What’s in YOUR wallet?

Most Americans are going to get a small influx of money in the next 60 days, due to two separate events. First, the 1.9 trillion dollar COVID-19 bill that is 90% about bailing out Democrat-supporting regions of the country will include some sort of stimulus checks, likely the $1400 per individual. Also, most people are filing their taxes between now and April, and most Americans will get some sort of refund on their taxes.

The thing is, most of this money gets spent without thinking about future consequences. The local used car dealerships always run “sales” this time of year that mention tax returns, and I’m seeing “stimulus check” sales advertisements popping up now. Yet we’re not going into happy times anytime soon. If you watch the stock market and references by the Fed that indicate inflation is going to come roaring back should give us pause.

If you’re not one to care about the Fed, then look more locally. Wood prices at Lowes and Home Depot are well double what they were a year ago, between the boom in home building due to low interest rates and COVID-19 shutting down the lumber mills for a time. Gas is more expensive now. I’ve had more Amazon packages getting delivered late than ever before. Stores are still running out of basic items, and while this is infrequent now, remember that is essentially never happened in the past.

All this indicates we’re in for a bumpy ride for at least two years, if not four. I’m not going to get caught unprepared for this, and you shouldn’t either. I suggest you prioritize spending this way:

  1. Debt. Get rid of any debt you can. Car almost paid off? Pay it off now. Credit card debts? Pay them off or work a forgiveness plan, an especially good idea now since card companies are also taking advantage of low interest rates.
    I would also refinance your house if you haven’t done so. Most people can’t simply pay off their mortgage, but you can make a principle payment to pay it off earlier, and shifting to bi-weekly payments (if your company allows you to) will cut years off the back end.
  2. Build up supplies. COVID-19 taught us that everything from toilet paper to sweet potatoes will be in short supply. It’s going to happen again. Rather than fight lines at a store, build up a 1-3 month supply of basics that don’t really ever go bad: bottled water, paper products, disposable eating utensils, soap and cleaning supplies. You should also keep about 2 weeks of meals in reserve. I have things like spaghetti and frozen foods that can keep for a long time just hanging out. They occasionally save me when dinner decides to catch on fire, and when the stores were swamped in the initial stages of pandemic, this food let me stretch our groceries further.
  3. Fix what you can. Americans are pretty handy people, but we also can be lazy. Plenty of homes and vehicles have little things that need repair. Get those done now. Don’t wait forever on car maintenance. The pandemic backed our local dealership up by a month for appointments. Same goes for home maintenance, even if you do it yourself, you may not get the supplies when people buy out the stores.
  4. Set your investing on automatic. Unless you’re smart on the stock market, you’re best off making long term investments on mutual funds. Whatever your investing strategy, put it on automatic through automatic funds transfers and investments. Too many people get scared when the market comes down and sell, which is the worst time to do that. Putting it on cruise control helps you take advantage of the down market over time.
  5. Build up your local network. This may not cost much money, but its critical. Do you know your neighbors? Do you know a local electrician, plumber, car mechanic and veterinarian? Remember how even routine house calls for minor issues became a major problem in the pandemic? You avoid this by knowing local people. Now is the time to get to know them and be on good terms, so when you need their help in a pinch, you can get it.

Don’t throw your stimulus to the wind! Set yourself up now to get through the trying times ahead.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Detroit’s stillborn revival

By John Ruberry

I hit the road last week–to a regular stop for me–Detroit–my fourth visit there. Coincidentally last Monday, when I arrived, was the first day that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lifting of Michigan’s ban on indoor dining, replaced by low-capacity dining, took effect.

Yet central Detroit was still nearly void of people last week.

During my first visit, in 2015, while I noticed a fair amount of bustle on the streets and sidewalks downtown, I also walked past empty skyscrapers. On my next trip, two years later, most of those same buildings were occupied or being rehabbed. And the city’s light rail line, the QLine, an expensive and impressive showpiece, had just opened. As I noted at the time on my own blog, these trolley cars ironically echo Detroit’s monorail, the People Mover, the 1980s Stalinist boondoggle championed by Coleman Young, the five-term mayor of Detroit who may have been a closet communist. Both the QLine and the People Mover serve only the downtown area. They look stunning though.

