The World and Everything in It — May 6, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

No big surprise that with a financial crisis on top of a public-health crisis that local governments would start to feel the pinch. We’ll talk with a state legislator about the fiscal challenges.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.

Also today, World Tour. And a remembrance 75 years ago this week, Germany unconditionally surrenders to the Allies.

And what’ll the new normal be once commerce reopens? WORLD Founder Joel Belz has some thoughts.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, May 6th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

REICHARD: Now here’s Kent Covington with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: White House planning to wind down coronavirus task force » The White House is beginning to wind down its coronavirus task force.  

President Trump told reporters Tuesday…

TRUMP: As far as the task force, Mike Pence in the task force have done a terrific job. But we’re now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening. And we’ll have a different group probably set up for that. 

But he said key members of the task force will still play important roles in the nation’s coronavirus response.  

Vice President Mike Pence’s office said the plan is to reduce the role of the task force by Memorial Day. 

And Pence said the administration is having conversations—quote—“about what the proper time is for the task force to complete its work and for the ongoing efforts to take place on an agency-by-agency level.” He added that the White House is discussing a transition plan to shift more responsibility to FEMA. 

And he said that’s a reflection of the “tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.”

Fauci to testify Tuesday about coronavirus response » Also on Tuesday, the president said one of the members of the White House task force, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci will testify on Capitol Hill next Tuesday about the coronavirus response.

He’ll answer questions before the Senate but not the House as Trump said the Democrat-led chamber is only looking to criticize. 

House Democrats complained the White House is impeding their ability to gather information about the pandemic response.

CDC Director Robert Redfield will join Fauci at Tuesday’s Senate hearing. 

Trump reacts to NYT report on COVID-19 projections » President Trump responded Tuesday to new projections from leaked documents reported by The New York Times

The numbers suggested the United States could see 3,000 deaths each day by June 1st and eight times as many daily infections as compared to the current rate. 

TRUMP: That’s with no mitigation. We’re doing mitigation. We have a lot of mitigation. We have a lot of mitigation. The fact that they’re out, they’re mitigating. They’re social distancing, they all know that. They’re washing their hands a lot. But we have to get our country open. 

Johns Hopkins University produced the study for FEMA. And school officials said Tuesday that the numbers included in those documents were not intended for official projections.

The university said the study was intended to help prepare for a range of scenarios including the premature relaxation of social distancing.

This week, the University of Washington also recalibrated its projections to account for states rolling back restrictions. Their model now projects nearly 135,000 deaths through the beginning of August, nearly double what it had estimated just one week ago. 

California reopening retail this week » California is among the latest states taking the next step to reopen for business. Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters…

NEWSOM: We are entering the next phase this week, end of the week. With modifications, we will allow retail to start operating across the spectrum. 

Newsom said the state will begin gradually allowing clothing stores, florists, bookstores, and sporting goods shops to open after a nearly seven-week shutdown.

Certain retail businesses could again serve customers starting as early as Friday,  but with curbside pickups and other restrictions. The state will detail the requirements tomorrow. 

But Newsom warned that if the virus begins spreading rapidly, that could force him to reimpose tighter restrictions.

Maryland Democrat returns to Congress to fill seat of late Rep. Elijah Cummings » A Maryland Democrat has rejoined Congress to fill the seat of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swore in Kweisi Mfume on Tuesday. He won a special election last week to fill the vacant seat. Cummings died last October during his 12th term in office.

The 71-year-old Mfume previously served in Congress from 1987 to 1996 before leaving to lead the NAACP.

He will represent a majority-black Baltimore-area district hit hard by the coronavirus.

In brief remarks on the House floor, Mfume said the country is going through “its greatest economic collapse,” citing people who “haven’t had a paycheck in weeks.”

Mfume is expected to be reelected this fall for a full two-year term that would begin in January. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: states are facing challenging budget cuts as tax revenue shrinks.

Plus, Joel Belz anticipates our new normal.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: It’s Wednesday the 6th of May, 2020. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we’re glad you are.  Good morning!  I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up, state budgets.

