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By Dr. Glenn Mollette
Every time I go to the grocery, a restaurant, church, or work I have to put on a mask. Not long ago, if we wore a mask into a bank or convenience store, the attendants would be alarmed and call 911. Today if we don’t wear one, we are in trouble and not welcomed.
A lot of people have died from Covid-19 and thus I understand masks are important in this pandemic era. I don’t want a disease. I have had two Pfizer shots and I wear a mask most every place I go.
Is it our American, God given right to take off our masks? While we are free to take off our masks, others are free to ask us to put them on. The business owner has the freedom to require a mask. The airlines have the freedom to require masks. The religious assembly has the freedom to require you to wear a mask. People with whom you socialize may ask that you wear a mask. Of course, you are free to not patronize those businesses, forsake religious assembly and not hang out with certain people.
You are free to go maskless if you want to. However, you aren’t free to be in someone else’s face without a mask if they don’t want you there without one. There are many places where you aren’t allowed to smoke. There are some businesses that will not allow your pet. They have the freedom to refuse you service and you have the freedom to go somewhere else. This is America.
We’ve all been to the funeral home around sick people. A dear friend of mine eulogized a funeral in late November. Two people were in attendance who had Covid-19. He caught the virus and was dead by mid-December. He spent his last two weeks of life isolated in intensive care. He meant well in trying to help out a family in their time of grief. It cost him his life. He had been very active and healthy.
I’ve spoken in churches and to groups where people would come up and shake my hand and then say, “Well, I’ve been sick, but I came anyway.” They acted like they should have received a trophy for coming and contaminating everyone. In reality, their actions were inconsiderate of everyone else’s health.
State governments may remove mask mandates. However, keep in mind that business owners still have the right to require masks. Churches still have the right to require masks. You don’t have to let anyone in your home without a mask if you choose.
We have freedom in America to make choices - all of us.
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By Jane M. Orient, M.D.
The most important public health concern, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), is systemic racism. We should turn away patients requesting early at-home treatment for Covid (“not enough evidence of effectiveness”) and focus on uprooting the racism that is assumed to lurk in the subconscious of every white person and to cause “health disparities.”
With Covid, people of color do worse. Is it delayed treatment because of racial discrimination? In fact, delayed treatment for everybody, and silence on preventive measures except for vaccines, is the official policy of the AMA.
There is plenty of evidence that vitamin D deficiency is a key factor in poor outcomes. Darker-skinned people need more exposure to sun to make adequate vitamin D and are even more likely to be deficient. The AMA talks about “white privilege,” but not about vitamin D supplements.
The AMA’s desired result — equity — is apparently health outcomes proportional to a group’s representation in the population. Overall, or for certain groups, the “equitable” outcomes could be better or worse.
The disparate outcomes that correlate with race and ethnicity also correlate with income, obesity, diet, family structure, drug use, and personal responsibility about health. And these social determinants of health also correlate with race and ethnicity.
If we change attitudes and shift resources away from higher socioeconomic and healthier groups into underserved groups, will we have better outcomes or more equitable ones? In the days of “evidence-based medicine,” we have no evidence.
We measure what is easy to measure, and change what is easy to change. Institutions are appointing equity and diversity officers, and changing the composition of the workforce. Medical schools celebrate the “diversity” of the entering class. This is a zero-sum game, not an expansion of opportunities, and one obvious feature is a greatly reduced number of white males.
Less obvious is the change in admissions requirements and correspondingly in the curriculum. Courses like calculus and organic chemistry are being eliminated. The entrance examination (the MCAT) now emphasizes politically correct attitudes, not just knowledge.
The old pre-med was recognized for being a drudge — i.e. for having a strong work ethic. This sort of person could tolerate brutally long hours in the laboratory, lecture hall, hospital wards, clinic, and operating room.
Now, work hours are limited. And who needs a person with some knowledge of chemistry or the intelligence to comprehend it when treatment plans are chosen from drop-down menus? The new medical student is woke and computer-adept. Will patients be better off?
The AMA’s anti-racism campaign demands atonement and reparations. Its own history is rife with outright discrimination. Its highly honored founder Nathan Davis excluded blacks and women from the AMA House of Delegates. Its still highly esteemed dignitary Thomas Huxley expressed an opinion, in 1871, about “the average Negro” that I dare not repeat. The acclaimed 1910 Flexner Report resulted in closing most black medical schools, when other medical schools declined to admit black students.
JAMA recently forced deputy editor Howard Livingstone, “who is White,” to resign because of a podcast in which he questioned the concept of systemic racism and said that many were offended by the assumption that they are racist. Being “not a racist” is insufficient — one must be “anti-racist,” obsessed with race and identity politics.
It’s the same type of logic that caused the purging of some books by the progressive Dr. Seuss — one of the first people to fight against racism — because of some possibly offensive cartoons. His desire was for race neutrality: He wrote about how the Plain-belly and the Star-belly Sneetches learned to accept each other.
Civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King also advocated color blindness. Would he be canceled today too?
People want their doctor to focus on their problems and on doing what is best to help them. They would probably like their doctor to be studying about the latest diagnostic and therapeutic developments, instead of attending a struggle session where he is expected to confess his guilt about “white privilege.”
Most Americans — probably all of those who are patients — are concerned about their own and their family’s health, not about statistical outcomes by race. They are likely not willing to have their health sacrificed in order to hypothetically improve the health of some politically designated disadvantaged group.
