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

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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.

 

Faulkner: What happened to the “American Dream”?

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Source:  Being Southern in an Age of Radicalism | Reckonin’

“[William] Faulkner at the time of his death was preparing a book to be called ‘The American Dream—What Happened to It?’ He had written some parts of it and it is a pure expression of the Southern and Jeffersonian tradition, more so than he probably realized. In a speech a year after the Nobel speech, Faulkner said that the noble American principle of a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness had become nothing more than an excuse for materialistic ease. The early Americans did not mean just the chance to chase happiness. By happiness they meant ‘not just pleasure [and] idleness, but peace, dignity, independence and self respect,’ things that had to be worked for and earned. ‘We knew it once, had it once … only something happened to us.’ We no longer ‘believed in liberty and freedom and independence as the old fathers in the old strong, dangerous times had meant it.'”

— Dr. Clyde N. Wilson, “Being Southern in an Age of Radicalismhttps://alchetron.com/cdn/clyde-n-wilson-cd1d44e9-63c9-48ee-a408-2d936c59b98-resize-750.jpeg

Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and more than 600 published articles, essays and reviews.

The Calhoun Institute also notes that he is a paleo-conservative political commentator, a long-time contributing editor for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture and Southern Partisan magazine, and an occasional contributor to National Review.

Wilson is best known for his expertise on the life and writings of John C. Calhoun, having compiled all his papers in twenty-eight volumes. He has been the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair of the Abbeville Institute, and an adjunct faculty member of the paleo-libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Why Classical Architecture Better Serves The Public Good Than Modernist Atrocities | The Federalist

Why Classical Architecture Better Serves The Public Good Than Modernist Atrocities

Classical architecture offers the possibility of restoring beauty to gain respect for the work public buildings do in contributing to the common good.

Source: Why Classical Architecture Better Serves The Public Good Than Modernist Atrocities – The Federalist

Dr. Carroll William Westfall (PhD, Columbia University), Professor Emeritus at the Notre Dame School of Architecture, has penned (or perhaps, this being the 21st century, keyboarded) this excellent argument in favor of President Donald Trump’s recently leaked draft executive order – which may or may not actually be issued – which, as a surprisingly supportive article in The Atlantic points out, “strongly encouraged architects to adopt a classical style when they design federal courthouses and buildings in the nation’s capital.”

While there have been the usual bleated objections from the usual suspects, Dr. Westfall raises some excellent points, such as “the fact that a building is a public object that occupies a site that is necessarily part of the realm where people lead their lives. Things placed in the public realm are obliged to serve the public, common good even if privately owned, and it is the duty of government to ensure this is done.”

It is, in other words, not created merely or even primarily for the benefit of “those who seek to preserve the putative right of architects to express their interpretation of the modern era with the latest fashions on public land and at public expense.” He asserts, instead, what I would agree is the unassailable truth that “the primary purpose of a public building is to serve a public, common good,” and notes that

“Modernism gained ascendancy at the expense of classical architecture that uses valued traditions adapted with innovations, drawing on experience and new insights to fit current circumstances. This role of tradition and innovation in architecture has its counterpart in our form of government, which has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome and in the experience of governing British colonies.”

Let me reemphasize that: classical architecture… uses valued traditions adapted with innovations, drawing on experience and new insights to fit current circumstances.

This is also true of classicism and traditionalism, rightly understood, in general (as he alludes to, in referring our form of government). He further notes that “Classicism is not a style but an achievement of architectural art that renders a public service while honoring the canons of beauty as they pertain to that art.”

I have posted on “The Tyranny of Artistic Modernism” previously, so I will not rehash the point, here. But it is nothing but absurdity to claim that Classicism is simply a pro forma and unimaginative rehashing of “old stuff,” and “not who we are today.” And to the extent that there is any truth to the latter, it is an indictment of the present age, not a compliment to it!

Fortunately, a growing number of people are starting to realize that in architecture as in so many other areas of the res publica, the modernist / postmodernism “emperor” has no clothes. And more and more are beginning to develop an appreciation for classical things, classical ideas, classical values: in art and architecture no less than in other realms of public and private life.

With respect to public building and the architecture thereof, Dr. Westfall notes that “While modernist architects would fare poorly in satisfying the proposed guidelines” of President Trump’s leaked draft order,

“a growing number of architects is recovering the ability to produce classical architecture. They offer the possibility of restoring the beauty of public buildings to gain the people’s respect for the work those buildings do in contributing to the public, common good.”

He concluded that “We need these revisions to achieve this,” and I whole-heartedly concur.


