Early voting has started, but before you vote…

Early voting has started, but before you vote…

Early voting has started, but before you vote, read this editorial (a first of its kind), Dying in a Leadership Vacuum, from the New England Journal of Medicine, October 8, 2020. When you finish that one read, How Trump damaged science — and why it could take decades to recover, October 5, 2020.

The Trump administration and his enablers are plunging our country into a dark age of science – from ridiculous lies calling global warming a hoax while fires rage out of control in California an area the size of Massachusetts, the North and South poles heating at an alarming rate, to the COVID crisis with over 210,000 dead and the economic catastrophe that follows from the lockdowns.

Instead of embracing the best scientific research and agencies that we have, Trump continues to make critical decisions that affect the lives of millions based on his political goals. He espouses false claims and blames others for the COVID pandemic from China, to the World Health Organization, to the Democratic governors and mayors. He blames everyone but himself. A simple federal mask mandate for people who ride on public transportation was recently rejected. How simple would that have been, only if the administration respected the science!

We cannot afford four more years of Trump and his enablers who denounce science. I voted for Biden & Harris and for Tim Ryan. I urge all of you to read these articles and think. Then vote.

The Rise of Trump & Caesar

The Rise of Trump & Caesar

History teaches us many lessons.  It took one Julius Caesar a few years to end the Roman Republic that lasted over five hundred years and plunged Western Civilization for 1,800 years under the total control of Emperors, Kings, and Tsars, until that fateful day in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787, when Ben Franklin declared, “A republic … if you can keep it.”  

Donald Trump, like Caesar, has demonstrated over and over that he too has no regard for the checks and balances that make up our Constitution and will destroy the republic that has lasted for over two hundred years.  Fortunately, history need not be repeated.

The End of the Republic   

Trump is not a Republican. He’s the very antithesis of traditional Republican values. Trump is the Julius Caesar of our times. He claims not to need a Congress or Senate… “I alone can fix it.” Anyone in his way is an enemy of the state and is not good for “his” country.  He’s a self-obsessed man with no self-control. He placates to the rich and those senators who bow to him and metaphorically kiss his ring while attempting to appeal to his Plebeian base (Commoners), all to suit his purpose with no regard to the Constitution. The generals that he so proudly claimed were “his generals” at the beginning of his term have all rejected him and thus have been replaced by a close group of sycophants and “yes” men.

The Nomination and Triumph     

The Republican convention was the triumph march for Trump (Caesar) that was attended by those who feared him and those who blindly follow him. The whole nation watched. Watch parties from coast to coast were held by his followers celebrating the event. It was a TV show worthy of Trump and the ratings he so much desires. All of this in front of the People’s House, our White House, with fireworks as a backdrop to top it off. The only thing missing was the laurel wreath over his head and the slave whispering in his ear of his mortality.

This happened before. The danger both then and now is the loss of our freedom. With no Senate or Congress – and no Constitution – we must be careful.

1787 – We Have a Republic!

The hard work was over at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, on September 17, 1787. As the story goes, Mrs. Powell of Philadelphia, a political figure in her own right, asked Benjamin Franklin “What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”  to which he replied, “A REPUBLIC … IF YOU CAN KEEP IT.”  Of course, those events are clouded in the past and we’ll never know exactly what happened. That’s not important now. What is important, however, is that Trump is dangerously close to destroying it.

Benjamin Franklin and the founding fathers worked hard to create our Constitution, the “imperfect” document that has withstood the test of time. The United States, including the Thirteen Colonies, was precariously close to collapsing after the Revolution under the Articles of the Confederation. Money was owed for the revolution, state debts were mounting, printed money was worthless, and there was no central government to hold us together. Yet, they came up with a document – a rule of law – a Constitution would grow with the Nation. And they wrote the rules to administer this constitution, the checks and balances.

Ben Franklin was a lifelong believer in Freedom of the Press. He was a newspaperman himself who would have been enraged to hear the words,” fake news”. He was near the end of his life (he died two years later on April 17, 1790), plagued with gout. This was the Republic that would outlast the Roman Republic.

