Friday, April 3, 2020

Valid Questions and What Happens Next

Woodcut: Ship of Fools

There are numerous questions that I have pondered in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. How long can the economic patient survive without economic oxygen?  How is this temporary medical crisis going to be used to curtail your freedoms permanently? And is the crisis temporary? Does the saying, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” frighten you? How will life change in the AC (after Coronavirus) when compared to life BC (before Coronavirus)?


The 6,648,000 seasonally adjusted for unemployment claims have doubled in the last two weeks. Millions of workers were furloughed and laid off as “demand for goods and services, as well as the ability to provide them” has decreased dramatically due to orders to stay home and to more severe lockdowns. Some states, however, have elected “business as usual” for their population.

Economists are predicting as many as 20 million unemployed by the end of April. Put that into perspective with the 8.7 million unemployed during the Great Recession. How high could the unemployment rate spike, 20 percent or perhaps 30 percent in the coming months?

According to Breitbart, “roughly 90% of the U.S. population is now under stay-at-home orders, which have been imposed by most U.S. states.” Disposable income is not coming in but rent, bills, loans, hospital bills, must be paid.

Many Americans will get $1,200 from the U.S. government’s $2 trillion Economic Stimulus bill to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus economic shutdown. This huge sum full of unnecessary and shameless political Democrat and some Republican pork will add to the already unpayable national debt as the government will have to print money to cover the sum, increasing inflation.

“Kyle Pomerleau, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, estimates that 165 million people, or 93% of all tax filers, will get some benefit, with about 140 million of them getting the full amount. Seniors whose only income is from Social Security and veterans who rely solely on disability payments will receive the payments.

Will that cash infusion arrive soon enough, how long will that last, and will the likely cash infusion into pre-existing goods (car payments, mortgage payments) which had already been counted into the previous GDP, really stimulate the economy?

Potential business collapse

Despite the stimulus bill, not all businesses will be able to keep their doors open and will close forever or will be bought out under a different umbrella for potential basement prices.

Businesses large and small must still pay rent and loans as well under collapsing revenue. There is Internet shopping, but some smaller businesses are not set up that way and shopping has dried up, limited to essentials. Restaurants, hotels, cruises, vacation venues, entertainment, theaters, parks revenues have dwindled. Malls have closed. And retailers were already in trouble before the Corona virus pandemic hit, they were slashing personnel and closing stores. Furthermore, the CBO expects the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to contract by 7 percent.

Obligatory Vaccinations

Afshin Yaghtin is writing in Principia that “Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced on March 18, 2020 during a “Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session that he is working on a new, invisible ‘quantum dot tattoo’ implant that will track who has been tested for COVID-19 and who has been vaccinated against it.” The vaccine is being researched and tested and will be available soon. Yaghtin wonders, “Will this mean forced vaccinations or perpetually ‘sheltering in place’ for those who refuse the coronavirus vaccine?”

Working on the ID2020 Certification Mark, Gates Foundation, in alliance with Accenture, IDEO, Gavi, and the Rockefeller Foundation hopes to use “immunization to serve as a platform for digital identity” and to bring ID2020 to the masses.

How did Bill Gates become a medical expert as the main stream media is asking him questions which should be addressed to medical doctors and policy makers, not to a computer billionaire who dabbles in the population control agenda, vaccines, malaria prevention, and child vaccinations in Africa.

Schools and Universities

Schools and universities have closed for the remainder of the year. Many opted for online instruction and parents have stepped in with home schooling. Testing has been cancelled until further notice. Academic competitions as well as competitive sports have been canceled. Would schooling change in the future, with less and less physically going to class?


Government employees and those working for large corporations can work from home. After kinks have been worked out, this may become the model for work in the future. In large metropolitan areas commuting by bus, metro, train, or “slugging”/rideshare in a stranger’s car have come to a halt.

Malls and stores

The locked and empty malls and stores may remain so permanently as people are moving more and more to online shopping as a business model. Ordering online and picking up items at the store will probably be eliminated when the overwhelming rush of home deliveries would have been resolved by the introduction of more trucks, routes, and drivers.

Socialized medicine

After decades of advocating for the socialized medicine model, Medicare for all and healthcare for none, Democrats will be happy to realize that one viral pandemic has succeeded in bringing in medicine based on a patient’s usefulness to society, age, and level of sickness. The much sought-after rationing that liberals have been pushing for years would have been achieved. Never have dentists been told by state governors that they must close their practices by a certain date.

Big Winners and Losers in Business

Intermediate businesses and mom and pop stores without Internet footprint were closed while the big companies like Walmart, which sold the same products plus food, could open via governor executive orders. Amazon emerged as the biggest winner.

Hygiene Habits

People finally learned how to properly wash their hands often and keep a 6-foot distance from the nearest human. People also finally realized what a great sanitizer Purell is and how scarce toilet paper and other necessities becomes under socialism. They also learned how to stand in line every day in order to find food or paper products. Some Americans learned to sneeze and cough onto their sleeves. The old German handshake will disappear, replaced by fist and elbow bumps. Hugging, a favorite of Americans, will become obsolete or verboten.

Environmental liberals have finally learned that reusable grocery bags are contaminated and harbor many harmful bacteria and viruses which are spread around through bags that are not sanitized/washed at high temperatures after each use.

Family Time

Americans rediscovered their wives, children, and loved ones, and learned that spending more time with them instead of watching sports on television was quite fun and became happier, enjoying life to the fullest. Not eating in restaurants so often but having meals at home and cooking favorites for each family member became a new and enjoyable experience, brushing up on cooking skills long forgotten due to the hustle and bustle of commuting and too many competitive activities.

Freedoms Lost

Freedom of assembly was curtailed overnight by governors’ decrees. People were fined for having parties at home with more than 10 people, a highly arbitrary number based on bogus determination. Was there an exact footage that 10 people could interact on? Forced “social distancing” altered people’s behavior towards one another.