The linked Federalist essay includes this bio of Dr. Westfall:

Carroll William Westfall (PhD, Columbia University) has been a professor of architecture since 1966. He began his career at Amherst College, then the University of Illinois in Chicago, the University of Virginia, and between 1998 and his retirement in 2015, at the University of Notre Dame, including four years as chairman of the School of Architecture. He has published three books and numerous articles on topics from antiquity onward, with a focus on the history of the city and particular attention to the reciprocity between the political life and the urban and architectural elements that serve the needs of citizens. He, his family, and pets now live in Richmond, Virginia.

None too shabby a resumé! His Notre Dame faculty directory bio adds,

A central theme of all of his studies has been the history of the city with particular attention to the reciprocity between the political life and the urban and architectural elements that serve the needs of citizens. His emphasis is on the usefulness of knowledge of history to practicing architects. This, rather than a stylistically based interpretation of the history of architecture, has informed all of his work. His current interests are concentrated on the architect’€™s capacity to nourish the Christian faith and on tradition and classicism in architecture and the American city with special attention to the role of Thomas Jefferson in founding a distinctive American architecture to serve a unique nation.

Why am I not surprised that he is approaching this issue from a Christian ethos? Truth, Beauty, and Goodness live! Thanks be to God!

Dr. Carol M. Swain: Critical Race Theory’s Destructive Impact on America | 1776 Unites

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Under the guise of a venture called the “1619 Project,” revisionist history about race in America is being introduced into classrooms across America without undergoing the normal peer review expected of educational materials.

Source:  Critical Race Theory’s Destructive Impact on America | 1776 Unites

It is possible – and indeed, I frequently experience this feeling – given the current state of what passes for sociopolitical discourse in early-21st-century America, to feel like one is living in an insane asylum run by the inmates. Fortunately, every once in a while, one hears or reads something that gives one hope that sanity is not totally a thing of the past.

Such an example is this superb essay by Dr. Carol M. Swain, Ph.D., a former political science and law professor at Vanderbilt University (my graduate university, where I attended Divinity School). She writes, inter alia,

“Those who push white guilt and black victimhood ignore critical facts. One is that today’s white Americans are not responsible for the sins of generations ago. Second, slavery was an institution that blacks, Native Americans, and whites participated in as slaveholders. There’s plenty of guilt to go around there…”

“The 1619 Project is a misguided effort to keep open historical wounds while telling only half of the story. It is flawed because it is connected to critical race theory and the diversity-inclusion grievance industry that focuses on identity politics and division. Blaming today’s families for the mistakes of our ancestors is not a prescription for unifying the country or empowering racial and ethnic minorities.”

She adds,

“We can do better. Within Christian communities, there is a basis for countering destructive narratives that have invaded our educational institutions and the corporate world. The solution for hatred, bitterness, and distrust can be found in New Testament principles.

“Rather than wallow in the past and revisionists’ efforts to build a case for reparations, we, as Americans, need to move forward while practicing the forgiveness and love of neighbor that Jesus espoused. We need not look any further than the ‘golden rule’ (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) to find the tools that enable us to transcend racial and ethnic conflicts that keep us from working together and celebrating our victories.”

As I say, it is very encouraging to see / read / hear people in the African-American community – especially scholars of the caliber of Dr. Swain – beginning to push back against the dangerous absurdity of critical race theory. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!

Bloomberg implied farming doesn’t take intelligence in 2016 comments | Fox News

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Bloomberg: “I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer… Now comes the information economy… You have to have a different skill set, you have to have a lot more gray matter.”

Source: Bloomberg implied farming doesn’t take intelligence in 2016 comments | Fox News

When you’re not sure which is more breathtaking, the ignorance or the arrogance…! This is the frickin’ idiot that’s running for the Democratic Presidential ticket. I have to say, I don’t like any of them, but this is over the top. “We, the intelligentsia,” indeed. Horse puckey!

From one of the comments: “A farmer can live without Mike Bloomberg but Mike Bloomberg can’t live without a farmer, and I will side with the farmer.” Amen! Yes. So will I. Any day of the week! Bloomberg is a menace, on many levels. I have never liked him, for his opposition to the Second Amendment, but bashing farmers makes me despise him on a whole different level.

I will say one thing: this male (I won’t call him a man), and the rest of his “intelligentsia” (read: the arrogant coastal / urban elite) couldn’t live a week without what they disparage as “flyover country,” and the basket of deplorables, bitterly clinging to God and guns, who live there.

This individual is not only a sorry excuse for a political candidate, but he is a sorry excuse for a human being. Not that that’s new information, for me! I’ve known it for a long time; this is merely additional grist for the mill. I’d say he’s is full of bullsh_t, but that would be insulting to bulls. Putrid pustule of a person!

