Being A Bad Neighbor Is Not Ok (because you are having fun doing it)

Many of you know I live in a very rural area of Vermont. The town I live in has a population of about 1200 residents. Life is simple where I live and in many ways, we are a bit of a time warp here. The village I live in has about a dozen houses, a church, a general store, and a post office. There is a state highway that travels through the middle of our village, and if it were not for the occasional car or logging truck, you would not know that this is the 21st century. This is a good place to raise a family and enjoy life on a small scale.

But, sometimes the 21st century intrudes in our lives here, and sometimes, the intrusion is not a happy one. I might be about to launch into a discussion of the coronavirus, but I will get to that later. I am going to talk about ATVs or all terrain vehicles.

ATVs, if you are not familiar with these little off road vehicles, are designed and intended for trail riding in off-road environments. The can go through just about anything including all kinds of mud, and even beaver ponds. They are fun to ride and I do not deny that, but they are also noisy, and can go quite fast. Think of an off-road hot rod type of vehicle. People do get hurt on them, but that is usually when the riders are using the vehicle in an unsafe manner, like what kids and big kids might be apt to do.

There is a social aspect to ATV riding. The riders often form large groups, I will call them packs, and they ride together, often stopping from time to time to socialize, and maybe drink alcohol. I say maybe because it is not a requirement, but it does happen. We are all adults here and we know what life is.

Most of the towns surrounding my town have banned the ATVs because of the public nuisance and frequent property damage that occurs with the use of these vehicles. They also are often ridden in an unsafe fashion. The ATV can go quite fast – think in speeds in excess of 60 mph on some of them. They are an open vehicle without much structure except for wheels, an engine, and a frame. I think of them as miniature hot rods, and they really are miniature hot rods, and the riders operate the ATVs like they are hot rods.

So, to get back to my town of Topsham, Vermont. My town has allowed the use of ATVs on our roads as well as designated trails. Last weekend was a big ATV riding weekend. Most of the other towns that surround my town have banned these vehicles so we have become the Mecca for ATVs. All day Saturday until after 11:00 pm packs, sometimes more than 30 ATVs in a pack, pass right in front of my house as they come into the village. The town road these ATVs are using joins on to a state highway in front of my house in the village of West Topsham. The destination for the ATVs passing in front of my house is the store in the village where they can get more beer, gas, and snacks.

Now, many of the operators of these vehicles are kids not old enough to have a Vermont Driver’s License, yet they are operating a high performance vehicle on the state highway and also town roads. We all know that it is the rare young pre-adolescent that possesses lots of good judgement and maturity. That just is not part of being a pre-adolescent or even an adolescent. So, we get young kids, no helmets mind you, drag racing down the town roads, two abreast, and never stopping before entering the state highway as they race for the store.

All of this is intolerable from the perspective of a home owner and a tax payer. By the fate of my location, I am forced to have a front row seat here. The noise is excessive. At times, my wife and I could not talk to each other in our own home. Forget watching tv, you could not hear it. The dust is just a constant cloud. I could not see the Post Office across from me. And, the bigger problem, is sooner or later, there is going to be a horrific accident right here. An ATV is no match for a loaded logging truck coming into our village on the state highway and meeting a kid on an ATV racing for the store.

My home is being ruined for us at the expense of a sport. This is what I mean about being a bad neighbor and having fun doing it. Ok, I have set the scene here, and now I am going to get into the rest of the story.

It is fine and more than quaint to live in a town that is a really a time warp and you might think you were visiting 1875 instead of 2020. But, the reality is this is 2020. The simple life that was possible in 1875(I use 1875 metaphorically here) is not what we get in 2020. The present is the present – it is what it is.

The bigger issue is sometimes, as a community or a society, we have to regulate behavior and provide for the common good of the community as well as the safety of its members. Turning a blind eye to this responsibility is in vogue now because we seem to exaggerate personal rights. Personal rights do not trump (no pun intended) the rights of society when the exercise of personal rights cause harm or take away the rights of society. Think about free speech, free speech is not a blank check. Free speech can be hate speech which is illegal. Free speech does not give me the right to enter a crowded theater and yell, “Fire” when there is no fire.