Last month, Congress approved a $150 billion aid package to help states cover extra expenses related to the coronavirus response. But some governors say that’s not their biggest problem. With businesses closed and workers receiving pink slips, states are facing a significant drop in tax revenue.

REICHARD: Some governors want the federal government to help fill that hole. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell flatly refused last month, suggesting Congress should make it possible for states to file for bankruptcy instead. He tempered that message a few days later, saying states would get additional aid in the next round of stimulus legislation.

The Trump administration has agreed to let states use already allocated coronavirus aid to pay first responders. But the White House is adamant that federal money won’t fill state general fund shortfalls. Here’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a Sunday town hall on Fox News.

MNUCHIN: The president’s very clear. We’re looking to help states, but we’re not bailing out states’ finances.

EICHER: Joining us now with a state-level perspective is Ty Masterson. He’s a Republican state senator in Kansas where he’s served in the legislature there for 15 years. Good morning!

TY MASTERSON, GUEST: Good morning.

EICHER: Start by telling us where Kansas stood financially before the shutdowns, just for context, so we can understand what kind of shortfall you’re projecting.

MASTERSON: Well, Kansas was unique to some degree. We were heavy in aviation, agriculture, oil, and we had been suffering a little bit from the Boeing 737 Super Max issue artificially when it hit. Now we had governors change in our last election from Sam Brownback, who’s now the ambassador for religious freedom for President Trump, to a fairly radical Democrat and we raised taxes significantly. So, we had been sitting on about a billion dollars of surplus, and that’s in a only a $7 billion general fund. However, we had as a legislature not been very responsible and were deficit spending already, even anticipating higher revenues. So we were deficit spending our budget to the tune of several hundred million dollars to begin with, and now you have the COVID crisis and that dropped our estimates by another $1.3 billion. So, Kansas is in a bit of a bind. And we will also have a lagging recovery just in general because of the ag, aviation, and oil piece that Kansas is used to. So, with income tax returns being down so significantly, in estimates Kansas has a compounded issue, if you will.

EICHER: What kind of cuts do you envision the state might make because of that shortfall?

MASTERSON: Well, I mean, we should make some significant cuts because we had made significant increases. However, I don’t think that’s the path our governor’s going to take. I think it’s wise of the federal government to try to limit us from filling our holes, but I think that’s exactly what Kansas will try to do. I mean, currently our governor’s a big fan of the state bailouts because the federal government can reward some poor state behavior.

EICHER: But, as you mentioned, you have a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, and Republicans in control of the legislature in Kansas, so is that going to fly with you? Doesn’t seem like it is.

MASTERSON: No, it won’t. We have a little bit of a timing issue in Kansas that’s unique. We’re in a citizen legislature that comes in between January and May so we’re going to be in a situation where the legislature is not in session for the predominance of this time. And so there is a lot of power in the governor’s office under state of emergency. So there will have to be, I’m certain, some allotments, which are governor-directed cuts and services, but she has promised no cuts to some large areas like social services and education, and those make up almost 90 percent of our budget.

EICHER: If Congress does allocate money to help states fill budget shortfalls, is there a way to do it so that it won’t set a bad precedent for the future? Or is it just a moral hazard all the way down?

MASTERSON: Well, I certainly think it’s moral hazard. It’d be hard to not set a new precedent. States typically, well, not typically, states have to work within their budgets, unlike the federal government, because we can’t print Kansas buffalo bucks, but the federal government, through quantitative easing and print dollars and reserve currency, but states really need to live within their means, and I think it’s appropriate for states that aren’t living within their means to have some consequences. That’s how we typically learn. And it’s really important under these times of fear—I think that’s why Scripture talks a lot about fear and worry, that we hold to what is right. And there’s sometimes consequences for those decisions.

EICHER: And so you’ve got Republicans headed one way, the Democratic governor headed the other way. How do you see this resolving? Somebody’s going to have to give, right?

MASTERSON: Correct. And we’re in an election year in Kansas and we’re in the year in which the entire legislature turns over during this election year. The entire House and the entire Senate is up for election, so there will be electoral consequences, whichever way we go, the people will decide whether they think we went the right direction or not, in the public debate.

