March 17, 2020

A Place For Open Constructive Conversations?




Everything seems a little out of whack at the moment. The daily news brings us more examples of a world that is hunkering down, closing places we normally go for comfort and social interaction. Plans made months ago are dashed.

So, maybe I should shake things up a bit, too. I'd like to try something quite different. Whether it is a one-time experiment that falls flat on its face, or becomes a regular part of life here is entirely up to you.

We exist in a society where more time is spent talking at each other than with each other. Polarization is a fact of life. Our civic (not civil) discourse is too often an "us versus them" type exchange. We are right and others are not only wrong, but possibly evil.

The ability to pose a question and receive a polite, helpful response has been severely hampered. The places we can discuss issues of importance are rare.

I would like to take a shot at changing that dynamic. How? By having an open-ended forum here at Satisfying Retirement. Since I expanded the subjects that I write about I have been encouraged by the response and the civility of the comments. So, it occured to me to try the next step.

How would that work? By asking you, dear readers, to pose a question or make a statement about what troubles, bothers, or baffles you. Maybe you'd like to know more  about a particular subject but you don't know where to turn. State your position on an issue of importance to you or pose a question and let's see if we can generate a meaningful back and forth discussion.


Examples: 

*Why do some folks resist legal immigration? But, how do we secure our borders so we are not overwhelmed by everyone wanting to come?

*Are there real dangers in vaccinating our children? 

*How do our young people survive a crushing student debt? Is it their fault for taking on so much, of the colleges for charging so much?

*What will it take to fix our healthcare system, or is it alright the way it is...the private sector is better at this then the government would be.

*Is income equality a serious concern, or should there be winners and losers in a capitalistic system? Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and all that.

*It is OK to have a few billion dollars or is that morally wrong somehow?

*Has the #MeToo movement overreached or not pushed hard enough?

*Our country's infrastructure is falling apart? What do we do about it? How pays for it?

*Is the two party system broken, or has it proven  to be the best long term answer? 

*When will we have a woman president, or is the sex of that position irrelevant?


These topics are simply thought-starters, and just a handful of the dozens of subjects we could address. Please use one of these, or one of your own choosing to start a conversation.

Importantly, comments and discussion threads do not need to be restricted to the first comment. If that particular subject interest you, add a reply.

If it doesn't, leave a comment, pose a question, or make a statement on an entirely different subject that others can then respond to.

I am hoping we have a comment section full of various topics, each with its own series of replies.

This will work only if enough readers see the value, feel comfortable opening up a subject for discussion, and others actively participate. If there is good response I will repeat this open forum approach maybe once a month or so.

If it is a concept that simply doesn't work, you will never be burdened with it again. 

Now that most of us are spending more time at home because of the flu situation., I thought this might be a good time to give this a try. 

So, the door is open. Let's start exchanging ideas, views, and opinions. Who will be first?


48 comments:

  1. I think this is a terrific idea Bob, but I wonder if perhaps it's just a bit too soon? Meaning, I'm currently overwhelmed with trying to take in and adjust to the complete upending of the world as we know it. (Undergoing a total reset is not necessarily a bad thing, BTW, but it does take time to process everything.)

    Over here, we are embarking on a new way of living, one which ultimately may be in our best

    Or I may be 100% wrong . . . additional replies will quickly confirm!

    Over here we are actively looking for ways to make the best of what is coming quickly down the pipeline. We have reordered our day to include ample time outdoors, either in our backyard, or during quiet walks in the most non-populated areas we can find. We are touching base with our family on a daily basis. We are trying hard to limit how much news we are taking in, as it quickly becomes overwhelming.

    One idea that I saw, and that we are all-in for, is to set up Skype-type virtual get-togethers with friends. Skype, for those who may not be aware, precedes FaceTime, but is done via your computer, so a much bigger screen. We have a virtual-wine date with friends now on the calendar, and I'm beginning to set up virtual-coffee dates with various girlfriends. Finding ways to stay connected is important for most of us, in that we are social creatures that rely on our daily interactions.

