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Kent A. Leonhardt West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture
In a global economy, trade is king and often the center-piece of international disagreements between nations. Because strength is often tied to a nation’s ability to export goods, trade agreements can either bond countries together or act as the catalyst for war.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the United States, as capitalism combined with globalization gave rise to the America we know today. Over the years, these same forces changed our nation’s economy from a manufacturing powerhouse to one more focused on services and technology. However, throughout America’s history, one thing has remained a constant, powerful force — agriculture.
American farmers continue to feed the world as they have since our nation’s humble beginnings. Even with a workforce that has been cut in half in the last 20 years, the United States and its farmers continue to show our agricultural might is not disappearing anytime soon. Of course, this strength does not come without its drawbacks, as our farmers are a prime target for foreign nations.
For other countries and their farmers to compete, they must create an uneven playing field. This means shutting out American farmers from their markets or slapping hefty tariffs on US agricultural goods. As a result, our farmers must either find other consumers or see profit margins shrink.
These punitive practices have gone on for too long. Congress must join President Donald Trump and stand up for the hardest working people in our country. First Congress must ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, as negotiated by our president.
Having a unified North America working together can only benefit, as well as increase the United States leverage on trade negotiations with China and the European Union. Frankly, if we cannot find common ground with our neighbors, how are we supposed to reach agreements with the rest of the world?
Ratifying trade agreements like the USMCA will have a tremendous impact even on small states like West Virginia. The Mountain State alone exports $1.7 billion worth of products to Mexico and Canada annually. If the USMCA agreement became law, it would mean new markets for many of our farmers including dairy, livestock and poultry operations.
The dairy industry is a prime example of an industry that is in desperate need of a boost. West Virginia dairy operations have shrunk to only 60 producers statewide. Ratifying the agreement will bring a much-needed economic opportunity to an industry struggling to stay alive in West Virginia.
Livestock and poultry make up 80 percent of West Virginia’s agricultural production. Most ship their products right here in the United States, mainly because past trade agreements have made it impossible to compete with the prices coming out of Mexico.
With new trade agreements, West Virginia farmers will benefit when highly sought-after genetics are made available to a greater audience. West Virginia must focus on quality over quantity. That will only work if our specialty products can be shipped across the globe to customers willing to pay premium prices.
West Virginia farmers, as well as all the rest of the hard-working men and women who grow our food in the United States, are proud people. They do not ask for a lot, just the ability to sell what they grow at a sustainable price.
The president’s efforts to level the playing field are a welcome change from administrations’ past and its time Congress shows the same support to our farmers by ratifying the USMCA agreement. We can no longer allow foreign nations to use the American farmer as a trade pawn. The farming community has waited long enough.
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By Erich Reimer
China has been in the news a lot lately as pro-democracy protests have erupted in Hong Kong and the Trump administration engages in continuing hardball trade negotiations with them, among other countries.
As a country, China and its almost 1.4 billion people, in contrast to its current state apparatus, is no greater belligerent inherently than any other nation.
However its Communist government has become increasingly so in recent years, setting up what is a difficult foreign policy dilemma for the United States not only now but in the long-run.
As we grapple with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and their wide variety of military, economic, and social policies and actions - often and increasingly in opposition to the United States - we should be exact and informed on what kind of opponent we are dealing with and to what degree.
In the PRC’s early years they were eminently hostile to the United States. The US- backed Republic of China (ROC), our ally in World War II, had been forced by them off the mainland onto the small island of Taiwan.
The new PRC, led by Mao Zedong, quickly found itself on not just the verbal but military battlefield against the United States directly in the Korean War and indirectly through countless proxy conflicts across the globe.
That would change when President Richard Nixon “opened” the PRC and brought it as an uneasy partner into not the free world but an anti-Soviet alliance. After all, Mao Zedong was responsible for the slaughter, labor camp, and starvation deaths of tens of millions of persons under his control as well as the torture, imprisonment, and subjugation of countless more.
This strange but increasingly close partnership would continue until the fall of the Soviet Union, as the PRC had already seen a number of ideological, economic, foreign policy, and even military conflict with the USSR.
By the mid to late 1980s and early 1990s there was great optimism for the PRC. Deng Xiaoping, China’s new primary leader, led numerous reforms that increased economic freedom in China and spurred hope for political freedom as well. Those hopes were quashed in the blood of the Tiananmen Square massacres in 1989, but the spark still remained.
