A Letter to my Senator

My senator was among the unmasked buffoons at the September 26 White House super spreader event. Below is the email I sent him.

Senator XXXX,

I have a good deal of respect for you as a person. I’ve read your book and am generally supportive of your policies.

I just read a NYT article in which you were pictured maskless indoors at the White House event on Sept 26 in a crowded room with President Trump and others. This event, of course, has become a super-spreader event that we’ve been so desperately trying to avoid for the past seven months as a country.

I’m deeply disappointed with your reckless behavior and the behavior of our other elected officials during a global pandemic. If my 5 children (ages 6-13) are required to wear masks indoors in their classrooms, I would think that those same rules would apply to our elected officials operating in an official capacity at the White House.

You have lost my confidence, my trust, and my vote.

I’m disgusted at the lack of leadership from the very top. It’s no wonder why we lead the world in Covid deaths. Perhaps you would be well served re-reading your book about the types of actions that are becoming of a responsible adult.


So what does everyone else think of this insanity?

17 thoughts on “A Letter to my Senator”

  1. I think that conservatives arguing that they are displaying their freedoms by not wearing a mask are undermining the conservative belief that people don’t need the government to force them to do things that rational people should do. I’m not sure how effective masks are, but in the absence of data and given minimal harms, it just makes sense to do whatever we can by wearing them when it makes sense to.

    • Th experiences of East Asian countries, where almost everyone has been wearing masks since the beginning of the pandemic (in part because of past experience with other pandemics like SARS), is telling. It’s not a coincidence that those countries have had far fewer cases and deaths, although of course mask-wearing is only part of the story.

  2. This is a good letter. I personally voted against all incumbents this year – regardless of party affiliation – because nobody in the US government has demonstrated leadership during this crisis. Therefore, time for a change. Also noteworthy is that the CDC is actually the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but clearly the “prevention” part is less important so it’s not part of the initialism.

  3. Your view seems one sided to me. I’d put you in the oversocialized category. Don’t consider this some kind of attack. I follow your blog and I’m not an indexer or a big fan of 401ks.

    • One sided? He literally described moving from one side to the other given available evidence. This is the exact opposite of one sided. And LOL @ the oversocialized comment. Even a cursory reading of a few monthly updates would reveal that FP is definitely not in that category.

      Also, this isn’t “his view”, we know that masks help slow the spread of COVID. And even if we weren’t sure, it’s such a cheap/easy/harmless thing to do it would still be more than logical to do it.

      If you don’t have anything productive to add to the conversation and don’t agree with FP on index investing, tax optimization, or even wearing masks then what are you doing here?

      • Oh Joey, you actually don’t know that masks help slow the spread of COVID. Where is your research coming from? The data are all mixed up. Indeed, until about March/April it was the consensus opinion that masks would do more harm than good and that was the consensus for the preceding decades. People touch their face a lot more when wearing masks, thereby spreading the virus from things they touch to their face; indeed, it is not at all clear that mask-wearing is harmless compared to just practicing good hygiene and social distancing. Given the confounds in the field, I doubt we’ll ever know what the effect is of masks but that’s far different from saying “we know that masks help slow the spread of COVID.” That’s coming from the same people who told you a few months ago not to wear masks. So you aren’t actually adding anything productive to your conversation. .

        • Oh Bryan, thank you for your reply. You’re right, perhaps I shouldn’t have said we “know” masks can’t help slow the spread of COVID19–it’s not like we can do a randomized controlled trial were we expose a bunch of masked and maskless people to COVID patients and see what happens.

          However, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that masks in fact do slow the spread. Consider this study, done by researchers from Texas A&M and UCSD: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32527856/. They looked at timing of interventions and subsequent spread of the virus. Their analysis suggests that masks may actually be the most effective way to slow the spread.

          Or consider this meta-analysis from researchers in Ontario: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32246890/. They found that regular surgical masks may be as effective as hospital-grade N95 respirators in preventing COVID19 transmission.

