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The U.S. economy is not expendable

Sometimes our kids end up far from what we would have expected.

In the case of my four children, two strayed from my conservative leanings and distanced themselves from their Christian upbringing. I didn’t expect that they would be just like me but I am a bit amazed at how far they turned a 180.

At times my oldest son’s social media rants are so extreme I have to “unfollow” them a while so my blood pressure doesn’t spike. He changed dramatically after he attended UC Davis, lest you think because of its agriculture image that it’s conservative. There is no such thing as a conservative college or university in California unless they are faith-based and even then that’s questionable. Lest you think that I should support a college giving my son a new way to look at the world in a setting designed to broaden the horizons, just know that one of my son’s University profs announced at the outset of one class, “If you’re a Christian you have no business being in this class.” I’m convinced few students can make it through college and not be transformed into a liberal or a socialist.

For other reasons, my youngest child also hates Trump. He’s never been able to articulate it but he nonetheless has been infected by the viewpoints of the liberal leaning crowd he hangs around in. He has a biting sense of humor which is designed more for shock value, such as last week when he texted me that he hoped “we lose Trump to it,” meaning the coronavirus.

He later re-posted a Trump slamming meme from a Kaivan Shroff which read:

“WARREN: 2% of every dollar over $50 million should be taxed.

REPUBLICANS: Over our dead bodies.

TRUMP: 2% of all Americans should die to save the economy from coronavirus.

REPUBLICANS: yes, dear leader.”

I present this as a lesson in faulty reasoning.

First off, Warren – who thankfully has been turned out of the race on her ear – called for a doubling of her billionaire wealth tax as part of a new “Medicare for All” proposal, from 3% to 6% on wealth over 10 figures. That would have the beginning of milking the rich to hand to students to pay off college debt, a purely socialist concept. Republicans generally tend to think the government needs to shrink in size and thereby relieve American families of their tax burden. They also think if you amass a debt you should pay it back, not expect someone else to.

Saying Trump wants 2% of Americans to die for the sake of restoring life to the economy is akin to saying Caltrans wants the 9.7 people who die on California freeways EACH DAY want them to continue dying for the sake of the transportation of commerce serving 40 million Californians. Shutting down the U.S. economy harms all Americans, particularly hard hitting those in the low- and middle-income brackets of society – the ones Shroff claims to be in favor of protecting.

I understand that millennials like Kaivan Shroff think the economy is expendable in this hyped-up medical scare.  But I argue that far more people will be destroyed economically than will suffer or die from the virus; and that many will be physically harmed from a shutdown economy in the form of suicide, loss of housing, increased substance abuse, mental health and depression and for a failure to afford basic necessities like food. After all, the shelves of our grocery stores continue to resemble that of a Communist country.

There needs to be greater balance.

* * * * *

Now that Congress has approved a coronavirus economic stimulus package, giving $600 per week to the unemployed on top of what the states pays – when the average unemployment check was $385 per week in January – who will want to return back to work?

Now that new unemployment claims are up by 3.3 million thanks to what I think is a manufactured crisis, bet your bottom dollar that Democrats will now use that against Trump in the fall. They’ll say, “He botched a booming economy (even though they never admitted our economy was great) because of his bumbling administration.” Spare me.

* * * * *

Somebody on the staff of our raspy-voiced governor (who dodged a recall) should tell him to wipe off that perpetual smart-alecky grin from his face as he forecasts gloom and doom about the coronavirus. Even my liberal UC Davis educated son remarked to me how awkwardly gleeful he looks when suggesting half of Californians could die from the virus.

* * * * *

Not even the Covid-19 scare has derailed state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s continual push for taxpayer-funded abortions. He pumped out another press release on Monday asking for Uncle Sam to increase funding for abortions “during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Becerra and his liberal cohorts want women to be able to kill their babies without going into a clinic in-person but instead by popping a Mifepristone pill.  So he is calling on Trump to “remove red tape that makes it more difficult for women to access the medication abortion prescription drug.”

