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The Lesson Of COVID: When People Are Anxious, Isolated, & Hopeless; They’re Less Ready To Think Critically

The Lesson Of COVID: When People Are Anxious, Isolated, & Hopeless; They’re Less Ready To Think Critically

Authored by Jonathan Cook via MintPressNews.com,

When I criticize meddling in Syria by Britain and America, or their backing of…

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The Lesson Of COVID: When People Are Anxious, Isolated, & Hopeless; They're Less Ready To Think Critically

Authored by Jonathan Cook via MintPressNews.com,

When I criticize meddling in Syria by Britain and America, or their backing of groups there that elsewhere are considered terrorists, it does not follow that I am, therefore, a cheerleader for the dictatorship of Bashar Assad or that I think that Syrians should be denied a better political system. Similarly, when I criticize Joe Biden or the Democratic party, it does not necessarily follow that I think Donald Trump would have made a better president.

A major goal of critical thinking is to stand outside tribal debates, where people are heavily invested in particular outcomes, and examine the ways debates have been framed. This is important because one of the main ways power expresses itself in our societies is through the construction of official narratives – usually through the billionaire-owned media – and the control and shaping of public debate.

You are being manipulated – propagandized – even before you engage with a topic if you look only at the substance of a debate and not at other issues: such as its timing, why the debate is taking place or why it has been allowed, what is not being mentioned or has been obscured, what is being emphasized, and what is being treated as dangerous or abhorrent.

If you want to be treated like a grown-up, an active and informed participant in your society rather than a blank sheet on which powerful interests are writing their own self-serving narratives, you need to be doing as much critical thinking as possible – and especially on the most important topics of the day.

Learning curve

The opportunity to become more informed and insightful about how debates are being framed, rather than what they are ostensibly about, has never been greater. Over the past decade, social media, even if the window it offered is rapidly shrinking, has allowed large numbers of us to discover for the first time those writers who, through their deeper familiarity with a specific topic and their consequent greater resistance to propaganda, can help us think more critically about all kinds of issues – Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Israel-Palestine, the list is endless.

This has been a steep learning curve for most of us. It has been especially useful in helping us to challenge narratives that vilify “official enemies” of the west or that veil corporate power – which has effectively usurped what was once the more visible and, therefore, accountable political power of western states. In the new, more critical climate, the role of the war industries – bequeathed to us by western colonialism – has become especially visible.

But what has been most disheartening about the past two years of Covid is the rapid reversal of the gains made in critical thinking. Perhaps this should not entirely surprise us. When people are anxious for themselves or their loved ones, when they feel isolated and hopeless, when “normal” has broken down, they are likely to be less ready to think critically.

The battering we have all felt during Covid mirrors the emotional, and psychological assault critical thinking can engender. Thinking critically increases anxiety by uncomfortably exposing us to the often artificial character of official reality. It can leave us feeling isolated and less hopeful, especially when friends and family expect us to be as deeply invested in the substance – the shadow play – of official, tribal debates as they are. And it undermines our sense of what “normal” is by revealing that it is often what is useful to power elites rather than what is beneficial to the public good.

Emotional resilience

There are reasons why people are drawn to critical thinking. Often because they have been exposed in detail to one particular issue that has opened their eyes to wider narrative manipulations on other issues. Because they have the tools and incentives – the education and access to information – to explore some issues more fully. And, perhaps most importantly, because they have the emotional and psychological resilience to cope with stripping away the veneer of official narratives to see the bleaker reality beneath and to grasp the fearsome obstacles to liberating ourselves from the corrupt elites that rule over us and are pushing us towards ecocidal oblivion.

The anxieties produced by critical thinking, the sense of isolation, and the collapse of “normal” is in one sense chosen. They are self-inflicted. We choose to do critical thinking because we feel capable of coping with what it brings to light. But Covid is different. Our exposure to Covid, unlike critical thinking, has been entirely outside our control. And worse, it has deepened our emotional and psychological insecurities. To do critical thinking in a time of Covid – and most especially about Covid – is to add a big extra layer of anxiety, isolation, and hopelessness.

