103 Comments

I laugh whenever I hear a Republican say they are afraid that people will not go back to work if they receive the extra $600/month. Unemployment benefits don't last forever. And if people are evicted and left homeless, they will be applying for other programs trying to get help. And theses programs have experienced cuts federally or if they are at the state level, face cuts due to decreased budgets due to the pandemic. The landlords are in a bind as they still have their expenses to pay which may result in foreclosures for them. Another loss of income. And more hits to the economy. I know that these are extraordinary times, but times of revolution and change take place in extraordinary times. I am not an economist, but it does not appear that the Republican economic theories are holding up really well.

As a Kentuckian, I have been trying to make McConnell unemployed for years. He has been in Kentucky more the last few weeks campaigning. Normally we don't see him milling with the masses. However, given the track record of people voting against their own self-interest, I will not hold out hope of getting him out of office. My absolutely favorite vision for the future is to wake up the day after the election and find 45, McConnell, and the others gone.

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I don't understand why McConnell has maintained the power when the state is poorly ranked on education, health, level of poverty. What scraps do the citizens get when he gets re-elected? Clearly enough to keep him in office. I live in the northeast, but have a sticker on my fridge...."Ditch Mitch!". And his wife, too.

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Keeping people poorly educated is the backbone of the GOP as it exists today.

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I appreciate your reply . McConnell is the consummate politician. His ads are rarely on what he has done for Kentucky but rather attacking his opponent as socialist, pro-abortion, different from Kentuckians. The last is very effective given the history of the Appalachian region of the state and the exploitation of the coal industry in that area, not only of the land but of how the citizens of that area were portrayed and in many ways still being portrayed today. There is a general mistrust of "strangers" in Eastern Kentucky and in some part, the rest of Kentucky, although I have seen a slight change in this attitude. I appreciate your support to Ditch Mitch. I certainly want to see him go.

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McConnell’s political attacks as described by Heather when she discusses the tactics of the Movement Conservatives othering language.

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My daughter lives in KY. I’m schooling her on how state politics affect her family. After Brashear (D) was elected, following a (nationally) unpopular Repub Who wanted teachers to give back pension contributions (after the state already had helped itself to pension funds to fund infrastructure they’d spent THAT money on) AND wanted to curtail Medicare expansion done by his predecessor, people lamented that Brashear wasn’t a Republican! Medicare expansion helped thousands who had been w/o healthcare forever; the next governor (Repub) wanted to curtail it; the current (Dem) governor protected it—and people complained he wasn’t Repub. can we totally agree how unfathomable it is that people vote by label, against their self-interest?

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And again, keeping people poorly educated works wonders for the GOP.

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People who are severely impoverished have no incentive to vote because they believe no politician is going to "do right by them" so what's the point in voting?

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Praying for that happy ending too....

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On top of all these concerning developments, there are reports that the U.S. Postal Service is slowing delivery of mail. The implications for everyday life (small businesses, people who get medicines by mail, and so on) are significant. But what about the Nov. 3 election in the middle of an out-of-control pandemic and more people voting by mail? It's hardly a coincidence now that Trump has his handpicked guy running the USPS. For some reason, this development (I live in Portland) has made me more anxious than any other lately in the daily deluge of increasingly dire news. Professor, please weigh in on the implications. https://fortune.com/2020/07/24/usps-mail-delivery-postmaster-general-louis-dejoy-us-postal-service/

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Another way to suppress mail-in ballots.

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thanks for posting this. Due to sickness & retirements and inability to hire, our local post office has been struggling -- carriers are doing double runs, and we sometimes get mail in the evening, and one or two days a week there's no delivery. This is in a town bordering Philly. I didn't realize it was a nationwide coordinated plan. And that these carriers working 12+ hours aren't getting overtime either? Ugh.

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The Fortune article points out, “The Postal Service is required by the Constitution to serve everyone in the country equally and with uniform rates.“ The article also details financial challenges implemented by the George W. Bush administration and now exacerbated by Trump’s Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

We need to pay more attention as disabling the USPS is another tool added to the Trumpian arsenal for voter suppression.

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Note: Republicans have had a Democratic proposal for TWO months. We know they refuse to take up anything Dems propose. But they can’t even agree among THEMSELVES for Pete’s sake. Every time I read anything that says we might not be rid of trump in January, I absolutely panic and have to talk myself down.

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The founders of our country intended that we experiment with separation of powers and co-equal parts of government. The conflict among the branches started immediately upon inception, which is really a good thing. This notion of separation of powers is not easy and requires constant vigilance and a willingness to engage in the experiment.

That said, our founders also understood the importance of a free press to inform the public and help keep the power struggles and the powerful in check. They could not have foreseen today's technology that allows entertainers to pass as part of the fourth estate. Nor could they imagine the ability of foreign powers to infiltrate and influence the public through today's technology.

