The Pandemic Is Over. Pivot to the Economy.

In the early days of COVID, the key objective was herd immunity. Today, we are there, or very nearly so. We should declare victory. It has been a costly victory. It may be a Pyrrhic victory, unless we pivot rapidly from COVID to the economy. According to CDC data, we have reached herd immunity, consisting of immunity conveyed by vaccination plus natural immunity borne of survival of the virus. 250 million, or almost 80% of, Americans have received at least one shot, and 65 million, or about 20%, have contracted COVID and survived. We are about as close to full

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The Big Apple Exodus to Connecticut Never Happened and Here’s Why

The suburban myth of a mass exodus from a virus-plagued New York City to the supposedly safe environs of Connecticut died with the recent release of Census Bureau interstate migration data. While New York State lost over 400,000 residents to other states from April 2020 to July 2021, Connecticut attracted a mere 226 net new residents from other states. Incoming New Yorkers were offset by outgoing Nutmeggers. And that’s the good part. Connecticut’s labor force plummeted by 100,000, or more than 5%, from February 2020 through November 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only two state workforces

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COVID’s Last Gasp

COVID is surging, particularly in the Northeast. Yet, it is not a wild-eyed prediction to say that this will be COVID’s last gasp. While the virus will be around for a long time, it will cease to be a serious threat. Why? Because of vaccines and because of two relatively unheralded medical advances: the 89%-effective home-use Pfizer COVID self-treatment pill and the new at-home COVID rapid test. Soon, when feeling the mildest initial symptoms, Americans will be able to test themselves at home, and, if positive, treat themselves by popping the Pfizer pill, which is highly effective if taken within

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Confused About COVID? Who Isn’t?

A month ago, the nation had reached an 80% one-shot COVID vaccination rate for those over age 18, with 96% of vaccines administered being the 95%-effective Pfizer and Moderna shots. Forty percent of the very-vulnerable elderly, whose early vaccinations from last winter were weakening, had received boosters. Pfizer had announced its 89%-effective home-use COVID treatment pill. The nation seemed poised to emerge from the pandemic and move forward. We seemed very well situated to avoid the enormous infection wave swamping Europe. Then, Omicron. The Omicron variant’s higher transmissibility and its apparently milder severity have scrambled the common wisdom about the

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Alarmed by the COVID-19 Surge in Europe? Don’t Be.

Americans should be thankful, not fearful. The U.S. is unlikely to see the kind of COVID-19 surge now occurring in Europe. The U.S. has high COVID-19 vaccination rates. Eighty-two percent of those 18 and older and 100% of the uniquely vulnerable population over age 65 have had at least one shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of equal importance, over 96% of vaccine doses administered have been the strong 95%-effective Pfizer and Moderna shots. In Europe, vaccination rates are high, but many people have been vaccinated with less effective vaccines, primarily the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine which is somewhere

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Covid-19 Mandate Ignores the Science

Biden Administration generals are fighting the last war. Last Thursday, they mandated that large businesses and health care facilities require that their workers get vaccinated for COVID-19. The next day, Pfizer announced an antiviral pill to treat the virus. Pfizer’s pill is 89% effective. A Merck antiviral pill for COVID-19 (with only about 50% effectiveness) is already in use in Britain. COVID-19 treatment pills destroy any vestige of logic or justification for Biden’s vaccine mandates. No matter how someone contracts the virus, these pills prevent serious illness – hospitalization and death. With double lines of defense against the coronavirus –

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Lunch Pail Issues

Ned Lamont went to Washington last week. He visited the White House, with whose occupant he shares much in common, especially on the “lunch pail” issues of gas prices and jobs. Biden’s policies have already pushed gas prices to record seven-year highs. Lamont’s gas price hikes are only an ambition right now, since the Connecticut General Assembly has not yet approved Lamont’s proposed new gas tax, aka the multi-state Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) – emphasis on “yet.”  All summer and early fall, Connecticut Democrats talked about convening a special session to approve TCI, yet they couldn’t quite convince themselves to

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A Citizen’s Action Plan to Keep CRT Out of Schools

Here’s a four-point action plan for citizens who want to resist the efforts of teacher unions and the Biden administration to force Critical Race Theory (CRT) into public schools. The plan recommends four resolutions that citizens can propose that local school boards adopt and school board candidates endorse. With less than three weeks to election day, it enables voters to determine where school board candidates stand on this controversial issue. Resolution number 1: This school board will not accept, nor utilize any material, from The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which argues that slavery is the central theme of U.S.

