Sunday, December 20, 2020

Your December 13th Sunday Summary

Dear Friend of TJI,

Governor Ralph Northam has proposed legalizing marijuana in Virginia, and The Family Foundation is putting together a coalition to oppose the idea. We can’t help but think that if we want to stop letting people have access to marijuana we ought to put government in charge of its distribution, and pretty soon no one will be able to find it.

Meanwhile …

1.) This is how elections are lost: With one week to go, Democrat applications to serve on the new Redistricting Commission had outpaced Republican applications 86-40. The commission will draw the lines for the next General Assembly and Congress … and if they are drawn to the advantage of the Left and conservatives do not put in the effort now, there should be no complaining that future elections were “stolen.” The application is here. Those who have worked for Congress or the General Assembly; held or ran for a public or political party office; or who have been a lobbyist within the last five years are ineligible. Political party leaders will each submit 16 proposed commissioners to a panel of retired judges who will then choose a total of eight to serve on the commission. If you’re serious and need help applying, email the Thomas Jefferson Institute at

2.) The Governor made his report to the General Assembly “money committees” last week and reported that Virginia is awash with an extra $1.5 billion. The Jefferson Institute’s Steve Haner reports on where it came from and how it would be spent hereIn related news, the Reason Foundation looked at the Census Bureau’s quarterly state and local tax data nationally and determined that there’s been made “virtually no change in collections for the first 9 months of 2020 vs 2019.” Read their commentary here.

3.) One thing missing again from Northam’s budget amendments is any support or assistance for parents whose children have been denied in-school education since March. Studies have indicated that students made “little or no progress” while learning from home, and that the learning loss for educationally at-risk children is up to 55 percent higher (here and here). Parents have found themselves spending additional funds for child-care, technology, books and, for children with special needs, outside therapies. The Left’s mantra has always been to do something “for the children,” but when they have the chance, there is nothing there “for the children” in a budget that empowers government, not parents. 

4.) During the special session, Delegate Kirk Cox proposed a budget amendment using federal COVID funds to provide grants to parents for additional resources. It was killed (here). Delegate Michael Webert has introduced legislation for 2021 providing that if a local school board doesn’t offer in-person instruction, the parents can take the state funding for that child and find a better alternative (here).

5.) How does Virginia compare with other states in business lockdowns, mask requirements, and “Stay at Home” orders? Economist Stephen Moore has noted that business lockdowns in blue states have severely impacted their economies and quotes Politico (here) as reporting that minorities and the poor “have been more vulnerable to job and income losses from the ensuing economic crisis, in large part because Black and Latino workers are over-represented in the service industries wiped out by shutdowns.” He also points to charts comparing the COVID regulations in each state here

6.) Over at The Wall Street Journal, Drs. Jay Bhattacharya and Sunetra Gupta say the lockdowns could end next month, but it all depends on the prioritization of vaccine distribution (here). This compares with the position of Dr. Harald Schmidt, a medical ethic professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who argues that the elderly shouldn’t get the vaccine because they’re too white (here). “Woke” ethics comes to medicine.

7.) The Virginia Green Economy Act is heavily dependent on solar panels (nevermind the instability of solar and wind power). But local residents are starting to realize it impacts the reason they moved to where they moved, and they are pushing back.

8.) Foreshadowing possible trouble in the House for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has called for new Democratic leadership and faulted the old guard for not lifting up the “Next Generation.” Democrats lost seats in a year they were supposed to win them – largely due to a “Defund Police” and “Socialism” agenda from the Left – but this does not deter Rep. Ocasio-Cortez … and we say it should not. Run, AOC, Run!

9.) Young America’s Foundation, born out of the conservative revival of the ‘60s and ‘70s, saved the Reagan Ranch 22 years ago preserving many of the artifacts within. Now, it has saved Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, Illinois. When the pandemic is over, we know what vacation spot we’re heading to …

Finally … for the first time in 39 years, we’ll be spending Christmas at home, and we’ll resume this little letter on January 10. Your traditions are likely upended, too.  For many, this has been the worst year in the life of our nation … but only if our conceit permits us to ignore six years of World Wars, a century-ago pandemic that came and went and then came back even harder, a deep and long 10-year Great Depression, a seven-year battle for Independence and a four-year Civil War that almost tore us apart for good.

The nation has been through worse; the American character will persevere through this, too.  In an effort reminiscent of World War II, companies big and small have pivoted their research and development, redeployed their personnel, and retrofitted factories – all in the service of fighting something they did not even know existed a year ago. By any definition, it was extraordinary. The scientists were white and Black and Asian; American, Turkish, German, French. One came to America as a refugee from communism. But the leadership came from here.

When skeptics doubt the existence of American exceptionalism, they should be shown the receipts for last Monday’s delivery of the first three million doses of vaccine.

But for now, enjoy the holidays. Learn from Alex Trebek what the good stuff was in 2020.  Trade stories with your crazy Uncle Walter. Post on your social media what made the year a good one.  

Happy Sunday, Everyone.

Chris Braunlich
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The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

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