Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Schmidt”

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.
 

Identification

schmidtlogo1

Since there are so many people walking around with masks on, it might be time to update your identifying documents. I sure had an adventure with this one. Not that a current ID will help at the recycling center when three people say “Hi” to you and you can’t recognize one of them. But a current ID helps for a lot of things.

For instance, I tried to sign up to get retirement payments this week. I could have done it a year ago, but I knew it would be tough, so I put it off.

Since we are limiting our contacts, I tried to do the application online. I did this about two weeks ago. The state retirement site told me clearly that I would need to call them to request my application, so I waited until regular business hours and called. It went as smooth as could be. She got my identifying numbers over the phone and said she would mail me the information I would need to apply. And she would email me the application forms, but don’t fill them out until I got her information. A week later, the envelope came.

The application for retirement said I would need both my wife’s and my birth certificates, notarized signatures and Social Security cards. My wife is very organized. She had all this up in a file in our desk. Except, that is, my social security card. I do not possess a card. I did at one time, but the flimsy cardboard thing melted in my wallet after some sweaty work and wading in the river. Why do you need a stinking pasteboard card that fades out? Heck, I could make a good-looking facsimile with a Sharpie. But my retirement application wants the card.

So, I think I could get a replacement card online. After all, I signed up for Medicare online. The first website that comes up when you Google “Social Security Card replacement” might look pretty official to you. It sure did to me. But I knew I was being scammed when they asked me if I wanted to pay with a credit card or PayPal. This was after I had given them all my identifying information.

Feeling my fingertips singed and my ego squashed for being an online dupe, I decided this technology stuff was beyond me. So, I called my local office. I’ll bet the nice lady on the phone was in Iowa, not Idaho. But she said she could get me a replacement card. I just needed to mail her my drivers’ license and passport. “Copies of them?” I asked.

“No, the originals.”

She’s asking a guy who just gave his address and phone number to an online Ukrainian scammer to send to her, through the US mail, two pieces of real ID? And I should trust both her and the US Postal Service? I stammered some hesitation.

“You could request one online sir.”

“I tried that but I got scammed.”

She chuckled. “Oh yes, there are a lot of those out there. Only trust SSA.gov.”

“Why don’t you guys take those sites down?”

She chuckled again, like “We could sir, but that wouldn’t make you any less a fool.”

But instead she said, “I’m sure the inspector general is looking into that.” She probably winked to her desk mate.

I thank her for her polite demeanor. She didn’t thank me for sharing my internet pratfalls, but did wish me a good rest of my day. It was lunchtime. I took a break.

I found the SSA.gov site and only got a little peanut butter on the keyboard. It turns out my computer remembered my password, and I only had to click a couple places to say I really was me. Then they said it would come in the mail in a couple weeks.

I called the state retirement lady to tell her of my delay. “Social Security card?” she asked. “Oh, you must have gotten the old forms.
 

Taxes, not death

schmidt

As the Covid cases climb around us, the ICU capacities max out, businesses struggle and many are touched by this illness, our legislative leaders have decided we must do something “structural” about property tax. At least that’s what Idaho State Senator Jim Rice, co-chair of the interim committee on property tax reform suggests. I guess the “death and taxes” certainty is not lost on them.

Many are more bothered by their property taxes than they are by wearing a mask. So, I guess our leaders are listening to some of us at least. And it is true, in many parts of our state, the property tax bills have climbed almost as steep as the Covid case curve.

But the cause of this painful property tax pandemic lies in the legislatures lap, so it’s appropriate that they should wring their hands over it. If Covid is the “China Flu”, our property tax suffering is the “Boise boondoggle”.

For those paying more in their property tax bill, a careful autopsy is required to show the cause. Counties are legally limited from increasing their budgets, even if they experience rapid growth. Most rural counties population is pretty stagnant, but Ada, Canyon and Twin Falls are booming. And where there’s growth, property values usually go up. Tax rates may not change, but property valuation sure can, so if your tax bill bumped, odds are it’s because the land you live on is worth more. When your property is worth more, your property tax bill goes up (even if the bank owns the majority of your appreciated asset).

Further, the legislature decided to cap the homestead exemption a few years back. This shifted more property taxes to homeowners and off commercial properties.

Moreover, the legislature’s support plan for low income, high property tax residents, the Circuit Breaker support is not widely used. Only about half those eligible apply and get the benefit. Nor has it been adjusted for inflation for 14 years. It takes general fund money from schools and pays part of low-income folks’ county property tax bills.

Finally, back in a one-day special session in 2006, the legislature, voted to remove the “Maintenance and Operations” perpetual levy and “replace it” with a sales tax increase. The “replacement” was about $30M short when sales were good. When the 2008 recession hit, sales taxes tanked and school districts all over the state ran supplemental levies to keep schools open.

It is worth noting that the Republican legislature has twice made property tax breaks for commercial owners over residential ones. The Homeowners exemption cap and the 2006 M&O removal both favored commercial property owners.