While we have not yet devised a plan to separate entertainment passing as news or to thrash foreign trash from valid information, we have this 'Letters from an American', which represent the best within the fourth estate. Thanks to HCR and other true educators and journalists we have insightful, useful, and actionable information. These letters and the hundreds of comments from reader give me more than hope that our democracy will survive. It gives me confidence in our people that the spirit of democracy and the willingness to engage in the experiment of checks and balances of government continues. May this never end. Thanks HRC.

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You shattered my peaceful morning in Waldoboro with the (as-usual) brilliant insight that allowing evictions is yet another link in Republicans’ savage voter-suppression strategy. I start every day by reading your extraordinary letters whether it’s gonna ruin my day or not. Cancel my intended boat ride. I’ve got work to do! 👏

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I write and call my senators. Crickets. One is 80 and retiring, the other is Marsha Blackburn, a nationally known slave to trump. She never responds. Also, she has no one answering the phone either in TN or DC. Only answering machines.

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I have the same problem in Floriduh. It is useless writing to Marco Rubio or Rick Scott, both putos to whichever oligarch pays them off. I am just a citizen stuck in their state and inconsequential as there are enuf idiots here to keep them in office.

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The same is true of Congressman Michael Waltz from the 6th District in Florida.

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I know what you mean, sadly. In effect, no one is representing my interest in Congress.

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Take a short boat ride to calm down😉...and then roll up your sleeves 🥊 💥

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What are you going to do to tackle this?

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Judging by outcomes it appears the Republicans want most Americans to drop dead. And virus cases are doubling every 43 days.

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"...the ($600/week) is taxable, so some of it will have to be given back next April." I did not know that. They giveth and they taketh away. Always. ALWAYS. trump Republicans are like vacuum cleaners. They suck up to him and Hoover up money.

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Republicans have been pretty heinous these last 40 plus years. Trump just pushed the horror to obscenely graphic levels.

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One gal on twitter commented to me: "Remember, Trump was a democrat up until a few years before he ran. He was put in to the White House to take out the GOP." She and you have a point, Daria. He has totally exposed every single thing wrong in America. Amazing if you think about it. We have seen the effect of breaking up the family unit has had on our society, and how the educational system has been burdened because of it, and how also authority over one's child has been taken away. If we think about it, the plan is to give parents free choice as to where they want to send their child. The funding will follow the child. Home schooled children will receive funding as well. The public school system will still receive funding, just not as much. We are so stuck on the emotional and political aspect of it, that we don't take the time to learn what's really going on. We have to pay attention, because that is the environment in which we will live. I am really hoping we will see proper appropriation of funding toward social programs that actually work. This will relieve the burden on not only our teachers, but our police as well.

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I’ve had a loose quote bouncing around in my head for several months now. I’m not sure where it came from, but I can’t get it out of my head. “It’ll happen slowly at first, and then all at once.”

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I heard that in "The Fault in Our Stars." "I fell in love like falling asleep. Slowly at first then all at once."

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From a Reddit Q&A with the author: "There's a similar-ish line from Hemingway: 'How did you go bankrupt?' 'Two ways: Gradually, then suddenly.' That was my initial inspiration for the line."

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I’ve seen it applied to both bankruptcy and fascism.

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Oh dear....

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So many ways to ensure minority rule. Suppress the vote is the best option (thank you Supreme Court): evict people so they are less likely to vote; kill or cripple the US Post Office; cancel voter registrations; cancel vote by mail. In a pinch, there's always Russian interference: Trump has had six conversations with Putin since March (say what?????)

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Just heard an interview with Timothy Snyder, prof of history at Yale. He wrote “On Tyranny.” We ought to read it. Some of the signs are already upon us. Anyone here read it yet?

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Yes, It is the book of our times, a must read. And, a great gift for any one being complacent. Vote as if it is the last time you'll be allowed to vote. I'm worried we already did.

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Yes, and it’s time for a re-read. This is our country to lose, and we’re losing it quickly.

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Timothy Snyder’s book Bloodlands also details the rise of Hitler and Stalin, with the devastation their consolidated disregard-for-life power wrought on the peoples of Eastern Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodlands

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Devastation as in the Holocaust, the gulags, extermination of the intelligentsia and professionals, state-planned mass death by starvation and/or enslaved labor: Millions of people killed. Snyder does not write of the multigenerational trauma that ensued.

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It’s sitting right next to me as I type, have just started it. Originally planned to get it when it first came out but didn’t, now wish I had but better late than never. I also bought a second copy to give my son.

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Both my mom & dad lived during the Great Depression. They both recounted how they went hungry. I remember seeing black & white movies of that era, with ppl having all their furniture out on the sidewalk as they were evicted from their city tenements. It was a dreadful decade that took WWII to get the world working again.

