About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

Ye Shall Not Fear (part 2)

Texas opened up its society nearly a month ago, ending mask mandates and other lockdown measures. This was the scene for the Texas Rangers’ opening day:

Rangers’ opening day.

More than 40,000 people enjoying a beautiful day of baseball, with very few masks in sight.

So, everybody in Texas is going to die from the virus, right? Well, so far, definitely not.

Texas COVID cases as of April 1, 2021

Hospitalizations and deaths must be shooting up, right? Nope.

Texas statistics as of April 2, 2021

In fact, Texas and Mississippi, which are mostly open, are doing much better than the continually locked down states of New York, New Jersey and Michigan.

Source: Financial Times

Meanwhile, there is the strange case of the country of Nicaragua (where I lived in the 1980s). The socialist government there never locked down or mandated masks and told people to stay at home or wear masks if they wanted to. No mandates. Meanwhile, all of the other countries in Central America (all of which I have visited multiple times since the 1980s) instituted mandates of one kind or another. How is that going?

Source: Financial Times

Yes, you are reading that graph correctly. Nicaragua, with no lockdowns and no mask mandates, has had almost no deaths at all from COVID.

I know what you are thinking. Nicaragua is probably not reporting COVID correctly, right? Actually, as this story points out, even the government’s opposition political party count of cases shows Nicaragua was more successful than its neighbors in Central America. This story explains the strange history of Nicaragua’s success against COVID (with no lockdowns) compared to its neighbors (with lockdowns). Read the whole thing.

We end today with Sweden, which never locked down. Sweden is somewhere in the middle of European countries, better than many Eastern European countries, the UK, Spain, Belgium and Italy, but with results below Norway and Denmark.

I want to emphasize this point: the press assured us in April 2020 that Sweden would be a COVID killing field. None of the horrific predictions came true. Meanwhile, most other countries in Europe have tyrannical lockdowns that are getting more tyrannical every week. Where would you rather live, the free country where you can make your own choices and stay at home and wear a mask if you wish, or the one that will not let you travel and is constantly planning new ways to reduce your freedom?

The evidence is clear, folks: lockdowns and mandates don’t work. This has been known for decades, and this is why there were no lockdowns or mask mandates in earlier worldwide pandemics. Viruses are very unpredictable and are affected by a variety of things, but the things that don’t affect them are mask mandates and lockdowns.

Stop being fearful. The results clearly show that freedom works!

The Gospel presses forward while it seems we are stuck in ‘Groundhog Day’

One of my favorite movies is “Groundhog Day,” which I have written about on this blog. As many readers will know, it is about a cynical weatherman (played by Bill Murray) who is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he becomes a better person.

The lockdowns have turned the world into “Groundhog Day” for many of us, but of course there is hope, and that hope was made very clear in the words of the prophets over the weekend.

I am still trying to wrap my head around 20 new temples being announced in places like Grand Junction, Colorado and Elko, Nevada. Before the pandemic I went to the temple at least twice a month, and it was usually the highlight of my week. Stuck in these lockdowns, I find it difficult to imagine ever going again, but clearly we will go again, and the thought brings tears to my eyes.

President Nelson’s talk Saturday night during Priesthood Session penetrated my stony heart. It seemed to be aimed right at me. The prophet’s optimism and his accentuation of the positive during the lockdowns gave me hope and reminded me that the suffering of this time will be a blip in the eternities. In terms of the Gospel, things will return to normal soon.

President Oaks’ inspired defense of the US Constitution was a much-needed reminder at a time when so many people seem to think the government should control the actions of others. President Oaks reminded us that the Constitution is about individual rights protecting us from government tyranny.

The international flavor of the Sunday morning session was uplifting and a reminder that we are a growing and worldwide Church.

As the prophets reminded us, we have much to look forward to in the days ahead. This uplifting message was perfectly timed and well-received by so many people. My testimony of the inspiration of Church leadership has never been stronger.

The bizarre Huntsman lawsuit against the Church over tithing

I want to recommend this excellent article from Public Square Magazine regarding James Huntsman’s strange lawsuit against the Church regarding tithing.

Here are the key paragraphs:

Huntsman sets the tone for his lawsuit in the very first paragraph by including a bizarre quote about honesty from early Church leader Brigham Young. Throughout the complaint, Huntsman put his personal outrage and the most salacious details in a bold-italicized font so that anyone perusing the suit could quickly get a sense of the purported “fraud” and “greed.”