So, the autopsy results on your death by property tax could be as multiple as a death by Covid. Some people with the virus might die from infected lungs or blood clots or multiple organ failure. Property tax victims might have passed a local school levy, capped their homeowner exemption, or seen their valuation skyrocket.

Pandemics deserve careful consideration of public health to be contained. Taxes are managed by the laws our elected representatives write. It looks to me like our legislature wants to make it easier on people who own business property and harder on people who live in their homes.

Research and data should drive public health. Likewise, the Idaho Constitution should give some direction to lawmakers.

Taxes fund public institutions. The Idaho Constitution is crystal clear about funding public education:

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. (My emphasis)

Given the legislature’s history of undermining school funding, maybe the interim committee should propose a structural change to the Idaho Constitution. That way they can continue to ignore this mandate with a clear conscience.
 

Online signature

schmidt

I don’t get a reminder from the State of Idaho that I need to renew my drivers license. I guess they expect me to be mature and responsible and figure those things out on my own. Yeah, right.

Well, I did just renew my drivers license, since it’s due to expire in a few weeks. I forgot one time, and I showed up in their office with a really expired license. They made me take the test and get a new picture. That must have taught me the lesson, because I didn’t forget this time.

And guess what? I could renew my driver’s license ON LINE! It was pretty easy, really. I had to give them some identifying information and confirm I was indeed who I claimed to be, and click on a box that said if I was lying I could go to jail. Oh, yeah, they took my money too. But overall, it was pretty slick. Idaho must trust the process. I do.

Now this process won’t work for the Star Card. That’s the Patriot Act universal identification the federal government passed after 9/11. Believe it or not the Idaho legislature voted unanimously (all Dems, all Repubs) to tell the federal government to stick it on that one. So now we have the option of giving the feds our information in person (like they don’t have it already); then we’d get the Star Card. We could use to get on an airplane. If we get the regular old Idaho license TSA won’t recognize it. I went with the Idaho one.

So, since Idaho has entered the digital age in drivers licensing, am puzzled why our governor believes collecting initiative signatures on line would be a problem.

I have collected a lot of initiative signatures, in the rain, the snow and the sun. I never checked someone’s identification. I always reminded them they needed to put down their address where they were registered to vote on the piece of paper. I also reminded them of the penalty for signing the petition multiple times. Kind of like the online license pages checked my address and information, and warned me about jail time.

Once the paper petitions are filled out, I had to get them notarized, then I had to turn them in to the local county clerk. This is where the signatures were validated.

Don’t get me started on the hurdles, the many different legislative districts required. But, I guess if the legislature wants to change those laws, they can. They have tried. I bet they’ll try again. But that’s fine, laws are made to be changed.

The way it is now, the Idaho Constitution says citizens have a fundamental right to pass and repeal laws. That can be changed too, but it’s a lot harder.

Why is there a need for online initiative signatures?

This problem came about because Reclaim Idaho started collecting signatures for their school funding initiative. They were chugging along, ahead of their pace for the Medicaid Expansion Initiative which they got on the ballot in 2018. But then there was that Governor Little “Stay at Home” order. Reclaim suspended their process and the timeline ran out. Reclaim argues, give us the time now to collect online signatures. Little says no. He wants to take it to the Supreme Court, now that a federal judge has told him to let Reclaim proceed.

If the state trusts me to renew my driver’s license on my laptop, why wouldn’t they trust me to sign an initiative petition?

Reclaim has begun collecting online signatures, even though the outcome is still up in the air. If you are interested, you can go to their website and read about it. Now, why this initiative makes sense is another story.
 

Rockslide opportunity

schmidt

The rockslide south of Riggins that has closed Highway 95 for the foreseeable future has given North Idaho the chance it has been denied since statehood; independence.

The odd shape of this state was no doing of our own. Back in the territorial days, the timber barons in Olympia could see no use for the slower-growing panhandle trees, so they drew their line just east of Spokane. The copper barons in Helena wanted nothing to do with impassable north Idaho (they doubted the ore deposits), so they kept the Clark Fork and Missoula for themselves. The cattle barons in Wyoming were fixated on a sweet rectangle shape (easier to fence), so they drew their state line that established our southeast corner. Mormons had already colonized southeast Idaho Territory, so Utah had no need to incorporate that region. Nevada and Oregon both looked north and east and said, “We don’t want it”. Idaho is the leftover state.

North Idaho made early threats at independence. A delegation from the panhandle went to Boise (after they stole the territorial capitol from Lewiston) and said “We want out!” The thieving territorial businessmen in that dusty new capitol didn’t want to lose the taxes of the Wallace silver barons. So, Boise made a deal, like they always do with taxpayers’ money and offered the north a flagship University, an insane asylum and a prison. Moscow called dibs on the University and left the others to fight for the rest, little knowing a university would grow through time to encompass all three institutions.