The next two and a half decades actually saw enormous, optimistic, bold and serious moves towards political freedoms in the PRC - a “Glasnost” of sorts - even under the boot of the Communist Party is China still.
Powered by the internet, countless billions in foreign investment and international corporate activity, major freedom of travel, a move towards “leadership by committee and consensus,” and increasing internal pro-U.S. sentiment, many began to refer to China as a capitalist country but only in name still Communist.
That unfortunately reversed in dramatic and painful fashion in just mostly this past half decade, reflecting how sensitive liberty in a nation without engrained checks and balances is and how quick it can revert to restricting freedom and human rights.
The internet in the PRC has become a censored Swiss-cheese web and a tool for citizen monitoring. Foreign companies have faced an uncertain environment as perceived openings by the PRC have been shaky.
Anti-U.S. activities have increased dramatically, as the PRC seeks to build out its own international network - sometimes and often in cooperation with the Russian Federation - to the U.S. and free world.
This has all created a difficult situation for the United States. The last few decades have seen enormous exchange and interconnection that is difficult to unravel yet is increasingly posing serious security and economic challenges.
The increasingly faint hope, for now at least, of a Free China - and accordingly bal- ancing between containment and detente - is hard to approximate exactly.
Whatever the case, we are at a pivotal point for U.S.-China relations and what will undoubtedly be one of the most defining - and challenging - relationships of the 21st century.
Our nation must remain clear eyed on what the PRC is and the complexity of its, and ours, past, present, and future.
Reimer is a DC-area policy strategist, entrepreneur, financial commentator, and political columnist. He has worked in various roles in government, finance, tech, politics, and law over the years and is a captain in the U.S. Army.
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I received a news release from Sen. Joe Manchin’s office stating he had sent letters to Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), giving the results from speed tests across the state to bring attention to the incorrect coverage maps the FCC has of our state.
The purpose of the letters was to highlight different areas of the state, rural and urban, so that the chairman could have evidence in front of him, from the residents of this state, just how things stand here in regard to broadband coverage.
Earlier this year, Manchin put out the word that he was collecting speed test results and encouraged residents to send him their personal results.
The test results he mentions in each letter were from Frontier cus- tomers and every letter the senator says, “These number are well below your agency’s definition of broadband and the advertised speed they were given by their provider.”
No surprise there.
Here are the results from around the state, including Petersburg, of the mbps (megabits per second) for downloading and uploading. We rank in the bottom half.
No surprise there, either.
I did some searching on the internet to find what were the recommended broadband speeds by the FCC. As of 2018 it is 25 mbps down and 3 mbps up. Here are the results of the tests sent to Manchin:
Wheeling: 11.38 down / 0.77 up and 3.75 down / 0.46 up
Masontown: 6.88 down / 0.0 up
Bruceton Mills: 6.17 down / 0.70 up
Great Cacapon: 5.88 down / 0.62 up
Renick: 5.867 down / 0.59 up
Sandyville: 5.7 down / 0.7 up and 3.0 down / 0.7 up
Charleston: 2.75 down / 0.68 up
Petersburg: 2.2 down / 0.2 up
You can see where we rate.
I cannot tell from the letters the exact location of the person who
reported the speeds. An address of Petersburg may mean downtown or at the Pendleton County line.
I checked what our speeds were here at the Press office, as a Shentel customer. We had a download speed of 22.0 and an upload speed of 6.22 Friday afternoon. At home, five miles outside of town, we did have HughesNet, a satellite internet service. Speeds with them were 0.42 down and 0.4 up. When our daughter took online college classes, we had to drive back to the Press office so she could upload a project or finish an online test in the required time.
We recently changed back to Frontier and on Friday speed was 27.7 down and 7.64 up (WiFi), however on Saturday, we had intermittent service and WiFi numbers were 1.07 down and 0.0 up most of the day, but later on a direct line 56.7 down and 6.96 up. When it’s working, it’s great.
Living in a rural area has its challenges and West Virginians have learned to cope with the difficulties, but what the FCC and many in urban areas of the state assume is that we’re all traveling at high speed on the information highway, when really most of us here are bumping along on the information back road.
1. The name of the speed testing application used (i.e: Ookla, FCC speed test application, NACo’s TestIT application, WV Broadband Enhancement Council’s speed test, etc.)
