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Covid Vaccine Mandates: For Whose Benefit?

 

As the calls for mandating Covid vaccinations grow, especially with formal FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, I ask the same question I have asked about mask mandates – who do the mandates protect that justify the intrusion on personal autonomy?

If the Covid vaccines work to protect the person who has received the vaccine, it matters not to the vaccinated person whether other people are vaccinated.

If people who have had Covid have protection similar to the protection provided by the Covid vaccine, forcing those who have had Covid to get the Covid vaccine is overkill. According to some reports (I have no idea how reliable), vaccinating the naturally protected may be counterproductive (in that the vaccine may degrade the already present natural protection).

Vaccine mandates do force people with “vaccine hesitancy” to do what’s “for their own good,” regardless of the person’s own personal risk assessment about the vaccine versus the virus. If that’s true, then we are taking another large step away from being a free people. The Covid vaccines are very new, unlike other vaccines that have become routine. Hesitance on injecting something very new is not irrational, especially since many people may calculate that they have a very low probability risk from the virus itself. Other vaccines that are now mandated (measles, polio, etc.) had much longer track records before the mandates were instituted.

Can people who have been vaccinated spread the virus to others? There have been many claims that vaccinated people can still spread the virus (that’s the justification given for why everyone should wear masks forever). If so, then vaccine mandates don’t do anything to reduce the spread of the virus.

Requiring everyone to be vaccinated doesn’t add to the protection of those who have chosen to be vaccinated, and may not reduce the spread of the virus. So far, the only purpose of vaccine mandates seems to be to force conformity.

To Horrify the Modern Sensibilities

 

“Dad slaughtered about 100 chickens each Friday to deliver to customers on Saturday. It was the job of the younger children of the family to hold the feet of each chicken as Dad chopped off the chicken’s head with a careful swift swing of the ax.” She goes on to describe her participation in the next step of de-feathering the carcasses.

From an account written by Mrs. Tabby’s mother (who would have been one of the aforementioned younger children in the family) recounting her childhood in Illinois, which would have been very late 1920s into the 1930s. Mrs. Tabby discovered the account, which had been written about thirty years ago, while cleaning out her parents’ house following their deaths in recent months. When she read that part to me, I immediately imagined how horrified many of today’s overprotective parents would be at the very thought of having young children participate in the process of slaughtering the animals that become our dinner. I know @cowgirl  and probably others are not. But I think many would be.

The account describes Mom’s childhood as subsistence farmers on land rented from a family member. Eggs and the aforementioned chickens were the primary source of cash for the family. Mom describes that her Dad figured out where in Peoria (the “big town” about 25 miles away) the fancy houses were that would be willing to pay top dollar on Saturday for fresh chicken (no more than three pounds, as the bigger birds were less tender) and eggs for Sunday dinner. She said he got about three times as much cash per bird selling door-to-door (retail) as he would have selling them all to a butcher (wholesale). So he was willing to put in the long day’s work needed to go door-to-door.

The account also describes occasionally butchering larger animals that they had raised for household consumption. Quite the interesting account of a life not that distant in time, yet worlds apart in culture. Mrs. Tabby will type it up, as Mrs. Tabby is the only person on the planet who could read her mother’s poor handwriting.

The contrast between the 1930 attitude of the subsistence farmer (of course the young children participate in chores, including the slaughtering of the cash-generating chickens), and the 2021 attitude of trying to protect children from every unpleasant detail of life (including that they might get sick from a virus) amused me.

I Do Not Understand Covid Panic

 

I don’t get the level of panic that surrounds Covid-19. This particular disease has a mortality rate on the order of 2% or less (and apparently declining), yet government and other organizations and people of influence are acting as though the disease has a mortality rate at least an order of magnitude higher than that. They are acting as though Covid has Ebola-level mortality (approx. 50%). And too many people are going along with this excessive panic. Most of the Covid-19 mortality is in particular demographic groups. For younger adults the mortality rate is barely measurable, and for children the mortality rate is essentially zero.

Yet in the name of this disease from which the vast majority of people recover, especially younger people, governments and others have required, and continue to require, that almost everyone to change their lives in ways big and small. People are required to reduce (and in some cases eliminate) their interactions with other people. Rules explicit and implicit require people to alter how they interact with other people, changing some of the basic features of our society. Schools have significantly altered schooling and even the entire childhood experience for children. Schools have made some rules so difficult that they have effectively cut some children off from school altogether.

Governments (aided and abetted by influential organizations and people) have put the economy into shambles. People can’t get even rudimentary tasks completed because of shortages of things and people.

Governments are limiting what people can say and who can speak in public and in private (enlisting organizations and people to carry out the details).

Governments and employers are requiring people to be injected with a vaccine that has not been fully tested nor officially approved*. We assume but do not know there will be no long-term consequences that might appear in years down the road. What happens as vaccinated women grow children?