For 13 pages, Huntsman rambles on without specificity, without evidence, and without explaining how he personally was harmed—the cornerstone of any civil action. In legal terms, Huntsman failed to plead sufficient facts to state a claim for fraud and thus his complaint is deficient. The Court will have no choice but to dismiss the lawsuit. Huntsman’s clumsy and bumbling complaint signifies to me that he filed this suit merely as a publicity stunt without any sincere intent to recover his monies.

The writer is a former outside counsel to the Church who knows her stuff. More from the piece:

James Huntsman knows his tithing donations were voluntary and fall under the legal definition of a gift. He knows the Church has no legal obligation to return his tithing. He knows that the return of his tithing has tax implications, and he would most likely have to file years of amended tax returns to remove any deduction claimed.

But most importantly, I believe Huntsman knows that if he had sincerely sent his tithing refund request to Church leadership, they would have absolutely worked with him toward a positive resolution. There is no plausible reason Huntsman needed to file a baseless, improperly pleaded claim in federal court other than in an attempt to embarrass the Church. The only person who should be embarrassed is James Huntsman.

Huntsman’s lawsuit will certainly go down in history as another weird chapter in the “people lose their minds when they get angry at the Church” story. That story started in the days of Joseph Smith and continues, sadly, today.

Hope wears no mask

I walked by a school in St. Augustine, Florida this week, and I saw dozens of elementary age children playing outside with no masks and no scolding teacher telling them not to get near each other. In fact, the teacher watched calmly from the shade without a mask as the children hugged each other, touched each other and played like normal children are wont to do. I felt a huge surge of hope.

There are indeed people in the United States who have not fallen for all of the false information, fake science and mass hysteria regarding COVID-19. If there is a school where children are able to avoid medieval, senseless rules, this means there is one sensible school administration, one group of intelligent teachers and one group of enlightened parents — at least one. And where there is one such school, there are likely to be others. And that is hopeful.

In fact, Florida has not closed its schools this year, unlike the backward, science-ignoring schools in many other states. In Colorado, where I live, we have had a byzantine set of rules — one week the kids can go three days a week, the next week not at all, a few weeks later they can go again. Finally, the schools my kids go to in Colorado is going back to full-time attendance next week, but they have — bizarrely — canceled band and orchestra practice because….people can’t play some instruments without masks on, and you wouldn’t want that! Never mind that the kids all interact freely with each other without masks before and after school — some bureaucrat decided to cancel the music program because he or she had the power to do so.

I am in Florida in part because it is one of the few sensible places left in our increasingly tyrannical United States of Panic. As I pointed out in this post, Florida and California have had about the same results during the pandemic, despite the fact that Florida is mostly free and California is mostly locked down. The Florida economy, meanwhile, is booming while California continues its economic free-fall. The results are clear: lockdowns don’t work. As I wrote in this post, the lockdowns have caused millions of unnecessary deaths, destroyed economies worldwide and caused an increase in depression, anxiety and suicide. We will be suffering from the effects of these lockdowns for years if not decades to come.

Meanwhile, billions of mostly free people worldwide have allowed tyrannical governments to take away their freedom in the name of “safety.” This is what dictatorial governments always promise — safety without freedom. And the traditional media, the social media platforms and elite politicians and public figures have colluded to suppress the truth about the lockdowns and the useless mask mandates. So, yes, there are many reasons to be concerned about this time in our history.

But if one school can buck all of these forces, and allow kids to be kids, maybe there is hope after all?

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Secret combinations: from the military-industrial complex to the digital-intelligence complex

A little more than 60 years ago, President Eisenhower, as he prepared to leave office, gave what has proven to be his most enduring and well-known speech:

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Recent scholarship has confirmed that Ike saw this as one of his most important speeches ever:

We should be clear what Ike was concerned about. He knew that the United States, with its growing economy and growing needs for defense, would need private businesses to help build weapons. What he was concerned about was that these companies would promote war or other military priorities so they could improve their profits. These companies would hire lobbyists to encourage members of Congress to direct business their way. Ike was worried about crony capitalism, the use of government money to promote private businesses.

Sixty years later, it is easy to see that Ike’s warning has come true. Almost nobody reading this believes in a completely pacifistic U.S. foreign policy. But I hope most people reading this can see that U.S. defense should concentrate on defending the U.S. borders. In the last 60 years, and especially the last 20 years, U.S. foreign policy has increasingly promoted wars in foreign lands (Iraq, Lybia, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc) far from our borders. Some of those actions may have been justified (I am thinking about Afghanistan after 9/11), but why is the U.S. military spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year fighting wars far from American shores? Is it reasonable to believe that the military-industrial complex is truly the source of the constant need to find new enemies abroad? Are these wars really about companies paying off politicians so these companies can make more money?

As this article points out, we have a new secret combination to worry about in 2021: the digital-intelligence complex.

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