Also in 2017 Little Caesars Arena opened in the adjacent Midown part of the city. It brought the Detroit’s NBA team, the Pistons, back to the city for the first time in nearly four decades. The NHL team, the Red Wings, made the short jump from downtown’s Joe Louis Arena to Little Caesars too. Since the early 2000s the NFL entry, the Lions, and its MLB team, the Tigers, have been playing downtown. Which made the many gamedays in central Detroit a magnet for hungry and thirsty people with fat wallets. Now the teams play in front of no fans.

Quicken Loans has been based in Detroit since 2009 and is now America’s largest mortgage lender. While Detroit is still the Motor City it is the Mortgage City now too.

But meanwhile in the neighborhoods the decline of Detroit continued. For urban explorers like myself, that is, people who photograph or shoot videos of abandoned homes, factories, offices, churches—am I leaving anything out?–oh yeah, schools, there is no shortage of material to work with.

Things looked even better for Detroit when I spent a day there in 2019.

Then COVID-19 hit. Whitmer’s statewide lockdowns have been among the nation’s most restrictive. As I witnessed in Chicago last year, the streets were also eerily empty in Detroit in 2020 according to media reports, such as this one from AP in October:

Downtown Detroit was returning to its roots as a vibrant city center, motoring away from its past as the model of urban ruin. 

Then the pandemic showed up, emptying once-bustling streets and forcing many office workers to flee to their suburban homes.

And if you work for Quicken and its Rocket Mortgage wing, many of your job responsibilities, perhaps all of them, can be done from a suburban home, as Quicken performs most of its transactions online.

But lets say you need to come downtown for your annual review. What else is there to do? On Day 1 of the partial-lifting of the indoor dining lockdown, it looked to me that about half of the restaurants there were still closed. Most retail outlets were shuttered. And all of the shops and eateries were closed at the Little Caesars Arena, where I hoped to buy a hockey souvenir for Mrs. Marathon Pundit. But of course there is always Amazon to fall back on for that. Oh, Kid Rock’s Made In Detroit restaurant at Little Caesars closed last spring, although that departure had nothing to do with COVID.

So in downtown Detroit last week you still had to struggle to find a place to eat. Yes, there were a few of those ludicrous tents outside some eateries–by the way temperatures were in the 30s all last week during our visit.

Story continues below photograph.

Diners last Monday in downtown Detroit

Part of the allure of big-city centers has been the array of shopping and cultural choices offfered. That’s mostly gone now in Detroit. Sure, New York, Chicago and other large cities are facing similar challenges under COVID lockdowns, but many of their eateries and shops have been operating for decades. And yes, such businesses usually have narrow profit margins but being a going concern for many years means there will be an established customer base that might remember you a few years later. What if you are a Detroit boutique that has been open only for a couple of years?

The QLine and the People Mover haven’t run since last spring. There aren’t a lot of people in downtown Detroit to well, move. Buses are still running, however.

Back to those cultural choices: The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of America’s premier art museums. I wanted to attend Wednesday but the DIA was sold out that day. I was able to purchase tickets, online of course, for myself and my traveling companion the following day for one of the available time slots. And do you know what? Outside of employees there couldn’t have been more than 50 people inside the sprawling museum when we were there. I’m confident that Wednesday’s “sold out” day wasn’t much different. On the positive side I was able to stand and stare in front of the DIA’s four Vincent van Gogh paintings as long as I wished–there was no one to push me aside and tell me, “You’re done, now it’s my turn.” Yes, we were forced to wear masks and we had our temperature taken at the museum’s entrance. Precautions were taken.

My companion visited Dearborn’s Henry Ford museum on Tuesday–a fabulous place that I experiended in 2015–and it was nearly empty too, I was told. 

The Motown Musuem in New Center remains closed, it re-opens February 18. Man, oh man, we really wanted to see that place.

Will COVID-19 and Michigan’s lockdowns kill Detroit’s revival?

Many people have their life savings and their mortages invested in small businesses that have been closed for months in Detroit and other large cities.

The dominos will start falling.  Which is something most Detroiters know a lot about.