Freedom of religion was also restricted. Interestingly, we did not hear anything about closed mosques, just churches, temples, and synagogues. Large churches may never recover.

People were forbidden by governor’s orders in Virginia to practice at indoor gun ranges.

National parks, forests, and local and state parks were also closed. Night fishing and boat were also forbidden. Picnics in parks were limited to 10 people and in other areas they were entirely verboten.

Traveling by airplane and cruise ships was also curtailed. The cruise ship industry may never recover fully, especially huge vessels that could accommodate several thousand passengers. There will be less airlines as the industry struggles to recover passengers lost.

Airports will be plagued by more invasive health screenings under the guise of protecting the population from unseen threats.

More After-effects

Americans will learn that the death panels appended in 2010 Obamacare do exist under the guise of rationing and these will increase over time.

Hotels and global vacation venues will struggle to recover for years especially in countries like Italy and Spain.

Organized sports, already under attack for bodily injuries and by transgenderism, may never recover. Olympics will be derailed.

Lost jobs and income, involuntary isolation, forced distancing will cause loss of homes, marriages, and even families.

Depression and a sense of hopelessness and confusion will cause suicides to rise. Rodney Atkinson predicts that “the suicides from the economic and social effects of lockdown will far exceed the number of deaths actually caused by the Coronavirus.” He wrote that worldwide deaths were 21,297 by Coronavirus, 113,034 from seasonal flu, 228,095 from malaria, and 249,904 from suicide (in the period of March 1-25, 2020)

Atkinson said, “there are increasing reports of family killings and suicide in Britain as families face the desperation of lockdown and financial worry. A tragic case from Germany was the suicide of the Finance Director of the State of Hessen, Thomas Schaefer, because he had become depressed about how to cope with the economic collapse due to the lockdown.”

Americans will have to realize that food and resources are limited and may have to get used to less supply, long lines, and rationing.

Whether this pandemic was accidental or not, the end result will be the crashed consumption and production which will affect the global economy profoundly due to severe unemployment, recession, significant wealth loss, diminished or wiped-out savings, depleted pension funds and, over time, if recovery is slow worldwide, it may cause localized skirmishes and more tribal wars.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Ileana’s Musings During Corona Times

The forest is coming back to life
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2020
I’m going to start dating everything with B.C. (before Corona) and A.C. (after Corona) or, if I am in a day of reckoning economic mood, B.C. (before collapse), A.C. (after collapse). I know I’ve become a full-fledged American because I have gained humor during dire times when I should be crying. Why take everything so seriously, we must be self-deprecating once in a while.
My wardrobe has taken a turn for the worse but I seem to be blissfully happy about it. I didn’t just fall off the fashion train, I mix and match loud pajamas in mismatched colors, and warm and comfy sweaters with pants Mims bought me long ago in my favorite colors, loud pink and sea foam blue. They hang loosely so I can be comfortable. I am not trying to impress anybody except my waist.
I keep in my car two coats, a Nanook-of-the-north model with a hoodie against the wind called “the hawk” in black and one in red so all the critters can really see me wandering and run away, a wool blanket, three different umbrellas, plenty of empty coolers for food preservation, a walking stick, gloves, hat, forest map in case I get lost, which is often, pepper spray, my camera, Purell, water, face mask, sun glasses, readers, hand lotion, makeup bag I never use (the bears, deer, and foxes don’t care), and other survival items.
My car looks worse inside than a college kid’s vehicle, going home to do laundry. I would buy a new car but why ruin its beauty with all my junk?
I’ve become that person I used to make fun of in my twenties, with graceless stretch pants and seemingly color blind.
How many times have you opened the door to your house and looked outside at the empty street and neighborhood? Close the door, it's cold and drafty and the flies and mosquitoes are coming in!
Tomorrow we will spend the day in the basement. That way it will feel like we are visiting and dirtying up someone else's house. For ambiance, we will turn on the lamp that's never plugged in because nobody reads there – it’s too cold. We could open the door but the critters may crawl in and it's still pretty darn cold outside too. But the grass looks pretty and the snakes are alive too. Chip and Dale are busy digging up my flower beds, looking for acorns they’ve buried for the winter.
The house is clean like it’s never been before, and I even vacuumed the tiny space between the drier and washer with all the lint accumulated over the years. I could have made a really big dust bunny out of it but I'm not artistically inclined and not yet bored out of my mind.
We keep asking Alexa what the temperature is outside. “It does not matter, suckers, you are still stuck inside on China Corona virus lockdown.”
Gas is so much cheaper but there is no place to go because everything is closed and under police surveillance. The tiny river beach at the nearby vast park is surrounded by yellow tape like a crime scene. I am thinking about taking up yoga in the sand because the governor said that exercise places should remain open. Maybe I can also take up day fishing, it is still allowed but night fishing and boating are “verboten.” I don’t own a boat nor fish so I don’t know that the virus is catchier after sundown; you probably drink too much beer and get too close for pandemic safe “social distancing.” Our Democrat governor Northam did extend our lockdown until June 10 which seemed like an arbitrary date until I learned that June 9 is the Republican primary so we won’t be allowed to vote in person.
Let me open the door for the umpteenth time to see if the deer family or the fox have come by looking for food.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Animals Need Social Distancing Too

Corona virus
A comedic uncle called today to ask how we are surviving in our lockdown quarantine, if we have food and medicine, if we are lonely, cabin feverish, closer than ever, or ready to kill each other.  

He told us that his son and best friend were coming out of their police-imposed two-week quarantine upon their return flight from a European Union country. The police made sure they went straight home and stayed there for two weeks. In order to provide groceries and medication for his elderly parents, his son could now receive a special travel document within the city presentable to police roadblocks upon request.