Becerra doesn’t want women being put “in harm’s way” as they seek to end the life growing inside them.


* * * * *

Although each state was handling education just fine and each overseeing their own state departments of education, President Jimmy Carter created the U.S. Department of Education in 1980. Carter blew up the size and scope of the federal government unnecessarily. In 2002 the department had a budget of $46 billion and under President George W. Bush it increased to $60 billion two years later. In 2018 the U.S. Department of Education had a budget of $68 billion – with a B – and employed under 4,000 employees. It doles out taxpayer money like crazy. Its 2019 budget gave $129.8 billion in new post secondary grants, loans, and work-study assistance to help an estimated 11.5 million students and their families pay for college.

Keep in mind the U.S. did without this cabinet level position for 191 years before Carter occupied the White House. A lot of us – me included – received a great education without Carter’s bloated bureaucracy.

So against that backdrop consider that the first thing Josh Harder does after finding out that some K-8 students in the rural Knights Ferry School District don’t have stable internet after school shut down for reasons of the coronavirus, is demand the U.S. Department of Education do something. Harder issued a press release designed to show he “cares” and fired off a letter to the federal agency. Keep in mind Knights Ferry serves about 119 students and most kids there do have internet. 

Harder bloviated about “every kid in America deserves the same level of access to education through this crisis regardless of whether they live in a big city or a rural area.” Great sound bite for the politician in the midst of a re-election fight but I say quit reaching into the taxpayers’ pockets – especially now that the economy has gone to hell in a handbasket – and buy the handful of kids some textbooks until some private company can provide that town with decent internet access. Oh, silly me, I just read in Harder’s release that these students were “provided with physical materials to complete and an alternative communication channel to stay in touch with their teachers.”

Of course, it’s always about “follow the money.” Knights Ferry Superintendent Janet Skulina (probably a Harder supporter since most educators are Democrats), chimed in: “The federal government must provide monetary relief for schools directly for the purpose of providing internet access and distance learning to all students.”

Here’s an idea: go to the state of California since it has a $7 billion budget surplus while the federal government is $23 trillion in debt and now $2 trillion more now that Uncle Sam is bailing out America.

If only Harder was more concerned about the decimation of the American economy and jobs than the missed lessons of a handful of school kids for a couple of months.

* * * * *

Back in November 2018 I illustrated how bad the state of California is to business when I noted that Pizza Hut was charging a “service fee” to cover “the high cost of doing business in California.”

Last week I received an email from an Anaheim small businessman who discovered the old column online. He, too, is upset that leaders like Newsom are screwing over the businessman. He wrote to let me know that I helped him believe that he’s not alone in “thinking that this place (California) is really quite crazy.” He vented: “I think constantly of moving out of state, and taking my $200k+ in revenue from an IT business with me. I just can’t hang anymore. I’m constantly upset by the wrong things and see red whenever Newsom comes up. I literally can’t believe people are so ignorant. I want our $5 billion back for green BS to pay for everyone out of work right now. This guy makes me livid.”

While California is full of non-thinking socialist types who don’t understand anything about the free market and the economy, there are many who resist the insanity.

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Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, the guy who foolishly said the markets would tank if Trump was elected president, said last week that small business people are scared to death about the shutdown of the economy. He suggested that they “turn a huge negative into a positive.”

One of the things he suggests is for them to improve, to “redo their processes ... improve your literature ... whatever it may be, now’s the chance to do that.”

I’ve noticed how the food industry has quickly pumped out TV commercial after TV commercial advertising drive-thru food service.

Local businesses could be doing the same – advertising services.

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I uttered a few expletives when watching CBS News suggest that President Trump – even flashing his photo during the story – was responsible for the death of an Arizona man who took chloroquine phosphate, because Trump touted it as a treatment for Covid-19. It’s an additive used to clean fish tanks that is also found in an anti-malaria medication. Of course CBS gleefully reported that the wife took the substance as well and got ill and charged, “Don’t believe anything that the president says and his people ... call your doctor.”