Gaius Julius Caesar and Donald John Trump

Over 2,500 years ago, the Roman Republic (of which our Founding Fathers modeled our nation) was established.  The Roman Republic, which began around 500 BCE and ended in 27 BCE, was a democracy founded on the ideals of the democracies of Athens and Greece. The Roman Senate wanted no kings or dictators and made it a point to assure that it would never happen in Rome – they had checks and balances.

Enter Julius Caesar… who shares an alarming similarity to Donald Trump, even in owing large sums of money and finding dubious ways to overcome his debt.  Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman, a Populares, a populist, a political faction who favored and played to the needs of the plebeians – the common man – while he placated the senate. The people who Julius opposed where the Optimates, also known as the “good men,” was a conservative political faction in the late Roman Republic. This sounds like the Republicans to me.

After a series of civil wars where Romans fought against Romans, Julius marched into Rome a triumph, a parade, to honor himself. The Senate was appalled at this brazen self-aggrandizement and grandiosity but fearing retribution they stayed silent. Similarly, Donald Trump accepted the nomination on the South Lawn at the White House, with the White House, the People’s House, as a prop, as he honored and praised himself while the old guard Republicans, who were not all present at his “triumph” stayed silent. In 46 BCE, Caesar gave himself the title of “Prefect of the Morals” or as Trump said on Aug 21, 2019, “I am the chosen one.”  Hmm… this is getting scary.

Rise to Power and End of the Republic

During Caesar’s rise to power, he set out to pass an ambitious legislative agenda, similarly to Trump, that included a debt-restructuring law, expanding the empire, redistributed land, land reforms, a police force (for law and order), and grand infrastructure projects throughout the empire. He also reformed the tax system. These programs that were mostly executed by Augustus, were, as you can see, very popular amongst the masses, and his opponents profited too. But little by little, while the Optimates stayed reticent, he chipped away at their powers and their republic. Why stop a good thing? Does this sound familiar?

Some wanted to protect the republic and took matters into their own hands assassinating Julius on March 15, 44 BCE. But the story didn’t end there. His nephew, and adoptive son, Octavius, later known as Augustus, took over the position of the first emperor of the Roman Empire and thus the demise of the Roman Republic. Interestingly, the next two hundred years were called the Pax Romana, Roman Peace, but that peace came at a high price for democracy.

From then on the democracies that began in Greece and Rome ended and humankind was plunged into 1,800 years under the thumbs of Emperors, Kings, Tsars, Tyrants, and Despots with complete rule over their subjects until that fateful day in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787, when Ben Franklin declared to Mrs. Powell, “A republic… if you can keep it.”

Vote for The Constitution

History teaches us many lessons but it is for naught if we refuse to learn. It took one Julius Caesar a few years to destroy the Roman Republic that lasted for over five hundred years. I do not want one Donald Trump to destroy our Constitution and our republic that has lasted for nearly three hundred years.

Our Constitution, our republic, and our freedom mean so much more to me than any political party. I will choose candidates that best represent the ideals and beliefs that are embedded in our souls and memorialized in our Constitution. Fortunately, history does not need to be repeated. We have a chance to prevent the demise of our republic.

Donald Trump, and those who aid him, will not have my support or my vote.

Why I Will Not Vote for Trump or His Minions

Why I Will Not Vote for Trump or His Minions

I am not enamored by President Trump and the division we are experiencing in our nation and government. This is wrong. Yes, there are Trump policies that I’ve agreed with, reduce regulations, renegotiate NAFTA, adding more US manufacturing, a hard-line stance with China, and lower taxes, and still do, but my conscience will not let me ignore the concern that I have in a continued Trump presidency.

I believe we must never take away the checks and balances written in our constitution and our hearts. I believe in science and reason. I believe we must revere our Earth’s ecosystem; we have no other. I see none of this in Trump.