My uncle did not seem to be too upset about the lockdown  – having survived decades of totalitarian communism, he was used to road blocks, travel restrictions, curfews, and those aggressive and drunk on their power comrade underlings shouting, “show me the papers.”

We were all used to being told which buildings we could enter, which zones we could access, which stores we could shop in, and which were verboten to the proletariat minions.

We walked slowly past areas out of reach for us, wondering what was behind the tall walls, the wired fences, and behind the fancy closed gates and doors with armed guards in sight, patrolling back and forth with menacing looks.

Even the dollar shops, not the type where items cost a dollar, but those which sold goods in hard currency, German marks and U.S. dollars, had guards posted outside to make sure no unwashed masses made it passed the doors. Merchandise that we could only dream of was on sale for foreign visitors, the communist elites and their cronies, who could own foreign currency without the fear of being jailed or worse.

The city hall was off limits to foreign nationals and it upset foreign visitors greatly that they had so little freedom of movement – they could not wait to go back to their countries like the U.S. where people were allowed to enter any public buildings.

The population learned to despise closed doors and lack of access because it infringed even further on their loss of personal freedom. Few remembered the time during the monarchy when they could have walked freely into any buildings. But when the socialists took power, everything changed and the collective memory disappeared, subjugated to the new socialist indoctrination.

It was bad enough being kept prisoner within the borders of the country, without any possibility of ever escaping to the free world even for a short visit, but to be told that you could not enter certain places in your own country, was much worse.

It’s not that we were envious. We just wanted some freedom of movement, choice, and speech. We could see how the elites lived, where they lived, how they drove personal cars while we walked, took the bus and the train, how they went on lavish vacations, to restaurants that we were not even allowed in, much less afford to dine there on a bare minimum salary.

So, we all learned to despise locked doors and gates, those who locked them and kept us away, and the heavily armed menacing guards who kept us at a safe distance.

To this day, my heart skips a beat when someone wants to see “my papers” and I get angry when I see a closed door or gate to something that taxpayers like me have paid for to develop, i.e. a park, a museum, a forest, a memorial, and a famous landmark maintained with taxpayer money.

The huge national forest nearby was closed. Sixteen thousand acres of thick woods with endless trails, waterfalls, and creeks seemed like a good place to get away from people and keep a safe distance from human contact and potential spread of the Corona virus, but the benevolent bureaucrats who care so much about our health thought otherwise and locked us out. After all, it is for our own good, for the collective good.

Even the boardwalk over the swamp was closed as well, perhaps animals, birds, fish, turtles, beavers, and snakes need six feet of “social distancing” too.  One young man, ignoring the locked gate, had jumped the fence and was walking alone on the boardwalk, enjoying the serenity and sounds of nature. Nobody was going to keep this guy away from nature, not even a locked gate.

Do we really understand that quarantine was designed to restrict the movements of the sick or the potentially sick while the movements of the healthy are being restricted by bureaucratic authoritarianism?

It is very difficult to discern facts from misinformation coming from the global and national main stream media, various government entities, and individuals in positions of power, so ordinary and confused citizens imagine biological, economic, and psychological warfare coming from China in partnership with international communists/globalists and the domestic segments of both knowledgeable and ignorant “resistance,” the one that never stopped trying to get rid of the duly-elected President Trump.

After ruminating over the locked gates, we went back home to start our third week of government-imposed “lockdown/social distancing.” I don’t know why but the feelings of dread I had under the socialist regime decades ago enveloped me again and hung like a heavy cloak.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Lessons Learned from The Chinese Wuhan Virus Global Crisis

 What are my lessons learned from the Chinese Wuhan virus global crisis and “pandemic?”

I live in Reality Ville and know the face of communism and forced collectivism. I’ve stood in food lines, toilet paper lines, and other essentials’ lines every day in the first twenty years of my life. The number one lesson I learned today is that globalism is EVIL.

Globalism does not serve the interest of our country; it serves the interests of like-minded globalists invested heavily in cheap labor in China and profits at all costs. Globalism, no matter what professors tell their students, does not serve the interests of the average American citizen who has no idea that 90 percent of his/her prescription drugs and OTC drugs are made in China, a hostile communist nation.

Economically speaking, it is not a good idea to allow a potential enemy to produce items for key industries needed for survival of our children and grandchildren. Our nation cannot defend itself in case of attacks, whether military or viral ones, if its key industries’ production depends on a potential enemy.

I learned that we should bring our drug manufacturing and other key industries back to America as soon as possible and we should lobby Congress to pass legislation to make that happen. And if they should object, then the Executive Order pen must be used.

I learned from this Chinese Wuhan Virus crisis that nationalism is necessary if we are to survive. I learned how fragile we really are in the 21st century despite our technology or perhaps because of it.

I learned from this Chinese Wuhan Virus crisis that our President Trump was right about China all along and was correct in promoting incentives to industries to return to America.

I learned that we should never trust the communist government of China. This misplaced trust in a communist country is now lethal to our economy.

I also learned that it is going to cost us trillions of dollars to recover and a long time for mom and pop businesses to come back if ever.

The American “bread and circuses,” football, baseball, volleyball, hockey, and other organized sports and competitions may never come back in the same form.

I learned from this “pandemic” that having family time is amazing and we should go back to the basics of family life, turning off the blue screens of the highly addictive and intelligence-robbing smart phones.

I hope Millennials learned, after the shock of having to stand in line for food and toilet paper, that the socialism they so desperately desire is a disaster that will never work no matter who is in charge.

I hope all socialists in this country who want socialized medicine learned that socialized medicine in Italy and in communist China were quickly overwhelmed – rationing ensued and they had to make hard choices for treatment.

Americans learned, I hope, that socialized medicine does have death panels, rationing of medical care based on a person’s age and utility to society.

I learned from this Chinese Wuhan virus crisis that the European Union did not respond well to its member states with medical help.