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A Medley on Matters of Ongoing Concern

China behaves abroad, but not at home. Last week in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, committed to stop building noxious coal-fired power plants abroad. However, Xi said nothing about halting the ongoing construction of coal plants at home in China, which emits one-third of global greenhouse gases and whose emissions continue to increase. In contrast, U.S. emissions are less than half of China’s and have been decreasing for over a decade, on the strength of replacement of coal plants with plants fired by natural gas extracted by fracking, an inconvenient truth for U.S. environmentalists.

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Lamont is in Public (Union) Service

Governor Lamont is negotiating in secret a new wage contract with the State Employees Bargaining Alliance Coalition (SEBAC) that, likely, will award state employees significant future wage increases as well as generous modification of the cost-of-living-adjustments to their pensions after their retirement. These new wage hikes and benefits will come on the heels of big wage increases in 2019 and 2020 under the old wage contract which expired this past summer. Nothing ever stands in the way of the ever-increasing generosity of state employee compensation. Nothing. Note this week’s data release showing that the median American household saw its income

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The Best of America and the Worst

The true fiber of this nation has been on brilliant display in recent weeks. While the president and his foreign policy and military advisors have disgraced the nation with their incompetence and worse, America’s military veterans have redeemed the nation’s honor with ingenuity and dedication in what has been called the Digital Dunkirk. Veterans have used social media, off-the-shelf encryption technology and broadly available satellite imagery to locate people trapped in Afghanistan and to guide them with encrypted messages into Kabul airport for evacuation and to escape via other routes.   These vets have shown that, when government fails, the

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The Unlosable War We Just Lost

We just lost an unlosable war. Over the last five years, with relatively modest military resources and extremely low casualties – less than 70, we’ve been able to maintain relative stability in Afghanistan. Now, Biden has pulled the plug. Now, Afghanistan is a disaster, a stain on U.S. honor and values, and a defeat with incalculable costs for ongoing U.S. foreign policy. While the Pentagon stopped releasing troop levels in 2017, the last reported level was about 10,000, although the AP reports that the Trump Administration planned as many as 14,000 troops in 2017. Yet the low casualty levels imply

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The Charmed Life of Connecticut State Employees… Amid Devastation
in the Private Sector

Connecticut’s privileged state employees and its downtrodden private sector workers might as well occupy different planets. Hundreds of thousands private sector workers lost their jobs during the pandemic. State workers have enjoyed a decade-long no-layoff guarantee, so not one was thrown out of work. While private sector workers struggled to get by during the pandemic, state workers got two 5.5% pay raises, one eight months before and the second four months into the pandemic. Local police and firefighters and predominantly private sector health care workers manned the frontline jobs during the pandemic, as did essential retail workers – in grocery

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Jahncke: Connecticut is in a Full-blown Jobs Crisis.

The state workforce has shrunk by about 160,000, or 8.2%, from its pre-pandemic level of 1.93 million in February 2020, the worst decline in the nation. Only three other states have experienced drops of more than 5%. Of Connecticut’s remaining workforce, about 140,000, or 7.9%, are unemployed – the highest unemployment rate of the 50 states. Combined, 300,000 people, or 15.5% of the pre-pandemic workforce, have dropped out or are currently unemployed. The next worst level is 10.9% in Hawaii. Being last is one thing that Connecticut is accustomed to, but to trail 49th place by a huge 4.6% margin

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Progressive Dogma Collides with Reality

Now, there’s real evidence to begin to resolve national controversy surrounding two critical issues, policing and jobs. Eric Adams’ apparent victory in the Democrat primary election in the New York City mayoral race reveals what people of color think about the police. According to an article in The New York Times, they do not want to “defund the police” as progressives demand. Adams “rejected calls to defund the Police Department and pledged to expand its reach in the city.” “Black and brown voters flocked to his candidacy…” On the economic front, President Biden seems to think he is riding to

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There can be no Social Justice Without Jobs and a Healthy Economy.