2. The type of device used to take a speed test (i.e: Apple iPhone 8, Samsung Galaxy, laptop etc.)
3. Type of broadband service (fixed or mobile)
4. Name of provider
5. Address of area tested
6. Latitude and Longitude (if available)
7. A brief description of the challenges you have experienced due to your lack of broadband service
Or, if you are unable to email this information due to lack of service, please send the information above to: Senator Joe Manchin III, 306 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510.”
What have you got to lose except bad or nonexistent service?
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By Marilyn M. Singleton, MD, JD
In an effort to cut carbon emissions from burials and cremations, the state of Washington, led by staunch environmentalist Governor Jay Inslee, became the first U.S. state to legalize human composting.
To think, people can be criminally prosecuted for disrespecting a human corpse, a symbol of a once-living person. But the religion of Mother Earth now supersedes all cultural decency.
We’ve already cemented the contempt for life at the front end. I thought we had evolved since the ancient Greek elders determined that only the strong newborns survived and the weak were left to die. Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam made it clear that infants were once again throwaways at will.
In explaining the procedure of an “abortion” of a child who was born alive, he said “the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
Now we must be acutely aware of what is happening at the other end of life’s spectrum. In the U.S., elders are all too often considered expendable by society at large and sadly, by their own families. Such disregard in some 10 million cases escalates to abuse in many forms. Government-certified entities make a significant contribution to this contemptible crime.
In many states court-appointed guardians cravenly plunder their wards’ assets with no repercussions. A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report identified hundreds of allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by guardians in 45 states and the District of Columbia between 1990 and 2010.
An investigation of a small sampling of the allegations found that court-appointed guardians had stolen or otherwise improperly obtained $5.4 million from 158 incapacitated victims, mostly older adults. Moreover, such crimes were frequently overlooked by judges.
Soon after coming into office, President Trump signed into law the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act that provided for 90 prosecutors and “elder justice coordinators” nationally to prosecute those committing elder abuse, including guardianship cases. Currently, a sleepy little bill in the wings, the Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act, will direct the proceeds of a new postage stamp to enforcing laws against elder abuse.
These new laws may be for naught with the advent of more physician-assisted suicide laws. New Jersey is the latest, complete with a cute acronym: MAID – Medical Aid in Dying.
All the calls for government-controlled medicine are terrifying to those of us who remember a dystopian film where in 2022, with rampant food shortages and homelessness, the only food available is a high-energy wafer purportedly made from plankton. Alas, we witness humans entering a processing center for a happy death and emerging as the main ingredient of Soylent Green.
I contend that the trend of placing older people into hospice before the ink is dry on the hospital admission papers is a new form of elder abuse. Hospice has become the new Medicare cash cow for unscrupulous facility owners who abuse and neglect patients.
One study found that 8% of the hospices studied did not provide a single skilled visit—from a nurse, doctor, social worker, or therapist—to any patients who were receiving routine home care in the last two days of life in 2014.
Recall that President Obama robbed Medicare of $716 billion to fund the Affordable Care Act, including $56 billion from hospitals serving poor people. Recall that an ethics adviser for ObamaCare, Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, advocates for the “Complete Lives System” of medical care where resources are directed to those with “future usefulness.”
Dr. Emanuel proudly claims he wants to die at 75 years of age. Tell that to the countless lives Mother Teresa transformed when she was in her 80s. Tell that to John Glenn, who went back into space for 9 days at 77, and to the 20 million other over-75 disposables—or should I say, recyclables.
Quite coincidentally, eliminating the over-75 crowd from the insurance pool would help fund government-sponsored insurance for this country’s remaining uninsured. In other words, hurry up and die before the Medicare program goes bankrupt.
My gratitude goes to those congressper- sons who recognize that our elders need protection. Given that the federal trust fund that finances much of the Medicare program is projected to run out in 2026, let’s hope these compassionate people realize that the first losers of Medicare for All are our elders.
Dr. Singleton is a board-certified anes- thesiologist. She is president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). She attended UC Berkeley Law School, focusing on constitutional law and administrative law.
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By Dr. Glenn Mollette
Americans should be able to draw 100% of their social security benefits at age 65 but they can’t.
The year 1983 began a gradual age increase from 65 to 67, which occurred over a 22 year period. For those who are already past 65 it’s too late to care much. People who began collecting at age 62 don’t care either.