Covid has highlighted the difficulties of being insecure and vulnerable, thereby underscoring why critical thinking, even in good times, is so difficult. When we are anxious and isolated, we want quick, reassuring solutions, and we want someone to blame. We want authority figures to trust and act in our name.

Complex thinking

It is not hard to understand why the magic bullet of vaccines – to the exclusion of all else – has been so fervently grasped during the pandemic. Exclusive reliance on vaccines has been a great way for our corrupt, incompetent governments to show they know what they are doing. The vaccines have been an ideal way for corrupt medical-industrial corporations – including the biggest offender, Pfizer – to launder their images and make us all feel indebted to them after so many earlier scandals like Oxycontin. And, of course, the vaccines have been a comfort blanket to us, the public, promising to bring ZeroCovid (false), to provide long-term immunity (false), and to end transmission (false).

And as an added bonus, vaccines have allowed both our corrupt leaders to shift the blame away from themselves for their other failed public health policies and our corrupt “health” corporations to shift attention away from their profiteering by encouraging the vaccinated majority to scapegoat an unvaccinated minority. Divide and rule par excellence.

To state all this is not to be against the vaccines or believe the virus should rip through the population, killing the vulnerable, any more than criticizing the US war crime of bombing Syria signifies enthusiastic support for Assad. It is only to recognize that political realities are complex, and our thinking needs to be complex too.

'Herd immunity'

These ruminations were prompted by a post on social media I made the other day referring to the decision of the Guardian – nearly two years into the pandemic – to publish criticisms by an “eminent” epidemiologist, Prof Mark Woolhouse, of the British government’s early lockdown policies. Until now, any questioning of the lockdowns has been one of the great unmentionables of the pandemic outside of right-wing circles.

Let us note another prominent example: the use of the term “herd immunity,” which was until very recently exactly what public health officials aimed for as a means to end contagion. It signified the moment when enough people had acquired immunity, either through being infected or vaccinated, for community transmission to stop occurring. But because the goal during Covid is not communal immunity but universal vaccination, the term “herd immunity” has now been attributed to a sinister political agenda. It is presented as some kind of right-wing plot to let vulnerable people die.

This is not accidental. It is an entirely manufactured, if widely accepted, narrative. Recovery from infection – something now true for many people – is no longer treated by political or medical authorities as conferring immunity. For example, in the UK, those who have recovered from Covid, even recently, are not exempted, as the vaccinated are, from self-isolation if they have been in close contact with someone infected with Covid. Also, of course, those recovered from Covid do not qualify for a vaccine passport. After all, it is not named an immunity passport. It is a vaccine passport.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has at least been open about the “reasoning” behind this kind of discrimination. “In a democracy,” he says, apparently unironically, “the worst enemies are lies and stupidity. We are putting pressure on the unvaccinated by limiting, as much as possible, their access to activities in social life. … For the non-vaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And we will continue to do this, to the end. This is the strategy.”

Notice that the lies and stupidity here emanate from Macron: he is not only irresponsibly stoking dangerous divisions within French society, he has also failed to understand that the key distinctions from a public health perspective are between those with immunity to Covid and those without it and those who are vulnerable to hospitalization and those who are not. These are the most meaningful markers of how to treat the pandemic. The obsession with vaccination only serves a divide and rule agenda and bolsters pandemic profiteering.

Crushing hesitancy

The paradox is that these narratives dominate even as the evidence mounts that the vaccines offer very short-term immunity and that, ultimately, as Omicron appears to be underscoring, many people are likely to gain longer-term immunity through Covid infection, even those who have been vaccinated. But the goal of public “debate” on this topic has not been transparency, logic, or informed consent. Instead, it has been the crushing of any possible “vaccine hesitancy.”

I have repeatedly tried to highlight the lack of critical thinking around the exclusive focus on vaccines rather than immune health, the decision to vaccinate children in the face of strong, if largely downplayed, opposition from experts, and the divisive issue of vaccine mandates. But I have had little to say directly about lockdowns, which have tended to look to me chiefly like desperate stop-gap measures to cover up the failings of our underfunded, cannibalized, and increasingly privatized health services (a more pressing concern). I am also inclined to believe that the balance of benefits from lockdowns, or whether they work, is difficult to weigh without some level of expertise. That is one reason why I have been arguing throughout the pandemic that experts need to be allowed more open, robust, and honest public debate.

