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By Wes Mader Community Columnist Feb 20, 2021

Assuming Congress passes the President’s request for another $1.9 trillion, which is in addition to the $3.1 trillion already approved, the total amount “allegedly” being justified for COVID-19 aid and relief will reach $5 trillion.

That’s $5 trillion from those who will pay taxes (including from our kids and grandkids pockets), but does anyone know or care who gets the $5 trillion? Since five trillion is an incomprehensible number, let me try to put it into perspective. According to the Congressional Research Office, America’s total cost for WWII (inflated into today’s dollars) was $4.1 trillion, plus $150 billion via the Marshall plan to rebuild a totally devastated West Europe.

By today’s political standards, that had to be a bargain. President Biden and the current Congressional majority would have us believe that it should cost way more to deal with the effects of COVID-19 in America, than all of America’s costs related to WWII.

With unemployment in America declining, with COVID-19 vaccines already developed and in production, with the stock market at record high, with 401Ks of workers and retirees in relatively good shape and with empty school buildings available for students who I believe should be in school, is another $1.9 trillion really needed?

The obvious answer is no. But a $1.9 trillion package is a great place to hide money for special interests and for expenditures that wouldn’t stand up under public scrutiny. Hiding unjustifiable expenditures is one thing that many in Congress are good at, particularly those who have been there for decades.

Without question, some COVID-19 relief dollars already spent have been helpful. But as always happens when Congress rushes to pass legislation to give away money, individuals and organizations line up to collect their share of the pork. Taxpayers can expect that almost every city, county, state, tribal government, school district, business and charity in the country will make application for the funds.

An article in this newspaper in July of last year reported that over 600 businesses in Prior Lake had already received forgivable loans under the Coronavirus Payroll Protection Program (PPP). A more recently available report indicates that some of the largest loans went to the SMSC Tribe. If interested, readers can determine for themselves how much our local governments and school district received.

The national news media hasn’t provided in-depth reporting to help citizens understand the magnitude of the waste, but some credible news sources have reported that the CARES Act, which is less than a year old, is already “rife with abuse.”

One example reported is that banking institutions that get to help give away the money, are finding their own employees fraudulently tapping into the funds. One report said that Wells Fargo had fired 100 employees for the abuse (NPR, Oct. 15, 2020).

It would be helpful if the national news media would also report on the absurdity of some of the planned expenditures, and the names of lawmakers responsible for squeezing them into the legislative bills. Unfortunately, the public will continue to be left in the dark.

Some lawmakers will claim there are restrictions in place that determine who is entitled to get the COVID-relief money. True, but without validation, restrictions can be meaningless. According to the July 2020 story in this newspaper, the 600 businesses in Prior Lake received their PPP loans on the basis that 7,000 jobs would be saved. Readers can make their own judgement about the credibility of whether 7,000 jobs were saved, and whether anyone from the government actually validated the claim.

It’s doubtful that any in Congress who support the massive spending bills will have read the thousands of pages of bequests that will be funded, but I expect each will be able to flag for their political supporters and donors what they’ve been able to squeeze in for them.

I doubt any will stand up and offer any credible explanation of why the additional amount needed is $1.9 trillion. If Americans don’t care, why should they?

Please read more at the Prior Lake American:
https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/commentary-is-1-9-trillion-more-really-needed/article_4e30b7e4-e575-5c90-9eb9-0b0da6739eab.html

Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.


By Wes Mader Community Columnist

The debate about who won and who lost is over, but events over the past four years and highlighted by the past two months, make it clear that Americans are losing.

The world has witnessed a spectacle created by parties on both sides that demonstrates the fragility of democracy. Raw ugly politics have pushed America’s democracy to the brink of disaster. Self-appointed cheerleaders from both sides will point across the political aisle, and many in the national news media will pick and choose the facts or rumors that amplify their often-biased narratives.

As our nation teeters, are there enough adults in government to lead our nation back to where it belongs?

Possibly it was an act of God (in response to prayers from millions of Americans asking that our democracy be preserved) that gave Joe Biden an adequate margin of victory to confirm his win. If he had won the electoral vote by a small margin in a single state, I don’t doubt the extremist’s assault on the Capitol would have been full-blown insurrection.

If Trump had won, does anyone doubt that nationwide rioting and destruction by anti-Trump extremists would have made the chaos following George Floyd’s death look like child’s play? Mob protest followed by riot and destruction have replaced peaceful dialog. While disaster for our nation may be temporarily on hold, leadership from both sides of the political aisle is not reassuring.

President Trump’s response was predictable. His ego could not accept defeat and his arrogance pushed him to unashamedly claim he won by a landslide. His wrath toward Democrat leaders and the national news media who both rejected the legitimacy of his 2016 election was understandable. While they undermined his presidency from day one, so did he by his caustic public attacks on anyone whose opinions differed from his own.