EICHER: Probably goes without saying Kansas isn’t unique among the states in facing some kind of budget crunch. But they’re not all in the same position in terms of ability to weather the storm. You’re a fiscal conservative, so what lessons do you think state lawmakers across the country should take from this?

MASTERSON: I think that the real lesson, and we’ve seen it all throughout history, is you need to be prepared. The governmental problem that happens, I mean, even as a conservative, it’s hard to say no to spending. There’s never a bad thing to spend money on, it seems like. And so when times are good, we raise spending. And when times are bad, we have trouble cutting spending, so you raise taxes and it’s a vicious cycle. We had this debate just two years ago when we were talking about the massive increase in our spending saying, hey, if something happens—if there’s a recession or if there’s any of this list of things that happen—we won’t be able to weather the storm and, of course, here we are and we’re looking for a bailout. I think the main lesson learned is down times come whether you anticipate them or not, and you need to be prepared for them.

EICHER: Is there not a case to be made, I wonder—this is such a unique situation. No one foresaw this weeks or months or years before it actually happened that something on the order of this pandemic would strike. But here the government’s ordering everything to shut down and when you shut an economy down, that has consequences. So does the government not have some kind of responsibility to the people they’ve told to stay indoors and not go to work?

MASTERSON: Well, I think that’s a fair question because the government doesn’t create wealth, government takes wealth and distributes it for need. I’m not saying that’s—there’s a purpose for that, for a combined function, but so there is a need, but you have to have a growing economy in order to support the people. Everybody can’t— I mean, that is the definition of socialism, even communism, right? To have everybody dependent upon government. I do think as this pandemic is analyzed and litigated and debated, it’s going to be interesting to see where it lands. I do think it’s in these times of fear that we need to worry about our fundamental liberties, particularly religious freedom. And that was under attack even here in Kansas. We hit a point where one of the governor’s executive orders made it illegal to be the 11th person in an open church. But you could be number 50 at Home Depot and it didn’t seem to matter. We need to be—it reminds me, it’s going to be a paraphrase of Benjamin Franklin that if you’re willing to give up essential liberties for temporary security, you deserve neither, right? I think we’re going to find out when this thing’s litigated—I’m surprised how many people are willing to give up some of our fundamental rights and freedoms out of fear.

EICHER: Well, it is interesting having to deal with now not just a public health crisis, but a financial crisis, you’ve got some painful decisions there. What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge before I let you go?

MASTERSON: I think the biggest challenge is going to be to determine where you pull spending back. And then rebuilding the fundamental liberties and how this crisis affected the government’s authority to just shut things off. We need to make it clear, we’ve not reviewed some of the emergency powers in quite some time and I think there are a lot of people who are shocked at the breadth of power and ability for government to shut down a private business.

EICHER: Senator Ty Masterson is a member of the Kansas state legislature. Senator, thank you so much for your time.

MASTERSON: Well, thank you for including me.

NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Thousands line up for food packages—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [South Africa food packs]

Thousands of people lined up in South Africa on Saturday to collect food packages. The line stretched for more than 2 miles. Loudspeakers blared, advising people to stay 6 feet apart.

South Africa has been under strict coronavirus restrictions for five weeks, sending the wobbly economy farther into recession. Forty-five million people face critical food shortages.

To help meet that need, local charities gathered donations of milk, fish, and beans. Volunteers used wheelbarrows and carts to transport sacks of flour and corn. Many people waited in line overnight, some for more than 14 hours.

AUDIO: I’m so happy. I came here last night, but now I’m done. Thank you, God.

South Africa began to reopen its agriculture sector over the weekend and allowed some manufacturing and retail businesses to resume.

Protests in Lebanon, government requests aid from IMF—Next, we go to the Middle East.

AUDIO: [Lebanese protestors]

Demonstrators in Lebanon chanted “revolution” and tossed Molotov cocktails into a bank last week. The protesters sang and cheered each time they hit their target.