And in the Hoover tradition, it seems the Repugnant Party is still content to let ppl live on the streets and starve rather than open up the coffers and give relief. So, we get to live that dreadful history all over again, hopefully with a caring president to try to figure out how to stabilize the economy in this pandemic without killing off much of the population. If we do not wrest this government from the Repugnant party in November, I am afraid that we are doomed.

I am surviving on Social Security and Medicare. So far my life has not changed that much, but it looks like the Fat Cats in the Repugnant Party may even end that if they get more time and I too will be starving out on the street.

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First, we are spreading the word to get these Republicans (love “Repugnants”) out of office so they don’t get more time to cause devastating harm. Second, if they do, we’ll start a gofundme page for you.

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For so many of the people I know or disagree with, the vote to them is one issue. Against abortion, stand for Israel, fewer environmental restrictions, ... All dumpty and co-conspirators have to say is I’m for Christianity, and boom they’ve got that persons vote. That voter ignores all the intricacies if the enormous situation, and votes republican like their daddy did. It’s unnerving! Thank you for the intricacies! Vote people! 💙

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Or like their pastor told them to.

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I know women who vote what their husbands tell them too! Or ones who don’t vote because they don’t want to go against their husband. One coworker says she doesn’t vote because she’s not political. If you work in a school, you’re political. You just gave up your voice by not voting! Oh and the one who didn’t vote because she doesn’t want to do jury duty! Disengagement and apathy are a terrible blight on our democracy!

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I've heard of women supposedly having to vote the way their husbands tell them to...I'd find a way not to comply...

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McConnell's Senate is now totally disfunctional riven by Republican factions: the one fighting for "ideological purity" and the other trying to save their power. Is this the start of a split? The price that the people will pay is horrendous!

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For a supplemental bit of uplift, the Portland Wall of Veterans:

https://twitter.com/alexandrachalup/status/1286888247789051905?s=21

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Backed by walls of Moms, Dads, Teachers, Lawyers, and Healthcare Workers:

https://twitter.com/amy_siskind/status/1286887850441674752?s=21

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I bought a couple of bright yellow shirts to stand with them!

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I loved that ❤️

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Time to go console myself by watching some videos from Republicans Against Trump. I take the time to thank each one of them. I’ve also signing up to be an Election worker. I have a 3 hr class to take this coming week.

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Check out The Lincoln Project and its ads too.

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Me, too - when I need to feel better, I watch some stories on RVAT.org too!

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That’s Republican Voters Against Trump you tube channel in case anyone is interested

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Talk about shooting yourself in the foot! The Republican's inability, so far, to renew the extra $600 per week to the unemployed doesn't help their "return to business as usual" scenario as the impact of the absence of this element of consumer spending for 20 million unemployed (round figures estimate....17,8 million in June plus 1,4 miliion in the first 2 weeks of July) is up to $12 Billion per week concentrated in areas where uncertainty is already holding back or rendering impossible much spending. The natural result is further unemployment, business failure and fiscal shortages reinforcing growing levels of poverty in the area. If you add to this up to 20 million families put out of their homes.........not a feature necessarily designed to improve the macro-economic situation either, regardless of it's disasterous human consequences! It is totally counterproductive in terms of McConnell's aims from every point of view......apart from those that he thus manages to discourage from voting! I would have thought, though, that the negative economic impact and consequent electoral fallout generated by the Senate's inertia on the "New Relaunch Expenditure" bill would far outway any local difficulties that it might occasion any Democratic candidate.......Idem the postal slowdown's impact on mail-in voting.

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The current Federal Minimum Wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour. We can debate the impact of a theoretical minimum wage all we want but until everyone in the United States understands that $7.25 is not a living wage nothing will change, nothing will get "better" for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. If someone is living better on unemployment than they are working a full time job that says a lot about the pathetic economic baseline of their lives.

Russell, you say, " It is the productive economy that provides us with the ability to help those in need. " I contend that paying people a living wage helps create a productive economy that lifts people to a place where they are not "in need". We have a jaded view in the U.S. about who deserves what and why they deserve it. Anyone who works is contributing to the economy including the low wage earners who do the unskilled/low skill jobs and shell out a greater percentage of their income on shelter, basic goods and services. Unfortunately, most employers, as well as the general population, don't view them as worthy contributors despite the fact that those employees are essential to the success of our economy. The economic imbalance in the U.S. is sickening. The arrogance that supports that imbalance even more so.

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I thought that Obama had started dictating $15 per hour on all fed contracts and that several fast food chains had followed the lead

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I find your use of the phrase "Obama started dictating" interesting . None the less you are incorrect. And no, several fast food chains d I not start their employees at $15.00 per hour.

One of the problems is that there are people in this world happy to make statements without fact checking. It's Irresponsible.