Here are ten reasons that are unacceptable to me:

  1. Fake News
    Freedom of the press is one of the most important pillars of our nation. When Trump tweets and cries out “fake news”, he is undermining one of the bastions of our constitution – freedom of the press. The free press questions kings, despots, tyrants, authoritarians, our government, and even themselves. Think of the importance of Common Sense, a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1775–76 advocating our independence. Trump sows doubt and confusion repeating his mantra of “fake news” when he dislikes a question or a reporter. The result is that no one trusts anyone… what news is “real?”
  2. Global warming is not a hoax
    Trump pulled out of The Paris Accord during a time that the world faces an environmental catastrophe only years away. Professing “clean coal” when there is no such thing. Appointing people to head the EPA who represented the fossil fuel industry and who fought the EPA, and a Secretary of the Interior who was the most anti-conservation Interior Secretary in our nation’s history. Yes, regulations that hurt our economy must be examined regularly, however, they must also take into consideration the people who need to be protected as well as our Earth.
  3. Do emoluments mean anything to you? Profiteering from the Office of the President?
    Remember, this is in the Constitution. Why do we have to conduct government business at Trump Turnberry Resort and Golf Course, Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., Trump Bedminster Golf Course? Why should our military be told to fuel there and stay overnight when it would be cheaper if they fuel at a U.S. military base? Why should our Ambassador be told to get the British Open to play at the Turnberry Golf Course? The constitution does not just frown upon this, it inherently forbids it in the Emoluments Clause.
  4. “I have no associations with Russia”
    Trump has said this over and over again, all the while he was negotiating a multimillion-dollar hotel in Moscow. Another lie or series of lies, depending on how many times he said this. “Russia are you listening?” I am sure they are listening now while they undermine our elections. Ignoring Russia influences on our elections, the cornerstone of our democracy, when all of our intelligence agencies and our allies have told us what is happening will destroy our democracy. Yes, Donald… the Russians are listening!
  5. Mocking a disabled journalist at a campaign rally
    Are these behaviors appropriate? The name-calling and pettiness are all insights into Trump’s behavior.
  6. Has anyone seen Trump’s tax returns?
    I have no problem with him withholding his tax returns, but why would he say it again and again at campaign rallies then refused to after he became President, calling it a “witch hunt”. This is the man who pressured Obama to produce his birth certificate, claiming if he didn’t (he did) then Obama must have something to hide. Donald, what are you hiding?
  7. Appointing Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education
    DeVos is a big Republican political donor who firmly believes in private schools as opposed to public, which she has pulled funds and programs. Private schools profit from education and making profit seems to be in line with her family’s controversial beliefs. Her brother, Eric Prince, founder of Blackwater, even wanted to privatize the war in Afghanistan.
  8. Pulling out of the World Health Organization (WHO)
    I believe in joining international organizations even heading them – America must have a seat at the table. Pandemics – which will always occur – must be handled globally. Viruses know no borders.
  9. Threatening to pull out of NATO
    Yes, we spend more than any other country on Earth for defense, but don’t kid yourself. The military defense contractors (who are mostly ours) like that position.
  10. Cronyism & Nepotism
    No, I don’t like it when unqualified and unappointed children and friends are given positions in public jobs. Did anyone vote for Ivanka or Jared? I don’t remember a senate confirmation for their “cabinet” positions. Trump also assigned members of his private golf clubs to choice government jobs such as ambassadorships. “This is the first time in modern history that a president has rewarded people with jobs that paid money to his own companies.”

 

 

For these and other reasons, I will not vote for President Trump and be one of those “Republicans” who follow him blindly with no regard for our country.

-Louis G Lyras

A Letter to Mr. Jordan

A Letter to Mr. Jordan

Dear Mr. Jordan,

During the Congressional Coronavirus Hearing on Friday, July 31, 2020, you asked the same questions of Dr. Fauci over and over again and he gave the same response: crowds especially in enclosed spaces that are not well ventilated will transmit the disease. I think I get it. Did you? Most of your five minutes were used to harangue Dr. Fauci into agreeing with your position condemning the protests in Portland and around the country as causes for an outbreaks… and he replied that any crowd can cause viral transmission.