It is also why I offered a short comment on Prof Woolhouse’s criticisms, published in the Guardian this week, of national lockdown policies. This evoked a predictably harsh backlash from many followers. They saw it as further proof that the “Covid denialists have captured me,” and I am now little better than a pandemic conspiracy theorist.

Framing the debate

That is strange in itself. Prof Woolhouse is a mainstream, reportedly “eminent” epidemiologist. His eminence is such that it also apparently qualifies him to be quoted extensively and uncritically in the Guardian. The followers I antagonize every time I write about the pandemic appear to treat the Guardian as their Covid Bible, as do most liberals. And they regularly castigate me for referring to the kind of experts the Guardian refuses to cite. So how does my retweeting of a Guardian story that uncritically reports on anti-lockdown comments from a respectable, mainstream epidemiologist incur so much wrath – and seemingly directed only against me?

The answer presumably lies in the short appended comment in my retweet, which requires that one disengage from the seemingly substantive debate – lockdowns, good or bad? That conversation is certainly interesting to me, especially if it is an honest one. But the contextual issues around that debate, the ones that require critical thinking, are even more important because they are the best way to evaluate whether an honest debate is actually being fostered.

My comment, intentionally ambiguous, implicitly requires readers to examine wider issues about the Guardian article: the timing of its publication, why a debate about lockdowns has not previously been encouraged in the Guardian but apparently is now possible, how the debate is being framed by Woolhouse and the Guardian, and how we, the readers, may be being manipulated by that framing.

Real, live conspiracy

Interestingly, I was not alone in being struck by how strange the preferred framing was. A second epidemiologist, Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician at Harvard who serves on a scientific committee to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), saw problems with the article too. Unfortunately, however, Prof Kulldorff appears not to qualify as “eminent” enough for the Guardian to quote him uncritically. That is because he was one of three highly respected academics who brought ignominy down on their heads in October 2020 by authoring the Great Barrington Declaration.

Like Woolhouse, the Declaration offered an alternative to blanket national lockdowns – the official response to rising hospitalizations – but did so when those lockdowns were being aggressively pursued, and no other options were being considered. The Guardian was among those that pilloried the Declaration and its authors, presenting it as an irresponsible right-wing policy and a recipe for Covid to tear through the population, laying waste to significant sections of the population.

My purpose here is not to defend the Great Barrington Declaration. I don’t feel qualified enough to express a concrete, public view one way or another on its merits. And part of the reason for that hesitancy is that any meaningful conversation at the time among experts was ruthlessly suppressed. The costs of lockdowns were largely unmentionable in official circles and the “liberal” media. It was instantly stigmatized as the policy preference of the “deplorable” right.

This was not accidental. We now know it was a real, live conspiracy. Leaked emails show that Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the president, and his minions used their reliable contacts in prominent liberal media to smear the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration. “There needs to be a quick and devastating published takedown of its premises. I don’t see anything like that online yet – is it underway?” a senior official wrote to Fauci. The plan was character assassination, pure and simple—nothing to do with science. And “liberal” media happily and quickly took up that task.

The Guardian, of course, went right along with those smears. This is why Prof Kulldorff has every right to treat with disdain both the Guardian’s decision to now publish Prof Woolhouse’s criticisms – so very belatedly – of lockdown policy and Prof Woolhouse’s public distancing of himself from the now-radioactive Great Barrington Declaration even though his published comments closely echo the policies proposed in the Declaration. As Prof Kulldorff observes:

Hilarious logical somersault. In the Guardian, Mark Woolhouse argues that [the] UK should have used focused protection as defined in the Great Barrington Declaration, while criticizing the Great Barrington Declaration due to its mischaraterization by the Guardian.”

Reputational damage 

If we put on our critical thinking hats for a moment, we can deduce a plausible reason for that mischaracterization.