I also learned that unfettered liberalism screaming for open borders and releasing medically unvetted foreigners among their midst was a disaster waiting to happen and it did. Yes, disease does not recognize borders, but we can screen people for disease and illnesses that can cause a potential pandemic globally. Isolation and quarantine do work.

Preventive medical tests before admission into a country is a great idea, it is not an intrusion on a person’s manufactured global rights. You don’t have rights in a country you have invaded or are a guest of. You must follow their rules, regulations, and laws, including borders.

We isolated ourselves in our homes, gave up rather quickly our constitutional liberties for our own “good” without as much as a whimper – the controlling globalists won, and the media won.

We learned that President Trump was right to build the fence on the southern border.  He was also right about restricting travel from China.

I learned from this “pandemic” that family life in general was improved by staying home and cooking instead of eating in restaurants so much. It was fun to take the kids to the park and re-discover nature, play in the sand, get dirty, chase the dog, fish, instead of watching TV non-stop, playing electronic games, or being obsessed with social media all the time. Life became simpler and more enjoyable, it seemed that we lived it more fully.

I learned from this “pandemic” that schools closed and taught their students online, eliminating a lot of unnecessary personnel and administrators. And why pay high college tuition when you can learn online much cheaper?

The Chinese Wuhan virus crisis taught me that some Americans are still kind and generous, that some went to work despite their immediate contact with a lot of potentially infected people. But they did it anyway because they have a great work ethic, love to help other Americans, and needed the well-deserved paycheck they earned.

I learned that Americans are just as shameless to hoard food and essentials as the hoarders I encountered under socialism. Some became scalpers and stores price-gouged their customers, taking advantage of the shortage caused by increased demand and decreased supply.

Despite the mainstream media telling us otherwise, it is not racist to say that the Corona virus originated in Wuhan, China. To the liberals out there glued to their favorite leftist alphabet soup “news” channel, Chinese is a nationality, not a race.

From the Chinese Wuhan virus crisis, I learned that the Wuhan province was the location of 10,000 5G stations rolled out by the end of 2019. It is probably a “tin foil hat” coincidence but I am a skeptic and I do not believe in coincidences.

And I like a good conspiracy theory any day. Exposure to so much radiation leads to a microwave illness with flu-like symptoms and 54 other additional health problems listed here.

The 5G roll-out announcement was made by the communist Chinese government. Here is the English version.

Last, but not least, Americans learned that toilet paper became the number one hoarded item, and nobody understood why.

Democrats, the political opportunists that they are, would never let a virus crisis go to waste. “Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told caucus members last week that the [stimulus] bill was ‘a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.’” Would that vision be Democrat socialism? But then everybody knows that Democrats in Washington do not have a problem putting their political ideology ahead of the welfare of the American people.

What some of my friends learned about the Chinese Wuhan Virus Crisis? Here are some salty and pointed opinions:

-          “How easily all Americans gave up their constitutional freedoms following a deliberate, media-created and hyped panic.

-          Never outsource anything to a communist enemy.

-          What socialism feels like.

-          How selfish and unethical 75% of the population is.

-          How stupid we are, how easily manipulated, and how incompetent the clowns are who lead various countries.

-          That despite millions of years of evolution, we are still Neanderthals.

-          How happily Americans surrendered their freedoms, they were not even fighting.

-          It was scary how many politicians and people were willing to ignore the Constitution’s protections when we needed them the most.

-          Life can change on a dime.

-          Prepping under Obama’s reign was a great decision.

-          Never trust a communist but I knew that before.

-          There is a lack of deductive reasons ability and an abundance of panic mode among many.

-          This Corona Pandemic is a sinister international conspiracy against America… The cause, the symptoms, the mortality and morbidity are not even a fraction of the H1N1… but we are not lead by a communist in the White House, we are led by a true patriot and great leader of the world, President Donald J. Trump.

-          Bring our manufacturing base back to America’s soil and employ American workers.

-          The “social distancing” quarantine came easy to me as I’ve been an introvert all my life.

-          The communists still want to take over the world.”

I sadly learned that people lie, cheat, and steal on a mass scale in order to get what they want, putting others at great risk, and neighbors are not neighborly at all in parts of the country where liberalism reigns supreme.

Friday, March 20, 2020

My White Privilege

Socialist breadline in Romania
Photo: Wikipedia Commons
I pulled the thick blanket out the dryer – it was still a tad damp so I placed it on the banister. I don’t have a clothesline – they are not allowed by the socialist Homeowners Association (HOA). If you want to live relatively close to a job, you must build in an HOA, you don’t have the luxury of declining it.

I fail to understand how the presence of a clothesline in the back of my house would devalue the property. But HOA finds it acceptable that seven families rent one house and take up the parking on the entire street where it becomes a gauntlet trying to dodge all cars. But I digress.

I am grateful that I have a dryer and a vacuum cleaner. In my previous “lily-white” communist world, it would have been an economic privilege - not a privilege as in the ridiculous liberal construct “white privilege,” but a privilege of life’s conveniences only reserved for the commies in power.  

I am white, I was told recently, by a huffy Millennial who happened to be white as well, therefore I benefitted my entire life of “white privilege.” Perhaps I should dig deeper to find and examine these “white privileges” I did not realize I had.

I had the privilege to work hard in school and get my education before the age of 29. When I had babies, I raised them, I did not let daddy government do the parental job for me. I worked at least two jobs my entire adult life in order to raise two children by myself and take care of my mom.

I did not go to bars, I did not get tattoos, I did not go to salons to do my hair or my nails in the most ridiculous colors and shapes, I did not drink, I did not own fancy cars or many cars in my life. I drive today a 14-year old car.

But I see and hear all these people accusing me of “white privilege” while they drive brand new Mercedes, BMWs, Lexus, Tesla, and other luxurious vehicles. But I am not complaining that they have economic privilege. If they want to spend the money to own the latest, that is capitalism and I rejoice in its existence.