Although some people are at greater risk of getting extremely sick from COVID-19, people of any age can contract and spread the virus. Including humans that Dr. Stella Immanuel claims have alien DNA… well, maybe not them. The virus infects humans, regardless of color or political affiliation. The virulence is high, and I fear we cannot contain the spread. Even with a national response, we can only mitigate the spread by trying to reduce the transmission and isolating the infected. Of course, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield, and Admiral Giroir said the same; social distancing, rapid testing, tracing, and – this is too simple – wearing a mask.

But since you were so insistent on discovering more routes of viral transmission, though I am not as qualified as the three experts, I will take the liberty of offering my opinion to a few more of your questions.

Protests? Yes, that is a crowd. If I protest, which is my constitutional right, I will wear a mask and try to properly space myself from fellow protesters. I’ll probably protest outside, the effect is better. If I contract COVID-19, I have to accept that, and I will quarantine myself. No, I will not destroy property – government or private – but I have the constitutional right to protest peacefully. You need to protect those rights for me and distinguish between protesting and rioting. Although, I am not sure why any responsible public official – Democrat or Republican – would confuse rioting with protesting.

Dating? If your significant other has tested positive, I would advise against kissing or close contact until they test negative. Hopefully, you will get the results quickly so you can get back together. Was that on the CDC guideline?

Schools? I believe schools should open, but each school district has to decide what is the best course of action based on the CDC, HHS, and NIAID guidelines. This information is online and updated regularly. Remember children will catch the disease and can transmit it, although it may not affect them as the elderly or immune-compromised. This still leaves teachers, administrators, maintenance, and other staff at risk.

Testing? Admiral Giroir, who is also a doctor, told us about testing. Rapid testing has been a problem since the beginning of the outbreak. A few weeks ago, I needed to test and my results came back 17 days later. Fortunately, I was negative. We cannot do tracing without rapid testing.

We are getting better at treatment but there will be individuals, old and young, who will not respond and will, unfortunately, have complications or die. No one knows all the effects on any one individual. Personally, I don’t believe we can stop or eliminate the COVID-19 virus until we have a vaccine. We can only control the spread by practicing the advice of the CDC, and all the agencies that we look to for sound advice and guidance.

Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield, and Admiral Giroir told us what we need to hear – up to date scientific facts concerning COVID-19. You, as a congressman, must act upon these facts and write legislation that will help all of us.

Unfortunately, all of this will cost trillions of dollars, therefore, I don’t want to shut down the economy, which will have devastating effects greater than the virus. We need to take steps to open and bring the jobs back. I do, however, want to control government spending – which includes your salary.

I hope that you will work together with all the blue and red representatives and make sound decisions for the people you represent and our country.

Respectfully yours,
Lou Lyras

Climate Change/Global Warming & Solutions to This Pressing Problem

Climate Change/Global Warming & Solutions to This Pressing Problem

This article was written nearly two years ago. Since then we’ve done very, very little to curtail CO2 or Methane emissions. Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia are destroying millions of acres of rain forest each year. In our country, we are drilling for more oil and gas while promoting coal for power plants. Recently, cities North of the arctic circle have experienced temperatures of over 100 degrees!  There are solutions that mean jobs and progress, but the entire country and world have to be committed and the USA must take up its position leading that effort.

Originally Written: October 1, 2018

Climate change is already here and has been for some time. Whoever denies this fact is ignoring all scientific studies and is definitely not who I would vote for. We hear certain politicians calling it a “hoax.” It is not a hoax: Scientific studies have proven its legitimacy. False climate-change statements should not be used to guide an agenda to revive an already dead coal industry; nor should it be used as an excuse to poison, abuse, and mistreat our waters and lands. It should not be used to scare people to garner votes and to divide the country. We must be united in our efforts worldwide to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

This year, fires have ravaged large areas of California, Sweden, Greece, and Siberia. Unprecedented heat waves hit the Arctic, causing dramatic environmental changes that negatively affect plants and animals. In other places, extreme rainfall killed hundreds of people and displaced hundreds of thousands. In Cape Town, South Africa, and in other nations, they are running out of water. Around the world, hurricanes will become stronger as the ocean-surface temperature increases. Floods have destroyed coastal cities, costing billions of dollars and affecting millions of people. This is the true world of climate change and it is solely due to the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air.