The president said the anti-malaria medication called chloroquine to treat patients infected with coronavirus. The FDA chief clarified that the drug still needs to be tested for that use.

* * * * *

Covid-19 stats:

On Thursday, California had a total of 67 deaths and 3,180 new cases out of a population of 39.56 million.

By contrast, on Thursday, New York had 33,013 total cases and 366 deaths out of a population of 19.54 million.

On Friday, California had 186 new cases and three new deaths.

Reported on Thursday were these stats: The United States has more than 69,000 confirmed cases with more than 1,000 deaths.

On Monday reported was: U.S. had 156,352 cases with more than 2,866 deaths.

Monday brought California’s death count to 132. Total Covid-19 cases on Monday were 6,358 in California.

Contrast the CDC data on the 2019-20 flu season:

38 million to 54 million illnesses, 390,000 to 710,000 hospital visits and 23,000 to 59,000 deaths! If those stats were reported by the media daily, there would be a panic EVERY YEAR!

* * * * *

Assemblyman Heath Flora (who represents Hughson) held a video chat in which he answered questions posed by residents. One of the questions is why is the EDD office only open 8 a.m. to noon while everyone is losing their jobs. Flora said their normal telephone hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. They have ceased all in-person contacts so persons needing assistance can go online at and create an account to receive assistance.

State officials like Flora, Assemblyman Adam Gray (he represents Ceres) and state Senator Anna Caballero have staffs that can help constituents sort out issues, answer questions and help with problems.

He also dispelled rumors and misinformation about the National Guard coming in to enforce martial law. The National Guard has been activated but only for humanitarian efforts.

It doesn’t help when residents post photos of trains rolling down the Santa Fe Railroad tracks at Hatch Road loaded with military vehicles to instill fear.

* * * * *

A couple of weeks ago a Julie Limbocker wrote a letter to the editor in which she tore apart Supervisor Jim DeMartini for his remarks about the homeless. Julie felt the remarks were cruel and inaccurate. She suggested that “a large percentage” of the homeless were not doing drugs and crimes.

I totally agree with DeMartini’s assessment of the problem and that Democrats have allowed people to face zero consequences.

There are encampments of tents everywhere along the freeway, through Keyes, in Ceres, in Modesto. The piles of debris stretching between Service Road and the Central Modesto exit are mind-boggling.  Limbocker suggests that the homeless are a misunderstood lot and victims of circumstance.

Most Americans are compassionate for those who want and seek help – and it is available. The beds and food at shelters are available. But Americans will write off people who don’t want to change, who don’t want to get clean and who don’t want to be productive. And, by golly, we shouldn’t accept what they are doing the sides of our roads making this county look like a Third World trash hole.

* * * * *

On Monday the Bee ran a letter to the editor from a Jack Heinsius of Modesto attacking congressional candidate Ted Howze. He tried to tap into the Trump Derangement Syndrome (which seems to have waned in recent days with most Democrats now that we’re dealing with Covid-19). Heinsius, a retired MJC professor, suggested that Howze is like Trump in what he called an aversion to a free press, saying the press was barred from his Election night party in Turlock.

Howze did not bar the press as our sister paper, the Turlock Journal was told about it and showed up. I don’t fault Howze for not telling the Bee about the party because of the recent hit job they did on him suggesting he is a carpetbagger who doesn’t live in the 10th Congressional District. I remember a certain congressman by the name of Gary Condit who never returned Bee reporter Michael Doyle’s calls to his office either.

Trump is not against the press. He is against a corrupt press and there’s been plenty of examples (Brian Williams, Dan Rather). He has been far more accessible to the press than most presidents. However, he is against the reporters who have an obvious agenda in the way they frame their questions

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at