Republican state legislatures are adopting resolutions banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools. The bans are a reaction to Democrats mandating CRT in public education and in other dimensions of public policy. Bans and mandates are two sides of the same coin. CRT is a bad penny, first because any version of history and sociology so controversial should not be taught in public schools. Let university intelligentsia debate such ideas until a consensus interpretation develops that is appropriate for young minds in elementary, middle and high school. Furthermore, the central precepts of CRT and its highly

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Connecticut Employment Has Plummeted… Will It Recover?

The pandemic is largely over. Now, the challenge is to revive the economy. In practical terms, that means transitioning from policies supporting people who are out of work to policies encouraging people to get back to work. There is a fierce national debate about how fast to transition. Connecticut is on the wrong side of the debate – and cannot afford to be. The number of workers in the state’s workforce has plummeted during the pandemic by 188,000 since February 2020, according to federal statistics. This is a drastic 9.7 percent decline, by far the biggest drop in the nation. 

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The Triad of Radical Ideas Behind the Anti-Racism Crusade

Reverend Steven R. Jungkeit, a white minister in the small all-White (99.8% non-Black) Connecticut town of Lyme-Old Lyme (pop 10,000) claims to be collaborating with the local school system “to teach the history of racism and enslavement in the area” as one part of a social justice project launched by his church last summer. Another part involves police accountability. Surely the nation has been seized with the issues of racism, social justice and policing, if such a project has been launched in this unlikeliest of places, one with a population of only about 25 Black people.  Ian Neviaser, the school

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After Pandemic, More Homeschooling?

A year ago when the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year was in doubt, I realized that I had to step into the breach. So did many parents. I started my own version of homeschooling for my soon-to-be-kindergartner. We did “numbers” over breakfast, “letters” before dinner, and I read to him at bedtime. It was nothing sophisticated; it took only about an hour in total, before and after my workday; but it worked.  By summer’s end, my youngster was already proficient in numbers beyond the level expected at the end of kindergarten, and he knew the alphabet, more

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Connecticut Progressives Should Jump Off the Biden Bandwagon

The Biden administration is on a massive spending spree. Connecticut progressives want to follow suit. Last week, Biden released a “trial balloon” proposing how to pay for his spree. Unsurprisingly, the idea is massive tax increases for corporations and upper income individuals, including a near doubling of the top capital gains tax rate from 23.8% to 43.8%. Connecticut’s progressives have proposed more than a billion dollars of new spending, primarily on vague social justice goals (“building wealth in underserved communities” and “reducing income inequality”), all to be funded by new taxes imposed exclusively upon upper income taxpayers, including a capital

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A Threat By Any Name is the Same

Upon his inauguration, President Biden issued a flurry of executive orders related to climate change, including one designating climate change a national security threat, one rejoining the Paris Accord, another halting the Keystone XL pipeline and yet another freezing petroleum leases and permits on federal land for 60 days. The primary security threat by this new climate-change name looks the same as the leading national security threat in traditional terms: China. The totalitarian Communist dictatorship is responsible for 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the EDGAR database. China’s emissions are not only the world’s most, but they

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Error Distorts Public Employee Pension Debate

In 2015, the Malloy administration commissioned a study of Connecticut’s State Employees Retirement System (SERS) by the Center for Retirement Research, a prominent pension research institute. While the Center’s report was well done and most of its recommendations were adopted by the state, the Center miscalculated the level of employee pension benefits, saying they were not “overly generous.” They were and, today, still are overgenerous.  The Center’s error has distorted subsequent debate about state employee compensation, the origins of the drastic underfunding of SERS, and the high cost to the state of pension benefits, as the state’s annual contribution to

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Part I: Lamont’s Budget: A Game of ‘Caps,’ Except for The Privileged Few

