them with Covid 19, and driving up the cost of health care, the unvaccinated also prevent patients with different illnesses and accidents from receiving necessary care. This occurs because unvaccinated patients who are sick use up limited resources such as ICU beds, ER beds, physicians’ time, ventilators and so forth. Why should physicians waste their time, effort and medical resources, and place themselves in danger to treat patients who did not care enough about other people to take the proper preventive measures themselves. It is also strange that unvaccinated patients who refused to be vaccinated are willing to be treated when sick with monoclonal antibodies.

There are some physicians who will disagree with this stance and say they are ethically obligated to treat any sick patient. But they are also obligated to consider the public health in the measures they take and this means pressuring unvaccinated patients to get the vaccine. Government alone will not be able to force the one third of the population that remains unvaccinated to be vaccinated. They need to be pushed by all health care providers refusing to treat patients who have not taken the proper preventive measures to maximize public health and end this pandemic. It is a necessary step to take to help the community at large, the unvaccinated themselves, people with other serious illnesses who cannot receive treatment, and the hospital staffs. Aside from health concerns, the economy will also be bolstered if the vast majority of the population is vaccinated.


Afghanistan- A Lesson in Nation-Building

Afghanistan- A Lesson in Nation-Building                                                                                                                                                                                Robert A. Levine

Afghanistan was a series of blunders right from the beginning. Our goal in invading this primitive Islamic nation, or rather a conglomeration of Islamic tribes, was to hunt down Osama Bin Laden and members of Al Qaeda to punish them for 9/11. We also wanted to make certain that Afghanistan would no longer be a sanctuary for extremist Islamic Groups intent on damaging America and killing Americans. At the onset, there was little thought of transforming this anarchic undeveloped country into a modern Western liberal democracy with universal education and equal rights for women. After Bin Laden was killed, we should have left Afghanistan

However, somewhere along the way our objective changed and our leadership decided that Afghanistan was ripe for conversion to a modern nation that subscribed to Western ideals. What a mistake that was. In addition to being a society where people’s major allegiance was to clan and tribe rather than a central government, corruption and payoffs were rampant at every level. To get a job, one had to give kick-backs to the person hiring, whether it was in the government or private businesses.

Salaries in the government and in the military were often not paid or only partially paid to lower level workers or enlisted men. In fact, many of the fighting men often went hungry because the purveyors of food may not have been paid, with the money kept by high-ranking officers or government officials. In addition, ammunition for Afghan Army weapons were frequently minimal or unavailable, with payment again stolen by higher-ups. Sometimes, ammunition and weapons were sold by these higher-ups directly to the Talaban or through intermediaries for cash. Fuel for vehicles was also in short supply at times. Yet the American military expected the Afghan soldiers to fight the Talaban to the death when they were not being paid and necessary supplies were lacking.

Leaders of the military were also incompetent, usually obtaining their jobs through family or political connections, most unwilling to put their lives in danger when leading their men. Many of these officers knew nothing or little about military strategy or tactics. When American soldiers joined the Afghan soldiers in battle, it provided the latter with backbone that their leaders could not or would not provide. American air support was another factor that bolstered Afghan soldiers, knowing that drones or planes would come and aid them whenever they ran into trouble in battles with the Talaban.

Government corruption was ubiquitous and any project that would benefit the populace had to pay bribes to officials at all levels. Education was available for both boys and girls, but the quality of the teachers and administrators was variable because of the low salaries and the necessity of kickbacks.

Besides the Talaban, warlords and bandits put up roadblocks on the roads or the streets of the cities, making travelers and shopkeepers pay for protection and safe passage. And most Afghanis were wedded to their traditional ways of life and did not necessarily favor modernization. Though they were happy to have and use cellphones and running water and even television, they did not want their way of life changed by ideas of equality of men and women, or women working at more prestigious jobs than men. Society was governed by a strong patriarchy where wives and daughters followed a husband or fathers’ orders and only men were barely literate and allowed to go to school.

