Steve A. Stone
Letter to President Trump
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By Steve A. Stone
April 9, 2020

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500

8 Apr. 2020

Dear Mr. President,

I'm writing to discuss observations and concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic response and other events that are material to the health and well-being of our nation today.

I've watched intently as you and your COVID-19 Response Team have made various announcements on the progress of the disease, response actions taken, and planned responses. I find no specific fault in what has been done thus far. The CDC members have made considerations for pandemics in general as part of previous disaster response planning, and what they've done to date appears to be a sane and rational approach. But, that doesn't mean I have no criticisms. I do.

One criticism regards the seeming over-reliance on models that have no proven record of reliable accuracy. For a model to be reliably accurate, the majority of the significant factors affecting the spread, severity, and duration of the disease would have to be well understood, as well as accurate knowledge of the pertinent factors of the population being considered. With this COVID-19 virus, there is too much unknown and unproven. Also, the pertinent factors of the population, such as age, general health, underlying medical conditions, etc., vary in a significant way due to regional realities and the size and general composition of any given town or city. This situation does not lend itself to accurate modeling because there are vast numbers of factors to consider, many of which are germane, but some of which may not be. I contend this is a time for common sense and deriving lessons from analogous historical events. You know your own good sense tells you whether things are getting better or worse. Mr. President, I trust you and your judgment more in this regard than I do the models.

Another criticism I have regards predictions of the ultimate death count. Why do such a thing? I understand reporters ask those questions, but that doesn't mean any number has to be given. With the inaccuracy of predictive models, a safe answer might be, "We really don't know, but are doing all that can be done to make sure it's as low as possible." I'd rather hear a truthful admission of ignorance than to hear, "The models predict deaths in the 100,000 to 200,000 range." Mr. President, that's just not the best thing to say. It's on par with a weather man predicting the precise landfall of a hurricane a week before the event, and it has pretty much the same effect. While our citizens do want information, they don't want to be scared unnecessarily. To predict such a high death count when the national count on that day was less than 10,000 seemed a bit over the top. A well-worded "We don't really know" would have been far better. It's also the truth.

A third criticism is the social commentary that often accompanies reports by Drs. Fauci and Birx. There are comments made, especially Dr. Fauci, that strike me as progressive talking points – not true medical assessments. Last night and again tonight, I heard him elaborate on the progress of the disease in the black community and how underlying issues in that community result in the disease taking a higher percentage of lives. While it is demonstrably true that the American black community has high rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, the way Dr. Fauci discussed them seemed to be aimed at giving an impression those factors, those underlying conditions, are intrinsic characteristics of the black race and worthy of special considerations. I found that his whole presentation on the subject to be odd, misleading, and totally unnecessary in the context it was given. It struck me as a "social justice" utterance, calculated to ignore the known causal factors of bad diet habits and smoking in percentages higher than American averages. While I don't question either doctor's expertise or knowledge, I do find their political judgment questionable at times. In your or Vice President Pence's place, I might be a bit more assertive in re-characterizing some of their comments. There's something there that truly bothers me. This is not a time for medical experts to be making barely disguised social commentary.

I have friends who are listening closer than I, mostly because they've been furloughed and are home more than I am. They seemed to start out as fans of Drs. Birx and Fauci, but of late they are less sure. Something is bothering my friends as well as me. Perhaps it bears scrutiny, but it may be this isn't the time. You still deserve to know what some people are thinking and saying.

The media is obviously being less than helpful. Their priority seems to be to denigrate all you and your team does, while shouting out successes of progressive politicians and ignoring the truth that those very same politicians have depended greatly on cooperation with your response team. Rest assured, the people with sense see and know the truth. We are not fooled.

On another subject, many in the nation are concerned about the many constraints suddenly placed on their freedom. While everyone seems to understand and accept the essential facts of the situation, many have begun to speculate that the entire COVID-19 saga is little more than a convenient means to re-engineer the U.S. social structure, if not that of the entire world. They note statements by certain people in Congress, and others who are very well-known, indicating their belief that this is a time when we should completely re-think the past rules of our society and take the opportunity to make dramatic changes. Mr. President, if my hopes on this are realized, you'll be keeping track of any and all undertakings that have imposed on the freedoms of the citizens of our nation and you will systematically ensure the "undoing" of all that has been done in that regard. Let me re-characterize this concern in a different light: We understand the progressives wish to remove civil liberties in a gradual way. They may want to retain many of the constraints recently imposed to help slow the spread of the virus. We depend on you to ensure a full restoration of those compromised liberties.

The CARES Act is of great concern to many. Its size, scope, reach, and cost are stunning and troubling. While parts of it are easy to grasp, there are others that seem as if the government is playing a vast game of craps – rolling the dice of our nation's future and only hoping we don't see them stop on "snake eyes." Many of the measures taken to ensure a rapid re-start of our economy have never been attempted before. Some have been attempted with varying levels of success. Then there are other actions taken, such as inflating the money supply, which put many right on the edge of their seats. As a Wharton graduate, you're undoubtedly more than just a bit aware of the factors that have historically spurred out-of-control inflationary cycles. We are trusting that you understand how to ensure that doesn't happen as a result of recent actions by the Federal Reserve.