If anybody has ever set foot in a socialist country run by the Communist Party perhaps realized that nobody had any kind of special privilege except the ruling class and the oligarchy. Nobody owned a home, a car, or any luxuries.

Our daily existence involved standing in food lines much longer than Americans are now inconvenienced in grocery stores while practicing “social distancing” in order to get their food, toilet paper, and other necessities. The total disruption of an economy by an unseen Chinese flu virus is hard on its entitled population that seldom experienced pain and adversity. They soon start fighting with each other over toilet paper, bread, and milk in order to survive.

Deliveries came once a day, but it was never enough of anything or it only came in one variety because the economy was centrally run by the Politburo and all they cared about was that their bellies were full, they had luxurious homes, and a chauffeur driving them around in a car they never bought or earned. If I did not have a conscience, I could have lived that life too.

In the meantime, the “white-privileged” proletariat class made do with grocery store scraps, if they could find them at the end of the long line, and tiny living in concrete apartments which seldom had running water, hot water, or heat in winter.

Our “white privilege,” and we were all white, did not involve vacations in private dachas at the Black Sea, ski trips in the Carpathian Mountains, and overseas vacations paid by the benevolent dictator who rewarded his henchmen quite well.

I was lucky to escape this socialist paradise and I came to the U.S. There was no “white privilege” waiting for me. I had to get a minimum wage job for $3.10 an hour and watched in sadness as people way less qualified and educated than I was get jobs I had applied for. They got them because they did not have my “white privilege.”  

In college, worse students than I were given special benefits, scholarships and free college tuition based on their skin color and ethnicity. I worked hard to make good grades but when I tried to get a college job to supplement my meager “white privilege” income, non-whites were always hired because their ancestors were slaves. My ancestors were slaves too, to the Ottoman Empire, but I don’t think Turkey would be amenable today to pay us reparations for all the enslavement they put my people through for 500 plus years.

When I was hungry, my “white privilege” did not feed me, there were no welfare cards and grocery store willing to fill my cart with everything at the taxpayers’ expense.

Privileged as you say we were in our squalid poverty, we did not own electronics, a fridge, a vacuum cleaner, a tv, appliances to make cooking easier, computers, smart phones, or even old style landline phones for that matter.

If we did not work, the socialists did not give us anything except slogans and parades for the Dear Leader. They did not feed our children in school three meals a day. If you did not work, you did not eat. That was our “white privilege,” the privilege to work hard in order to survive.

You complain that we have “white privilege?” How about the privileges you have that we work hard to pay for every day? Unlike shrill complainers, we don’t have free Medicaid, welfare, or the luxury to stay home and have more babies because daddy government pays for their birth and their care.

Next time you accuse us of having “white privilege,” be careful how you word this nonsensical liberal construct because we are not buying the rhetorical racism coming from the left anymore. You’ve cried wolf too many times.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dr. Mircea, Barefoot Doctor Part III

Dr. Mircea in Poland
Photo: Private collection
In the spring of 1964 Dr. Mircea received the much sought-after invitation for a two-year post graduate ear nose and throat (ENT) fellowship in Warsaw, Poland. The nasty treatment at the Bucharest airport by armed guards, including confiscation of college photos as “security threat” because “the enemy of the communist regime must not know what the entrance to the university looks like,” did not dampen his spirit and elation to finally leave the oppression of communism behind.

The two-year surgical training included abdominal surgery and ENT, followed by three years of brief solo practice, government work, and part-time ENT work at the famous Alfa Clinic on the elegant Nowy Swiat Street in Warsaw. In the five years Dr. Mircea spent in the Polish healthcare system (1964-1969), he “never met a single male nurse” because of WWII’s massive casualties and male immigration to the west.

Dr. Mircea was fascinated by the basic freedoms that the Polish people enjoyed, even though they were under a communist regime. When compared to the other Iron Curtain countries in Poland:

-          Passports and travel visas were given with relative ease

-          Foreign goods could be purchased with U.S. dollars in stores

-          Owning foreign currency was not a crime

-          Private enterprise was allowed on a limited scale

-          Government’s stores had a variety of products and nobody had to wait in endless food lines

-          Disgruntled citizens expressed dissatisfaction in public without the fear of retribution

-          Religion was allowed and Catholicism practiced

-          No Marxism-Leninism indoctrinating courses were mandated in schools

-          Public transportation was better, very efficient, reliable, and cheap

-          Physicians, dentists, lawyers, and accountants could have their own practices

-          No state censorship prohibited the showing of American movies

-          Jazz clubs cherished American music and celebrated it with annual festivals

-          Private ownership of farmland and real estate was protected

The only Romanian medical practitioner in Poland, Dr. Mircea made the grand sum of $25 per month as an nose and throat specialist during 1966-1969 at a time when the average resident in the west was making $500 per month. He supplemented his income with tour guide stints and as a currency exchange trader, which was legal.

Invited to Paris for a visit by his old Romanian friend Sahak, thirty-year old Aurel embarked on an arduous 850-mile train journey in a second-class compartment, determined to find a post in the free world. He carried his passport and money in a specially made armpit wallet to guard against the famous Parisian pickpockets.

Iron Curtain between East and West Germany
Photo: Dr. Aurel E. Mircea

Of all the borders they had to cross between Poland and France, the real Iron Curtain crossing made a lasting impression on the adventurous and fearless young doctor. He described it, “The most diabolical creation of the postwar Stalinist ideology was a huge concrete wall with observation towers, every three hundred feet. The piece of land on the east side of it, the shoot-and-kill zone, about fifty feet wide was patrolled by uniformed East German guards with their Alsatian dogs on leashes. The steel fence on the western side of the Iron Curtain, twenty feet tall, was electrically charged with 5,000 volts of a deadly current. The whole border looked more menacing than the perimeter of a concentration camp. It would be impossible to penetrate it on foot, or by any other means. It was unmistakably a war zone, the real and most dreaded human barrier designed to keep the people in, and not enemies out.”