Meanwhile in Florida, life and business continues, with masks, but without the lockdowns. The Florida COVID death rate is lower than that of Michigan.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago mayor Lightfoot’s status as a fraud solidified in her response to police raid on wrong home

By John Ruberry

The competition for worst big city mayor is fierce, New York’s Bill de Blasio and Eric Garcetti typically lead the pack but don’t overlook Lori Lightfoot of Chicago.

How did America’s third-largest city get there?

Lightfoot’s victory in last year’s election was a fluke. She and Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle, the president of the Cook County Board emerged as the top two candidates after a 14-candidate first round of balloting–she collected only 17-percent of the vote. Lightfoot, used her endorsement by the Chicago Sun-Times and her time as chair of the Chicago Police Department Office of Professional Standards to fashion herself as the reform candidate. Her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, decided not to run for a third term; it’s widely believed his blocking the release of a video until after his 2015 reelection of the shameful deadly police shooting of Laquan McDonald led to his bowing out.

Now there is a another video. Late in Emanuel’s second term Chicago police officers raided the apartment of social worker Anjanette Young. But they busted into the wrong home. Guns were drawn and Young was handuffed naked while she screamed. “You’ve got the wrong place.”  She said that 43 times. Lightfoot’s campaign slogan was “Let There Be Light” and this was her opportunity to be transparent in a time of crisis. 

She wasn’t.

City lawyers sued to block CBS Chicago from airing the video of the botched raid. Lightfoot later called that a mistake. 

Let There Be Light.

Then the woman often derisively called “Mayor Beetlejuice” claimed that she wasn’t aware of the raid on Young’s home. But emails show that Lightfoot learned about the raid in November of 2019, around the time CBS Chicago began reporting on it. She says she “focused on budget issues” at that time and the could explain why she has no recall of the emails.

Lightfoot also admitted that she was wrong when she said that Young hadn’t filed a Freedom of Information Request for the video of the raid. The victim had in fact done so. 

At best, Lightfoot’s Chicago is circling the drain. Yes, she inherited a mess. Even before the COVID-19 epidemic Chicago was losing residents. Chicago’s public-worker pension worker plans are the worst-funded of any big city. But Lightfoot’s lockdown orders are best draconian, she hasn’t been taken to task as much as she deserves for that only because her fellow Democrat, blowhard governor JB Pritzker, has been all over local media almost daily trying to frighten Illinoisans into compliance with his own lockdown orders. 

Shootings, murders, and especially carjackings in Chicago are up dramatically over last year.

What are Lightfoot’s priorities? 

The day before the second round of widespread looting and rioting, deemed “unrest” of course by the mainstream media, Lightfoot followed through on her threat to close the vast Montrose Beach to visitors because she thought too many people gathered there on a gorgeous late summer afternoon. 

In the spring Lighfoot scolded Chicagoan by declaring “getting your roots done is not essential.” During that first lockdown, which closed all hair salons, the mayor got her stylist, maskless, to do her hair. 

When confronted with a predictable uproar for her hypocrisy, Beetlejuice doubled down, “I’m the public face of this city, I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye.”

Last month a few days before imposing a second COVID-19 lockdown, Lightfoot appeared, maskless, outdoors at a spontaneous rally at an unsafe distance with many others as she celebrated the media calling the presidential election for Joe Biden.

Chicago, a failed city, has the perfect person to represent it in the public eye.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Why I’m Voting for Donald Trump

By Christopher Harper

The economy under Donald Trump has been a marvel. Despite the pandemic, my wallet is fuller than ever before. That’s why I’m among a significant majority of Americans who think I’m better off than I was four years ago.

My wife and I just refinanced our house at the lowest rate we’ve ever had in 40 years of home owning and lowered our monthly costs by $400 a month on a shorter term.

My retirement account has improved dramatically over the past four years, making it possible for us to live well.

After many years of reporting about the Middle East, I am far more hopeful than ever. The defeat of the Islamic State has made the region far safer. The disengagement from the Iran nuclear deal has hobbled that country and its plans for the region. The peace agreements between Arab states and Israel are the most encouraging signs since the Camp David accords 40 years ago.

Early on, the president tried to engage China, but he realized that the Beijing government represents the most severe threat to the United States and the world. As a result, he has used the bully pulpit and executive orders to awaken people to the issues.

