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Posts published in “Schmidt”

What are you thinking?

schmidt

As a former elected representative, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out just what the masses I was supposed to represent were thinking. I’ll admit, a lot of the time I thought their thinking didn’t make a lot of sense, but I still thought it was my duty to understand their thinking. If you think of representative government as a contest of opposing or varied ideas, and the election winner takes the trophy (“Elections have consequences” Barack Obama 2009), then understanding the thinking of those you represent is wasted time; just vote for those who elected you, not the people you represent. I just didn’t see the job that way. Maybe that’s why I didn’t last long.

So, I am currently struggling to understand just what Americans, but more Idahoans, my neighbors want from health care. Help me out.

A recent poll showed most people don’t want the Affordable Care Act’s protections of “preexisting conditions” repealed. That means, if you have a preexisting (expensive) health condition, health insurance companies can’t refuse to sell you insurance or increase your rates based on their assessment of your future risk to their bottom line. Even 66% of Republicans (91% of Democrats) thought the preexisting condition protection should be maintained.

But if asked more broadly, “should the ACA be repealed”, 76% of Republicans said YES! REPEAL!

So please, tell me: what are you thinking?

This is of course made more critical in the coming election, but also the Supreme Court appointment shooting through the Senate like goose droppings.

The hope from Trump, and I guess, from Republicans, is that the nominee can sit for and vote on the case that will be heard a week after the election brought by Republican state attorneys general and supported by our Presidents Department of Justice. The suit asks to declare the ACA unconstitutional, even though they have zeroed out the individual mandate penalty in their “Billionaires Benefits Tax Bill”.

Some Republicans want to distance themselves from the possibility that the preexisting conditions limitations might disappear. They argue that through “severability” SCOTUS can wipe out some of the ACA, but not the other parts that we like. I find it fascinating that these elected representatives want appointed-for-life judges, not accountable to the voters, to be making these decisions. It’s like they’re afraid to have the discussion. Is that possible?

So, I want to ask you, my Republican neighbors, to answer some questions: just what should healthcare look like in this country? Can you please give me a clue?

I have spent a short time reading the National Republican Platform, and a little longer reading the Idaho one. In short, the National platform says, “whatever Trump says”. But the state one is a bit more specific, even if it’s on page 10, after Article 12 (Economy) and before article 14 (American Family). Maybe 13 is health care’s lucky number for Idaho Republicans.

I encourage you to read this platform that 80% of Idaho legislators endorse. It could explain why we aren’t talking about this problem. It pretty much says, health care should be affordable, government shouldn’t regulate things, and people should be responsible for their own health.
So, I think Idaho Republicans are telling me the next time I’m in a hurry and fall off a ladder and end up a quadriplegic, I should have been more responsible. I agree, I shouldn’t have been in a hurry, I contributed to my injury, but I now must sell my house if I want to keep alive? What if I’d been T-boned by a drunk driver? No mercy there either I guess.

This is a tough discussion. We should be having it with our elected representatives.

If the Idaho Republican solution to our health care dilemma is to go back to the 19th century, I can’t support it. But I’d sure appreciate a discussion.
 

Not so bad

schmidt

Last night, as the wind blew out of the west and showers threatened I heard some loud booms, then smaller ones off to the southwest. Had the civil unrest started? Were the local religious fanatics attacking city hall with bombs and bullets, formalizing their protest on the mask mandate? Had the local militia finally gotten organized enough to mount an attack on the old Federal Building (now owned by the local hospital)? Nope, it was just a “homecoming” celebration at the University, fireworks and all.

You might sense that I feel conflict amongst our citizens. You might feel it too. There is pressure mounting as the presidential election approaches.

But a little perspective might be in order. The times, pandemic and all, ain’t so bad.

Just think how this young country got off the ground in 1800. The framers had thrown this thing called the electoral college into our Constitution but they hadn’t thought out the wrinkles. The scheme back then was that state electors would vote for 2 candidates; the one with the most votes became President, runner up got Vice President. The 1800 election resulted in an electoral college tie between Jefferson and Burr. The House of Representatives did their Constitutional duty and decided for Jefferson, though Burr never forgave Hamilton when he threw Federalist support to Jefferson in the House. Three years later, Burr shot Hamilton, and now we can all see the musical on the internets.

Congress then amended the Constitution and “ironed out” the electoral voting. It remains “ironed out”.