Last year, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere tipped above 412 parts per million (PPM). To put this plainly and simply the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air in parts per million (ppm), are now over 400, and most of this increase this has happened in the last 50 years. For the last 400,000 years, that number ranged from about 280 to 180. During our human historical times, the concentrations were around 280 and we enjoyed a moderate climate. That has all changed for the worse.

Parts Per Million

You are probably asking, “What are parts per million?” Let me explain. Let’s imagine that the molecules in our atmosphere are marbles and there are one million small marbles. A 4-foot by 4-foot box that is almost 20 feet tall would be one million marbles. Of those, there are 780,000 marbles of nitrogen and 210,000 marbles of oxygen. The rest is argon, 9,000 marbles, and a few trace marbles. This is the basic makeup of our atmosphere, 999,000 marbles plus the trace marbles.

The marbles we worry about the most are Carbon Dioxide (CO2). It only takes 280 marbles of CO2 to give us the climate that we know. That tiny amount of marbles would barely show on the top of that box of marbles. But they greatly affect our global temperature: 280 parts per million (ppm) and we have the temperatures and climate that we enjoy. If there were no Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, our earth would plunge into a global ice age, but there is, and that keeps us warm.

Unfortunately, we have added more CO2 marbles to bring our parts per million (ppm) over 400. And we are adding more every year. The last time that we were at these levels was about 3 million years ago when there were no arctic ice caps and the water levels were hundreds of feet higher. All of this is from the burning of fossil fuels for energy.

Yes, there are volcanos and someone will smartly point out that they emit more CO2 than we do. But there always have been volcanos. With the exception of very large volcanic events in the geologic past, the emissions from our current normal eruptions are already calculated in the Global Carbon Cycle. This means the rise in CO2 is still due to human activities and not volcanoes. Let’s set the argument aside.

We Need Energy

We certainly need energy, a lot of energy to propel us into the future and sustain our economy. But drilling offshore for more oil, surface mining large swaths of land for coal and shale oil, plunging deep into the ground for natural gas by fracking, and even cutting off the tops of mountains for coal all come at a price we cannot afford: increases in the CO2 emissions. This type of energy only helps the fossil fuel companies that are too shortsighted and greedy to see the dangerous outcome in our search for energy.

The administration’s course of action, to the joy of the fossil fuel industry, of opening more lands and shores for oil and coal, even in our national parks, is going to affect us in ways that we cannot begin to fathom and will hurt everyone on earth; from hunting and outdoor sporting advocates to everyone who enjoys sandy beaches and clean rivers and streams to those who love the pristine environments of vast forests, untouched wildernesses, valleys and mountains, and uncluttered shores. This course of action will harm those who feed us on farms, and fish for food in our oceans. We are all affected, all over the world. If the hunters were truly aware of the EPA cutbacks, and the assault on our environment and government lands, they would be screaming at the top of their lungs – and voting – against anyone who claims not to believe in climate change.

One of my greatest concerns is a leak that affects an underground aquifer. These aquifers cannot be cleaned. Only recently the previous government’s opposition to the Keystone Pipeline was lifted, and the company’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would follow parts of the existing Keystone right-of-way, stated that the planned pipeline would have a minimal impact on the environment and cultural resources. Yet not long after that announcement, a pipe broke and the leak reported to be 5,000 barrels was later changed to upwards of 9,000 barrels of oil. Fortunately for us, it did not affect the underground water tables – this would have been disastrous. Pipelines that crisscross our land destroying underground water tables will become a thing of the past.