After nearly 50 years as a journalist and a journalism educator, I realize that my craft has fallen on bad times. The media have become sellers of falsehoods rather than beacons of truth. I applaud the president for calling out those in the media who are more interested in dividing us than uniting us.

President Trump would surely have won in a landslide had the pandemic not intervened. As a senior citizen, I was worried about how COVID-19 might affect my wife and me. Fortunately, the disease has not seriously affected most of the people we know.

As COVID-19 has become the centerpiece of the Democrat and media attack against the president, I thought they might have some better solutions. I was stunned at the recent onslaught of campaign ads by the Democrats that focused on masks, Obamacare, and shutdowns. If that’s the best that Joe Biden and his team can come up with, I’m glad they didn’t run health policy over the last year.

Although I didn’t vote for President Obama and Vice President Biden, I hoped that a black president might usher in better race relations. In fact, the opposite happened. As Obama and Biden fanned the flames of racial unrest in places like Ferguson, Missouri, I realized that things were going to get worse before they got better. As a result, I blame Obama and Biden for the division in the country.

Finally, I am grateful that President Trump has been able to return the U.S. Supreme Court to a better balance than I’ve seen in my lifetime.

I have never felt better about the righteousness of my vote.

COVID-19 lockdowns must end for the sake of our overall health

Outside a store in Wisconsin earlier this month

By John Ruberry

Who else besides me is fed up wearing a mask when shopping at a supermarket?

Or at work?

Or a restaurant? 

I haven’t eaten inside an Illinois restaurant–or in a tent–since Governor JB Pritzker instituted his first lockdown in March. I’ve picked up take-out meals only.

Who has had enough of lockdowns?

As a person with a strong libertarian bent I don’t like being bossed around, pestered, or nagged. 

But I’ve been coping with all of that for months. 

I know ten people who’ve contracted COVID-19. Only two of them told me they were very ill. Two were asymptomatic. All of them are still with us–in fact, they’ve all returned to their jobs as if nothing happened. 

Last month the Centers for Disease Control released the survival rates for those who have contracted COVID-19.

  • Age 0-19 — 99.997%
  • Age 20-49 — 99.98%
  • Age 50-69 — 99.5%
  • Age 70+ — 94.6%

So if you are over 70, and most people already know that seniors are more prone to death from COVID-19 than everyone else, you have a 94.6 percent of surviving. President Trump is one of those septuagenarians who has recovered. Yes, COVID-19 is serious, because those stats also say those 70 and over have a slightly higher than 5 percent chance of dying from it. 

Here’s another situation where that percentage, 94 percent, comes in to play. Nearly two months ago the CDC said of those deaths from the novel coronavirus, 94 percent had “multiple chronic conditions.” In other words, they were already unhealthy. Every death is tragic. But part of life is getting sick, getting injured, getting old, and yes, passing away. You can fool, perhaps, your neighbors or co-workers about your true age with hair dye and plastic surgery, but never can you hoodwink Father Time. 

Humans are intensely social animals, as are all primates. It’s in our genetic makeup. The most watched television shows and movies are centered on personal interactions. One of the most popular TV programs ever aired is “Friends.” There is not a show entitled “Hermits,” there is no interest in producing such a program because few people would want to watch it. 

The death rate from COVID-19 is very low for the very young. Yet many of our schools are closed except for cold and impersonal Zoom sessions.

Usually our first and most lasting impressions with others of our species is by way of their faces. But the mask requirements in many states, especially blue ones like mine, take those connections away from us.

The lockdowns have led to an increase in drug overdoses and possibly suicides. Among young people, the CDC says, the death rate for young people is higher for overdoses and suicides than for COVID 19.

That wave just might be beginning. For instance, Chicago, which is just south of where I live, just instated another curfew because of an uptick in COVID cases. All businesses deemed non-essential for the next two weeks must close between 10pm and 6am. Bars and restaurants, already reeling from being closed down this spring, will be hit especially hard. Some of these businesses, especially those struck by looting this summer, will never re-open. Which means of course more people will be prone to suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. The workforce in the food and beverage industry is disproportionately young.

Mrs. Marathon Pundit was an early victim of the COVID-19 lockout layoffs. She’s fine–she has a new job in a different field. But her former boss was forced to downsize his business, which I believe his home mortgage was tied into. He sold his home this summer and moved into a much smaller residence.