The uproar began last fall when the government proposed taxing several internet messaging apps. But the protests have escalated as the coronavirus continues to worsen Lebanon’s economic troubles. On Friday, the country officially requested financial aid from the International Monetary Fund … but that didn’t satisfy frustrated protesters.

LEBANESE STUDENT: We have a call for the World Bank and IMF to give us loans again, to put us under even larger public debt, and privatizing the whole state, and I don’t think that can help.

Prices have skyrocketed and hundreds of businesses have closed. Local business owners blame the financial woes on a blend of regional turmoil, high interest rates, and government corruption.

Chinese officials raid house churches—Next, we go to Asia. 


Chinese authorities raided a house church last month in the middle of Sunday worship. A video of the raid shows officers shouting and trying to drag someone to the door. One of the church members was beaten and had to seek medical treatment.

On April 21st, police raided another house church. They took pictures of the property and interrogated church members, then shut down the church’s activities in the name of “pandemic prevention.”

Furloughed British citizens take on seasonal farm work—And finally, we end today in Europe.

Thousands of workers in the U.K. have been laid off or furloughed from their usual jobs. Now, the government is encouraging those workers to consider helping with the harvest.

Typically, British farmers hire migrant workers from Eastern Europe to harvest their  crops. But with most borders closed, the U.K. is short about 80,000 workers. Instead, bricklayers, waitresses, and engineers are heading to the fields.

AUDIO: I’ve got three children, so I need to be working.

The locals are harvesting asparagus, cucumbers, strawberries, and beans. Students and low-risk prisoners are also pitching in. But some farmers aren’t sure if the workers will stick it out through the entire harvest season. They worry some might get bored or go back to their old jobs, abandoning the crops mid-season.

But one fruit grower said the response so far has been overwhelming: 700 people applied for less than 200 positions he had to fill.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

NICK EICHER: Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. 

A bakery in Finland faced the tough choice of possibly laying off employees after customers canceled all of their orders. 

But just a little creative thinking—and all the sudden the bakery is flush with cash, so to speak.

Baker Uliana Timofeeva came up with a cake design that looked but thankfully didn’t function like an item in shorter supply than flour, eggs, sugar, and icing. 

Maybe you’ve already guessed: Cakes that look like a roll of toilet paper. 

Timofeeva told Reuters it didn’t even take an hour for the first cakes to sell out!

TIMOFEEVA: For us it’s a game changer, and I’m relieved because I know that all my employees are safe for months now.

The bakery soon had hundreds of orders for the novelty cakes. So instead of laying off workers, she hired two new employees to keep up with demand.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, the 6th of May. Thank you for listening to WORLD Radio. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: VE Day, “Victory in Europe.” This week marks the 75th anniversary of Germany’s surrender to Allied forces—bringing an end to that part of the war.

In America, mixed emotions. President Franklin Roosevelt had died just three weeks earlier.  His successor, President Harry Truman, ordered flags to remain at half-mast for a month. At the same time across the country, great celebration as crowds gathered in cities.

EICHER: For those families who had lost sons and daughters, fathers, or brothers in the conflict, it was a time of sober reflection.

To commemorate VE Day, you’ll hear President Harry Truman’s announcement and official proclamation that captures both emotions well. Audio courtesy of the Miller Center at the University of Virginia. We’ve edited the speech slightly to fit the available time.

HARRY S. TRUMAN: This is a solemn but a glorious hour. I only wish that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day. General Eisenhower informs me that the forces of Germany have surrendered to the United Nations. The flags of freedom fly over all Europe.

For this victory, we join in offering our thanks to the Providence which has guided and sustained us through the dark days of adversity.

Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors—neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty.

We can repay the debt which we owe to our God, to our dead and to our children only by work—by ceaseless devotion to the responsibilities which lie ahead of us. If I could give you a single watchword for the coming months, that word is—work, work, and more work.

We must work to finish the war. Our victory is but half-won. The West is free, but the East is still in bondage to the treacherous tyranny of the Japanese. When the last Japanese division has surrendered unconditionally, then only will our fighting job be done.