I might consider these extensive and costly responses reasonable for a disease that kills a significant proportion of the people it infects. Covid-19 does not**. Yet government, media, and other powerful groups and people act as though every case of Covid is a death, and we should be writing the obituary of anyone who gets Covid.

Yes, people die of Covid, and I would prefer they not. But the reaction of government and of others in positions of power and influence seems way out of proportion to the risks the disease poses. We seem to suffering through a panic hype that is causing a lot of harm. Other than trying to calm down a few of my personal friends, I wish there was a way to get people to look at the actual risks, not the government and media induced panic.

* I know, in many cases, people can avoid vaccination requirements by receiving frequent and intrusive tests, which has its own problems.

**at least unless the person is in particular demographic and health groups

Masks?

 

In the midst of renewed calls for universal masking in the name of Covid-19, can we have a reasoned, data-oriented discussion of how well universal masking prevents Covid deaths? Universal masking harms people and harms society. To justify such harms, I expect strong evidentiary support for the theory that universal masking prevents a significant number of Covid deaths.

Universal masking harms people. Many mask wearers experience anxiety, increased blood pressure, difficulties breathing. Universal masking cuts off much if not most interpersonal communication for many people, and interferes with the ability of children to learn and to develop social skills.

Universal masking harms society (American perspective; may be different in other cultures). Mask wearing fosters suspicion, distrust, and individual isolation. Masking discourages communication and cooperation. I believe that, along with stay-at-home orders, universal masking contributed to the widespread violence we saw in 2020.

I hear assertions that the intent of universal masking is to reduce Covid deaths. I seem to have missed the data (not just the theories and intentions) that universal masking reduces Covid deaths.

I am not looking here for philosophical arguments about liberty. Nor for arguments involving vaccinations.  Many of the calls for universal masking do not distinguish on the basis of vaccination. None of the Covid vaccines has been fully tested, so it is entirely rational for individuals to decide that the risks (known and unknown) of receiving a vaccine outweigh the risks (mostly known) of contracting Covid itself. Finally, the discussion should focus on Covid deaths (or serious illness or hospitalization). “Spread of Covid” and “Covid cases” confuses the discussion by including the vast majority of people who get Covid and have no or mild symptoms.

Studies that show Covid deaths in 2020 were not materially different between places with mask requirements and places without mask requirements (or between times before and after mask requirements) are of little to no help. In 2020 the rates of mask-wearing were high regardless of requirements, so the differences in actual mask-wearing were not all that large. Are there studies that use actual mask-wearing rates, as opposed to mandates?

I’m skeptical of extrapolating evidence from mask-wearing by medical personnel in medical facilities to mask-wearing by the general public in general environments. Medical personnel are trained in protocols for wearing and handling masks, and wear them in facilities designed and equipped with systems for limiting the spread of disease. We have seen that the general public does not follow medical mask protocols. The places frequented by the general public do not have the disease-limiting facilities and systems that medical facilities have.

Laboratory experiments showing that mask material captures viruses when virus-laden air is blown at the mask material are also of limited value. There are major differences between the laboratory conditions and how people use masks in general environments, so the correlation between the laboratory experiment and the “real world” is unclear.

“Intuitively obvious” seems to carry a lot of weight in the masking debate. We heard that a lot in the arguments about wearing two or more masks. The proponents said “of course” if one mask was good, two were better. But I never saw them present much evidence for that proposition. Even with respect to single masks, many of the arguments for masking just assume that putting cloth or paper over a person’s face will reduce the spread of the virus, and thus deaths. There must be data somewhere supporting that theory.

As you can tell, I am not convinced that universal masking prevents enough Covid deaths to justify the individual and societal harms universal masking imposes. But, I like to think that I could be persuaded.

‘White Privilege’ in the US; ‘Black Privilege’ in Africa? ‘Han Privilege’ in China?

 

All the wailing and gnashing of teeth over “whiteness,” “white privilege,” and “white supremacy” in the United States, and the supposed problems “non-white” people has got me wondering – what happens in the parts of the world in which a particular group of “non-white” people dominate the culture and/or the power structures, such as sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Central and South America. This is probably best answered by someone who has lived in areas other than the United States or Europe.

I am a 65-year-old pale-skinned man of English and German ancestry with blue eyes and a little blond hair remaining on my head. I live in Texas.

As I understand current “woke” ideology in the United States, I have an irresolvable problem in that I don’t have to think about my “whiteness.” My race is a complete non-issue in my life. But, supposedly to anyone who is not “white,” race is a constant issue that they cannot avoid and stays front of mind.

What would happen if I were to move to someplace in which pale-skinned people with blue eyes and blond hair are unusual? Would my “whiteness” be a constant factor in my thinking and self-perception?