    I'm also viewing this time as a way to reset how I entertain. Instead of primarily looking outside of our home for entertainment, I'm seeing with renewed eyes just how much entertaining already exists here at home - unread books and magazines, unplayed games, unwatched videos and streaming, outdoor gardening, yoga via YouTube, an under-utilized piano, and so on. It's been a bit of embarrassment to realize how much we already have here. I have to wonder if once we get past this, Mike and I will ever return to the same level of outside-entertainment. Part of me hopes the answer to that is 'No.'

    My sincere apologies for going off topic (OT in text speak :-), but that is what is top of my mind today. Also my sincere 'thanks' for providing a space where that can occur!

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    1. There is no topic, so you are perfect! You have offered some excellent ideas for folks to think about. A virtual wine-date...what a great idea! There is no reason that wouldn't be fun and satisfying.

      Betty and I are going through some of the same review process. Being together virtually full time for the past week has already encouraged more conversations about all sorts of topics.

      The loss of one, possible two vacation plans for this year doesn't seem to be that big a deal. I think both of us would have been upset before we have scratched our travel itch to the extent we have. If the cruise happens, great. If not, that's OK, too.

      We are thinking about some yard changes, some redecorating and simplifying parts of the house, and using this time as an excuse to trim some fat that has found its way into our budget.

      Both of us are looking for ways to expand our creative time, both separately, and together. Betty came up with the idea to convert a portion of the back porch that is ignored into a painting area for us both. A table or two, all the art supplies, and canvas, fresh air, sunshine...sounds very inspiring.

      You and Mike stay safe.

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    2. This is actually the topic I am most interested in. We are trying to figure out our new normal- awakening at 5 and being at the store at 6 if something is needed. Tomorrow hubby goes to get some electrical things for the work he is doing in the house. When he comes home I'll head to the store that opens at 7 to get some dog food (which I did not check in time.)
      Thursday and Friday I will "pack bags" at the food bank- alone. I will "bleach" when I come in (5% bleach water) and bleach when I leave. Packing will be in gloves. People will come on Monday for their bags. Never leaving their cars- they will open trunks and someone will put in the food. That has yet to be worked out. We are closed tomorrow to work through the process.
      We are working in the garden, walking the dogs around the neighborhood and reading. We turned off the tv. Movies are from 3-5. What else??? Gosh, I just miss chatting with people.....already.

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    3. I think the challenge here for everyone is that we, as humans, are social beings and we need to physically be around other humans. Social media, virtual gatherings, etc are great in the near term to help us not feel so isolated, but as this social distancing continues to drag on, people's mental health is likely going to start to suffer and at some point I believe people as a whole will start to ignore medical and government recommendations and go back to their natural state of in person social engagement even with the risks that engagement will create. It will definitely be interesting to watch human behavior as this event continues to unfold. Already we have quite a few people who are ignoring the guidelines no matter what the medical professionals or government states.

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    4. With some cities and whole counties (Orange County, CA for one) starting to restrict virtually any type of gathering, I too wonder how we will fare. Restaurants, bars, sports and concert venues, museums, movie theaters...every place people normally interact are shut down.

      It is possible this experience will change things for us for quite some time. A lot of the restaurants or small businesses will be unable to reopen.Unemployment will be problematic for some time. The stock market is on a rollercoaster ride that is wiping out trillions in value.

      Will we start living differently, with more reliance on self and family? Will patterns of commerce change? I have no idea, but it will be fascinating to see what the long term consequences are, even once the virus halts its march and a vaccine becomes available.

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    5. I am trying to find a constructive way to deal with the tension Dan raises. We are social beings, but I live alone in a rural area and all my usual activities that bring me into social contact with other people are canceled (and I think that will be for months rather than weeks). I have arranged a couple of one-on-one lunch dates with friends (who also live alone) at home, with the table set to keep us six feet apart and with lots of disinfecting before and after; we'll see how that works. This week, I took a two-day online course on using the video conferencing app Zoom, and I found it a more engaging substitute for in-person socializing than I expected it to be. I'm hoping to substitute some virtual get-togethers for in-person get-togethers, and I'm even thinking about having a virtual open-house to which I will invite about a dozen friends.

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  2. I'm not sure how this open-ended questions and answers is going to work out but I'm certainly interested in watching it all unfold.

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    1. I'm not either, but it will be interesting to see what happens. It may require I leave this post up for an extra day or two to allow for more participation. Time will tell.

