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Archive for May 15th, 2020


Let’s get to the meat of the matter — after
COVID-19, we have to change the way we eat

Beef shortages, because of the coronavirus’ impact on meatpacking plants, have led to higher prices in the supermarkets.
COVID-19 has changed everything, highlighting one of the meatier issues during this crisis: the politics of beef production and export. From ranches to feedlots, slaughterhouses to global markets, beef is now one of the most important products under threat in a high-stakes international food-supply game.
Meat supplies are so important, in fact, that President Trump intervened to order keep meatpacking plants in operation.
Meat consumption makes up a big part of Americans’ protein intake — with milk and dairy being the most important. Anything that threatens its availability on the market or dramatically raises its price is of national concern. Recent shortages and store limits on meat purchases have further raised the alarm. Supply and demand are strained.  Cattle ranchers are certainly feeling the squeeze: Demand for beef has dramatically dropped as restaurants close. However, those fast-food chains and markets with customers seeking burgers and steaks are finding a stark supply reality — cattle can’t get from feedlots to fork because of supply constraints. Coronavirus outbreaks in factory slaughterhouses are hampering the ability to process, package and deliver the product.
With more than 4,900 meatpackers infected and 20 reported deaths, fewer animals are being butchered and processed. Less processing capacity means fewer heads of fattened cattle get churned through the system. Less processing capacity means lower demand for animals at the plants, dropping the price per head and significantly raising costs as stay-at-home cattle are expensive for ranchers and feedlots to keep.  Fewer cattle entering processing plants also means fewer packaged meat products coming out. In the marketplace, that translates into shortages and higher prices in supermarkets. Not enough meat explains why 1,000 Wendy’s burger joints were suddenly short on patties.
The problem is not just at home. The human preference for beef is stressing a system that also depends on global markets. Australia’s producers, for example, rely heavily on beef and barley exports to China. This week, China cut off Australian exports because the island continent wants to investigate the Chinese origins of the coronavirus. Beijing is punishing Aussies for their alleged COVID-crisis finger-pointing, attacking food exporters through economic coercion.  China is blatantly doing what other powerful countries often get away with — marrying trade policies to political goals. This linkage happens all the time. The Trump administration, for example, has vigorously reintroduced this into its own policy toolkit, making import tariffs a staple of creating economic leverage to achieve policy outcomes. From Europe to China, steel to cars, tariffs are this administration’s preferred means to extract trade concessions and political favor.
China’s move is intended to change Australia’s political posture and help put the Canberra government out to pasture. Beijing visibly winks, denying the politics of the beef ban, arguing instead that Australia violated food inspection standards. Both could, of course, be true. Food inspection can be spotty in the best of nations.  America’s meat industry has a long and sordid history, highlighted early in the 20th century in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” an eye-opening novel exposing the meatpacking industry’s unsanitary processes and unsavory labor practices. The novel generated a public uproar, and new safety and sanitation laws were passed, but the meat industry continues to have problems exacerbated by globalization.
Mad Cow disease, the controversial use of hormones, targeted trade barriers and adversarial nations’ policies that undermine foreign agricultural sectors are just some of the attacks and inherent weaknesses of today’s fragile and globally interlinked food-supply chain.  Vulnerabilities ranging from pandemic to political whim should motivate both consumers and policymakers to rethink the system of food production and delivery — independent of the many ethical considerations surrounding meat consumption.
Unreliable and bottle-necked supply chains alone have led to today’s beef shortages. Some countries have awakened to this challenge. China has a heightened sensitivity to food shortages, for example, as the nation suffers from a decimated pork supply, down 40 percent because of African swine fever.  From a consumer perspective, we must reconsider eating habits that require enormous energy and resources to bring beef from hoof to hamburger. Thankfully, there are more and, increasingly, better options, including plant-and-lab based substitutes.
Governments, too, need to reconsider how to help deliver enough food to people with fewer dollars to spend and to markets with potentially fewer imported and transported foodstuffs. Just as all industries are reviewing their options to repatriate work and onshore manufacturing for profitable and strategic purposes, so, too, will the political leadership in several countries need to work harder to increase and diversify their food industries’ homegrown production and quality.
After all, COVID-19 has changed everything, including the way we eat.
Markos Kounalakis hopes Greek Kalamata olives still get shipped to America. He is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution


Congress should not bail out fiscally
irresponsible states with COVID-19 relief


The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tragedy for our nation, but some states are now trying to use this crisis to force taxpayers to pay for years of irresponsible spending.
The death and destruction from this pandemic has disrupted our lives and devastated businesses big and small, causing layoffs and threatening millions of families’ livelihoods. Yet, lawmakers should be wary of another bailout that will benefit special interests over those who are hurting.  The federal government has already provided at least $1.8 trillion in assistance to state governments intended to support individuals, businesses and states that were directly impacted by COVID-19.  Although the majority of recipients are genuinely in need, some state-level officials are trying to take advantage of the assistance to bail them out of decades of fiscal mismanagement. Our state’s congressional delegation should reject these claims. Otherwise, Floridians will be left with the tab for other states’ irresponsibility.
On April 14, Illinois’ Senate Democratic Caucus requested $40 billion from the federal government, on top of the billions that state has already received. The request makes clear that $10 billion of these funds would go toward propping up the state’s floundering pension system for its government employees.  Even before the COVID pandemic, Illinois’ pension program was straining the state’s finances, eating up 25 percent of the state’s annual general revenue expenditures. This was the result of multiple administrations in Springfield avoiding hard choices necessary to foster a responsible retirement system.
These pressures contributed to Illinois’ dismal bond rating, showing how little faith creditors had in the state’s ability to pay back its loans. All this left Illinois’ budget woefully unprepared for the economic shutdown resulting from the pandemic. Two major credit-rating agencies now rank the state’s outlook as “negative,” raising the possibility of a further downgrade of its bonds to junk status.  While Illinois’ financial woes are well documented, other states face similar fiscal problems. Despite Florida having 2 million more residents than New York, its budget is less than half that of the Empire State’s, since it was willing to make tough budgetary choices over the past decade. Increased spending hasn’t improved New York’s fiscal position though, since it has a $136.6. billion shortfall, a burden of $20,500 per taxpayer.
If Congress grants the Prairie State and New York a bailout, others might be tempted to ask for one as well.
As the adage goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everyone else will have to pay for years of fiscal negligence by those states. That includes Floridians who have elected, and held accountable, politicians who have managed our state’s finances well.  According to the Florida Division of Bond Finance, as of April 10, Florida projected $3.8 billion in reserves by the end of this fiscal year. These reserves were built up despite not having a state income tax, unlike Illinois and many other states currently in the red.
We’ve made hard choices about Florida’s finances. We should not be punished for the mismanagement of others.
Skylar Zander is state director of Americans for Prosperity-Florida.


What greater gift than friends and family.
Happy Friendship week! 😍
Take two minutes to read these sayings and be sure to read
all the way to the bottom.
Written by Andy Rooney, a man who had the gift of saying so much with so few words.
Rooney has passed away but used to be on CBS’s 60 Minutes TV show.
I’ve learned...
That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
I’ve learned…
That when you’re in love, it shows.
I’ve learned…
That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.
I’ve learned…
That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the
most peaceful feelings in the world.
I’ve learned
That being kind is more important than being right.
I’ve learned…
That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I’ve learned...
That I can always pray for someone when I don’t
have the strength to help him in any other way.
I’ve learned…
That no matter how serious your life requires you to be,
everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I’ve learned…
That sometimes all a person need is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I’ve learned…
That simple walks with my father around the block on
summer nights when I was a child did wonder for me as an adult.
I’ve learned...
That life is like a roll of toilet paper.
The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I’ve learned…
That money doesn’t buy class.
I’ve learned…
That it’s those small daily happenings that make life
so spectacular.
I’ve learned…
That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants
to be appreciated and loved.
I’ve learned…
That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I’ve learned…
That when you plan to get even with someone,
you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I’ve learned…
That love, not time, heals all wounds.
I’ve learned…
That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to
surround myself with people smarter than I am
I’ve learned…
That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
I’ve learned…
That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I’ve learned…
That life is tough, but I’m tougher.
I’ve learned…
That opportunity is never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I’ve learned...
That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I’ve learned…
That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one
more time before she passed away.
I’ve learned…
That one should keep his words both soft and tender,
because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I’ve learned…
That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
I’ve learned…
That when your newly born grandchild holds your little
finger in his little fist, you’re hooked for life.
I’ve learned…
That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain,
but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re
climbing it.
I’ve learned…
That the less time I have to work with, the more things  I get done.
To all of you…
Make sure you read all the way down to the last sentence.
It’s National Friendship Week..Show your friends how much
you care.
Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND, even if it
means sending it back to the person who sent it to you.
If it comes back to you, then you’ll know you have a circle
of friends.
Now send this to every friend you have!
This was sent to me by a friend.

John Nelson -
Bob Gilmore
Dick Fankhauser

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