There are millions of former business owners facing similar situations across America. And not all workers, such as Mrs. Marathon Pundit, will be able to land on their feet. 

One “fix” to the drop in revenue for brick-and-mortar restaurants is to set up plastic tents next to them. Diners instead of eating indoors will be eating, sort of, outdoors in these tents, but still breathing each other’s air. Alongside them in cold weather climates, in the winter, will be space heaters, which are a well-known fire hazard. 

Follow the science. 

Take a deep breath before reading this next paragraph.

Based on my current age, overall health, and family history, I’ll probably live another 25-years. I do not want to spend those years wearing a mask. I don’t want to go running outdoors–and this really happened–as I run 50 yards past a couple who, in horror, hurriedly put their masks over their faces as I move, maskless, down the street that I live on as if I am Typhoid Mary. According to federal government data, there have been 624 positive cases of COVID-19 in the town I live in, Morton Grove, which has a population of 23,000.

Who frightened that Morton Grove couple? Not me, well not initially that is.

Will the mask mandates return–if they ever go away–when a more virulent than usual strain of the flu strikes?

Follow the science. 

This is not a distress from me call but instead a call for action. For the sake of our overall health–while maintaining strict safety controls in places such as senior homes and hospitals–these lockdowns must end. But I suspect many politicians–such as Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago–don’t want the lockdowns to end. They are too in love with power. Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker told us we needed the lockdowns to “flatten the curve” in the spring so hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Now they want to prevent all of us getting sick, which as we know is not possible.

The goalposts keep moving.

Years ago I read in a book about marathon training that stated that distance running, all things being equal, does indeed lead to a longer life expectancy. But more importantly, those extra years on this planet for runners usually mean they are enjoyable years. Who is going to sign up for an additional ten years of life if those years will consist of living in a nursing home in need of 24-hour care?

The quality of life for myself and millions of others is diminished because we are ordered to wear masks and to avoid each other.

End the lockdowns.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Selling fear

By Christopher Harper

When I walk our dogs each day, I don’t wear a mask outside because no studies show any reason to do so.

If I encounter anyone along the way, many pull up their masks as though I pose a danger.

A few weeks ago, we were cutting a dead tree from our garden, and our neighbor came storming out of his house because we weren’t wearing masks.

I see these incidents as examples of the success of the Democrats’ approach to selling fear during the pandemic, resulting in many peoples’ minds turning into emotional mush.

This anxiety and fear have permeated many people’s thinking when we should be looking to the future. The lockdowns throughout the United States may be taking a more significant long-term toll than the disease itself.

New research has added to the growing body of evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy mental health toll on people who are not directly impacted by the disease.

A new study of 12,000 workers and executives in 11 countries found that more than 80 percent of those surveyed complained about the pandemic’s negative effect on their mental health. Those surveyed said they suffered from sleep deprivation, poor physical health, reduced happiness at home, or isolation from friends.

A CDC survey found that thoughts of suicide had increased among several groups in the United States: those between ages 18-24 (25.5%), essential workers (21.7%), and minority racial/ethnic groups (18.6% Hispanic, 15.1% non-Hispanic Black).

The homicide rates in many cities have risen dramatically. In August, a Wall Street Journal analysis of crime statistics among the nation’s 50 largest cities found that reported homicides were up 24% so far this year, to 3,612. Last week, Philadelphia recorded 363 murder victims, which was more than all of last year with nearly three months left. This year the murder rate has exceeded the number from every year since 2008. If the trend continues, there will be 113 more murders in the city, bringing the total to 476, the highest since 1990 and the third highest on record.

I may be naive, but it seems that there is a relatively simple solution to many of these issues: tone down the rhetoric and get people interacting once again in a safe environment.

The emphasis on making people afraid of one another and locking them down is likely to have far more negative effects over the next few years than the pandemic.