I understand that in China the Han Chinese ethnic group dominates culture and the social and political power structures. Is race (or ethnicity) a non-issue for Han Chinese? Do they have “Han Chinese privilege?” Is their racial or ethnic minority status a constant issue for non-Han Chinese? Would it be for me as a white man in a Han Chinese dominant society?

What about sub-Saharan Africa? Is race irrelevant for black African natives? Do they have “black privilege?” Would I constantly be aware of my “whiteness” if I lived in a place like Congo or Zimbabwe? Would I have anything that could be called “white privilege?”

In other words, are complaints about “whiteness” and “white privilege” nothing more than complaints about not being part of the dominant racial or ethnic group, regardless of what that racial or ethnic group is?

DC Politicians, Big Tech Companies Making Violence More Likely, Not Less

 

By using current events as pretexts for further restricting the ability of people to speak and to communicate, national government politicians and “big tech” companies are increasing the likelihood that people will resort to violence to get their point across.

Politicians and “big tech” claim restricting speech and communication will reduce “conspiracy theories” and the planning of violent actions. But, driving such topics into hidden corners tends to reinforce them and to encourage the people involved to become more extreme and potentially violent.

Politicians and businesses told us during spring and summer 2020 that people were entitled to become violent because they had no other way to express their grievances (despite that media and the academy were routinely reciting those grievances). Now many people (mostly different people from the people who protested in the spring and summer) who believe they have grievances also believe that the powers-that-be are not listening. And they are told not only that the “powers that be” will not hear their grievances, they cannot even express their grievances or discuss their grievances with one another. A person who believes that election irregularities led to a stolen election has even more reason to believe that when he is prevented from even raising the idea. No one should be surprised if at least some of those people turn to violence as the only apparent method to get the powers that be to pay attention.

As noted in the comments on the post “Parler” by @henryracette , it is not necessary for the national government politicians and the “big tech” executives to conduct a formal conspiracy to try to silence troublesome upstarts. Big government and big business have common interests that lead them to work toward the same result without formal coordination.

Like the “protests” in spring and summer, the human isolation caused by months lacking in-person contact leads to greater frustration and more explosive results when people do finally come together. Real life in churches, in business and social organizations, in bars and restaurants, at sporting events, at cultural events, at community events, in social groups, and other places where real people interact with other real people tends to moderate extreme beliefs. Yet we don’t have those real-life interactions today, so extreme beliefs grow unchecked in isolated individuals and in isolated corners of society. So when the people with those extreme beliefs finally do react, it should not surprise us that they might react violently.

Politicians and large companies that restrict the ability of people to speak and to communicate further that isolation, making such extremes more probable, and therefore violence more likely, not less likely. Had they let the grievances be expressed and had politicians responded with factual responses, the events of January 6 would go down as one of those occasional protests that got out of hand and we could have discussed the grievances and responses to those grievances. But, by instead engaging in name-calling (including lumping everyone who expresses a concern about election integrity in with the few who rushed into the Capitol building), and implementing heavy-handed efforts to silence the grievances, politicians and business give those with grievances reason to engage in extreme beliefs, and to respond in extreme ways.

Politicians and businesses are increasing the likelihood that at least some of those with grievances will become more violent, not less.

Halloween and Kids Having Fun!

 

My neighborhood had a fun and “normal” Halloween.

@bethanymandel has expressed frustration about the number of educational, socialization, and fun things the adult powers-that-be are depriving children these days. In at least one podcast she particularly lamented that some places were banning Halloween trick-or-treating, an activity that is conducted out in the fresh air with minimal brief contact between homeowner and child. So, I thought I’d report our neighborhood’s experience last night.

Kids (and their parents) were out in large numbers. The sounds of kids laughing and running filled the 60-degree still air. A couple of houses in the neighborhood had adult beverage treats for the parents and other adults. A church had games going in the park at the entrance to the neighborhood, with the pastor and his wife presiding as pirates (they live in the neighborhood). As one of the comments put it in the neighborhood Facebook group, everybody enjoyed seeing and hearing “kids being kids.”

My personal favorite costume was a kid in a giant inflatable dinosaur. Watching him try to run (or even walk) was hysterical. Except he was so wide and his tail so long that he couldn’t fit onto my next-door neighbor’s porch. Lots of princesses, Captain Americas, Spidermen, Mario Brothers. Many older kids (middle school) dressed in 1950s outfits. A gumball machine. A Gandalf who did a pretty good job of staying in character for talking as well.

This is in a new subdivision (250 houses all built since 2015) on small lots (50 – 60 feet wide, so easy for the kids to hit lots of houses) in a smallish town (population 30,000) in north central Texas. About half the houses in the neighborhood have teen and younger children. Most houses reported getting 75 – 100 trick-or-treaters. Word got around town that our neighborhood was up for trick-or-treating, so there were a number of out-of-neighborhood kids, but we were happy to host an opportunity for kids to be out in the fresh air being kids. And for the adults much more healthy than reading on-line yet more election “news.”