Only 24 years later (1824) the House got to decide another Presidential race when four candidates (all in the same party) split the ticket. It took a month of back room deals, but Adams prevailed. Jackson was so pissed he resigned his Senate seat and vowed to come back in 4 years. And he did. No one was shot.

But the 1860 election did lead to shots fired. Sumpter, Bull Run, Gettysburg, remember? Even our president got shot and killed. Those were high conflict times.

But the shenanigans of 1876 take the cake. They make our current Presidents claims of coming voter fraud, refusal to admit defeat should he in fact lose, and calls to militants to “watch out” at the polls sound like bluff. The 1876 election was a donnybrook between Republicans and Democrats, though the labels were almost as tribal then as now. Democrats dominated the South, and a few Northern states. The Democrat (Tilden) won the popular vote, but couldn’t muster enough electoral votes, because, for some reason, four states were slow counting and then Oregon disqualified an elector.

Then, back room deal of all time, a “Commission” struck a deal to give the Presidency to Hayes, the Republican for the guarantee of removal of all Federal Troops from the Southern states. It was the end of reconstruction.

Jim Crow came home to roost. It was another 90 years before civil rights would be brought to the South. When it was, the Democrats lost that electoral vote block.

I’ll skip Bush v Gore, Truman and Dewey, but the point is: I’m not sure anybody’s way of life is threatened today like it was when slaves were the wealth of the Southern plantation owners. Maybe todays rich see Bernie’s socialist tendencies as a threat. Maybe todays wealthy venture capitalists could rouse up the white crackers to take up arms to protect their wealth.

Maybe they would have the success the 1860 plantation owners did, who got southern poor men to fight and die defending their right to own slaves, their wealth. Maybe that’s why Democrats nominated Biden. Who knows.

But those first cannon shots fired at Fort Sumpter in Charleston harbor back in 1860 were touched off by cadets from a local college, The Citadel.

You might see why civil unrest came to my mind. But it was just homecoming, with no football game.
 

Always quick; never hurry

schmidt

I fell off a ladder the other day. Stupid, I know, but I need to relearn things now and then. You see, I was in a hurry to get done, pulling a stubborn nail from a ten-foot top plate. I didn’t have a good angle, so I was leaning on a ladder. Me, the crow bar and the nailed brace hit the concrete. The crow bar bounced; I didn’t.

As I’ve aged the aphorisms of John Wooden, renowned basketball coach for UCLA, have stuck with me. There’s one I say to myself, not often enough these days: Always be quick, but never hurry. I’m afraid our country is in a hurry right now.

For sure, our President and Senate Republicans are hurrying to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat; can’t blame them. But that hurried Rose Garden announcement might have had some consequences, maybe worse than my little ladder event for some. Time will tell.

And the hurry of the Senate to confirm Judge Coney Barrett might have more consequences. Not just for future SCOTUS decisions, but more, for how we all see this government that is supposed to represent us. We’ll have to find the answer to that in the coming decades.

We are quickly finding out some answers to how this new virus acts, though there’s still lots to learn. More important, we’re also learning quickly how our bodies react to a SARS Corona Virus-2 infection.

When our bodies identify a viral threat there are many immunologic possibilities. Part of the original fear (back in the winter) for this never-been-seen-before virus was trying to understand just how our bodies would react. We got to watch lots of people get sick, some die, more survive and we have learned quite a bit. It really has been quick.

For some people with severe infections, the immune response can be almost as damaging to the body tissues as the virus. Now, when people are hospitalized and have a severe enough infection the use of steroids is tried. Steroids suppress the immune response, with moderate results. But it seems our President received steroids, despite the characterization of his as a mild case.

We have developed a range of antiviral drugs in the last 20 years. Gilead developed remdisivir initially to treat Hepatitis C, then we got this pandemic. The FDA approved remdisivir for treatment of severe Covid disease, though the evidence of its efficacy is early. Our President is now on a 5-day course. The cost for you, if you have private insurance would be about $3000. For folks with government insurance it runs $2000. I’m surprised this hasn’t helped Gilead stock. I hope it helps our President.

The human immune response to COVID infections has not yielded a lot of surprises. People with severe infections seem to mount strong immune responses, but then the antibody levels drop off fairly quickly. And it seems there have been multiple reports of reinfection. But it does seem our immune system does remember corona viruses, though not well. Many common colds are corona viruses, and we seem to get them often enough.

Learning how the human body reacts to infections takes time and study. So, making an effective vaccine, one that stimulates the immune system enough to trigger an adequate immune response but not make the patient sick is going to be a lot of work, and a delicate balance. Best not hurry.