The rush by House Speaker Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer to impeach a president whose term is over was also predictable. While impeachment is no more than an accusation by the House of Representatives’ political majority, conviction and removal from office requires two-thirds majority in the Senate. Given that Trump is gone, is there any doubt that the real purpose of the Pelosi/Schumer move is to continue to stir the pot for political gain and control?

President Biden is also predictable. He could have asked party leaders to stop the impeachment charade so national healing could begin. Instead, he has proposed that the Senate allocate half-days to impeachment proceedings and the other half-days to policy considerations. Imagine the likelihood of a divided Congress having constructive bipartisan deliberation each morning, knowing that it would be followed by rancorous partisan impeachment debate each afternoon.

How did we get here? The 2016 election campaign pitted two unlikely and highly flawed candidates against each other. Hillary Clinton was in the driver’s seat with support of the Obama Administration and the national news media in her pocket. Of the 100 largest newspapers (by circulation), only two had endorsed Trump.

When Hillary unexpectedly lost, political hatred of Trump boiled over. The phony Steele dossier funded with Hillary campaign funds to discredit candidate Trump, now got waved as evidence that the Russians had stolen the election. Cries for impeachment were being heard in the halls of Congress before Trump could settle into the Oval Office.

Unfortunately, hatred begets more hatred. With Biden now defeating Trump, hatred on the Trump side boiled over with claims that Biden had stolen the election. It made little difference that the claims lacked evidence to show there had been enough shenanigans to overturn election results.

Trump’s public allegation that Democrats stole the election from him were painfully similar to Hillary’s allegation that Russia stole the election from her. Uncontrolled hatred is hatred out-of-control.

In final analysis, Hillary’s campaign assertion in 2016, that Trump didn’t have the temperament to serve as president was accurate. Trump’s theme that it was time to drain the swamp that Hillary was content in, was also justified. In my humble opinion, Hillary’s loss in 2016 and Trump’s in 2020 were of their own making.

Trump is gone, but most swamp inhabitants remain! It’s worth noting that Democrat Senator Joe Manchin stood tall as he often does, by opposing the hurry-up Pelosi/Schumer plan for another impeachment spectacle, and Vice-President Pence eloquently rejected his own president’s pressure to overturn election results. Will too many others continue to behave as political puppets, serving their party instead of their nation?

It’s hard to be optimistic when Congress’s approval rating is in the teens and almost half the country distrusts the current election process. Setting term limits, reportedly supported by 80% of Americans, would help restore faith in Congress. A return to voting procedures of the past, voting at the polls on election day instead of having a 4-to-8-week election season with mass distribution of ballots, would increase trust in the election process. It can only happen if/when the political hypocrisy in government disappears.

Please read more at the Prior Lake American: https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-american-democracy-on-the-brink/article_bd7b8059-7879-5a2b-bdc5-fd1dd256e825.html

Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.

Happy New Year 🎊

Happy New Year 🎊🎈 to all of our patriot friends and followers. May 2021 be your best year ever. 🇺🇸 🙏 🎊🎈🎆

 

By Wes Mader Community Columnist Dec 23, 2020

Many seniors will be alone this holiday season, some separated from family and friends because of COVID-19, some afraid for the future. An experience I had as a middle-aged adult helps me understand what being alone and afraid feels like.

It was winter almost 40 years ago when I made my first visit to mainland China. As a seasoned business traveler, I had made numerous trips to Asia and Europe, including the countries of Russia, Romania, Poland and East Germany that were under communist control at that time. I believed I could handle anything and was excited about visiting communist China. The country was beginning to open its doors to relations with America after more than 30 years of communist rule.

My first stop was Hong Kong to obtain a visa for entry into China. There I would meet the agent who would accompany me while in China. He was an elderly man who had adopted the name John when with Americans, to spare them the embarrassment of trying to pronounce his Chinese name. Since he would be my language translator and my only means of communication within China, I would be totally in his hands. (Readers might be reminded that without internet and email, much of the planning for a visit to China was by letter.)

After obtaining my visa from the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, John and I took a late-day flight to Beijing, with plans to board an overnight train to the City of Shenyang which is near North Korea’s border with China. The problem began after arrival in Beijing, where the entry process took hours. By the time we arrived at the city’s central railroad station, we were at risk of missing our train to Shenyang.

The railroad station that was dark, dirty and smelly with what may have been a mixture of coal smoke and diesel fumes, was jammed with passengers, hundreds wearing face masks. John had our tickets and was guiding us through the throng of people. He had made it clear that I needed to pick up my pace and follow him, or we would miss our train. While he was jogging ahead with his small duffel bag, I was falling behind, loaded down with my large heavy suitcase (with no wheels) plus briefcase.

I lost sight of John as he pressed into the solid mass of people on the boarding platform. All I could see were hundreds (or thousands) of people, almost all men in similar clothes who were boarding or deboarding the trains. I didn’t know whether John was still on the platform or had boarded one of the trains, and I had no way to contact him. I was suddenly alone in a mass of people and didn’t know what to do, a 40-plus-year-old adult, alone and afraid in the Beijing Railroad Station without a ticket. I wondered where I would be spending the night.