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of three editorials, by Red Jahncke and UWA Region 9 President Michael Holmes, debating the state budget and the issue of state employee compensation. The series follows the classic format of point, counterpoint and brief rebuttal. Jahncke provides initial remarks. Holmes is given 3 days to respond. Jahncke is then was given 1 day for a brief rebuttal. Governor Lamont unveiled his proposed Connecticut Comeback budget last week.  A comeback is unlikely given the long-festering problem of overgenerous and woefully underfunded compensation for privileged state employees. Yet, politicians in Hartford won’t

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Instead of Undermining Responsible Town Government, Hartford Democrats Should Cede Authority to Towns

Give it to Connecticut Democrats They never give up. They are determined to diminish local government to a status of virtual triviality in the name of progressivism and in their unquenchable thirst for ever more state tax revenue. This legislative session, the Democrats want to impose progressive statewide zoning provisions that would virtually eliminate local authority over residential housing. In a second blow to housing and another blow to municipalities, the Democrats, led by Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, want to levy a statewide property tax. The very proposal demonstrates why local control should be defended at all costs.

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Connecticut’s Revenues — Anything But Simple

Last week, Governor Lamont invoked the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) to explain his reordering of the sequence of eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations.  He should not stop there. The entirety of state government could use a rigorous application of the principle.  Last year, Yankee Institute released a study of state revenue sources. The study was simple. What it found was not. The study was just a one-page list of all the state’s revenue sources – all 344 of them. The page was oversized, measuring 17 by 22 inches, with the list printed in a font as small as the

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Part III: Jahncke’s Rebuttal

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of three editorials, by Red Jahncke and UWA Region 9 President Michael Holmes, debating the state budget and the issue of state employee compensation. The series follows the classic format of point, counterpoint and brief rebuttal. Jahncke provides initial remarks. Holmes is given 3 days to respond. Jahncke is then was given 1 day for a brief rebuttal. Unfortunately, Mr. Holmes has ignored the concerns expressed in my column.  Instead of addressing the fact that state employees earn 40 percent more than Connecticut’s private sector workers, as documented both by internal

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Schools Are Safe, If Not Oases from COVID-19

The evidence is piling up that schoolchildren, teachers and staff are safe in schools. Indeed, the evidence suggests schools are the “safest place” for them to be, as CDC Director Robert Redfield said last November. Yet, teacher unions and other school employee organizations are ignoring mounting evidence that support Redfield’s words. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released its first two studies of in-school spread of COVID-19, first, a study of the experience of 17 Wisconsin schools that operated in-person from August through November, and, second, a review of reports from around the world about COVID-19 contagion in schools.

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Almost Infamous… to Public Sector Union Leaders

I am not famous, but I am somewhat infamous, at least to leaders of two big government unions, the Connecticut State Employees Association (CSEA) and the statewide teachers union, Connecticut Education Association (CEA). In late November, CSEA launched an email membership and fundraising drive with the subject line, “State of CT Retiree Benefits Are Being Threatened.” The email included an excerpt from a mid-October column I wrote entitled “The Looming Crisis in Connecticut,” in which excerpt I warned – not threatened – that, because of the fiscal crisis and the disastrous underfunding of the State Employee Retirement Fund (SERF), “It

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Let Local School Boards Make Sensible Decisions on Classroom Instruction

Earlier this month, just days before the first Connecticut health care workers were administered the just-approved coronavirus vaccine, a coalition of public school employee unions sent Governor Lamont a petition demanding that he close schools unless and until schools implement a set of COVID-19 safety protocols designed by Connecticut Education Association (CEA). The CEA-led union coalition demanded that the protocols be enforced by the state, not local authorities. They demanded that Lamont mandate full-pay and a no-layoff policy for all public school employees through the end of the school year. What a striking juxtaposition between the selfless dedication of health

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American Consumers Deserve ‘Best Price’ for Prescription Drugs

President Trump finalized a “most-favored-nation (MFN),” or “best-price,” prescription drug pricing rule on Nov. 20. The goal of the MFN concept is to deliver fair prices to Americans without diminishing drug company profits that fund the all-important research and development that leads to life-saving new drugs. While there is controversy as to whether the final rule genuinely implements the concept, the MFN approach should be followed. Opponents of the rule should improve it, not oppose it. The MFN best-price concept mandates the same price for Americans and wealthy Europeans, who have been paying about one-third of what Americans pay. The MFN

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