So notwithstanding the messages of progress sent to Washington by the top military and diplomatic brass, the complete collapse of the Afghan army in just days and its unwillingness to fight should not have been surprising. Hunger, lack of supplies, unpaid salaries, lack of leadership and the absence of Americans and their air support made collapse a foregone conclusion. The speed with which the Afghan government and army disintegrated was not expected, but it should have been. When the president of the country cuts and runs instead of trying to rally his forces, you know that there never was any hope of building a strong modern society, even after twenty years of effort.                                                                                                  www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                                                                                                                   Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon and Barnes and Noble


Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Robert A. Levine

President Biden has been taking a ton of flack recently for the way the evacuation from Afghanistan has been going. While the planning for the removal of all American personnel and Afghanis who aided the American military, NGOs and press appears to have been problematic, it should be remembered that the Trump administration boxed in Biden with it’s initial agreement to have all U.S. troops out by Christmas 2020. This was contingent on the Taliban’s promise to stop fighting and negotiate an end to the war and shared governing.

Trump and Biden both agreed that it was time for American forces to leave Afghanistan after twenty years and for the Afghan troops to defend their country from the Taliban on their own. They had been well armed and trained by the Americans but aside from the commando units have shown no determination to fight. In fact, they have taken off their uniforms and surrendered all theirs arms and equipment to the Taliban, afraid to resist the Taliban’s advances. This occurred in city after city adding even more urgency for America to evacuate all personnel. It also was a reminder of the foolhardiness of spending twenty years, several thousand American lives, and trillions of dollars supporting a corrupt Afghan regime that had little support from its population. Even President Ghani ran away instead of trying to rally the Afghan people and military against the Taliban.

With Kabul and the entire country now controlled by the Taliban, the United States has had no option other than to withdraw from the country. Much of the chaos surrounding the evacuation through Kabul airport has been because the Taliban has not kept their promises of allowing all foreigners and Afghanis who wanted to leave, leave. They have prevented their own citizens and foreign personnel from getting to the airport, the only open exit from the country. People outside of Kabul have had difficulty getting to the city because of all the checkpoints and roadblocks on the highways. People in the city have had problems reaching the airport, being turned back by the Taliban at the checkpoints they have established within the city. These actions were contrary to the promises they made with the Trump negotiators and that great statesman Mike Pompeo.

Thus Joe Biden and the American military have been caught between a rock and a hard place. Do they send troops into Kabul and the countryside to locate and evacuate any Americans, foreigners and Afghans who aided us and want to leave, and risk likely casualties to our troops? Or do we just evacuate those who are able to get through to the airport and leave the others behind? Either path is a losing proposition left by Trump for his successor. Why didn’t Trump try to end the twenty years war himself and evacuate all the personnel who needed to get out?

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Who Pays for Those Unvaccinated

Who Pays For Those Unvaccinated                                                                                                                                                                                        Robert A. Levine

We do. The entire population of the United States pays the price for those who are unvaccinated. The payment occurs in several ways. Those who are unvaccinated and become infected with Covid 19 can be hosts in which the virus can mutate, producing more variants which can be more deadly and more contagious. This is what happened with the delta variant which fortunately appears to be blocked by vaccinations. Thus those who are vaccinated appear unlikely to catch the disease and transmit it to others, though it still may be carried in the nasal passages by some. Unvaccinated individuals besides getting sick can also spread Covid 19 to those who are immune compromised and are impaired or unable to make antibodies to fight the disease. And in the future, it is possible that a mutant variant may override vaccination protection.

We also pay financially for those who are unvaccinated, catch Covid 19 and have to be hospitalized. Whether they are in the ICU or on the wards, their hospitalizations can be extremely costly, hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. If they have Medicare or Medicaid, the government pays the hospital bills for these patients with taxpayer dollars, yours and mine. If they have Medicare and supplementary insurance, the latter kicks in to pay some portion of the bills. If the patients have private health insurance, either paid for privately, or through their employer, the insurance will pay most of the bill aside from the co-pays and deductibles which may be quite expensive. This means that to remain financially solvent, Medicare and insurance companies may have to raise their prices in the future to cover the costs of Covid in those who are unvaccinated.

And many hospitals will lose money and possibly need federal support if their Covid patients are not covered by any insurance. Hospitals have also lost money by stopping elective procedures and surgery during the Covid pandemic when everything was focused on caring for Covid.

