Phoenix, AZ (September
3, 2020) – Today the Arizona Free Enterprise Club announced its slate of
candidate endorsements for the 2020 general election cycle.
The endorsed candidates represent individuals who align with
the organization’s principles and key policy goals. Club President Scot Mussi stated, “It is critical Arizona has leaders and
policy makers who are able to articulate and stand up for free market
principles and pro-growth policies. This
slate of candidates has proven they can and will.”
Dr. Jeffrey Singer is in a
unique position to opine on the current situation in our country and
state. Not only has he worked as a
general surgeon for 35 years, including within a hospital, he is also a Senior
Fellow with the Cato Institute, researching and analyzing public policy.
Dr. Singer has published several
articles on the COVID-19 pandemic, two recently in the Washington
Examiner and USA Today. Both highlight areas in which governments
have taken broad policy actions that have had major costs and harmful unintended
consequences. He instead recommends
policymakers take both a targeted as well as softer, education-focused approach
to public health directives.
Our leaders are in a difficult
situation trying to balance the roller coaster of public opinion which often
supports those decisions which avoid consequences that can be readily observed. This explains why elected officials have
gravitated toward sweeping lockdowns, bans, and mandates. Yet Singer points out, these policies do not
consider the consequences that are not as easily observed. Aside from the obvious financial hardships
forced shutdowns have wreaked on employment, businesses, life savings and the
overall economy, there have been massive public health costs.
These include the untold lives
that will be claimed from serious illnesses because of bans on screening
procedures, from chronic diseases because patients could not keep routine
appointments, and from suicides as those already battling depression fail to
cope with prolonged isolation.
Furthermore, Arizona’s Governor,
like in many other states, issued an executive order prohibiting “elective”
surgery. This was a strategy to ensure the hospitals could build capacity and
not be overrun by pandemic patients. But
as Dr. Singer points out in his USA Today article, elective surgeries are not
the same as unnecessary surgeries. He
suggests instead that a more lasered and effective approach would be to allow
doctors, not bureaucrats, discern which surgeries should be done based upon an
analysis of risk to the hospital and patient on an individual basis.
A wise approach.
Aside from economic and health
repercussions to top-down mandates, our country and state has seen dramatic
civil unrest. Afterall, this is still
the “land of the free” and Americans do not accept controls
and dictates from government as easily as citizens of other
Ultimately Singer’s conclusion is
the right one, “Central governments and public
health officials should use a light touch when responding to public health
emergencies. Responses should be targeted, nuanced, flexible, and easily adjust
to changes on the ground based upon local knowledge. For this to happen, the
government should provide people with accurate and up-to-date information on
the nature and status of the public health emergency, along with the necessary
information and tools so they can best cope with the emergency. There is
good reason to believe that, given the right information and using
persuasion instead of coercion, public health officials are more likely to
get cooperation from the public.”
Hypocrisy in politics in nothing new, but it does matter when it comes to taking more money out of your wallet. That brings us to the story of Pinal County Supervisor Mike Goodman.
For years Mike Goodman has pushed for tax increases in Pinal County, the largest being the $640 Million dollar tax hike in 2017. This was suppose to fund transportation projects throughout the county, except that his district does not get one penny of the revenue from the tax hike.
That’s right, Supervisor Goodman pushed for a tax increase knowing that his community would not benefit. Now his constituents are being stuck with the tax bill to improve roads for developers and other special interest groups around the county.
But it gets even worse. It turns out that while Mr. Goodman wants others to pay higher taxes that he doesn’t even pay his own!
For years Supervisor Goodman was sent notices from the IRS on back taxes owed totaling over $100,000. After refusing to pay, the IRS was forced to issue a lien on all property and income owned by Supervisor Goodman in the amount of the taxes owed plus interest and penalties.
The IRS isn’t the only entity that Supervisor Goodman has stiffed over the years. Mr. Goodman also operated MB Goodman, LLC., a business that had a poor track record of paying vendors and creditors.
His failure to pay became so problematic that one vendor, Crop Production Services Inc. was forced to take Supervisor Goodman to court for debts owed. Not surprisingly the court ruled against him, issuing a judgement against Mr. Goodman and in favor of Crop Production Services Inc. for $95,300.54.
