Empty shelves: a rant on coronavirus and globalism

In which the Anglophilic Anglican goes off on a rare political rant. Rare on video, anyway! I do often rant in writing… *wry smile* My apologies in advance for the length and rambling nature of this!

 

Coronavirus reveals the weakness and danger of the “global economy”

Image result for us reliant on china for drugs

I certainly hope and pray that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic does not end up having the kind of global impact – and especially, is not as damaging and deadly here in the US, and in other Western countries, where cases have so far been few in number – as some doomsayers seem to take perverse pleasure in predicting.

But if nothing else, I hope it does point out the weakness and danger of globalism: both open borders, and the off-shoring of major chunks of our economy, especially manufacturing. Cheap consumer goods (and cheap – not to say exploited – labor) are not the only things that can circulate freely, in such an environment.

Perhaps most sobering is the fact that we are reliant on China – China, the source of the outbreak, and the country hardest-hit by it – for many of our drugs!

As this article from last month points out,

“Everything from antibiotics to chemotherapy drugs, from antidepressants to Alzheimer’s medications to treatments for HIV/AIDS, are frequently produced by Chinese manufacturers. What’s more, the most effective breathing masks and the bulk of other personal protective equipment — key to containing the spread of coronavirus and protecting health care workers — and even the basic syringe are largely made in China.”

Another article notes that “the Food and Drug Administration estimates that at least 80 percent of the active ingredients found in all of America’s medicines come from abroad – primarily China,” and asks us to “imagine if China turned off that spigot.” Or if we are forced to turn it off ourselves, due to issues like coronavirus! A third article points out the hazards of contamination of generic drugs manufactured abroad:

“What’s responsible for the repeated drug safety lapses? The offshoring of the American drug supply to China and, to a lesser extent, India during the past couple of decades.”

It continues,

“China and India now manufacture about 80% of the drugs consumed in the U.S. This figure understates China’s dominance because many of the active ingredients in the Indian manufactured drugs come from China. The U.S. doesn’t even manufacture vital drugs like antibiotics anymore [emphasis added], with the last penicillin factory closing in 2004.”

That is chilling, or should be.

Particularly in the face of the current situation, in which reliable supplies of drugs are critical! But unfortunately, as USA Today notes,

“The coronavirus outbreak is sparking fears of drug shortages in the U.S., largely due to its disruption of pharmaceutical supplies from China and India.  The Food and Drug Administration has warned of shortages in one drug due to the coronavirus, while penicillin shipments to the U.S. from China have dried up [again, emphasis added]. The FDA said it expects the outbreak of COVID-19 to cause ‘potential disruptions to supply or shortages of critical medical products in the U.S.'”

And to make matters worse, as yet another article points out, “the U.S. is woefully unprepared to address even minor disruptions in the supply of these drugs.” This article continues,

“Medicines can be used as a weapon of war against the United States,” Rosemary Gibson, a senior adviser on health care issues at the bioethics-focused Hastings Center and co-author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine, told lawmakers last month. “Supplies can be withheld. Medicines can be made with lethal contaminants or sold without any real medicine in them, rendering them ineffective.”

Then there is the whole issue of “just in time” logistics, a primary feature of the modern economy. This may have cost and efficiency advantages when everything’s working smoothly, but it leaves us highly vulnerable to disruptions in overseas sources of manufacture and supply, whether these originate in pandemics like coronavirus, international conflicts, other forms of social or political disruption, rising fuel prices, or other causes.

While the issue is obviously most vital in the fields of pharmaceuticals and medical technology, the reality is that we need to seriously rethink our entire approach to the so-called global economy, starting with a clear-eyed understanding that independence and sovereignty begin with being able to supply our own needs from our own resources and manufacturing capability, here at home.

Anything less leaves us dangerously vulnerable to disruptions abroad.