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  3. OK, I will start a discussion on a subject that I am struggling with: immigration and border security. A country with entirely open borders, meaning an unregulated flow of people coming and going is obviously not a logical situation. At the same time, a country that completely locks itself down, allowing no one in (in regular times, not at this moment with coronaviru) doesn't work either.

    So, here's the dilemma: how does one allow immigration for those who, through no fault of their own, are fleeing oppression or violence? How about those who simply want the better life that America offers? What about students, those with businesses, or others who add to our country's mix of cultures, ideas, and talents? Certainly, a legal process must be followed for anyone who desires entry and a path to citizenship if that is what they want should be provided.

    A border wall is probably a proper method in certain high traffic, urban areas. It can be used to funnel people through approved checkpoints. But, in a country like ours, a wall 2,000 miles long on the southern border isn't practical, cost-effective, or a positive for the habitats of thousands of species of animals. Besides, a wall in the middle of the desert or an area like south Texas will be breached.

    So, what is the answer? My question is focused on immigration at the border. Situations like the DREAMERS is also worth a discussion....if that is of interest to you, I urge you to start a new discussion thread. But, for this part of the issue, how do we solve the problem..technology, troops, a partial wall, a full wall, open borders?

    Let's talk.

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    1. The place to start on illegal immigration should have always been the employers, not a wall. A national required check of the Social Security number of all employees. The check would include birthplace, parents names & birth places. Just like they do if you call SS. If the person was born in Iowa in 1985 and does not speak very good English the employer would be required to use common sense to flag this to the government. The way to make it work would be strict enforcement on the employer. If a company if found to be a flagrant violator then shut the company down and seize all assets. This should be run at the state level with the same regulations for all set by the federal government.
      When people cannot get a job they will self deport or never come in the first place. Once that is working we can expand the work visa program for hard to fill jobs.

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    2. Bob, I fully support a legal immigration process as this entire country has been based on immigrants coming to the USA for a better life, be it fleeing religious persecution, economic plight, wars and famine, or many other ills that afflict other parts of the planet. The key though to any immigration plan is having the controls in place to ensure that the people immigrating can/will work and be contributing member of our society. Historically, people who immigrated to the USA would start businesses, be the pioneers who settled the wild west, worked the agricultural industries, service industries, etc etc etc. When these immigrants came in and added to the existing society that was already flourishing in the USA, they gave rise to the upward mobility of the prior immigrants who held those jobs. Once the USA implemented the social safety nets in the 1930's and beyond, we ended up with a ever growing group of people who have become and remain dependent on those social services which has in many cases took away these people's incentives to make a better life for themselves and developed our multi-generational social services dependence class of people. Our businesses who were needing engineers, scientists, and high end skills that would have historically come from the 2nd and later prior immigrant population are now dependent more on immigrants with higher skill sets than we historically had, hence the refocus of our immigration system to favor those people with higher skills. It's all down to a supply and demand issue. Many people who are living in our ghettos don't want to take the manually intensive labor jobs that many of the people coming here illegally today will take. With no labor pool and an immigration process that favors filling the high paying talent gap, these employers generate a market for illegal immigrants who will gladly work these hard labor jobs which many of our welfare recipient citizens will not take. More in part 2 coming up.

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    3. Part 2. So, we are in somewhat of a catch 22 situation. We have a market for both high end talent and entry level talent but have an immigration system that favors only the top high end talent pool. We need to get our people who are continuing to depend on social services to get the education needed to fill those higher end jobs so we can realign our immigration system back to the mode of operation that made us so successful as a country to start with; focusing in on immigration that affords people who truly want to and can make a better life for themselves the opportunity than where they immigrated from. Our challenge, in my opinion, is that we have a very large number of people who are not happy living in our ghettos but who are also not motivated enough to improve their situation though hard work. This problem is especially evident with young men in our ghettos who would rather gang bang for a quick dollar, get addicted to drugs and alcohol, impregnate several teenage women and not take any responsibility for their children, end up in prison and see that as a good thing, etc etc etc. We have to break the cycle within our own ghettos in my opinion to enable us to really restart our upward mobility cycle, self feed our high end labor needs, and reshape our legal immigration system to be more focused on feeding our entry level job needs. Just my 2 cents on this topic.