Nuclear Power Plants: Why Nuclear? Why Do Anything At All?

Continuing on our current path of digging, drilling, mining, and using far more fossil fuels, and disregarding the consequences, is similar to owning a house with a beautiful basement, and outside you know there’s a drain pipe that needs fixing because when it rains hard the basement floods. But instead of fixing the drain, heavy rain comes and you fix the basement; walls, rugs, floors new furniture. Over and over after heavy rain, you fix the water damage but you never fixed the pipe. Our situation is no different. We spend money – billions of dollars – on flood damage and ignore the real cause, and not build one clean power plant. This is insanity.

The solution is to build modern state-of-the-art nuclear power plants. Why do I promote nuclear power plants? This is the cleanest source of energy that we have with the SMALLEST environmental footprint. Just ask the US Navy. And new technologies can limit radioactive waste dramatically, even use up the nuclear waste that has already been collected. While solar and wind have their place in the energy scheme, we cannot wait any longer for these sources to become our base energy loads. Building a nuclear power plant will give us time to develop wind and solar where they can be used. No, there is no time and no other source.

Nuclear, combined with solar and wind and battery storage that is being developed, will light up our homes and cites for years to come. When we come home from work telling stories to our children the lights will be on, the appliances will be working, and our houses will be warm and comfortable and the cities will be vibrant. All of this can happen without harming our Earth and the environment. Furthermore, we do not have to rely on foreign oil, which has fueled wars and poverty.

The Benefits of Nuclear

Each fossil fuel power plant we replace will do more to help endangered species than all the conservation efforts because the biggest threat to their existence is climate change and encroachment on their land. Grizzly bears, humpback whales, elephants, bald eagles and so many other species small and large are under severe environmental stress. And this presidential administration – along with the fossil fuel industries – is gutting vital protections for some of our most vulnerable wildlife. Conserving wildlife will be another added benefit. Again, we can beat them by building nuclear power plants and reducing the need for fossil fuels.

Our transportation needs will be served by electric cars and hybrid cars that are powered from clean nuclear and renewable power sources, and bio-diesel from genetically modified algae and bacteria. We have many solutions when the grip of the fossil fuel industry is taken away from our government legislators.

How can we fight the trillion-dollar fossil fuel companies? As soon as we start building nuclear power plants and developing solar and wind generators they will fight us. This is what happened in the mid-1980s and 1990s, at a time when this change was needed. The fossil fuel industry launched media and scientific campaigns to discredit climate change science. They launched false claims against the dangers of nuclear power. Soon climate change became a theory and there were hundreds of papers and experts who said this increase is normal. But there is nothing normal about 400 ppm. That cannot be denied. Now we are living with the consequences.

Fighting Back Despite the Odds

We have the power to fight back. As a country, and as voting citizens, we are bigger than all the fossil fuel companies and utility companies in the world. We can begin building safe efficient nuclear power plants ourselves and feed this power into the grid. Each power plant we build will replace a fossil fuel plant. Each nuclear power plant we build will prevent billions of tons of CO2 from entering into the atmosphere. Each nuclear power plant we build will save our country billions of dollars. The benefits are numerous with the most important benefit – saving our Earth. This is an “end-around” strategy.

We cannot let private industry do this, it must be done by us, the people, and we must run these power plants ourselves, saving billions in construction and future energy costs. A nuclear power plant built by private industry is costing well over $20 billion, partially due to unnecessary regulations. What’s shameful is that they make us pay for these costs! The cost can be reduced by at least half, if not more, only if we build and maintain them – the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Navy is doing that right now. This is not new.

How to Pay for This

Climate change is real and there are many things that can be done to make a difference. The cost of doing nothing or making believe it’s imaginary is too high. The multitude of those powerful Hurricanes are the ramifications of this new no action. Each flood, each hurricane, each drought costs billions of dollars and millions of lives. The cost of the damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Katrina, and recently Florence combined will be in the hundreds of billions.