If you started paying into Social Security by the age of 25 and most Americans did or will, then forty years is long enough to pay into a fund that should give you the maximum payout based on what you paid into the fund. Many American workers began paying into a retirement account younger than 25 and then were able to draw 100% of their retirement after 27 or 28 years of work. This means some people, like school teachers, government workers and others might retire as young as 50. Fifty is significantly earlier than 66 or 67 to begin collecting your full Social Security benefits.
Many Americans will pay into Social Security and never collect a penny although there may be family benefits.
Americans can begin collecting Social Security at age 62 at a reduced benefit. The problem this creates for many Americans is they are limited to additional income. Why should the “62” crowd of Americans only be able to make $17,640 a year? If they are paying into Social Security from what they are earning from a job then they are only supplementing a system they are collecting from.
Many Americans are forced into double trouble. They have reduced benefits at age 62 because they want to go ahead and collect the income. Next, they are only allowed to make up to $17,640 additional money from working a job. They end up with a smaller amount of Social Security for life and could become totally unable to work a job thus creating a lifetime dilemma.
The average senior will collect $17,532 in Social Security benefits a year or $1,461 per month with the 2.8% 2019 cost of living increase. Some Americans are collecting $2,788 per month or $33,456 a year if they paid in the maximum taxable earnings for 35 years. The maximum amount is now $132,900! How many Americans will make the maximum amount of earnings for 35 years? Each year about 6% of covered workers have earnings above the taxable maximum income.
Sadly, once America gives up something we seldom get it back. For example, full Social Security at age 65. Our government is starved for cash. Our government has borrowed about $3 trillion from our Social Security fund. Our government “borrows” from the Social Security fund ad nauseam to cover their wasteful spending. If the government can get its way it will increase the Social Security age to 70 or higher. So beware!
Start talking to your representative or senator about your Social Security benefits. If you are under 65 you need to care now.
Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author and is read in all 50 states.
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By: Camille Howard
We all are enamored by the word “free” and its derivatives.
We love those BOGO advertisements - buy one get one free! We like when businesses have an open house and offer free food, free drinks and signing up for free door prizes.
In reality, if we posted a huge sign in front of our office with the word “FREE” on it, people would stop in.
That’s marketing strategy.
We also are enamored by the idea that we are a free country and have freedoms not found in other countries. We have the Bill of Rights giving us freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. We are the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” We use slogans like “let freedom ring” and “mountaineers are always free.”
That’s law and tradition.
But free stuff isn’t really free and freedom isn’t really free. Somewhere along the line someone has to pay or has already paid.
The grocery store offering buy one get one free didn’t happen to find a manufacturer or farmer who donated a truckload of items to give away. The hot dog you consumed at a recent open house was purchased by the business owner. And the freedom we enjoy in the U.S. was bought and paid for by thousands of lives: explorers, settlers, political and religious refugees, law officers, soldiers, suffragettes, civil rights leaders and even politicians.
Yet socialism has reared its ugly head once again in opposition to freedom and is taking hold in what was once thought the least likely place - here.
And what is its battle cry? “Free!” That word lures people in with the promises of an easier life. Free health care is the biggest flag it’s waving.
The idea of having free health care is pretty enticing. Who wouldn’t want to be relieved of the burden of premiums, copays and deductibles? But at what cost?
Is socialism the answer to our economic and physical ills?
Socialism is an economic and political system based on public ownership (also known as collective or common ownership) of the means of production. Those means include the machinery, tools, factories and agriculture used to produce goods that aim to directly satisfy human needs.
Examples of socialist countries include Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and China, among others.
Those who favor this type system say socialism creates equality and provides security - a worker's value comes from the amount of time they work, not in the value of what they produce. They assume that the basic nature of people is cooperative and everyone wants to work happily and unselfishly toward the common good.
In a purely socialist system, all legal production and distribution decisions are made by the government, or a small group of individuals, many times a dictator, who determines what the common good will be. All citizens rely on the state for everything from food to healthcare and are forced to comply to a determined common good. Will the treatment and payment of your serious medical condition be for the common good?
Socialism discourages innovation, competition, entrepreneurship and private ownership of property and business, to name a few.
If you want a current example, look at what’s happened in the country of Venezuela and see how socialism has almost destroyed it. Once the wealthiest country in South America, dictator Victor Chavez’s nationalization of its agriculture and industry along with price controls and expansion of welfare programs has led to abject poverty of its people. A sad fact, though, is that the people voted for it. For what they were convinced would be a better world.