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    4. Canada and the EU just sealed their borders. How are they doing that? Maybe we can learn from them. I know Canada has a $3million dollar investment entry fee or a professional degree that they wish. How do they enforce that?

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  4. States have legislation against profiteering off of necessities in times of crisis.( Jacking gas prices on evacuation routes during hurricane season; selling hand sanitizers at a huge mark-up, inflating the price of toilet paper; all of you understand what I mean)
    If that is immoral and unethical and illegal how/why can our elected officials use this time of crisis to add anything to a relief bill that does not pertain to the relief needed? I am not picking on any party since both sides of the aisle do it. It just seems to me those elected to serve should be the pillars of integrity in a crisis situation and not use said crisis to better their positions or political gain with addendums that do not pertain to the bill.

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    1. I am very unsure how profiteering will be monitored.
      Philadelphia announced that they will "forgo arrests" of non violent crimes. I understand as not to have crowded jails...

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    2. Janette, do you have a news or official announcement link to "Philadelphia announced that they will forgo arrests". Just trying to confirm that but I can't locate anything on it.

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    3. It was on our news last night....but who knows where they got it from. I was listening to it- not reading it.

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    4. I heard the same report. Jails are so overcrowded now that there would be no place to put non-violent people. Not a good situation.

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  5. Immigration - my two cents. I'm first American born. My parents came to this country legally in 1959 and needed a sponsor. The sponsor was responsible for helping my folks with housing and finding work. All these current social programs didn't exist back then and immigrants didn't expect to come to this country with their hand out (I'm not saying all do, but some these days do and know how to work the system. We have family members who can confirm).
    I don't know the answer, but as a mother of 2 adult millennials, they already pay too much in taxes with a lot going to these social programs that it's tough for them to get ahead. Plus go to downtown Phx, Seattle, San Fran, etc. and visit the tent cities. I'm sure those folks would like a better life too. Here in Phx I expect our tent city downtown to grow with the increasing rapid unemployment. I work part-time in tourism and visited the AZ Biltmore the other day. Out of 700 rooms less than 50 were occupied. Many tourism/restaurant workers are already getting laid off. For now, we need to keep our borders closed and absorb all the current fallout. Allowing more people in the country without jobs or with a high level education i.e. Doctors, etc. will only burden an already burdened situation.

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  6. I meant "without" a high level of education 😊

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  7. I think those profiteering from our crisis should be named and shamed, hopefully in the headlines!

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    1. I was glad to read that the the two brothers who were hoarding almost 18,000 bottles of sanitizer and disinfectant products and selling them online for obscene amounts were kicked off Amazon and publicly shamed. They ended up donating all the stuff to local churches and charities. They lost their ability to sell anything on line and were under criminal investigation.

      Good. Despicable behavior that one of the men claimed was actually his way of providing a public service.

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  8. Interesting idea Bob, and maybe a nice distraction from all that we're being bombarded with at the moment. So I'll bite:

    We Canadians, and many others around the world, continually shake our heads at the strong opposition to universal health care in the U.S. Why are so many opposed to a system that has been proven to provide care that is as good or better than that provided in the States to every citizen, at a fraction of the cost, without any of the doubt, fear or hassle of fighting with insurance companies, paying premiums etc.? Is it really all about "freedom"? Fear of the spread of "socialism"?

    I look forward to the responses.

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    1. We have grown kids living in Canada and the UK. Both have had medical care that certainly looks competent and equal to ours. My DD had outpatient surgery in the UK, and I flew over to be with her. My take is that the medical care is the same but the facilities aren't always updated with the latest and greatest fabrics and wall coverings. Nevertheless they are bleach cleanable and perfectly adequate. Our local medical system is forever updating and reconfiguring their facilities with new furniture and office spaces in what appears to me to be keeping up with the competition and marketing themselves. Just my take. I used to be in commercial textiles, and medical grade fabrics (Crypton upholstery, cubicle curtains, etc.) were the fastest growing (and most profitable) line in our offering.