The biggest problem might be promoting the confidence in the public that a vaccine could even work. Right now we’re at about 50-50. Hurrying along public confidence might be harder than herding cats. I know, I’m an Idaho Democrat.
 

The Blaine Amendment crumbles

schmidt

Idaho is one of 37 states with a Blaine Amendment in our state Constitution.

It’s named after the James Blaine, Speaker of the US House of Representatives in the 1870’s. He tried to get congress to pass an amendment to the US Constitution, but came up short in the Senate. Not to be deterred, he went around to states and convinced most to put the language in their constitutions. Idaho obliged.

The purpose of the amendment is to prohibit any public money to be used to support “sectarian” (religious) schools. Back in the 1870’s, when Speaker Blaine had this mission, the funding of public education was more dismal than it is now in Idaho, though the virtues of education were widely extolled. The problem for many was both cultural and political. The US was ballooning with a mass of immigrants. These newcomers were often Catholic and preferred a Catholic education. The Catholic Church was well organized and able to establish schools that served their parishes. They argued, as many schools do today, that since they were doing this good work, they should be supported, as public schools were. Speaker Blaine, and many of his Republican colleagues saw this as crossing a line, not clear enough in the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.

Why does this matter? This summer the US Supreme Court told Montana that their Blaine Amendment was unconstitutionally discriminating against an organization and individuals based on their religion. It was a 5-4 decision, but I suspect if it had been delayed until 2021, it would have been 6-3.

Back in 2016 the Idaho Legislature took a run at this, proposing a Constitutional Amendment that would have redefined the Blaine Amendment. But it died in the House without much debate. Now, it seems, the US Supreme Court has cleared the way.

There have been multiple attempts in the Idaho legislature to promote “school choice”. One way to support such choice is to give tax credits for school tuition. Others promote a voucher system, giving parents a credit to be spent at a school of their choice. Such plans have always had to reconcile their vision with the Idaho Constitution (Article 9, Section 5) which prohibits any public funds to sectarian schools. This made it very difficult, since some of the best private schools are affiliated with churches. Can you imagine giving a tax credit to one set of parents of a private school student who attended a nonreligious school, but not to another whose students went a Catholic, or Mormon or even Hindu school? Thanks to SCOTUS, the barn door is now open. Believe it or not, it wasn’t an executive order.

How will this change Idaho education?

There are those that argue market pressures (choice) will have a strong positive effect on education. I hear the mantra frequently repeated that competition makes us all stronger. Somehow, when I hear these arguments, I think the unspoken desire is for education to be cheaper, not better. No doubt market forces effect price.
Opponents worry that a voucher system will lead to private or religious schools skimming the good students. Public schools will be left with the struggling students; society will be further stratified and funding will flow away.

I think we will be finding out about these predictions pretty soon.

You have heard me argue for disruption in our health care system. This Supreme Court decision in essence repealing the Blaine Amendment in 37 states will be a great disruptor to the system of public education. Change is coming.

But there has been no repeal of Article 9 Section 1 of the Idaho Constitution:
The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.
 

Counting what matters

schmidt

With the passing of Justice Ginsberg it looks like President Trump will have the fortune to appoint three Supreme Court justices in his first term.

Such power might be just what his evangelical supporters hoped for when they excused his unsaintly behavior and voted for him. The hope to make abortion no longer a Constitutional protection, as the Roe v Wade decision did some 47 years ago, might be realized, and I can believe some folks are drooling.

One thing for sure, when abortion is criminalized like it was in many states back before Roe v Wade, it will be much harder to count. And if you care about something, you should count it.

Before abortion was “legalized” by the 1973 SCOTUS decision, there were few accurate numbers. In colonial times and after the revolution, most states modeled their laws after British common law. This prohibited abortions after “quickening”, or the first movements are felt by the mother, approximately 15-20 weeks gestation. Abortifacients were widely available. One estimate suggests 20-25% of pregnancies in the mid 19th century ended in abortion, but this is just a “best guess”. Nobody was counting.

It is interesting that the medical profession led the charge to criminalize abortion in the 19th century and into the 20th. By 1900, all states outlawed abortion. A cynic could say there were financial incentives, since most states that eventually did allow abortions required a physician to be the provider (as Idaho did in 2000).

Idaho held abortion to be a felony before 1973. In 1950 the legislature passed a law that made any woman seeking or obtaining an abortion a criminal, as well as any person “abetting”.