He carefully took several pictures of the Iron Curtain walls when the train stopped to change a steam engine to a modern Diesel one. The landscape and homes were drab, poor, and unkempt on the socialist side, cheery on the free western side, with large barns, prosperous-looking homes, well-fed cows, snowy farm fields, and no sign of poverty. The west, as he experienced it over and over from that point on, was “shimmering with the pulse of prosperity and capitalist opulence.”

With a suitcase full of polish sausage and cheese, to last him so that he did not have to buy street food he could not afford, Dr. Mircea arrived in the famous Parisian La Gare de Nord, greeted by his friend Sahak, who took him to a cheap hotel in the vicinity of his modest apartment on Rue de Lafayette, a few blocks from Montmartre and Moulin Rouge.

When his friend Sahak insisted that Aurel should settle in Warsaw and get married, Dr. Mircea explained to him that, although his situation under Polish communism was much better than under Romanian communism, “Socialism, communism, and the likes have severe limits on one’s freedom, from professional to financial point of view. I want to be a free man!” His medical journey is ongoing, but he is not afraid of the “tedious trail in the free world, toward capitalist prosperity.”

Explaining to Sahak that his destination is the land of the free and the home of the brave, he concluded his tirade with, “I have had it with the communist system and the limitations to freedom!”

Fate intervened again. After brief interviews with various African consulates in Paris during which he was more and less rejected immediately, he got lucky and, following an impassionate plea for freedom, he was well received at the South African Consulate. The reassuring vibes he received from the consul felt like he won the lottery.

Bad luck did not dampen his spirit when, having let his guard down in a moment of elation, his unattended hanging coat was pickpocketed on the returning train in La Gare de Nord. He lost his traveling papers, ticket, and passport on his attempted return to his Warsaw medical practice.

Walking miles and miles back and forth to reclaim his stolen identity and to borrow $100 from poor Sahak, dragging four suitcases full of merchandise destined to be sold in Warsaw, penniless, paperless, and hopeless, Dr. Mircea managed to get traveling papers from the French government, valid for a one time use without a passport. Neither the Romanian nor the Polish government were willing to help him, on the contrary, they reproached him for being too careless with pickpockets.

A few months after returning to Warsaw and after receiving a new green Romanian passport, he received an offer as a junior medical officer from the Republic of South Africa, Far East Rand Hospital in Springs, Transvaal Province, for $1,000 a month. The three-year contract paid twice as much as any western resident. No more $25 a month standard medical salary in Poland based on artificial socialist cost of living. His ship of freedom had finally arrived!  

Dr. Mircea in South Africa 
Photo: personal collection

South Africa became Dr. Mircea’s paradise of freedom he’s always dreamed about even in his most dire circumstances. He was now in the world of capitalist opportunity and prosperity. Dazed by the sunshine and the pleasant weather, he found South Africa immaculately clean. His doctor’s quarters, all paid for by the hospital, with its perfectly manicured English gardens took on palatial qualities. He was finally a free man living in Paradise!

But in the real world, nothing is perfect, the segregated Apartheid society separated blacks and whites in neighborhoods and in hospitals. The black people had their own Bantu-only hospital section and it offered Dr. Mircea the opportunity to practice varied surgical procedures. The Bantu did not trust the South African whites but, as a foreign doctor labeled as a non-discriminating person, Dr. Mircea became a medical magnet.

His fortunes improved, he bought his first car and appliances he’s never owned in Romania, opened a bank account, and eventually rented his first luxurious apartment. He met his future wife, Zona, in a music store, trying to find the name of a beloved song he had heard on radio, It Must Be Him.

In the Land of the Boers, he found the love of his life, the petite blonde Zona Visser, a famous South African recording star from the Springs. After a long courtship, they married in the South African Summer of 1973 on Zona’s birthday, February 26. Their marriage produced two daughters, Oltea and Calina.

His financial fortunes much improved, Dr. Mircea was able to sponsor and bring his mother (who defected) and one sister’s family to South Africa while the communists kept the rest of his family. His dad had to divorce his mom and marry someone else quickly in order to escape the Romanian gulag.

Among the many friends he made in South Africa, meeting Romania’s former monarch, exiled King Michael I and his wife Queen Ana, on a visit in Johannesburg to spread the Gospel of Peace, was most memorable.

The political instability in South Africa grew by 1976. During the infamous Soweto riots, Dr. Mircea’s office was closed for three days and patients trickled in with wounds and injuries from riots. Nurses were uncomfortable working for a white man.

Communist agitators abounded from the Kremlin, Cuba, and China. “All the leftist movements and communist-dominated organizations reared their ugly heads from the bush and started to rattle their sabers,” wrote Dr. Mircea. In the U.S., Jimmy Carter, the potato liberal, became president.

An unpleasant encounter one day with a black activist who posed as a patient shook Dr. Mircea to the core, opening the wounds of fear that “Marxism was alive and well, on a continuous march all over the world and that South Africa was not immune to it. The activist had said, “We like you for what you are doing for our black brothers and sisters. But we’ll soon take over this country and there will be no place for white people in South Africa.”

Dr. Mircea thought, “I’m starting to see the Dark Continent, without the benefits of the capitalist light!” After a brief visit from the SASS (South Africa Secret Service) warning him about the dangers to his life and his family’s, he decided to move everybody to America.

The agent had told him, “Carjacking, killing older family members, hurting your children and many more acts of violence could be unleashed upon you, by the local tsotsies. There is no shortage of them, with the fall of the Portuguese Empire and the infiltration of the subcontinent by millions of communists from China, Cuba, and the Soviet Union. Gaborone, two-hundred miles away, has the largest KGB contingent outside of Kremlin.”