Because I hate to end on a negative note – Paul Harvey, among others, is one who thought of farmers rather differently than Bloomberg. Here he is:

 

Virginia’s New Secession Crisis | The Imaginative Conservative

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Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, West Virginia. Credit: Kevin King. (https://wvrivers.org/2019/12/survey/)

The governor of West Virginia has invited the disaffected counties of Virginia to leave the Old Dominion and become a part of the mountain state. The loss of these counties and their “deplorables” would mark an end to what little is left of the Old Dominion’s influence in the counsels of the nation.

Source: Virginia’s New Secession Crisis ~ The Imaginative Conservative

To be honest, I have historically had mixed feelings about the very existence of West Virginia (despite my great love for John Denver’s splendid song about her) – no offense whatsoever intended to the good people living there!

But it is, to say the least, deeply ironic that the same Federal government which refused to allow the Southern States to secede from the Union – launching a horrific, bloody war to bring them back by force – was perfectly okay with allowing a separatist rump legislature to secede what is now West Virginia from the Old Dominion.

But that’s history. And history, important (indeed, vital) as it is, is sometimes taken over by current events! Given the present situation, in which (as this essay notes)

“Governor Northam and the leadership of the misnamed Democratic Party [believe] they [are] in a position to issue diktats expanding abortion, curtailing the second amendment, and punishing those who dare to criticize them,”

I am now more than half-tempted to believe that West Virginia was actually saved by an act of Divine Providence to be – potentially – a safe haven for conservative counties now part of the Old Dominion (and perhaps my home State of Maryland, too).

Whether or not this will prove possible remains to be seen, but even the prospect is encouraging. And if it does (as, again, this essay points out),

“Virginia, which is now a microcosm of the country’s culture wars, could lead a new secession movement that could go a long way to relieving the considerable pressures along the fault lines of conflict in America.”

It is true that, as author John Devanny comments,

“West Virginia may not be acting from pure motives in encouraging the secession of Virginia counties from the Richmond Junta and into a union with West Virginia. Tax revenue, economic development, and congressional representation are at stake here. But so too are the important cultural issues.”

As he also accurately notes, America is a nation built on secession. “Secession” of settlers from their native lands, the great secession of the United Colonies from Great Britain – led to military victory by General, later President, George Washington (whose birthday today, February 22nd, is) – in the American War of Independence, and of course the attempted secession of the Confederacy from the Union, in the War Between the States (which this essay also discusses, as background).

In the mid-19th century, the great divide in this country was between North and South, and although slavery played a role, it was by no means the only factor, as Davenny recounts. Nor did the divide begin in the 19th century, nor was the South the first to consider secession – points which the dominant narrative conveniently ignores.

But now, the great divide is between the urban, mostly coastal, “elites” – what Democratic presidential hopeful and multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg has openly, arrogantly, and largely erroneously called the “intelligentsia” (with its implication that all who oppose this new quasi-aristocracy are unintelligent and uneducated, the “unwashed masses” his ilk were born to dominate), and the so-called “deplorables” (e.g., those still “bitterly clinging” to God and guns – my people, in other words) in what used to be called “America’s Heartland,” but is now disparaged by the “elite” as mere “flyover country.”

The divide seems to be growing and hardening, and if something doesn’t happen to change, could end up as bitter as the divide over States’ rights, the tariff, and slavery was in the mid-1800s. And if that happens, a similarly bloody outcome is not, unfortunately, entirely inconceivable. Are we seeing a glimmer of a way out, in which States and counties realign themselves into more amenable configurations? A rebirth of authentic Federalism?

It is too early to be sure, of course. The idea that whole counties might “vote with their feet” (as well as the ballot-box) and actually switch States would have been unthinkable even a few years ago; but with the Governor of West Virginia actively inviting it, and some Virginia counties apparently considering the option, it just might be the safety value we need to keep the pressure-cooker from exploding.

Speaking personally, as much as I love Maryland, I would be very happy to join a West Virginia that protected my Second Amendment rights, did not consider that killing unborn children right up to delivery (and in the case of some radicals, possibly even after) was somehow virtuous, and in general respected those of us the “elites” deplore.

That would be, shall I say…

Almost heaven.

 

Why I am a Jeffersonian, part 2!

Screenshot_2020-02-02 (2) Tara Ross - Posts

Source: Tara Ross | Facebook

“On this day in 1816, Thomas Jefferson writes a letter to a friend. He speaks of the need to keep power separated between the national and state governments. Such a division of labor, Jefferson notes, protects liberty.

“Perhaps it would also help the country to be less angry at each other? Consider that if Texas and California don’t have to agree on everything, then there is less cause for upset. Each state can simply make its own decisions and live its own way.”

My goodness, what a radical concept….! Here is a fuller expression of the theme, from Mr. Jefferson:

“[T]he way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police… What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.”