 

“Of, by, and for the people”…? A reflection for Lincoln’s birthday

Image result for lincoln monument

Today, the 12th of February, is the birthday of one whom some celebrate as the “savior of his country,” while others of us excoriate as a vicious tyrant who may have “saved the Union,” but who in the process trampled the Constitution and destroyed the Constitutional Republic our Founders bequeathed to us. I refer, of course, to Abraham Lincoln.

Aside from the grossly misnamed “Emancipation Proclamation,” which “emancipated” not a single slave – it applied only to the Confederacy, and areas under CSA control, in which Mr. Lincoln’s writ did not run, and specifically excluded all areas (including those slave states which had remained in the Union, and also formerly Confederate areas then under Union occupation) in which it did – Lincoln is best-known for his “Gettysburg Address,” in which he claims, inter alia, that

“Fourscore and seven years ago, our Fathers brought forth on this continent a new Nation.”

In point of fact, of course, eighty-seven years prior to his 1863 Address, our Founding Fathers declared, in the Declaration of Independence, that “these United Colonies are, and by right ought to be, free and independent States.” Plural. That is something rather different. But of course Lincoln, frontier lawyer that he was, was never one to let truth get in the way of a good line!

He also piously proclaimed that this new Nation (first an alliance, then a Confederacy, and only later a Federal Union: now, arguably, not even so much as that) was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” True, as far as it goes. But as one commentator has noted, it is interesting – and significant – that he did not follow that thought to its conclusion, in the Declaration, which includes these words:

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and institute a new Government.”

The reason he did not point this out is obvious; but that he made the reference at all is indicative of the fact that he expected that, even then, not to many of his hearers would be familiar enough with our founding documents to make the connection. He was undoubtedly right, as his words – and not the full quote from the Declaration – have been slavishly repeated, ad nauseam, down through the 150+ years since he made that Address. And given the state of education, currently, there are even fewer now who would make it.

Thus me pointing it out!

He also made, in this Address, the outrageous claim that the War Between the States – the War of Northern Aggression, erroneously called by him (and again, echoed since) the “Civil War” (1) – was fought “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. As H.L. Mencken was later to accurately point out,

“The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly. It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost child-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to one graceful and irresistible gesture. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.

But let us not forget that it is oratory, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it.  Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — ‘that government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.

“What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country — and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary.”

As the commentator noted above (whose whole essay is well worth a read) points out, “The states that left the Union to join the Confederacy did so in the true sense of the Jeffersonian principle of self-government, as stated in the Declaration. Lincoln’s invasion of the Confederate States stood that idea on its head.” And of course, “Representative democracy would have continued in the Union and in the Confederacy regardless of the outcome” of the War.

Far from preserving liberty, equality, or representative government, the precedent set – of control and domination over the States by the central, Federal government in Washington, D.C. – by that terrible War, which killed half a million Americans entirely without need (2), continues to echo down through the ages, to our detriment.

This is what you are celebrating, if you choose to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday.

Please – think about it.


1)  A civil war is one fought between two or more factions for control of the central government. The Confederacy had no desire to run the Union! It merely wished to withdraw from it, and to enjoy the freedom to work out its own destiny in peace.

2)  The ending of slavery was emphatically, and by Lincoln’s own admission, not the aim of the War, and even if it had been, is it logical that the U.S., alone among the nations of the world, needed a horrific and destructive war to end an institution all the others ended peacefully?

 

One step at a time: desperate families join migrant caravan | World news | The Guardian

Image result for migrant caravan

“Thousands are walking to US border, away from hunger and violence of Central America seemingly unaware of Trump’s hostility”

Source: One step at a time: desperate families join migrant caravan | World news | The Guardian

Following is a slightly edited version of my response to a friend’s posting of this link on her Facebook timeline:

I should be sorry if this costs me a friend, but I think it has to be said: whether you love our current President or hate him with a passion, a border-crashing convoy / caravan heading toward the United States is no laughing matter, and it is certainly not a cause for celebration. It is a serious and dangerous threat to our territorial integrity and national sovereignty. If you want to come here, there are ways to do so legally. This is not one of them!