But we sure keep good records of abortion now. Federal and state law require the collection and collation of such data. Idaho’s numbers can be looked at on the Vital Statistics website. I’d encourage you to look at the numbers. But maybe numbers don’t matter to you.

Idaho abortion rate has been steadily declining for the last 20 years or so. We have one of the lowest rates in the nation. Don’t think that’s because we aren’t counting them all. Idaho counts abortions performed on our residents in other states too. With only a couple clinics in Idaho, about a third are performed beyond our borders.

So, Idaho has many restrictions on access to and the rules around abortion, all sending a very clear message. But since it is still legal in this state, we can still count it.

I don’t think most abortion opponents want to count something they find morally, ethically, spiritually abhorrent. I can understand that feeling. But we count crimes, we count prisoners, we count deaths, we count child abuse. I doubt we will be able to count illegal abortions.

Counting helps us to manage our expensive, tragic societal problems. I’m an advocate for counting what’s important.

The numbers mattered in an interesting experiment done in Colorado in the past few years.

Colorado had a pretty high unplanned teen pregnancy rate. In 2008 an anonymous donor gave a chunk of change to the state to provide long acting, reversible contraceptives to teen women at no cost. Over the subsequent five years teen pregnancy rates dropped by 40%. And abortions dropped by 64%.

With a reversal of Roe v Wade abortion opponents might just get what they want. Then, it will be back to each state to decide.

A Pew poll from 2014 showed that 45% of Idahoans thought abortion should be legal in most cases; 49% thought it should be illegal in most cases. That’s a narrow margin.

There can be no doubt the direction the Idaho legislature would go. They even passed a law in 2020, saying, immediately upon a Supreme Court reversal of Roe v Wade, abortion becomes illegal in Idaho. They are drooling. And if the cards fall right, they might get what they want. Then we’ll stop counting.

Labor, law and order

schmidt

Labor Day has become a holiday for recreation, not a celebration of organized labor. Such a transformation is appropriate, since the workers now shoot up entertainment, diversion and consumption: it’s the new “opiate of the masses”. After all, who got rich on Oxycontin, and who got dead?

It’s no secret that todays Idaho doesn’t love unions. But if you’re one of the multitudes of working poor in this country, this state, who’s gonna stand up for your side, a political party? Don’t count on it. Historically, you’ve been betrayed by elephants and jackasses. No wonder our President is screaming “Law and Order”. It’s been the anti-union cry for over a hundred years.

Over 110 years ago, at murdered former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg’s funeral Idaho Senator William Borah decried “When in 1899 organized lawlessness challenged the power of Idaho, he upheld the dignity of the state, enforced its authority and restored LAW AND ORDER within its boundaries, for which he was assassinated in 1905.”

Just what had the young former governor done? He got elected at the age of 35 to the governorship with the support of labor unions. He was the first Democratic governor in this young state. Maybe the starving miners in North Idaho thought he was on their side and they got over confident. Indeed, some mine owners feared the governor would not support their oppression and raised wages. But the Bunker Hill silver bosses wouldn’t budge so the miners attacked the property of the owners, blowing up and burning down a mill at Wardner in the Silver Valley.

Steunenberg, as Borah extolled, declared martial law, restoring “law and order”. Federal troops occupied the valley. The miners lost, the mine owners won with the help of a duly elected governor.

It was no accident that the federal troops who rounded up the mainly Eastern European immigrant laborers were “buffalo soldiers”, blacks, negroes, a generation up from slavery. Oppression has so many cards to play.

Some argue the resentment this fostered embedded such a deep racism in the soul of North Idaho that Richard Butler, the Neo-Nazi White supremacist found the soil fertile for his 1970’s move to Hayden Lake in North Idaho. Race and class struggles are not taught as a big part of Idaho history, but it’s here.

Steunenberg’s betrayal of the miners ate away at the union bosses. In retribution they hired an experienced hit man. Harry Orchard planted a bomb at Steunenbergs garden gate and the former populist, Democratic young governor was killed. Orchard was caught, confessed, convicted and ratted out the union leaders. They were all acquitted. Read about “The Trial of the Century” in Big Trouble.

This Idaho story of the struggle between the wealthy mine owners and the corrupt union bosses in the late 19th and early 20th century may sound like distant, boring history to you as you ride your ATV or jet ski this Labor Day weekend. Grill the burgers, pop a beer, but please, for a moment consider.

We live at a time where wealth is about as concentrated as the Gilded Age of the 1890’s. We have elected a personality president who claims great wealth (we’ll never know) but appeals to the poor crackers. The elemental conflict of wealth, power, work and justice, is what our representative democracy is supposed to balance, “…to form a more perfect Union…”.