True socialism has never been successful. Yet its sirens song draws many closer to the rocks ... “the government cares about your plight as a poor downtrodden individual. It will take care of you. All things will be equal.” Are you being drawn in?
Once the government starts making all the decisions about where you work and what job you will do, how much money you can acquire, how much food you get, and when and if you get to see a doctor, is when your freedom will cease to exist.
No matter how hard you work and how lazy the person is you work with, the outcome will be equal for both. That’s life in utopia. Take your head out of the sand and pay attention to what’s being said by those vying for political offices in the next election and by those already in seats of power. The idea of “it can’t happen here” or “what I don’t know can’t hurt me” is building the foundation for socialism.
Winston Churchill said it best, “The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
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By Jane M. Orient, M.D.
People are dying all over the country from opioid overdoses. There’s a movement to have the antidote naloxone available in all ambulances and even over the counter. This temporarily reverses the fatal effect of opioids, which stop the patient’s breathing. First responders themselves may need a dose because of contact with a tiny amount of fentanyl, an extremely potent narcotic, while attending a patient.
No, the fentanyl does not come from the patient’s bottle of legal prescription drugs.
Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) introduced a proposal that he claims would “go a long way to fight the practice of doctor shopping for more prescription pain pills amid a deadly opioid crisis.” Doctor shopping “involves visiting multiple doctors.” Hardly new, this proposal, now passed by the House of Representatives as an amendment to a $99.4 billion Health and Human Services appropriations bill, lifts the ban on funding a Unique Patient Identifier (UPI).
The UPI is part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. You don’t have one yet because former congressman Ron Paul, M.D., (R-Tex,) sponsored a prohibition on funding it as part of a 1999 appropriations bill. Rep. Foster’s amendment repeals Dr. Paul’s prohibition.
So how is this 1996 idea supposed to work? And why would it be better than the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) now in effect in nearly every state? Every prescription for a controlled substance must be reported to the PDMP, and the doctor must check it before writing a prescription, to be sure the patient is not lying about having prescriptions from other doctors. This costly program that creates time-consuming hassles for doctors has not prevented opioid deaths.
PDMPs are ineffective because doctor shopping is not the cause of the problem. Only 2.5 percent of misused prescription pain medicine was obtained by doctor shopping. And this small percentage apparently increased after PDMPs. More than 97% of misused medications are obtained from a single physician—or from an illicit source. The spike in opioid deaths after 2013 was caused by illicit fentanyl, as Dr. John Lilly concludes from painstaking analysis of official data.
If Rep. Foster’s amendment is not removed, you might have to have a UPI to get legitimate medical care—“no card, no care”—but the drug cartel won’t mind. You can shop drug dealers as much as you like. There is a flood of fentanyl, mostly from Mexico or China, coming across our borders. Rep. Foster is apparently unaware of the armed lookouts protecting the smuggling routes in the Tucson sector. And once here, the drugs go to distributors—such as illegal aliens protected in sanctuary cities.
So, what about the other touted benefits of the UPI? “Specifically, assigning a unique number to a patient would give doctors a way to immediately identify a patient’s medical history,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.). He says it “would lower the cost of medical mix-ups due to misidentification.” His elderly father was nearly given the wrong medication.
To prevent medical errors, you need alert nurses and doctors—and the UPI is not going to fix the hazards of the electronic health record. The EHR, touted as the solution that will bring efficient, quality care, has created its own type of errors.
There is no guarantee that a UPI will improve access to the record, and critical information will still be buried in voluminous, repetitious data of dubious reliability, some of which may have been cut-and-pasted from another patient’s record. There may be critical gaps as patients withhold information they don’t want in a federal database. The new problem that brings the patient to the hospital won’t be in the old record—but may be the result of an old misdiagnosis that should be corrected instead of copied.
Patients need to be able to shop for doctors, especially if the one they have has not solved their problems. Some of them desperately need opioids, which are increasingly difficult to obtain. They do not need a UPI, and neither does their doctor.
The UPI is ideally suited for government tracking and control of all citizens. People like J. Edgar Hoover or Lois Lerner might find it very useful. But it would be the end of privacy, and the foundation for a national health data system.
Dr. Orient is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Sur- geons and is a policy expert with the Heartland Institute. For more reactions to the mid- term election, go to heartland. org under news and opinion. The Heartland Institute is one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks.