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Posts published in “Connecticut Newspapers”

The Pandemic Is Over. Pivot to the Economy.

In the early days of COVID, the key objective was herd immunity. Today, we are there, or very nearly so. We should declare victory. It has been a costly victory. It may be a Pyrrhic victory, unless we pivot rapidly from COVID to the economy.

It is time to address the economic damage wrought by the wholesale shutdown of the economy in response to COVID. At the outset, many observers, including this writer, expressed grave reservations about the shutdown.

The national debt has increased $5.3 trillion, or more than 30%, during the pandemic.

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The Big Apple Exodus to Connecticut Never Happened and Here’s Why

The suburban myth of a mass exodus from a virus-plagued New York City to the supposedly safe environs of Connecticut died with the recent release of Census Bureau interstate migration data.

While New York State lost over 400,000 residents to other states from April 2020 to July 2021, Connecticut attracted a mere 226 net new residents from other states. Incoming New Yorkers passed fleeing Nutmeggers.

And that’s the good part. Connecticut’s labor force plummeted by 100,000, or more than 5%, from February 2020 through November 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only two state workforces contracted more.

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Confused About COVID? Who Isn’t?

A month ago, the nation had reached an 80% one-shot COVID vaccination rate for those over age 18, with 96% of vaccines administered being the 95%-effective Pfizer and Moderna shots. Forty percent of the very-vulnerable elderly, who were 100% vaccinated but whose early vaccinations from last winter were weakening, had received boosters. Pfizer had announced its 89%-effective home-use COVID treatment pill.

The nation seemed poised to emerge from the pandemic and move forward. We seemed very well situated to avoid the enormous infection wave swamping Europe.

Then, Omicron.

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Alarmed by the COVID-19 Surge in Europe? Don’t Be.

Americans should be thankful, not fearful. The U.S. is unlikely to see the kind of COVID-19 surge now occurring in Europe or be as severely impacted by the Omicron variant.

The U.S. has high COVID-19 vaccination rates. Eighty-two percent of those 18 and older and 100% of the uniquely vulnerable population over age 65 have had at least one shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of equal importance, over 96% of vaccine doses administered have been the strong 95%-effective Pfizer and Moderna shots.

The U.S. has been fast to deploy boosters, especially to those over 65, over 40% of whom have been boosted. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, while fast-acting, lose effectiveness over time. The elderly were vaccinated first, so they are most in need of boosters.

In Europe, vaccination rates are high, but many people have been vaccinated with less effective vaccines, primarily the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine which is somewhere between 63% and 79% effective.

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Lunch Pail Issues for Voters to Consider

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont went to Washington last week. He visited the White House, with whose occupant he shares much in common, especially on the “lunch pail” issues of gas prices and jobs.

Biden’s policies have already pushed gas prices to record seven-year highs. Lamont’s gas price hikes are only an ambition right now. The Connecticut General Assembly has not yet approved Lamont’s proposed new gas tax, aka the multi-state Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) – emphasis on “yet.”

“Yet” is the point. Voters in next week’s local elections should keep in mind that General Assembly Democrats are watching. If local Democrats do well, Democrats in Hartford may gain the confidence to pass TCI.

For his part, Biden is taking rightful heat for high gas prices, since his anti-carbon policies are largely to blame. The day he took office, Biden cancelled the Keystone pipeline and froze oil and gas exploration leasing on federal lands.

Since July, oil has jumped from about $60 a barrel to about $85 and gas prices have skyrocketed. Is Biden concerned? Just the opposite. He has been worried that his multi-trillion dollar Build Back Better bill with its anti-carbon provisions may not come together before the Glasgow climate summit.

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A Citizen’s Action Plan to Keep CRT Out of Schools

Here’s a four-point action plan for citizens who want to resist the efforts of teacher unions and the Biden administration to force Critical Race Theory (CRT) into public schools.

The plan recommends four resolutions that citizens can propose that local school boards adopt and school board candidates endorse. With less than three weeks to election day, it enables voters to determine where school board candidates stand on this controversial issue.

Resolution number 1: This school board will not accept, nor utilize any material, from The New York Times’1619 Project,” which argues that slavery is the central theme of U.S. history, that 1619 is the year America “began,” and that the Revolutionary War was fought to preserve slavery.

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Gov. Lamont Is in Public (Union) Service

Governor Lamont is negotiating a new wage contract with the State Employees Bargaining Alliance Coalition (SEBAC).

Despite Lamont’s claims to the contrary, he is very likely to award state employees significant future wage increases as well as generous modification of the cost-of-living-adjustments to their pensions after their retirement.

These new wage hikes and benefits will come on the heels of big wage increases in 2019 and 2020 under the old wage contract which expired this past summer.

Nothing ever stands in the way of the ever-increasing generosity of state employee compensation.

Nothing. Not this week’s data release showing that the median American household saw its income fall 2.9% last year while Connecticut state employees got a 5.5% wage increase.

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The Best of America and the Worst

The true fiber of this nation has been on brilliant display in recent weeks. While the president and his foreign policy and military advisors have disgraced the nation with their incompetence and worse, America’s military veterans have redeemed the nation’s honor with ingenuity and dedication in what has been called the Digital Dunkirk.

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The Unlosable War We Just Lost

We just lost an unlosable war. Over the last five years, with relatively modest military resources and extremely low casualties – less than 70, we’ve been able to maintain relative stability in Afghanistan. Then, Biden pulled the plug.

Now, Afghanistan is a disaster, a stain on U.S. honor and values, and a defeat with incalculable costs for ongoing U.S. foreign policy.

While the Pentagon stopped releasing troop levels in 2017, the last reported level was about 10,000, although the AP reports that the Trump Administration planned as many as 14,000 troops in 2017. Yet the low casualty levels imply a general decline.

A military mission requiring 10,000 or fewer troops and involving such a low casualty rate is not a failure, quite the opposite. And how did Biden lose sight of the original mission? Now, how do we prevent Afghan-based terrorists from staging another attack on the USA or a key ally?

Afghanistan has been misconceived. It has been characterized as an unwinnable war, and the seemingly logical conclusion reached that it should be ended, because unwinnable wars are fruitless endeavors. That’s wrong. We did not need to win.

Have we won the Korean War? Almost three-quarters of a century after Korean hostilities ended, Korea is still divided. We haven’t defeated the communists in the North. Should we pull the plug?

We have stationed tens of thousands of U.S. troops there -- 23,000 troops today -- ever since the early 1950s. Today, South Korea is an inspiring success, a vibrant economy and society, and an important strategic ally.

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