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Blatchford: Hardships are survivable, preparedness begins at local level, Trump unfairly maligned

Tough times, these. There is no question that Americans before us (in some cases our own parents and grandparents) could have hacked it. In fact, they did. Those folks, in my case, did this and much, much more.

They survived the 1918 influenza pandemic which infected about one-third of world’s population. They endured the Great Depression, world wars, a number of other epidemics with the accompanying years of shortages and more. Although a military assault was never made on the continental United States in their time, they lived with that fear along with wartime shortages for years.

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Ration books were issued to individuals and misuse of them was punishable with jail and fines. The books contained stamps permitting the purchase of a limited number of the rationed items. Out of stamps? Out of luck until the next book came. Rationed items included, but were not limited to cars, bicycles, gasoline, fuel oil and kerosene, solid fuels, rubber footwear, shoes, sugar, coffee, meats and many canned foods. It was an efficient system that put a crimp in hoarding by the general population.

Simply put, shortages and hardships are survivable. They did it and we can do it. They did it while fighting massive world wars. Our burden is smaller than theirs.

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It had been my hope to avoid politics this week, but a few events altered that plan.

NBC reported the death of an Arizona man and the hospitalization of his wife for having voluntarily ingested a chemical used for cleaning fish tanks and fighting fish parasites. Apparently, the surviving wife reported that they ingested the cleaning compound because President Trump had mentioned a similarly named compound as a potential protection/treatment for COVID-19. Although the media giant didn’t lay blame upon President Trump for this unfortunate event, the mention of his name unfairly linked him to this act.

Shame on NBC for two reasons. First, for the national exposure given to this couple. Can you imagine the embarrassment this family faces? Who willingly takes any commercial cleaning compound into their mouths? Hopefully, the surviving victim won’t prolong the story by letting some slick lawyer attempt to file suit against someone. Secondly, shame on NBC for reporting in a manner in which some could blame Trump for the thoughtless actions of others.

Additionally, we’ve been exposed to the ire of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As anyone who watches the news must know, Cuomo has not been happy with the federal government’s response to his requests for massive assistance in dealing with COVID-19. It is astounding to me that as a result of his exposure this Democrat’s name is being bandied about as a possible challenger to presidential candidate Joe Biden. Here’s why the surprise.

For a time, I served on Mount Airy’s Water and Sewer Commission. The commission was required to participate in a program regarding FEMA processes and procedures. I learned from this exercise that preparedness for meeting various disasters such as the current virus or Hurricane Katrina begins at the local level. It’s a bottom up plan — disaster invokes local response, then state and lastly national.

Cuomo strikes me as a man not in control. He went on national TV to harangue FEMA and Trump. He publicly said, “Send us the equipment we need. Send us the personnel.” He knew that TV was not the proper channel for such a request — or should have.

Few of our leaders were prepared for this, but when you are caught unprepared blaming others is not being in charge. Cuomo is governor of one of the most populated states in the country which charges some of the highest taxes. What do they do with their citizens’ money? Why were they so unprepared? Sadly, Cuomo’s reaction was reminiscent of Ray Nagin’s response to Hurricane Katrina. How do such elected officials become unaccountable?

I’m certain that Maryland was equally unprepared to combat COVID-19 and yet Gov. Hogan quietly went about his job of taking the best possible measures available. Comparing the reactions of both governors, I’m glad Cuomo doesn’t represent me or my fellow citizens. I’m forced to ponder future calamities should Cuomo ever become president. That eventuality is concerning.

Lastly, back to NBC. Late last week, they reported that Trump had taken a fallback position on his “promise” that things will be better by Easter. I heard them utter that erroneous report about the so-called promise. I also heard Trump when he mentioned Easter. There was no promise. I heard him use the word “hope.” He hoped that things would be better by Easter. And some wonder why Trump treats NBC people as he does. I will hope for better from NBC and other networks, but will not be holding my breath.

Rick Blatchford writes from Mount Airy. His column appears every other Tuesday. Contact him at rpblatch4d@comcast.net

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