"President Barack Obama on Wednesday formally signed an executive order raising the pay for employees of federal contract workers, but his attention was on a push for Congress to do the same for all Americans.

Obama came armed with an array of statistics and figures showing how he believes raising the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 would boost the economy, but with few details about the executive order he signed during the East Room ceremony.

https://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/miniumum-wage-executive-order-barack-obama-103450

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Many thanks for the correction! Mea Culpa.

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Stuart, I'm sorry to be so hot-headed this morning! is

Unemployment is paid by the state and is based on how many quarters one works. If an employee doesn't have enough quarters they don't get unemployment. So the additional 600 USD per week from the Feds for unemployed persons right now is pretty extraordinary.

Overall, the U.S. lacks a fair and equitable set of safety nets for those in need. People, at this point, really have to grovel to get public assistance.

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Just a bit more info but it's a rabbit hole.

https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/wages/minimumwage

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Daria and Russell are both right as well distributed consumer activities and intelligent business investment strategies are clearly both essential parts of a growing market economy. Quantitative easing as it is politely called...printing untold quantities of money unbacked by anything...is currently practiced by central banks throughout the western world. The likely extremely negative consequences of this strategy will i'm sure be with us very soon now.

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I agree.

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I would humbly suggest that it might be possible that those employees who didn’t want to return to work might have been more motivated by fear of the virus.

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That’s not true. I am a small business owner. If an employee is called back to work and refuses, as their employer, I can reject their unemployment claim. They work or lose their benefits including unemployment.

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"News that large chains..." is the key phrase here. They get all the press because they can afford to advertise by paying far too little to their employees, serving garbage they buy at 3rd world prices, and by the profits they reap from putting smaller locally owned businesses out of business. They’ve also received more of the stimulus package than they deserve by cozy arrangements with their bankers, and by calling franchises "small business". For years, we’ve been fed (by all the "experts" on news shows) the mantra that "Big business creates prosperity for all", when in fact it’s small businesses that create the greater prosperity for more in aggregate. The wealth that big businesses create makes it possible for Jeff Bezos to make $1 billion in a single week. For himself alone and certainly not for his employees who are dying from inadequate safety protocols and doing so for substandard wages that he still whines about having to pay.

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Maybe the employees don’t want to catch covid. It’s rampant here in North Texas! And we’re just now ordered to wear masks. But good news in Dallas yesterday. They closed strip clubs. And bars. I just wonder how a guy explains he got covid at a strip club. Ha!

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It's true that if you calculate unemployment at 40% of salary (net/gross?) Then you are looking at pay of $1000 a week or approx $25 per hour...much better than the fed's minimum wage of approx $15. However unemployment payments are of short duration and run out at some point. What do you say to the local businessman who has had to "furlough" some or all of his employees and hopes to recover them as soon as things get better thus maintaining acquired skills and experience critical for the success of his business? Do you recommend the inimitable first daughter's stupidity "try something different" ?

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She might as well have said "Let them eat cake." And that ended in revolution...

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It's true that Marie-Antionette was something of a stereotypical "empty-headed blond" but, remember, apart from the frenzied use of Mme Guillotine, which tended to muddy the story somewhat, she was "escorted" from Versailles to "prison" in the Tuileries by perhaps the richest man in France...Lafayette (well known, i think, on both sides of the Atlantic)...and the revolt was essentially directed by the middle-class professionals who were fed up with excessive taxation without representation! Ring a bell?

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Not that it had a whole lot do with the discussion here, Lafayette did his best to protect the king and queen from the Paris mob, and tried to find a way for them to escape. He did not succeed, largely because he was increasingly seen as a royal sympathizer, and was on the run himself in late 1792, shortly before the eventual execution of Louis in Jan ‘93 and then of Marie-A. the next October. Lafayette spent the next 5 years in varying degrees of harsh imprisonment.

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As the saying goes "When all around you are losing their's and you can keep your head......." If he had turned his troop's guns on the crowd of "fisher women" come to petition the king at Versailles instead of accompanying them to their fate, the revolution might of ended somewhat differently.

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Yes, I actually do recommend people try something different. The main problem we have right now, is people feel they are unable to move forward and change because they feel that things will go back to normal. They don't realize that today is the only true "normal" there is. A person has to adjust and move forward in order to survive. If learning a new trade, which is essential if we are to rebuild our infrastructure and manufacturing, is being promoted by our White House, then I am all for it.

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Exactly, but that is the undersubscribed small business loan program and not the fully used unemployment support supplement. The conditions attached to the loan program practically ensured lack of interest from the start.

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Sounds like a progressively declining support system might be in order with the maintenace of the caveat introduced by Cheri Farris.

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Came across Kahneman and Thaler in an Economics and Psychology post-grad program here in Paris

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