It is far costlier to do nothing than to act now. We need nuclear power plants. A nuclear power plant should cost five to ten billion dollars. We need at least one hundred more – probably two hundred depending on the size of each unit. Our country uses approximately 13,000 KWh per capita year at a cost of 12 cents per KW. This means we – 330,000,000 people – pay over five hundred billion ($500,000,000) dollars per year for electricity.  I think there is enough money to build nuclear power plants and fight back against this growing threat.

I love this country and this land. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of voting for those who believe in climate change and are willing to do something about it.

Hong Kong – Why It Matters to Us?

Hong Kong – Why It Matters to Us?

Recent events in Hong Kong are even more important to us in our country today – another lesson to be learned. The Communist Party of China (CCP) has restored “Law and Order” with the National Security Law. Dissidents jailed, no protests, writing anything against the party on social media or print is subversion, even school books will be changed … they will have “Law and Order. But don’t think what is happening in Hong Kong can’t happen to us. The right to protest (peaceful) is our constitutional right; taking a knee or marching. Writing opposing views is our right, Freedom of the Press and Speech. Yet too many of us are welcoming the ill-advised cries for “ law and order” without considering the consequences.

There are many lessons to be learned from the current events in Hong Kong. These lessons can be taught by people who desperately want to keep their freedoms. They want to protect freedom of the press as well as their right to assemble. Some lessons include free trade, international corporations, international finance, and world trade agreements. There are lessons to be learned from people living in a modern cosmopolitan city with a good education system. I think that probably the most important lessons come from the differences between two distinct ideologies – communism and democracy. I’ve been there and it was a wonderful experience and an expensive lesson for me.

Hong Kong was under British rule, which lasted from 1842 when the British took over the colony (under less than noble circumstances, by forcing the Chinese to accept opium) to 1997 when sovereignty over the territory was transferred to China. Up to then, the people of Hong Kong shared the same freedoms that you and I share today. The area was a free trade zone that attracted investors and businesses from all over the world. It was also the eighth-largest city in the world and even then had a capitalist economy, low taxation, minimal government intervention, and an established international financial market.

When the Chinese government took the territory back from the British, they promised the people of Hong Kong autonomy. It was to be “one country, two systems”; Capitalistic Democracy and Socialist Communism. During this time, international corporations and financial institutions, as well as many of our electronic corporations, flocked to Hong Kong and built headquarters. It was like a Chinese New York City and the gateway to a huge developing market, low wages, educated people, and a willing Chinese government that encouraged investment. The 1990s brought a wave of companies from all over the world. Many of these corporations, while based in our country, moved their factories to China. Hong Kong was one of the starting points.

Because of This We Lost Jobs and Much More

Within a decade, Apple and many other companies moved all their manufacturing into China. We lost jobs, and when we complained, these companies told us that they couldn’t make their products in the USA anymore. We were even told that Chinese workers are better educated! (The truth is that these companies were just looking for cheaper workers.) They wanted to be there at our expense and made sure trade agreements kept their profits flowing. Now they complain about how the tariffs are hurting their businesses. Worse yet, they are worried that if China cracks down on the people of Hong Kong, then this will affect all of them and us as well.

I not only blame the Chinese, they did what they needed to do to develop their country, but I also blame corporate greed and the legislators of abiding governments (ours too) – China and all the other countries – who exploited their people and hurt ours. We lost jobs – not from China – but from the companies who worked together with China to sell our jobs offshore and then bring the products back to us. How can there not be a trade imbalance? Aside from electronics, China is a major exporter of steel and so many other products. All of this is due to political leaders (that were bought off) who facilitated this exodus.

Will the Tariffs Help?

This is where I believe and feel that tariffs are warranted – to a point. China is suffering from the tariffs and they quickly adjusted its currency to offset the cost to keep their factories working. How long can this last? They will be hurt and cannot devalue their currency too much without truly hurting themselves and their economy. So, what do we do? We can wait, however, we too will eventually be hurt by these actions. We can’t do this forever. Historical precedents prove that protectionism has not and does not work. I hope the results from the tariffs will force those companies who quickly ran to China to move their manufacturing to other markets that have fair labor laws and democratic governments, including back home to the United States. This is a policy I agree with.