And while I recognize and respect that some of them may be “desperate,” I rather doubt that they are any more desperate than the majority of human beings have been for the majority of human history (and prehistory). I feel sorry for them, but the U.S. is not the land of milk and honey, or the leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We are our own country, with our own problems, and our own people to take care of, and we’re not going to be able to do that as well (or even as poorly… 🙄) as we are, if this sort of thing becomes the norm.

One woman interviewed said she was 65 and couldn’t get a job. If she couldn’t get a job there, what is the chance that she’ll get a job here, where she doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t know the culture, has few if any contacts…? Are you – this is a collective “you,” I’m not specifying anyone in particular – willing to pay for her support, and that of her family, and that of many others in this caravan, out of your taxes? Is the daughter she’s trying to find even here legally, herself?

Again, if you want to come here, there are legal paths: if temporarily, on a work visa; if your intention is permanent, by applying for citizenship. On the subject of citizenship, I have to admit, I have little sympathy or respect for people who come here wanting all the economic benefits of living and working in the U.S., long-term, but are unwilling to accept the responsibilities that come with citizenship. It is also a slap in the face to the millions of legal immigrants who have done it the right way! Many of them are livid about things like this, and rightly so.

In any case, trying to crash the borders – even if you call it “peacefully opening” them – in a mass caravan is a recipe for disaster. No borders, no country. It is both the right and the responsibility of any nation to be very careful about who they let in, for the good of their existing citizens and for the well-being of the country as a whole. If there is anyone who genuinely thinks it would be a good idea to open the borders and turn immigration into a free-for-all, please think carefully through all of the implications. The result, if it were ever to happen, might not be so pleasant as some might imagine.

UPDATE: Associated Press reports,

“Migrants traveling in a mass caravan burst through a Guatemalan border fence and streamed by the thousands toward Mexican territory on Friday, defying Mexican authorities’ entreaties for an orderly crossing and U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats of retaliation.

“On the Mexican side of a border bridge, they were met by a phalanx of police with riot shields. About 50 managed to push their way through before officers unleashed pepper spray and the rest retreated.

“The gates were closed again, and police used a loudspeaker to address the masses, saying, ‘We need you to stop the aggression.'”

“Peacefully” opening the borders, eh…?

US admits lowest number of refugees in more than 40 years – CNNPolitics

The United States admitted 22,491 refugees in the last fiscal year – one of the lowest amounts on record.

Source: US admits lowest number of refugees in more than 40 years – CNNPolitics

“The United States admitted 22,491 refugees in the last fiscal year – one of the lowest amounts on record.

“The admissions count for the 2018 fiscal year, which ended on September 30, was less than half the number of refugees admitted in FY 2017 (53,716) and about one-quarter of the number of people admitted in FY 2016 (84,994). According to State Department records going back to 1975, the only year that the US admitted fewer refugees was 1977.

“A State Department spokesperson said the reduced number of admissions ‘was consistent with operational capacity to implement new screening and vetting procedures following Executive Order 13780, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.'”

Progress.

Let me be clear: we have a moral responsibility to assist those who are genuine refugees – albeit, with the goal of helping them to return to their countries of origin, if or when circumstances allow.

We also have a moral responsibility to distinguish between authentic refugees and those claiming “refugee” status as cover for their real intention, be that criminal or terrorist activity, or with the hope of becoming economic migrants.

In the case of the latter, we have a social (and arguably moral) responsibility to our own citizens, and to the nation as a whole, to ensure that only those who have a reasonable expectation of making a positive contribution to our nation’s economic and social well-being are allowed in: and coming in, or attempting to come in, under false pretenses is a pretty good example of a disqualifying factor.

Notwithstanding the signs carried by the people pictured above, the sentiments expressed are, at least, debatable; a nation with no borders – or porous borders – is not a nation at all. Good to see us finally standing up for our own sovereignty, once again!