      One quick story. My DD was in the recovery room, and being the last surgery of the day, the nurses let me come back to her bed while she had tea and toast and they made sure she was OK before her release. They realized we were American by our accents, so asked me how I thought their facility and care were compared to ours. I told them I had knee surgery the previous year and the recovery room looked about the same. One nurse was surprised and said she thought all Americans got private rooms, but then laughed and said she must watch too many American medical shows. :-)

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    2. All of this is to say, in case I wasn't clear, that most Americans could benefit from universal health care. And the richest folks who wanted to "buy up" to a luxury level of care could still do so. But those who flood ER's and urgent care would have an easier time of accessing care and not going bankrupt. As for the politics of it, it seems that crying "socialism" in the US gets you some freaked out followers, which is really ironic given the same could be said of Social Security and Medicare, two of the most popular programs that exist.

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    3. I used to teach about this, and I have two answers to Dave P.'s question of why Americans are so opposed to universal health care. The first answer is that Americans are allergic to taxes. In some ways, the American revolution started as a tax revolt (against the Stamp Act), and American culture still has this assumption that taxes are bad. We pay lower taxes than people in other developed countries, but we complain about those taxes much more. The second answer is the belief in American Exceptionalism that is an important part of American culture. Americans really want to believe that this is the best, greatest country in the world and that everyone wants to come here and be just like us. As part of this, many Americans insist that we have the best health care system in the world, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. And faced with the contradiction between belief and evidence, many simply refuse to believe the evidence.

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    4. Very interesting, Jean P., thank you. None of us like taxes, but I guess I was not aware that the feeling was so ingrained in the American psyche. So it's literally about taxes, not about money? Even when shown that they may face a couple of thousand dollar higher tax bill but then save many more thousands in deductibles, premiums etc., they aren't interested.

      As for the exceptionalism, do Americans not see ensuring that every citizen has affordable, quality health care as a key element of a great country?

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    5. It has to do with a lot of things.
      First, the US is 10x more populous then Canada (320 million vs 38 million). Your population is only about 10 million over our undocumented population (about 20 million).
      Our doctors spend many years in training and expect to be paid for that expertise. Canadian doctors make about 2/3 of what many US doctors make. Our specialists make much, much more.
      People have gotten used to quick tests, requiring lots of machines in doctor's offices. I got all of my exam pictures (mamma, bone density, broken arm) in my doctor's office. They hire all of those technicians- very redundant. BUT this week all those people are in high gear.
      Also, Canada doesn't cover prescription drugs, but the country controls the costs. The drug companies don't want to give that up (and in this virus we suddenly find they did long ago- but still charge us as if the stuff was made in the US). We fund big studies and efficacy tests for most of the new drugs in the world.
      Hospitals are a big business. They are being pushed to the brink now. This is one area that seems like a waste most of the time----but not now. Still, they spend lots of money on pretty and soft and administrators.
      Long story short, it would take a lot for the US to change.
      I am pro universal care. Since my husband was military, I have lived under universal care for 40 years. It isn't beautiful, but it is decent. We have lived two places we could not use military medicine.
      In Flagstaff we could not find a primary care doctor who would accept our "low reimbursement" causing us to travel about 150 miles to see a doctor. In Delaware the military does not have enough money to compete, so we don't have military doctors.... Back to that pay thing.

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    6. Thanks Janette. I have heard the population argument before, but am not really sure what that means. Would it be difficult to put in place on such a large scale? Sure. Could it be done? I expect if population was the only obstacle, the answer would also be sure.

      Our doctors also train for many years and leave that training with significant debt. There are discussions periodically about the rate of pay for doctors, but I have not aware that doctors here feel that they are grossly underpaid. My nephew is a family doc and is quite handsomely compensated. If there was any proposal for US docs to take significant pay cuts to implement universal care I could absolutely see that being an issue.

      My wife and I are fortunate to be pretty healthy, but when we do get tests they are done and the results are provided in a pretty timely manner.

      You are generally correct on the prescription drugs, except that they are covered for those 65 and over. It can be a bit of an issue for those without drug plans.

      Hospitals here are also big business, though not nearly to the degree they are down there. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the publicly-funded hospitals (which is the vast majority here) support a big health care industry.