The Democrats should think about what one of their most beloved presidents, Franklin Roosevelt, said, “[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself–nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Thanks to the Coronavirus ‘crisis’ the United States has become a police state and far too many are OK with that

I heard a call on my police scanner this past Saturday that perfectly illustrates just how far along the road to becoming a police state large portions of the United States have become.  A concerned citizen called the police because there were a dozen cars parked on her neighbor’s lawn.  The caller was concerned that the neighbor was having a party and the guests were not wearing masks and were not social distancing.  Two cruisers were dispatched to make sure no one at the party was being naughty.  The home owner welcomed the officers and demonstrated that all guests were properly following Governor Baker’s edicts from on high. 

I was shocked that the neighbor was such a meddling busybody who would tattle on her neighbor for daring to do something so shockingly evil as have a party in their own home.  I was not shocked that the police responded to such a frivolous call because I have read all of Governor Baker’s draconian, liberty destroying, edicts.  Here is a description of the rather odious proclamation that supposedly granted local police officers the authority to trample on the rights of property owners across the state of Massachusetts:

Baker also announced the formation of a an enforcement and intervention team, which will be tasked with ramping up enforcement in key communities and evaluating rising trends such as new positive cases and the percentage of positive tests.

Public safety officials, including state and local law enforcement, now have the jurisdiction to enforce safety orders and crack down on events hosted in violation of the orders, according to Baker.

“These teams will coordinate an increased enforcement effort across the state to assure businesses and residents are aware of and are following the COVID-19 orders,” Baker said. “By authorizing state and local police to enforce these orders, we can not only increase the number of people who will be out there to enforce these measures but also ensure that are penalties for those who refuse to make the adjustments that so many people in Massachusetts have made and continue to make.

Those who fail to comply with the orders will be subject to fines or cease and desist orders,

If I was hosting a party at my home and the police showed up to determine if we were wearing masks and practicing social distancing I would not have allowed them entry.  I would have demanded they produce a search warrant and I would have asked them to cite the exact laws we were breaking.  If the police officers cited the governor’s emergency edicts I would have informed them that these edicts are not valid laws, not having passed through the formal legislative process.  That situation could easily happen because my family always hosts large gatherings over the Christmas Holidays and we have no intention of followings emperor Baker’s commandments on our private property.  I know a great many individuals believe the same way.  I could see this type of scenario easily spinning out of control and leading to violence or a standoff.

These regulations have turned Massachusetts into a police state with local law enforcement officers and an army of busybodies acting as Governor Baker’s secret police force.   Because so many states such as New York, California, and Virginia have similar draconian regulations most of the country is now a police state.  It is not just sad, it is disgusting that far too many people blindly follow these obscene and unconstitutional regulations.  These regulations are worthy of mass protests demanding they be removed immediately, where are these protests?

Update on the continuing Illinois Exodus

By John Ruberry

I’ve been writing here about the Illinois Exodus for several years. The COVID-19 outbreak, as it has many other societal trends, is accelerating the people drain. But two rounds of riots and looting, one after the homicide of George Floyd, and the second last month, after false rumors that Chicago Police had killed a man now charged with murder, are gut punches that the city will not quickly recover from. 

In my DTG post-second riot post about the decline and fall of the city, Welcome to Detroit, Chicago, I wrote, “But when Chicago’s downtown area is dominated by boarded up store-fronts with signs declaring ‘Move in now–lease rates reduced again–first month free!’ you’ll know the downtown descent is well under way.” The vacancy rate for luxury units in downtown Chicago are at their highest level ever recorded according to Mike Flannery (more on him in a bit).

I haven’t been downtown since that “Detroit” entry, but on my own blog, Marathon Pundit, an automated Google Ads banner from a downtown Chicago apartment building offered this promo, “First two months rent free.”

Decline and fall.

And keep in mind that over seventy percent of Chicago’s economic activity comes from the downtown area. And Chicago is of course Illinois’ largest and most important city.

Downstate things aren’t much better. AP is reporting on three towns in St. Clair County, which is across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, that are considering merging because of “severe population decline.” St. Clair County, like Chicago and Cook County, are Democratic strongholds where corruption is widespread.

Large swaths of downstate Illinois have been facing population losses for decades, for instance Iroquois County, an agricultural powerhouse that is just 55 miles from Chicago’s city limits, saw its population peak in 1900. Universities have allowed other downstate counties to buck that trend, but enrollment was struggling at many of these colleges before COVID-19 hit. Business Insider last week compiled a list of the “30 college towns that could face economic ruin if schools don’t reopen or have to close again this fall.” Two of them are in Illinois.