But the attempts to unify this best (North) part of the state with that dismal desert south of us only became a reality when a road was built. It didn’t have to be much of a road, but they sure take credit for it.

I don’t know how many times I have driven to Boise and noticed that long vertical crack in a notable two-hundred-foot tall basalt tower next to the road south of Riggins. I have thought it wouldn’t be tough to divert the spring runoff into that crack and pretty soon, some freeze and thaw would ease it over. I even got some takers late one night when I suggested such a caper around a campfire.

Independence isn’t as crazy an idea as the campfire one. Lord knows, we have the militias to defend ourselves. I doubt it will come to that, but the Hog Heaven Musketeers are ready.
The politics might be right just now for the move. The real partisan animosity lies in the Idaho Republican factions. The mainstream Idaho Republicans with their soft round elephant symbol, with gentle tusks, short trunk and a lump on the hind flank indicating a full billfold are at odds with the radical Freedom Republicans who use a rearing angry elephant with manly, aggressive tusks and a long waving trunk. You get the differences. We Democrats do. We have tried to rebrand our donkey into a hybrid, sterile elk/mule cross. Symbols are powerful.

There’s no doubt our governor is in that friendly elephant camp and he’s crossways with the angry elephants. Nobody really needs us sterile hybrids right now; we are confined to the Boise area where they bugle off-season and gallop on the greenbelt. Oh sure, there’s pockets in Victor, Sun Valley and Moscow, but little chance of growth. We are hybrids after all.

I’m sure the governor’s political team has tallied the votes and he just might want to get rid of this northern angry elephant pain in his thick-wallet behind. He hasn’t won primaries up here and neither did his predecessor. And he sure hasn’t needed hybrid votes in a general election. But the real selling point will be shipping his Lieutenant Governor north to run this new state.

So, I’m expecting his ready agreement to our declaration of independence. Last night around the campfire the guys said I should give him a call. I’m sure Brad will answer.
 

Inspiration

schmidt

I was mostly tired in medical school, not inspired. But I remember one small part of just one of hundreds of lectures and it has stuck with me to this day.

It was the mid 1980’s and Medicare had instituted a plan to control costs in hospitals. The lecturer spoke at length about how health care costs were rising way too fast (forty years ago!) and at one point he paused and looked out at us, the next generation of MD’s for the Pacific Northwest. “You guys can change this,” he said. “Well-trained, hard-working, smart doctors will change this cost growth. We must.” I was inspired.

I resolved to only prescribe medications that offered benefit, only order tests that would benefit outcomes. It’s all in the evidence, and if you know the evidence and make decisions so based, the waste in health care will decrease, right?

Fast forward to a middle-aged Family Doc practicing in a small Idaho town. A retired engineer comes to me for a physical and asks me to order a “stress treadmill test”. He had a heart attack with bypass surgery some ten years before and he wanted to “make sure everything was OK”.

He walked daily, up and down hills, had no symptoms, no chest pain, no ankle swelling, no shortness of breath. He was doing great, just worried.

I explained the best I could to him that a treadmill test was a waste of time, and money. Because of his heart attack, he had an abnormal EKG, so interpreting the treadmill was impossible. If he had any symptoms we should do a different test, but without symptoms, no screening test was indicated at this time.

He was not happy, and the evidence I presented did not comfort him. I failed to gain his confidence. Upon reflection, I also probably didn’t listen well to his concerns, his worry. And that was the symptom I should have addressed.

So, he found a different doctor who would order the test (and charge for it).

That doctor was a partner of mine and he came to me after the test. “Dan, you were right not to order that test,” he said. “But he really wanted it so I did it.” So, I lost a patient, my partner gained one, and the world kept turning.

I think of how we are all talking about the testing, the treatments, the public interventions in response to our current pandemic with Covid 19. Everybody wants a test, but they are fraught with inaccuracy. Our President touts a miracle cure, but there is no evidence to support it. We want to know who is immune, but the research hasn’t been done to show how, or if our bodies’ immune system responds to this virus. We don’t have the knowledge. It’s a great time for opportunists and grifters.

Heart disease (decreased blood flow to heart muscle) was the big killer 50 years ago, and it still is. The research on treatments and prevention had a lot of time to come up with the evidence we needed to make the best recommendations for public health. And believe it or not, we made some headway. But health care costs sure kept climbing.

But most of us aren’t thinking about “public health”, we are thinking about our own mortality, and the health and welfare of the ones we love. Cost is not the concern right now. Not for Congress and our President who just had the treasury print a few trillion dollars. Did you get your check?

We should all listen better to the worries voiced by our neighbors. For those worried about paying rent or buying groceries, printing money and sending checks provides some short-term ease. For those worried about their loss of freedom and independence, maybe giving them a wide berth would provide them comfort. For those worried about their mortality, we might have to share some spiritual strength, if we have any to spare.