What is the Ultimate Goal of Virus Transmission Mitigation Efforts?

 

Everybody is going to come into contact with the Wuhan virus at some point, unless the person chooses to live the life of a hermit, the virus is not likely to just disappear. Efforts to mitigate the transmission of the virus can at most delay contact with the virus, those efforts cannot prevent for all time contact with the virus.

The probability that a person not already living in a nursing home will have serious medical consequences from contact with the Wuhan virus is extremely small. Very few people who come into contact with the virus will suffer significant negative medical consequences.

Governments, businesses, organizations, and people have imposed or implemented many virus transmission mitigation efforts including closing businesses, schools, churches, public events, and social activities, preventing travel, forcing people to remain physically distant from one another, and building physical barriers to separate people from one another, including extra walls, face masks, etc. These virus transmission mitigation efforts have and will continue to impose significant costs on society and on individuals. “Costs” are not just monetary, but also medical, psychological, and social.

The early justification for strong virus transmission mitigation efforts was to spread out over time the number of people who had serious medical consequences from contact with the virus so that they wouldn’t all show up in the medical system at the same time. If we spread the transmission of this serious illnesses over time, the medical system would not be overwhelmed. But it now appears unlikely that the number of people with serious medical consequences from the virus will overwhelm the United States medical capacity.

Now I hear as justification for continuation and enhancement of those virus transmission mitigation efforts a need to “stop the virus.” Politicians and others speak as though the virus can be eradicated. But that’s an impossible goal. The virus now exists in so many places that eradicating it is not a possibility.

Other times I hear the justification is to “slow the spread of the virus.” What are the public health benefits of slowing the spread of the virus?

Politicians and media often use “total case count” or “active cases” numbers when justifying virus transmission mitigation efforts. But those numbers are almost meaningless from a public health standpoint. “Public health” is (or should be) about serious medical issues, not people testing positive for a virus that causes them no significant consequences. Such a small fraction of people who test positive (and thus become a “case”) have any significant health consequences that public health policies implemented based on the “total case count” or the number of “active cases” are not likely to be focused on the real health risks.

Slowing the spread of the virus may keep people who are likely to have serious medical consequences from contacting the virus until after a vaccine is developed, assuming an effective vaccine is developed. I recognize that several developers of vaccines are confident that an effective vaccine will be developed and widely distributed in a matter of months. But it also appears that a large portion of the population is likely to resist taking the vaccine. So, waiting for the widespread taking of a potential vaccine may not be the ultimate solution.

Doesn’t slowing the spread of the virus delay the time at which society achieves “herd immunity”? I understand there is a lot of uncertainty about the conditions at which “herd immunity” will be achieved. But isn’t “herd immunity” the ultimate long-term solution?

The early disease prediction models predicted millions of deaths would occur before “herd immunity” set in. Those models now seem inaccurate. There is some evidence that locations that did not impose some of the severe virus transmission mitigation efforts early on may now be achieving some type of “herd immunity.” Sweden is sometimes cited. Sweden is not representative of the rest of the world (Sweden has a small, relatively isolated genetically, culturally homogenous population with a strong social history), so results in Sweden might not be replicated elsewhere. But it’s a piece of information.

Many of us have mocked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent bragging about the reduction in Covid-19 deaths in New York as compared to the very high death rate in March and April. Some of us have even joked, “Of course the death rate is going down in New York. They already killed off the most vulnerable people early on.” Well, what if that joke is actually the truth? What if those people who died in the early days of the pandemic were going to die when they encountered the virus anyway, whether that contact was in April 2020, or would have been in October 2020 or in April 2021? Did Gov. Cuomo’s early policies really increase the total number of deaths in New York, or just cause them to be concentrated in time? Are our current efforts to mitigate virus transmission really preventing deaths and serious illness, or just delaying them?

I understand that politicians, heads of organizations, and especially media people are more concerned about tomorrow’s headlines than they are about real long-term consequences. But, I still think we should at least give some thought to the long term objectives of our policies. Isn’t the difference between preventing deaths and delaying deaths important in determining whether the costs of the social and economic shutdown and other efforts are really justified? The modelers at the University of Washington cited by  @RushBabe49 advocated certain policies based comparing the numbers of deaths by December 2020. But, from a public health standpoint, how much does it really matter if a policy prevents a death from occurring in November 2020 if that death occurs anyway in January or February 2021? For statistical comparison purposes, cut-off dates generally need to be applied, but we shouldn’t totally ignore what happens after those cut-off dates.

See also the post  “Covid-19 It’s Over, But How Do You Convince People That It’s Over? Part 2 by @Rodin just below here.