The Prairie State has lost population for six straight years. It’s a safe bet that when the counting is over for 2020 it will be seven.

On the usually-worth watching–Fox Chicago’s Flannery Fired Up, three cheerleaders for the city and one moderate skeptic talked about its descent and for the most part, it’s quick bounce back. But this weekend’s episode was an aberration. The show sucked. It was up to the host, Mike Flannery, to bring up the two 800-pound gorillas in Chicago’s otherwise looted basement: rampant corruption and the worst-funded municipal pensions in the nation. 

Since 1973 over thirty members of Chicago City Council have been sentenced to prison. At one time he was the city’s most powerful alderman, but now Ed Burke is under indictment for allegedly shaking down a fast food franchisee. Do you want to bring your business to Chicago? You may have to endure having your pockets picked by a pol. Or by several of them.

Where do I sign up?

Burke has been an alderman since 1969. Chicago needs term limits. And so does Illinois. Boss Michael Madigan, who is from the same part of the city as Burke, has been speaker of the state House since 1983 except for two years in the 1990s when the Republicans had a majority in the lower chamber. Madigan is also a Chicago ward committeeman. He’s been chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party since 1997. Illinois’ most powerful Dem is also currently under investigation as part of an evolving federal corruption probe that has already ended the careers of several Chicago and suburban politicians

There is no way out of Chicago’s pension bomb other than a municipal bankruptcy, one that may also force many city vendors to go under, or a federal bailout. Even if the the Democrats capture the Senate and the White House in November, such a rescue for irresponsible spending, a backhanded reward really, faces tall odds in Washington. But under current Illinois law, government bodies are prevented from declaring bankruptcy.

The “moderate skeptic” on Flannery Fired Up mentioned transportation as a city selling point. While O’Hare is one of the world’s busiest airports–it used to be ranked first in traffic–and Chicago is a rail hub and it has many miles of interstate highways, that “expert” needs to drive on Chicago’s streets. They are falling apart. 

And if you don’t own a car and you use your feet to get around? Watch out, walking on crumbling sidewalks often requires strong ankles and a steady balance. 

Violence in Chicago was declining over the last few years but shootings are way up since the pandemic was declared.

As I’ve mentioned before, like an alcoholic, Chicago’s cure won’t begin until it admits complete and utter defeat. 

That point has not been reached. But it’s probably coming soon.

As it is for the rest of Illinois. The state’s pension programs are almost as poorly funded as Chicago’s.

Decline and fall. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Governor Baker’s continued business lockdown is destroying the Massachusetts economy

I knew the economic conditions in Massachusetts have been steadily deteriorating since Governor Charlie Baker single handedly began our state’s Coronavirus lockdown. I had no idea just how bad things have gotten here until the June unemployment numbers were released. Howie Carr very colorfully breaks down the numbers in this Boston Herald editorial Charlie Baker is leading … us right down the drain

It took a while, but thanks to Gov. Charlie Parker, Maskachusetts now has the worst unemployment rate in the United States — 17.4%.

Very impressive, because while recording the state’s highest unemployment numbers since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began tracking statistics in 1976, the commonwealth also has the third-highest virus death toll among the 50 states.

Massachusetts is not alone when it comes to economic carnage caused by Coronavirus lockdowns.  According to the Howie Carr editorial several other states are nearly as bad.

For the record, the runner-up to Maskachusetts in the June BLS stats is New Jersey, with 16.6% unemployment. The benighted Garden State’s governor, Phil Murphy, just happens to be a Needham High School classmate of … Charlie Parker’s. Not to mention Harvard College. Coincidence?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York finished third with a dismal 15.7% unemployment rate. Thanks to Cuomo’s decision to infect nursing homes with COVID-19 patients early on, the Empire State still has by far the highest number of deaths, followed by NJ and MA.

Do you begin to detect a pattern here? The more draconian the state shutdowns, the more impervious the governors are to the actual facts on the ground, the higher both the states’ death tolls and the unemployment numbers.