      I agree that it would be a mammoth undertaking to change your system to a universal public one. I think the biggest obstacle would be the huge system that operates your system now - the hospitals and insurance companies. It will be interesting to watch from afar!

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    7. Another HUGE challenge for our medical professionals including hospitals is the prevalence of malpractice lawsuits that flood the system in the USA. Each medical doctor, specialist, hospital, etc must carry malpractice insurance and in many cases each entity/doctor has to go to court at least once if not many times in their careers to fight the cases against them that many times are bogus. This "sue" mentality not only drives up costs but also adds many layers of regulation to try to "protect" the doctors and hospitals from lawsuits. We are definitely a country that wants services performed quickly, and our current system affords a large percentage of the population that type of service. The people without the means to either carry the insurance that enables that "here and now" service or with no insurance whatsoever still have access to critical care via our public county hospitals, but do not have access to the "here and now" services that many of us deem as a necessity when in reality unless we are in a critical health care crisis, we do not need the "here and now" procedures. We have a society who goes to the doctor with a cold when in reality they should stay home and not waste the doctor's time or the insurance company money of visiting the doctor's office for trivial illnesses. Going to a government run healthcare system in the USA would force everyone to the lowest possible denominator which will cause a massive backlash from all those people who can currently afford differentiated treatments, which for a majority of Americans, is a reality. I suspect we will see lot's of continued political rhetoric around this topic but will have little to no movement.

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  9. Another reader who is trying to post a question but Google is being difficult.

    CONSTANCE B. asks: How can we feel useful to others while stuck at home? What can we be doing?

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    1. Sorry you had a problem, Constance, because that is an excellent question. It is frustrating to know there are those in our local community that need help, but we can't physically reach out.

      What can we be doing?

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    2. These are becoming more difficult as things close.
      If you can afford it--- keep your gym membership (or even join one over the phone)_.
      Buy gift cards AT the actual restaurant. You can do this over the phone and they can mail it.
      We are dropping off our normal tip , in an envelope, at the places we often frequent---hair salon, cooks at the favorite restaurant. Don't forget your garbage men/women.
      If you have extra food- check around for SMALL pantries. The big ones (state food banks) have lots of donations. Small ones (who serve 20 or 30 families at a time) are struggling. I know ours is.
      Do a drive by visit with a friend. My granddaughter's birthday is next week. We are driving over and will sit on our car as she looks out her window. We will sing happy birthday face to face. on the phone. You can certainly do that with anyone you know. FaceTime is good---but in person is just different.
      Stay in. It ticks my nephew off that he lost a job and old people are out and about at stores. He said he would rather people ask someone else to shop for them and do a door dash.
      Ask for help. People WANT to help you. It makes them feel like they can do something.
      And keep good thoughts and prayers going. I feel better knowing there are people out there covering my work in prayer. Yes, that is not politically correct, but it is what I believe.

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  10. I forgot- no judgement- if you hire an illegal to clean your house, walk your dog or do your lawn- PLEASE pay them. Leave it in the mailbox so there will be no contact.They will, most likely, not get the gov. help when it comes. Also find out where a small food bank is for them.

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    1. Fabulous ideas, Janette. Let's add more.

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    2. Why limit that idea of helping others to illegals? People who are providing services to us no matter their legal status are in many times in need of additional money that is not taxed. Instead of just giving these people cash, arrange to pay a monthly bill for them on an ongoing basis, like their electric bill, etc. Mu mother used to pay for the phone bill for a family whose head of the household used to work at the company my father worked for when they were both alive. We have plenty of people who are legally working in the USA who need our help on a regular basis as well.

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  11. Several major chains, like Safeway, Albertsons and Target are having special Senior only hours. The stores open an hour or two before regular (shortened) hours. That should mean those 60+ and those with serious immune issues should be able to shop with shelves not completely stripped. I doubt someone will be checking ages at the door so this will depend on the cooperation of everyone. But, it is a good step to help the most vulnerable get essentials in a less crowded environment.