A few people have suggested that long term public health might be better served by policies that get us more quickly to “herd immunity” by letting the virus spread through the less vulnerable population (children, younger adults, the generally healthy even if older, etc.). Yes, there would be an increase in the number of recorded deaths. But, those deaths would likely occur anyway, just somewhat later. So wouldn’t we just be concentrating the eventual outcome into a shorter time frame, but then could allow society to resume operations without the costly virus mitigation efforts?

Current efforts to mitigate virus transmission will not ultimately prevent people from coming into contact with the Wuhan virus. And the people who are going to have adverse medical reactions to the virus are going to have those adverse reactions, whether now or in several months. So what is supposed to be the ultimate goal of these virus transmission mitigation efforts? What is the long-term justification for imposing the virus transmission mitigation costs on society and the people who make up our society?

Balancing Risk and Reward For the Wuhan Virus and Virus-Mitigation Measures

 

I found reading Monday’s (August 3) Wall Street Journal depressing. The parent companies of Lord & Taylor and of Men’s Wearhouse and Joseph A. Bank filing for bankruptcy, adding to the recent bankruptcies of J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor, Neiman-Marcus, J. Crew, and probably others I’m forgetting. Oil companies as well, because of the sudden evaporation of demand for gasoline, aviation fuel, and diesel. Maybe some or all of these companies were destined for trouble because of changes to the underlying business activities, but absent the Wuhan virus that trouble would have been spread over years, allowing time to adjust, not all concentrated in a few weeks.

Then I turned to the article on how Detroit’s experience with in-person summer school might be a glimpse into other in-person schools in the fall (article might be behind the paywall). I was horrified by what I read. Although everybody was saying positive words, the actions being taken in the name of mitigating the risk posed by the Wuhan virus struck me as almost certain to instill in children an attitude of perpetual fear, a feeling that contact with other people is nothing but a risk-laden experience. The (non-verbal) messages being conveyed to students: “Stay away from everyone.” “Cover-up.” “Hide.” “Isolate yourself from everyone.”

How is that going to affect children, especially at the elementary school age? In how many children is a fear effect going to be permanently imprinted on their psyches? How does that psychological impact measure up against the risks of the virus itself? Is there a way to evaluate and discuss rationally the risks of the virus versus the consequences that the virus mitigation measures are imposing, not just on children, but on at least some of us adults?

In the school setting, available information seems to suggest that the risk of the virus to children and to most of the not-old school staff is minimal, yet the teachers’ unions insist that any teacher who walks into a school building will have to be carried out in a casket. But we probably have some reasonable studies from other circumstances about how keeping children distant from other children and adults, having children deal with adults and children only through barriers like masks, walls of Plexiglas, video links, and other separation techniques have on child development. There must also be earlier studies on the effects of instilling in children a broad fear of other people.

What are we doing to our children, and can we quantify it so we can evaluate and discuss rationally whether the risks from the virus really exceed the effects of what we are doing to children? All the focus seems to be on virus mitigation. Can we bring in consideration of the collateral effects without appearing to be indifferent to the potential effects of the virus?

I am concerned about the effects of virus-mitigation techniques on adults too. But given the current focus on schools, I’ll wait to bring up the effects on adults. And Mrs. Tabby has told me I shouldn’t even bother raising questions about whether at this stage of virus spread there is even any point to trying to control the spread of the virus. Everybody seems to insist on delaying “herd immunity” as long as possible.

Business Experiment Underway at Chick-fil-A

 

Chick-fil-A is providing America with an interesting business experiment to observe how quickly a radical change in top management permeates the company to change the culture of the business at the front line.

Chick-fil-A is a fast-food chicken restaurant and enjoys enormous customer loyalty. In my opinion, a large portion of that customer loyalty arises from the outstanding customer service that is applied at the front lines. Employees regularly go out of their way to speed service along, to meet the needs of busy mothers with children, to accommodate customers with special needs, etc. Again, in my opinion, employees go above and beyond because of an attitude that was set from the top of the corporation by the founder, Truett Cathy, that his job as a Christian was to be the best person he could be by serving the customer to the best of his ability. Employees see their job as more than just a job – it’s an opportunity to be the best person they can be by providing to the customer the best service the employee can provide.

Truett Cathy’s son, Dan Cathy, is now CEO of the company. Dan Cathy is instituting a radically different attitude from that of his father. While Truett Cathy pushed company and franchise employees to look above and beyond the demands of the moment to a higher calling as people serving God, current CEO Dan Cathy is telling employees to respond primarily to the demands of the moment. The employee is an inferior being to other people, people who may or may not be customers of the business.

Last year many of us watched in horror as the company (presumably with his blessing), in response to political pressure, insulted the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes because those organizations implemented policies that, although incidental to their principal missions, were nonetheless consistent with traditional Christian teaching. This week Dan Cathy decided to pander to the anti-family Black Lives Matter organization by insulting a large portion of his customers, and by telling them that they should subjugate themselves to other people (which is different from being the best people they can be by serving others). He told white Americans they should shine the shoes of black Americans (regardless of whether they are in the business of shoe shining). White Americans should make themselves subservient to black Americans simply because of skin color. He said that all white American Christians bear responsibility for what other people did or do (a teaching decidedly at odds with traditional Christian teaching about individual responsibility for your own sins).