At some point, my Selectboard, the town governing body, has to accept that they will need to regulate the use of ATVs in our town. Right now, we are an ATV magnet as most of the neighboring towns have banned the ATVs from the town roads. The unfortunate piece here is my town prides itself on never regulating anything, and I mean anything. I have asked others, and none can ever remember our town writing an ordinance or town law for any purpose.

I write all of this because our country, in many respects, is going through a period of exalted personal rights, and often at the expense of the common good. Think about some of the shut downs and closures governors and mayors have tired to implement to protect us all in our fight against the coronavirus. Now, stop and think about the armed militias storming state capitols and state houses to intimidate and threaten state governors and legislatures.

I do not know where this is all going to end, but it is not 1875, 1775, or some other time in the past. It is now, 2020, and the world is under a pandemic that is threatening human life as we know it. This is one of those times when my personal rights do not trump the rights of society. Wear masks please, observe social distancing, be a good neighbor – let’s give us all a chance to live and enjoy life.

Sorry, for a long piece here – it seemed what is going on in my life is a microcosm of our world today.

Paying Attention to the Backstories

Yesterday, I shared that McConnell had admitted on Fox News that he was wrong when he said Obama did not leave a pandemic plan.

First, McConnell made this statement that the Obama administration did not leave a plan at a campaign event in which he appeared alongside of Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter. So, keep in mind the audience and that these events are similar to Trump’s rallies and also places where Trump has never been too concerned with being truthful. I will suggest that McConnell had no concern about being truthful at this event and deliberately lied for the benefit of the audience.

Secondly, this whole discussion of the existence of a pandemic plan and also a group charged with its implementation and use was in the news at least a month ago, and early on in this pandemic. It was reported then that the plan not only existed but that in the transition period between the Obama administration and the new Trump administration, the Obama team tried to introduce the plan to the Trump people and also provide some guidance/help with the possibility of a pandemic.

Another group of epidemiologists existed whose responsibility was to give the U.S. and the CDC advance warning of a potential pandemic so we could begin to prepare. The Trump administration cut out this advance warning program and also cut out the pandemic team that was part of the National Security Council.

To give credit where credit is due, President Bush (the 2nd Bush) read John M. Barry’s book, “The Great Influenza” sometime in the early 2000s. Bush was traumatized by the history of the 1918 flu pandemic and demanded that we prepare for a similar catastrophe. We started preparing for the eventuality of a pandemic at that time. Obama inherited these preparations and updated them when the Ebola outbreak occurred during his administration. The Obama team also felt the likelihood of a world pandemic was high and upgraded our preparations even more. This was all dismantled by the Trump administration, and not in secret either. This happened in plain sight and with the approval of the Republican-controlled Congress at the time (keep this in mind as this is important to remember too).

By the way, I strongly recommend John Barry’s book, “The Great Influenza.” It is fascinating and scary reading, but we need to know that we have faced this sort of catastrophe before. If you are really interested, there is Barbara Tuchman’s book, “A Distant Mirror,” that is a history of the 14th century and the devastation of the Black Plague. Sorry, I am a history fanatic and this is my reading.

McConnell, if anything is a political animal. He knew all of this. It was not a back page story in the news cycle early on in this pandemic. McConnell deliberately lied to the audience at the campaign event that he attended with Lara Trump, and McConnell also lied to Fox News when he said that he did not know about the pandemic plan left by Obama for the Trump people.

Ironically, this week McConnell made some news when he said, “Obama should keep his mouth shut,” in reference to a comment Obama made about the chaos and incompetence of the Trump administration in fighting this pandemic. I think McConnell should be the one that should keep his mouth shut.

Since the impeachment acquittal, Trump launched a purge of all the possible voices in our Federal government that might be critical or even might raise a flag when inappropriate or illegal conduct is present. This purge started with the inspector general that raised the Ukraine issue to the level of inquiry. Others have been walked out the door since and yesterday, the inspector general in the State Dept. was fired. He had been looking into some of Pompeo’s actions. Pay attention to this purge going on throughout the Federal government. Trump has installed officials in all of the federal agencies and their job is to assess the loyalty of the people working in all of the federal agencies. This has NEVER happened before in our history. This is a big story, and very ominous as well.

I bring this up because we need to be watching the backstories all the time with the Trump administration. The headlines often are smokescreens for the real nefarious work going on in the background. Pay attention to these backstories. The piece about the existence of a pandemic plan was a back story about a month or so ago. Now, it surfaces again as part of a lie and an attempt to blame others for the mess the Trump administration has made of fighting the coronavirus.

The other thing, the one constant with these people are the lies. They will lie about the consequential and the inconsequential every day and every chance they get. Lying is their way of breathing. Lately, I have to applaud the news people attending the White House briefings that have resumed after over a year’s absence. The journalists are challenging the Trump administration and calling out lies right there. Trump walked out of a briefing earlier this week when challenged after a testy interaction with a reporter. This needs to happen all the time. I hope the news people continue to bring the fight for the truth to the Trump people and not wait to write about it later in their reporting.

Sorry for the long piece here. I do pay attention and I follow this stuff – can’t help it – an old history and political science major here.

On Learning

Growing up, I was blessed by two parents that encouraged my curiosity and always tried to foster my independence in learning. I have to say that the result was a sense of the pure pleasure of learning. Resources and opportunities were always provided so I could follow my interests. And, my parents wanted to know about what I was learning – the sharing was part of the process.

I received an email today from the parent of one of my students. She described all that her son is doing during the school closure. I was impressed. Her son is building a cabin up in the woods and using pictures as well as a journal to share his progress with his building/construction teacher at the tech center. He is practicing some of the OSHA safety standards in this project and sharing these in a photo journal as well. He is also puttering around with some biology in a natural setting and also putting in a little time with the other academic tasks sent home to him.

My reply to our educator team and to the mom was, “You have made my day sharing this. Your son is doing education and doing it well!”

I write this because something came up in some discussion the other day about what is happening during this period of school closure due to the coronavirus. Many lament that it is not what would be happening back at the school if the virus had never happened.

You know, I have to say, that maybe something better is happening during this time. I went into education because I was inspired by a time when the pleasure of learning was driving educational thought. This was in the 1980s and 90s. This pleasure of learning as the foundation of education was short lived. It was replaced by the new reign of the data collectors.

Today, everything needs to be reduced to data, something that can be printed in charts and graphs. Where does all of this data come from – think testing and assessments.

I retained very little from my days in high school, or even from my time in college. But, what I did retain was that pleasure of learning that my father and mother fostered in me as a small child. It keeps me curious and more than anything, it keeps me a life-long learner.

In high school, I made an appointment with my guidance counselor to ask her if I could take some classes in woodworking and building down in the vocational center. She denied my request because I was considered a college prep student. What a poor decision on her part, not only for me, but for others with interests that may have been beyond the college prep curriculum.

At that time, my parents had been having some remodeling done at our home. I went to the contractor that summer and asked him for a job. I was 17 and really wanted to learn building skills. Paul, the contractor, hired me. I worked all that summer digging, carrying cement blocks, mixing mortar, unloading construction materials off of trucks, and just trying to do anything I was asked as fast as I could. I learned some building skills by observing and watching what was going on around me.

The next spring, I went back to Paul and asked him if I could come back and work for him that summer. He said, “Gee, none of you kids ever come back after the first year. Are you sure you want to?” I said, “Yes, I do.” “Well,” Paul said, “Then I will put you with my son, Dougie, and he will teach you how to be a carpenter. If you want to learn, he will teach you.”

I worked for Paul for 6 years, a month every year during my Christmas break while in college, and every summer right through college. I learned enough to build two of our homes mostly myself. I learned because of the pleasure of learning. I loved every minute of it.

This brings me back to my thinking about learning and what has been happening during this school closure. I am in hopes that maybe some of our students are getting some time to be self-directed learners. I am in hopes that some of our students are rediscovering the pure pleasure of learning because it is something they want. I am in hopes we educators and parents learn something from this ourselves. I am in hopes some parents stepped away from the packets and worksheets sent home and took some cues from their kids, and let some learning happen that was for the pure pleasure it brings. There is more to life than some data that can be captured and charted. When life is reduced to this, it smothers the living.

Opinions are great…

I think opinions are great – I have many myself. But, uninformed opinions are what self-deception is all about. Be informed with facts and the truth, and not just from the source that seems to coddle your uninformed opinions. That’s the last place you want to go to learn about anything.

Most of us went to school for a good part of our formative years. The biggest job school had was to teach us how to learn. This may be where we need to start – learning how to learn.

Be skeptical of most group mentalities. If there is a crowd and they are all shouting the same thing, walk away, unless you are at a ball game, because that is the mentality you will find in a crowd. It is wonderful and fun to root for your favorite sports team. You do not have to think, just get caught up in the enthusiasm. This is recreation, this is not learning or supporting ideas.
This is where politics is today – a bunch of people caught up in a crowd, not having to think, just getting caught up in the enthusiasm of the crowd. The politicians know this – they actually are thinking about how to get your support. I think they call this herd mentality.

We have brains and the ability to think. It is probably one of the most pleasurable exercises we can have. Brains are shut down when we are part of the herd. Again, politicians/demagogues depend upon herd mentalities.

It is interesting that I can say all of this without pointing any fingers, yet we all can connect the dots, if you think about what I said.

Take care and be safe.

We are all in this together

You know, we are all in this together. It has been hard on all of us, and harder for some. Aid has been and remains slow coming. Our health care providers are stretched beyond the max. Many parts of our government and social safety providers have been starved for funds for years. Now, we need them to be there for us, and to be responsive.

During the Vietnam era, economists used to make a generalization that went like this, “guns or butter.” The intent was that most societies have to choose between providing for the public good, or funding a large military. It is the rare society that can do both and not have the economics catch up with them.

In the 60s, the guns or butter choice led to the high inflation of the 70s and early 80s. We tried to do both, have guns and butter – fight a costly war in Vietnam,and fund the Great Society programs. I can remember getting a mortgage for our first home at that time and the interest rate was in the teens. It was not an easy time to be just starting out.

For the last 30 years, we have tried to buy the so-called guns and fund our huge defense effort, fight wars in the Mid East, provide tax cuts for the wealthiest in our society, and starve the safety net we see how badly we need now.

I am not sharing a secret when I say that the Food Stamp program has been cut back considerably in the last few years.

Many are wondering where their stimulus checks are, or what happened to them. Well, the IRS is using computer systems that have been in place since the 1960s. The programming language being used by the IRS systems is COBOL, again an old antique language, and there are fewer programmers around that are COBOL programmers. The need to quickly get the IRS systems capable to spit out stimulus money has been beyond their capabilities. I say this, not in apology, but to share the facts.

The IRS is also working with a much smaller staff than they used to have. Congress has not minded cutting many of the Federal agencies, and the IRS is one that has been cut.

I am going to get back to my original statement, “we are all in this together.” Our president does not seem to get this. This has been my biggest complaint with him since he took office. He has used the last 3+ years to attack the more than half of the country that did not vote for him. This is behind his recent attacks on the states where the protests against the quarantine have been staged this week. Presidents have never told the residents of a state like Michigan or Minnesota to “liberate” your state from the governors and administrations trying to cope with a national emergency. These same states are also trying to follow the guidelines being promoted by the President’s own coronavirus task force.

Trump, we are often asked by your supporters to support the office of the presidency, but you need to do the same. Presidents do not incite and encourage sedition. This is impeachable like so much of your conduct.

I can never bring myself to support you for the simple reason you have never accepted, “we are all in this together” since the first day you were in office. Division and pushing hatred have been your forte, not being the president.

I wish with all my heart you will be defeated this November, not because you are a Republican, but because you are a hateful man. We do not need hateful presidents. We need leaders and presidents that will work to bring us together.

What’s on my mind as we continue with the challenge of the corona virus

I do not doubt the seriousness of the challenge and risks we face with the corona virus. I believe the doctors, scientists, and medical/health experts. These people have the training, education, and experience to make their advice very valuable and worth paying attention to in a time like this.

I do not understand why the Federal government is still putting the states in a position where they virtually are fending for themselves and trying to outbid each other for critically needed medical supplies. The president equates this crisis to a military attack similar to the attack on Pearl Harbor or even WWII. He wants us to perceive him as this grand commander in chief, yet he refuses to assert the Federal government in the role it has needed to assume in prior emergencies like the Great Depression, WWII, 9/11, and the Great Recession.

Trump continues to cater to his base in all of this. Trump’s base generally denies science and also the role of a strong Federal government, especially in the time of a crisis. I keep hearing the “state’s rights” argument. This is the same argument the Civil War was fought over, at least if you listen to the South. To this day, the South maintains that the Civil War was about state’s rights, and not about ending slavery. Yet, if you read the secession statements from each of the states that seceded, they all state they are leaving the Union to preserve the institution of slavery. My argument here rests along with most people who study history.

So, we have not come very far in the last 150 years or so. It is no surprise that the states that are denying the risks of the virus and also the science, and the states that have been very slow to implement any of the quarantine or public health measures are all in the South and Mid West/West. This attitude seems to prevail in those places where the belief is that I know best, and I will take care of myself. I do not want or need a government to do this.
These are the states that either seceded from the Union or to this day, foster folks like the Bundy family, the Waco, Texas crowd, and the Ruby Ridge folks. They are all thinking they are a country of themselves, and only part of the U.S. when it is convenient.

I think this circles back to the resistance against climate change science. The things we need to do to combat climate change are not convenient for us. The same can be said for the actions we need to take to combat the corona virus.

Stay safe and take care please. You will do this for you, for your family, and for all of us.

I am not a globalist, and this is why.

In the news today, there is a report that Robert Kraft and the Boston Patriots organization has flown a private jet over to China to buy a load of desperately needed medical face masks. The report also says that the Boston Patriots are donating about $2 million towards the cost of these face masks.

I am increasingly thinking that much of the critically needed medical equipment and supplies such as ventilators are not made here in the U.S. I think the shortages and our inability to ramp up to meet the needs demonstrate this. Clearly, China has been able to make these supplies as the Patriots flight shows. I suspect that most of the needed medical supplies and medications are originating from China today.

Now, I am not a globalist in the sense of trade as it has developed in the last 30-40 years. I have been strongly opposed to tax and other policy that has enabled as well as encouraged American industry to out source their manufacturing to other parts of the world. It is supposed to be ok to do this in search of cheaper labor and fewer regulations, especially, environmental regulations. Americans need to see that on most days, the people of Beijing need to wear face masks because the air is unsafe to breath, and this is not due to any virus.

Trump has been reluctant to use the War Powers Act to push American industry to dedicate production to the much needed medical supplies during this crisis. I think the reluctance is because this reveals that we do not make any of these items here to begin with. There is no existing industry to ramp up. Notice, the automobile industry is being pushed to make the desperately needed ventilators. Ford and GM are hardly medical supply companies.

I hope Americans have their eyes open during this crisis. There is much to pay attention to right now besides just trying to stay safe. We have allowed our captains of industry to organize and depend on off-shore supply chains that can be very fragile as we are seeing now. In the process, we have gutted the American manufacturing base, and decimated the middle class as well as organized labor.

I believe in free trade, but not when it relocates the means of production overseas. I have no problem with buying raw materials and items we cannot manufacture here, but I do not support the kind of free trade that has come to dominate our economy in the last 40+ years.

It will come as no surprise that I voted for Ross Perrot for these very reasons. I did not just come to this point of view. I have held it for a long time. I have tried to buy American made automobiles as much as possible, sticking with Jeeps as they are “mostly” made in the U.S., not entirely, but a higher percentage than any other American car. I admit to a buying a couple of foreign cars in my lifetime, a Toyota and a Subaru, both mistakes in my opinion.

I have watched our tax and trade policy since the time of Reagan favor this economy and concentration of wealth at the top. I have been opposed to this all along, and I still am. To add insult to injury, Putin is sending a plane load of needed medical supplies to the U.S. right now. He already has sent the same to Italy. Apparently, this resulted from a phone conversation Trump had with Putin this past Monday. I think, this pretty much sums up about 40 years of bad government and policy.

Being Aware of My Surroundings

This morning in Vermont it is more like winter and not so spring-like. The sun greeted us and some clear sky, but the temperature is a cold 12 degrees Fahrenheit. I have cleaned up the snowfall from Monday night, almost of foot of wet snow – glad I got my tractor back from John Deere as this makes the clean up an easy chore.

For some unexplained reason this thought popped into my head this morning. I am remembering being a young boy and sitting on a deer stand in the woods with my father on some November morning that looked and felt a lot like this morning. I remember noticing that contrary to what you would expect, but I remember it got colder and the wind picked up with sunrise. We had walked in to our stand in the dark and waited for the day to break, me hoping it would get warmer than it was before dawn.

My father taught me to be aware of my surroundings and to try and become part of the natural world. He taught me to be still, quiet, and observe – and to think about what I was seeing. He would say, look for piece of motion and movement, look for horizontal lines that seem out of place in the woods. I mean, in the woods, almost everything is vertical, but deer and other wildlife are not. When I first started going with him and I was more of a companion, and not a hunter, I would rummage in the leaves for beechnuts and sit there making a racket and also enjoying the beechnuts. I know we saw fewer deer then, but sometimes the noise I made was not as much out of place, as it was the same noise the deer made when they were rummaging for beechnuts. My father shared with me that as a boy, his family would go out in the fall and gather beechnuts to store down cellar and use over the winter. I thought about this and wondered about a different time and a different way of life. We did not gather beechnuts in my childhood, although we did pick apples from the old orchards at the farm and my grandmother stored them in her cellar. The apples found their way into many pies over the winter and I always marveled at how well they kept over the winter. You could always go down in her cellar and find an apple that was just as good as it was the previous October.

Getting back to my story, I learned to notice and be aware of the world around me sitting in the woods on those cold November days. I watched animals start their day and go about whatever they needed to do to survive. I learned how to be non intrusive in this environment. I have many tales of animals coming right up to me, almost close enough to reach out and touch. I can see these memories in my mind like I am watching little motion pictures. I have always told my students to make movies in their heads of what they see and read – it is easier to learn this way, and more fun too.

I tried to continue hunting after my father passed, but it just was not the same. I admit to shooting a few deer in my lifetime, and there was a time when this was important to me, but not any more.

My last day in the woods as a hunter I watched a doe and two yearlings approach me. The doe must have picked up my scent, as she stopped about 30 yards from me and snorted a few times. The yearlings, a young buck and a young doe, kept coming until they were about ten feet from me. They were very curious and studied me for a bit, and then decided I was not dangerous. They continued browsing and looking for food on the forest floor. The young buck was legal, he had the antlers of a young deer, but his live weight would not be 100 lbs.

There was a time when I would have taken this young buck, but I had no interest in doing this on that morning. You see, I had been having a debate in my head about my hunting for a long time, really from before my father died. I did not need this deer to feed my family so I could not justify taking its life. I thought the only reason for taking this deer is some perverse pleasure I might get from killing it. I thought, if that is the case, stop, get out of the woods now. You should not be here in the woods.

Finally, after enjoying these yearlings, I literally shooed them away and they ran back to their mother. The doe gathering them in and walked off. Soon they were out of sight.

They had been gone for about five minutes when I heard a shot from the direction they had gone to. I knew what had happened. I picked up my back pack and said to myself, “That’s it. You are done with hunting. ” I have never been since.

I do have some wonderful memories of being in the woods with my dad. He taught me so much during those times, not just about the natural world, but about being a good person. I will always remember one deer he shot, and then him saying, “Why did I do this? We were having such a good time and this ends it.”

The woods and the natural environment are a wonderful place. I am so glad I had those times to learn about being aware of your surroundings, paying attention, and having the pleasure of lots of quiet thinking time. Those are the movies I play back in my head now. I have a library of film in my head just waiting to be spooled up again and played for me to enjoy.

Take care.