          Several other studies have shown effectiveness as well. Don’t feel like sifting through PubMed yourself? Check out this extensive literature review by a third group of researchers in China and Japan: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33030513/. If you look at the mask section of Table 1 (specifically the “Strength of Evidence” part), they describe further evidence (with citations) that mask wearing can slow the spread. (Continued…)

          • Note that these are all real-world studies, looking at real people who probably aren’t great at wearing masks and touch their face a lot. Still seems to help.
            It’s true that not every study has shown benefit, just like not every study on smoking has shown a connection between smoking and lung cancer. But we conclude that the connection is likely there based on the preponderance of the evidence.
            As for your comments about “the same people told you not to wear masks”. Yes, initially it wasn’t known if masks would be helpful, and some people speculated that they could potentially cause harm due to the reasons you cited. Since that time, research has been done and based on the available evidence those “same people” have updated their recommendations. That’s how science works. Take it from a PhD in Molecular Physiology :).
            Lastly, as I stated before, even if there was only a small chance masks would help, it’s such a cheap and easy intervention with no downside. If there’s even a slight chance it could save a life, why wouldn’t you do it?

      • A midwit might be a better fit but still has the oversocialization aspect. On this site I see the standard narrative with additional optimizations. Mainly a simple procedure where you don’t have to think that hard. Just because I don’t do something myself doesn’t mean I disagree with it.

  4. I thought that this was a personal finance blog. Are you trying to push away half of your readers with partisan politics? I come here and to many other sites to avoid politics. I’m hoping this isn’t indicative of a larger format change to this blog.

    • Please learn how to read before you comment. No where does FP state this was a finance blog, in fact, his motto is just “A blog about things I find useful”. In addition, his letter was just stating his opinion on facts without trying to be political at all. Its sad how there are so many Americans (or hopefully you are not an American) that cannot process critical thinking nowadays….. Let me give you a pro tip if you want avoid politics you’ll want to avoid ALL media and internet as that’s what you’ll be fed all day.

    • I agree with you 100% Susan; his right to do this, but frankly I think it’s a mistake and I too subscribe to blogs that are non-political for exactly the reason you do. And what about poor Milford who replied so smugly to you? Poor poor milford. Akshully, Milford, saying that “you lost my vote” is sort of a political statement, yah?

  5. {Applause} … As a lifelong republican, engineer, entrepreneur, multi-millionaire, and family man, I’ve always taken a pragmatic view of my politics. Right or wrong, that’s usually translated into voting along Republican lines in my lifetime. Although I didn’t vote for Barak Obama, I was certainly proud and awed that our democratic process put him in the office. His election manifested what a great country we live in.

    But like you, I agree that the utter dearth of leadership and responsibility from this failed crop of senators and president needs replacing. I believe in having our elected American officers represent the BEST of us, not the worst. More than ever, personal integrity and leadership-by-example is on the line.

    It’s my hope that, by and large, Americans like you, like me, like all of us, are outraged by the actions and (more importantly) in-actions of this current government. Let our voices by heard lead and clear around the world, the we reject narcissism, crony politics, hypocrisy, and yes-men. Vote!

    • Great post, Mr. Whittington. Unfortunately, the two options that the people of our country have to choose from to serve in our presidential office both fall under the incapable category. Therefore, I hope that policy is the guiding light that enters the voting booth with each American individual. Vote!

  6. In terms of the insanity you mention, I think you’ve got some serious TDS as do many otherwise fine LDS I know who never recovered from Mitt’s 2012 beat-down. This is a worthless piece of virtue-signaling on your part. Didn’t you just write about getting on a plane and hanging out with 5 classmates from across the US all weekend? Meanwhile your poor 5 kids are stuck behind plexiglass and wearing masks several hours a day at school even though there’s no evidence that schools are a source of contagion. Everyone’s taking risks and everyone varies in their risk preferences (as you know), but I guess some your risks are more tolerable than your senator’s. President Trump has done a fantastic job leading this country through this pandemic. You should be proud of his leadership. Whatever, you go ahead and stand on your “principles”.

  7. Very good letter.

    Thank you for writing it and sending it.

    The super-spreading has now spread to include low-paid WH housekeeping staff, who may live in overcrowded multigenerational homes and/or take public transit to work. I am a third-generation DC native and though I no longer live there, I have many friends, former schoolmates, and family members, some of them elderly or with high-risk conditions, who still live in the DC area. I worry about their safety.

    And, of course, many of the lawmakers present (and/or indirectly affected) are traveling to their home districts and may spread this geographically further.


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