Yet that judgement wasn’t enough, as Supervisor Goodman continued to avoid paying Crop Production Services what they were owed. They were forced to take him to court again, getting a second order issued ensuring that his wages would be garnished until full payment of his debts were made.
Supervisor Goodman doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his creditors. But he wants his constituents to pay more in taxes for projects that don’t even serve or benefit the community.
This type of irresponsible and hypocritical behavior should not be rewarded. Supervisor Goodman is up for reelection this year, it’s probably time for voters to pick someone new to represent them in Pinal County.
Paid for by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Not Authorized by any Candidate or Candidate Committee.
As a free market organization that represents entrepreneurs,
job creators and hardworking taxpayers throughout the state, the Free
Enterprise Club has defended many of the actions that you have taken to combat
the Covid-19 pandemic. Dealing with a crisis in real time is always going to be
difficult, especially when information and data is incomplete. There was an
incredible amount of uncertainty and risk in mid-March, and a shutdown of the
economy–while drastic–was understood.
To say that the press conference announcing the extension of
the stay-at-home order was a disappointment would be an understatement. Your decision was confusing, provided no
certainty for the thousands of small businesses that are on the verge of
bankruptcy, and shifted the rationale for why we started the shutdown to begin
The goal post shifting might be the most frustrating aspect
of the extended stay-at-home order. When the closures began in Mid-March, we
were told that these extreme measures were necessary to accomplish two tasks:
Flatten the Curve to ensure so we don’t see a
huge spike in hospitalizations resulting in our healthcare system being
Provide an opportunity for our hospital system
to ramp up and prepare for an influx of Covid-19 cases.
Both of these goals have been achieved by wide margins. The
curve has been flattened. There has been
no large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Arizona and hospitalization
rates have been flat for a month. Our healthcare system took advantage of the time
provided by increasing supplies of ventilators, beds and other essential PPE
needed to combat the pandemic. And residents throughout the state sacrificed
their income, jobs, businesses and mental health to do their part to stop the
Yet now we have created a new arbitrary set of metrics for
ending the shutdown. At the press conference you commented that a Fortune 100
company told you that public confidence is too low to open. That polling showed
some people believe Arizona is just not ready to reopen. You claimed that
another governor had a “bad experience” during their reopening (even though it
is way too early to make any such declarations). It was also mentioned that we
need better data trendlines than what we have seen.
It is easy to see why thousands of Arizona residents and
businesses owners were furious after the announcement. These explanations offered
no clear path forward and made it appear that the voices of large companies and
wealthy restaurant owners speak for the entire business community, not the
thousands of small businesses being wiped out because of the shutdown.
Even more frightening for those waiting to reopen is that likely
nothing will different by May 15th to satisfy your new criteria. The
number of new daily Covid-19 cases will be roughly the same and hospitalization
rates will remain flat. Public confidence won’t be improved. Doomsday modelers
that have been wrong
from the beginning will still be warning of dark days ahead if we end the
shutdown. And your office will encounter the same opposition to reopening from
the same politicians, media outlets
and twitter pundits, most of whom have not lost a single paycheck or suffered
any financial hardship during the pandemic.
Not surprisingly, citizens watching their lives be destroyed
are becoming more defiant in the face of what they see as government overreach
and abuse. The number and size of protests throughout the state are growing by the day. Restaurants
and other small retail shops on the verge of bankruptcy are beginning
to open despite warnings from law enforcement or concerns about losing
their business license. Social unrest is becoming a real threat, something that
is not carrying enough weight in the current decision-making process.
Now more than ever the residents of Arizona crave
leadership. This is not a crisis that can be solved looking at polling numbers
or crafting a snappy slogan. You have often spoke of “being bold” during
your time in office—that is what Arizona needs today! It is time to
lead, and here are a few suggestions:
Reopen Arizona Today! The debate has
often centered around reopening our economy, but this is much bigger than that.
This is about reopening society, and you need to lead on a plan
that gets our state opened today. Most understand that our lives won’t go back
to normal right away and that some activities (sporting events, concerts, large
gatherings, etc.) will be delayed. But there is no reason that anyone wanting
to get back to work should be denied that opportunity.