The Dalai Lama vs. Pope Francis on Immigration – Dr. Steve Turley on YouTube

Source: The Dalai Lama vs. Pope Francis on Immigration!!! – Dr. Steve Turley | YouTube

Dr. Steve Turley is a YouTube personality (I guess if you have 67,000 followers you can be counted as one of those!), a conservative vlogger who is both prolific – posting two videos a day, each tending to run between ten and fifteen minutes, plus or minus – and relentlessly optimistic regarding the future of the West.

The latter is actually rather refreshing, in an atmosphere where many (myself included, on my worst days) tend to be prone to gloom-and-doom pessimism on the present cultural civil war, which constantly seems on the verge of slipping over into a “hot” war between the militant Left and those on the right who are becoming increasingly “mad as h___, and aren’t going to take this any more,” in the words of the famous 1978 movie scene.

At any rate, Turley seeks – in his own words – to “analyze current events in light of awesome conservative trends, so that you can personally and professionally flourish.” A bit of a “Renaissance man” (a direction in which I tend, myself), Turley’s PhD is from Durham University; he is the author of more than 20 books, teaches theology and rhetoric at Tall Oaks Classical School in Bear, DE, and serves as Professor of Fine Arts at Eastern University, a Christian university near Philadelphia, inter alia.

All of which is by way of a lead-in to say that he has the academic and professional chops to back what he says, and what he says is often interesting, and sometimes enlightening.  This video is certainly worth watching, and listening to.

“We are indeed living in bizarre times when a major Buddhist world leader is actually sounding more Christian than the Pope!”

We are indeed…

How to Think About Vladimir Putin | Imprimis

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Our globalist leaders may have deprecated sovereignty since the end of the Cold War, but that does not mean it has ceased for an instant to be the primary subject of politics.

Source: How to Think About Vladimir Putin | Imprimis

Christopher Caldwell, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, notes, “this is not going to be a talk about what to think about Putin, which is something you are all capable of making up your minds on, but rather how to think about him,” and continues,

“Our globalist leaders may have deprecated sovereignty since the end of the Cold War, but that does not mean it has ceased for an instant to be the primary subject of politics.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich is not the president of a feminist NGO. He is not a transgender-rights activist. He is not an ombudsman appointed by the United Nations to make and deliver slide shows about green energy. He is the elected leader of Russia — a rugged, relatively poor, militarily powerful country that in recent years has been frequently humiliated, robbed, and misled. His job has been to protect his country’s prerogatives and its sovereignty in an international system that seeks to erode sovereignty in general and views Russia’s sovereignty in particular as a threat.

“By American standards, Putin’s respect for the democratic process has been fitful at best… Yet if we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the pre-eminent statesman of our time.”

In short, Putin is doing what a national leader should do: looking out for the best interests of his country, and his people. Those of us who admire him, admire him for that reason – not because we think we will always agree with him, or are naive enough to think that the interests of Russia will always be congruent with those of the West, or America in particular.

When our interests are opposed, we should act accordingly – though not in a knee-jerk or foolish way. We need to exercise rationality, discernment, and discretion, none of which seem to be strong suits of the contemporary Left.

But we need not, and should not, view him – or the Russian Federation – as an enemy, or an adversary, or even necessarily and always as a rival. There will be many times when our interests are common, or at least complementary. When that is the case, we should also act accordingly. And it is certainly foolish, and dangerous, to ratchet up the tension unnecessarily, or for domestic political reasons.

[My suspicion is that the American Left is simply congenitally incapable of believing that they lost the election – all by themselves, by their own words and actions; that a sufficiently large percentage of the American voters flatly rejected the Democratic candidate, Party, and platform to hand an electoral victory to the current President… so the outcome must have been the result of Russian meddling. It’d be silly if it wasn’t so sad – and so dangerous.]

The Russian Federation may not be the superpower that the old Soviet Union was, but it is certainly a Great Power – a very great power: large, populous, and militarily powerful – and must be respected as such. And its President should be respected as a strong and capable leader who takes his country’s interests seriously, as any good leader should do.

 


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