We must work to bind up the wounds of a suffering world—to build an abiding peace, a peace rooted in justice and in law. We can build such a peace only by hard, toilsome, painstaking work—by understanding and working with our allies in peace as we have in war…

I call upon every American to stick to his post until the last battle is won…And now, I want to read to you my formal proclamation of this occasion:

“A Proclamation—The Allied armies, through sacrifice and devotion and with God’s help, have wrung from Germany a final and unconditional surrender. The western world has been freed of the evil forces which for five years and longer have imprisoned the bodies and broken the lives of millions upon millions of free-born men. They have violated their churches, destroyed their homes, corrupted their children, and murdered their loved ones. Our Armies of Liberation have restored freedom to these suffering peoples, whose spirit and will the oppressors could never enslave.

“Much remains to be done. The victory won in the West must now be won in the East. The whole world must be cleansed of the evil from which half the world has been freed. United, the peace-loving nations have demonstrated in the West that their arms are stronger by far than the might of the dictators or the tyranny of military cliques that once called us soft and weak…

“For the triumph of spirit and of arms which we have won, and for its promise to the peoples everywhere who join us in the love of freedom, it is fitting that we, as a nation, give thanks to Almighty God, who has strengthened us and given us the victory.

“Now, therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby appoint Sunday, May 13, 1945, to be a day of prayer.

“I call upon the people of the United States, whatever their faith, to unite in offering joyful thanks to God for the victory we have won, and to pray that He will support us to the end of our present struggle and guide us into the ways of peace.

“I also call upon my countrymen to dedicate this day of prayer to the memory of those who have given their lives to make possible our victory.

“In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.”

MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, May 6th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. World Founder Joel Belz now on what the “new normal” might be once we’re back to business.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: Normalcy. What would you trade to get it back? How deep into your pockets would you dive to regain the life you had just three months ago? 

Forget it! It’s not only that “you can’t go home again,” as North Carolina writer Thomas Wolfe said years ago. We’re not talking about nostalgia.  The past, we are discovering during this incredible “reopening” process, will prove to be profoundly different in the fundamentals. 

Our president has repeatedly reminded us that both our economy and our healthcare system are unlike anything in human history. He says, “They are coming back quite quickly.” 

I’m not so sure. For two reasons, the freedoms we inherit on the other side of this tragedy will be altogether different from what we had before. 

The first reason is that we have largely moved to a managed economy.  

In short order, we have accepted some form of government control at just about every level. For better or for worse, we are accepting the orders of our president, our governors, our mayors, and all kinds of consultants and bureaucrats in between. 

The very path being proposed to “open” our nation for business smacks of socialism. It presupposes there are people smart enough to lead us out of the fix we’re in. But why do we imagine that the best way to untangle the mess is to do the same thing over again?  

The second reason is that even the free market will exert huge pressure to reshape much of what we do.

This is much more nuanced than the matter of government control. Now I’m talking about choices you and I will make, resulting in finished products quite different from the pre-coronavirus era.

Try this epic example:

The Federal Aviation Administration says that prior to the virus airlines typically boarded 6 million passengers every day. By early April, that figure had fallen more than 80 percent. 

Even with fewer flights, many planes had mostly empty seats—and not because of government controls; indeed, government folks wanted them full! The seats were typically empty because hundreds of thousands of would-be passengers were making the decision not to fly. 

The reverberations of that collective decision will echo back to that particular airline, to Boeing aircraft factories in Washington state, and to the nation’s capital, where projected tax revenues look skimpier every day.

And that’s just one example. The stakes are similarly high among the more than 2,000 assisted living centers throughout the nation. The same goes for the nation’s quarter-million local churches.

Whatever freedoms await us on the other side of our government’s “reopening” likely won’t look so familiar. The “normal” we want to go back to just isn’t there anymore. 

May God grant us wisdom for the days ahead. 

I’m Joel Belz.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Face masks are now mandatory in several cities, a policy not without controversy. And will it even help?

Also, we’ll hear from some dads on how they’re making Mother’s Day memorable this year.

And, we’ll talk to a missionary about how coronavirus is affecting churches and orphanages in Russia.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

Jesus told [the Pharisees], “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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