Provide Clear Guidelines for Businesses.
Missing from your press conference was any clear guidelines for businesses on what
to do when they reopened. This was rectified somewhat a few days later, but the
reality is that businesses are as confused as ever on what do to. Providing
simple guidelines will improve confidence for both employers and the public as
places begin to reopen.
Trust our Judgement. The primary reason
that the so-called “experts” and modelers continue to be wrong in their
predictions is that they believe they can predict and control the actions of
millions of people. They cannot and the more that the government or the Karens
of the world try to impose their will on others, the more it will backfire.
You must trust that citizens will make healthy choices and are better at
protecting themselves and their families than the government.
Provide the Facts on Covid-19. As Arizona
begins to reopen, people should be provided with an accurate picture of the
true risks associated with Covid-19. The data
is overwhelming that there are at at-risk populations, primarily those over
the age of 65 or with chronic health conditions. But it is also a fact, supported
by evidence, that healthy children and adults under the age of 45 are at an
low risk of getting seriously ill. There is also little
evidence to support the notion that major suppression/lockdown efforts have
been any more effective at containing the spread of Covid-19 than lighter
mitigation efforts. This information should guide our response and also help
people make informed decisions on the lifestyle decisions they choose to make.
Governor Ducey, if you lead on reopening, people will
follow. We urge you to take the reigns and lead our great state back to
Even basic necessities and staples relied upon by everyone are beginning to falter as well. Major food providers are warning that supply chains are breaking down and we should expect shortages. Hospitals are beginning to lay off and furlough employees since the Covid-19 peak promised by the models never materialized. And our entire energy market is in disarray after the oil markets crashed last week:
U.S. equity markets slid Monday as oil crashed below zero and closed at its lowest level since record keeping began in March 1983.The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by as many as
489 points, or 2.02 percent, before paring its losses. The S&P 500 and
Nasdaq Composite were down 1.53 percent and 1.01 percent, respectively, at
Ongoing concerns over swelling oil inventories pushed West Texas
Intermediate crude for May delivery plunged
305 percent to
a record low -$36.73 per barrel. At a price below zero, buyers would be
paid to take delivery as there are costs associated with transportation and
Just 2 months ago the oil industry was thriving in America.
Now traders are being forced to pay vendors to unload their
product as inventories exceed capacity. That’s right, if you can safely store
crude on your property, someone is willing to pay you to take it (delivery not
The reality is that lives are being lost and ruined by the current shutdown, and it will only get worse every day that we wait. Arizona must reopen, and fast. Governor Ducey announced that he is working on a reopening plan for the state, which will likely include a phased-in approach largely based on the guidelines provided by the Trump Administration.
That is good news, but the next step is going to be the toughest. Reopening Arizona is not going to be easy, especially since any discussion on relaxing the Covid-19 restrictions has become a politically divisive issue. The rhetoric has become so intense that in some corners any mention of ending the shutdown means putting the economy ahead of lives. This is complete nonsense.
Supporting an end to the lockdown means understanding
that lives can be lost to economic destruction just as easily as they are to
Covid-19. This is being recognized in other countries, as Austria,
Norway, the Czech Republic, Poland and many others has already begun easing
restrictions. Here in the US, states such as Texas,
Tenessee and Florida
have begun taking action as well on a reopening plan.
Arizona needs to follow suit, and it can be done in a smart
and safe way. Mitigation efforts such as continued social distancing,
encouraged teleworking, mask wearing and the suspension of congested gatherings
(such as sporting events) will continue. Extra precautions can be taken to
protect the most
vulnerable populations (senior citizens and those with chronic illness)
impacted by Covid-19. If the purpose of the lockdown was to prevent our
healthcare system from being overloaded, then a phase down of the restrictions
will be more than enough to prevent that from happening.
The end of the current stay-at-home order is April 30. That is the perfect time for Arizona to begin reopening for business. The process won’t be seamless, but the cost of inaction at this point will be worse than staying home.