Like the rest of the “liberal” media, the Guardian has been fervently pro-lockdown and an avowed opponent of any meaningful discussion of the Great Barrington Declaration since its publication more than a year ago. Moreover, it has characterized any criticism of lockdowns as an extreme right-wing position. But the paper now wishes to open up a space for a more critical discussion of the merits of lockdown at a time when rampant but milder Omicron threatens to shut down not only the economy but distribution chains and health services.

Demands for lockdowns are returning – premised on the earlier arguments for them – but the formerly obscured costs are much more difficult to ignore now. Even lockdown cheerleaders like the Guardian finally understand some of what was clear 15 months ago to experts like Prof Kulldorff and his fellow authors.

What the Guardian appears to be doing is smuggling the Great Barrington Declaration’s arguments back into the mainstream but trying to do it in a way that won’t damage its credibility and look like an about-face. It is being entirely deceitful. And the vehicle for achieving this end is a fellow critic of lockdowns, Prof Woolhouse, who is not tainted goods like Prof Kulldorff, even though their views appear to overlap considerably. Criticism of lockdowns is being rehabilitated via Prof Woolhouse, even as Prof Kulldorff remains an outcast, a deplorable.

In other words, this is not about any evolution in scientific thinking. It is about the Guardian avoiding reputational damage – and doing so at the cost of continuing to damage Prof Kulldorff’s reputation. Prof Kulldorff and his fellow authors were scapegoated when their expert advice was considered politically inconvenient, while Prof Woolhouse is being celebrated because similar expert advice is now convenient.

This is how much of our public discourse operates. The good guys control the narrative so that they can ensure they continue to look good, while the bad guys are tarred and feathered, even if they are proven right. The only way to really make sense of what is going on is to disengage from this kind of political tribalism, examine contexts, avoid being so invested in outcomes, and work hard to gain more perspective on the anxiety and fear each of us feels.

The corporate media is not our friend. Its coverage of the pandemic is not there to promote the public good. It is there to feed our anxieties, keep us coming back for more, and monetize that distress. The only cure for this sickness? A lot more critical thinking.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/07/2022 - 18:00

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Report: Pfizer, NIH Discussing Study of Longer Paxlovid Dosing Regimen

With increasing concerns about COVID-19 reinfection, Pfizer and the National Institutes of Health are discussing potential studies regarding a longer treatment…

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Report: Pfizer, NIH Discussing Study of Longer Paxlovid Dosing Regimen

With increasing concerns about COVID-19 reinfection, Pfizer and the National Institutes of Health are discussing potential studies regarding a longer treatment period with the antiviral medication, Paxlovid.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and scientific adviser to the White House, said the plan for the new studies could come over the next few days, Reuters reported this afternoon. During a White House briefing on COVID-19, Fauci pointed out that the rising cases of COVID-19 driven by an Omicron sub-variant are increasing the use of Pfizer’s Paxlovid. So far, more than 660,000 courses of Paxlovid have been administered across the U.S., Reuters said.

However, there is a growing concern that some patients are not shaking the virus as quickly as expected following a treatment regimen of the antiviral. Some continue to experience symptoms, or see a recurrence of their COVID-19 symptoms, following treatment with Paxlovid, Reuters said. Currently, there is no clear indication on the number of patients who are experiencing such a recurrence, or whether or not it is due to the variant type of COVID-19. But, the numbers appear to be enough to warrant such a conversation between America’s top infectious disease expert and Pfizer.

Paxlovid was granted Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December. It was granted EUA for the treatment of high-risk adults and pediatric patients 12 years and older who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are at serious risk of hospitalization. A combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets, during clinical trials, Paxlovid significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% compared to placebo in non-hospitalized, high-risk adults with COVID-19 within three days of symptom-onset. However, even then, there were cases of a recurrence of symptoms in some clinical trial patients.

Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla has suggested that those patients who experience a recurrence of symptoms should undergo a second round of treatment with Paxlovid. As BioSpace previously reported, Bourla said if symptoms reoccur, “then you give a second course, like you do with antibiotics, and that’s it.”

However, the FDA has balked at that suggestion. Dr. John Farley, director of the FDA’s Office of Infectious Diseases, argued that there is no evidence of benefit for a longer course of treatment, such as 10 days instead of the current five days of administration, or a second five-day round of treatment.

Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock

While Pfizer may undertake these additional studies, as BioSpace reported earlier Wednesday, the pharma giant has so far reportedly resisted requests to use Paxlovid in combination studies. The nonprofit Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative said that Pfizer rejected a January request to offer doses of Paxlovid to be used in a study alongside an inhaled steroid in Africa.

Also Wednesday, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly said studies have confirmed that bebtelovimab, the company’s monoclonal antibody against COVID-19, is effective against all variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including BA.2, which is currently the dominant strain in the U.S., Seeking Alpha reported.

 

BioSpace source:

https://www.biospace.com/article/pfizer-nih-in-talks-to-begin-study-of-longer-paxlovid-dosing-regimen

 

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Missouri Bill Prevents Doctors Being Disciplined If They Prescribe Ivermectin Or Hydroxychloroquine

Missouri Bill Prevents Doctors Being Disciplined If They Prescribe Ivermectin Or Hydroxychloroquine

Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The…

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Missouri Bill Prevents Doctors Being Disciplined If They Prescribe Ivermectin Or Hydroxychloroquine

Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Missouri lawmakers passed legislation that prevents state licensing boards from disciplining doctors who prescribe ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs a bill in Jefferson City, Mo., on May 24, 2019. (Summer Balentine/AP Photo)

Sponsored by Rep. Brenda Kay Shields (R-Mo.), HB 2149 also bars pharmacists from questioning doctors or disputing patients regarding the usage of such drugs and their efficacy.

With a convincing 130–4 vote in the House, HB 2149 passed both chambers on May 12 and currently heads to the office of Gov. Mike Parson to be potentially signed into law.

The board shall not deny, revoke, or suspend, or otherwise take any disciplinary action against, a certificate of registration or authority, permit, or license required by this chapter for any person due to the lawful dispensing, distributing, or selling of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets for human use in accordance with prescriber directions,” reads the draft of the bill (pdf).

It adds, “A pharmacist shall not contact the prescribing physician or the patient to dispute the efficacy of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets for human use unless the physician or patient inquires of the pharmacist about the efficacy of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets.”

Critics of the bill have noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not given approval for usage of the drugs. Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine have been divisive drugs and politically polarized throughout the pandemic.

“But, nevertheless, the Missouri legislature has chosen to ‘own the libs’ by issuing a gag order against every pharmacist in this state from offering their medical opinion on taking either one of those medications—even if it could kill their patient,” wrote former Democratic nominee Lindsey Simmons in a May 12 Twitter post.

Although 22 countries across the world have approved the use of ivermectin in treating COVID-19, the FDA maintains that the current data show the drug to be ineffective. Large doses can be dangerous, it says.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases analyzed a national federated database of adults that compared ivermectin with the FDA-approved COVID-19 medication, remdesivir.

After using propensity score matching and adjusting for potential confounders, ivermectin was associated with reduced mortality vs remdesivir,” researchers wrote. “To our knowledge, this is the largest association study of patients with COVID-19, mortality, and ivermectin.”

According to The Associated Press, Missouri state Rep. Patty Lewis, a Democrat, agreed to the bill to satisfy a group of conservatives in the Senate. She added that the bill will not change anything significantly as medical boards do not engage in punishing doctors who prescribe drugs legally.

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/18/2022 - 23:25

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“They Shut Us Down”: Michigan Businesses Sue Whitmer For Losses Due To COVID Lockdowns

"They Shut Us Down": Michigan Businesses Sue Whitmer For Losses Due To COVID Lockdowns

Authored by Steven Kovac via The Epoch Times (emphasis…

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"They Shut Us Down": Michigan Businesses Sue Whitmer For Losses Due To COVID Lockdowns

Authored by Steven Kovac via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A coalition of five bowling alleys and family entertainment centers is suing Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, for losses incurred due to her mandatory COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in Clawson, Mich., on March 18, 2019. (Paul Sancya/AP)

Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services director Robert Gordon is also a defendant in the case.