Before the Coronavirus panic began the economy of Massachusetts was in good shape,

A year ago, the MA unemployment rate was 2.9%. So was Maine’s. Yet even with Janet Mills, a governor almost as unhinged as Baker, Maine’s unemployment rate has only risen to 6.6%.

None of the lockdowns were necessary.  They were brought about because of junk science, deeply flawed models, and an over reliance on scientific experts that are just as flawed as the models.  This is chronicled in the Federalist article How Have Our Scientific Experts Gotten So Much Wrong?

There have been a lot of mistakes made by our betters with fancy letters after their name, but perhaps none so consequential as the wildly inflated mortality rate back in February and March. To put it in perspective, at a 3.4 percent death rate if 50 million Americans contracted Covid, 1.7 million would die. At the mortality rate of .4 percent that number shrinks to 200,000. All loss of life is tragic, but scientists were having us destroy the economy and people’s lives based on a woefully faulty number.

The lockdowns and business shutdowns were sold to in this state as necessary to bend the curve.  As you can see from this chart that I copied from the WCVB channel 5 news station daily Coronavirus tracker web page, the curve was bent way back months ago.  The daily case numbers are way down yet unemployment is way up because so many businesses remain closed thanks to our governor.  Deaths are also way down from the peak, along with hospitalizations.

Covid-19: What the media and the Democrats don’t want you to realize

By Christopher Harper

After the media and the Democrats trashed the response of the Trump administration’s actions toward the pandemic, few analysts have circled back to assess the success of the federal government.

Overall, the administration did quite well in facing the most horrific disease outbreak in a century.

The only way to accurately assess the overall effectiveness is to compare apples to apples, or death rates to 100,000 people. To wit, the United States did better than Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and about the same as the Netherlands and Ireland. Germany and South Korea did better.

The cancellation of flights from China held down the infection rate; the cancellation of flights from Europe could have come earlier.

The patchwork of shutdowns and social distancing across almost every U.S. state has succeeded in stopping the exponential spread of the virus; the subsequent government subsidies have helped the economy.

Remember the ventilator shortage? It never materialized. Now the United States has a considerable surplus after mobilizing production by the likes of General Motors.

Remember the hospital bed shortage? On March 18, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a dire warning. Within 45 days, New York City would need 110,000 hospital beds to treat those suffering from Covid-19, and it only had 53,000 available. In the end, New York hit a peak for hospitalizations on April 12 at 18,825–well below the worst-case scenario.

Across the nation, the healthcare system became strained in some states, such as New Jersey, Maryland, and Massachusetts, but it held up to the increased demand.

The problem is New York and other states was the inadequate oversight of nursing homes and long-health facilities, where about 40 percent of the 120,000 victims died.

Although the federal government sets standards for these facilities that receive Medicare, state and local governments are responsible for overseeing the quality of care. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and others failed miserably, while Florida and a few others did not.

Multiple vaccines for the coronavirus have begun clinical trials on humans. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 100 possible vaccines in various stages of development around the world.

Earlier predictions argued it could be more than a year and a half before a vaccine was proven effective and ready to use. Now one is expected some time in the beginning of next year.

“From a vaccine development, we are doing incredibly well in that we’ve got a large number of entities trying to develop the vaccine,” says Gerard Anderson, a professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Meanwhile, the antiviral drug Remdesivir has been found to shorten the average hospital stays of coronavirus patients.

Remember that study that argued hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, was dangerous? It turns out the data were false, and the study was withdrawn from a prominent medical journal.

Some shortages of personal protective equipment, or PPEs, occurred during the initial outbreak. That shortage was caused, in part, by virus-related disruptions in the supply chain from manufacturers in China, Anderson says.

Again, the United States now has a vast surplus. As of June 12, the government and industry had delivered more than 140 million N95 masks, 600 million surgical and procedural masks, 20 million eye and face shields, 265 million gowns and coveralls, and 14 billion gloves.

The Centers for Disease Control bungled test kits after the initial outbreak—part of the reason why Trump bypassed the organization. Again, the country now has a vast stockpile of testing kits and is performing roughly 500,000 examinations a day, with more than 20 million done in total.

But the media and the Democrats have shifted away from the positive steps the Trump administration made during the pandemic to the issue of racism. It’s the whack-a-mole strategy they’ve played from Russiagate to Racegate.