Ed Pirie – West Topsham, Vermont

The Way I See It

The onset of a pandemic is exposing a lot of vulnerability in our society and economy. The stock market has been trashed in a couple of weeks. The bond market, usually a safe haven in times when the market is being wrecked has revealed how much it is over extended on near junk bond corporate debt. American corporations have binged on debt in the last several years and the bond market has been less than prudent in my opinion. A lot of this added debt was used to buy back shares and prop up share prices in the absence of earnings that would do the same. Bankers used to be careful with other people’s money, but not so much now days.

Our central banking system, the Federal Reserve has quickly exhausted its resources. There is not a lot left that the Fed can do for the economy. Trump never understood that the Federal Reserve has never recovered from fighting the 2008-09 Great Recession. He acts like a real estate developer that just wants to work on somebody else’s money, and the paying back is never a consideration. I think Trump’s multiple bankruptcies make this argument for me.

Many Americans work for an hourly wage and do not have any paid sick leave benefits. Many of these same perform essential services for all of us, and we know they do. Too many in this country cannot make it from paycheck to paycheck. So often, I hear it is their fault they did not make more of themselves, yet we have trashed the dignity of work in the last 30 years or so as we have drank the kool-aide of “trickle down economics.” We have worshipped at the altar of business and labor has been just a commodity that when possible, we find overseas for less cost.

Well, I don’t like any of this. I don’t like how little we value the dignity of work. I do not like how little we value the needs of a family and providing for their well-being. I do not like that the biggest single cause of bankruptcy in this country is a health care crisis. I don’t like that Americans have to work in jobs that do not pay a living wage. I do not like that we have skewed our wealth to the top of the pyramid.

After the war (WWII) it was not like this here, and America built a great middle class. We educated many with GI Bill benefits and we grew an economy that was the envy of the world. The jobs were here, not overseas. We actually made good things here.

Yes, this corona virus is exposing so many of our misplaced priorities. Our leaders have made too many choices that have benefited just the few and the powerful. We get sucked in with all kinds of slogans and culture war campaigns, but that is not the real battle. That is just smoke and mirrors. The looting of the country to just benefit a few is what we are not all seeing.

And, then along comes a national emergency like the corona virus. And the Republican Senate cannot bring themselves to cover American workers that lack paid sick leave as a benefit. Well, Moscow Mitch, I expect you are proud in a perverse way. All that you do Moscow Mitch, will always be perverse, but it will for sure benefit you, your place of power, and the GOP.

Sorry for the long ramble here. This pandemic is revealing a bigger story than itself. Hardly seems possible, but it is.

A Vermonter Talks About Being Ready for the Corona Virus (Connee Virus)

A little bit about hoarding – I am a Vermonter and being ready for the whatever is coming is in our genes. My earliest memories of both my grandparents are of they’re having shelves down cellar stocked. My grandfather always bought food he used all the time by the case – it was also cheaper this way. My other grandparents always stocked up when necessities and staples were on sale. If something you always used was on sale, then you didn’t just buy one, you bought three or four or whatever.

Many of us do not live where a grocery store is close by. And then, there is the need to have enough to get by a rough patch. It is a lot like having a winter or twos worth of firewood put up way before that winter gets here. There is no greater feeling of contentment than looking out a woodpile that is nice and dry and at least a winter ahead. It is like money in the bank.

This all came up at last week’s staff meeting. it was interesting that the folks from away (not Vermonters – I’ll be polite here) were a little shocked that us old natives did not need to be told to have at least three weeks of necessities on hand. I said, “Hell, we always do. I’d be in a panic if we didn’t.”

It is kind of like anticipating a coming flu season. My mother used to say it was good to put on a little weight before winter so you had something to fall back on if you got the flu. Well, same with being prepared and stocked up on the things we need to get by with.

So, I imagine there are at least a few old Vermonters like me that were all stocked up long before this connee virus thing came around. It is sort of like I must have heard a million times when I was growing up, “Back during the Depression.” You just kind get this ingrained and you try to be ready. We are all good old Scouts here – “Be Prepared,” and yes, having plenty of toilet paper is a good idea – haha.

And as far as staying away from crowds – most old Vermonters do not need to be told to stay away from crowds. Many of us would be perfectly happy if they closed the Interstates permanently so people could not get in.