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  12. Bright spots I am already seeing in the midst of this global crisis - people seem to really be working hard to be kind and courteous in the grocery markets, and even on the road when driving. Certainly not every single person; some people are clearly stressed at a very high level, but they seem to now be the exception not the rule. Families are out walking and biking together pretty much everywhere here, which has been deemed an ok activity as long as we stay within our household of people living together. People are going out of their way to say hello, and to offer a few quick words of support as they pass by, and already everyone is social distancing and trying to be respectful of personal space. I'm seeing amazing online efforts all over the place to spread joy and hope via music, art, science, and to find and help seniors and families with young children that are struggling to cope with the market shortages, or simply to offer words of encouragement. And so much online output springing up for our children, teens, and college students. Families are connecting, as are neighbors, as are communties. I know we are at the very beginnings of a massive, sobering, life altering event, but I am so tremendously heartened by what is occurring as a result. It's just like what Mr. Rogers told children after Sandy Hook, 'When you see scary things in the news, look for the helpers.' Well, there are helpers everywhere already, if we just look.

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    1. I agree, Tamara! We live outside a mid-sized city where the suburbs have expanded into a small town farming community. In our local FB group, I have been really touched to see all the help that is being offered and accepted. People are posting lists of local restaurants that we can patronize with their menus, offering to run errands for people who can't get out or are nervous about going out, etc. It's really heartening to see people come together like this. A silver lining, for sure.

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    2. OH, and on a lighter note, someone was running out of TP because the stores can't keep it stocked. I think she had 5 offers of people who would not only give her some, but drop it off! :-)

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    3. Wouldn't it be heartwarming and encouraging if the media focused on some of these stories, too, instead of only the gloom and doom headlines that deliver higher ratings and more advertising revenue?

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    4. Check out The Good News Network for encouraging and heartwarming stories of compassion and caring.

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    5. I just did and it's WONDERFUL! Exactly what is needed these days. Thanks so much for the suggestion, Bob. I'll be spreading the word.

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  13. I want to add a comment as this post is now a few days old and most of those who will participate have done so: This was an experiment. I am very pleased at both the level of involvement and the scope of topics. With the virus top of mind for everyone it is not surprising that so much centered on that issue. Even so, there were other areas that concern some folks that saw the light of day.

    Except for the ever-present anonymous person who leaves comments about how bad baby boomers are, I didn't have to delete or edit anything else. For that I thank you.

    It is likely I will try this type of wide open post again, probably after the first stage of our virus situation has tapered off a bit.

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  14. I would like to add one more thought. Parallel processing. This is what I used to do regularly at work on important issues. We do not have time for sequential processing. A good example is the Hydroxychloroquine issue. We should have already started a clinical trial. There are plenty of patients to have a control group and an active user group. We should be able to get useable results in 3 or 4 weeks. At the same time we should assess the location and availability of the raw materials to make it. The location of and availability of machines to put it in pill form. A machine that can compress aspirin can probably be used to make these pills. That assessment should be completed in two days. Immediately start a full court press on producing mass quantity of this drug. Don't wait for results. If we are wrong so what. Millions of dollars spent & we just throw them in the trash. We should do the same thing for the other drugs that may have potential and exist right now.
    We already see with covid19 testing the cost of waiting. It is time for some parallel processing.

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    1. Fred, why aren't people like you in charge of this? I feel like you would have had more PPE in the wings. As it is, people are sewing face masks, and I am seeing posts locally of people digging out N95 masks in their garages and basements from previous home projects. And, sadly, the local medical teams are happy to accept them.

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  15. Bob, I think it is a great idea to use your blog as a forum to discuss some of the pressing issues of our time, but personally, I can’t really think of anything else much except for the pandemic right now. Perhaps one big question that is in my mind is: how can we use this experience to begin to rethink our worldwide system of predatory capitalism that primarily serves the interests of irresponsible billionaires and their companies, and develop instead an economic system that put people’s well-being (and Earth’s environment that we live in) at the forefront instead?

    Jude

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    1. Your are right: the virus has sucked most of the oxygen out of the room at the moment. I will bring back this type of post in a few months (maybe!).

      One side benefit of the shutdown of so many businesses, transportation, and normal daily commuting has been a noticeable improvement in the earth's pollution level in just a few weeks as reported by several scientific sources.

      The human cost is horrible and the enforced unemployment devastating. But, just these few weeks should make it clear how much damage humans do to the environment and how the earth can start to heal itself if we give it half a chance.

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