Indeed, the Preamble’s list of Constitutional aspirations includes “insure domestic Tranquility”, but if that sounds like Borah’s call for LAW AND ORDER, you need to think again. Law and order can become a knee on the neck for some. Justice is the first aspiration our Constitutional preamble calls on.

This “more perfect union” needs some work. It is only fitting that Labor Day is the lead-in to November elections. Be wary of betrayal. Politicians change stripes faster than chain gang escapees.
 

The religious shield

schmidt

If you haven’t kept up with this tragedy in South East Idaho, I’m sorry to have to relate this tale. You could Google it for yourself.

Lori Vallow and her new husband, Chad Daybell have been arrested. They are in jail in Rexburg, Idaho. The bodies of Lori’s children (JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan) were found on Daybell’s property. The two children had been missing since last September. The couple have lied to authorities about the whereabouts of the children. The deaths of Vallow’s former husband and Daybell’s former wife are also suspicious and being investigated. It is all very tragic and horrific.

Prosecuting this will not be easy. Proving murder will take evidence or testimony. So far, the charges against Vallow and Daybell (husband and wife) include felony conspiracy to alter evidence (hiding the bodies). Vallow had previous charges of child abandonment. There have been no charges of murder.

But consider this; the Idaho legislature has taken one charge off the books: Injury to Children (18-1501 Idaho Code). This section of code makes it a felony to cause harm to children either through action or knowingly, through inaction. The law is clear that adults have a duty to protect children from harm.

Except… embedded in this section of code (sub section 4) is Lori Vallow’s and Chad Daybell’s defense:

The practice of a parent or guardian who chooses for his child treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone shall not for that reason alone be construed to have violated the duty of care to such child

This is the “Religious Shield” law in Idaho.

I have discussed this before in reference to the religious sect in South Western Idaho, the Followers of Christ. This faith believes that God will cure and no medical care is needed if one’s faith is strong. Many young children have died in their congregation from treatable illnesses. But the Idaho legislature has determined that protecting this congregation’s religious freedom is more important than protecting children’s lives.

Is this why prosecutors in Rexburg have not filed any child injury or neglect charges against Daybell and Vallow?

Vallow and Daybell had their own religion. They believed these children were “zombies”. They and a group of like-minded believers concocted a belief system whereby they determined that people that didn’t believe as them were “zombies”, possessed by a dark spirit. The only way to rid them of this darkness was to liberate their bodies from it: death. These two could argue their actions were “spiritual means”.

These two have their defense handed to them by the Idaho legislature.

I do not know if such a defense is being planned. I do not know if the local prosecutor is refraining from making these charges due to this statute. But it sure adds complexity to an already complex and tragic case. It shouldn’t and the Idaho legislature is negligent for its inaction.

Removing sub section 4 from Idaho Code should be a very simple thing to do. But the Idaho legislature has failed to do so. There is no need to shield anyone who harms children. The state has a much higher priority to preserve child health, welfare and life.

And removing the “religious shield” does not limit anyone’s religious freedom. One can still use prayer or spiritual means to care for one’s children. But if doing so causes harm, the state should have the authority to say that is wrong.

The legislature has the duty to protect our citizens, just as JJ and Tylee should have been protected by their mother. No one should be shielded from prosecution for harming a child.
 

Abandoned

schmidt

As we were having lunch at the park in Kamiah I noticed the voicemail. “Your vehicle has been tagged as abandoned and will be towed at your expense in 48 hours if you don’t move it.”

The polite lady answered when I called back. “Jeez, I took three loads to the dump in her this week. She’s not abandoned.”

“Well, we received a complaint that it was abandoned so you’re going to have to move it.”

“She’s licensed, registered. I use her every couple a weeks.”

“It has to move.”

“So just pull it up a bit? Should I park it on the other side of the street?” Don’t get me started about all the traffic racing by our house this summer due to road construction. “And I won’t be back from the Selway ‘til Friday. I’m going fishing.”

She paused. “OK, we can give you until Monday, I’ll put that in the system.”
I love that old truck. I will admit I was a bit offended to hear her called abandoned. I found her abandoned in chest high grass next to a wheat field on Paradise Ridge. A bit of tinkering and she hauls tons to the dump. Dumps real nice too.

But this episode with our city government got me to thinking about our seniors in their assisted living or skilled care facilities in this Covid pandemic situation. I wonder if some of them feel abandoned. Lord knows the toll has been high on them, the sickness kills but so can the isolation.

