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Bill Owens: Confounding And Confusing Events 4/6/20

During this last week, a barrel of oil was cheaper than a pint of beer in Canada falling below $5.00. Canadian oil is cheaper than in the United States, but our crude is of somewhat better quality, nonetheless, oil has fallen dramatically well over 60% since the beginning of the year.

A Democratic candidate for Congress, Mary Gay Scanlon, sent out a recent request for support which she titled “Trump’s Budget is a Debt Sentence.”  Applause for a clever idea, but of course, if one looks at the President’s proposed budget it would be both a debt and a death sentence for many.  This again goes back to the idea that the right-wing conservatives and tea party folks have totally buried their heads in the sand regarding increases to government debt while this was a huge issue for them in 2010 through 2014.

A recent briefing by CBP regarding cargo indicated, that land crossing volume was down about 25% mostly as the result of the closure of auto manufacturers; that there have been no new restrictions placed on cargo; all operations at ports and rail crossings are fully functional and the quarantine of officers who are infected has not impaired timely processing.  They also noted that maritime container volume is down 25%, air cargo is up, and express shipments are down 25%.  This is not a bad report given the state of the rest of the economy and indicates that the steps taken to keep trade moving are in fact working.

Popular Mechanics noted recently that the earth is literally moving less and is quieter as a result of all of us being locked down.  This is giving scientists an opportunity to study the internal sounds of the earth and get more accurate readings for things like earthquakes and other internal activities of Mother Earth.  An interesting benefit. 

Scientists have also announced that they found a submerged forest in the Gulf of Mexico off the Alabama coast, that is about 60,000 years old and contains shipworms which have an incredible medicinal potential.  They are attempting to harvest as much information as possible as they anticipate that the forest will be re-submerged as a result of a hurricane or other weather activity in the near future.  Science at work in Alabama, must be a miracle.

A leading physician from John Hopkin’s University was quoted as saying he believed the test to be applied before the country can be reopened is “when we see a state or region have numbers that go down over time, and when we have diagnostics in place, and when we have masks available for all of our doctors and nurses who are putting their lives at risk to take care of sick patients, and hospitals are well prepared and when we can get our public health systems in place to start tracing or identifying individuals and start tracing their contacts, again, like they do in Asia”.  This test clearly contemplates regional activity, and in my view, makes a great deal of sense. 

Just a word for the conservative right-wing conspiracy theorists who continue to espouse the view that this is an attack on Mr. Trump, by Democrats, the left and the media.  They should speak to doctors and nurses to determine whether or not this is real, and if they believe that business should stay open and not practice social distancing, then clearly, they are blinded by ideology and are incapable of focusing on the facts in front of them.  The process of businesses closing was a question of when and not if.  The lack of workers would grow as the disease spreads and would have taken the same toll.  Mr. Johnson in Britain believed in that same theory, now he is stricken, and Britain is exercising appropriate restraints. 

I have been waiting since the passage of the Care Act for a deluge of conservative attacks.  They haven’t come.  In my view, the action taken has been wholly appropriate, but I also remember when similar steps were taken in the wake of the crash of 2008 and 2009, and how the right howled, including, the then very active Tea Party.  Covid-19 is an act of nature, what happened in 2008-2009 were acts of greed. 

POTUS announced this past weekend that social distancing would be extended until April 30th, which is clearly the right move.  Thank you Dr. Fouci.  Let me also extend kudos to Captain Crozier for his act of conscience.

President Trump accused hospital employees (presumably doctors, nurses, administrators, aides, facility workers), etc. of stealing masks because the number of purchases went from 10,000 per month to 30,000 per month.  It is obvious that Dr. Fauci has not been able to education Mr. Trump to the fact that in most circumstances, doctors would be changing masks at least a couple of times a day so as not to infect themselves or other patients as they move from one patient to another.  It is incredible to me, that he could make such outrageous claims without any knowledge of the facts.  He might want to sit down with a few doctors and nurses and go through their day-to-day experience so that he has some sense of reality as opposed to his own delusions.

Bill Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford Owens in Plattsburgh, NY and a Senior Advisor to Dentons to Washington, DC.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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