Now, most people on Ricochet recognize that pandering to the “woke” mob is a losing proposition. The mob will always escalate and/or change their demands. So now Dan Cathy is taking Chick-fil-A on a path that has no fixed guiding principles and provides no definable reason by which to distinguish itself from any other fast food chicken restaurant.

How long before the change at the top of the corporation from “become the best you can be by providing the best you can to others” to “submit to others because you are worthless scum” infects the entire company? How long before the front line workers decide that working for Chick-fil-A does not call for any special dedication, no special reason to go above and beyond on behalf of a customer? How long before Chick-fil-A loses its customer service advantage, and becomes just another chicken fast food restaurant, indistinguishable from any of the numerous other fast-food restaurants that fill our towns?

Why Do Those Wanting to Transform an Institution Almost Always Claim the Institution…

 

. . .and the people who want to preserve what the institution has stood for must leave and create a new institution to preserve the values of the old institution?

The United Methodist Church, which I recently joined in the hopes of avoiding just such a fracturing, has before it a proposal to split over whether to adhere to traditional church teaching. Although the triggering issue is listed as human sexuality, sexuality is merely the surface issue for a much deeper conflict over many aspects of traditional church doctrine, the authority of scripture, the value of traditions, and questions of how God has related to His people throughout history. But this is not the thread in which to discuss the specifics of the Methodist controversy. For better details on the Methodist proposal, go to the thread entitled, “This Week in the UMC” by @jimchase.

The proposal in the UMC is just another example that (according to the proposal) the faction that seeks to retain the existing values of the institution is required to leave the existing institution and to establish a new institution, while the faction that seeks to fundamentally upend the values of the existing institution gets to claim the shell of the existing institution (the name, most of the physical property, and any people who don’t actively transfer to the new institution).

This dynamic (those who seek change get to claim the shell of the institution while those who seek to preserve what the institution has always been must leave the institution) has played out many places, most prominently universities and other churches, but also sometimes in business corporations.

Why is this? It seems to me that those who disagree with an institution’s existing principles so much that they are willing to split the institution to achieve their fundamentally different vision should be the ones forming a new institution. They aren’t really interested in the existing institution. They want a different institution. So why are they so intent on claiming an existing institution in order to transform it, rather than seeking to build a new institution?

I don’t think it’s that transforming an institution is easier than starting a new one. Fundamental transformation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) took about 40 years from first formal transformation proposal in 1978 to complete takeover in 2016. And there probably was background work going on before the first formal proposal. Some of the largest companies in the world have been built in less time than that.

One of my cynical views is that those who want a different institution understand that there is not enough public support for their desired vision on which to build a new institution. So their only hope is to take over an existing institution and remake it. My other cynical view is that they want the public “goodwill” that comes with the name of the existing institution. Although they want to change the institution to be something very different from what the name of the existing institution means, they know it will take a while before the public realizes that the name no longer means what it used to mean.

Is the value of physical property really enough to justify the effort? So, why does this dynamic keep happening?

Why don’t people who want something that does not currently exist not start a new institution, and instead take over an existing institution in order to remake the institution into something different from what the institution has always been?

Are there approaches people in existing institutions might take to reduce the possibility that the institution will be captured by those who seek to fundamentally change it?

This is not the thread to discuss the details of the proposal for splitting the United Methodist Church. For that, go to the thread by @philo.

Also, my intention is not to discuss here the correctness or incorrectness of traditionalists vs. transformation seekers. Here I am curious about why the transformation seekers keep taking over institutions rather than starting new institutions.

Bullying Continues to be Official California State Policy

 

Once again, California adds to its program of bullying the residents of other states over issues that have no effect whatsoever on any resident of California.

The Golden State has demanded that Iowa residents submit to their demands on a policy that will have no effect whatsoever on any resident of California, and seeks to punish the residents of Iowa for not submitting. This is a textbook definition of “bullying.”

California wants Iowa taxpayers to pay for “gender transition” surgeries for other Iowans. Since Iowa voters have chosen otherwise, California has prohibited state-sponsored travel to the midwestern state. (The expectation is that there is so much travel from California, Iowans will suffer if it’s cut off.)

Some state governments, notably California and New York, have more frequently made such bullying official policy. They want to punish residents of other states who don’t submit to their demands. California and New York obviously think that they are so big that they can behave as typical bullies. Since bullying is official government policy, no one should ever believe a government anti-bullying campaign.

