Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Nov. 24, 2021

By Lorraine H. Marie
Reader Columnist

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

President Joe Biden is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate higher gas prices, pointing out that oil and gas companies’ costs are declining, but “prices at the pump remain high.” Pump prices were higher a decade ago, The Washington Post noted.

Recent record-breaking rainfall in areas of British Columbia and Washington state caused mud and landslides that closed travel routes, killed people and livestock, triggered evacuations and left ports in disarray, further stressing supply chains. The Guardian reported that blame is laid on clearcut logging and intense summer wildfires that destabilized the soil, allowing catastrophic increases in water run-off. Climate change that fosters wetter and more frequent atmospheric rivers is also faulted. CBC reported damages in the Abbotsford, B.C., area alone are estimated at $1 billion.

The Build Back Better Act, if signed, allots around $550 billion for combating climate change.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., recently wrote that when some lawmakers object to funding projects like expansion of Medicare, addressing climate change, and paid family and medical leave they cite the deficit. But, he noted, they have no problem voting for a $778 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which is $25 billion more than Biden requested — despite the war in Afghanistan ending. There also seems to be no objection to giving the Department of Defense “an obscene amount of money,” although the agency hasn’t passed an independent audit in decades and shows “billions of dollars in cost overruns.”

The FDA has given approval for COVID-19 booster shots for ages 18 and up.

A new study (not yet peer-reviewed) shows that deer can catch COVID-19 from people, making it more difficult to control the virus. Deer in numerous states have tested positive for the virus, The Guardian reported, and it can be spread to other species, where it has already been found. The people-to-animal transmissions can cause viral mutations, and only time will tell if the mutations become worse or will be milder. 

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich pointed out flaws at the Congressional Budget Office: While the CBO determines the costs of particular bills, it does not take into account the cost of inaction. Example: Failure to invest in preventing the worst of climate change will cost far more than the initial investment. In 2020 extreme weather cost U.S. taxpayers $99 billion, American Progress reported.

The CBO released its cost estimate of the Build Back Better Act. It found that the Act, which seeks to increase IRS enforcement to catch big tax cheats and to thereby help fund the bill, could boost revenue by $207 billion. The IRS says the figure is more like $400 billion. The CBO findings allowed hesitant members of the House to pass BBB, according to NBC News, and it proceeded to the U.S. Senate. 

The Build Back Better Act, along with lowering numerous household costs, does not add to the national debt: It’s paid for by a 15% tax rate on corporations that ship jobs and profits overseas, taxes on income over $10 million a year and stopping tax evasion by the top 1% (who withhold $160 billion a year in unpaid taxes), according to U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

Axios reported that two Fox News contributors, Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, resigned over Tucker Carlson’s Patriot Purge representation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. They said it contained “incoherent conspiracy-mongering … factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery and damning omissions.”

Blast from the past: Why Plymouth Rock as a landing point for the Pilgrims in 1620? The original destination was the mouth of the Hudson River, but there was concern that the Pilgrims were consuming too much beer and crew members did not relish a return journey across the ocean sans suds. So the Pilgrims were set ashore far from their original disembarkation point and with no alcohol. It wasn’t long before they were making their own, The Atlantic has written. It was soon after feared by some Puritans that the “flood of RUM” could “overwhelm all good Order among us.” 

Later, in 1789, President George Washington, who as general of the Continental Army had kept troops liberally supplied with alcohol, lamented that the nation’s drinking habits were “the ruin of half the workmen in this Country.” By 1830 the average American consumed triple the amount of alcohol that is consumed today, leading to Prohibition by the beginning of the 1920s. Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidency in 1932 in part by promising to end Prohibition.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.