This is the memory of being alone and afraid that comes back to me, as I think of the seniors I know who will be alone during this holiday season. This is the season, if ever, to remind them and ourselves of the real meaning of Christmas. We should all be reaching out to those we know, sharing the message of hope from that first Christmas 2000 years ago.

Did I get to Shenyang? After what seemed like hours, John found me which I suspect was easier than me finding him, but he was not wearing a happy face. He was angry that I was going to cause us to miss our train, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to waste his time on me anymore. He grabbed my briefcase and told me in no uncertain terms, to follow closely behind him. These were the last words spoken that evening. We caught our train just in time, after which he gently pushed me down the passenger car aisle and into an unheated sleeping compartment where I would spend the night under 12 inches of quilts.

The outside temperature on arrival in Shenyang was well below zero, but the blankets had kept me warm as I laid awake much of the night, wondering what I was doing on a train in northern China, and wishing I was home. The next day got better. John began to talk to me again, and the trip was a business success that resulted in future pleasant trips to Shenyang.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Please read more from the Prior Lake American:

https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-alone-and-afraid-at-christmas/article_075dded3-f886-5550-bfa0-951b9770e83a.html

Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.

By Wes Mader Community Columnist

It’s Monday morning, Nov. 16, and I have just been tested for COVID-19. No test results yet, but what I saw at the test site reminded me why I still love America.

My COVID-19 test was at a drive-through tent at a Park Nicollet clinic site in Lakeville. In below freezing temperatures, the ladies who administered the tests in the open-air shelter were dressed in heavy winter clothing plus COVID-19 protective gear. Nevertheless, they were efficient and cheerful in doing a task most of us would rather not do. I left the tent feeling thankful, thankful for them and for many others who are working to keep America upright during difficult times; police and firefighters, teachers, retail store employees, post office workers, men and women in the military and so many more.

I’m also cheered by the announcement from Pfizer and its German partner, of unprecedented progress in the effort to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Based upon extensive testing to date, it’s reported the vaccine is over 90% effective in preventing infection, and that 40 million doses may be ready before year-end for those at high risk. The fact that the Trump Administration signed a $1.95 billion purchase deal with Pfizer back in July for the purchase of a COVID-19 vaccine, was undoubtedly a factor in providing incentive to Pfizer and its partner to have the product available ASAP.

I attribute this good news to a free enterprise system that still exists in America. The Trump Administration will claim some credit for this development, and undoubtedly a Biden Administration will claim credit as benefits of this development extend over the next year or two. That’s what career politicians do, but the majority of credit must go to the pharmaceutical companies and their employees who stepped up to meet the challenge. Although routinely maligned by the political left, these companies did what needed to be done. Having the necessary expertise, they invested hundreds of millions of company dollars to develop a solution to eradicate the virus. While I recognize it will take time to manufacture and distribute the vaccine to all those who need it, I believe there is now light at the end of the tunnel. This exciting news is much more uplifting than the daily COVID-19 body count that our national news services feed us daily.

More good news. By the time this column reaches mailboxes in Prior Lake, I should be in a deer stand in northern Wisconsin, enjoying a once-a-year tradition with sons, grandsons and a granddaughter. Being together in a cabin during the COVID-19 epidemic raised concerns, but we have all taken significant precautions that included COVID-19 testing as mentioned earlier.

Three years ago, a column I wrote, “Reflections from a deer stand,” lamented the loss of American values that I grew up with. As kids, we were taught the importance of mutual respect, and of respect for government and private institutions, our nation, our flag and of course elected officials. Mutual respect was a way of life, and to act otherwise was simply considered unacceptable. Respectful disagreement and debate were acceptable, but not caustic disrespect. What was considered unacceptable then, seems to have become the norm today.

There are some in our nation who are continuously searching for flaws in our democracy, or imperfections in individuals with whom they disagree. Their findings, whether valid or not, become the political tools used to undermine our nation’s history and its accomplishments, and to attack the character and credibility of others. The findings become the excuse for some to loot and torch small businesses. Sadly, this movement if that’s what it is, is often encouraged by a national news media that seems to thrive on reporting everyone’s flaws except their own, and by politicians who have discovered the usefulness of unsubstantiated accusations.

Visible examples of this movement are the supposedly spontaneous (but well organized) protests shouting anti-police, anti-president and anti-racism slogans. The allegation of systemic racism in America is particularly troubling to me. Our nation, with less than a 15 % black population, twice elected a black president. This fact ought to represent verification that our nation is not “systemically racist,” but the quest by some political operatives and the news media to be politically accommodating, say otherwise. The lawlessness now overtaking the City of Minneapolis and other cities is a tragic example of where this is taking America.

Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.

Please read more from The Prior Lake American:

https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-finally-some-good-news/article_fc559bed-900c-5d9f-9ce6-f4b8168d8abb.html