The plaintiffs allege that the shutdowns imposed by Whitmer and Gordon were a “taking” of their businesses without just compensation in violation of both the state and the U.S. Constitution.

The case has been winding its way through the federal courts since January 2021.

Fred Kautz runs the lane oiler at Kautz Shore Lanes in Lexington, Mich., on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

The coalition lost the first round of the legal battle when the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan ruled against it.

Oral arguments were recently held before a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit.

Plaintiff’s chief counsel David Kallman told The Epoch Times after the appeals court hearing, “The oral arguments from both sides were vigorous. The judges asked a lot of questions. It was the kind of proceeding that makes you proud to be a lawyer.

“Even the defense acknowledges that we are presenting ‘novel’ arguments.

“Michigan is the only state in the nation where a governor’s public health emergency powers were overturned as unconstitutional.

“If we lose in the court of appeals, we will take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Scott Bennett, executive director of the Independent Bowling and Entertainment Centers Association, told The Epoch Times,

“The governor’s actions were devastating to our industry.

“Things went from ‘two weeks to slow the spread’ to indefinite shutdowns.”

Bennett said that the forced closures were not based on solid scientific proof that bowling alleys and family entertainment centers would spread the virus any more than the Walmart stores or the GM plants that were allowed to remain open.

“They were allowed to operate with hundreds and even thousands of people in them but we had to shut down. We feel our industry was unfairly singled-out.

“We cannot stand for a repeat of such arbitrary treatment and don’t want the people of Michigan to forget what was done to them.”

With the recent uptick in COVID cases and the approaching mid-term elections, Bennett said his members that survived the 2020 shutdowns feel like it can happen all over again.

“It’s like operating day-to-day with a hammer held over your head. The uncertainty is altering business plans. The value of our businesses is dropping through the floor,” Bennett said.

Brian and Mindy Hill work the counter at their bowling alley in Imlay City, Mich. on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times)

Fred Kautz, the proprietor of Kautz’s Shore Lanes in Lexington, Michigan, started working in the family business when he was 13.

The business has 12 bowling lanes, a bar, an arcade, a restaurant, and living quarters upstairs.

“We’ve owned this place for 42 years. For me and my family, it’s more than a place to work. It’s a way of life. And it has become an institution in our community—a real gathering place,” said Kautz.

He said he is still smarting from what happened after Whitmer’s executive actions were ruled unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court in the fall of 2020.

“We got a little reprieve. We thought we were in the clear until she came back with another round of forced closures, this time under the authority of the Michigan Department of Public Health.

The first 30 days knocked us right on our butts. But we were willing to cooperate, to do our part. We were all scared and we did not want to see harm come to anybody.

We lost a lot of money at the time. We are coming back slowly, but our overall revenue is still down 20 percent from pre-pandemic days. That’s hard to make up.

“In the spring of 2020, I tried to do what was recommended and go along. Never again!

“If my Dad was still alive, he’d have never closed at all,” said Kautz.

Brian and Mindy Hill, owners of I.C. Strikes, a 16-lane bowling alley, bar, and snack bar in Imlay City said their business was hit hard by the shutdowns.

Brian was the town barber for 25 years, before purchasing the bowling alley where he learned to bowl as a child.

“We took over in December 2018. We’d saved up money to buy this place and make some upgrades. When COVID hit, we were forced to close down. It took all the money we saved for improvements just to survive,” said Brian.

The Hills said they never thought they’d see the day when their own government could do something like that to them.

Mary Bacon, assistant manager of Jump City, a family recreation center, cleans an arcade machine in Imlay City, Mich., on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

They shut us down. They took away our livelihood with no end date in sight. Then they wanted to loan us money. Think about that. They first put us in a situation where we had zero income to pay our previous debt. And then they wanted to loan us more money.

“Lots of small business people lost their businesses but kept their debt. It ruined them,” said Brian.

The Hills did apply for and receive a Small Business Administration loan at 3.25 percent interest for 30 years, and they participated in the Paycheck Protection Program which helped their business survive.

Up the road from the Hill’s bowling alley is Jump City, a large indoor recreation center offering an array of bouncy houses and arcade games for children.