My opinion, instead of tariffs for everyone, we need to work with other democratic countries and make sound trade agreements that exclude bad actors like China and Russia. We may need targeted tariffs and subsidies to help our companies. To do this, we need legislators to legislate for the people and not the corporations. Ross Perot was right. If China sees an exodus of companies moving from Hong Kong and the loss to their economy, they may change their position to the people of Hong Kong, the people of China, and the people in our country. A capitalistic democratic market will help everyone.

But can the people of Hong Kong win? In nearby Shenzhen, I saw an interview with an older man who was leaving Hong Kong because he felt the situation there was too dangerous. He wanted the safety and security of the Chinese Communist government… I was shocked! This man never experienced the freedoms of democracy and he sought the comfortable and secure life of Communist China even though he knew he’d have to give up some freedoms. It’s attitudes like that that will make the battle harder for people of Hong Kong. I only hope that international corporations do not think like that man.

The people of Hong Kong are in a difficult situation. To me, even the idea of having our freedoms taken away is implausible and I’m sure they feel no different. How will China allow them to have the freedoms they want and not destroy its authoritarian rule in the rest of China? Additionally, any suppression – by force or otherwise – would destroy the government and constitution that made Hong Kong a financial powerhouse. This is a dangerous situation and the corporations that made Hong Kong and China their home may have to move elsewhere… maybe back in the USA.

There are many lessons to be learned from Hong Kong. For me, the most important lesson is the way we must legislate… and that is to always legislate for the people

Originally Written: August 27, 2019

“I Can’t Breathe!”

“I Can’t Breathe!”

“I can’t breathe!” Think about those words. Think. Unfortunately, many black people can’t “breathe” because of the color of their skin and they can’t change what others see. They can’t breathe because they can’t wake up in the morning and be treated the same as me. They can’t breathe because they live in fear when their sons and daughters go out for a drive, a walk, or even run in a park. They can’t breath because the color of their skin makes people turn away and fear them. They can’t breath because too many can’t come home, from a good job, with money to feed their families. They can’t breathe because they are being choked with hatred and bias. They can’t breathe because the justice system has failed them over and over and over again.

Yes, they can’t breathe and not from the boot of one man on George Floyd’s neck. These men were taught to hate George Floyd and others like him. Let’s not cry out for “Law and Order” without crying out for justice. Let’s change. Let them breathe. Let all of us breathe.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 Pandemic is a time of great uncertainty and will, unfortunately, be a horrible memory long after the virus passes. The reality is other pandemics will inevitably happen and we must learn from the events of COVID-19 to be prepared to not only protect the health of our citizens but also guard us against the subtle, inexorable loss of our freedoms. Our enemies are not only nations with uniformed armies, but also invisible “enemies” who would take away our freedoms. We must not let this happen.

COVID-19, in addition to other events that have happened throughout the last two decades, makes me think of the freedoms that can be lost—freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. Unchecked FISA warrants, Second Amendment restrictions, unlimited surveillance through the Patriot Act and National Security Acts, and even anonymous reporting to any number of agencies. We only need to see how the COVID-19 changed our right to vote, freedom to worship, freedom of assembly, and restricted travel between states in just a couple of months!

Let’s not forget the telecommunications giants like Huawei, on-line conferencing companies with hosts of foreign workers, facial recognition software, geo-location technology where you’re tracked all the time, AI software with voice recognition that always listens, the numerous personal data collection companies, and all the electronic software companies that are outsourcing their workforce to China and foreign countries. Big Brother 1984 is here.

We are the greatest country in the world. We mock authoritarian rule and rejoice in our freedom, but if we don’t watch we will end up the same. Let us not lower our guard and lose the freedoms we fought for. We must not let this happen. I will not let this happen.