Can You Help? I’m Confused About Transgender and Women’s Rights

 

As a lawyer, I try to understand the arguments for the “other side” regardless of whether I might agree with them. Being able to argue my opponent’s position sometimes reveals opportunities for agreement or settlement, and highlights weaknesses in my own position that I may need to shore up.

But I’m having trouble with recent developments in the “transgender” rights, specifically the court in Canada that is considering whether to require female employees of a grooming salon to view and to handle the private parts of a man who apparently wants to pretend he is a woman, and the US “Equality” Act that has been passed by the House of Representatives that would require women and girls to be exposed to men in women’s spaces such as restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, and showers.

In 2017 (just two years ago), the “Me Too” movement insisted that it is wrong for women and girls to be involuntarily exposed to men’s “private parts” or to require women and girls to expose their own “private parts” to men. The participants of the “Me Too” movement told us that such actions constituted morally wrong (and in some cases criminal) sexual harassment.

Now, the Canadian court and the US Congress are considering laws that would require women and girls to subject themselves to viewing men’s “private parts” if the man chooses to expose them in personal grooming businesses, in locker rooms, in bathrooms, and perhaps other places. In some cases (locker room, changing room, shower), the women and girls would be forced to expose their own “private parts” to this person who looks to them to be a man.

The women and girls see the same result whether it’s Harvey Weinstein or some guy who for some reason thinks he’s a woman. The women and girls do not know what is going through the man’s mind. Also, note that most demands for “transgender rights” insist that no one can question an individual’s “transgender” status or require that the person make any affirmative assertion or offer any proof about a “transgender” status.

I can’t see any interpretation other than that these transgender rights laws would require women and girls to submit to actions that have been deemed wrongful sexual harassment.

But I do not hear the “Me Too” proponents screaming “no” about the current “transgender rights” demands. That lack of outrage causes me to suspect that I’m missing some logical consistency between the demands of women to be free from exposure to men’s privates and the “transgender rights” demands that women must submit to exposure to men’s privates.

What logical thread am I missing that allows these two systems of rights to coexist? And if there is an inherent conflict, why am I not hearing more objections from the “Me Too” movement?

Chick-fil-A and Government Bans – Which is the real threat to safety?

 

This is a branch off @rushbabe49 mentioned the proposal in the Texas state legislature to deal with the City of San Antonio’s decision to ban Chick-fil-A from consideration for an airport food concession.

Background

A few weeks ago the San Antonio City Council banned Chick-fil-A from being considered for a concession spot in the San Antonio Airport. The reason given was because the Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation gave money to the Salvation Army and to Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Neither of these groups has as a primary mission anything to do with sexual orientation or same-sex relations. But they both have among their list of expected behaviors for employees expectations for sexual behavior. Most of the expected behaviors, including the ones on sexual activity, are fairly typical for employees of religious organizations. So, one has to dig down fairly deep below the restaurant in the airport to get to the homosexuality issue that animated the members of the San Antonio City Council. There have been (to my knowledge) no allegations that any customer or proposed customer of the restaurant has been refused service or mistreated. Nonetheless, the San Antonio City Council claims that homosexual people will feel “unsafe” walking through an airport with a Chick-fil-A restaurant in it. Again, not because of any actions by the restaurant itself, but because of employment policies of separate organizations to which the restaurant corporation donates money.

The Buffalo (NY) City Council made a similar determination, apparently for the same reason, and is preventing the master concessionaire at Buffalo Niagara Airport from considering a bid from Chick-fil-A to have an outlet at the airport.

Analysis and Questions

So, according to these city councils, Chick-fil-A must be banned to create a “safe” environment for “all.” But, in doing so, haven’t the city councils created very unsafe-feeling places? Now, instead of deciding whether I should patronize a business with which I might not agree, I have to worry about a government that disagrees with me, and a government has the power to prevent me from doing business and to put me in jail based on that disagreement.

Am I going to be prevented from doing business with or in San Antonio or Buffalo because I donate to the Salvation Army or to Fellowship of Christian Athletes or similar organizations? Can I be blocked from doing business with or in San Antonio because I am a Christian who holds traditional Christian views of expected sexual behavior? Might I be arrested in San Antonio’s airport because I am wearing apparel or jewelry that conveys a religious message, or I’m carrying a Bible or other literature that includes sections that teach toward certain views of sexuality? Why should I feel safe in San Antonio?

On the legal front, the Texas state Attorney General is looking into the actions by the San Antonio City Council, and the state legislature is considering legislation nicknamed the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill intended to reinforce the notion we thought everybody understood that government is not permitted to discriminate against a person or a business because of its religious views or opinions.

Second Question – Why is “non-discrimination” considered THE top moral imperative for the government?