In the eight years that he practiced in South Africa, Dr. Mircea built a good practice among the Bantu people, acquired more surgical experience, built a family, had two daughters whom he can rightfully call African American as they were born in South Africa and raised in America, and helped part of his Romanian family escape communism.

As violence escalated in Johannesburg, and after having had their family car stolen and being shot at with an AK-47 from an overpass bridge Dr. Mircea was convinced more than ever that he had to move to America. A chance brochure advertising medical practices for foreign doctors in Texas, with an ECFMG certificate which he had, and a valid Green Card, was the turning point in the future of his family.

The American consul Aurel had an audience with, told him that, because none of the Romanian immigration quotas had been used since 1950, 40,000 unused Green Cards were at his disposal. In two days’ time, Dr. Mircea delivered all the necessary documents to the Embassy: health tests to prove that his family had no communicable diseases, proof of financial support, the physical address of a jazz buddy from his Poland days, his medical certification, birth certificates, and passports.

The long medical journey for Dr. Mircea was far from over but the final destination became clear, Pasadena General Hospital in Texas. The Bantu practice he had created on McIntyre Street in Jeppestown district of Johannesburg is, to this day, a thriving practice as seen on Google Camera, fifty years later. “It has the same size and color, protective steel bars and doors as it did when I have sold it to a Rhodesian doctor in the summer of 1977. The address is immortalized on my South African Medical and Dental Council’s Certificate of Status, dating February 11, 1969,” wrote Dr. Mircea.

Dr. Mircea overcame all odds and finally landed in his beloved namesake, AMERICA, a reward for his hard work and determination to escape communism and a huge gain for Texas – they got a well-trained and seasoned international physician like no other.

His remuneration was the stratospheric salary of $72,000 a year, rent-free and fully equipped medical office for two years, paid full-time staff for one year, free fully paid relocation expenses from South Africa for the whole family, and fully paid Texas licensure for two years.

All financial rewards for Dr. Aurel E. Mircea paled in comparison with the joy both he and his wife experienced breathing the freedom air of Texas in the year 1977, when he finally reached the dreamed destination of a medical journey decades in the making.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Medical Journey of Dr. Mircea, Part II

A fresh graduate in September 1961, Aurel described his six years of medical school quite succinctly – four years filled with communist propaganda, basic science classes, political classes, and the Russian language; two years focused mostly on hospital training, public health, and hygiene.  He wrote, “very little practical experience was accumulated during those final years. The final exam consisted of three medical subjects and the mandatory Marxism-Leninism oral test.”

The Marxism-Leninism test required the memorization of about 50 volumes of communist propaganda. The wise classmate Valeria managed to condense the 50 volumes into 2. It was easier to regurgitate two volumes of the worthless rhetoric that nobody will ever need, including the Useful Idiots.

To pay back the free education, graduates had to accept assignments wherever the communist party sent them. To make sure they complied, the health authorities in Bucharest withheld their medical diplomas until the rural assignment was completed or a replacement was found.

Aurel’s assignment was in two villages in Oltenia which had no electricity, no phones, no running water, no medical supplies, and no medical clinic. One room provided by the local “Feldscher” doubled as occasional examination room and bedroom for the Barefoot Doctor. A feldsher was a term derived from the German word Feldscher coined in the 15th century, given to medieval barbers who practiced ancient medicine in the army.

Patient care was provided on foot, making house calls, rain or shine. After eight months of torture and deprivation of human rights, Aurel resigned, telling the medical commissar in Bucharest to keep his diploma and dropped out of the medical profession temporarily and became a musician.

During his last two years of medical school, students were exposed to some surgery but most of the hands-on medicine was accomplished during the 3-year long mandatory service in rural areas, practicing on desperate people who needed medical care the most.

After graduation, the privileged few, with connections to the Communist Party, remained in large cities as employees of the urban healthcare authorities or enrolled in a specialization course if they met the affirmative action criteria.

One night’s chance encounter with a Polish dentist and his wife in a dance club at the Black Sea where he was performing would eventually change Dr. Mircea’s life. The possibility of postgraduate studies in Warsaw under his sponsorship was discussed.

Poland, although a socialist country under the rule of the communist party, “preserved some degree of freedom of the press, religion and even allowed a certain degree of private enterprise including medical and dental practices. Realizing that the government is not the answer to all problems, the Polish authorities obliged its people’s demand for the preservation of private businesses and family farms.”

At the request of Comrade Ghiorghi Preda, Aurel had performed monthly concerts during medical school years. He would lie to him about the composers – Comrade Gershwinowsky (George Gershwin) and Comrade Portersky (Cole Porter), both graduates of the Moscow Conservatory of Music. Comrade Ghiorghi would nod his “brainwashed communist head in approval. As long you don’t play any imperialist tunes from America, which I hate with passion!” Boiling on the inside, Aurel never told Ghiorghi how much he hated his communist Romania which destroyed the people’s souls and spirit.

Aurel passed the indoctrination Marxist-Leninist written and oral tests with a perfect score, not because he knew the material, he despised it.  Thanks to his group of colleagues who had prepared beforehand all the correct answers to questions 1-60. What they thought the communist agitators wanted to hear as answers were lining the pockets of his jacket. With agile prestidigitation, he took out the correct and embellished answer to his question and dazzled the committee on which, surprisingly sat his medical school colleague and commissar Ghiorghi who never showed up for any exams but passed everything with a perfect score of 10.

Had Aurel and his group been caught cheating on the Marxist-Leninist test which counted 25 percent of the graduation score, they would have been expelled and sent to Siberia in a Gulag and would have never be seen or heard from again.

Aurel had picked up his temporary doctor’s diploma - the real one would be held hostage and locked up in the dean’s safe for the duration of the three years of mandatory service as a Barefoot Doctor in a rural area.

Luck intervened again. His prayers were answered when he met a colonel on campus who was looking for a doctor for one of his three non-combatant battalions staffed with young peasants drafted by force under the new conscription law which made them work from dawn to dusk for three years with an axe and a shovel, building roads, bridges, and other infrastructures.

