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On meat-processing

The USDA indicates that there are 90 permitted meat and poultry processing plants in Arkansas. These plants are central to the local economy of many communities in the state. Unfortunately, these plants, like nursing homes and prisons, are now recognized as centers of covid-19 risk. A CDC study of processing plants in 19 states found that 115 plants had nearly 5,000 cases, affecting about 3 percent of their employees, and 20 deaths.

Given the level of risk represented by these plants and the vital role they have in our local economies, I think that these plants would be critical to the state's surveillance and reopening plans. However, I have heard nothing about testing in these facilities or efforts to ensure the safety of their employees in the governor's coronavirus briefings. Every day we hear how many cases come from the prisons and from nursing homes, but the meat-processing industry is never mentioned.

I fear that it will be this non-barking dog that bites us in the ...


Forrest City

Do we really know?

If you cannot see, that may be taken as a fact but it does not, by the fact itself, prove anything. It should be the starting point for an investigation. Maybe you are blind. Maybe the light is being obstructed. Maybe you haven't figured out how to open your eyes. It does not mean that no one else can see. And it certainly doesn't prove there is no light. That would be a thoroughly irrational conclusion.

There are many possible causes of blindness. Some are organic, some traumatic. Not all blindness is permanent. If you yourself are obscuring the light, if you turn your back on the light, it is fairly straightforward optics that much of what you see will be your own shadow.

If someone else sees something you do not, that, too, may be taken as a fact or, perhaps, an hypothesis at least. And it should be the starting point of another investigation. An investigation that will be seriously hampered if it is assumed from the outset that one of you is wrong. Terminology such as "isn't really there" and "I know what I saw" would have to be clearly defined.

Because a child has simplistic and easily ridiculed ideas of how electricity works is not proof there are no electrons. By a similar token, that person who cannot prove there is a God cannot prove there are electrons, either. The question becomes whether things are knowable without understanding.

The original definition of an atheist was "one who does not offer service to the public gods." It was not considered possible not to believe in the gods. Everything that is sings God's praise. You may think you don't "believe" in science the way those other, erroneous, people "believe" in God, but the simple truth is you don't know what you are talking about. Words always come out sounding like nonsense when we try to use them to speak of ineffable things. Not a one of us really knows how it is that anything is. Let us not be numbered among those who would extinguish the light with their mouths.


Little Rock

Hold off reopenings

I went to several stores the other day and the meat counters were 90 percent empty. What was available had increased in price and had signs reading "Limit One Per Customer." Now, we have the restaurants that are reopening.

I was wondering where they are going to get their meat from. Are they going to be limited to "One Per Restaurant"? Are the rest of us now in competition with the restaurants to get meat? Are the furloughed/unemployed people waiting in food lines while waiting for their unemployment checks and living on whatever they have now going to have to compete with the restaurants for the limited supply of meat? Those who are trying to just get by and feed their families will be left with near-empty meat counters. Will restaurants that buy meat that is in short supply and that prepare the product to be sold with a markup of more than 10 percent be considered price-gougers?

There are 33 million Americans who are unemployed, and they are looking for meat that they can afford to buy to feed their families. Tyson Board Chairman John Tyson wrote, "The food supply chain is breaking." Processing plants are closing due to covid-19 outbreaks causing the meat shortage due to lack of processing capacity.

Maybe the smart thing to do is to hold off on opening restaurants until the processing plants are back to 100 percent productivity and the meat counters are full again.


Prairie Grove

Taking for granted

There's a common human disease characterized by "taking blessings for granted." I struggle to come up with a cute little name for it, using the suffix -osis. We depend on human-made infrastructure daily to ease what otherwise would be burdens (paved roads, public sewage systems, lines carrying electricity to our homes, and so forth). Similarly, there are numerous layers and configurations of human infrastructure that support us daily (doctors, nurses, garbage collectors, mail carriers, etc.). Unfailingly, it takes tragedy for us to recognize how life would be if these people, these servants to humanity, weren't around.

Given time, after the pain of the tragedy subsides, we'll take them for granted again. After all, that's what we do.

Thanks to all who serve our needs, especially now.


Little Rock

Editorial on 05/16/2020

Print Headline: Letters


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