On a secondary note, in the debate over business owners with religious views, one side keeps saying, “We cannot allow religious views to justify discrimination.” My question – what is the foundation of the assertion that non-discrimination is THE top moral imperative, and that all other considerations must be subservient to non-discrimination? Non-discrimination is not mentioned particularly well in the US Constitution. There’s actually some stuff in the US Constitution that assumes people are generally free to discriminate (freedom of association). And “non-discrimination” is an odd choice for a top moral imperative because its parameters are so fluid and subjective – they are completely subject to the whims of whomever is deciding what characteristics count for “non-discrimination”: Race? Skin Color? Sex? Sexual preferences? Personal beliefs? Political opinions? Hair color? Physical ability? Mental ability? Education? Clothing choices? Everybody “discriminates” multiple times every day on a variety of factors. We could not survive if we didn’t. An arbitrary notion of “non-discrimination” is an odd choice for one’s paramount moral imperative.

A Real Face of Privilege?

 

Amidst the various assertions that many of us have “privilege” because of our race or our sex, and claims that a single photograph of a person is evidence of privilege (see Nicholas Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School), our acquaintances over at The Daily Wire report a story with a 4 minute video showing a face of someone who truly did think she could rely on the privilege she assumed she had. (Warning on the video – she uses some vulgar terminology.)

 

A woman (I assume a student because of her apparent age and because she is wearing sweatshirt with the college logo) takes from the hands of another person (apparently a man) a sign that says something against abortion. As the woman who has taken the sign walks away, the man points out to her that she has committed theft and that she is walking toward a police officer. He (the person from whom the sign was taken) calls out to the police officer that the woman has taken his sign, and the police officer stops her. After an extended conversation between the police officer and the woman, the police officer actually arrests her (hands behind her back in handcuffs and all!). During the entire conversation, she has a look of complete shock that she might suffer real consequences for her actions and expresses complete disbelief at what is happening to her. (The continuing look on her face is just priceless.)

She keeps reiterating how wrong the opinions of the person from whom she took the sign are, and implying that therefore they do not deserve protection. She seems absolutely convinced that she could do as she wished and would not suffer any consequences because she has the “correct” opinions. She appears to have absorbed the Leftist idea taught on too many college campuses that no action is wrong if done in service of the correct cause or idea. She assumed she had the privilege afforded by her opinions. Fortunately, the police officer sided with the rule of law and not her assumed privilege.

Bernie Sanders Is Not Running for President of the United States . . .

 

. . . He is campaigning to overthrow the existing U.S. Constitutional government and replace it with a new government. That new government will be based on principles completely different from the principles of the existing US government.

I happened to hear a portion of Mr. Sanders’ announcement video and was horrified by the level of revolution I heard in the short clip. I looked further to be sure the segment hadn’t been taken out of context. I don’t think it was. I hesitated to post this (I’m really not a crazy conspiracy theorist), but so many ideas that are antithetical to the founding principles of the United States republic are now considered acceptable or even desirable that I thought Bernie Sanders’ announcement was a place to plant a stake.

In his announcement video (link via Townhall, though you can find it elsewhere, including on Mr. Sanders’ own website), Mr. Sanders states that his objective is to “fundamentally transform” the country. He says several times in his video that he intends to “create” a government. He lists at different times in the video a variety of bases for the new government that are in direct opposition to the bases for the current US Constitutional government. He cites as the bases for his new government creating various “equalities” and eliminating various “isms.” These bases are incompatible with “unalienable rights” that include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (I know that line is in the Declaration of Independence, and not in the Constitution, but it expresses a principle on which the Constitution is based.) Mr. Sanders proposes a government based on achieving results that are consistent with his perceptions of what “should” be.

We should be asking whether if he were to win the election, could he honestly take the oath of office that includes a provision to uphold the U.S. Constitution?

Several other candidates seem to be leaning in the same direction. We should also ask them whether they really could take the Constitutional oath of office for the presidency (and maybe to question whether they were dishonest when they recited the oath of office for the offices they currently hold).

Push the Democrat candidates to confirm that their objective is to conduct a revolution. The revolution might not initially involve arms and violence, but, force and violence will be needed to accomplish most of the objectives Mr. Sanders and several other candidates are laying out for the proposed new government. I would also like to ask these candidates what level of violence they are prepared to apply to accomplish their objectives (take away people’s “excess” money and things to achieve appropriate “equality,” force people to stop saying “incorrect” views of the cited “isms”).

I have some sympathy with wanting to overthrow a government when you don’t like how it’s working out. Our political ancestors 243 years ago overthrew a constitutional monarchy. But they were honest about what they were doing. They didn’t keep the old forms so they could pretend they weren’t doing what they were in fact doing. Mr. Sanders and his fellow candidates should stop pretending that they seek to fill an office in a Constitutional structure that they intend to overthrow.

[I recognize that many of the other statements he makes in his announcement video are so patently false and nonsensical that it should be obvious to all that he is an ignorant idiot, but apparently, a non-trivial number of people take his ideas seriously, so I get concerned.

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