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Trump sets a bad example


To the Editor: The secretary of defense has instructed all American military personnel to wear face masks when on duty.

Deborah Birx, President Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, asked all Americans to wear face masks when they are outside their home.

Dr. Fauci, one of the world’s top infectious disease scientists, said the coronavirus is spread by coughing, sneezing and simply speaking, and wearing face masks is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

When asked at his Friday press briefing if he would wear a face mask, the president responded, “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.” When asked again at his Sunday press conference, he said, “I would if I thought it was important.”

Americans should be able to look to their president to set an example. This is one of many examples of how this president is putting the health of all Americans at risk.

Maxine Luchterhand Unity

To the Editor: Just as dairy farmers were looking forward to a decent, even profitable milk price in 2020, along comes COVID- 19 to possibly destroy all hopes.

Dairy farmers spend all the money they can make, supporting local businesses. Over the last 20 some years surviving ones found ways to beat out the competition. The use of better genetics, feeding and cow comfort has created more milk, more milk. It’s what they are good at to their own financial demise.

The banks have also over-loaned money for farm expansions during relative “good” milk price times in history. Interest for life for many.

The markets go up and down. Save in good times to buy out the smaller neighboring farm in bad times. There has been basically 9.2 million cows milking for 20 years in the U.S. Butter and cheese is traded globally so that comes into play also. In 1994 the national herd production per cow was 56 pounds per day. Now it’s about 76, with roughly 9.36 million cows on fewer but much bigger “factory corporate” farms, as some advocates call them. Many are now owned by cheese and butter processors.

Walmart has built their own bottling plant to remove a middle man or two. It is a tough business for the farmer now with a fine line profit margin.

My dad had a saying: “Independence is the farmers’ greatest strength, but their greatest weakness.” The inability for all to get together and agree how to control supply and demand.

Cranberry farmers can can as many berries as they want to maintain a profit. In the past, some farmers have voluntarily dumped milk, which is called a “milk strike.” The processors get pissed and threaten to stop picking up the striking farmers’ milk. There are plenty of cows so one or two dropped farms won’t hurt cheese or butter supply. It is a rat race.

I’ve been advocating for a profitable price since 2000. It’s a vicious circle of money up and money down, good and stupid. If the dairy farm community crashes again, there is likely to be a real recession again. In 1980, during the last “farm depression,” the farmers received 40 cents of the retail dollar. Now it is down to 19 cents of each dollar the consumer spends. The grocery store, distributor and processors divide up the rest.

Hopefully something good will come out of COVID-19 for the .2 percent of population that works seven days a week. Now rBst-free milk comes to you from one of God’s greatest creations, the dairy cows. Walter Schuette Unity

The rightness of being wrong

To the Editor: As Moliere said “It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I’m right.”

What is right is Right and cannot be compromised with wrong. This is an error. We are often wrong about what it means to be wrong. Wrongness ranks with our most humane and honorable qualities according to Kathryn Schulz in Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. Wrongness is a vital part of how we learn and change.

Only by discovering our errors are we able to revise our understanding. That is the essence of the process of learning. The search for what we know we know becomes a moral issue when error is associated with evil and rightness with righteousness. Of all the conflict and violence in the world today, almost all of the cases come from groups with mutually incompatible feelings of absolute Rightness. By examining our sense of certainty in cases where we are wrong, we can begin to think differently about our convictions.

In today’s world we are inundated with information. Much of that information is received as data without perspective nor any measure of its significance. Raw data also lacks standards of what is true and false. In this vacuum of meaning, ideologically driven media commentators and pundits provide us with ready made filters of right and wrong. They are salespersons of certainty.

Certainty is dangerous to a democracy. Ideological commentators direct their audience toward the phenomenon of groupthink. Groupthink occurs when a homogenous in-group is so concerned with unanimity that they reject any questioning of their interpretations. Groupthink is enforced by commentators skilled in the use of personal attacks on dissenters and the absolute rejection of all critical arguments. They are convinced of their own moral superiority and demonize those holding opposing views.

If we are convinced of the Rightness of our cause there is no room for democratic action. Democracy is grounded on the principle that there is error on all sides, and only through thoughtful discussion and consideration can we arrive at workable solutions to political problems. Compromise is the engine that produces workable solutions in a democratic society. Embracing our fallibility helps us to think more carefully, treat others more thoughtfully and to construct a freer and fairer society.

Philosopher Parker Palmer, in his book The Courage to Teach, lays out some principles to help us discover what is of value in the jumble of information. The principle of diversity is valuable because it opens us to the complexity of world cultures and our fellow humans. We do not all think alike.

Ambiguity points out the inadequacy of our knowledge and the need to seek more complete explanations of things. Creative conflict is required to jar us out of our narrow perspectives and to be open to learning. The principle of honesty is what the search for truth is all about. Being honest with ourselves, and others, about what we know and do not know. Humility opens our minds to new experiences and allows us room to admit error when we are wrong.

By following these principles, we can winnow through information sources to discover what is closet to the truth. It also means we can avoid following ideological commentators and pundits whose purpose is to relieve us of our responsibility to think for ourselves. Much of mass media would have us view the world through their lenses. It is much easier to consider our opponents as evil when we assume we are right. Rick Lohr Marathon