I have heard many propose a strategy for dealing with this deadly infection that focuses on isolating the most vulnerable and turning the rest of us loose to save our economy, our freedoms. Of course, how we select the most vulnerable might be a problem, but heh, at least we’ll get back to full employment.

Covid death tolls are highest in the elderly. And we have all heard about how the disease has ripped through some facilities, even here in Idaho. While deaths and serious illness may affect the elderly residents, the staff is not immune; they get sick too.

A recent analysis showed 78% of Idaho’s 82 nursing homes have had either staff or residents test positive. Over half of Idaho’s Covid death toll can be attributed to folks in care facilities.

It took some doing to get the state to compile and release this information. There was data on the CDC website that suggested Idaho had outbreaks, but Idaho Department of Health and Welfare only agreed to release weekly reports under threat of lawsuit. Still, the state’s numbers and CDC don’t fully add up. I guess we all struggle to know what to count.

So please, think about it. When you pass that young mom in the grocery store, she may have a shift that night at a skilled facility. You might feel fine, but your cousin you went boating with at the lake might have had something. He was coughing; but he does smoke. How can you know? Now that young woman buying groceries will need to get to her low wage job taking care of folks who can’t go see their family, their friends, or their weekly shopping outing. She’s doing her best to make her charges not feel abandoned. We could do our best for her.

So, we got back from the Selway and I moved the truck off the street. She’s parked down at my work site. I’ve torn down an old garage that was about to fall over. Some things you do have to let go. But I saved every stick of lumber I could. I’ll use them to rebuild.
 

Talking Ideho

schmidt

Before I went to medical school, I thought veterinary medicine might be a better calling to live in a small Idaho town. For that was my dream, a small town with a stable economy to raise our kids. I remember the long drives around Council Valley and beyond in Fred Stovner’s 1960 ¾ ton 4WD International pickup on calving calls. He was the local vet for Council. We would talk a lot about animals and health and God. Then, when we got to the ranch, his language changed. There were more, “She don’t” and “ain’t” and other kinds of speech, different than we shared in the dark front seat. I asked him about this.

“Don’t they think you are talking down to them?”

He chuckled as the steering wheel shimmied over the ruts. “They don’t want to think you think you are better than them.”

Martha (my wife) to this day points out to me when I switch into talking “Ideho”. That’s her term.

There is a strong anti-intellectual feeling in this rural state.

It’s almost like you have a different skin color. If the regular folks I run into as a doctor or representative start to think I’m coming off as superior, the game is over. If I can’t explain to them in common sense language why they need to stop drinking or smoking or lose weight, or vote for me, then I’m just a know-it-all with no standing. We need to share a language.

I want to thank State Senator Steve Thayn for pointing this out this week. He said in an interim committee meeting discussing the role of Public Health Districts, “Listening to experts is an elitist approach.” He went on: “I’m also fearful that it leads to totalitarianism, especially when you say well, we’re doing it for the public good. America was founded on the idea that people weighed their own risks, did what they thought was best for their own interests. … The role of experts should be to give us the best information they have, and we should weigh it. They should never set policy.”
He is so right. Having some Ivory Tower elitist telling me what to do with my life is a nightmare.

But, every day, people come to me with their fears, their struggles with their health. How should I convince them to change their behavior?

Public Health in Idaho is distributed to districts. The public health commissioners in each district are mainly county commissioners, elected by us, and they then throw in a couple “health professionals”, a doctor or a nurse who live in the district. The “professionals” must be approved by the elected commissioners to serve. This body then studies the landscape and makes recommendations, from upgrading a local sewer district or shutting down a polluted restaurant. The recommendations from the legislative interim committees this last week went along the lines of Senator Thain’s comments.

The vote, while not unanimous, was to remove Public Health districts from having authority to shut down a school or university in the face of this Covid pandemic. The committee would rather the authority to limit any activity rested on the shoulders of the elected school board members or State Board of Education.

Us “experts” felt a swift kick to the groin. We should. We are not speaking the language of risk.

Fred Stovner would sometimes be called to deliver a heifer who couldn’t get her first calf out. He would pose, “Well, we could do a c-section, and that will cost you $100, or I could try to pull her.”

“I done pulled.” The rancher would say.

Fred would reach in and check the heifer. “I could get the calf out, but it might kill the calf. It might kill the heifer. You want I should try?”

The rancher would kick dirt and decide. That’s the kind of decision making we need right now.