Since large swaths of the nation remain unvaccinated and that is their right, the rest of Americans should not have to bear the cost for them when they are sick and see a physician or are hospitalized. Perhaps legislation is needed, but it would certainly make sense for Medicare and private insurance companies not to pay for Covid or Covid related expenses in those who refuse to be vaccinated. They are certainly free to remain unvaccinated, but why should taxpayers have to foot their hospital bills and why should insurance bills increase for those who have taken proper precautions and been vaccinated. 

Science has shown that vaccination can prevent serious Covid 19 infections in about 95 percent of recipients. Why should those who disregard science for one or another reason be given a free ride if they are stricken with Covid and have to be hospitalized?  Why should the government and insurance companies pay for their desire not to be vaccinated and protect themselves and those with whom they are in contact? State legislatures or the federal government should act on this issue soon and perhaps the possible financial burden will encourage more people to be vaccinated than did protecting their health and regard for those around them.                                        www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                                       Buy The Uninformed Voter on Barnes and Noble or Amazon


Tulsa 1921 Revisited

Tulsa 1921 Revisited

            Robert A. Levine

During the Jim Crow era in the United States, stretching from the end of Reconstruction through World War II, lynchings were common in the South, analysts believing they averaged about three per week. However, there were also a number of massacres of multiple Blacks by whites occurring for various reasons. Envy of Black entrepreneurs and shopkeepers by poor whites was one of the driving forces as they did not want to see Blacks who were wealthier and more successful than they were. One of the most appalling of these racial massacres took place in the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma over a century ago during about an eighteen hour period on May 31 and June 1, 1921. The Greenwood area of Tulsa with about 10,000 residents had been known as the Black Wall Street because of the large number of successful businesses and affluent men and women, some of whom lived in beautiful homes. Tulsa was a thriving city of about 100,000 people that was greatly segregated and had high crime rates. The oil boom flooded the city with money and many Southerners migrated there for jobs.

Prior to the vehement white action against Greenwood, there was a story circulating that a Black teenager had sexually assaulted a white female elevator operator and had been arrested by the police. When a white mob assembled around the courthouse and demanded that the sheriff hand over the supposed perpetrator to them, the sheriff refused, barricading the building and angering the mob. Seventy-five armed Black men gathered near the courthouse and asked the sheriff to let them aid him in protecting the teenager, but he turned them down. At the same time, the white mob at the courthouse grew to about 1500 men, many of them also armed. Some shots were fired and in the ensuing chaos, the Black men withdrew to Greenwood. More white Tulsans arrived at the scene and some of them were deputized by city officials and given weapons. Groups of these white men engaged in many violent acts against peaceful Blacks, including murder.

False rumors then spread that a major insurrection by armed Black Tulsans had started, with Black reinforcements from neighboring towns and cities. By morning, thousands of white men with weapons surged into the Greenwood section, looting and torching homes and businesses over an area of thirty-five city blocks. Firefighters who tried to put out some of the fires were threatened by the white mob and had to withdraw. Some days later, the Red Cross estimated that over 1200 homes were burned, with an additional 215 looted. In addition, two newspapers, a school, a library, a hospital, churches, hotels and numerous businesses owned by Blacks were destroyed by arson. Though the official count noted 36 deaths, historians have put the death toll at over 300, the vast majority being Black, and over 8,000 were made homeless. The Tulsa massacre was believed to have been one of the worst riots in American history, though it was virtually unknown until recent years.

Officials in Tulsa and Oklahoma downplayed the event right from the beginning, hoping to keep the stigma of the massacre from interfering with the city’s economic growth. The cover-up included removing the newspaper archives in Tulsa with reports about the riot, and removing the police and National Guard reports relating to the massacre. There was little about it in the history books and nothing about it was taught in the schools. From the 70s on, however, more information about the massacre was obtained by scholars and historians and in 1997, a state government commission was formed to investigate the massacre to present a reliable depiction of what had happened. Of interest, the Black teenager was released from jail without a trial when the white elevator girl denied that he had sexually assaulted her.

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