Are white Americans who feel this way racists? Will doctors who put their own patients first be canceled in favor of “anti-racists” who divide society into “victims” and “oppressors” and redistribute care accordingly?
Jane M. Orient, M.D. has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989. She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.
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Parkers News & Sentinel
Gov. Jim Justice went into overdrive Thursday to gain public support for his plans to reduce the personal income tax rate and raise other taxes as state and national business groups push back against the proposals.
During an impromptu virtual town hall Thursday evening with barely seven hours’ notice, Justice accused lobbyists for businesses interests of trying to sabotage his tax plan.
“You’re going to see an orchestrated effort in the days ahead … by those who are out there who are absolutely probably thinking in my mind ‘pennywise and pound poor.’ They’re good people, but they’re thinking selfishly,” he said.
“You have lobbyists circling around everywhere because no one wants to give a little bit,” Justice continued. “We do not want to be run by the lobbyists … are the lobbyists and are the money going to continue to run all of us all the time? It’s a swamp completely overtaking us all.”
The West Virginia Business and Industry Council, a special interest group consisting of 50 trade associations and businesses, wrote a letter to lawmakers Wednesday asking them to carefully consider the effect of Justice’s tax plans on businesses throughout the state.
“We applaud Governor Justice’s initiative to do all he can to make West Virginia the most attractive state in the nation to live and work, but our members have concerns over the impact this income tax plan will have on every West Virginian and West Virginia business,” wrote Mike Clowser, chairman of BIC.
“We all agree the elimination of the personal income tax is a laudable goal, but BIC members believe there needs to be study, debate, and public input in order to develop a comprehensive tax restructuring plan,” Clowser continued.
“There’s no mention in this at all that all West Virginians will end up cash-positive,” Justice said in response to the BIC letter. “I wouldn’t have done it any other way. There’s no way on Earth I would have let the low-income wage earners carry the burden of this.”
House Bill 2027 and Senate Bill 600, the governor’s tax plan, was introduced Tuesday in the House of Delegates and state Senate. Under Justice’s proposal, personal income tax rates would be cut by 60 percent starting in July for fiscal year 2022. The tax cut would affect income earned from wages and salaries, pensions, annuities and IRAs, Social Security, and unemployment.
However, the personal income tax cut would exclude income from Schedule C business profits; Schedule E rents, royalties, and pass-through entity profits; Schedule D capital gains; Schedule F farm income; supplemental gains and losses, taxable interest income, dividend income, and miscellaneous income.
According to Ryan Maness, a senior policy analyst and tax counsel for government relations association MultiState, wrote in a blog post that only cutting personal income tax rates on some forms of income and not all amounts to a “phantom cut.”
“Assuming that this definition of ‘business personal income’ encompasses the entirety of state business’ liability under this tax, West Virginia employers would receive no tax benefit at all from this proposal,” Maness wrote. “In other words, it is likely that the $100 million personal income tax cut identified above is a phantom cut that will not be effectuated.”
“The proposal reduces the personal income tax obligation of an individual wage earner based on their income level but does nothing to benefit a business,” Clowser agreed. “The majority of West Virginia businesses are operated as sole proprietors, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, or general partnerships. As we understand the proposed legislation, owners of these businesses will see no benefit from the plan.”
In response, Justice said eliminating those additional personal income taxes that affect business owners is a long-term goal.
“We’re going to eliminate taxes on our businesses … as well,” Justice said. “We’re on a pathway right here that could absolutely substantially benefit and draw all kinds of businesses to West Virginia.”
Justice’s tax proposal also includes several tax increases to offset the $1.088 billion tax reduction from the personal income tax cut and a $52 million tax rebate for families making less than $35,000 per year.
Tax increases include $902.6 million in proposed tax increases in the consumer sales and use tax; a tiered severance tax for fossil fuels; a tax on certain luxury goods; and increased taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products, e-cigarettes, beer, wine, liquor, and soda. Justice would also remove sales tax exemptions from professional services, such as legal services, accountants, computer hardware and software, and other categories.
“Combined with the cost of the tax rate increase, businesses would be on the hook for at least $330 million in new taxes from the sales tax provisions alone,” Maness wrote. “This would be mitigated somewhat if businesses are able to subtract out the income tax cut–leaving a new additional liability of $230 million–but the plain language of the legislation suggests that the true tax increase which would fall on state employers is $330 million.”
Jared Walczak, the vice president of state projects at the Tax Foundation’s Center for State Tax Policy, had posted on Twitter last week his concerns about Justice’s plan.
“At first glance, this reduces liability for many (West Virginian) taxpayers, but shifts much of the burden onto businesses,” Walczak said. “That complicates the growth expectations … “
Even with additional savings and efficacies, Justice’s plan still leaves a gap between $185.1 million and $90 million if assumptions in the plan — such as cutting the budget by $25 million, $10 million in estimated savings from elimination state jobs through retirement and attrition, and $60 million in estimated tax revenue growth – are accurate.
“The proposed legislation leaves a funding gap,” Clowser wrote. “The Legislature would need to identify significant cuts to state services or programs to make up the difference.”
Personal income tax revenue accounted for 43 percent of $4.5 billion in tax revenue collected for the state’s general revenue fund.
In the first eight months of the current fiscal year as of February, the state collected $1.5 billion in personal income tax, which was 47 percent of the $3.1 billion collected in total taxes for the general revenue fund year-to-date.