Just like the rest of the country, Arizona residents have since mid-March hunkered down, self-isolated and followed the advice of medical experts and our political leaders to stop the spread of Coronavirus. The rationale provided to us was that if extreme actions were not taken, hundreds of thousands of people in the Grand Canyon state would perish. Hospitals would be overrun. It might be as bad as the Spanish Flu of 1918.
How do we know Covid-19 might be this horrific? Whenever this question was asked, defenders of the shutdown immediately pointed to the various models proving their case. Two in particular were cited the most—IHME and CovidActNow. Both produced dire forecasts for Arizona and both recommended draconian mitigation strategies. Both have proven to be wildly wrong.
The IHME Model
Designed at the University of Washington, the IHME model has been the most frequently cited the last 3 weeks and was the foundation for the nationwide projections developed by the Trump Administration.
On April 1st, IHME predicted dark days for Arizona. IHME forecasted that by April 15th over 2,500 beds would be needed and that Arizona would be at its ICU and ventilator capacity. At our peak on April 27th, Arizona would have 4,000 hospitalized Covid-19 patients and a ICU shortage of nearly 100 beds. Over 1,300 would be dead by August 1st.
Founded and developed by four volunteers with very questionable credentials, CovidActNow became a frequently utilized source for politicians and governmental entities early on during the pandemic. In Arizona, CovidActNow was the primary model used in March by the University of Arizona College of Public Health to develop their pandemic response recommendations, which were cited by the media and referenced by politicians throughout the state.
On April 1st CovidActNow had concluded that Governor Ducey’s shelter-at-home policy was far too lax and that a much stricter statewide lockdown was necessary:
Without a “strict” stay-at-home policy, CovidActNow declared that Arizona on April 15 would have nearly 1,500 hospitalized, a hospitalization peak of 40,000 by June, and 28,000 dead by mid-summer.
Models vs. Reality
It is embarrassing how poorly both of these models performed compared to reality. As of today (April 15), Arizona has fewer than 500 Covid-19 patients hospitalized and around 100 admitted to ICU, a fraction of the predicted amount. Ventilator use is in decline and the state has already reduced their federal ventilator request from 5,000 to 500.
Fatalities are lagging behind the IHME model and will never approach the laughable figure cited by CovidActNow. There has been no Coronavirus hospital crunch. In fact it has been just the opposite–healthcare workers have been furloughed due to all of the empty hospital beds.
The excuses to explain away the modeling errors have been coming as fast as the downward revisions being made to both forecasts. Defenders of the modeling claim that the lower projections only prove that the current policies are working and thus fewer deaths and hospitalizations have been the result. The flaw with this argument is that both models as of April 1 were based on the mitigation efforts that are in effect today. This argument is simply an attempt to move the goal posts and avoid any discussion about why the models missed so badly.
Others have suggested that it is not really the fault of the modeler’s–Covid-19 projections are difficult and that a lack of data and changing assumptions hampered their effectiveness. These are all valid points, except that none of these issues were ever brought up when the public was being sold on their reliability and used as the justification for a nationwide shutdown of the economy.
Some are even saying that it doesn’t really matter that the models were wrong and that everyone should just be thankful that it is not as bad as they thought. This argument is not only wrong, but offensive. Thousands of people have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, and some will lose their lives because of the actions taken based on these models. If the goal is to completely erode all public trust and credibility in our institutions, this is the quickest way to do it.
Unfortunately, what has transpired up to this point cannot be undone. Mistakes were made, yet rather than dwelling on them we need to start working toward solutions that address our overreaction.
The top priority should be to reopen Arizona in a safe and healthy way. Governor Ducey has announced that he is developing a plan to open up the economy; our hope is that it coincides with the expiration of the existing stay-at-home order on April 30th (if not sooner).
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Arizona should not take any precautions or that there won’t be certain restrictions when the shutdown ends. The models were useless, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have data showing that Covid-19 is a real danger to certain segments of the population (predominantly seniors and those with chronic illness). The Club believes a solution exists somewhere between doing nothing and the current draconian shutdown.
The other lesson that should be learned is a healthy amount of skepticism when politicians start using forecast modeling as their justification for their radical policy prescriptions. The public might have been fooled this time by the so-called experts and their doomsday modeling, let’s just make sure it doesn’t happen again.