Weekend Quick Takes

After what was hopefully a good (covid) Christmas for everyone, here is the holiday weekend edition of quick takes. A wide range of items in the news, some of which are particularly unusual and interesting. A question worth asking on the pandemic relief bill, money in politics and the Chinese military in Canada?!

Stimulus check for pandemic relief or a holiday bonus?

Much has been made of the proposed second round of ‘stimulus checks’ passed by Congress and why they were only $600. Yet, we should be asking the opposite question:  why is there a second round of stimulus checks for $600? Hear me out on this one.

So the pandemic relief bill is supposed to be targeted to help those impacted by the pandemic (yes, there is all sorts of other stuff thrown in but stay with me). The $600 isn’t targeted to people impacted by the pandemic. It’s $600. For everyone that meets the particular requirement, whether you lost your job or your small business was hurt or not. Why is that? Don’t we want to get the money to the people who need it, to the people that have been hurt through no fault of their own by the pandemic?  If so, that $600 would be better spent by increasing unemployment checks, or to businesses to keep people on their payrolls. If it’s a pandemic relief bill, we don’t need to just send $600 checks to everyone, we need to send it to people who are hurting.

And to reinforce that point, we now have data from the first round of stimulus checks that show the savings rate in the country actually increased. What that suggests is that 1) a lot of the money went to people who didn’t need it to pay bills and 2) it really didn’t ‘stimulate’ the economy, because people didn’t spend it and thus generate jobs but saved it, in part because they didn’t have places to spend it during lockdowns.

The bill is the second largest spending bill in the history of the country. If we are going to spend that much, it needs to go where it’s needed, not just be a holiday bonus.

Money in politics

As expected, money has poured in to the two runoff elections in Georgia, to be held in January, which will determine the majority in the US Senate. The two Democratic Senate candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, have set new fund-raising records for US Senate campaigns.

With the money raised in the last month, they topped the previous record for money raised set by Jaime Harrison who was the Democratic Senate challenger in South Carolina. Harrison raised $57 million in just the third quarter of this year.

Prior to this election year, Democrat Beta O’Rourke of Texas had raised the most money for a Senate campaign in 2018. However, this year, six candidates (all Democrats) raised more than O’Rourke raised just two years ago. In the last two election cycles (2018 and 2020), Democrats have outraised Republicans by significant margins in the US Senate and House, and Presidential races.

Now that I think about it, we haven’t had any calls for or legislation to limit money in politics recently. Hmmm…

Chinese military in Canada?

In a possible indication of just how far left Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is, recently disclosed Canadian government documents show an ongoing debate on whether to allow Chinese military to participate or observe Canadian military exercises in Canada, which not only borders the US but is a member of NATO.

The Prime Minister and Defense Ministry officials have apparently been debating the presence of Chinese military officers in Canada going back at least to 2018.  The Prime Minister has been pushing the issue and Chinese officers have been in Canada observing military exercises in 2018 and this year at his direction.  The documents also reveal the Prime Minister was upset that the Defense Ministry cancelled plans for a small Chinese military contingent to participate in winter warfare exercises in 2019.

Yes, this is the same Chinese military that has forced labor camps where political prisoners manufacture resources for the military, that steals technology from western nations to use in weapons development and has threatened its neighbors in the Pacific.

Yet, somehow Prime Minister Trudeau thinks it’s a good idea for the Canadian and Chinese militaries to share information?

New York City-politics above children

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio held a news conference earlier this week. As could be expected, most of it was spent talking about the pandemic and, more specifically, about schools in the city and the challenges of learning in this environment.

In another example of how radical de Blasio really is, he couldn’t help getting off on what he really was looking for in the New York City school system. ‘I like to say very bluntly our mission is to redistribute wealth,’ he declared. ‘A lot of people bristle at that phrase and that is in fact the phrase we need to use’ 

Call me crazy, but I always thought schools were about learning and providing the best education possible to every child. Clearly, not for de Blasio.

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