Assistant manager Mary Bacon told The Epoch Times, “We lost a lot of business. We were forced to close for 15 months and had to make our payments with no income.”

Bacon remembers the morning of March 16, 2020, when many area businesses were gearing up for big St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“By afternoon everybody had to close. All that food went to waste.

“The shutdown was supposed to be for a couple of weeks. Nobody foresaw it would drag on for a year and three months.

“Oh, they said we could open again, but they so severely restricted the number of customers that we lost all of our big birthday parties. With so few kids allowed in, we couldn’t operate. We were losing too much money.”

Bacon said people are coming back to the center but are still scared, even though the games and bouncy houses are continuously cleaned and sanitized.

Navaeh Smalstig, 8, climbs out of a bouncy house at Jump City in Imlay City, Mich., on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

Before the pandemic, Danny Brown owned a roller rink in Grand Blanc and Owasso, two south-central Michigan towns.

“The lockdowns forced us to sell the Owasso rink for less than half of what we paid for it. We will be trying to make up our loss for years to come.”

Brown, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told The Epoch Times, “To keep going I had to decide to triple our debt. Since the shutdown, I am three-quarters of a million dollars deeper in debt.

“Small businesses put everything on the line. All of our personal and family money. I am personally responsible for our debt. If I die my children will have to pay it.”

Brown said Michigan’s government acted without a real understanding and regarded the state’s small businesses as “nonessential throwaways.”

“One of the reasons we filed suit is to push the government to think differently,” he said.

According to Brown, family entertainment centers like skating rinks, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, miniature golf, and go-cart tracks have been nearly wiped out.

“A few years ago, there were 3,500 roller skating rinks in the United States. Now there are 700. There were five rinks in Genesee County, now there are two.” he said.

Brown attributes the decrease to years of ongoing government mandates and interference that led up to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

“They took, they stole our businesses!” he said.

Donn Slimmen, another plaintiff in the case, owns Spartan West Bowling in the west Michigan resort town of Ludington.

“The lockdown just about killed us. It was 14 to 15 months of agony. Our bank payments and utility bills didn’t stop. We went from being two to three months behind to more months behind.

“We entered into survival mode. We ate a lot of pork and beans and hotdogs. We’re still trying to work ourselves out of the hole. By the end of this summer, we might be solvent again.

“We were lucky to survive. We are still hanging on by threads,” said Slimmen.

Along with 16 bowling lanes, Slimmen operates a full-service restaurant.

It’s never come back. Pre-pandemic, we’d serve 200 customers at an ordinary Friday fish fry. Now our best night is 100.

“Our restaurant went from a thriving seated-guest business to a take-out operation grossing only two to three percent of the seated sales.

“We were spending $400 to take in proceeds of $100.

“The politicians and bureaucrats don’t understand. They never cleaned a toilet seat or climbed into a bowling machine to fix it,” said Slimmen.

Slimmen blames Gov.Gretchen Whitmer for the plight of his community and the state.

“You didn’t see Republican governors closing businesses. Their states did so much better.

“Drive through downtown Ludington or Muskegon and look at all the boarded-up storefronts. So many places are out of business. Michigan is in terrible shape,” Slimmen said.

The Tomassoni family has been in the bowling business for 84 years in the western Upper Peninsula town of Iron Mountain, Michigan.

We had to close bowling and our banquet facility a total of 161 days in two different periods of time in 2020. After the second shutdown, we could operate at 25 percent occupancy and only during restricted hours. No wedding receptions, no special events. It was a disaster.

“It ripped my heart out. I am so bitter towards my government,” said owner Pete Tomassoni.

Tomassoni’s business suffered further because of its proximity to Wisconsin which is only minutes away.

“Wisconsin closed for just 30 days. For the most part, they were wide open. That really hurt us.

“Our governor was picking and choosing which of our state’s businesses could operate. To force a business to close with no notice and without proven science is straight out wrong.

“I think that she came down so hard on small business because we, by and large, lean to the right.

“The state dangled the threat of yanking business licenses to keep people in line.

“Some of our businesses tried to defy the state and stayed open

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/18/2022 - 21:25

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