The newly minted battalion physician reported to his job Monday through Saturday, tending to his motley crew in Buzau. The soldiers were healthy and strong, and his job involved only issues of hygiene and nutrition. The sixty-mile train and bus commute were pleasant, and he made friends with the regular riders, all pissed off at the communist regime but helpless to do anything about it.

Through the years, besides his native Romanian language, Dr. Mircea became fluent in French, Russian, Polish, English, and a bit of Afrikaans and Fanaglo, the Bantu People Esperanto of the subcontinent, a mix of Zulu and English.

The military commissar asked Comrade Doctor one day why he was studying foreign languages. Aside from the personal joy of being able to swear in Polish at the totalitarian commissar, Dr. Mircea answered the Comrade Captain with a straight face that he liked to study the history of the Soviet Union in the Russian language.

He wrote, “I was surrounded by soldiers who hated every minute of their forced conscription, by officers who were spying on each other and by a military commissar who tried every day to put someone in jail, including me.” You were never innocent until proven guilty, you were always guilty, it all depended on what charges the commissar would manufacture about a person they wanted imprisoned.

His stint with the battalion ended when he was forced by the new commander to swap his post so close to the capital with his son’s post far away. This son was addicted to drugs and Aurel’s post was much more enticing and closer to him and to the capital.  He used threats of many years of jail time against Aurel because he never stopped his correspondence with the Polish dentist, Dr. Kim-Ru, whom he had met at the Black Sea.  He knew, of course, all his letters were opened and read by Security Police, a huge apparatus formed to spy on citizens.

Additionally, to improve living conditions for the poor conscripts, they traded medicine they did not need, the soldiers were generally healthy, with the peasants in dire need of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories missing in commercial pharmacies, for meat and wine, improving their pathetic diet.  Bartering was a way of life if you wanted to survive under socialism, under the boot of the Communist Party because the economy was a centrally planned mess. Everybody wanted bribes and most people took things from where they worked in order to trade with others and survive. The commissars always wanted their cut until it became politically inconvenient.

Aurel’s constant dream was to have the Polish Ministry of Health give him a stipend for a postgraduate medical program in Warsaw, a suitable position in a good teaching hospital. To thwart those who constantly watched him, he wrote, “Dear Dr. Kim-Ru, I hereby express my total dedication to the cause of socialism in the Soviet bloc. I also voice my desire for Peace on Earth and my willingness to serve the great Marxist-Leninist ideology. I reaffirm that my fate is now in your hands and I’m waiting for your next move. Long live the Proletarian Paradise!” Dr. Mircea explained that, after writing such sentences exclusively for the communist censors monitoring the post office, “he puked three times in protest and hatred of dictatorship.”

Aurel’s chance encounter one night with the famous Russian composer Aram Khachaturian at the Black Sea, who was there on a therapeutic visit to the famous saprophytic muds of Eforie Nord, had lifted his spirits temporarily.

At the end of the summer, Aurel had to choose between being a Barefoot Doctor again or change countries. But fate had other plans.

The place he exchanged with the colonel’s son was in the villages of Tulburea and Aninoasa, a fifty-mile train ride from Craiova towards the Carpathian Mountains. As his mother had told him, all the riches and greatness had gone into the pockets of the communist oligarchy as part of the open-theft, centrally planned economy. The villages were poor places in the hill country, filled with “hard-working old women, sick old men, and hungry children.”

But he was glad that he was not “in some Siberian concentration camp crushing hard rocks with wooden hammers.” His modest rent bought him one room and access to a kitchen and bath. He had one bed, “one wash basin with a suspended water container and a small tea table.

For six working days and nights he slept in the same bed on which he examined the occasional visiting patients. The rest of the time, he had to trek through mud and snow to reach some of the out of the way farms with sick residents.

As a young 25-year old doctor, sent to this God-forsaken place for allegedly “stealing medications and selling local wines,” Dr. Mircea kept repeating to himself that he would not be a communist victim of the healthcare disaster he was witnessing. He wanted a professional career in freedom.

When the heavy snows came and the roads became impassable, the cooperative manager gave him a “living, hungry stallion” for which the villagers donated oats and corn. They also gave Dr. Mircea boiled eggs, bacon, and bread. The local priest gave him a sleigh which was a good thing because the horse was too old to be ridden and could not make it up the difficult hills.

When Dr. Mircea spent two nights a week in his rented one-room adobe in Craiova, condensation from running the gas heater fell from the ceiling onto his face and bed all night like a “small discreet rain.”

The Siberian Express winter storm of 1962-1963 brought weeks of misery and pain for the villagers and for Dr. Mircea. In February he found his beloved horse in the barn mauled by hungry wolves. He cried, overwhelmed by his loss and by mountains of snow.

Freezing temperatures had turned most rivers into easy to cross two-feet deep ice bridges and Bulgarian grey wolves came in packs across the Danube. Hungry and skeletal guard dogs were no match for the ravenous wolves. His beloved pet and friend, with whom he talked as if he could understand him, was dead. He was so deeply attached to him in his rural loneliness.

Dr. Mircea waited weeks until the roads and the rail became passable again and returned to Craiova where he checked himself into a local hospital ward for tests. He was afraid that his daily diet of expired sardine cans may have poisoned him. Under socialist medicine, you had to be checked into a ward in order to have any serum or x-ray tests.

While on medical leave for two months, fate intervened again and he received the opportunity of his life – an offer for a post graduate course, a two-year residency in Ear Nose and Throat surgery at a teaching hospital in Warsaw. The letter with the proposal arrived from Dr. Kim-Ru, just as he had promised. It was delivered through the production manager of a traveling Polish circus in order to escape the eyes of the communist censors. The door to freedom had finally opened for Dr. Mircea!