Here's a question for you to contemplate, though I have no doubt you already are doing so: If the current crises could be declared over in a month or six weeks and our economy is allowed to rev back up, is there any way to stop the spending and inflationary printing of money? This question relates to debt and deficit. If we can just terminate the CARES Act at an early point and not spend it down, would that not be far better for the country's economic health? Would it not be best to stop the printing presses as soon as things are looking stable? I understand in Washington talk of the New Monetary Theory (NMT) is in vogue, especially among progressive Democrats. That theory is the result of commentary made by J.M. Keynes where he speculated that any nation that had a big enough economy and a currency used as a standard could reasonably ignore any level of debt. NMT is behind the thinking that led to the deficits you've incurred in the budgets signed since you've been in office. The Democrats are now fans of debt and have no actual thought it should ever be repaid. Mr. President, this is a theory that's never been tested. It's true our nation is the only one presently in any position to test it, but we all need to keep in mind what debt actually is and understand that NMT is as unethical a concept as can be. I urge you to master this theory and fight against its current considerations in Congress. Our nation's, and possibly the world's, financial future depends on it.

Money itself is a very special topic of concern. There are many moves afoot in the world to shift to cashless economies. I've never heard you address this concept, but very much hope to. I'll give you my thoughts.

In general, I view cashless economies as adversarial to personal freedom and privacy. In the worst consideration, the concept allows a government the ability to erase the personal property (money) of a citizen with a keystroke, without them being aware of it. It also allows for 100% visibility into all financial transactions of every citizen. If a person spends the equivalent of a cent, that cent is visible and what it bought can be known by anyone with the right access. Cash has its problems, including management and replacement costs attached to paper and coins, but in a very real way, it represents many aspects of freedom that would be erased if we ever convert to a pure 1-and-0 based system. Those who toy with digital currencies today think shifting to a non-cash system would be the best thing we ever did. They'll be among the last to understand the tyranny they invite.

On a somewhat related subject, I admit the stock market had me a bit worried, but not overly much. I share your belief that the market is okay for now. If this current crisis lingers past summer, there is room for a lot of concern, but America should be open for business in a few short weeks and all concerns should abate. My own belief is the market will recover 85% of its losses by the end of this year and will once again peak sometime in the second quarter of 2021.

My last comments address the situation between the U.S., Russia, and Saudi Arabia regarding oil production. I watched the outcome of the 5 March OPEC conference and knew we were going to be pushed down almost the same road we found ourselves on in 2014 and 2015. Part of me wants to laugh at the notion that the Russians can permanently shut down our fracking industry. As long as there is reasonable profit to be made, you will find independent oil producers, the old "wildcatters," willing to gamble and invest in the industry. The notion that a strategic move by any other oil nation could permanently shut down our domestic production is ludicrous. It can't and won't happen! I did a bit of study on this issue and understand Mr. Putin is willing to use up a lot of his nation's "rainy day" fund for this effort. How much? That's the question. In recent years, the Russian people have done without in support of his austerity programs – the efforts that gave him the financial flexibility to pursue his latest gambit. But, I sense Mr. Putin won't be able to go very far or very long in this game before he encounters unrest from within his nation. Even so, he's in a better position than the Saudis, who expended much of their treasury since 2014 due to low oil prices. The Saudis proposed production cutbacks at the OPEC forum because they need the price to be at least $100/bbl. in order to sustain themselves. The Saudi's comprehensive social welfare state will eventually suck their cash reserves dry if this current price war continues for as long as six months. The truth of the oil industry is the U.S. has advantages no other major producing nation can match. We can wait them out. If your plan to sustain independent oil producers in the interim works as it should, as soon as the price war is ended those people will be back in business as if nothing ever happened. You and I understand our nation's economic future largely depends on it, too.

My own thought on this is the Russians miscalculated their plot. They obviously understood their efforts would be cheapest for them to execute in a time when demand for oil is low, but they seem not to have understood that when no one is buying much oil, the effects on their accounts are magnified because their sales drop in commensurate fashion. It's as if they didn't understand driving American oil off the market doesn't matter much when demand is so very low overall. They've imposed something of a "double whammy" on themselves.

This morning as I drove to work (I'm classified as an "essential person"), I listened to a radio report predicting the price of a barrel of oil may be as low as $10 very soon. This afternoon as I drove back home, I heard another report stating the Russians are signaling they are going to cut back their production. Has the U.S. already won the great oil price war of 2020? We shall soon see.

I will not go on. You are busy trying to save the lives of people just like me, and I want you to succeed in your efforts. That's what I wish for, hope for, and pray for.

God bless you and sustain you in your fights for America. If I can aid you in any way, please let me know.

In Liberty,

Steve A. Stone

© Steve A. Stone

 

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Steve A. Stone

Steve A. Stone is and always will be a Texan, though he's lived outside that great state for all but 3 years since 1970. He currently resides in Grand Bay, AL, with his wife of 44 years and a larger herd of furry dependents. Steve retired from the US Coast Guard reserves in 2011 after serving over 22 years in uniform over the span of four decades. His service included duty on two US Navy attack submarines, and one Navy and two US Coast Guard Reserve Units. He has worked as a senior civil servant for the US Navy for over 30 years, and is still on the job. Steve is a member of the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee and Common Sense Campaign, South Alabama's largest Tea Party. He is also a member of SUBVETS, Inc. and a life member of both the NRA and The Submarine League. In 2018, Steve created 671 Press LLC to publish his books under – he does it his way.

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